The With Leather Fantasy Football Draft Guide: How To Pick The QB Of Your Dreams

Welcome, ladies and mostly gentlemen, to the 67th annual installment of the With Leather Guide To Not Looking Like A Total Moron When Drafting Your Fantasy Football Team, in which I offer you totally unqualified advice on how to draft your fantasy team and which players you should pick this season. Why is my advice unqualified? Because I believe that “Fantasy Expert” as a profession is absurd – like ghost hunter and career politician – because it doesn’t take any special skill to look at a guy’s numbers, age and the team around him, and say, “Why, I think this professional athlete is better than this other professional athlete.”

So why, then, should you listen to anything that I have to say about this? Because in fantasy football, one thing is almost always universally certain – every man is insecure about his draft picks or gut instincts and he needs someone else to tell him that he’s not crazy and that Rashard Mendenhall is totally worth a middle round flyer for a No. 3 RB.

That said, I don’t expect you to accept my advice as biblical, and I most certainly expect many of you to disagree. But we’re all here to create a conversation and hopefully help the misguided fantasy football virgins of the world feel a little more secure about their picks or simply have an idea of what they’re doing in general. It’s a serious business when pride (and probably money) is on the line, and that’s why I’m here for you – to make the tough decisions that you don’t want to make.

Burnsy’s Fantasy Football Drafting Rule Of 3

Today’s topic is drafting the perfect quarterback, as all of my zen-fueled advice follows the “Burnsy Rule of 3.” I believe that in order to win any fantasy league, you need 3 players – a top QB, a top wide receiver and a top RB. Some people think you just need two RBs and a good WR or two RBs and a solid QB, but my Rule of 3 philosophy requires one great player at the three main positions. “Why not the Rule of 4 with the tight end included?” Because the TE is stupid and we’ll talk more about that on Thursday.

For today’s conversation about choosing your QB, I’ve broken the NFL’s 32 starting QBs down into five categories to help you better understand which field generals are worth your time and which of them belong behind the counter at a Dollar General.

The Guys You’d Want To Get Your Sister Pregnant

I believe that fantasy football leagues should have no more than 12 teams and no less than 12 teams. One non-baker’s dozen is the perfect amount of teams for any fantasy league, and I base that on hollow conviction with absolutely no scientific evidence. I just like 12. So it’s convenient that I believe there are 11 great-to-elite QBs that you can draft for your team and still effectively operate within the confines of my Rule of 3 theory. Of course that means one fantasy owner in your league is screwed, but it’s hopefully that dude you all hate and only invite back because he pays on time and always Giants players because, “The f*cking G-Men rule!”

I do not, however, consider all 11 of those QBs to be elite. Some of them are very, very close, but I define elite as a guy that I’d spend a first or second round pick on. Therefor, I have three-and-a-half elite QBs:

Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Peyton Manning

And Tom Brady counts as the half of an elite QB, because he’s probably falling out of the first two (and maybe even three or four rounds) in fantasy drafts this year, because his top target left for Denver, his second top target has a bad back from throwing it in all those girls and the third target possibly killed multiple people. Add to that the fact that Brady also has a bunch of new receivers, and he’s suddenly a leper at fat camp.

But still, he’s Tom-F*cking-Brady. Are you going to pass him up in the fourth round for Eli Manning? No. You’re going to draft him and brag about the steal that you got, and even if he ends up sucking this season, you can still justify it by saying, “Whatever, he’s Tom-f*cking-Brady.”

The Guys Who Would Make A Decent Brother-In-Law

So what about the other seven guys? Who are these bros that aren’t quite elite, but I think could win you all that crispy cash and shiny coin?

