by Nick Ercolano
February 12, 2019
It's really time to make quarterbacks important again in fantasy football. Please, if you're not playing in a super flex league, it's the best thing you can do for you league. It's like when you moved over from standard to half ppr, OR like the first time you slipped your fingers down her pants. You're nervous, you have no idea what to do, it's uncharted territory, you're unsure of the most effective strategy. Do you go with 1 or 2? I'm talking about quarterbacks not fingers grow up. BUT you have confidence that you're going to find the hole and do what's necessary to fill it. I'm talking about quarterbacks not fingers, grow up. Analysis on QBs is so pointless nowadays, oh yeah just wait on a QB into the 15th round. It's like, that's so dumb, playing superflex means that you need to actually know the position, and analyze it, like you would for RBs, or WRs, or TEs. You actually have to think about it. Know the external forces at play, the good late-round sleepers that might blow up? Look at schedules. QBs are the most important position in the NFL, they should at least be valued in fantasy football.
1. Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs
Aiight, Patrick Mahomes, step on the scale. Step off the scale. Number one, let's not waste our time, because this is the consensus. Best fantasy season of all time. 5,097 passing yards (9th most all-time,7th player to hit 5,000 yards which was surprising because it seems like people are doing it every year, which is true, it just so happens to be Drew Brees doing it every year), 50 touchdowns (2nd most all-time, 3rd player ever to hit 50+ passing TDs - Brady was 30 when he did it, Manning was 37, Mahomes was 23 last year. He also added 272 rushing yards on 60 carries for three scores. That was the big difference here. Peyton ran for -31 yards on 32 attempts lol in 2013 (55 touchdowns).
As I say pretty often, one of the more predictive stats about a QB is his TD rate (what % of his passes go for scores), and how does that compare to his career average, or at least other elite QBs. He threw a touchdown on 8.6 percent of his passes in 2018, the seventh-highest mark of all-time. Even in college he was only at 6.8%. Peyton's career TD rate is 5.7%, Brady 5.5%, Rodgers 6.2%. Here’s the list of quarterbacks who are ahead of his 8.6% 7th highest all time: included with their touchdown rate in that season, as well as the following season: Peyton Manning (9.9 to 6.2), Ken Stabler (9.3 to 6.8), Deshaun Watson (9.3 to 5.1), Aaron Rodgers (9.0 to 7.1), Tom Brady, (8.7 to 5.0), Mark Rypien (8.7 to 4.6). Remember how Kareem Hunt started the year too, Mahomes threw like 13 TDs before Hunt ran one in, they did not use RBs on the GL until a few weeks in, so that would naturally come down to the mean.
Mahomes easily still the QB1, but the TD rate is coming down. He's still probably gonna throw for 4800 yards and 40 TDs with 4-5 rushing TDs. Easily still QB1 numbers, but I like to roll out the big facts, even if they have literally no impact on the rankings lol. Just some bullshit you can tell your friends to sound smart. What else is pretty crazy is that the Mahomes' weapons had the second most drops (32) in the NFL this year, so his numbers could've been even bigger. Only Case Keenum's WRs had more dops.
2. Aaron Rodgers - Green Bay Packers
A-Rod had his "worst" fantasy szn ever in 2018, throwing for 4,442 yards and 25:2 ratio, adding 269-2 on the ground. The problem was that he was going very early in drafts, a first rounder in almost all of the super flex leagues I drafted in last year. His QB7 overall and QB9 PPG finish is not a good ROI on that. He finished with fewer than 20 FPs in 11-of-16 games. Extremely uncharacteristic from A-Rod, that's usually his floor. I think it was a mix of a lot of things. One, the leg injury that happened early on and lingered for the first half of the year. There was all of the dysfunction between Rodgers and McCarthy at HC. He also never had a real second weapon outside of Adams. Cobb is washed and was injured most of the years. Jimmy Graham was trash. Allison and the rookies all flashed at times but none of them could stay healthy or consistent.
