Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between – Quarterbacks (2019 Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Aug 8, 2019

Without Antonio Brown at his disposal, Ben Roethlisberger is likely to take a big step back in 2019

They say the third time is a charm, right? Wouldn’t that make the first two less appealing? That definitely wasn’t the case, as the traction on this series has been greater than I could’ve ever hoped and that’s why we’re back with the third installment of “Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between.”

There are many articles out there that discuss situations changing, coaches changing, career arc, and everything else underneath the sun. What this series was meant to do is present pure, untainted, untarnished numbers that fantasy football players from every level could understand.

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When someone mentions to me that “Player X recorded five QB1 performances last year,” it kind of irks me. It’s close to the spectrum of saying that someone was a top-10 quarterback because that’s what the year-end totals say. Ask anyone who owned Dak Prescott last year if he was the 10th best quarterback (where he finished). The answer would probably be “no.” Stating where someone finished for a particular week doesn’t do us any good, either, because variance is a real thing.

To help you better understand what I’m talking about, the average top-12 quarterback performance in 2018 was 19.2 points. What you don’t know is that Philip Rivers scored 21.7 points in Week 4, yet wouldn’t have received a top-12 performance because it just happened to be a high-scoring week for quarterbacks. On the flipside, Deshaun Watson scored just 16.0 points in Week 13 and received a top-12 performance because it was a low-scoring week for quarterbacks. The player’s performance should not be graded on a curve, because we have no control on predicting what that curve is for any particular week. Our goal as analysts is to predict who will have QB1 performances in any given week, which stood at 19.2 points in 2018.

The numbers vary from year-to-year, which is where the research comes into play. While the QB1 number was 19.2 points in 2018, it was just 18.1 points in 2017. Every position is different, but know that I’ve gone through each year, each position, and each player, charting how many top-12, top-24, top-36 performances they’ve had according to that year’s stats. Not just that, though, as I’ve added boom and bust categories, which showcases their ceiling and floor on a week-to-week basis.

The number to achieve boom or bust status varies per position, as some have it harder than others. With quarterbacks, the number to “boom” wound up on 26.0 PPR points because it would have amounted to 300 yards, three passing touchdowns, and 20 rushing yards. That number can obviously be accomplished in a variety of different ways, but again, we just want them to reach that number. A “bust” on the other hand amounted to less than 14.0 PPR points. Below, you can find the chart with the parameters for each position.

Position Boom Bust
QB 26.0 13.9 or less
RB 25.0 6.9 or less
WR 25.0 7.9 or less
TE 20.0 6.9 or less

 

To give you an idea as to something you may find below, here’s an example: Jameis Winston performed as a QB1 in 54.5 percent of his games in 2018, while Drew Brees hit that mark in just 46.7 percent of his games, though Brees is being drafted a full 30 picks before Winston in drafts.

For the third time, welcome to Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between. Here are the tight ends, while the other positions will be released throughout the rest of the week. You’ll be able to find the links below once they go live.

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Quarterbacks

Top-Six

So, you want to pay up for a quarterback, eh? This tier is reserved for those who are okay with drafting a quarterback in the first handful of rounds. Even if I don’t believe in the early-round quarterback approach, I want to give you the details of who you should be choosing if you have your mind set on that.

ADP Player Top-5 % Top-12 % Top-18 % Boom % Bust %
1 Patrick Mahomes 62.5% 81.3% 100.0% 56.3% 0.0%
2 Andrew Luck 6.3% 75.0% 75.0% 6.3% 25.0%
3 Deshaun Watson 25.0% 62.5% 75.0% 25.0% 25.0%
4 Aaron Rodgers 18.8% 50.0% 75.0% 18.8% 18.8%
5 Baker Mayfield 7.1% 35.7% 50.0% 0.0% 42.9%
6 Matt Ryan 37.5% 75.0% 75.0% 37.5% 18.8%

 

We all know that Patrick Mahomes posted the best fantasy season of all-time in 2018, and this chart highlights just how consistent he was. The question becomes: Just how much will he regress? Since I’ve started charting this series (early 2000’s), there is no quarterback with more than 30 games played who’s posted higher than a 60.1 percent QB1 rate over their career. The highest ‘boom’ rate in a career is 26.8 percent. Mahomes may be special, but not expecting regression would be foolish.

Here’s a fun stat for you: Since 2011, the average number of quarterbacks per year who total QB1 performances 60 percent of the time is four. Think about that. The odds say that just four quarterbacks will wind up performing as QB1s in 60 percent of their starts, and even though there were six of them in 2018, four of those quarterbacks were not drafted inside the top-12 at their position. This is why drafting a quarterback in the first few rounds isn’t worth the risk.

