Fantasy Football QB Leaders: 4 Year Rank Trends

by John Ferguson | @FantasyFerguson | Featured Writer
Jan 10, 2019

After a stellar 2018 season, is Matt Ryan a shoe-in to be a top-five QB again next year?

For this article, we pulled information from our “Fantasy Leaders Report” to take a look at the top-12 QBs from this season. The table below breaks down the overall season rank for each QB over the last four years as well as their fantasy points per game (PPG). This is intended to give us some valuable insight on past versus present performance and what to expect going forward from some of this season’s stars. This will also be a good reference when planning to draft for next season when recency bias takes over an individual player’s hype. Let’s take a closer look at the top 12:

Name 2018 Rank 2017 Rank 2016 Rank 2015 Rank Last 4 Yrs AVG Rank 2018 PPG 2017 PPG 2016 PPG 2015 PPG Last 4 Yrs AVG PPG
Patrick Mahomes 1 1.0 26.1 26.1
Matt Ryan 2 15 2 19 9.5 22.1 14.3 21.7 14.6 18.2
Ben Roethlisberger 3 11 18 20 13.0 21.3 17.4 18.0 19.0 18.9
Deshaun Watson 4 26 15.0 20.7 24.1 22.4
Andrew Luck 5 4 28 12.3 20.4 20.5 18.7 19.9
Aaron Rodgers 6 29 1 7 10.8 19.5 18.5 23.8 18.8 20.2
Jared Goff 7 12 37 18.7 19.4 17.0 7.6 14.7
Drew Brees 8 9 3 6 6.5 20.3 16.4 20.8 20.4 19.5
Russell Wilson 9 1 11 3 6.0 18.7 21.7 16.8 21 19.6
Dak Prescott 10 10 6 8.7 17.9 16.3 17.9 17.4
Philip Rivers 11 8 14 12 11.3 17.8 16.9 16.2 17.8 17.2
Cam Newton 12 2 17 1 8.0 20.2 18.7 17.0 24.3 20.1

 

Tier 1

QB1: Patrick Mahomes (KC)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know all about the season Mahomes just had. This was a fantasy performance for the ages that bested even Peyton Manning’s epic 2013 campaign. By the end of Week 16 with 15 games played, Mahomes’ 399.7 fantasy points on the season was already more than any fantasy QB had scored over the last four years in 16 games. This is even more impressive considering Mahomes only totaled 272 rushing yards this season which is where former fantasy QB1s like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson have made a living as of late. Mahomes will undoubtedly be the first QB off the board in fantasy drafts next season, but even he may not be quite worth the asking price if his ADP skyrockets to the second round.

QB2: Matt Ryan (ATL)
After a disappointing QB15 finish in 2017, Ryan was all but dead to the fantasy football community heading into this season. It didn’t really matter that Ryan was the overall QB2 as recent as 2016 as well as the NFL MVP. But as you can see, you never know what you’re going to get with Ryan. One year he’s hot, the next year he’s not. This is a trend that Ryan has actually followed dating all the way back to 2012.

The Falcons are shaking things up with the recent firing of offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian. This makes Ryan a bit of a wild card next season for fantasy purposes at this point, but with Calvin Ridley showing promise as a rookie and Julio Jones continuing his elite form, Ryan has all the weapons he needs to be somewhere in the QB8-QB12 neighborhood next season. With so much variance in Ryan’s performance over the years and the quality of competition at the QB position right now it’s a little tough to lock him into a top-five spot again.

QB3: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Despite constant preseason chatter of retirement and the never-ending drama that was the Le’Veon Bell saga, none of this distracted Roethlisberger from putting up some of the best numbers of his long career. Roethlisberger’s QB3 finish and 21.3 PPG was the best he’s ever recorded. Big Ben also led the NFL with 452 completions, 675 attempts, and 5,129 passing yards. Based on the large body of work we have to go off of with Roethlisberger, it’s hard not to predict some regression for him next season. Especially if the Steelers do pull off a shocking trade of Antonio Brown during the offseason. Big Ben should still possess some value as a fringe top-12 QB if he hangs around the later rounds next season as his four-year average finish of QB13 suggests, but I wouldn’t pay extra just based on this season’s performance.

