Football is nearly back, and with it returns your favorite football-related activity: fantasy football! The quarterback position isn’t as valued as others but finding the right QB can be paramount to giving you the most lethal squad in the game. Just ask anyone who took a flier on Patrick Mahomes last season.
Here are the 10 best fantasy options at quarterback heading into 2019.
10. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson’s calling card his entire career has been wins over numbers, which hasn’t made him a reliable fantasy option in the past. That may be on its way to changing in 2019. The big contract extension he signed indicates the team is aware of his value.
The Seahawks don’t have any proven options in the backfield. Paired with a below-average defense compared to what Seattle is used to, Wilson will have the ball in his hands more than ever this season. He was near the bottom of the league last season in yards per game at only 215.5, but finished third in the NFL with 35 passing touchdowns. Add in his scrambling ability, and Wilson isn’t the worst guy to be stuck with should worst come to worst.
9. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers, affectionately known as Felipe Rios by his faithful legions of fans, had his best statistical year in quite some time in 2018– which means we should expect some regression come 2019. His receiving corps should be bolstered by Hunter Henry’s return and a healthy offseason for both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, but Melvin Gordon’s situation remains unresolved and it will hurt Rivers if he doesn’t play.
All in all, Rivers was a top fantasy option at quarterback for much of last season, and will be slightly worse this season, regardless of what his backfield will look like. Like Wilson, a consistent option, but not a particularly high ceiling.
8. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Like the rest of his team, Baker Mayfield is a boom-or-bust proposition. He has an extraordinarily talented cast of wideouts, led by the always-electric Odell Beckham Jr., and a deep backfield with several pass-catching options to go along with a decent offensive line. But it’s only Mayfield’s second year, and the first with Freddie Kitchens at the helm for all 16 games.
If things go well, Mayfield will be a top-five statistical quarterback this season whose army of YAC players will give him plenty of yards and touchdowns. If they don’t, Mayfield is a gunner who doesn’t always make the right reads and will have more abysmal weeks than your average fantasy quarterback–which makes his placement as a low-end QB1 option appropriate. Take him at your own risk.
7. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
While fantasy darling Jared Goff collapsed in the face of the big, bad Patriots on the biggest stage, he should be another consistent fantasy option under center in 2019. He threw for 293 yards per game last year, and his workload should only increase as the team attempts to save Todd Gurley for the playoffs.
Argue all you want about how good Goff actually is, he knows Sean McVay’s system at this point, and it results in big numbers for both himself and the team. You know what you’re getting here, and he’ll be a touch more valuable than last year without leaning on Gurley.
6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were not very good last year, but Matt Ryan certainly was. From a fantasy perspective, at least. He threw for 4,924 yards and tied Wilson for third in the league with 35 passing touchdowns. After the team invested in their offensive line with several high draft picks, Ryan should be protected as well as he ever has before.
Ryan is a consistently good quarterback, but his ability to become a great fantasy option relies upon the health of Julio Jones–a tenuous position to be in. When Julio is on, Ryan has the potential to match any QB in fantasy points. When he isn’t, Ryan falls to average. A good but not great option for fantasy purposes.
5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
There’s a lot more uncertainty surrounding Aaron Rodgers than we’re used to. He’s still as talented as he ever was, don’t get me wrong. We all know what kind of fantasy production he can put up. But Green Bay has a new coach in Matt LeFleur for the first time in Rodgers’ career as a starter, and how that will play out will determine both Rodgers’ fantasy value and the fate of the Packers.
Rodgers’ injury history is the biggest question mark. He is good enough to overcome any deficiencies in his team, but he put up low numbers last year while struggling with a leg injury for the duration of the year. There’s more reason to doubt Rodgers as far as fantasy value goes than ever before, which is why he won’t be higher on this list.
4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
It was clear watching Andrew Luck by the end of the year that two things had gone right: his shoulder was healthy and he had fully grasped Frank Reich’s offense. That bodes well for his fantasy numbers in 2019. Reich’s offense has proven to work quite well, T.Y. Hilton is still very good, and the offensive line is as good as it has ever been in Indianapolis.
Similar to Rodgers, it’s hard to put all your faith in Luck because of his medicals. Even now, he struggles with a calf injury he suffered back in May. But Luck’s stable of proven pass-catchers and play-callers give him a slight edge over Rodgers.
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees can be counted on putting up big stats throughout the season. The Saints signal-caller continues to set records and break them the next year, thriving in an offense designed by his longtime running mate Sean Payton and surrounded by weapons like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. His game-by-game production isn’t what it used to be, but he’s been the model of fantasy consistency for the past several years and he’s always good for one to three ridiculous games a year.
Brees isn’t worth taking before quarterbacks start to come off the board, but once they do, he’s a solid choice with a high floor and high upside, depending on who’s across the line from him that week.
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite his team missing the playoffs, Ben Roethlisberger led the league in most passing categories last season, putting up more yards than even Patrick Mahomes. This has been the norm for Big Ben in the last five years, but there’s some reason for concern this year. He’ll be without Antonio Brown for the first time since 2012 and threw 16 picks last year with Brown. Still, Juju Smith-Schuster is no slouch, and while it may no longer consistently translate to wins, Roethlisberger can put up the numbers.
Big Ben is riskier than he has been in a long time, but if he continues on a similar level to last season, he’ll be another boon for your team.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Still, hard to top last year’s fantasy darling, league MVP Patrick Mahomes. He was an absolute steal for anyone who took a chance on him late, but he won’t be under the radar this year. Not even close. Mahomes was the engine that drove the best offense in the league last year, threw 50 touchdowns, and put up 318.6 yards per game. He’s prolific, and he doesn’t make many mistakes, with only 14 turnovers total on the year.
We can expect Mahomes to regress a bit and probably throw more picks given he’s turning 24 in September, but while he’s playing for Andy Reid, defenses will be his for the taking. He doesn’t quite transcend traditional positional value in fantasy football, but he’s the best of the bunch at quarterback, and will be the first of his kin taken off the board during your draft.