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Historical Position Comparison: Positional Scorecard

Peter Schoenke

Peter Schoenke is the president and co-founder of He's been elected to the hall of fame for both the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and Fantasy Sports Writers Association and also won the Best Fantasy Baseball Article on the Internet in 2005 from the FSWA. He roots for for the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and T-Wolves.

We had a caller on the on RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today (which airs 11 am to 2 pm ET on XM 147 / Sirius 211) asking if he should take a QB in the first round of a 10-team draft. I told him that while the stats that an Aaron Rodgers or top QB produced last year may be tantalizing, there's a lot of risk of taking a quarterback in the first round because of injury.
Almost 25 percent of quarterbacks since 1998 taken in the top 15 of drafts have been "busts" since 1998."Bust" is defined as a player who didn't score more fantasy points than the worst potential starter (so more than the 13th-best quarterback in a 12-team league that starts one quarterback). I realized I didn't have a good place to send the caller on the site to check out the data I talked about, so I'm presenting it below.

I originally had this chart in a story I wrote about the value of taking receivers in the first round. I've updated the data to include the 2009 season and added some additional columns.

Now for the fine print. I used average draft position (ADP) from the thousands of leagues that draft on MyFantasyLeague. I used the following league parameters in the math: 12-team league with 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE and 1 K. I used this typical fantasy league scoring system: (4 points passing TD, 6 points rushing or receiving TD, 1 point per 20 yards passing, 1 point per 10 yards rushing or receiving and no points gained or lost for interceptions, turnovers or receptions)

VBD = Value Based Drafting. This number is the number of fantasy points above the replacement level (in this example, there are 24 running backs, so VBD = value over the 25th-placed running back in fantasy points).

There haven't been any WRs taken in the top five ADP of drafts and no TEs taken in the top 25 ADP since 1998.

While receivers are safe early picks (yes, there are no busts of the 23 in the top 15 ADP since 1998), they decline at a rapid rate. Late-round running backs hold their value better than receivers. It's a compelling reason to take receivers early and running backs in the middle rounds (as I detail in last year's story). Quarterbacks have the highest attrition rate at almost every draft position.
Be aware of small sample size variations below. Top 50 TEs have been healthy, but there have only been 12 taken in the top 50 ADP since 1998. I wouldn't take a quarterback in the top five overall picks of any draft (unless it's a league that starts two QBs), but I wouldn't overly put stock in the 50 percent bust rate since there have been only four instances.

POS ADP Avg. VBD No. of Picks "Busts" Bust Percentage
Qb Top 5 -63 4 2 0.50
QB Top 15 37.24 25 6 0.24
QB Top 25 34.88 42 12 0.29
QB Top 50 6.62 87 34 0.39
QB Top 75 3.9 137 56 0.41
WR Top 15 77.14 21 0 0
WR Top 25 44.39 72 7 0.10
WR Top 50 32.93 179 44 0.25
WR Top 75 21.28 295 103 0.35
RB Top 5 128.45 31 3 0.10
RB Top 15 97.8 101 14 0.14
RB Top 25 64.35 139 19 0.14
RB Top 50 47.21 258 41 0.16
RB Top 75 41.01 341 75 0.22
TE Top 50 59.17 12 1 0.08
Top 75