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Way-Too-Early Quarterback Rankings for 2019

Kate Magdziuk breaks out the first iteration of her quarterback rankings for 2019 fantasy football.

Let’s kick this 2019 fantasy football positional preview off by getting into the meat of NFL football: the quarterback. Call it the meat, call it the bread and butter, whatever food analogy will get you to where I’m going.

When diving into these way-too-early quarterback rankings, one thing became increasingly clear to me: the late-round quarterback drafting strategy is alive and well. In an NFL that continues to lean in favor of the pass, the depth of the quarterback position has grown exponentially. There are tremendous values later in drafts that will allow you to spend your early draft capital on positions with scarcity. Let’s dig in.

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2019 Quarterback Rankings

No, Patrick Mahomes does not top my quarterback rankings. However, he’s pretty darn close.

Tier one in my quarterback rankings has one of the smallest projected point differentials amongst the positions I’ve analyzed. Just three points separate my top 3 quarterbacks in 2019, and yet one will cost me the 28th overall pick in my fantasy football draft, while another will cost me pick 66.

In at No. 1 comes Sir Andrew Luck. Returning in 2018 from a shoulder injury many feared would be the end to the Luck we’ve come to love. It didn’t take much time for us to realize that, yes, that man still has it. The Colts have offensive weapons galore: TY Hilton, Devin Funchess, rookie Parris Campbell, Marlon Mack, Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox, Nyheim Hines… need I say more? Another year back from his shoulder repair, another year in his coach’s offensive system, a drastically improved offensive line, and the 6th best strength of schedule for QBs per FantasyPros, give me all the cues I need to fire up Luck as my QB1 in 2019.

As for Mahomes, although we saw the flicker of generational talent immediately, it is difficult to foresee a season to top his accomplishments of 2018. Off-the-field issues with Tyreek Hill do leave us to wonder about his availability for the 2019 season. Despite the fact that he will not be facing criminal charges in the investigation regarding child abuse, it does have to be noted that the audio released of him speaking to his fiance may be regarded as a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy by NFL rules. Hill ranked #2 in yards after catch and accounted for 957 air yards in 2018. Any kind of suspension would surely mean a hit to Mahomes’ production.

Mahomes shattered every ceiling we could have possibly set for a first year starter. He lead the league in passing touchdowns and walked away the league MVP and PFF’s second most highly graded passer. He made every throw and gave defenses a run for their money on a weekly basis. However, one factor that must be considered when projecting his fantasy finish for 2019 is – yes, I’m going to say – touchdown regression.

Marino48 (1984)8.5%20 (1985)5.3%-3.2%
Manning49 (2004)9.9%28 (2005)6.2%-3.7%
Brady50 (2007)8.7%28 (2009)5.0%-3.7%
Manning55 (2013)8.3%29 (2014)6.5%-1.8%
Mahomes50 (2018)8.6%————-

Only four quarterbacks in the history of the NFL have thrown for 48 or more touchdowns, Mahomes being one of them. Noted in the chart above, you can see that on average, each of these quarterbacks TD% regressed by an average of 3.1%. I’ve projected Patrick Mahomes for a regression of 2.1%, which still puts him at 38 TDs on the season. However, at his current ADP as the 28th overall pick, he’s a poor value for me at a spot where I can draft an elite WR or RB instead.

Patrick Mahomes Top QB

Last but not least…. My tier one value. Deshaun Watson’s first season removed from an ACL tear was plagued with injuries – if not for him, then for his receiving corps. Notably, Watson played through broken ribs and a bruised and partially collapsed lung suffered week 5 vs. the Cowboys. His receiving corps was injured throughout 2018, including a torn ACL for Will Fuller, ongoing hamstring issues for rookie Keke Coutee, and offseason news that Deandre Hopkins dealt with severe shoulder pain through the end of the season. All of this and Watson managed to finish 2018 as the QB4.

Watson lead the league with most sacks taken (65), and it did not go unnoticed by former GM Brian Gaine prior to the draft. The Texans drafted two offensive tackles in the first and second rounds – moves that should hopefully limit some of the contact Watson sees in 2019, allow him more time to pass efficiently, and use his legs to full capability. Give his pass catchers an off-season to get right, and Watson can provide top tier value at the 66th overall pick.

Bounceback Candidate

One of the biggest discrepancies between my 2019 quarterback rankings and current ADP  lands with Minnesota’s own Kirk Cousins. Signed to the first fully guaranteed contract in NFL history and the Vikings Case Keemun lead playoff appearances, the bar was set pretty high for him in 2018. The Vikings ended the season at 8-7-1 while the Bears unexpectedly ran away with the division. A disappointing season, indeed.

Though the team’s record didn’t show it, Cousins actually had a pretty decent year statistically. Among QBs with at least 80 dropbacks, Kirk Cousins ranks #1 in completion% on play action, #2 in completion% under pressure, and #2 in adjusted completion%. Adjusted completion% takes into account throwaways, dropped passes, and passes thrown while hit, which is significant given that Cousins tied for 10th most sacks taken by any QB in the league last year. He had a career year when it comes to completion percentage (70.1%), TD/INT ratio (3:1), and finished as the QB13 despite a significant drop in career average yards per completion from 11.8 yds from 2012-2017 down to 10.1 yards.

Vikings rank #2 in positional spending for the quarterback position and #10 in positional spending for wide receivers. Despite Mike Zimmer’s repeated requests to run the ball more and the team’s firing of John DiFilippo in 2018 due to these differences in offensive philosophy, team spending does give every indication of a pass first team. Kirk Cousins finished as a top 10 QB in 2016 and 2017, and I see no reason he shouldn’t finish higher than he’s currently being drafted.

Another bounceback candidate: Matthew Stafford

Ol’ Faithful

With the start of the 2019 NFL off-season, I found a new love. No, he’s not a flashy guy. He’s not going to throw a sexy no-look pass, but he certainly does have a nice pair of legs. I present to you, Ol’ Faithful…. Dak Prescott.

Three seasons into his NFL career, Dak Prescott has never had fewer than 57 rushing attempts or 6 rushing touchdowns. Luckily for fantasy football players, rushing yards are grossly overvalued at the quarterback position. Awarding 1 point per 10 rushing yards while awarding just 1 point for every 25 passing yards happens to be the very cheat code that might help you win a week without spending on a top tier QB. Dak sees enough designed runs on the goal line to provide you that extra umph .

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott

Dak is in a contract year, and the pressure is on for him to perform in order to earn the big money his camp is expecting. Good news for him – now he’s got Amari Cooper. NFL news crews lost their gaskets when the Cowboys spent a 2019 first round NFL draft pick for a player who boasted less than 20 receiving yards in 4/6 games as the WR1 in Oakland in 2018.

With Amari CooperWithout Amari Cooper
Rushing TDs42
TD:INT ratio3.5 : 12 : 1

Dak has never finished below the QB10, and yet, he’s being drafted as the QB20 per ADP. Should the rapport with Amari Cooper continue and he improves on fumbling rate we saw in 2018, Dak is just one of many later round values that have potential for their returns to far outweigh the cost.

Other late round values: Jameis Winston, Josh Allen

Follow Kate on Twitter @FFBallBlast and check out BallBlast: A Fantasy Football Podcast, wherever you listen.

If you’re on board with Kate’s early quarterback rankings, then you definitely should check out the 2019 Fantrax Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

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