Even more reasons not to draft a fantasy QB early

Dr. Frasier Crane: Lilith Sternin is a good woman: strong, durable, reliable.

Norm Peterson: She'd make one hell of a radial tire actually.

Ah, "Cheers." Was there ever a better show on television?

As fantasy owners, we are looking for our own Lilith Sternin, that radial tire of our starting lineups -- a quarterback we can send out there week-in and week-out with a high level of confidence. A player who is strong, reliable, durable. More than at any other position, we can find that confidence with quarterbacks -- and it shouldn't cost you one of your first four or five overall selections.

Hear me out.

Most leagues on NFL.com are of the 10-team variety and require just one starting signal-caller. So in a given week, fewer than one-third of NFL quarterbacks will be starting in your fantasy league. On the flip side, you'll need two-to-three starting running backs and/or two-to-three starting wide receivers (depending on whether or not you utilize a flex position). I've discussed this in the past -- it's a case of relative value and simple supply and demand. In an effort to drive the point home a bit more, let's take a look at my top 10 quarterbacks heading into the 2013 campaign.

So, those are 10 quarterbacks who are virtual locks to open the 2013 season as starters in your fantasy football leagues -- those are the radial tires, the players you can count on among signal-callers.

However, I haven't even mentioned players like Tony Romo or Matthew Stafford. Both of them came within 100 yards of throwing for 5,000 last season. I haven't talked about Eli Manning or Michael Vick, who were surefire fantasy starters as recently as 2011. I didn't discuss Andy Dalton or Josh Freeman, who were tough to bench during different stretches of the 2012 campaign. We also can't forget Ben Roethlisberger, Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco or Carson Palmer.

The depth is ridiculous.

Here's another little nugget to wrap your fantasy brain around: the difference between the top quarterback and the first reserve at the position (the 11th quarterback in a standard 10-team league) is shrinking like George Costanza after a dip in the pool. In 2009, the difference between Rodgers (1st at quarterback based on points) and Eli Manning (11th) was 110.42 points or 6.90 per game. That's a pretty big margin. Fast forward to last season, and you'll see the Costanza shrinkage effect -- Rodgers (1st) scored just 70 more points than Stafford (11th) - that's an average of 4.37 per game.

Oh, and Stafford was considered a bust last season.

Let's take this analysis another step further. In a standard 10-team league, a total of 35 quarterbacks finished among the top 10 players at the position at least once during a given week during the 2012 fantasy season (Weeks 1-16). Of those quarterbacks, 14 accomplished the feat at least five times (Griffin III and Peyton Manning were the leaders with 10). A total of 21 field generals finished in the top 10 at least four times, a list that includes Eli Manning, Sam Bradford, Matt Schaub, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Palmer.

Now, let's compare that to the running back position.

If we go with the minimum number of starters (2) in a 10-team league, we saw 80 runners finish among the top 20 players at the position (based on points) at least one time during a given week last season. That's a good number, right? Well, the problem was in finding backs that actually produced on a consistent level. Of those 80 runners, just 10 finished in the top 20 at least 10 times. Furthermore, close to 50 percent of these runners ranked among the top 20 either once or twice.

Sos, we can draw three conclusions: First, it is much easier to trust quarterbacks, top to bottom, than any other position. Even if you're desperate for a starter in a given week due to injuries or a bye, would you feel better about starting Schaub or Cutler against a favorable opponent or a second- or third-string runner like Mark Ingram or Isaac Redman? Second, you can't argue with the depth at quarterback. Romo and Stafford will be drafted as No. 2s in some leagues for 2013.

Third and most importantly, anyone who decides to go after a signal-caller in standard leagues before the fourth or fifth round will be making a significant mistake.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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