by Nick Ercolano
June 19, 2019
Quarterback Rankings by Tier for 2019 Fantasy Football
Talk about QBs in General - SF vs. 1QB - choosing upside vs floor in those leagues.
Patrick Mahomes will be in a tier by himself if we get Tyreek Hill on the field for 12 games. At full force, this Chiefs team is unbelievable. 1st in YPG, PPG, top 5 in pace, it's all there.
Andrew Luck doesn't have the ceiling of Mahomes, but if Luck threw for more FPs then Mahomes it wouldn't surprise me. An improved weapons core with Parris Campbell & Devin Funchess, one of his favorite targets in Jack Doyle back behind one of the best offensive lines in football (2nd per FOs, 9th per PFF) - another year of continuity. Luck will be healthy, unlike going into last year.
Luck was the QB2 in fantasy from Week 4 onward, averaging 3.5 ppg fewer than Mahomes over the final 13. 34 TDs in that span for Luck - he had that 8 game streak with 3+ TDs. I really feel like Luck's floor this year if he's healthy is 4,800 and 38 touchdowns. He had 9 games of more than 23 FPs, if you're in a 6 PPTdown league, he went nuts for you. He set a career-high in comp %, attempts and completions. If there's a concern, it's that they'll be more run-heavy in 2019 - they improved their defense, I think they'll look to control the clock and maybe limit the risky passes downfield as it's unlikely they even need to take many chances.
Aaron Rodgers is a really interesting case. It feels like him being 35 is just a non-factor. He'll be 36 in December, so for now, we'll leave it at that. However, with older players, we see injuries absolutely curtail careers, so if he starts compiling more injuries this year I'll start getting nervous. He missed 9 games in 2017 with the broken collarbone, then last year he was banged up.
But, for as "bad" of a year as Rodgers finished with, the numbers don't say that - 4442 yards, 25:2, 269 on the ground and two scores. It felt like such a bad year because, after nearly 10 consecutive seasons of finishing within the top 2 at QB for fantasy, he was the QB7 overall, QB10 in FPPG. He suffered a sprained MCL in Week 1 (along with a tibial plateau fracture), which limited him a bit, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse considering he still ran for 269 yards and if you're that limited you won't hit that number, he only has a few seasons in his career with more rushing yards than that.
I talk about TD rate all the time as it pertains to QBs. The percentage of QB throws that went for TDs in a given season, it's a predictable stat for what we can expect, or if we can expect regression or bounce back... good news for Rodgers owners - his career TD rate as the starter in GB is 6.5% an extremely high number, I don't have all the numbers but that's probably top 5 of all time for QBs... Last year? 4.2%. His worst year prior to 2018? Was his first year taking over as the starter for the Packers in 2008, 5.2%, a whole point higher. This screams positive bounce-back in the TD category for Rodgers. He attempted 597 passes last year, a TD rate of 4.2% gives him those 25 passing TDs. Had he even just matched his career-low prior to that, he's looking at over 31 Passing TDs. If he matches his career average of 6.5%? 39 passing TDs.
Matt LaFleur comes in as the new HC, it's going to be a new offense. And I get that everyone is excited about it. But when you look at the numbers, I'm not drafting Rodgers because of LaFleur. For as much as everyone hated McCarthy, GB ran the 8th fastest offense in terms of pace, they weren't stalled all the time, they were top-12 in fewest 3-n-out's per drive, meanwhile, Tennessee had the 5th slowest pace in the NFL last year (FOs). My concern is that this offense won't actually be improved because of LaFleur, it's just hype, but I do think it'll be improved because they just had a down year in terms of scoring which should bounce back. I wish they added a new weapon for Rodgers, outside of Jace Sternberger, but he'll have to do what he always does and make playmakers out of them.
Deshaun Watson rounds out this tier, no surprise here. After going nuts in his rookie season on a small sample size, Watson backed it up in 2018, playing a full 16 games, albeit banged up, cementing himself as an elite fantasy QB in Houston, again behind a miserable offensive line. They ranked dead last in PBing per FOs, 20th per PFF, they allowed the most sacks (62) in the NFL,
They did use their first-round pick on Tytus Howard a versatile OL out of Alabama State after getting sniped by the Eagles on Andre Dillard, then used one of their two 2nd-rounders on another offensive lineman, so after 5 years they've finally understood the problem. Incredible.
