Explaining how Zero QB strategy works for fantasy football drafts

What is the late-round QB, or Zero QB strategy in fantasy football, and how can dynasty managers implement it in startup drafts?

PFN’s dynasty 101 series continues by diving into the specifics of dynasty startup draft strategies. Today, let’s discuss the benefits of waiting on a quarterback in your dynasty fantasy football startup draft, otherwise known as the Zero QB strategy.

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What is the late-round QB or Zero QB strategy?

For the better part of the past decade, the prevailing strategy pertaining to quarterbacks in any style of fantasy league (other than Superflex) has been to wait on the position. This strategy started to rise in popularity following the great QB boom of 2011, which lead to inflated ADPs of quarterbacks in 2012 drafts.

The late-round QB strategy is exactly like it sounds. Fantasy managers wait as long as possible to take a quarterback. In dynasty, that means completely filling your starting lineup with running backs, wide receivers, and a tight end or two, as well as several bench players, before drafting a quarterback.

How can dynasty fantasy football managers benefit by implementing a Zero QB strategy?

Even in 1QB dynasty leagues, every quarterback is rostered. Even though you know every QB will be drafted, you can still wait on a quarterback in dynasty startup drafts. Your fellow league mates will not draft multiple quarterbacks at the expense of useful wide receivers or running backs.

By using the Zero QB strategy, you’re banking on the ability to gain an edge at wide receiver or running back. Once you get to the later rounds of any draft, it’s harder and harder to find startable wide receivers. There are no startable running backs. However, there are still typically a handful of quarterbacks you’ll be comfortable starting. Particularly in leagues with deeper starting rosters, the deficit you’ll have at the QB position should be less than the advantage you’ll have at WR or RB.

Wait on QB… but don’t wait too long

In redraft leagues, it’s much easier to give advice in the abstract because we know not every quarterback will be drafted. Even if you wait until the very last round, you’ll be able to get a starter. In dynasty startups, you can’t wait too long.

Eventually, other managers will start drafting backups and even potentially a third QB. Your plan is to wait on a quarterback, but you still need to make sure you get a viable starter. The strategy may be called Zero QB, but don’t wait until there are literally zero QBs worth drafting.

When is the optimal time to draft a quarterback?

Every draft is different. For dynasty startups, the same rules apply. You should draft a quarterback when it’s time to draft quarterback. I know what you’re thinking. “What does that even mean?” Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly what round to draft your quarterback in. What I can tell you is you’ll know when it’s time to draft a quarterback.

Heading into your dynasty startup, you will come equipped with a strategy and your rankings. Part of your preparation will be pinpointing the lowest-ranked QBs you’re comfortable with as your starter. You will watch and track as quarterbacks come off the board.

There are two indicators to help you determine when it’s time to take your first quarterback. We have the QB position itself. Once you’re down to only a couple of guys you’re comfortable with starting, you need to pull the trigger. At that point, you’ve likely waited long enough and gobbled up a ton of value at other positions. Don’t get caught with your pants down trying to squeeze out one more round of value.

The other indicator is the value at wide receiver and running back. There will come a point during every dynasty startup where every WR and RB is just a dart throw. For example, the difference in value between a 14th-round player and an 18th-round player is next to nothing. Both have a low probability of hitting. If you’re looking down at a bunch of wide receivers and running backs, and there isn’t much separating them, feel free to take your quarterback.

Monitor what other teams are doing

This part is crucial to any fantasy football draft strategy. Throughout your dynasty startup, you need to be keenly aware of what other teams are doing. How many teams have drafted a quarterback? Does any team have two already? Are you picking near one of the corners?

Say you’re picking at the 10 spot and you know the teams at 11 and 12 have a quarterback already. If it’s an odd-numbered round, you know you can wait until the comeback to grab the quarterback because those two teams are unlikely to take a second one.

There are multiple data points you can use during your draft to give you a little bit of an edge. Enter your draft well prepared and you’ll be able to execute the Zero QB strategy in your fantasy football dynasty startup flawlessly.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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