Tier 2

QB4: Deshaun Watson (HOU)
Touted as a potential candidate for overall QB1 numbers this preseason by some (myself included), Watson didn’t quite live up to those expectations, but he also didn’t completely disappoint. Watson was leading the league last season before his injury with 24.1 PPG but did drop some this season down to 20.7 PPG. Watson’s touchdown percentage dropped (as expected) after producing a prolific rate of 9.3% last season down to only 5.1% this season according to Pro-Football-Reference. Watson made up for that, however, with continued success running the ball. His 551 rushing yards ranked third in the league amongst QBs.

We also saw Watson clean up his turnovers with only nine interceptions on the season after committing eight INTs in only seven games last season. Watson should remain a borderline top-five option for years to come as long as he stays healthy and continues contributing yards on the ground. It is still a bit of a risk, however, to argue taking him inside the first five rounds of fantasy drafts next season.

QB5: Andrew Luck (IND)
A solid candidate for comeback player of the year, Andrew Luck did not miss a step after sitting out all of last season with a shoulder injury. Luck has now recorded top-five fantasy finishes in his last two healthy seasons while also registering almost identical PPG in each of those seasons (20.4 in 2018 and 20.5 in 2016). If you dive a little deeper into Luck’s fantasy totals, you will see that he finished as the QB2 in 2014 with 21.9 PPG and QB4 in 2013 with 18.3 PPG. Luck was one of the most consistent options at the position this season having scored three or more touchdowns in nine-of-16 games. If Luck’s injury concerns are truly behind him, there is no reason to believe he can’t maintain these QB5 finishes year in and year out.

QB6: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
With so much competition at the position now, it makes no sense to pay a third-round pick for Aaron Rodgers in fantasy drafts anymore. Rodgers simply is no longer in a league of his own for fantasy purposes. While Rodgers is still one of the best real-life QBs with his crazy low interception rates, his 25 passing TDs and 4.2% touchdown percentage this season was the worst in his career as a starter where he played at least 15 games. This speaks to the incredibly high floor Rodgers does offer you for fantasy.

Rodgers will obviously remain a lock for top-five consideration, after all, he would have been the overall QB2 last season if he put up 19.5 PPG over 16 games. Missing most of the game in Week 17 also dropped Rodgers two spots on the overall season rankings.

Tier 3

QB7: Jared Goff (LAR)
We have now seen a steady rise in production from Goff in each of the last two seasons. While the Rams were one of the highest scoring offenses all season, Goff seems out of place in a tier with guys like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. That’s what you get when you separate names from numbers. There is some boom-or-bust character to Goff for fantasy, as he threw one or no touchdowns in seven games this season.

It’s tough to envision Goff finishing much closer to a top-five finish in the future, but like Aaron Rodgers above him, Goff would have been the overall QB2 if he put up these numbers last season. Goff is a player I could see falling fairly low on draft boards next season where he will provide value as a matchup-based starter with plenty of QB1 upside.

QB8: Drew Brees (NO)
Brees has had a historically efficient season this year, but unfortunately, you don’t really get bonus points for that in fantasy. Looking over the last four seasons, however, you can see that Brees has been about as reliable as they come in fantasy football. Brees is the only QB with a top-10 finish in each of the last four seasons, and only Russell Wilson has finished with a slightly higher average rank over that span. If you look at Brees’ fantasy finishes over his long and illustrious career, he has been a top-10 QB in fantasy every year since 2004 according to Pro-Football-Reference. Brees is one of the true G.O.A.T.’s in fantasy football and surely has at least one more season inside the top-10 with the Saints up his sleeve next season.

QB9: Russell Wilson (SEA)
Last season’s overall QB1 experienced a slight drop in production this year. The overall fantasy finish is exaggerated a bit thanks to a tremendously high scoring class of QBs this season. Wilson only really fell an average of three points per game as the Seahawks boasted one of the heaviest run-first offenses in the league this season.

Wilson lost his primary red zone threat, Jimmy Graham, this season and his top wideout, Doug Baldwin, was less than 100% all season. Wilson also didn’t find the end zone once for a rushing score all season for the first time in his career. Considering all of this, Wilson still managed a pretty solid season. It will be interesting to see where Wilson falls after a quiet year as he could provide a tremendous value considering his 19.55 PPG ranks top-five over the last four years.

