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Is it time to start considering mobile quarterbacks earlier in fantasy drafts?

Should we start to give quarterbacks more attention early in fantasy football drafts? This season’s top performers make it seem like the position is headed in a new direction.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs with the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Versatile running backs have been the crown jewels of fantasy football gurus everywhere for the better part of the last decade. Names like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Christian McCaffrey have long been heralded as the options with the highest upside regardless of format, but Week 2 reminded us just how fragile the running back position can be.

McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley represent a small portion of the running backs who suffered injuries serious enough in Week 2 to force them to miss multiple games. Running backs are injured more frequently than quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. Maybe it’s time to stop emphasizing getting studs at running back when the quarterback position is evolving.

Here’s a look at the top fantasy performers in standard leagues through Week 2.

Top 5 fantasy football performers through Week 2

Rank Name Passing yards Passing TDs Rushing yards Rushing TDs
Rank Name Passing yards Passing TDs Rushing yards Rushing TDs
1 Russell WIlson 610 9 68 0
2 Josh Allen 729 6 75 1
3 Cam Newton 552 1 122 4
4 Kyler Murray 516 2 158 3
5 Dak Prescott 716 2 48 3

One thing that all these players have in common is the ability to make plays with their legs, and they come in all makes and models. Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray are both of the undersized variety while Josh Allen and Cam Newton are both mountainous, 6’5 men. This list doesn’t even include Lamar Jackson, who led the NFL in passing touchdowns with 36 in 2019 while also breaking the single-season rushing record for quarterbacks by running for 1,206 yards and seven scores. Now that we’re seeing how successful “running quarterbacks” can be, it’s only a matter of time before we see more thriving in the pros.

The highest-scoring fantasy player in the NFL each of the past nine seasons has been a quarterback. The last time another position took the top spot was in 2010, when Arian Foster had 1,616 yards and 16 scores while also hauling in 66 passes for 604 yards and two touchdowns. Foster never put together another season like that and saw his production fall off because of injuries. Aaron Rodgers has been the top fantasy performer in standard leagues three times since then. While his prowess as a passer helped him accrue points, he also combined for 895 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns during those seasons.

Elite quarterbacks have consistency on their side, and the league’s officiating has made their safety paramount in recent years by limiting the way defenders are able to hit them. If quarterbacks continue to get more crafty, elusive, and athletic, their fantasy ceilings will rise.

I won’t brag too much about snagging Cam Newton and Kyler Murray in my 12-team, two-quarterback league this year, but banking on two players with tons of upside is working out for me so far. I’m the type of drafter that picks the player I like most, regardless of position. Why wouldn’t you draft a do-it-all signal caller early that has the run game to fall back on if passing is difficult? After all, even Mitchell Trubisky was able to finish 19th overall in 2018 thanks to his legs.

I’m not saying you should load your fantasy team with a ton of mobile quarterbacks, but taking a pair of them in first four or five rounds might not be the worst strategy. Star running backs going down with injuries are a given in the NFL. Consider waiting around for the Joshua Kelley’s and James Robinson’s of the world before staking your season on a star running back.