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The top 25 fantasy quarterbacks and how to draft them

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The absolutely correct top 25 fantasy football quarterback ranks.

USA TODAY/Pete Rogers Illustrations

I’m not a big Star Wars nerd, but I lean on Yoda’s advice when it comes to drafting a QB early: Do, or do not.

If that isn’t clear as mud, what I’m trying to say is you have 3 good options with QB strategy. In no particular order:

  1. Spend up on THE QB1 – I believe it is worth the week to week advantage you have get from having a stud QB.
  2. Draft a solid committee – If you spend a little draft capital in say the 8th and 10th round, you can end up with more than enough firepower to combat your weekly opponent’s QB.
  3. Wait as long as you can, stream good matchups. If you’re not in a two-QB league, there is going to be enough points sitting on the waiver wire to back up your otherwise-stacked squad.

With that in mind, here are my rankings in my hopefully-descriptively-labeled tiers.

Tier 1: Worth spending up

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

There seems to be a general consensus that what we saw from Mahomes in 2018 is simply not repeatable. No one can be that good two years in a row. Regression is coming.

Bully to that!

2018 was Mahomes 1st year as a starter, his 2nd year in the league. What world are we living in when we assume a QB has hit his high-water mark at the end of his second year? The Chiefs have everyone coming back to the party outside of Kareem Hunt, who’s absence didn’t seem to hurt ole Pat too much last year. Andy Reid is still one of the most fantasy friendly coaches in the business, Tyreek Hill is not going to be suspended, and Travis Kelce is still an absolute beast.

Mahomes is worth an end-of-the-2nd round pick.

2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Luck finished as the QB5 (ESPN scoring) in his first year under head coach Frank Reich and in his first year back after a major shoulder injury. He had 3 games where he threw for under 200 yards, only Deshaun Watson can boast as many sub-200-yard games and a top 5 finish. I’m betting the Colts offense takes a step forward in the 2nd year under Reich, and Luck is able to avoid those 0-6-type losses like the Colts suffered at the hands of the Titans in 2018. That is enough to get Luck in to THE QB1 slot.

3. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Full disclosure, this is a bit of a homer pick. Watson cemented himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league last year. On just over 500 attempts, Watson put up over 4,000 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. He rushed for over 550 yards, adding 5 TDs on the ground. What we have to watch out for is that all this production came against the easiest schedule in the NFL. This year, Warren Sharp (sharpfootballstats.com) has the Texans playing the most difficult schedule in the league. With the Texans shaky secondary and an offensive line that for-the-love-of-Pete I hope it can’t get any worse, Watson might have to do even more to keep the Texans in games in 2019. The other side of the coin that we’re not going to talk about is that he may struggle against better competition (which I doubt, but… full disclosure).

Tier 2: If I squint hard enough this is still Tier 1

4. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

The only thing that has held Carson Wentz back is injury. His upside is best QB in the league as we have already seen. I’m willing to take a shot on Wentz staying healthy all year.

5. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

It is real hard not to look at what Baker Mayfield did in his Hue-Jackson-shortened rookie season and not salivate over what we might see in year two… with Odell Beckham Jr. If you’re going to take a shot, if you’re going to spend up at QB, you better be shooting for the QB1. While I don’t think Mayfield as the 2019 QB1 is likely enough to squeeze him in to my tier 1, but, boy its close.

6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Either Rodgers’ best years have come and gone, or injury and dysfunction have held him back in a time when most QBs hit their peak. I just cannot get over the talent we’ve seen from Rodgers so quickly. So, new coach, new stories about what a jerk he is, and a new crop of people to prove wrong…. Rodgers may reclaim the throne here in 2019.

Tier 3: Guys I’d love to get if they fall, but I’m not spending real capital on them

I am still ranking these guys in the order I’d draft them, even though I’m suggesting you just pass on these guys at the current cost.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

I don’t think we’ll see another 675 attempts from Pittsburgh, but I think we’ll see Ben throw enough to prove the point (true or not) that HE was the reason Antonio Brown was such a success.