So, what's different in 2019? Well, we have the new HC in Matt LaFleur, which I didn't like the hiring of, but anything is better than McCarthy at this point. LaFleur runs a lot of pre-snap motion and play action which, believe it or not, is a very big thing in today's NFL to get mismatches, read the defense and succeed as an offense. He'll be healthy. He'll have all summer for one of these sophomore wideouts (or Allison) to win the WR2 competition and gain some chemistry, for as good as the offensive line was for Andrew Luck, who is next up on this list, guess what, Green Bay's o-line actually graded out as the league's #1 pass blocking line per PFF, which is a bit questionable, considering they were 21st per FOs and let up the 3rd most sacks in the NFL. Could be because his WRs coulnd't get open and he held onto the ball. So any GB fans, who watched the games, lmk what you thought of the o-line. Some of my favorite comments are from people that are fans of teams, because they watch all of the games, so they see things differently then myself. So, if at anytime, you're a fan of the team and you have extra analysis to drop down below, please do so.
And, well he's Aaron Rodgers, so he's my QB2.
3. Andrew Luck - Indianapolis Colts
You could definitely argue Luck for QB2, and I think a lot of people will take him there. . He finished the year throwing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns w/ 15 interceptions. Added a career-low 148 rushing yards and zero scores. In the four other NFL seasons he was the starter, he added 309 rushing yards and 3.5 rushing TDs on average. Maybe that had to do with shitty o-lines and having to scramble more, who knows, those things aren't predictable, but worth noting imhao.
He started off the year slow, but once he got hot there was no stopping him. Starting in Week 4, Luck threw for 3+ touchdowns in eight straight games. Whereas Rodgers had fewer than 20 FPs in 11-of-16, Luck had over 20 FPs in those eight straight. The big story here was, of course, the genius front office moves of Chris Balllard, and that offensive line. Luck had always played with an atrocious o-line in Indy. And we, as fans, always said "what if Luck actually had linemen that blocked". Well, that's what happened in 2018. They were the best PBing line in the NFL per FO's, and allowed a league-low 18 sacks. He basically wasn't touched over the second half of the year.
He did slow down a bit towards the end of the year, as the Colts opted to ride Marlon Mack and go ground-heavy, which is a bit of a concern for Luck, but just know that Luck put up some of his best career numbers this year with almost nothing to work with. T.Y. Hilton of course is a stud, but he missed some time and was banged up for the most part, outside of him, Ryan Grant and Chester Rodgers were his next up. Imagine they give him something to work with on the outside. Lawd. He set a career-high completon percentage in 2018, did Luck. He attemped the 8th most deep ball attempts, converted on 48.6% of them, 6th highest in the NFL, while 5 of them were dropped, 3rd highest number in the NFL.
If they add a piece opposite Hilton, Luck's floor will be monsterous.
4. Deshaun Watson - Houston Texans
I love Watson this year, if he falls to a value. Last summer was nuts, people looking at his 7-game sample size of being a rookie, and drafting him within the top 40 picks were out of their mind. He had a good year fantasy wise, but no where near good enough to warrant that type of ADP.
Watson threw for 4,165 yards, 26:9, adding 551 yards and five ground scores, finishing as fantasy's QB4. The rushing is what you love about Watson. His TD rate fell tremendously. His rookie year, he threw a TD on 9.3% of his throws. That's why everyone said "regression", "regression", and of course it happened, dropping from 9.3% down to 5.1%. He threw 7 more touchdowns in 2018 than he did in 2017, in nine more games and 301 more pass attempts. And he still finished as QB4 in fantasy. And he had a LOT working against him imo in 2018.
Their offensive line still atrocious. Just miserable. They ranked dead last in PBing per FOs, 20th per PFF, they allowed the most sacks (62) in the NFL,
But Watson became a far better QB in 2018 from a passing perspective. He 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 else is that he didn't have a consistent number 2 there for him. Will Fuller is great, but the guy can't stay healthy. Keke Coutee came into the year with a hamstring injury, and couldn't stay healthy either. When either was on the field though, they were very good. Fuller played in 7 games last year, he went over 100+yards and/or scored a touchdown in 4 of them, Coutee same thing, but in 3 of them. DT sucks, he had one good game and it was just to piss me off in fantasy because I needed him to not score like 24 points on MNF, and of course, for the first time in since like 2014, he does it. But that's neither here nor here.
Anywho, 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.
5. Jameis Winston - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You can't talk to me about Winston. Not logically. He was my absolute favorite late-round QB going into 2018, but the suspension killed it for me. I expect most sharp players to be with me on this, especially the other analysts, and it will eventually push Winston's ADP into the top 10, likely the top 8, he's literally QB19 on FFC which is stupid.
