We’re into August and we’re stepping into the teeth of fantasy football draft season. It’s time to get to some ranks and some prices, and we’ll start today with quarterbacks.
Anyone with even a modest amount of fantasy experience knows the disconnect with quarterbacks; they are the most important players in real life, but not nearly as important in fantasy. Most leagues require just one starter, and as we say every year, the pool is remarkably deep with acceptable options. You can do well with any price point.
I’m going to price the quarterbacks as if I were stepping into a Superflex League, a hybrid format that essentially forces teams to start two quarterbacks. It’s not the industry standard yet, but I think we’re going there.
If you play in a start-one league, take down these prices by at least 30-40 percent.
And don’t get hung up on the exact prices, anyway. What matters most here is how the players relate to one another, where the talent clusters and where the talent drops off. Players at the same price are considered even.
Even non-QB people have to think about it
$40 Patrick Mahomes
$38 Deshaun Watson
I was toying with Mahomes not being my QB1 this year, but with Tyreek Hill coming back and Andrew Luck a little dinged up, it seemed right to get the reigning MVP back at the top. It doesn’t mean I’ll be drafting Mahomes, given the absurd depth at the position, but someone has to be first.
Could easily be the QB1
$36 Andrew Luck
$33 Aaron Rodgers
$32 Baker Mayfield
$32 Carson Wentz
$31 Matt Ryan
$30 Cam Newton
$29 Russell Wilson
The fridge is stocked for Luck and Ryan, fortress offensive lines and very wide usage trees to work with. Luck doesn’t run as much as he used to, but was also impossible to sack last year. You want to bet on what the Colts are betting on.
I have no idea what to make of Rodgers at this stage of his career. The divorce with Mike McCarthy was obviously overdue, but Rodgers also played poorly last year. It’s a good thing Davante Adams had a career year. Sometimes early tea leaves can be misleading, but it doesn’t sound like Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are off to a copacetic start. What Rodgers really needs is two things: more route combinations in the tree, to give the team easier access to simple chunk plays, and a young receiver to take a step forward.
Wentz is currently a little cheaper in Yahoo (QB10, 88 overall) than he is in the NFFC (QB7, 83 overall). As your fantasy broker, I advise you strongly consider the discount.
The funny thing about the Eagles offense is that I love it for real-life purposes, but it’s a little too crowded for my fantasy taste. The team is overflowing with talented running backs, which makes me leery on prioritizing one of them — Doug Pederson and friends love to utilize multiple backs and multiple packages. I am not sure what DeSean Jackson has left in his age-33 season, but I know he’s a unique player who tilts coverage simply by being on the field — and he did make 18.9 YPC last year; tops in the league. Even all-world tight end Zach Ertz has to contend with the presence of emerging second-year tight end, Dallas Goedert.
I also have some misgivings about buying Alshon Jeffery at this stage of his career. In short, this is a crowded, wide usage tree. But it’s the most talented group Wentz has ever worked with, and remember Wentz’s theoretical upside — he was sitting on a likely MVP season in 2017 before his late injury. Now he’s two years removed from that blowout and working with a loaded crew. A career season for Wentz seems likely.
Solid options but with an obvious ding
$22 Jared Goff
$22 Philip Rivers
$22 Dak Prescott
$20 Kyler Murray
$19 Drew Brees
$18 Ben Roethlisberger
Brees was a top-six fantasy quarterback for his first 11 years in New Orleans, a remarkable run. The last two years, he’s dipped to QB9 and QB8. There’s nothing wrong with those final placements, but you’re generally not swinging for the fences when you sign up for someone’s age-40 season.
Brees ended last year on a tepid note, and the New Orleans wideouts are fairly pedestrian after Michael Thomas. Brees is a long-time favorite of mine and it’s criminal that he hasn’t won an MVP (he was robbed in 2009), but our game is about numbers, not names. Given how many choices we have at quarterback these days, you want to love the guy you sign up for. For 2019, from a stat-grabbing standpoint, I'm not in love with Brees. Here’s a case where I’d rather be a year early than a year late.