One of those greatest fantasy quarterbacks of all-time is Aaron Rodgers, who continues to fall in ADP. After a disappointing 2018 campaign – that still netted very respectable numbers, as seen above – Rodgers is falling into the fifth-round right now. He has hit that 60 percent mark in three of the last five seasons. Just how ridiculous has Rodgers been over his career? Here’s your answer when compared to the careers of others in his draft range:

Player Top-5 % Top-12 % Top-18 % Boom % Bust %
Aaron Rodgers 36.8% 60.1% 76.7% 24.5% 20.2%
Andrew Luck 23.3% 58.1% 73.3% 17.4% 20.9%
Matt Ryan 13.8% 40.8% 62.1% 9.2% 34.5%

 

The quarterback who seems most out of place here is easily Baker Mayfield, as he posted QB1-type numbers just 35.7 percent of the time. Last year, his marks were nearly the same as Dak Prescott. Does the addition of Odell Beckham move him this far in the ranks? You shouldn’t have to pay top-dollar in order to find out when Matt Ryan has proven time and time again that he’s legit.

7-12 Range

This is often the range where fantasy owners feel the need to snag a quarterback if they miss out on one of the top-tier guys, though this article may change your mind. As mentioned above, there’s an average of just four quarterbacks per year who hit QB1-type numbers in at least 60 percent of their starts, so none of these guys are expected to.

ADP Player Top-5 % Top-12 % Top-18 % Boom % Bust %
7 Drew Brees 40.0% 46.7% 66.7% 40.0% 33.3%
8 Russell Wilson 12.5% 56.3% 75.0% 12.5% 18.8%
9 Carson Wentz 0.0% 54.5% 72.7% 0.0% 27.3%
10 Cam Newton 28.6% 57.1% 78.6% 21.4% 14.3%
11 Jared Goff 31.3% 43.8% 68.8% 25.0% 25.0%
12 Kyler Murray DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

 

While Drew Brees hit top-five type numbers in 40 percent of his games, he didn’t finish as a QB1-type in more than half of his games. This is a trend we’ve seen with Brees and the Saints offense, as they’ve gone more run-heavy over the last few years. You can see below that he’s now been sub-50 percent for each of the last two years.

YEAR Top-5 % Top-12 % Top-18 % Boom % Bust %
2018 40.0% 46.7% 66.7% 40.0% 33.3%
2017 0.0% 37.5% 81.3% 0.0% 18.8%
2016 43.8% 62.5% 81.3% 25.0% 18.8%

 

If there’s one player on here who’s stood out in this series throughout his career, it’s Cam Newton, as his marks are one of the closest to Aaron Rodgers‘ territory. In fact, his ‘boom’ mark of 26.8 percent for his career is the highest I’ve charted among quarterbacks with at least 25 games played. He has better weapons than he’s ever had, but will his rushing totals decline to the point where it limits his upside? Him, Rodgers, Luck, and Peyton Manning are the only quarterbacks who have a career QB1 percentage higher than 50 percent (minimum 25 games played).

If there’s someone from this group who doesn’t belong, it’d be easy to say it’s Kyler Murray considering he’s never played an NFL game, but what about Carson Wentz? In the 11 games he did play last year, he showed solid consistency, but lacked elite upside, as he didn’t top 24.5 fantasy points in any game. When drafting a quarterback in this range, you ideally do so with the hope that he can finish top-five, though it’s tough envisioning that for Wentz unless he throws for an astronomical number of touchdowns.

13-18 Range

Those who wait on quarterback generally select one in this range and it’s fair to say it worked out pretty well last year, as this range netted Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger, the three top fantasy quarterbacks.

 

ADP Player Top-5 % Top-12 % Top-18 % Boom % Bust %
13 Ben Roethlisberger 25.0% 62.5% 75.0% 18.8% 18.8%
14 Tom Brady 18.8% 43.8% 62.5% 18.8% 31.3%
15 Jameis Winston 18.2% 54.5% 63.6% 18.2% 27.3%
16 Philip Rivers 6.3% 50.0% 68.8% 6.3% 18.8%
17 Dak Prescott 18.8% 37.5% 50.0% 18.8% 25.0%
18 Lamar Jackson 6.7% 13.3% 46.7% 6.7% 53.3%

 

Just as Baker Mayfield received quite the bump with Odell Beckham, Ben Roethlisberger has experienced a reverse dip after losing Antonio Brown. His numbers that he posted in 2018 would call for him to be drafted as a top-five quarterback in 2019, though when looking at his numbers before Brown was a starter on the Steelers, the public may be right.