I really like the weapons group around Watson. Health is a big concern, but if Hopkins, Fuller, Keke and this new TE they took in the 3rd round Kahale Warring, I like him a lot, it's a great supporting cast to supplement his passing game which took an enormous step up last year. Watson raised his completion percentage from 61.8% to 68.3%, but more importantly, his adjusted completion % (per PFF - which accounts for throwaways and spiked balls and that shit), Watson was at 65.6% in 2017 to 76.1% in 2018, a full 10.5% increase. He got far less reckless, he was throwing the ball deep on nearly 20% of his throws in 2017 which is a crazy, number, down to 11.1%, sandwiched right in between Brees and Luck.
What I love about Watson is that he has the upside that a lot of QBs don't have. He'll throw for 250 and 2, and on any given week give you that 40 on the ground and a score. Which boosts you from solid QB1 numbers like 20-24 FPs, to that 30-35 mark. It's extremely tough for a non-rushing QB to hit that ceiling.
My only concern is his health, he runs a lot, takes a lot of hits, missed his rookie year, was hurt a bit last year. So, that's why I have him at 4.
The next tier is led by my guy Matt Ryan. 4,923 passing yards and 35 touchdowns - really close numbers to his 2016 MVP season. Week 1, Mahomes went off, Matt Ryan had that miserable performance against the Eagles on TNF to kick off the football season. But from Weeks 2 - through the rest of the year, Mahomes scored about 3 FPPG more than Ryan did. Mahomes had the single greatest fantasy football season ever.
A few things that could impact Ryan to have on your radar:
The other crazy thing is that Matt Ryan is literally in a dome through Week 11. Every game through Week 11 is played in a dome. 13-of-16 games on the season.... in a dome. I will say, though, he was great last year in a dome compared to playing outdoors, but I looked back a few years as well to get a bigger sample size and 2017, 2016 (per PFR) are almost split, not crazy - so don't make this your main sticking point, although it's a nice tie-breaker.
Think we're going to see a lot more of that. Ryan is a high-floor, medium-high ceiling fantasy QB this year.
I went in-depth on Carson Wentz on my bounce-back player's video a few weeks back, so go check that out. The offensive line and the weapons group around him has him set up to absolutely dominate in 2019. Alshon, Ertz, Goedert in his 2nd year, DeSean Jackson byke, JJAWs, Miles Sanders. The injury is definitely a concern, but he's shed the knee brace entirely so look for more rushing in 2019 and he's a full go at OTAs so far, so until we hear about something happening or that he's limited, it's full send in 2019 for Wentz.
Baker Mayfield was incredible when Freddie Kitchens took over in Cleveland last year.
TThis was on Dec. 13, so around Week 15, I believe.
He was incredible throughout, not just then, setting the record for most passing TDs by a rookie (27). As I mentioned in one of last week's videos, the hype around Baker is very, very high, but Vegas has his stat line set at 4,200 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns. Those are excellent numbers for a sophomore QB, but they're not game-changing in fantasy. That's what you're going to get from Matt Ryan and likely like 4 other QBs - there's no reason to start taking Baker as the QB5 outside of dynasty. He's a top 2-3 option there for sure.
I think one of the under-the-radar concerns for Baker this year is his volume. I think this team is going to run the ball a lot. I love them bringing in Todd Monken as the OC, but apparently & unfortunately, he won't be calling plays. When Kitchens took over, in the eight games following, Baker had some big passing volume games for sure, over 40 three times, but still only averaged 32.9 attempts/game, which I don't think is an unreasonable projection. I think Baker will have one of the highest TD rates in the NFL next year, probably around 5.5-6.0% of this throws going for TDs, but even at that rate, it's hard to project him for north of 30 TDs. Are the 40+ touchdown seasons coming for Baker? Definitely, this year? Eh, I don't think that's it.
