Never Draft Tight Ends and Quarterbacks Early. Really???

If you’ve read any fantasy football blog, or listened to any fantasy football “expert,” you’ve heard the adages, “Never draft a tight end in the first five rounds,” and “Never draft a quarterback in the first five rounds.” It goes without saying that these experts will tell you undoubtedly, “Never draft both a tight end and a quarterback in the first five rounds.”

Why? What makes conventional wisdom right? Better yet, is conventional wisdom correct?

This year, our first in the NFFC, we decided to test that those adages. My sons Jason and Brandon, and I, went into the NFFC not just drafting a tight end in the first five rounds, and similarly not just a quarterback over the first five rounds, but instead, with a tight end and a quarterback in the first five rounds. To compound the strategy, we decided to go with a second tight end in the seventh round as well.

Oh, before we get too far into this, our first round pick was the soon-to-be-injured, Odell Beckham, Jr. Our tight end in the 7th round, Jordan Reed, was a total bust. So, we went into week three with our first and seventh round picks ostensibly out for the season, and a tight end in the 3rd round and a quarterback in the 5th round.

Suicide, right? Not so fast.

The third round went as follows (with year end points):

  1. Leonard Fournette (212.6)
  2. T.Y. Hilton (172.2)
  3. Dalvin Cook (66.4)
  4. Christian McCaffrey (291.2)
  5. Rob Gronkowski (227.4)
  6. Lamar Miller (189.8)
  7. Marshawn Lynch (151.3)
  8. DeAndre Hopkins (310.8)
  9. Isaiah Crowell (142.4)
  10. Demaryius Thomas (189.2)
  11. Davante Adams (225.5)
  12. Keenan Allen (249.9)

Those twelve picks averaged 196.3 points over the season.

The fifth round went as follows (with year end points):

  1. Pierre Garcon (90)
  2. Allen Robinson (2.7)
  3. Joe Mixon (133.6)
  4. Stefon Diggs (180.5)
  5. Tom Brady (387.1)
  6. Greg Olsen (40.1)
  7. Jarvis Landry (237.8)
  8. Doug Martin (77.3)
  9. Sammy Watkins (146.3)
  10. Jamison Crowder (157.9)
  11. C.J. Anderson (170)
  12. Mike Gillislee (69.8)

Those twelve picks averaged 141.1 points over the season.

Take one guess which players we took. If you answered Gronkowski and Brady, give yourself a pat on your back (we got a bit more than a pat on the back). Despite playing in a league with an NFFC Hall of Famer, and another player who won the entire competition one year, and despite the fact that we took both a tight end and a quarterback in the first five rounds, we won the league, ending the year with the league’s best record and best won-loss record, pocketing $6,500.00 in the process.

So, the simple question is, “Were the experts wrong?” In a word, “YES.”

Permit me to explain.

Without going too deeply into the statistics, Gronkowski finished second overall for tight ends, with the highest weekly average (17.4) at the positon. The average points per game of the next highest eleven tight ends was 10.5. This gave us almost a seven-point advantage over the proverbial average team each and every week. Gronkowski out-averaged all other tight ends.

Tom Brady finished the year with an average of 24.1 points per week. The other top eleven quarterbacks averaged 23.5. Brady out-averaged all but three of the other top 12 quarterbacks.

Every week, we had the top tight end and a top three quarterback, and on average, we were staked to an eight-point league each week just considering the production at those two slots.

Yes, but we must have suffered at running back, right? Nope. We drafted Todd Gurley in the second round, and Carlos Hyde in the fourth, so we were just fine. In fact, Gurley was the top running back, and Hyde was in the top ten. So, our running backs certainly didn’t suffer.

Well, we must have taken it in the shorts at wide receiver, right? Well, partially right. Wide receiver is always a volatile position. This year’s top wide receiver by overall points was third-round pick, DeAndre Hopkins. The third highest scoring wide receiver was Keenan Allen, yet another third-round pick. Fourth rounder Larry Fitzgerald, fifth rounder Jarvis Landry and seventh round pick Adam Thielen were all in the top ten overall. Spending a first two round pick on a wide receiver, despite what you might have been led to believe, was a poor decision this year, as only one wide receiver picked in the first two rounds ended up in the overall top 25 in scoring.

We drafted the aforementioned Thielen, and the mixed and matched with the various waiver wire wide outs including Cooper Kupp (24th overall in WR scoring) and Marquis Goodwin (34th overall in WR scoring, but top fifteen over since week 10).

We were lucky? Certainly. We had to work the waiver wire for wide receivers until we found both Kupp and Goodwin. Was all of our luck good? No. Two names, Beckham and Reed. Ok, Reed might have been more stupidity than bad luck, but you get the idea.

What does it all mean? Simply, while the experts might advocate one strategy, that strategy won’t work if everyone follows suit.  Sometimes it’s important to look at the masses, and go the opposite way. Lemmings rarely win.

Best of luck,


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