Matt Ryan
Cam Newton
Russell Wilson
Colin Kaepernick
Matt Stafford
Andrew Luck
Robert Griffin III

Here’s the thing – when I’m drafting my fantasy team, I like drafting a QB between the 3rd and 6th rounds, but I also typically hate hanging my hat on young QBs. For all we know, Wilson could end up being a rookie flash in the pan, Kaepernick could die of exhaustion from playing an entire season, RG3’s legs could fall off and Luck could end up being sacked 8,000 times in one season and look like Wile E. Coyote after a bunch of boulders fell on him.

But I’m a bit of an optimist this season and am encouraging people to take more chances. That means I expect these young guns to be good, as do plenty of other “experts” and “gurus.” Given the chance, though, I’ll take Ryan, Newton or Stafford before the four other guys because I at least have an idea of what to expect.

The Guys Who Might Be Cool If You Give Them A Chance

I added this subgroup after I originally wrote the post, because I didn’t know where to include Andy Dalton. I didn’t want to call him great yet, despite the fact that he put up solid numbers last season and has a very enticing offense now, but I also didn’t want to poop on the guy’s talents. Basically, if you end up being that 12th guy who gets screwed out of the great-to-elite QBs and you’re staring down the barrel of an Eli Manning/Tony Romo/Ben Roethlisberger/Joe Flacco cannon of averageness, I’d probably recommend rolling the dice on Dalton’s upside.

Additionally, the other, older guy that I wanted to squeeze in here is Carson Palmer. I’ve had Palmer on various teams as my backup QB for the past two seasons, and he’s been surprisingly good. Last season, I ended up starting him for 2/3 of the season in my auction league because Matt Stafford was the worst $43 I had ever spent.

“But Burnsy, didn’t you just say that I could win my league with Stafford as my ‘great’ QB?” Yes, yes I did. And my resume also says I speak Spanish and am fluent in American Sign Language. What’s your point?

The Guys Who Keep Eating Your Pop Tarts Before They Sneak Out Of Your Sister’s Window In The Morning

Eli Manning
Tony Romo
Joe Flacco
Ben Roethlisberger
Matt Schaub
Michael Vick

Let’s be clear – I’m not saying these guys suck. Some of them have won Super Bowls and others have put up some huge numbers, and at times they have been elite fantasy QBs. Hell, Tony Romo almost threw for 5,000 yards last season. That’s no small feat. But if I’m drafting a team and I take Kaepernick or Ryan, I look like this:

But if I take Eli or Romo, I’m probably going to look like this:

It’s more of a preconceived bias than anything against their actual talents, and I’m sure that you could win a league with no problem while picking any of these guys. But these are also guys who are more likely to cause you to rip your hair out when they score you 3 whole points on any given Sunday, as opposed to Peyton Manning, who averaged 15 points per week for me last season.

The point is to ask yourself if your plan to wait until the 7th round to take a QB because you just couldn’t pass up Ryan Matthews in the 6th round because “This is his year, bro!” is worth it if it means praying that Romo doesn’t have another negative points showing.

The Guys Who Probably Gave Your Sister That UTI

Josh Freeman
Sam Bradford
Philip Rivers
Jay Cutler
Mark Sanchez
Kevin Kolb
Matt Flynn
Ryan Tannehill
Blaine Gabbert/Chad Henne

Et cetera, et cetera.

Again, I’m not saying that these guys necessarily suck. But if you get to the point that you’re hanging it all on one of these guys as your starter this season, holy sh*t, you better have one hell of a lineup. Sure, maybe you read a Matthew Berry column about how this is the year that J-Cutty and Rivers turn it around and make the leap, or maybe the IT guy at work is a huge Bucs fan and heard that Freeman “just looks sick at practice” (even though he smokes Marlboro Reds and I don’t trust a QB that smokes).

But this is way beyond optimism. This is conversations with God, high on PCP ambitious. I whole-heartedly advise you against waiting long enough to get stuck with one of these knobs as your starting fantasy QB, but in the event that you’re sold on this insane strategy, stay tuned for tomorrow’s RB guide and we’ll try to get you the right pieces around your nutty turd of a QB.