Player Games QB5 % QB12 % QB18 % Boom % Bust %
After Brown 117 19.7% 42.7% 63.2% 17.1% 33.3%
Before Brown 99 8.1% 33.3% 49.5% 5.1% 49.5%

 

If there’s someone who stands out in this area of drafts, it’s Jameis Winston. Not only did he offer ‘boom’ potential from week to week, but he also finished as a QB1-type performer in 54.5 percent of games, which ranked ninth among quarterbacks last year. He now has Bruce Arians as his play-caller with a bevy of weapons to throw to. If you’re looking for someone who could post top-five numbers from this range, Winston would be at the top of that list. Many will write him off because they believe he’s a bad real-life quarterback, but you shouldn’t be one of them.

This chart also kind of shows why despite being a top-12 quarterback in each of his three years why Dak Prescott falls down draft boards. He’s been a fine quarterback to target for his floor, but seeing just 37.5 percent in his QB1 category isn’t ideal. For what it’s worth, he posted QB1 numbers in 4-of-9 games (44.4 percent) with Amari Cooper on the roster. Tom Brady, on the other hand, lost Rob Gronkowski, and already had a low percentage in the QB1 column. His current ADP may be QB14, but experts are much lower on him as the QB22.

Lamar Jackson‘s numbers may look bad, but you must remember that if he logs a carry in a game, it counts as a game played. If we break down his numbers to only the games he started, here’s how it’d look:

Player Top-5 % Top-12 % Top-18 % Boom % Bust %
Lamar Jackson 14.3% 28.6% 100.0% 14.3% 0.0%

 

19-32 Range

If you’re one for streaming quarterbacks, this is your list to choose from most of the time. When you hear that this may be the best year to wait at quarterback (let’s be honest, you hear that every year), it’s likely true, as there are options down here posting top-five performances rather often.

ADP Player Top-5 % Top-12 % Top-18 % Boom % Bust %
19 Mitch Trubisky 28.6% 35.7% 42.9% 28.6% 35.7%
20 Kirk Cousins 18.8% 37.5% 62.5% 18.8% 31.3%
21 Jimmy Garoppolo 0.0% 33.3% 66.7% 0.0% 33.3%
22 Josh Allen 33.3% 41.7% 50.0% 33.3% 50.0%
23 Derek Carr 12.5% 18.8% 37.5% 12.5% 62.5%
24 Matthew Stafford 0.0% 12.5% 50.0% 0.0% 50.0%
25 Nick Foles 20.0% 20.0% 60.0% 20.0% 40.0%
26 Sam Darnold 7.7% 15.4% 30.8% 7.7% 69.2%
27 Dwayne Haskins DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
28 Marcus Mariota 7.1% 35.7% 42.9% 7.1% 57.1%
29 Eli Manning 0.0% 37.5% 50.0% 0.0% 43.8%
30 Andy Dalton 9.1% 36.4% 54.5% 9.1% 36.4%
31 Joe Flacco 0.0% 33.3% 55.6% 0.0% 44.4%
32 Ryan Fitzpatrick 25.0% 62.5% 62.5% 25.0% 37.5%

 

If there were ever a boom/bust option that you have two extremes with, it’s Josh Allen. He posted 26-plus points in 33.3 percent of his games, but also scored less than 14.0 points in 50 percent of his games. Mitch Trubisky was not quite to that extreme, but also presented plenty of volatility. Both of them, however, ranked top-six inside the top-five percentages, highlighting their streaming potential.

While Kirk Cousins may have finished as a top-12 quarterback, this chart shows why many are hesitant trusting him in 2019, as he was a QB1-type performer just 37.5 percent of the time, the same as Eli Manning. This has kind of been his norm, though, as Cousins has never performed as a QB1 more than 50 percent of the time in any of his seven seasons.

The oddball in this territory is Matthew Stafford, who had almost always been the exact same quarterback throughout his career, posting at least a 37.5 percent QB1 rate in eight straight seasons from 2010-2017. Seeing that mark down to just 12.5 percent in 2018 is likely just an outlier, but could the coaching change been part of it? There’s certainly some question marks in this territory, but it’s very likely that multiple quarterbacks in this territory will finish as top-15 options.

TAKEAWAYS

You’ve likely heard it before, but yes, there’s plenty of reasons to wait on quarterback this year. By drafting someone like Andrew Luck in the fourth round (his current ADP), you’re missing out on someone like Chris Carson. You’re going to have a mighty hard time replacing Carson with someone in the double-digit rounds, though the same cannot be said for Luck, as we’ve seen throughout the tiers of quarterbacks.

In a one quarterback league, my advice would be to wait until there are 14-16 quarterbacks off the board before selecting yours, and then taking your favorite of the remaining bunch. Are there situations where you should take one sooner? Sure, I’ll take Aaron Rodgers in the seventh round every single time. If someone like Jameis Winston falls to the 10th round? I’ll take him there. But looking at early ADP, it’s unlikely you’ll get top-10 quarterbacks at a value in the top 10 rounds, so it’s likely best to just load up your roster with talent at running back, wide receiver, and tight end in the meantime.


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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