Kyler Murray. I've seen him ranked as high as the QB5 by some folks in the industry. I get it. They want to be like yeah I liked him the most. I liked him better than you. No one can like him more than me. It's just too cute in my opinion. Though I do think top 5 is in his range of outcomes, I don't project players to hit their ceiling. Only Marlon Mack I do that with. Murray comes to this situation which is really one of the wildest, most intriguing situations we as fans have seen in a long time here in Arizona. New, flashy yet pretty unsuccessful HC in Kliff Kingsbury taking over to install this air raid offense. They draft 3 WRs, while only marginally improving their offensive line which was atrocious last year. The weapons group is going to be good. In a couple of years. Kirk will be very good this year. Fitz will be Fitz, the rest are hyped but not proven. I imagine Kyler will be scrambling for his life a lot here which will obviously turn into a lot of rushing production. It's not unprecedented though. We look back at Cam Newton, during his rookie season back in 2011. He finished as fantasy's QB3. The team went 6-10, about where I'd project Arizona to be. However, Cam finished that year with 14 rushing touchdowns... LeSean McCoy was the only player in the NFL that had more rushing TDs that year. I love Kyler as a passer, but arm talent will only get you so far. The offensive line is not only a concern because he'll have pressure in his face, but he's going to take a lot of hits... and his size is definitely a concern from that standpoint - could give a shit less about being small just for people saying he's small, doesn't impact anything for me.
Though, I legitimately think he finessed the combine, he's not 5'10 - there are so many pictures of him standing next to people that are 5'10-5'11 and it's not close.
Regardless, he's taking a lot of hits. The Cardinals let up the 4th most QB hits and the 5th most sacks in 2018. The hits are coming, hopefully Kyler being thicc and all can keep him upright. He didn't take hits in college, OU always has a beast o-line, so, that is definitely a concern, as it is with every mobile QB.
Speaking of mobile QB, Cam Newton wraps up this tier. I'm not going to waste your time telling you how good of a value he is. Yeah, we know, if his shoulder is good to go, he's a top-5 fantasy QB. But you can't just discount the shoulder, which he's had multiple surgeries on in recent years. He has much longer to recover from it than last time which is massive. Reports had him throwing NFL size footballs already a couple of weeks ago, keep a close eye on reports. I Imagine reports will start surfacing of him looking rusty, his accuracy in particular, but I just want to know that he gained full muscular strength around the shoulder and I'm back on the Cam Bam train.
Both of those guys are the perfect 1QB league draft pick. The upside is top 5, if they don't work out, or get hurt, there are always guys on the waiver wire.
No one was higher on Jameis Winston entering this offseason then I was. In my first QB rankings video I did back in like February, he was my #5 fantasy QB. However, I think the loss of pieces like DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries are going to have a much bigger impact on him then people are making it out to be. Continuity is so important. The way I look at it, the more variables and unknowns added to the equation, the riskier the player is, that's not a positive. The big storyline this offseason for the Bucs was adding Bruce Arians as the HC. Everything will depend on whether or not he can get through to Jamies and make him a more consistent, efficient QB.
The problem is that people act as if the Bucs weren't throwing it at an unbelievable rate under Koetter and Monken. Last year, 6th highest passing rate in the NFL, the year before - 3rd highest. Of all his time as an OC or HC, Arians had one big year from a fantasy QB - it was Palmer in Arizona in 2015 - he threw for 4,671 yards, 35 TDs, 11 INTs - averaged 20 FPPG. Would have Winston as the QB9 last year. Winston is a turnover machine and I'd be shocked if he produced anywhere close to a 35:11 season. The other thing is just how many turnovers overall he has. He's been bottom 5 in INTs/game in all four NFL seasons, he fumbled the ball 7 times in 11 games last year thanks to an offensive line that allowed the 4th most QB hits in the NFL (109). They didn't address the OL at all this offseason. They went heavy on defense. And people love to use the defense gives up a lot of points, etc. Also means the other team kills the clock and keeps the ball during these drives people. Less time to move the ball means they need to be more efficient... is that what Winston is? Eh. So, as much I loved him a few months ago, he's not my favorite late-round guy anymore.
