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Positional strategies: Quarterbacks are gaining steam

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The way we draft quarterbacks has changed over the years. There were times when a quarterback being picked in the first round of a fantasy draft would elicit snickers from the group, as everybody loaded up on running backs. Drafting running backs early was the rule of thumb, because every fantasy team needed at least two capable running backs or your team was ruined.

Then a funny thing happened - the NFL is a quarterback league. I'm sure you've never heard the expression before. Much like you've never heard, 'these teams don't like each other,' 'this kicker was booting 70-yard field goals in practice' and 'it all depends on the spot.'

At some point during a game, I expect Ed Hochuli rattle off a two-minute monologue about why a running back was ruled down by contact and then punctuate the statement with, "Oh yeah, it's a quarterback league."

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But it has changed the way we play fantasy football and the way we look at quarterbacks. One of the main reasons is Mike Shanahan and the emergence of the running-back-by-committee. This has killed the fantasy running back. My very first fantasy football team back in 1991 had Emmitt Smith and Rodney Hampton (Google him, he was dope) as my starting running backs.

Now not only can't you draft two franchise running backs, there are none available in the NFL. Who are your franchise backs right now? Adrian Petereson, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew and maybe Stephen Jackson. That's it. The rest of injury prone curtain jerkers, or mid-card jobbers who split carries with some other mid-card jobber.

In fact, I think I even started Hampton one week last season.

So now the way we draft quarterbacks is going to change. Before, you could afford to wait until the sixth-, seventh- or eight-round to pick a quality quarterback. Now you need to act quickly to grab one of the elite quarterbacks. The reason is, you don't have great running backs to balance your team out if you're quarterback isn't so great.

So drafting a quarterback early is still a priority. Sure, there is going to be a lot of value placed on guys like LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster and Ray Rice. But if you draft one of those guys, you'd better back him up with Tony Romo in the following round. You just can't afford to sit and wait.

You won't be laughing if you do.

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