Our thoughts about quarterbacks in fantasy football may have changed over the years, with many players now smartly waiting to draft their QB later than ever. But the position still matters when you're filling out your lineup. Here's a look at the QB landscape, with players across the league ranked and placed in tiers.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs—Even with an expected 10-15% regression, Mahomes still comes out way ahead on my tiers. Additionally, he plays for a coach who is a play calling mastermind and he has some of the top skills players in the NFL (Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins) playing alongside of him.
If I miss out on Mahomes, these are the consolation prizes:
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans—I worry about the offensive line issues in Houston, but Watson himself took some blame for not getting the ball out quickly enough last season. He has terrific targets in DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Keke Coutee and Duke Johnson, plus he is a threat to run the ball too.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers—Rodgers has a new coaching staff to work with, but he also gets to work with some great receivers with lots of upside. Rodgers to Davante Adams might be the best fantasy hookup of the season.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles—There are a lot of doubters out there for Wentz, which pushes his draft stock down somewhat. People forget how mobile he is, and he steers an offense that is both talented and deep.
I can win my league with these QBs:
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons—Often underappreciated, Ryan is a good bet for 30-32 passing TDs. I like him as the seventh-ninth QB taken in drafts. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are two of the best receivers in the NFL and you never need to worry about him playing in bad weather in a domed stadium.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Bucs—With new Head Coach Bruce Arians in town, this is Winston’s chance to shine. He’s got two great receivers (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin) and a tight end (O.J. Howard) to work with as well. He’s certainly one of my favorite picks in the later rounds.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams—Admittedly, I am a little down on Goff after his horrific Super Bowl, but with Cooper Kupp back, I fully expect him to be more aggressive and confident this season.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks—I love the player, but I hate the offensive scheme. When Seattle is behind and Wilson is passing the ball, he is one of the top players in fantasy. When Seattle is ahead, he throws far fewer passes and doesn’t score enough points. I would draft him for sure, but would make sure I had a QB2 I liked on my roster.
High-risk/high-reward types who could dominate:
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals—His upside is tremendous, as Murray could throw for 4,000+ yards and rush for another 700 or 800. He will have some bad games for sure, but something tells me that Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will work in the NFL.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens—I like Jackson almost as much as Murray, but I think that Jackson is not nearly as good a passer. I would expect 3,000 yards and 20 TDs which makes him Murray-light.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers—I rarely draft Cam, but Newton has some terrific weapons this season and if I think that D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey are all going to have good seasons, then it only seems to make sense that Cam will have a good season too.
Dual threat QBs who get rushing yards:
Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears—I think Trubisky will take a huge step up in his third season. He’s got a ton of weapons surrounding him, including WR1 Allen Robinson who is finally healthy.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills—How many of you realize that Allen was one of the top five quarterbacks in the last five games of 2018? Allen is highly inaccurate, but he has much better weapons than last season and I think could show significant improvement.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys—Prescott is underrated as a player, as you can usually draft him around the 16th to 18th QB off the board. What makes him even more interesting to fantasy owners is that he is always good for rushing yards and multiple rushing TDs.
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts—Brissett was thrown to the wolves the last time he had a chance to start in 2017, but this time will be much different. Frank Reich is in charge of the offense now and Brissett will be put into a position to do well and make plays. Think of him as a poor man's Dak Prescott.
Reliable guys who won’t hurt you:
Tom Brady, New England Patriots—Brady is clearly the GOAT when it comes to reality QBs, but for fantasy purposes he is just okay. I expect 4,000 passing yards and 25-27 TDs, but I wouldn’t take him any earlier than like the 20th QB off the board.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints—How many of you realize that Brees threw for fewer than 4,000 passing yards last season? Brees is more name than game, but that said, he won’t kill your fantasy team. He just won’t help it that much either.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers—Many fantasy players will drop Rivers’s ranking down because Melvin Gordon is out, but I think that might raise it. He has excellent weapons and is always in the mix with 4,200 passing yards and 30 passing TDs.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers—It is natural to downgrade Big Ben since Antonio Brown is no longer with the team, but I would not be so hasty. I do think the Steelers will run more in the red zone, but they do have some outstanding young receivers who can make plays.
Reliable guys who might hurt you:
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings—I like Cousins, but the word out of Minnesota is that the Vikings want to be a run first team which could lower Cousins’s weekly output.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers—Kyle Shanahan is an outstanding play caller who should put Jimmy G in the right spots, but Garoppolo is still recovering from the aftereffects of his ACL injury and he might be less willing to run than in the past.
Two-QB Leagues Only:
Sam Darnold, New York Jets—I am cautiously optimistic that Darnold will have a great sophomore season. Adam Gase seems to have installed an up-tempo type offense that Darnold enjoys and Jamison Crowder was a terrific offseason signing.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals—Drafting Dalton this season is going to take a lot of patience. Stud WR A.J. Green is out for weeks and John Ross is already dealing with a myriad of injuries. The offense will center around RB Joe Mixon, making Dalton a weak QB2.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions—If Stafford was running a pass-first type offense I would bump him up way higher. But for now, the Lions want to establish their running game and play lots of ball control offense—which is a real reason to avoid Stafford.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders—As an avid Hard Knocks watcher, I am starting to bump Carr ever so slightly up my tiers. Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, and Hunter Renfrow are the best group of receivers that he has ever worked with. Even better is that the team should be playing from behind virtually every week for some garbage time points.
Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars—Foles is an interesting player in this tier. If RB Leonard Fournette struggles again this season, I can see the Jaguars opening their offense up and letting Foles sling the ball downfield. However, they will begin the season riding Fournette which limits Foles’ value for now.
Joe Flacco, Denver Broncos—Flacco is most likely a one-year stopgap until rookie Drew Lock is ready to start. Flacco might have some solid games, but the Broncos want to run the ball and I see this as a highly conservative offense which is a death knell for fantasy production.
Eli Manning, New York Giants—Even if the owner won’t admit it, I think Eli’s tenure as the Giants starter is quickly coming to an end. The Giants play Arizona at home in Week 7 and if the team is 1-6 by then, watch to see rookie Daniel Jones get his first NFL start.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans—Mariota is on borrowed time and I wonder if he makes it through as the starter for the entire season. Ryan Tannehill was brought in to be the backup and has looked very solid in training camp thus far. A controversy could be brewing quickly if the Titans get off to a slow start offensively.
Make Sure You Back Them Up:
Ryan Fitzpatrick/Josh Rosen, Miami Dolphins—I can’t imagine drafting either player here, as I think “Tanking for Tua” is going to be heard loud and clear in South Florida this season.
Case Keenum/Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins—I love Haskins’s upside, but right now the Redskins have the worst offensive line in football, and I wonder how skittish Haskins will be if (or when) he plays. Keenum has been named the Week 1 starter. I like Haskins way more in dynasty leagues than redraft leagues.
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