Prescott isn’t a perfect quarterback. His sack avoidance was terrible last year and he could be a lot sharper in the red zone. But there’s one sneaky thing that elevates his fantasy value — his ability [and willingness] to rush for touchdowns. Prescott has taken in six rushing scores in each of his three seasons, and don’t sleep on how rare that is. Cam Newton [2011-13] is the only other quarterback in history to accomplish that feat [to be fair, Newton collected 28 rushing scores over that span; Prescott made the minimum 18 in his].
Prescott won’t lead all quarterbacks in rushing — figure on about 315 yards in a standard season there. But he’ll contribute with his legs; that’s the point. And at least Amari Cooper gives Prescott a bona fide No. 1 target to work with.
I’m a little sheepish telling people to go cheap on quarterback because it’s the oldest saw going — like advising someone to double down on 11 at the blackjack table. Surely you’ve figured this one out. Nonetheless, Prescott is set up to be a solid value yet again. He’s been the QB6, QB11, and QB10 in his three professional seasons, and yet Yahoo players have Prescott going QB20 in early drafts. For reasons I can’t quite understand, he’s even going after ordinary commodities like Nick Foles and Derek Carr. We’ll take the easy completions where we can get them — this is one of those times.
Murray can’t offer a lot of floor as a rookie, but he could easily bust into the Top-12 at the position; a weekly starter. He already knows the offense pretty much cold. The coaching staff knows him. Arizona has all sorts of playmakers; David Johnson is relevant again, and you’ll want Christian Kirk shares this year. This looks like it could be a very fun offense.
Variable upside mixed with high-floor, low-ceiling vets
$17 Jameis Winston
$16 Lamar Jackson
$14 Josh Allen
$13 Tom Brady
$12 Jimmy Garoppolo
$12 Mitchell Trubisky
$11 Matthew Stafford
$11 Kirk Cousins
Winston is going to make his share of leaky throws, but Mike Evans is a difference-maker, Chris Godwin the most obvious breakout guy of the year, and O.J. Howard a splash play waiting to happen. The Bucs also have a spotty defense, a sketchy running game, and the guidance of Bruce Arians. This is gonna be occasionally dysfunctional, but mostly fun.
Jackson and Allen are linked because they’re both major work-in-progress guys as passers, but they’re going to run a ton. We may overrate the injury risk of mobile quarterbacks, given how hard the league has tried to protect the QB.
Brady is another case of wanting to be a year early than a year late. He desperately needs Josh Gordon back or some other outside option. Julian Edelman and James White are handy, but they can’t be all you threaten a defense with. As for N’Keal Harry, I’m keeping rookie expectations especially tempered.
The Vikings pulled back from the passing game last year, and now Gary Kubiak is on staff with his running platform. This team is likely to lose a ton of passing volume from last season.
Everything went wrong for Stafford last year: health problems with his family, and a slew of key Detroit injuries (Stafford was also part of this, though he kept playing). I think some semblance of a bounce-back makes sense, but the Lions skill talent is fine, not exceptional.
$9 Sam Darnold
$7 Derek Carr
$6 Andy Dalton
$5 Nick Foles
$4 Marcus Mariota
$2 Joe Flacco
$2 Eli Manning
$1 Case Keenum
$1 Ryan Fitzpatrick
$1 Josh Rosen
$1 Dwayne Haskins
$1 Daniel Jones
I wish Darnold had more help: a full season of Chris Herndon, one more impact wideout, a center the team could trust. I still like Darnold an awful lot in isolation, but the context concerns me. I’m also not sure Adam Gase is a good coach.
Carr was once an MVP contender who gained a few first-place votes. The MSM is adorable sometimes.
Mariota needs his legs and athleticism to produce the numbers we want, but it’s those things that keep leading to him getting hurt.
You want to invest in Miami, Washington, or the Giants — you’re on your own.