QB Report With Tiers for 2019 Fantasy Football Leagues
Mick Ciallela goes beyond the rankings and breaks down his quarterback tiers for 2019 Fantasy Football!
From 2013-2017, an average of 7.2 quarterbacks per year scored at least 280 total fantasy points. That number skyrocketed to 14 last year, and it could have been even higher. Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to score over 360 points while playing hot potato with the starting job in Tampa Bay. Several other quarterbacks posted per start numbers that could have propelled them into the “280” group as well. Names on this list include Mitchell Trubisky, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Carson Wentz. Essentially two-thirds of starting quarterbacks in the NFL scored at least 17 fantasy points per game. However, only two of those signal callers (Patrick Mahomes and Matt Ryan) averaged over 21 points per game in 2018. With so much parity among starting quarterbacks, waiting to draft one is the prudent decision in standard fantasy football leagues.
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I believe this is just another reason you should sign up for a SuperFlex league. I know I have been beating the drum on this lately, but it makes for such a better game. If you play in a 1-QB league, everyone in the league can sit back and wait. Where’s the fun in that? Playing in SuperFlex leagues adds another layer of strategy. You might not think that Deshaun Watson is much better than Cam Newton, but I think we can all agree that Watson is significantly better than Eli Manning. Therefore, the need to secure a player of Watson’s caliber adds another dimension to the draft. This would cause a ripple effect which changes the values of quarterbacks and non-quarterbacks alike.
Regardless of which style of fantasy you prefer, I find that breaking out players into tiers is more helpful than simply ranking them. The difference between number-one and number-two is not always going to be the same as the relative disparity between numbers seven and eight, for example. Knowing when one tier ends and another begins will help you determine when to sit and wait on a position and when it is necessary to pounce during your draft. Here are my early QB tiers for 2019 fantasy football leagues.
QB Tiers for 2019 Fantasy Football
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Deshaun Watson||Houston Texans|
|Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts|
|Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers|
This tier features the best of the best at the quarterback position. All of the players in this tier should be started in all weekly formats, regardless of matchup.
Most people feel that Patrick Mahomes will once again score the most points among quarterbacks. But there is reason to believe that regression is in store. Expecting him to lap the field as he did in 2018 is unrealistic. He may have been in a tier of his own last season, but that will likely not happen again in 2019…I have gone back and forth on ranking Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck at two and three, and you can make the case for others as well. Watson put up the fourth-most fantasy points despite attempting the 15th most passes. Of course, he did much damage with his legs. I expect that to continue to be a big part of his game as he is another year removed from a torn ACL… many wondered how Luck would fare following a year off and significant injury concerns. He responded by posting a top-5 fantasy season. There is no reason to believe he will not reach and perhaps exceed that threshold in 2019… Matt Ryan finished second to Mahomes last year and all of his weapons remain intact and he should continue to put up huge numbers. However, do not expect a repeat of 2018’s four non-passing touchdowns… Aaron Rodgers is perennially in the conversation to be the overall QB1 in fantasy whenever he is healthy. There has been some early chatter about potential friction with Matt LaFleur, but alleged discord with Mike McCarthy never prevented Rodgers from putting up monster fantasy numbers.
|Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers|
|Jared Goff||Los Angeles Rams|
|Baker Mayfield||Cleveland Browns|
All of these players are fine fantasy quarterbacks who can put up big numbers. While I prefer the first five, they are not significantly better than the quarterbacks in this tier, or even necessarily the tier or two after that.
Cam Newton averaged 20 fantasy points per game while dealing with a shoulder injury that got progressively worse as the year wore on. A year of good health should allow for a 300-plus point season out of Newton. Carolina has plenty of weapons and Newton should be able to enjoy a big year… I think people are sleeping on Jared Goff a bit. Goff finished seventh in total scoring last year despite a game in Chicago which he scored negative points. The team’s plan to monitor Todd Gurley’s workload could be a boon for Goff, who has improved statistically in each of his three NFL seasons… Baker Mayfield is a fantasy darling who proved a lot in his rookie season and now has a true number-one receiver in Odell Beckham, Jr. There is a lot to like here.
|Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks|
|Carson Wentz||Philadelphia Eagles|
This is around the point where I would advise drafting a backup quarterback due to splits and matchup and injury concerns.
