The case for drafting a running quarterback in fantasy

Of course Cam Newton is a top fantasy QB in part because of his legs, but as Michael Moore notes, several guys offer similar help.

| 4 months ago
(Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

(Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

The case for drafting a running quarterback in fantasy


Quarterback mobility has become a prime topic of conversation in recent years. Some quarterbacks have come into the league running, with guys like Michael Vick and Tim Tebow deriving a big chunk of their fantasy value through their legs.

Today we’re going to investigate the value of a mobile quarterback for fantasy, and how rushing yards for quarterbacks has changed value in recent years. Several examples suggest some teams have increased faith in these quarterbacks, which has paid off and, in turn, affected the fantasy community. We’re going to look at a few quarterbacks who derive value from their running, and use them to point out some trends at the position.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Perhaps the best example of a mobile quarterback, Newton has to be the lead for this conversation. If we look at his 2015 MVP season, it’s a perfect example of just how much more value a mobile quarterback can provide. Despite ranking just 16th in passing yards with 3,837, Newton finished first in fantasy scoring. A large part of that was his rushing totals. Last year, Newton rushed for 636 yards, which, if you were to use standard fractional scoring, is an additional 63.6 points. By standard scoring, a quarterback would have to throw for 1,600 yards to equal the fantasy points Newton added with his rushing yards, to say nothing of the difference in touchdown scoring (six points for a rushing touchdown, four for passing in standard). For Newton to have gotten his same fantasy point total without his rushing yards (again, excepting touchdowns), he would have had to throw for 5,500 yards last year — 630 more than any quarterback actually passed for.

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Michael Moore has written for PFF Fantasy since 2013, focusing primarily on dynasty content. He’s also hosted the PFF Fantasy Slant Podcast since 2014.

  • crosseyedlemon

    If Newton is removed from the discussion then the case for drafting a mobile QB is weak. The risk of injury is greatly increased when a QB runs and while Newton has the physical size to reduce that risk some the majority of rushing passers are just accidents waiting to happen.

    • NeoEclipse

      Is it though? Because Wilson and Rodgers are also at the top of the list for fantasy QBs. The argument in this article is that running QBs have high floors, which is what you want in the early rounds. I’ve never drafted a QB before the fifth round before, and Newton’s ADP is putting him somewhere in the third round (depending on league size and scoring). I’ve used projections from Fantasy Football Analytics to match my league scoring, and Newton is consistently popping up as a second round selection. I don’t entirely believe it, but I can also see the tremendous benefit of a guy who’s going to consistently deliver. I think a lesson we have to take away from this is to look at where Newton was drafted last year. Try to find that guy again. Try to find the high floor, super high ceiling guy in the late rounds. I totally see the argument for drafting a running QB early, but I don’t know if it’s quite worth it to pass up that RB1 or WR1.