Tier 4

QB10: Dak Prescott (DAL)
It seems every year people have doubted Prescott as a capable fantasy football QB, yet here he is again with his third-straight finish inside the top 10. Prescott certainly looked doomed from the get-go with less than 200 passing yards in four of his first six games this season. A late-season push and the addition of Amari Cooper as a receiving threat helped boost Prescott’s numbers along with his six rushing TDs. This offense has still run through Ezekiel Elliott, but Prescott still chips in enough all around to make an impact in fantasy. Considering Prescott was essentially a last round draft pick in most standard, 12-team redraft leagues last season or even undrafted altogether, he obviously warrants consideration at the end of drafts next season as your QB2 at worst with top-10 upside.

QB11: Philip Rivers (LAC)
Rivers was the benchmark of consistency most of the season in solid-yet-unspectacular fashion. Rivers had at least two TDs in 13-of-16 games this season. Rivers has basically been this same guy every year. He flies under the radar on draft day, presents solid late-round value, and gives you a top-12 finish when all is said and done. Rivers’ situation could get interesting next season in a contract year. If the team doesn’t extend him in the offseason, he will be playing for perhaps his last big deal of his career at age 37.

QB12: Cam Newton (CAR)
Another season in the books where Newton is a decent fantasy QB, but just underwhelming in real life. Newton has the third-best average fantasy football finish as QB8 over the last four seasons amongst players with more than one season of service. Newton finished as the QB9 with 20.2 PPG this season. Newton’s 488 rushing yards and four rushing TDs helped boost his numbers while he generally played it safe in the passing game. Checkdowns to Christian McCaffrey helped lift Newton’s passing numbers as he ranked 33rd in the league with 7.1 average intended air yards according to Next Gen Stats.

While the Panthers do have a potential out in Newton’s contract next season according to Spotrac, it isn’t likely he’s going anywhere. Newton will remain a staple in the top-12 fantasy QB rankings for as long as he can stay on the field and remain mobile.

Honorable Mentions

This is a list of a few names worth looking at as well. Both Kirk Cousins and Tom Brady just missed out on top-12 finishes this season by fractions of a point. Depending on your league’s scoring, they may very well have been top-12 guys. Both Cousins and Brady have averaged top-10 finishes each of the last three seasons before 2018.

Mitch Trubisky showed a lot of promise in his second year and even surprised as a threat in the running game. By using our “Points Distribution Tool,” you’ll find that 16% of Trubisky’s fantasy points this season came from rushing yards which puts him in close company to Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton (17%).

Matthew Stafford has generally been a top-10 performer in fantasy, but like the rest of the Lions offense, he completely fell apart this season. A drop all the way to QB19 seemed like a bit of an outlier for Stafford, but based on the way the Lions played this season, it might be tough for Stafford to re-enter the top-12 right away.

Lastly, Ryan Fitzpatrick is set to become an unrestricted free agent during the offseason according to Spotrac. A starting gig is obviously not a guarantee for the turnover-prone, bearded one, but his big games sure are fun to watch. A friendly landing spot could make Fitzpatrick a player to consider in deeper leagues, two-QB leagues, or as a matchup-based starter.

Name

2018 Rank

2017 Rank

2016 Rank

2015 Rank

Last 4 Yrs AVG Rank

2018 PPG

2017 PPG

2016 PPG

2015 PPG

Last 4 Yrs AVG PPG

Kirk Cousins

13

6

5

8

8

17.6

17.4

18.8

18.3

18.03

Tom Brady

14

3

15

2

8.5

17.5

18.5

21.5

21.5

19.75

Mitch Trubisky

15

28

21.5

18.8

11.2

15

Matthew Stafford

19

7

7

9

10.5

13.3

17.1

17.5

18.1

16.5

Ryan Fitzpatrick

27

35

29

11

25.5

20.7

12.3

9.5

17.8

15.08

 

Fantasy Football RB Leaders: Four-Year Rank Trends


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John Ferguson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from John, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyFerguson.

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5Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
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18Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
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20Mike Evans (TB)WR
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17Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
18Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
19Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
20Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
21Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
22Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
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25Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
26Adalberto Mondesi (KC)2B,SS
27Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
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29Juan Soto (WSH)LF
30Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
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16Jimmy Butler (PHI)SG,SF
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