The thing to first and foremost understand is that the Bucs QB position, Fitz and Winston combined last year for 385.8 FPs, which was QB2 in fantasy. That was just 2.5 fewer FPs/game than Mahomes.
Just looking at Winson, on a FPPG basis, he was QB11 last year. If you take out games that he attempted more than 20 passes, so the game he got benched for, or the game Fitz was benched for him, so he played the full game, he's QB8 right behind Cam.
He's got Bruce Arians coming in, a fresh off-season to get this rolling, no off-season problems on his mind. Just football. He just turned 25. He has an ascending O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin at his disposal alongside Mike Evans who just had a career-year.
2018 was his fourth NFL season, and he has improved his completion % in four straight years, his passing yards per game, and set a career-high in FPPG in this one, too. Winston also was running the ball quietly effectively, he was on pace for over 400 ground yards.
This is just a division you want to own a QB from. He gets to play in warm weather in half of his games by default. He gets to play in domes guaranteed for both Atlanta and New Orleans, games that usually result in shootouts. I just see a lot of things lining up for Jameis in 2019.
I'm all in on Winston in 2019, and he easily has the highest % chance to be that later-round QB guy that finishes top 3.
6. Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons
Ryan was another guy who, I thought, was an easy late-round QB target. Thanks to the addition of Calvin Ridley, the mini-breakout of Austin Hooper and the elite, dominant play of Julio Jones, Ryan finished as fantasy's QB2 behind Mahomes.
Will he do that again, highly doubtful. Ryan was similar to a lot of these guys, where during that 2016 MVP szn, his TD rate jumped to 7.1% after being at or below 5.2% in all 8 NFL season prior. You knew that number was going down in 2017. It went really far down, below the norm, so 2018 was an easy buy year considering he was going like QB15 or later.
Ryan was a really strong player in 2018, throwing for 4,924 yards 35 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. Those numbers were very close to his 2016 MVP numbers.
Now, Dirk Koetter returns to Atlanta as OC, and the great thing is that we already have a sample size of Matt Ryan with the Falcons and Koetter as the OC! From 2012-2014, Ryan's average passing numbers were:
His fantasy finishes were QB7, QB12, and QB7. Having these new weapons like Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper make him a great floor now. Like I often say, if you're in the middle of the pack, like 90% of these fantasy QBs, you'll put up as good of numbers as the weapons around you. I'd be shocked if he finished inside the position's top-3 again this year, because that just not who he is, elite production over a consistent period, naw. In 2018, he put up hugeee numbers in the 4th quarter and garbage time because our defense was so injured and bad, he won't have that again in 2019. He's a high floor play with good weapons and a great home field to play at.
7. Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints
I'm not sure I even like Brees here, tbh. I just feel weird dropping him lower. He's not someone I'd probably draft as QB6, unless he really fell. 2018 was a remarkable year for Brees by an efficiency standard. Completion % was ridiculous, 32:5 TD-to-INT ratio. But he threw his fewest pass attempts (489) since 2004, when he was back in San Diego and failed to hit the 4,000-yard receiving mark for the first time as the NO QB. If you're looking at these numbers and saying, hmmm, doesn't that mean positive regression? I would say that if any of his stats are looking at regression, it's his TD rate. He threw 32 TDs no just 489 attempts, a 6.5% rate. His career rate is 5.3%, in NOR it's 5.5%. It's the first time that number has been higher than 5.5% since 2013. Over the last five years starting in 2017 and moving backward, his TD pass rates were: 4.3%, 5.5%, 5.1%, 5.0%, and 6.0%. If there's a number that I see changes drastically for Brees, it's the TD rate. It might not seem like a lot, but a dip from his 6.5% down to his career average in New Orleans of 5.5% results in 5 fewer passing TDs for the Saints QB. He also ranked 19th in deep-ball attempts per PlayerProfiler,
The other thing was his home/away splits:
Those are monster splits. And those have been pretty consistent throughout his career, makes sense playing inside the dome. So, sure this makes him a great play at home, but as a streaming QB, someone you know WHEN to play him, not top-5 fantasy QB. Also, Brees vs. top 12 defenses
Not that it's going to be a huge issue for Brees given that you don't really play great defenses often, but I think it just speaks to the larger picture that he's not an amazing fantasy QB, like elite. He had four games during your fantasy year that he scored fewer than 9 fantasy points. That's a week-losing game from a QB. He did have some big weeks. He had five individual games of more than 28 FPs, which are huge games, but when you actually look at those games. 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.
