Fantasy Football 2019: Quarterback Primer (Rankings and Tiers)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Aug 14, 2019

Many have forgotten that Aaron Rodgers belongs in the top tier of quarterbacks

There are often times during drafts where my rankings may say one thing and I choose to do another. Why is that? Am I being disingenuous to readers? Did I have a change of heart and not adjust my rankings like I should have? No, what I’m doing is drafting off my tier list.

Why does one have a tier list and how is that different from rankings? Well, I’m glad you asked. There was a livestream I hosted on our YouTube channel about a month ago where I navigated my way through a draft, talking about who I targeted and why. There’s skill involved in building a roster and understanding how to construct a well-balanced team. I’d missed out on the top-tier options that had high upside, so I’d wound up with a lot of high-floor players but was lacking the week-winning upside needed to win a championship. Because of that, I went with some players in the middle rounds who offered more upside, but also more volatility.

By showing you this tier list, it should help you understand the importance of adjusting your mindset on the fly. I’ll explain the rounds that each tier should be targeted in, as well as the impact they’d have on your roster construction. These tiers are based on half-PPR settings in a 12-team league, as it gives us the widest range of usability in leagues.

Here are the links to the other positional tier lists:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Tier One (Rounds 4-6)

Patrick Mahomes
Aaron Rodgers
Deshaun Watson

If you’re going to spend a somewhat early-round pick on a quarterback, these are the guys you should do it for, though they’re unlikely to fall to the range I’d select them. Mahomes threw a touchdown on 8.2 percent of his passes last year. Every quarterback who’s ever hit that mark has dropped at least 1.9 percent the following year, which would net him 37 touchdowns instead of the 50 he threw. Rodgers has been consistent throughout his entire career and it’s weird to think 25 touchdowns and two interceptions was a “down year” for him, but it was. Watson finally has all his pass-catchers healthy, and he’s healthy, which could mean massive things for him. His rushing floor should be massive and could have him contend for the QB1 spot this year.

Tier Two (Rounds 6-8)

Andrew Luck
Baker Mayfield
Matt Ryan

Many will wonder why Luck isn’t in the top tier, but it’s due to his lingering calf issue that has kept him out of training camp until now. When taking a quarterback inside the top five rounds, you’d better know that he’s healthy. When we see him back on the field, he could move up into the first tier, but hearing his Week 1 status is in doubt isn’t great. Mayfield showed us just how good he was in his first preseason drive, throwing with precision and scoring rapidly without Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry on the field. It looked like he picked up right where he left off last year. Ryan has been a top-two fantasy quarterback in two of the last three years, but with their defense healthy again, he likely loses some of his upside, though it helps that they don’t play outdoors until mid-November (you read that right).

Tier Three (Rounds 8-10)

Jared Goff
Jameis Winston
Cam Newton
Russell Wilson
Drew Brees

This is the tier of quarterbacks that I’d feel semi-confident in most weeks, though they likely lack top-three upside. Goff could pass more with the Rams looking to lighten Todd Gurley‘s workload and it’s also going to be his third year in the offense. He went from 477 attempts in 2017 to 561 attempts in 2018. Winston has a bevy of pass-catchers at his disposal and with Bruce Arians calling the shots, he’s likely going to be a breakout star who you can get in the mid-to-late rounds due to the perception of him as a real-life quarterback. Newton has been an elite quarterback for a long time, but he’s going to start losing his rushing upside at 30 years old and has thrown for more than 24 touchdowns just once in his career. Wilson is a virtual lock for top-12 production, but it may be boring considering they run the ball 30-plus times per game. Brees is another one who’ll likely finish as a top-12 quarterback, but his consistency isn’t what it used to be, as he hasn’t been a top-12 type performer in more than 50 percent of his games the last two years.

Tier Four (Rounds 10-12)

Mitch Trubisky
Kyler Murray
Dak Prescott
Lamar Jackson
Carson Wentz

This is the “top-five upside club” tier of quarterbacks, as each of them possess game-breaking upside. Trubisky scored 121.4 fantasy points in a four-week stretch last year, which ranked fifth all-time over a four-game stretch, and he offers a floor due to his rushing ability. Murray is clearly a mobile quarterback with a powerful arm. If Kliff Kingsbury’s offense translates, Murray has top-three potential. Prescott was the No. 5 quarterback in fantasy from the time Amari Cooper arrived and they may be throwing the ball more under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. We all know Jackson is Michael Vick-like on the ground, but will his passing improve enough to take the next step? Wentz did show top-five potential in the past, though it was due to an abnormally high touchdown rate. Adding DeSean Jackson is not going to hurt, either.

Tier Five (Rounds 13-16)

Kirk Cousins
Philip Rivers
Ben Roethlisberger
Tom Brady

The good old boring backend QB1s/high-end QB2s. They’re ranked lower than that in the tiers, but that’s because you should aim for someone who presents a top-five ceiling in the later rounds, or simply stream the position. Cousins has the most upside here, as he has one of the best receiver duos in the league, but the Vikings do want to get back to a run-heavy approach. Rivers has the best defense he’s ever had, and though he’s been a top-14 quarterback in 11-of-13 seasons, that’s essentially what his ceiling is. Roethlisberger was not a good fantasy quarterback prior to Antonio Brown, so you should be very skeptical about drafting him. Brady has struggled quite a bit without Rob Gronkowski throughout his career, so to know that he’ll be without him for the rest of his career is worrisome. Brady was just the No. 17 quarterback in points per game last year.

The Remaining Quarterbacks

You can make the argument that once you get outside the top six quarterbacks, stream the position. As found during my “Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between” series, there’s an average of just four quarterbacks per year who produce top-12 type numbers in at least 60 percent of their starts. If everyone in your league drafts a backup quarterback, you won’t be able to stream as efficiently, so make sure you get one of the top-18 quarterbacks.


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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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