Quarterback Busts (2019 Fantasy Football)
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Okay, let’s be honest, you didn’t come here for the intro. You came here for the same reason every fantasy football owner gets drawn into the term fantasy “bust.” Don’t worry, as fantasy owners we just can’t help it. No one wants to be “the guy” in their league that pays up for the wrong player and then deals with the jokes and criticism all year long from your league mates. But have no fear! Here are three players that are currently going inside the top 10 at the position according to FantasyPros consensus ADP that you should steer clear of this draft season.
Drew Brees (NO) – ADP: QB7
So, I’ll lead with this. Most of the time you will be better off drafting a QB later than their ADP in one-QB leagues. The position is so deep that there are usually plenty of great values still on the board in the later rounds. So as we go through these players, I’ll be focusing mainly on where they’re being draft among the other players at the position.
I’m going to be honest with you guys, It feels weird to put Drew Brees on a “bust” list. After everything he’s done for us over the years, this is how I repay him?! The guy has been a top-10 QB every year of his career in New Orleans dating back to 2006! But, how does the phrase go? All good things must come to an end? That might be the case here in 2019 for Brees. Coming off a season in which he was the QB7 in points per game at age 39, there were some red flags that fantasy owners should be aware of.
And no, I’m not talking about the “rise” of Taysom Hill. The biggest concern for fantasy owners might be that the Saints appear to be dialing back Brees’ pass attempts. And it’s probably not a coincidence either that the dip in passing attempts has come with the emergence of Alvin Kamara.
After seven straight years of 625+ passing attempts, Brees’ attempts dropped to 536 in 2017, and to 489 in 2018. Now, Brees did sit out Week 17 last season, but he was still only on a 521-attempt pace at that point. In comparison, last season, Brees’ 32.6 pass attempts per game would have ranked him 22nd amongst QBs with at least eight starts. That’s behind guys like Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, and Dak Prescott.
Another reason fantasy owners might want to avoid Brees this season is based on how he finished in 2018. Brees was solid through the first 12 weeks of the season averaging 23.6 fantasy points per game. But, in Weeks 13-16, which of course are the “money weeks” for fantasy football owners, he struggled mightily. During that four-game stretch, Brees averaged just 11 fantasy points per game and totaled just four TDs. I think Brees could put up acceptable numbers this season to be a starter most weeks, but if you’re drafting the 7th QB off the board, you want him to be an every-week starter. I think the years of being a top-five or six QB are behind him and based on the current price tag, it feels like taking Brees at his ceiling.
Russell Wilson (SEA) – ADP: QB8
Here is another guy that it pains me to say will be a bust in 2019. Wilson has been fantastic for fantasy owners over the course of his career and is one of my favorite QBs in the league. However, as fantasy football owners, we need stats. Until now, Wilson has given us that. With 34 or more passing TDs in three of the past four seasons, Wilson has rewarded fantasy owners with higher-end production. However, last year may have given us a reason to worry as we look toward 2019.
I mentioned the decline in passing attempts for Drew Brees in 2018, but even he had 62 more pass attempts than Wilson last season, in one less game. Wilson posted the lowest number of pass attempts among QBs that played 16 games last year and was even 40+ attempts behind players like Baker Mayfield and Cam Newton who only played 14 games.
While putting up an extremely low number of pass attempts, Wilson was able to produce the second-highest TD rate in the league at 8.2%, which was only slightly behind Patrick Mahomes’ 8.6% and way ahead of Drew Brees who was in third at 6.5%. Now, if we thought there was a chance that Wilson could improve on his 427 pass attempts from 2018, and maintain the efficiency numbers, maybe Wilson could be in for a nice season. But, based on the lack of changes to the coaching staff, it appears this team will remain committed to the run.
But wait, Russell Wilson is a running QB! Isn’t that the “get out of jail free” card at the QB position? Usually, yes. But unfortunately, we saw also saw a slip in Wilson’s rushing attempts last season as well. Wilson dropped from 95 attempts in 2017 to just 67 in 2018, which also happened to be the lowest of his seven-year career. When you also factor in the loss of Doug Baldwin, and the Seahawks only adding a raw WR prospect in DK Metcalf this offseason, I’d rather spend a draft pick elsewhere than one on Wilson as the 8th QB off the board.
Baker Mayfield (CLE) – ADP: QB5
Alright, here goes nothing. While Brees and Wilson are probably more popular bust candidates this season, Baker has worked his way into the fifth QB spot behind the consensus top tier of four QBs. The addition of Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason has only added to the hype behind the former #1 pick, but here’s why you should look elsewhere for your starting QB.
First, it’s usually not a great idea to pick at the front end of a tier if you’re looking for value. I like Mayfield fine this year, but I’m not reaching for him over players that I think could put up similar production this season. This argument, of course, could be used for whoever ended up as the first QB behind the big four at the position, but as of now it’s looking like Mayfield is that guy.
Another reason I’m not taking Baker at his current ADP is his potential lack of upside this season. Mayfield had what many would consider a fantastic rookie season. However, for fantasy purposes, looking at just his production from his 13 starts in 2019, Mayfield averaged just 17.7 fantasy points per game. That would have ranked him 16th among QBs last season. Behind a lot of names that are going three or more rounds later in drafts.
There are, of course, plenty of unknowns around any second-year QB when you only have one year to go off of, but one of the unknowns with Mayfield includes what this offense will look like under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken, who was with Tampa Bay in 2018, coached the Buccaneers to the #1 passing offense in terms of yardage last year. However, Freddie Kitchens who was the interim offensive coordinator for the Browns for the second half of last season has since been promoted to head coach and on paper Monken and Kitchens’ philosophies don’t exactly line up.
In Mayfield’s first five starts under the original coaching staff in Cleveland, he averaged 40 passing attempts per game. But after the coaching turnover, Mayfield only totaled slightly over 32 passing attempts per game under Kitchens. The potential of a more balanced offensive attack and Mayfield’s noticeable lack of rushing attempts has me wondering if he has the upside to be the next QB behind the elite tier at the position.