The depth at quarterback certainly makes it enticing to wait to draft your starter in one-QB leagues until the later rounds. Guys like Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady are potential options in the double digit rounds of snake drafts and as $1 or $2 buys in standard auctions.
Yet even though there’s a ton of value throughout, knowing which quarterback to specifically target, and when to target them, can have a great effect on your season. Sure, Brady and Goff both sound like great late round steals, but Goff outscored Brady 310.3 to 280.4 in standard leagues last season, a 30-point difference that can be a be something that tips the scales for a playoff birth or more importantly, a title.
Here’s a quick glossary of terms before we get into eight stats worth knowing to prep for your draft:
TT - Time to Throw
CAY - Average Completed Air Yards
IAY - Average Intended Air Yards
AGG% - Aggressiveness
LCAD - Longest Completed Air Distance
xCOMP - Expected Completion Percentage
COMP +/- - Completion Percentage Above Expectation
Jameis Winston – 10.8 IAY and 20.4 AGG%
Why it matters: Two things you love to see from your quarterback – deep passes and aggressiveness. Winston had both of those in spades in 2018. He was second in IAY and fourth in AGG% amongst eligible QBs last season. This led to a high rate of both TDs (19) and INTs (14) across 11 games (9 starts) last season.
How it effects 2019: All the elements are there for Winston to be a significant fantasy contributor, it’s just about finding consistency and cutting down the interceptions. You can live with 10-15 interceptions on the season if he can be around 35 touchdowns and 5,000 yards, but those are marks he’s yet to come close to hitting across a season. He’s a high upside sleeper worth the risk if you wait at the position.
Ben Roethlisberger/Derek Carr – 2.55 TT
Why it matters: Antonio Brown’s former QB and new QB had the lowest TT marks in the league last year, getting the ball out of their hands quicker than anyone else. This led to low CAY and IAY numbers. All of these are concerning from first look as short passes and short passing windows limit fantasy upside. Roethlisberger could get away with it last year due to the style of the Steelers’ attack, the short passes to his two star receivers and James Connor, but Carr of course struggled mightily to contribute regular fantasy production last year.
How it effects 2019: Roethlisberger should have already been bumped down a bit in your rankings with Brown’s absence, but these numbers might make you even more tentative to add him as he was clearly so reliant in yards after the catch last year. He should still be a viable low tier starting option, but certainly don’t reach for him. Carr, meanwhile, will of course benefit from Brown’s presence, but he’s coming from such a low baseline that it’s hard to count on much reliability from him in 2019.
Drew Brees – 7.4 COMP +/-
Why it matters: Brees had a completion percentage of 74.4% in 2018, but his xCOMP of 67% showed that there was a lot of good luck in his production. Essentially, he was gifted with a lot of tough catches being made and very few drops. The next highest COMP +/- marks in the league were Nick Foles at 5.7 and Kirk Cousins at 5.3.
How it effects 2019: Brees’ 74.4% completion percentage was the top mark in the NFL by a decent mark, so it makes sense that he would be somewhat high on the COMP +/- chart. The fact that Brees was eighth in fantasy points amongst QBs in standard leagues last season and would have dropped several spots with a league average COMP +/- is a bit concerning. Brees’ yards per game have dropped off significantly the past two years – 266.1 in 2018 and 270.9 in 2017 after six straight years above 300 – so there are a lot of numbers that suggest the future hall-of-famer could be in store for a year where he doesn’t deliver top-10 QB value.
Matthew Stafford – 4.7 CAY
Why it matters: Only Cody Kessler, Jeff Driskel and Nick Foles had lower CAY marks last season than Stafford. Long gone are the air-it-out-to-Megatron days in Detroit. Stafford resorted to a lot of short passes in 2018 and as a result, he was the #19 QB in standard points leagues last year.
How it effects 2019: Most indications out of Detroit suggest that the low air yards total for Stafford is no fluke. The team is making a conscious effort to become more of a grounded offensive team that avoids the 50-pass games of Stafford’s early career. This is bad news for Stafford’s fantasy status and he isn’t a viable option as a starter in one-QB leagues.
Patrick Mahomes – 12.2 AGG%
Why it matters: Mahomes had the fourth lowest AGG% mark amongst eligible QBs last year, which seems bizarre for someone who threw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. His deep balls to Tyreek Hill are certainly reflected in his 9.2 IAY, but the dump-offs to the running back position and short throws to Travis Kelce and others contributed to the no doubt surprisingly low AGG% clip in 2018.
How it effects 2019: If anything at all, this is good news for Mahomes and it could help sway any skeptics who fear Mahomes can’t repeat his 2018 success. Essentially, the Kansas City offense was so effective in 2018 that Mahomes didn’t really need to take many risks by throwing into traffic or getting away from game plans that were clearly working. If teams do indeed find a way to give Mahomes more trouble, he should be able to compensate by being more aggressive, allowing his fantasy numbers to end up in the range of last season’s elite campaign.
Josh Allen - 3.22 TT and 11 IAY
Why it matters: Allen led the league in both of these categories, which is extremely encouraging. He was getting time to throw from his line and waiting for deep balls to develop, things you love to see from a fantasy standpoint.
How it effects 2019: Allen was the 20th ranked QB in standard points leagues during his rookie season, but these league-leading TT and IAY numbers suggest there’s a lot of room for growth as he goes into year two. He’s a great target in two-QB leagues and is worth drafting as a backup or sleeper in deep one-QB leagues. The interceptions may be a bit high, but 4,000+ yards and 25+ TDs are certainly in play.
Josh Rosen - 21.6 AGG%
Why it matters: Rosen was the league’s most aggressive quarterback in 2018 according to the metric. The rookie wasn’t afraid to take risks and make mistakes as he was thrown into the fire.
How it effects 2019: Rosen is in position to take over the Dolphins’ starting QB position from Ryan Tannehill, who was a notoriously conservative QB for the team. He had one of the league’s lowest AGG% marks of 13.1 in 2018. Rosen is currently battling for the starting spot in Miami with Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was third in AGG% in 2018 at 20.7. So no matter which QB the Dolphins go with (my money’s on Rosen), the Dolphins’ passing attack should be more favorable for fantasy in 2019 than it was during the Tannehill regime.
Blake Bortles – -6.9 COMP +/-
Why it matters: You thought we were done talking Blake Bortles in a fantasy setting, didn’t you? Wrong! Bortles had the second lowest COMP +/- in the league behind C.J. Beathard last season, meaning he was the victim of some bad luck. He had a 60.3% completion percentage on the year and an xCOMP of 67.2%.
How it effects 2019: Nick Foles might not have the most reliable supporting cast in his new gig. The Jaguars don’t have nearly the offensive potency as the Eagles so it’s tough to expect much of Foles in 2019. He’s a last resort option in two-QB leagues who shouldn’t be specifically targeted.
By Andrew Ericksen, Contributor
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