• Pat Opperman

5 Quarterbacks Ready to Make Your First Choice Look Silly

Quarterback is inherently the most difficult position to predict in NFL Fantasy Football. At the end of a typical season, about half of the top twelve selected passers will not be a top twelve fantasy point scorer.

Injuries are always a factor. New stars break out. Offensive philosophies change. Sometimes, those philosophies change for an aging quarterback, not that I would ever embarrass Tom Brady by mentioning that.

Last season, five of the top twelve failed to make the cut. (Brady, Cam Newton, Matt Stafford), Jimmy Garoppolo, and Carson Wentz.)

The top three scoring NFL fantasy football quarterbacks of 2018 (Mahomes, Ryan, and Roethlisberger) were drafted in the second tier. Jared Goff (QB-7) and Dak Prescott (QB-10) were drafted late, too.

None of this makes fantasy football managers less certain that their first-choice quarterbacks are destined to be among the top-12 scorers and will justify their selection this year.

But it’s not going to happen for everybody. So, if you can grab one of these guys as your second quarterback, maybe you’ll look like a fantasy football genius as you enter the playoffs.

In no particular order:

Jameis Winston (ADP-14)

Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans is coming off draft boards at a near-elite ADP-WR8 level. Chris Godwin (ADP-WR18) is being called the best breakout candidate by much of the fantasy football community. OJ Howard is the fourth or fifth tight end drafted in most leagues.

Who is throwing them the ball?

Jameis Winston had the 13th-best points-per-game average in 2018. Now, he has the same new, offensive-minded head coach as the three receivers from which fantasy football owners expect great things.

We’d feel better if Tampa added pieces to their running game, but Winston is as good a bet as any to finish among the top scorers this season.

Lamar Jackson (ADP-15)

Baltimore’s season was resuscitated by the arrival of Lamar Jackson in Week 11. His QB-8 scoring over the weeks thereafter landed him right between Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.

Purists will call him a runner, which in fantasy football, is not necessarily a bad thing. In just seven games, Jackson set the record for most rushing attempts by a rookie passer. That provides a solid floor for the QB-late drafters.

But, it turns out Jackson can pass, too. Lost in all the running around was Lamar Jackson setting a new passing efficiency bar for quarterbacks 21 years of age or younger. Word from camp says he passes the visual test this season. That is, he looks like a passer and a bargain in the late rounds.

Ben Roethlisberger (ADP-17)

Fantasy football managers are down on Roethlisberger because Antonio Brown went to the Raiders to be on Hard Knocks. But the Steelers signed Donte Moncrief to replace him and that’s kind of the same thing, right?

Seriously, losing a receiver of Brown’s caliber almost has to impact the quarterback. But Moncrief and second-year wideout James Washington seem up to the task of providing options around Brown’s heir-apparent, JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Roethlisberger likes throwing to Ryan Switzer and his running backs, too. Is it likely the QB-3 from last year is going to fall to the QB-17 level because of one guy? Probably not, even if the guy is AB.

Dak Prescott (ADP-18)

Every season, we hear the same thing. “We know Dak was a top-ten fantasy football quarterback last year, but he’s not really good enough to expect that this year.”

Then, Prescott does it again. He was the QB-10 last year, following QB-6 and QB-11 seasons.

Each season, we look at six rushing touchdowns and think, “Well, he can’t do that every year.” But we think that every season because he has done it every year. In his three seasons, Prescott has over 900 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns- 6 each year.

Now he faces a full season with Amari Cooper and a returning Jason Witten. Michael Gallup is getting some nice reviews, and it looks like the Cowboys have options to cover Ezekiel Elliott.

Prescott could certainly do it again in 2019.

Kirk Cousins (ADP-20)

Cousins came off a pair of QB-5 seasons to lead the Vikings to the Promised Land in 2018. Except, he laid an egg. Obviously, he mailed it in as he cashed his huge paychecks each week.

Or… maybe he had trouble adjusting to a new system. Or… maybe the offensive line crashed and burned. Or…maybe his running game disappeared.

That looks like a 75% chance Cousins wasn’t the problem. Plus, in his “awful” season, he still finished as the QB-12, borderline starter level.

With another training camp and last season under his belt, plus two top wide receivers and a reliable tight end to throw to, we think Kirk Cousins will be closer to the QB-5 than the QB-12 this year.

Extra Points:

We considered listing Josh Allen and Derek Carr, too. Allen ran for a lot of yards and 8 touchdowns as a rookie, but he was mostly running for his life behind an awful offensive line and no receivers. (“If I make it to the end zone, they can’t hit me, right Ref?”)

We’re not sure the Bills’ revamped offense will feature Allen’s legs and we don’t know if his arm will be enough to make him a fantasy football star just yet.

We considered that if the loss of Antonio Brown would make Roethlisberger an average quarterback, shouldn't Carr be elite after Brown’s arrival. Then we said, “No.”

We think Mayfield (ADP: QB4) (less emotion, more distraction), Ryan (QB5) (every-other-year), Brees (QB8) (enjoys watching the runners too much), and Kyler Murphy (QB12) (Rookie passer behind THAT offensive line?) are the best candidates to fall out of the top 12.

But hey! You’re probably smarter than us. Tell us what you think in the comments section.


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