Tier 1: Patrick Mahomes
Tier 2: Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck*, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson
Tier 3: Carson Wentz, Cam Newton, Jared Goff, Drew Brees
Tier 4: Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, Kyler Murray, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, Jimmy Garoppolo
Tier 5: Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Mitch Trubisky, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, David Carr
Tier 6: Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco
* Keep close eye on calf issue
Analysis & Draft Strategy:
For those of you who have been following my draft guides over the last few years, you won’t be surprised that I pound the table for patience in drafting QBs. Last year’s top five fantasy QBs were Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson – with only Watson among the top five QBs drafted per 2018 ADP. Unless your league starts two QBs (more on this below), then you’re better off hoarding RBs and WRs early on, and waiting until rounds six and later to draft your QBs. My favorite approach is the two-headed QB monster, where you wait until the mid rounds to select two QBs and actively play matchups from week to week. QB has incredible depth, and there’s no reason to sprint to draft one. Instead, shore up your RB and WR starters along with front line depth at RB, then dive into the QB market.
*** The exception here to the wait-for-QBs rule is for leagues where you start two QBs. In that case, you need to grab at least one QB from tier 3 or better, with your second QB coming from no further down than tier 4. Scarcity flips strategy, so just be mindful of the stark difference in strategy for two QB leagues.
Finally, quick hits on two QBs whom I expect will outperform their ADP, and are therefore reflected higher in my rankings:
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz has shown that he’s a short list MVP candidate when healthy, and the Eagles’ roster is absolutely stacked this year, Noah’s ark style. Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert among other weapons sit at Wentz’s disposal, and he’ll be protected by arguably the league’s best offensive line. Health is always a risk, but assuming no setbacks, give me Wentz well ahead of his average draft position in the mid-90s over Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers, who are both being drafted in the 40’s. If you can stomach a bit of health risk, Wentz presents an Amazon Prime Day type of deal based on his draft position. If not for health risk, Wentz would sit near the front of the tier 2 group.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston falls into the “better fantasy QB than real life” category, and that’s just fine! Let’s not hide the ugly from Winston’s bumpy 2018 season, but once Winston reclaimed the starting gig for the final six games, he posted an average of 269 passing yards per game with a TD-INT ratio of 11:3. These are top 10 QB numbers. Now with Bruce Arians as his new head coach, Winston will accumulate stats in massive chunks through Arians’ famed downfield aerial attack. At the time of this writing, Winston is the 19th quarterback off the board, being drafted in the 150’s. Focus your early picks on RBs and WRs, take Winston plus another tier 3/4 QB in the mid to later rounds and enjoy the healthy ROI.
And two QBs who I consider to be overdrafted with respect to their ADP, and are therefore reflected lower in my rankings:
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Alright, so my top QB – who’s in his own tier! – is listed as an overdrafted player? That’s not a mistake, and it’s nothing against Patrick Mahomes. But as explained above, the depth at QB is phenomenal, and you can secure excellent QB options later in the draft. Equally important, the truly elite RBs and WRs will go quickly in your drafts, and you’ll have to forfeit one such player in order to land Mahomes. Be ready for at least ten percent regression with Mahomes’ stats – he won’t be topping 5,000 yards and 50 TD tosses again this year. The Chiefs are also slated to face a very tough schedule of pass defenses in 2019, including the Bears, Vikings and Jaguars. Mahomes will cost you at least a 2nd round pick based on his current ADP, and those resources are better spent with a top RB or WR. As great as he is, let someone else in your league overdraft Mahomes and wait to grab two cheaper QBs later in the draft.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees has been a top 3 QB in the league over the past ten plus years, with similar placement in terms of fantasy status. The 40 year old QB posted a tremendous stat line in 2018, with just a shade under 4,000 yards passing and a 32-5 TD to INT ratio. So what’s the problem? Well, a combination of Brees’ age and his performance over his last six games of 2018 (including the two playoff games) and you’re looking at an average of 234.5 yards passing per game, with a yards per attempt number at a paltry 6.67, with a 7 to 5 TD to INT ratio. Perhaps Brees was injured, but in any event his age and end of season performance have given me some pause regarding what’s to come in 2019. I haven’t moved Brees off a cliff with my rankings, but he’s more tier 3 for me, as opposed to his common placement in tier 2 boards.
Neema Hodjat is RealGM\\\'s Fantasy Football expect. Follow him on Twitter at @NeemaHodjat where he will also answer any question you have to help you win your league.