Drew Brees continues to put up ridiculous numbers at an advanced age. But he did have a number of clunkers last season, specifically on the road. Brees has road tilts against the Chargers, Jaguars, and Bears within the first seven weeks…Russell Wilson had a career-high 35 touchdown passes last year, but only threw the ball 427 times. He also lost his security blanket in Doug Baldwin. Wilson could be a Tier 1 fantasy quarterback on another team, but I’m afraid that will not be the case in Seattle this season… Carson Wentz continues to tantalize us when he is on the field. But there’s the rub. Wentz has a very high ceiling, but injuries have plagued him a bit. Wentz is the kind of player whose value for me depends depending on format. I love him in Best Ball leagues and single-QB leagues where you can just grab another QB off the wire if you need to. But I would be extremely nervous about having him as my QB1 in a SuperFlex league, where basically every starting-caliber quarterback is selected.
|Ben Roethlisberger||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Philip Rivers||Los Angeles Chargers|
|Dak Prescott||Dallas Cowboys|
|Kirk Cousins||Minnesota Vikings|
These are not the sexiest names out there, but this is really the tier where the parity at the quarterback position is most evident. These are quarterbacks I have outside my personal top-10, but who could easily all reach that level of production.
If you want proof of how deep quarterback is, look no further than Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben finished third in points last year, but that was buoyed by the fourth-most passing attempts in NFL history. I expect that number to normalize a bit, particularly following the loss of perennial All-Pro Antonio Brown…Philip Rivers narrowly missed a top-10 finish last year as he stumbled to the finish line. But Rivers is as steady as they come. Rivers has posted between 4,286 and 4,792 passing yards and thrown for between 28 and 33 touchdown passes in each of his last six seasons. In a game of unknowns, Rivers is a bankable fantasy commodity… Dak Prescott has finished as a QB1 in each of his three NFL seasons, and yet he is never treated as one. He is currently being drafted 17th among quarterbacks. Prescott showed great rapport with Amari Cooper and should once again be a value this season… Kirk Cousins was a borderline QB1 last year following three consecutive top-eight finishes at the position. Cousins is flanked by two elite receivers and has plenty of upside.
|Mitchell Trubisky||Chicago Bears|
|Jameis Winston||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Kyler Murray||Arizona Cardinals|
|Tom Brady||New England Patriots|
|Josh Allen||Buffalo Bills|
|Lamar Jackson||Baltimore Ravens|
This section of my quarterback tiers includes the greatest quarterback of all-time and several who have tremendous upside for fantasy purposes. Most can accumulate points with their legs as well as their arms, making them ideal Best Ball targets. The choice between many of these options is a matter of personal preference, but should also depend greatly on the scoring system and format your league employs.
Mitchell Trubisky finished as the overall QB15 a season ago, but his weekly results were wildly inconsistent. He produced more points in his four best games than he did in the other 10 games he played combined. This makes him a risky bet in weekly formats…Jameis Winston enters the year as the starter in Tampa Bay after a year of playing ping-pong with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the role. Winston was turnover-prone, but that did not curtail his production. Winston averaged nearly 18 points per game and makes for a high-upside gamble with Bruce Arians now in Tampa… Kyler Murray will have every opportunity to produce in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. This year’s overall number-one NFL Draft pick will have his ups and downs but has incredible playmaking ability and can produce points on the ground as well as the air… What can be said about Tom Brady? The upside is obviously not as high as it has been in the past, but he is a great matchup/floor play depending on how you want to utilize your quarterbacks… Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were more productive on the ground than most running backs over the last third of the season. However, their passing potential is still very much in question. Neither has thrown for as much as 250 yards in any game. Both the Bills and Ravens bolstered their respective receiving corps, so these young guns have a chance to take the next step in their sophomore seasons…
|Jimmy Garoppolo||San Francisco 49ers|
|Andy Dalton||Cincinnati Bengals|
|Derek Carr||Oakland Raiders|
|Sam Darnold||New York Jets|
The quarterbacks in this tier are going to surprise people. They may not end up being consistent fantasy starters, but there is some sneaky value here. Some of the quarterbacks in Tier 5 are of the “boom or bust” variety. The ones in Tier 6 have virtually no downside and can produce a solid ROI.
