The Myth of the QB & WR Duo

For nearly every football season since I was 12 years old playing fantasy football, I always have thought to myself “this is it… a quarterback and his favorite wide receiver on the same fantasy roster! How could I ever lose with such a hook-up? 10 points per touchdown between the two.” I slowly and painfully have learned over my 15 years of fantasy football experience that this strategy is not only misguided, but it is generally downright stupid. 

You see it every season, a quarterback hooks up with a wide receiver for double digit TDs and over 1,000 receiving yards. It becomes the talk of ESPN and the teams Twitter account blows up with details of how this QB/WR combo is the best in the league, and possibly the best ever. You see it all the time, Rodgers and Nelson, Ryan and Jones, Brady and… well pretty much anyone he decides to throw too, so why does it seem that every time you attempt to pair up a QB with his top target it inevitably seems to fail?

It is easy to say, “I’m going to scoop up Rodgers in the first round and then snag Nelson when the pick comes back around to me.” It can also be easy to accomplish, because Jordy Nelson will most likely be available in the second round… maybe even in later rounds. Herein lies the issue.  Jordy Nelson is not the most optimal second round pick you will have available. Sure, he may very well be the number one target, and he may post good numbers, but that is never going to bring your team to a championship.

Leaving players on the draft board at positions that have much higher point differentials, most notably running backs, is going to hurt your team more than a possible hook up between a QB and his number one WR is going to help.

Say you pick up Dez Bryant and then Dak Prescott right behind him with your first two picks, but you had a shot at Ezekiel Elliott instead. Sure, Dak and Dez would probably post some good stats throughout the season, but what Elliott will produce on his own is much greater than what Dak and Dez could do for you.

Elliott will have around 30 touches per game where Dez, if he isn’t blanketed by the other team’s defense, may get about 8-10 chances to catch the ball in a given game. Moreover, you will be able to pick up a WR down the line that will produce just about as much as Dez Bryant, but you will very rarely find a running back who will produce like Elliott after the first round.

Another reason this strategy rarely works is because when your duo faces off against the other team’s best defensive backfields, the number one target is generally locked down and sometimes even double teamed by the opposing defense. This means your quarterback’s numbers may be great, but they are being produced by him going to every other receiver on the field instead of your man.

Especially if the quarterback is elite, like the aforementioned Tom Brady. He will leave his number one target on lock down and go to any other pass catcher who can get the job done. If the quarterback is not elite and relies on his number one receiver to get anything done through the air, chances are the numbers will not be consistent throughout the season (think of Jameis Winston). Sure, one week they may run into a mismatch and are able to go crazy against them, but chances are week-to-week that will not be the case.

In the long-run you would be better off picking up an elite running back and choosing a comparable QB and WR down the line. If you are completely dead set on having a QB/WR hook up, your best bet would be to be patient. By week 4 or 5 there should be an obvious trend of QB’s building a rapport with WR’s you can still find on the waiver wire. Do not let the delusions of grandeur of an unstoppable QB/WR duo ruin your chances at a championship this season!

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