Two-QB league strategy

Updated: June 20, 2012, 4:26 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com

Looking for a twist to your league rules that might be a little outrageous? Well, stay away from this article if you're contagious. Because those who play in two-QB leagues are the winners, no not the losers.

Yes, with all apologies to Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, playing in a two quarterback league is "out of sight."

What makes this format so intriguing? For one thing, there are 32 teams in the NFL and, apart from the odd Tim Tebow-type gumming up the works and coming in for a series here and there, most teams are going to stick to one and only one quarterback unless an injury forces their hand.

In a standard league where you start a single QB each week, you really don't even have to draft a backup at the position. Even if each one of the 10 owners in the league does happen to opt for a backup, there are still going to be a dozen starters sitting there on the waiver wire during your No. 1 guy's bye week to claim should you want to go with an unexpected quality matchup or hot hand when the time comes.

Compare that to running back or wide receiver, where you need to start two players at each position, plus a flex. Among those who played 10 or more games, only 58 RBs averaged at least 10 yards rushing per game and just 67 WRs averaged at least 20 yards receiving per game in 2011. Because owners tend to draft five or six guys at each of those positions, we're looking at far fewer point-scoring options left undrafted when all is said and done.

In other words, in a one-QB league, the surface of the quarterback position is barely scratched.

Be the leader, the man superior

Of course, adding one extra man to your starting lineup is not without its repercussions in terms of draft strategies that an owner needs to employ on draft day. Those who don't grab their first quarterback early may be doomed to failure before the season even starts.

Quarterbacks typically score more fantasy points than players at any other position. Last season, for example, the top five scorers in ESPN standard play (and eight of the top 10) came from the QB position:

However, in a one-QB league, even though quarterbacks may score more points relative to other positions, when it comes to comparing value relative to each other, the gap is not all that large. Once the first few QBs went off the board, passing on Matt Ryan (the No. 8 QB) in order to wait 10 rounds to draft Mark Sanchez instead (the No. 10 QB) would have resulted in a loss of only two points per week. That's certainly a reason to load up at other positions.

However, in a two-QB league, the gap as a result of waiting grows far more quickly. Now, you're not simply risking missing out on the No. 6 quarterback and still getting the No. 11 quarterback. Because two men have to be in your lineup each week, you're risking the difference between having Aaron Rodgers and his 23.9 points per week (No. 1 in 2012 projections) and Philip Rivers at 16.4 points per week (No. 10) as your No. 1 QB.

That's a 7.5-point hole you're digging for yourself.

Wait again until the end of the line for your No. 2 QB, and you risk spurning Matt Ryan (15.4 points per game) for Carson Palmer (11.3 points per game). Now you're looking at a double-digit hole you need to climb out of on a weekly basis, all because you didn't take the initiative to grab your quarterbacks early.

It's all about what kind of replacement value you can get if things go horribly wrong. If Peyton Manning gets hurt again this season, in a one-QB league you wouldn't worry too much because you might still be able to find a Matt Flynn or Ryan Fitzpatrick on the waiver wire.

In a two-QB league, you'd be looking at a best-case option coming from a group of guys like Kevin Kolb, Christian Ponder and Matt Moore. Yes, a sleeper could well emerge from this trio, but we're definitely looking at "shot-in-the-dark" territory.

With Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees typically being drafted in the first round of one-QB leagues, one should not be surprised to see every team snare its first of two QBs in the first two rounds of a two-QB draft. By the time Round 6 is through, you may find that most teams have grabbed a second gunslinger, as well.

That's a strategy that might elicit chuckles in a one-QB league, but is essential for survival in those of a two-QB variety.

Throw up your hands, go for what you know

Don't forget to read up on the specific rules for your league to make sure that you take fullest advantage of draft day. With only 32 full-time quarterbacks in the pool, you might not want to stop at just two on your roster. Many leagues, because of this, will actually cap the number of QBs you can have on your roster to three in order to increase the chances that there will be enough bodies to go around.

If no such rule is in place, you can gain a ton of leverage by stocking up with the leftovers at the back end of the draft so that when the bye weeks come, you'll be in a position to make trades with owners who had less foresight.

Yes, those bye weeks will rear their heads sooner rather than later, so once you've drafted your first QB, you have a choice. Either you make sure to avoid other QBs with that same bye week so that you can cover your two lineup spots with your three QBs to avoid any "automatic goose eggs" or you can draft a second stud QB with the same bye week, essentially "tanking" one game in exchange for not having to worry about the position for the rest of the season.

Remember, with only 32 teams, the waiver-wire fodder disappears quickly. In Week 7, for example, six teams will be off, meaning there are only 26 possible starting quarterbacks to choose from. If you are in a 12-team league, assuming equal distribution, there would be only two possible waiver-wire picks -- and odds are those guys might be on rosters, as well. You might as well be the one with that extra ace in the hole, rather than being the guy on the outside looking in.

During the season, you're going to need to act swiftly at the slightest rumor of a quarterback change. The moment you hear a coach openly talking about a "competition," or perhaps as soon as the home crowd starts chanting the backup's name, you're probably already too late to add that potential replacement to your roster.

While in a one-QB league the concept of drafting Graham Harrell as a handcuff to Aaron Rodgers should never even be contemplated, it's not the worst idea to use the final roster spot in a two-QB league on this "worst-case scenario" kind of handcuff.

The bottom line is that you're adding more than just one extra guy into the starting lineup in a two-QB league. You're altering the entire makeup of your roster, and your draft priorities need to change right along with it. Quarterbacks score the most points of any position and there are far fewer of them to go around than any other skill position. Patience may be a virtue but waiting on a quarterback in a two-QB league can be fatal.

Understood? You ready now? OK, then. One, two, three, get loose now!