Fantasy Football: Which Top-12 QBs are Poised to Repeat?
Every single year there’s a couple of quarterbacks who go off the board way too early and every single year there are disappointed fantasy owners who end up regretting it. I’m not necessarily telling you to avoid Pat Mahomes this year, I’m just warning you that it could lead to a season full of missed opportunity. There’s plenty of data out there that supports the late QB argument so I won’t bog this article down with those numbers, but trust me – they’re overwhelming. So who do you draft then? Cam Newton? Russell Wilson? Maybe Daniel Jones in the first round? Kidding, of course, there’s no chance anyone would make that mistake.
Every quarterback on this list finished in the top-12 last year and can be grabbed at their current ADP for a lower cost than they finished just a season ago. It goes without saying that these three are great values for 2019, but the expectations have to be tempered. If you’re expecting a Pat Mahomes type performance from any of them, you’ll be disappointed. If you go into the year with expectations that you only need a top ten quarterback to win a fantasy championship, this is the list for you.
Jared Goff – 2018 Finish: QB7
The starting quarterback for the most electric offense in the NFL is always going to be a worthy fantasy option. The primary concerns for everyone who rostered him in 2018 revolve around whether or not he’ll be able to repeat his regular season campaign, and come through strong in the fantasy playoffs. It’s no secret that his production sputtered towards the end of the year, but you may not realize just how drastically things went south. Over the course of his last five games, he threw for six touchdowns and six interceptions, while his yards per attempt dropped from 8.4 to 6.7. There wasn’t any concrete reason for the drop in production like an injury or the loss of one of his top weapons, it was something that just happened.
In terms of projecting an upcoming fantasy campaign, we want to examine what changed, what caused it to change, and how it will impact their value. Within the Rams passing attack, the only thing that changed was Cooper Kupp returning to full health, which is a good thing. Goff has all the same weapons down the field and the same coach calling the shots. It may seem foolish to trust him after his collapse at the end of the year, but believe me – it’s worth it. Goff is currently going off the board as the QB11 which speaks to the lack of trust a lot of owners have in him right now. Mahomes, Rodgers, and Mayfield may be sexier options in the early rounds, but on a per week basis, Goff will get the job done for your team at a six-round discount.
Dak Prescott – 2018 Finish: QB10
Trivia question: which three quarterbacks have had top-ten fantasy finishes each of the last three seasons?
Based on the title of this section, you know one of them is Dak Prescott. The others? Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. Dak has vaulted himself into a surprising group in terms of fantasy consistency, but somehow he remains undervalued in every single draft. In 2017, he was drafted as the QB12, then as the QB20 in 2018, and he’s currently going off the board as the QB21. He’s been undervalued since the moment he entered the league and 2019 looks to be no different. Does this mean I’m recommending that you draft him in the early rounds? Absolutely not.
After the Amari Cooper trade, Prescott became one of the most efficient signal callers in the NFL, but his fantasy output was surprisingly mediocre. He threw for 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the nine weeks after the trade. This means he was on pace for a 24 touchdown, 4,300-yard campaign through the air. In terms of his rushing production, he found the end zone six times in 2018 and after the Cooper trade, he only compiled a total of 69 yards rushing in nine weeks. Prescott wouldn’t crack the top ten in terms of fantasy finishes if he paces the same way in 2019, so there’s definitely room for concern. Although he could find a way to sneak into the top-12 again if his rushing numbers increase, I definitely lean towards avoiding him as your QB1 this year since his upside is significantly capped.
Kirk Cousins – 2018 Finish: QB12
How you view Kirk Cousins’ 2018 campaign depends entirely on what you expected out of him in the first place. He didn’t light the world on fire from a fantasy perspective, but his actual performance on the field was a lot better than many would have you think. Cousins finished in the top fifteen in total yards and finished in the top ten in attempts, completions, and touchdowns. He also finished in the bottom half of the league in interceptions and sacks taken. In a vacuum, this would indicate that Cousins was an efficient and serviceable quarterback, but the expectations in Minneapolis were a whole lot higher than that.
Part of the issue with his lack of upside came from what he was asked to do. Cousins ranked 23rd in the league in yards per attempt which indicates how little they took shots down the field. When you have both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen catching passes, this isn’t an ideal scenario for fantasy owners. Cousins ranked in the top five in deep ball attempts just one season ago in Washington so this was a direct result of the scheme that Minnesota ran throughout 2018. The Vikings made a change at the OC spot and turned over the reigns to Kevin Stefanski in week fourteen, so there’s definitely hope for improvements next year in the passing game. Stefanski typically favors the run, so it’s possible that Cousins may improve upon his production but lower his attempts. It’s more likely than not that he finishes in the same range next year, but I’m willing to gamble on his upside if you can get him in the later rounds. A top-12 finish is very possible, and at this point, it looks promising.