The Top 10 Quarterbacks for Yahoo! Salary Cap Football

Before the season starts my goal as a salary cap football owner is pretty simple:

Acquire the highest scoring player at each position for the lowest possible price.  

Sometimes this means paying a premium for a higher probability of upside profit, other times it involves taking calculated risks to save salary cap space.  In either case your goal is to keep your losses as small as possible.

The following player rankings are not meant to help you during your fantasy draft nor are they intended to assist you in any form of an auction league.  My rankings are based on the selectively aggressive, long-term salary cap strategy that helped me finish 186th overall last year.  Over the course of the next few days I will roll out my Top 10 at each skill position and explain my approach to salary cap sports in the process.

I have ranked each player based on a combination of potential upside profit (total points), probability for upside profit, and their risk (downside profit and probability for downside profit).

Ultimately you will have to rely on our own intuition to reach the top of the Yahoo! Salary Cap Football leader-boards.  My goal is to help you think more logically about your own selection process so that you are minimizing the risk and maximizing the reward of each player you invest in.

Top 10 Quarterbacks for Yahoo! Salary Cap Football

1. Tom Brady (NE) $26.35 – Y!# 2

2. Matthew Stafford (DET) $22.64 – Y!# 4

3. Michael Vick (PHI) $19.08 – Y!# 7

4. Cam Newton (CAR) $19.88 – Y!# 5

5. Drew Brees (NO) $27.54 – Y!# 3

6. Peyton Manning $10.87 – Y!# 11

7. Jay Cutler (CHI) $13.82 – Y!# 14

8. Eli Manning (NYG) $18.96 – Y!# 8

9. Matt Ryan (ATL) $19.60 – Y!# 6

10. Aaron Rodgers (GB) $30.19 – Y!# 1 (Yahoo! Sports Composite QB Ranking)

When you look at Yahoo‘s scoring system, it’s safe to assume that a quarterback is going to produce the most total points again this season.  With that being said, your goal as a salary cap football owner should be to target the best quarterback you can possibly afford.

In fact selecting your quarterback should be 2nd on your list of priorities in salary cap formats, right behind acquiring your kicker.  When your ready to select your Yahoo! Salary Cap Football quarterback, I recommend using the following rule of thumb:

Never allocate more than $20.00 towards a QB unless you expect to have a return of 300+ total points.  

Currently there are only 4 players that cost more than $20.00 and have the potential to finish with more than 300 points.  Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matthew Stafford.

I have Tom Brady as my #1 QB because I believe he will be the top scoring fantasy player in Yahoo! Salary Cap Football this year.  Of the four big money quarterbacks, Brady has the best opportunity to exceed his 2011 fantasy production.  The other three are going to have to work pretty damn hard to surpass their point totals from last year.  All in all $26.35 is fair market value for New England’s QB even if he doesn’t meet or exceed last year’s quota.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Now as good of a season as I think Tom Brady will have, I don’t think we’ll see an Aaron Rodgers type gap (80+ total points) between the #1 and #5 quarterbacks again this year.  In fact I don’t see the gap between the “Big 3” and Matthew Stafford, my #2 QB, being any greater than 30 total points.  Working off of this assumption, I believe the better play is to use one of the QB’s I have ranked 2 through 4.

If you have a higher risk tolerance you can save a considerable amount of salary cap space at QB by giving up only a small amount of upside profit. If are more risk averse, spend the extra cap space on Brady or Brees only.  Aaron Rodgers is just too expensive!

If I’m right about the 30 point gap, we are talking about less than 3 points per game by the end of Week 17. The “Big 3” still carry risk because you are not obtaining enough value from the other skill positions.  The money you save by using Stafford ($3.50+) is the difference between owning a player like Darren McFadden ($13.02) instead of Reggie Bush ($10.04).

I recognize that Stafford has the lowest upside and carries the most injury risk out of the four QB’s we’ve discussed so far, but he offers the highest expected value in terms of points per salary cap dollar (EV p/$).

Based on last year’s numbers and this year’s cost of ownership, Stafford’s EV p/$ of 14.2 is higher than D.Brees (13.4), T.Brady (12.7), and the most expensive player in the game A.Rodgers (12.6).

The only QB in My Top 5 who has a higher EV p/$ than Matthew Stafford is Cam Newton (14.8), and that’s something worth noting.  With one point per 50 passing yards compared to one point per 20 rushing yards, quarterbacks who have the ability to run cannot be ignored.  Neither can the risk they carry.

Because I am looking to keep the same QB for the entire season, I prefer the steady weekly production that a player like Stafford offers over the huge variance you’ll get from guys like Michael Vick and Cam Newton.  Vick appears to be the better option based on price and potential upside, but he carries considerably more injury risk than any of the QBs I have ranked ahead of him.

Some owners will choose players with higher upside profit, while others will choose players with a higher probability of profit.  Some are risk averse enough to pay a premium for a “sure thing”, even though that player has a lower expected value, while other less risk averse owners prefer the riskier, higher-mean gamble that frees up a ton of salary cap space.  It all depends on your preferred parameter mix.

How’s the neck Peyton?         (AP PHOTO/FILE)

Now if you are really willing to gamble, you may want to take a shot on Jay Cutler or Peyton Manning. These are the least expensive options in my Top 10.  I have these two in the same tier as Eli Manning and Matt Ryan as far as expected profit goes.

All four could reach Stafford’s level, but I don’t believe their probability for that type of upside profit is as high. These guys are about as average as salary cap quarterbacks come.

Need more salary cap football advice?

Learn how to avoid the 6 Pitfalls of the Salary Cap Football Trader

Let me know what you think about my Top 10 QB’s on Google+ or on Twitter @GoProFS24.  You can also share you thoughts in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!