The quarterback position in 2018 was one of the few positions that offered some stability to fantasy footballers throughout the season. Many of the top quarterbacks performed as expected in 2018. However, a few players stand out from the crowd. Some players exceeded preseason expectations, like Patrick Mahomes, who seems to be an unstoppable force this season. We also had a few surprise stars, like Baker Mayfield, who seemed to transform into a different quarterback after the Cleveland Browns firing of Hugh Jackson.
And yes, there were those quarterbacks that we had high hopes for leading up to the season that downright disappointed, like Tom Brady. In this article, I’ll highlight the top performers, biggest surprises, and biggest busts at the quarterback position from the 2018 fantasy football season. So let’s begin!
2018 Quarterback Superlatives Highlighted by Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield
Mahomes took the league by storm in 2018. A relatively unknown commodity at the quarterback position headed into the season, Mahomes was tremendous from the get-go. Once he took to the field against starting caliber defenses in the first few weeks of the season it was evident that the Chiefs had themselves something special in Mahomes.
Now, headed into week 17, with his Chiefs vying for the number one seed in the AFC, Mahomes should not only be considered top performer at quarterback but the MVP of the season. Through week 16 Mahomes has 529 fantasy points in CBS Fantasy leagues that award one point per 20 yards passing and six points per passing touchdown. For reference, that’s 99 points higher than the next highest scoring quarterback on the season (Ben Roethlisberger). Mahomes was a league-winner this season and probably the only quarterback that will garner consideration before round four of single quarterback fantasy league drafts in 2019.
With his surrounding cast in Pittsburgh, it doesn’t come as a big surprise that Roethlisberger is one of the highest scoring fantasy quarterbacks in 2018. However, it was a nice surprise for Roethlisberger’s fantasy investors that he was able to overcome his legendary home/road splits this year. Big Ben is the second highest scoring fantasy quarterback headed into week 17 of the 2018 season. Roethlisberger’s receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are two of the best in the business and the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line excellent. Should he choose to return next season, Big Ben would be set up for success once again in 2019. Roethlisberger should start to come of the board in round five of single quarterback league drafts in 2019.
Though Matt Ryan was ranked in the top 15 quarterbacks in most fantasy experts preseason rankings, he was listed by most as a lower-end QB1 high-end QB2. This season Ryan put up QB1 numbers on a consistent basis and is currently the third highest scoring fantasy quarterback headed into the final game of the 2018 season. The loss of Devonta Freeman early in the season and a porous defense forced Atlanta to lean heavily on their passing game this season. Those were the main catalysts for Ryan’s gaudy numbers in 2018.
Looking ahead to next season for Ryan, things are looking up. His pass-catchers should only be better with the emergence of rookie receiver Calvin Ridley and second-year tight end Austin Hooper. Of course, Ryan also has one of the best receivers in the game in Julio Jones, who also had a monster season in 2018. It will be interesting to see what this Atlanta Falcons offense can do in 2019 when they are back to full strength. There’s a chance that Ryan will go overlooked in some 2019 fantasy drafts. He could be a nice bargain in the mid to late rounds of fantasy drafts next year for those that choice to go heavy at other positions early on.
Mayfield had a rocky start to his career while playing under head coach Hugh Jackson early in the season. A mid-season coaching change seemed to be just the thing Mayfield needed to help him get on track. Under interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, Mayfield had fewer attempts per game but was more accurate and productive with his throws.
While Mayfield never quite worked his way up to being a true QB1 for fantasy, I believe he did enough in the second half of the 2018 season to put himself in the QB1 conversation for next season. Look for Mayfield to be drafted as a back-end QB1 in the middle rounds of 2019 fantasy football drafts, somewhere between rounds seven and nine of single quarterback leagues.
Brady was drafted as a QB1 in most 2018 fantasy drafts. Unfortunately for Brady’s fantasy investors, he didn’t live up to his draft stock this season. Many people want to point out Brady’s age as being the reason for his decline, however, there were many other key factors. None bigger than the decline of Rob Gronkowski. Gronk just isn’t the player that he once was, or at least he wasn’t that player this season. It also didn’t help that Julian Edelman was suspended for the first four weeks of the season or that Josh Gordon wasn’t acquired until week five.
Looking ahead, it doesn’t help that Brady is an aging quarterback and has now lost Josh Gordon for the foreseeable future. However, how far Brady slips in next season’s fantasy drafts, will largely depend on how the Patriots approach this next offseason. Something tells me this offense will look very different in 2019. If not, Brady will almost certainly fall out of QB1 consideration in most 2019 fantasy leagues. Brady is currently QB13 as we head into the final week of the season. As things stand right now, Brady is a back-end QB1 or top-end QB2 going into this offseason. If I were drafting today I wouldn’t start to consider picking Brady until round nine.
Aaron Rodgers is currently the QB6 in the previously mentioned CBS Fantasy scoring format. Mostly because of his huge week 16 game where he threw for 442 yards, two touchdowns and scored 51 fantasy points. In his previous eight games, Rodgers only broke the 300-yard mark once. Furthermore, Rodgers didn’t throw for more than two touchdowns in any of those games and only threw for one touchdown in four of the last eight games. Unfortunately, Rodgers let his fantasy investors down when they needed him the most.
Looking back on the season Rodgers struggles can be attributed to many things. First, he suffered an early season knee injury. Then, he lost Geronimo Allison in week four. Allison tried to return in week eight but was injured again and landed on IR. Next, Randall Cobb was in and out of the lineup all season. Mostly out of the lineup. Finally, his head coach and offensive play-caller, Mike McCarthy, was unwilling or unable to adjust the offense and ultimately was fired because of this.
Rodgers should be back in the mix as one of the top fantasy quarterback options in 2019. With a full offseason to recover, Rodgers and his receivers should be back and in position to be one of the top passing units in the NFL once again. I expect Rodgers to get a reprieve for his down season in 2018. Fantasy managers will look at his undeniable upside and he will be taken off the boards starting in round four or five of 2019 fantasy drafts.
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