In an auction draft conducted for Pro Football Weekly's 2011 Fantasy Football Guide, I won the bidding for three quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Eli Manning.
No, we weren't drafting for a league where owners would be required to start two quarterbacks. And no, I didn't lose track of how many quarterbacks I had.
Some owners have to stock up at running back. Others will take more wideouts than anyone else. Me? I'm the guy who sometimes takes three quarterbacks.
Yes, I'm aware of how weird this sounds. Some actual NFL teams might not carry three quarterbacks on their roster this season, but here Team Wilkening is, getting ultra-conservative — and ultra-odd, some might suggest.
What am I thinking? I'll tell you. Here's when I'll consider taking three passers:
• I don't get a top-tier passer early in the draft. This year, I believe there are six quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick — and everyone else. As you can see, I didn't get one of those quarterbacks in the auction draft, leaving me to use the by-committee approach.
• A couple of quarterbacks unexpectedly slide on draft day. If I have filled other needs and a quarterback is significantly better than anyone else on the board, I'll take him, even if I have a solid starter.
• A promising young passer is available in the final rounds. Even if I've taken two quarterbacks, I'll consider taking a third passer, stashing him on the end of my bench and hoping he starts fast. Someone who likes, say, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton or Cleveland's Colt McCoy might consider this maneuver. If you are convinced a young quarterback is better than your other owners believe, using a late-round pick to back up your opinion might be prudent.
Here's why I like the three-QB strategy:
• There is usually a significant drop-off from an NFL starting quarterback to his backup. That isn't always the case at, say, running back, especially with more teams splitting most of the carries between two players. Should your starting fantasy quarterback suffer an injury, you might consider claiming his backup on waivers. However, it's likely you already have another NFL starter waiting in the wings. Which brings us to our next point:
• A backup quarterback can be spun off to bolster other positions. If your third quarterback is better than another owner's backup passer, it opens some enticing trade opportunities for you.
• It's a low-risk, high-reward maneuver. If I take a third quarterback in Round 14 in a 16-round draft and he doesn't pan out, I waive him with no regrets and try to claim an emerging player at another position. However, if the pick works, I either have a potential starter at a vital position or a nice trade chip.
I won't always take three quarterbacks. Sometimes, it doesn't make sense. But I enjoy employing it when it's the right move to make, because it has home-run potential.