8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Once called the glazed donut of professional quarterbacks, Matt Ryan is that glaringly obvious reason you do not have to draft a QB early. The Falcon offense ‘re-loaded’ this offseason drafting two 1st-round offensive lineman, and Devonta Freeman is reportedly as healthy as ever. Even though I’m projecting Ryan to take a big step back (remember, he was the QB2 last year), I still think he’s a great get if your league-mates sleep on ole Glazed-Ice.

9. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Newton is perennially undervalued, and when I see this “9” next to his name, I feel like I’m doing it again. I hope Cam stops giving us so much from his rushing attack and starts leaning on the weapons he’s being surrounded with. We saw signs of his growth as a quarterback last year, and if Cam can let those skill players take the beating instead of taking it himself, I’m betting we can still get 5-6 rushing touchdowns plus more respectable passing numbers.

Tier 4: This is why you can wait on QB…

Loads of talent, but maybe not the absolute highest upside.

10. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Based on what we saw from Jackson at Louisville, I believe Lamar is a real QB who is also an immensely talented runner. What we saw last year in Baltimore, I’ll argue, was John Harbaugh taking the path of least resistance for his defensively talented, wide receiver deficient roster to get to the playoffs. We’ll see this year if his career at Louisville or his rookie year in the NFL was the anomaly. In Lamar we trust!

11. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

It’s too bad the Seahawks are determined to not use their best offensive asset… ever. Still, I’ll take a shot on Seattle needing more out of Russell with all the losses they’ve had on defense. Wilson has already shown plenty talented to take advantage of that opportunity.

12. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

I… I mean I don’t know how to get Brees any higher, but 12 seems really, stupidly low. Still, I can’t get him any higher.

13. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

This is more a condemnation for what I think of Goff as a QB than concern that the Pats showed everyone how to beat the Rams. Still, I think the Rams are going to score a lot of points. If you think Todd Gurley is going to be a shell of his former self, you might want to bump Goff up a bit as there should be some extra TDs available to the passing game.

14. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Tom Brady’s reputation is keeping him this high in my ranks. He is still a great QB, but he’s liable to put up a 5-point game in your fantasy super bowl… Buyer beware.

15. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

QBs who rush have a lot of value. Even though Dak was Brady-esque in his up and down-ness, he’s a fine place to start a committee.

Tier 5: See, there are still plenty of week-to-week start-worthy QBs left

Several of these guys are going to end up on your waiver wire. There is a reason so many people say you can wait forever on QB.

16. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

I’m going to say something which may not be very popular:

Kirk Cousins is not a bad quarterback.

Ok, and now the argument for why you should consider Captain Kirk to lead your QB-by-committee: Gary Kubiak made Matt Schaub a 4,000 yard passer, Adam Thielen, Stephon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph (remember Owen Daniels??), and Dalvin Cook. Cousins may end up leading a very potent offense.

17. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

The Raiders can’t possibly be as bad as they were last year…. Right?

18. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

This is a whole lot of faith in Matt Nagy… and that’s it.

19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

We’re just hearing about A.J. Green’s injury, but we don’t think he’s going to miss too much time (I’m speaking this into existence so just go with it). Andy Dalton is a serviceable quarterback in an offense that has a chance to take a big step forward if the Bengals can avoid the horrible luck they had last year. To be fair, we’re not off to a great start.

20. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I don’t want to put Jameis here, but I try not to let my thoughts on the person impact the ranks… too much.

21. Phillip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

He always finishes higher than we draft him.

22. Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions

The NFL has finally found something that can stop Matt Stafford. It’s Matt Patricia.

23. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Maybe he’ll keep running a lot?

24. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

Why are you still reading this?

25. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Obligatory putting it down on paper Murray rank.

26. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

I forgot to rank Jimmy G. If he plays more than 5 games for the first time in his career, I bet he finishes higher than #26.