Football Draft Kit: Draft Strategy Based on Scarcity
Football Draft Kit: Draft Strategy Based on Scarcity

This article is part of our Football Draft Kit series.

Fantasy analysts frequently advise against drafting a quarterback early. Should owners listen?

That question, and others like it, boils down to a problem of scarcity. The reasoning behind waiting to draft a quarterback is that good or serviceable options are comparatively abundant. Therefore, the logic continues, early picks should target elite running backs and wide receivers, which are less common.

Are good quarterbacks actually abundant? And just how scarce are elite running backs or wide receivers? If you wait to draft a quarterback, how long should you wait? As owners weigh these questions, are they correctly calculating the costs and benefits?
To answer those questions and make better draft decisions, we need a clear understanding of the actual scarcity of each position.

Grasping Fantasy Scarcity

It's important to understand fantasy scarcity on two levels.

First, the weekly level. How many points does a great, good, average, etc., running back score in a typical week, and how many running backs match each description? In addition, we need to understand the significance of the drop from one tier to the next — not just know where the drop occurs. For example, does a good wide receiver outscore the average by two points or five? For an advantage of only two points, we might prefer to invest in another position; a five-point margin between tiers is a much bigger motivator.

Second, we need to know how frequently a player is good, average, etc. For example, maybe the best running backs in a week

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Rikleen
Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball and was a nominee for the 2016 FSWA Newcomer of the Year Award. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living outside Boston.
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