I've been banging this drum for close to two years now, and I will continue too, this is a team with a very small window to make it happen for them, they need to keep Brees upright, short passes, run the ball a ton and win games simply, they don't need deep balls and huge production from Brees.
8. Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
Newton is likely a make or break player in fantasy this year. We obviously know his upside when he's on the field, top-3 fantasy QB. But this shoulder scares the shit out of me. I likely won't own Cam this year unless he really drops in drafts, which doesn't tend to happen.
There's not much to say, we all know Cam's best fantasy product, but he was really bad down the stretch last year with the shoulder issue. Apparently, this surgery is not as serious as originally feared. Idk, i'm not buying it until he's on the field, throwing for an extended period. Last year they rushed him into the season. He was fucked, way less than 100%, he barely threw before the year started, they set him up for failure. That was 100% on Carolina. Stupid move by the franchise.
I'm passing on Cam at a top-5 price just given that I'm backing away from injuries as a fantasy player.
9. Russell Wilson - Seattle Seahawks
As long as Brian Schottenheimer is the OC in Seattle, it's going to really limit Wilson's ceiling. He's still one of the most efficient QBs in the NFL, but 427 pass attempts? His lowest total since 2013. Fewer than Mitch Trubisky, Cam, Baker, all who missed at least two games last year, and just barely ahead of Darnold, Bortles, Rosen, Wentz, Flacco who all missed significant portions of the year.
I don't want to take anything away from Rus, because he was awesome, throwing a career-high 35 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. The Seahawks ran the ball 32.8/game last year, second highest rate in the NFL only behind BAL who only passed them because Lamar Jax was running like 96 times/game, and somehow, Rus had a career-low 67 rush attempts. and 0 scores I really don't know what to make of this. He finished at QB8. He threw a TD on 8.2% of his attempts in 2018, while his career average in the six seasons prior was only 5.7%, so that screams regression, but the volume of pass attempts might increase. But they also might not, given the OC.
The o-line has certainly improved, finally, but it seems like that's going to benefit the running backs more than the passing game. The weapons are good, but nothing great. Baldwin is good, but not top-tier anymore. Lockett is good. No TE to throw too. So, again, they're good not great.
So, while Wilson is still a phenomenal QB, greatly efficient, and I would love him to be NFL team's QB, he's not the elite fantasy option he has been for a long time.
10. Jared Goff - Los Angeles Rams
Goff is going to be a highly debated player for fantasy next year. He's been blessed by playing under McVay in his system as well as behind that offensive line, who've been top 3 in back-to-back years. If you put any other above average QB or RB in his and Gurley's position, you're getting the same output. Don't @ me. That being said, any other above average QB is not in this situation, Goff is. As recency bias usually does, people will remember how bad Goff was down the stretch and particularly in the super bowl. But overall, Goff was QB6 in fantasy. And he's much better with Cooper Kupp on the field. Which he will be in 2019.
My biggest concern for Goff is the offensive line. Whitworth considering retirement will play a big role in the Rams offensive outlook. Roger Saffold, who was the 9th highest graded guard in the NFL last year per PFF, is a FA this summer. Took him at least 2.6 seconds to throw the ball 60 percent of the time, which was the highest percentage in the league. This is very uncommon for a quarterback who isn’t mobile. I like Goff, he can put good touch on the ball and can sling it, but that tells me that the offensive line played a huge role in his success, as it did for the whole offense. If Whitworth and/or Saffold are gone, they might struggle more than people realize. So, this piece of analysis is still up in the air.
The other thing, that might actually be a good thing is Goff's home vs away splits:
These are out of control. But at least you know when to have him in your lineup and when not too. Bears fans know, don't play Goff in cold weather.
Big Ben - he's going to have a major fall off in 2019, if Brown leaves. He attempted the most passes in the NFL, but he wasn't good. Ben totaled a league-low 46.0 percent of his yards through the air. That means 54.0 percent of his yardage came after the catch. That tells you, unsurprisingly, that his WRs are really good. Yea... AB and JuJu are. Not to mention Vance McDonald moved with the ball, etc.
Baker will get into my top-10 rankings if they give him something to work with on the outside. Draft N'Keal Harry and Baker will be
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