Quarterback Sleepers (2019 Fantasy Football)
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I feel like this goes without saying, but the “wait on a QB” strategy is out of the bag. Even the most casual fans aren’t taking QBs in round one these days. However, the uninformed fantasy owners are still often reaching in the early parts of the draft for QBs, and sometimes even scooping up two before the more educated owners are addressing the position. Obviously, every fantasy draft is different, and no matter how much content we writers put out there, you know how your league works, and you’ll need to make the call on when to pull the trigger on a QB this season.
As I mentioned, fantasy owners are more willing to “wait” on QB these days, but we still often see QBs going in the early-mid rounds when plenty of talent will be available for the taking later on. Personally, there are upwards of 20 QBs I’d be willing to leave my draft with as my starter this season, so I’m definitely waiting until the double-digit rounds. Here are four names you should definitely consider if you’re waiting on the position this season!
Dak Prescott (DAL) – ADP: QB18
So, I’ll start with this, yes, I am a Cowboys fan. But I promise you this is not a homer pick to list Prescott here as a sleeper for this season. Dak has been one of the most consistent fantasy QBs over the course of his career and is not being treated as such based on average draft position as of now. Prescott has finished as a top-10 QB each year of his three-year career, which has included 22-23 passing TDs each season, along with six rushing TDs every year as well. Now, usually rushing TDs are harder to predict for QBs, but three straight years of consistent production? That’s enough of a trend for me.
Let’s discuss one of the biggest changes for Prescott heading into 2019. A full season with his #1 WR, Amari Cooper. After getting off to a slow start in 2018 averaging just 16 fantasy points per game with his makeshift WR core through the first seven weeks, the Cowboys finally added a big-time weapon. With Cooper’s arrival in Week 9, Prescott averaged 19.7 fantasy points per game over the next 11 games including the playoffs. At that pace, Prescott would have finished ninth amongst QBs in points per game, right alongside Aaron Rodgers.
I understand the hesitation to put Prescott inside the top 10. He has traditionally had a low number of pass attempts due to playing on a run-first offense, and while he’s had the rushing TD production, he’s maxed out at just 357 rushing yards in a season. The great thing is, Prescott’s price tag is unlikely to get to a point where you have to take him at his ceiling.
Add in the additions (and return) of veterans Randall Cobb and Jason Witten, along with a potential second-year jump from young WR Michael Gallup, and you could be looking at a solid starting option in the double-digit rounds. Oh, and did I mention he plays the Giants in Week 1? Even if you’re just streaming the position, he’s a great target to start the season with matchups against Washington and Miami in Weeks 2 and 3 as well.
Lamar Jackson (BAL) – ADP: QB16
Ah, the rushing QB. The fantasy football cheat code! It’s obviously well documented that Jackson struggled to throw the ball with consistency last season, but that was expected. After being selected at the end of the first round in the NFL Rookie Draft in 2018, Jackson finally got a chance to start due to a mid-season injury to Joe Flacco. When you filter 2018 stats by points per game, don’t be fooled. Jackson technically appeared in 16 games last season but was mainly used in sub-packages. Luckily for fantasy owners, we did get to see a glimpse into the potential upside of Jackson even if it was only for half a season.
Between the regular season and the playoffs, Jackson had eight starts and over that time showed that while he may take a while to develop as a passer, he’s a major threat on the ground. Jackson totaled 67 rushing yards or more in six of his eight starts, which led to him never posting a game below 15 fantasy points. So from what we saw last season, even with only one game of over 200 passing yards, the fantasy production is there, and it includes a fairly safe floor.
The biggest question that we’ll need to keep an eye on with Jackson heading into the season as the starter is how much the Ravens will use him as a rusher this season. During his eight starts last season, Jackson averaged 16 rushing attempts per game. That would have put him on pace for 256 rush attempts for 1,220 yards. Those are some high-end rushing stats even for an RB!
I’ll go ahead now and predict that we’ll see a downturn in the rush attempts this season, but even at 60% of his 2018 pace, Jackson would still be up over 700 rushing yards, which is a huge advantage in fantasy football. And lastly, like Prescott, Jackson has a great schedule to start the season with matchups against Miami, Arizona, and Kansas City.
Mitch Trubisky (CHI) – ADP: QB20
Unlike the guys previously mentioned, Trubisky has been a little more under the radar as a late-round sleeper heading into 2019. Trubisky has had his ups and downs in his first two seasons, but don’t forget, he came into the NFL with just 13 starts at North Carolina before being taken at #2 overall in the NFL Draft. While 2018 wasn’t a spectacular season, he did show flashes at times in his first season under the new head coach Matt Nagy. Even with those ups and downs, fantasy owners might be surprised to know that Trubisky finished as QB15 and was actually QB11 in points per game.
Don’t get me wrong, end of season numbers don’t always tell the entire story. One look at Trubisky’s game log and you immediately see the inconsistency which included four games over 27 fantasy points and eight games under 15 fantasy points. The games under 15 points are concerning, but Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Baker Mayfield, and Carson Wentz all combined for just TWO 27+ fantasy point games last season. We definitely saw indications that Trubisky is capable of posting big games.
Another reason to like Trubisky’s game is his sneaky rushing production. During his amazing four-game run in Weeks 4-8 last season Trubisky totaled 40+ rushing yards in each game and actually ranked fifth amongst QBs with 421 rushing yards on the season. That total was also 64 more yards than Dak Prescott has ever posted during his NFL career. Fantasy owners will often give other running QBs a pass based on the production they make up for on the ground, and while Trubisky isn’t an elite runner, he’s a capable one. Fantasy owners should take advantage of this misconception late in their drafts.
Josh Allen (BUF) – ADP: QB22
With all of these sleeper options, we’re talking about players you can pick up in the double-digit rounds of your drafts as of now. The great part about the QB position is that it is so deep, if the guy you drafted doesn’t work out, you can easily move on to another in order to right the ship. Allen is one of those QBs that I believe has really nice upside while being pretty much free on draft day. Before we dive more into why you should consider Allen a QB target on draft day, consider that his early-season schedule includes the Jets, Giants, and Bengals. Can’t get too much better than that if you’re looking to draft a guy just to start the season off as a streaming option.
Allen showed fantasy owners last season once he returned from an injury that he can be a viable fantasy option despite having to grow as a passer. Similarly to a fellow rookie, Lamar Jackson, both of these young QBs showed the ability to rack up fantasy points on the ground while doing next to nothing through the air. In 12 games in 2018, Allen totaled just 2,074 yards passing and 10 TDs. Included in those yards are just six games over 200 yards, and none over 250. As we know, however, once Allen returned to the starting lineup in Week 12, fantasy owners were in for a treat.
The biggest reason I like Josh Allen as a sleeper QB this season, and someone I’d even be okay with as my only starting QB in a 1QB league, is what we saw from him the final six games of last year. During that stretch, he averaged 24.2 fantasy points per game, that’s 2 more points per game than QB2 Matt Ryan and posted 90+ rushing yards in four-of-six games.
Obviously, six games is not a huge sample size, but one thing I did like about Allen’s rushing numbers compared to Lamar Jackson’s, for example, is that Allen only averaged nine rushing attempts per game, which isn’t anywhere near the 16 per game we were seeing from Jackson. Add in that the Bills signed John Brown and Cole Beasley this offseason which should provide a little more veteran presence to the WR group, and I think Allen could be a steal this season for fantasy owners.