It’s funny what a difference a year makes. At this time a year ago, people were calling Jimmy Garoppolo the next big thing and a potential fantasy QB1. Now he is basically free in drafts. The only thing that happened was that he got hurt last year. He didn’t completely embarrass himself when he was on the field. There is still some upside here in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard combined for almost 200 fantasy points in 13 games following Garoppolo’s exit last year… Andy Dalton is another quarterback who feels like a value to me. The Red Rifle is attached to an offense with two upper-echelon wide receivers and a good, young running back. The problem is that it is hard to envision him having the weekly upside of some of those in the tiers ahead of him… Derek Carr was being valued much higher as recently as 2017. That year, he was being drafted in the sixth round of drafts. Seriously. He is now an afterthought. But the Raiders added Antonio Brown and Josh Jacobs among others to assist in Carr’s development. Carr has some decent weapons around him, and it would not surprise me at all to see him significantly outperform his current draft stock. He is going 26th in drafts… I can gush about Sam Darnold for days, but for fantasy purposes, it is hard to get behind him in redraft leagues. He did show some flashes towards the end of his rookie season but is more of a floor play than ceiling play.
|Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions|
|Nick Foles||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Marcus Mariota||Tennessee Titans|
This tier has quarterbacks with weekly upside but should not be valued highly in 1-QB leagues.
Matthew Stafford has had some great fantasy seasons, but those appear to be a distant memory. Stafford finished 20th in total points last year but was significantly worse on a per-game basis. Things don’t figure to get much better as long as he is attached to Matt Patricia’s game plan. Early reports have the Lions practicing a ton of three-tight end sets. No thanks… Nick Foles will finally enter the season with a starting job, but it remains to be seen what that means. Foles has shown flashes of brilliance at points in his career, but he has also been wildly inconsistent. With a questionable receiving corps and an elite defense, Foles will be much more of a game manager than fantasy consideration… Marcus Mariota threw just 11 touchdowns in 14 games last season and averaged under 200 passing yards per contest. Mariota should improve on those numbers, but not to enough of a degree to consider him anything more than a matchup play/bye week fill-in. Tennessee is content to let Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis do most of the heavy lifting in this offense.
|Joe Flacco||Denver Broncos|
|Eli Manning||New York Giants|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||Miami Dolphins|
|Case Keenum||Washington Redskins|
These are veterans whose replacements are in-house and ready to take the reigns at a moment’s notice. Proceed with caution.
Joe Flacco will attempt to restart his career in Denver, but I would guess this season ends the way 2018 did – with Flacco being benched in favor of a rookie quarterback… I am very much looking forward to Eli Manning throwing five-yard passes to Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley. Almost as much as I am looking forward to the Daniel Jones era… Ryan Fitzpatrick is reportedly ahead of Josh Rosen so far. Even if he starts the year with the job, I would temper expectations. Early dates with the Ravens, Chargers, and Bills make a repeat of Fitzpatrick’s early-2018 success an unrealistic expectation… Case Keenum has both Colt McCoy and Dwayne Haskins nipping at his heels. Washington has no elite pass-catching threats and there is no reason to go anywhere near Keenum in drafts.
|Dwayne Haskins||Washington Redskins|
|Drew Lock||Denver Broncos|
|Josh Rosen||Miami Dolphins|
|Daniel Jones||New York Giants|
This tier features young quarterbacks who figure to supplant their veteran counterparts at some point in 2019.
Dwayne Haskins may very well be Washington’s Week 1 starter. If that is the case, I would probably bump him up a tier, but I cannot imagine him being fantasy relevant in single-QB redraft leagues… Drew Lock has some Dynasty upside, but he does not figure to make much noise this season. He may get a shot towards the end of the year if Denver falls out of contention and Joe Flacco struggles, but there is no need to speculate this early… Josh Rosen was given a raw deal in Arizona, and should be able to bounce back in Miami. Whether that happens right away, however, remains to be seen. It appears that Ryan Fitzpatrick is in the lead for the starting job. That may eventually work out in Rosen’s favor given Miami’s tough early schedule. Rosen would not have a ton of weekly upside even if he did wrangle the job from Fitzpatrick… Speaking of raw deals, good luck, Daniel Jones!
Are you down with Mick’s Quarterback Tiers? If so you need to head on over to the 2019 Fantrax Fantasy Football Draft Kit for more great strategy, analysis, and rankings.
Mick Ciallela has been writing for FantraxHQ since July 2017. He has also written for Bleacher Report. He is a lifelong sports fan and has been an avid fantasy sports player for many years. Mick was the Overall Champion of both the 2016 Football Challenge – Roto and 2017 Play 3 Football contests hosted by CDM Sports. Mick was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York and currently resides in New London, Connecticut.
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