Bar is high for Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers not to be first-round fantasy football busts

The Post Sports Live crew offers picks for fantasy quarterbacks beyond the top three of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

The quarterback position is deep this season, and there are plenty of options to choose from if you decide to eschew the Big Three of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers in the early parts of the draft. But what if you just can’t help yourself? What type of production is needed from a quarterback to justify a first round selection?

According to data from 1207 mock drafts between Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, the first round consists of six running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end and a quarterback. For that quarterback to be worth a first-round selection, he must provide more value relative to his position than the others do at theirs. Luckily, this can be quantified using Value Based Drafting, which proposes the value of a player is determined not by the number of points he scores, but by how much he outscores his peers at his particular position.

For the purposes of this exercise, we are going to base all information and data on a 12-team, non-PPR league using the NFL default fantasy scoring system.

Over the past three seasons, a running back selected in the top six should be expected to score 120.9 more points than the worst starter (the 24th running back). For wide receivers, that number drops to 91.7. Over the same time span, the worst starting quarterback on a roster (12th in points) scored 243.8 points, so an owner would need him to score more than 335.5 points to be more valuable at his position than either a running back or wide receiver is to theirs.

From 2011 to 2013, only six quarterbacks fit the bill: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford. Brees has done it all three seasons while Brady and Rodgers have each done it twice.

The average production of those six are a completion percentage of 65.8 percent (403 for 612), 4,938 yards with 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The consensus projections at FantasyPros have the Big Three meeting the mark, but there have been less and less registering 335.5 points or more each season in each of the past three years.

Plus, no quarterback has more than four seasons in their career at that level of production, which casts doubt on Brees and Rodgers going for a fourth. And Manning will be 38 years old and has to slow down sometime, right? In other words, pass on a quarterback in the first round.

More Fantasy Football

2014 Fantasy Draft Home | Cheat Sheet | Mock Draft Analysis

Positional Rankings: Top 30 QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Ks | DEF

Draft Talent Tiers: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

Fancy Stats Value Players: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Neil Greenberg · August 21, 2014