Dak has been a top-12 fantasy in every NFL season. QB6 in his rookie year, QB8 the next year, a bad start last year but finished ridiculously strong once Amari Cooper showed up in Dallas.
From Week 6 onwards, Dak was the number four QB in fantasy football. Ahead of Andrew Luck, ahead of Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson. This is real big facts people. He's currently the 16th QB off the board, an absolute no-brainer.
He's scored 6 rushing touchdowns in 3 straight seasons. People get bored of Dak and don't want him because their offense is "run-first" and he's not exciting, but Dallas threw the ball on nearly 57% of their plays last year, an increase of almost 5% from the year prior, they have former QB and younger OC in Kellen Clemens taking over on offense. That weekly ceiling we didn't think he was capable of? He is. He had a 31.5 point game, 29.5, 27.5, 26.5. Shit was real!
Jared Goff is someone that is hard to dislike, but I look at QB ranks from a Superflex standpoint and I think he's a much easier pick in 1QB leagues, because you know when to start him. That's when pretty Cali boy is in warm weather, coddled in his mother's loving arms. All in all, he had a very strong regular season, padded by that unbelievable 54-51 game against the Chiefs that I will never ever forget as long as I'm alive which is probably around October. **cross fingers**. But he went under 17.5 FPs in 9-of-17 games. Some horrible games, at SEA, at DEN, at DET, at CHi. Like if it ain't surfs up weather, gettem out your lineup.
But on the real, he's a fine starter in 1QB leagues - he's not as consistent as people probably think, but he's in a great offense, great scheme, very strong group of weapons and if we're seeing less Gurley like everyone is projecting, that probably means more passing, so.
Drew Brees for the same reason I don't want M-Thomas in my top-5, it's the same for Brees as my fantasy QB. He really wasn't a good fantasy QB last year.
Put this in here:
We forgot about the home and away splits going into 2018 because they didn't happen in 2017.... more recency bias.
Week 1, that ridiculous shootout against TB when him and Fitzpatrick had like 9000 yards, Brees scored 29.6 FPs, we came to find out that TB was a miserable pass d. Week 3, Brees put up 40, that was against ATL, the beginning of the year when everyone on our defense got hurt and every team was putting up 40 on us. 31.4 against that Rams secondary without Talib, was miserable. At Cincinnati, who by that point in the szn had also fallen apart, and gave up the 3rd most FPs to QBs on the year already. And then PHI would literally didn't have a secondary during the regular season. So it's like yeah, five great games, it might seem like I'm stretching but none of those were impressive when you put them in context.
Lamar Jackson this is a fun one. It's a really obvious one, what's going to happen with him. Like in the beginning of the offseason everyone was gonna hate on him, it was the cool thing to do and just say how shitty of a passer he was. Soon, like I've been saying for a little while now, his improvement in passing is likely going to happen, they added a TON of speed this off-season to compliment Jackson between Marquise Brown, Justice Hill, Miles Boykin.
*** PUT THEIR PlayerProfilers's IN VIDEO ***
I don't think we need to touch on Jackson's rushing ability...
The thing that I really like about Jackson is just how heavily this team has bought into him. Everything is completely and 100% centered around him, since the day they drafted him. That's awesome to see. Idk if it's going to be awesome for the Ravens, but the NFL is such a half-ass league and everyone is playing for the right now, the short-term - they could've just as easily brought in a Ryan Fitzpatrick to compete with Jackson, but they didn't - they shipped out Joe Flacco and it's his team. At the end of the day, if I'm in a 1QB league I'm way more intrigued with Lamar Jackson, because again if he gets hurt because he's taking too many hits, or he just simply doesn't improve as a passer - guess who will be on the Waiver Wire - assuming you play in a 12-team league, and half the teams take a backup QB - Trubisky, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy G, Brady, Darnold - all available at QB19 or later (aka on your wire) if he doesn't work out. I think in a SuperFlex where you don't have that sort of leeway to just miss on players because the position literally just doesn't fucking matter, this is about where I'd look at him because the risks and the chances of him busting this year are definitely real.
So, you won't find me as one of those guys that is putting Jackson in the top 5 strictly based on his rushing - I'm much more hesitant on that.
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