In the most recent episode of The Fantasy Footballers podcast, hosts Andy, Mike, and Jason gave us their early preseason rankings of the quarterback position. In the first episode of this two-part series, we get the #1 through 10. All rankings are based on 0.5 PPR, which is Ballers Preferred Scoring
2018 brought a surge of quarterback scoring compared to 2017. Weeks 1 through 16 only had 17 performances of 30+ fantasy points in 2017. Last season, quarterback scoring equaled that amount in only four weeks. Quarterback fantasy production also tightened up last season. There was less than a one-point differential between QB8 (Drew Brees) and QB14 (Cam Newton) in standard scoring.
Note: No rookies are listed in the rankings. Stay tuned for the Rookie Preview shows coming out next week.
This one is a no-brainer. Mahomes completed 383 passes out of 580 attempts for over 5,000 yards and whopping 50 touchdowns. He also tacked on 60 rushes for 272 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. He had zero bust games last season and he finished #1 in consistency.
Mahomes was surrounded by offensive weapons like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, ranked #3 and #1 for their positions respectively. Of course, there is a high probability of regression heading into 2019 and fantasy owners will need to keep an eye on Hill’s future with off-field issues looming.
2. Andrew Luck
A fully healthy Andrew Luck is a very scary Andrew Luck. After sitting out the entirety of the 2017 season, Luck exploded back into the fantasy world with a career-high pass completion percentage at 67.3 and a QBR of 71.5. He threw 39 touchdowns, second only to his 2014 season of 40. In fact, he went an NFL record of eight straight games with three or more touchdowns in Weeks 4 through 12.
It’s clear that Luck is back in QB1 status again but it’s not just because of his arm and veteran presence. The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line was ranked 3rd best in the league and Luck was only sacked 18 times in 2018. That was the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL. Heading into the second year under Frank Reich, look to see Luck capitalize on his health, offensive line, and a plethora of weapons around him.
Rodgers may have disappointed many a fantasy owner in 2018, especially at a high draft price. Finishing QB6 with a consistency rank of #11, Rodgers busted 19% of the time and only 19% were considered “great” in fantasy production. He led the league in interception percentage at 3.4 and had a career-low QBR of 60.4, yet he led the league with 597 passing attempts. His 25 passing touchdowns were fewer than players like Jared Goff, DeShaun Watson, and Baker Mayfield.
However, now that Mike McCarthy is gone and Matt LaFleur is in, Rodgers looks to mount a comeback campaign in the hearts of fantasy owners. LaFleur coached under Kyle Shanahan and Matt Ryan was 2016 MVP. When LaFleur went with the Rams in 2107, Jared Goff exploded into fantasy relevance.
As long as the new coaching staff allows Rodgers to throw the ball the way he wants to, expect him to see a huge surge in fantasy production in 2019.
4. DeShaun Watson
Part of Watson’s allure in fantasy football is his ability to rush the football. For perspective, Mahomes, Rodgers, and Luck attempted the rush 60, 43, and 46 times respectively. Watson rushed 99 times, for 551 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2018.
It’s also not just his legs that can score you fantasy points. Last season Watson had the highest completion percentage for a second-year quarterback in NFL history with 68.3%.
He was sacked 62 times but a majority of those sacks fall on Watson’s own shoulders as opposed to a weak offensive line. With another season under his belt, Watson should be able to continue his passing production and make smarter decisions running the football.
There are very few things that Mayfield does not have coming into the 2019 season. The Browns have PFF’s second-best offensive line, stud key position players, a stout run game, and most importantly, no more Hugh Jackson.
Under Jackson, Mayfield averaged a 59.9 pass completion percentage and 1.3 touchdowns in the first six weeks of the season. When Freddie Kitchens took over, his pass completion percentage sky-rocketed to 70.27 for an average of 2.4 touchdowns. He finished the season by setting the rookie quarterback record for passing touchdowns and had the third most passing yards per game ever by a rookie.
Adding the new offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, to the coaching staff only bolsters Mayfield’s potential. In Tampa, Monken’s offense ranked 3rd and 4th in pass attempts over the last 2 years. Add Odell Beckham Jr. to this mix and Mayfield has the potential to explode in 2019.
6. Carson Wentz
This may come as a surprise for some people given his consistency rank of #7 and finishing last season as QB23. The problem wasn’t with his arm. He finished last season with a career-high 69.9 pass completion percentage and threw for 3074 yards and 21 touchdowns.
However, due to his knee injury, we did not see Wentz rush the football. In fact, he rushed nearly half as much as he did in 2017 from 64 to 34 attempts.
2019 will see healthier legs under Wentz as well as the addition of teammate DeSean Jackson. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on his shoulder recovery heading into 2019. Wentz can come back to fantasy dominance as long as he can combine his passing game with more rushing production as he did in 2017 when he finished QB4.
7. Cam Newton
Newton’s fantasy production took a big hit in the last few weeks of 2018. However, that dip in points was due to injury, not lack of talent. His consistency rank ended at #6 and he finished the season as QB13.
In 6-point leagues, Newton amassed 9 QB1 weeks. That trailed only to Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Patrick Mahomes. He also completed a career high of 320 passes with a 67.9 pass completion rate. And, oh yeah, the man can run. He rushed 101 times for 488 yards and 4 touchdowns.
After getting healthy in the offseason, Newton can come back to true form in 2019.
8. Matt Ryan
From fantasy stardom in 2014 to non-existence in 2017, Ryan has seen his share of ups and downs. Steve Sarkisian took over as the offensive coordinator and the entire offense suffered. Ryan finished QB15 averaging only 14.3 fantasy points per game. Despite these woes, Ryan emerged back into the QB1 picture last year with a consistency rank of #2 and finishing as QB2.
He was the 14th best fantasy quarterback of all time and posted a career-high of three rushing touchdowns and even added a receiving touchdown to his stats. Between Weeks 2 through 10, he averaged the same amount of fantasy points as Mahomes and had 7 QB1 games.
Once Sarkisian was fired, the Falcons picked up Dirk Koetter again. He was formerly their offensive coordinator from 2012 through 2014. During that time, the team averaged 363.5 yards of offense and 277.2 passing over 3 years and made a trip to the NFC Championship game.
There was a shocking disconnect between the Russell Wilson of 2017, finishing as QB1 to 2018 where he closed the season at QB9. He had an 8.2 touchdown rate, which was 7th highest among quarterbacks since 2000 and he had a career-high 35 passing touchdowns.
So, what happened?
Run happy Wilson got replaced by run happy running backs. In 2017, Wilson rushed 95 times for 586 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers severely dropped in 2018 when he rushed only 67 times, for 376 yards and zero touchdowns.
It sounds like Pete Carroll and the coaching staff will continue with this trend of a run-heavy offense that doesn’t include Wilson’s legs. However, his incredible talent keeps him inside the top-10 for 2019.
10. Drew Brees
There’s no way around it, Brees is getting older. But, Drew Brees is still Drew Brees, even though he was QB24 the final 4 weeks of last season. He had a career-high 74.4 pass completion percentage, but only completed 364 passes for 3992 yards. That’s the fewest completions for Brees since 2009 as well as the fewest passing yards since 2005.
But, again, Drew Brees is Drew Brees. He threw 32 touchdowns, 6th highest in the league, had the league-leading passer rating of 115.7, league lowest of only 5 interceptions over 15 weeks as well led the league with 6 comeback victories. Even a year older in 2019, Brees is still in the top-10.