(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)
As the preseason gets underway and everyone gets hyped for the start of the 2018 NFL season, we’re ranking each and every position for you as you get ready for your drafts. We start with the top 30 quarterbacks for the year. I’ve divided the rankings up into five tiers, and just for fun, I’ve named them after my five favorite Genesis albums (in order).
A quick note before we start: You’ll see me reference two stats you may not be familiar with—DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) and Effective yards, both courtesy of Football Outsiders. If you want an in-depth explanation of DVOA, it can be found here, but the short version of it is this—DVOA is a stat that represents the value of a particular quarterback, per play, over the average quarterback in the same situation. If you’re a baseball fan, you can think of it similar to WAR. A zero DVOA is league-average, so a positive DVOA is above-average and a negative one is below-average. For scale, 30-40% tends to be the top end, while -30-40% and worse tends to be the low end.
Effective yards just takes DVOA and translates it into a yardage figure. So if a player has more effective yards than standard yards, they probably played worse than their stats indicate, and conversely, if a player has fewer effective yards than standard yards, they likely played better than they should have.
Here are our top 30 quarterbacks for 2018:
Tier 1: Selling England By The Pound
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) – Last season was a rough one for Aaron Rodgers as he was sidelined with injuries for a lot of the season. That being said, he’s healthy now and I have no reason to believe he’s going to have injury problems again all year (barring unforeseen events obviously). He’s Aaron Rodgers and I expect him to put up Aaron Rodgers numbers, which translates to the best quarterback in fantasy football.
2. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) – The ageless wonder had yet another solid fantasy season last year thanks to his incredible ability to make really difficult throws while simultaneously limiting turnovers. Whether it’s magic or whatever it may be, Brady is still awesome, even at 41-years-old, and he should continue to be this year. He finished last season with an excellent 27.8% DVOA and 5,468 effective yards compared to his 4,366 passing yards. Yes, he doesn’t have quite the offensive weapons he’s had in the past, especially with Julian Edelman being suspended for part of the year next year, but it won’t really matter. He’s still got Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan has proven himself to be a more-than-capable wide receiver in the past, as has Jordan Matthews.
3. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) – Considering the fact that the Seahawks have one of the worst offensive lines in football, it’s pretty amazing Russell Wilson had the season he had. That line isn’t likely to be any different this season unfortunately, and while Duane Brown is a solid left tackle (the most important position on the line, in my opinion), he’s also got to deal with having Ethan Pocic at the left guard position who is not good, as well as D.J. Fluker who’s had some major problems in the pass blocking game. All that being said, Wilson is absurdly talented and is amazing at evading free rushers. Last year, his passer rating was actually better in a blitz than not (109.3 vs. 90.7). Considering his offensive line, that’s just downright impressive. If he could put up the numbers he did last year with the line he had, I don’t see any reason he can’t do it again. I do have on concern though – last year no quarterback threw the ball into contested red zone situations more than Russell Wilson, and he was largely successful thanks to Jimmy Graham, finishing the year with 23 touchdown passes in the red zone (third-best in the league). Graham is gone now, and he’s replaced by Ed Dickson, who’s not even remotely as good as Graham, so I could see that detracting from Wilson’s value.
4. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) – Drew Brees is amazing. Did he finish the year with an insane season last year? No, but he did continue to show that he is one of the most gifted quarterbacks out there. While he didn’t throw deep a ton, when he did, he was money, rocking a 50.7% adjusted completion percentage on balls of 20-yards or more. That being said, just 11.3% of his passes went for 20+ yards, which will limit his upside a bit if it keeps up. Still, the Saints look poised to have one of the best offenses in the NFL, with the rise of Alvin Kamara in the running game and one of the best offensive lines in the league, Brees will have plenty to work with, not to mention talented wide receivers like Michael Thomas and Cameron Meredith. All that put together should translate to yet another solid fantasy season for the 39-year-old.
Tier 2: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
5. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles) – Wentz took a gigantic step forward last year to put up an excellent season that was sadly derailed by an ACL injury late in the year. Still, the strides Wentz made deserve to be praised. Perhaps the biggest improvement he made was his concentration under pressure. During his rookie season, Wentz had a 94.4 QB rating in a clean pocket, but just a 32.8 QB rating when under pressure. That totally changed last year, as his clean pocket QB rating was 110.3 while his rating under pressure was 81.7. That being said, he still showed some vulnerability when he was blitzed, with a 51.3% completion percentage and just 6.5 yards per attempt—among the worst in the league from starters. Still, Wentz should still provide loads of fantasy value, especially given how excellent he performed in the red zone last year, throwing 24 touchdowns with nary an interception or turnover-worthy throw. He also was excellent throwing the ball deep, with a 109.1 QB rating on go routes—which comprised about 15% of his throws last year. While I am a tiny bit concerned about how Wentz will look coming back from an ACL injury, I’m still a big believer in his talent and the progress he made last season.
6. Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) – If you extrapolate the numbers Deshaun Watson put up over just six and a half games over a full season, you get an absolutely absurd season. I’m talking over 4,000 passing yards, more than 40 touchdowns, and over 600 rushing yards. Now, look, is he going to do that this year? I don’t think so. But, he’s been working out like nuts this offseason and is going to be healthy—however the fact that he’s coming off an ACL injury is definitely a concern. I think he’ll be healthy, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the injury does affect him. However, given the absurd talent he showed off this past year and his rushing ability, Watson should be set for some serious fantasy goodness. I do have some concerns about his accuracy, however. Watson showed last year that he has the ability to make some impressive throws in tight coverage, but he was inconsistent. He also made some pretty bad decisions that resulted in turnovers. Still, the talent is there for him to be a major fantasy contributor.
7. Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings) – Kirk Cousins’ 2017 season was a tale of two halves. Up through about Week 11, he was pretty solid, but from Week 11 on, he steadily got worse, with two of his worst performances of the season coming right at the tail end of the year. Cousins certainly had his fair share of big-time clutch throws, and his performance in the face of the blitz was impressive (he had a better passer rating against the blitz than not), but at the same time he was pretty feast or famine in the red zone—with 17 red zone touchdowns, good for eighth-most in the league, but also three turnover-worthy plays right near the goal line, good for fourth-most in the league. Now that he’s in Minnesota, he’ll have some significantly better talent to work with than he had in Washington—I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are better receivers than Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder—and he’ll have a comparable tight end threat to Jordan Reed in Kyle Rudolph (just, you know, healthy), so there will definitely be production to be had. Hopefully he can just be a bit more consistent this year.
8. Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers) – Perhaps I’m a little bullish on Garoppolo, but I am absolutely in love with this guy’s talent. In just six games Garoppolo impressed in a big way, showing off some elite-levels of accuracy while also taking good care of the ball and not making too many bad decisions that could result in turnovers. And it didn’t matter what defenses threw at him—under pressure, Garoppolo led the league in completion percentage at 62.3% and yards per attempt at 8.3, and he crushed it when he was blitzed—again leading the league in yards per attempt at 9.7 and finishing second in the league in completion percentage at 68.1%. Oh, and did I mention he finished the year with a 39.1% DVOA? Better than any quarterback in the NFL (though, small sample size of course). While he may not have the most talented receiving corps in football, Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin aren’t exactly slouches, and in a Kyle Shanahan offense with the talent Garoppolo flashed last year, I’m excited to see what he’s going to do.
9. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) – Newton was insanely inconsistent last year, putting up some excellent games (like his Week 5 performance) and some total duds (like his Week 12 performance). Newton hasn’t ever really been the best pure passer and that was on full display last year, as he had some noticeable accuracy issues, frequently overthrowing his receivers. And it wasn’t like he was constantly under pressure or anything, his offensive line is solid, he just didn’t throw the ball well—simple as that. When he had a perfectly clean pocket, Newton completed just 72.9% of his passes, the lowest rate of any full-time starter in the league. Add in the fact that the Panthers went with a more conservative approach and the fact that Newton finished the year with a rough -6.9% DVOA (which is right around what Tyrod Taylor, Eli Manning, and Andy Dalton finished with), and there’s definitely reason to be concerned about Newton. At the same time though, we know how absurd of an athlete he is and we’ve seen how he can completely change a game with his legs. We especially saw that last year, as he put up 754 rushing yards, his highest rushing total since 2012. As long as he keeps running, his fantasy floor will be relatively high, even if the passing isn’t great.
10. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) – Stafford was awfully inconsistent last year (partially due to injuries), but the highs were excellent, and he’s shown to really mesh with the offense Jim Bob Cooter has put together. Their offensive line improved last year as they signed Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang, which was great news for Stafford, because when he’s given a clean pocket there are few passers better. In those situations last year, Stafford had an excellent 109.4 passer rating, 71.9% completion percentage, and 23 touchdowns. Under pressure, Stafford was still solid, with a 76.7 passer rating. Overall, Stafford seems comfortable in Cooter’s offense and we know he’s a skilled quarterback. While he may be a bit inconsistent, there’s definitely fantasy production to be had here.
11. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) – Luck would be ranked a bit higher if I had any idea how this shoulder injury he’s been recovering from would impact him this year. He might climb a bit in the ranks as the preseason goes on if he looks healthy and back to his typical Andrew Luck form. He’s reportedly going to play in the preseason opener, which is awesome to hear, and it sounds like he’s going to be fully healthy for this season. If he is, he’s definitely going to bump up some as he’s a definite QB1 when healthy. He’s still got T.Y. Hilton as a great weapon and Ryan Grant, whom the team signed in free agency, who’s a solid player. We know how great Luck’s upside is, but there’s a lot of risk built in, so if you draft him, be sure to draft a solid backup.
Tier 3: Nursery Cryme
12. Alex Smith (Washington Redskins) – Alex Smith was the prototypical high-floor, low-ceiling quarterback for a lot of his career in Kansas City. He did a good job of not turning the ball over but he rarely threw the ball deep at all, opting to keep the game short and safe. All of that changed last year, and Smith completely reinvented himself. He still did a good job of not turning the ball over, but he started getting a lot more aggressive, throwing a lot more deep balls and taking chances in one-on-one matchups, and it paid off big time. About 12% of Smith’s throws last year were on go-routes, and when he threw the ball to a receiver running that route, he had a QB rating of 136.8. Overall, on deep passes, Smith led the league in adjusted completion percentage at 56.5%, total yards at 1,344, and passer rating at 129.6, and tied for the lead in touchdowns at 12. Now, Smith moves to Washington into a Jay Gruden team that saw plenty of fantasy productivity from Kirk Cousins. Smith doesn’t exactly have a top-quality receiver like he did in Tyreek Hill last year, nor does he have a running back as talented as Kareem Hunt or a tight end as consistently excellent as Travis Kelce, but that doesn’t mean Washington is bereft of talent. Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder have shown plenty of flashes of talent, and Jordan Reed is as good as just about any tight end in football when he’s healthy (and that’s a big caveat). Smith isn’t going to repeat the season he had last year, but if he continues being aggressive and playing like he did last season, he can still put up some quality fantasy numbers.
13. Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) – Rivers was a bit up and down to start the season last year, but picked up in a big way during the final seven weeks of the season. While he flashed some impressive throws, he also made a number of very questionable ones. It’ll be good to have Forrest Lamp back on the offensive line, as that line was rough last year, but I don’t expect Rivers to be much different than he was last year, he should be good but not incredible. His accuracy was solid (though he did have a habit of throwing behind receivers a bit more than he should), and he finished the year with a 26.1% DVOA. He did struggle a bit with the deep ball, posting just a 57.3 QB rating on go routes, which comprised 10% of his deep throws, but in short-yardage throws, he was money, posting an excellent 111.6 QB rating on drag routes and a 106.2 QB rating on out routes.
14. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) – After a pretty bad 2016 season that started everyone talking about whether Roethlisberger was going to retire, Big Ben bounced back and put up a really solid 2017 season, finishing the year with 4,112 yards, 28 touchdowns, and a 21.8% DVOA. He’s got offensive weapons all over the place, it’s just a matter of how consistent he can be. He didn’t have the typical home/road splits he usually does last year, with nearly identical performances in Heinz Field as elsewhere, and he showed he’s still got the accuracy he’s had for years and the ability to make big plays. He has gotten a bit worse under pressure in recent years, however, as his QB rating has dropped at least 30 points under pressure in each of the past three seasons. Still, given his weapons and his skill, even an aging Ben Roethlisberger should be a high-end QB2.
15. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) – Just about anything in comparison to Ryan’s MVP year in 2016 was going to look disappointing for fantasy players, but after a slow start to the year, Ryan ended up turning in a pretty respectable season. Yes, losing Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator very clearly hurt him—he didn’t have nearly as many big plays last year as he did the year before—but Ryan was very good at one thing—limiting turnovers. “Wait, but Ryan threw 12 interceptions last year, what do you mean?” I get that, but Ryan protected the ball a lot better than his interception numbers show. He was the victim of a lot of bad luck and a number of balls being tipped off receivers’ hands (or other places—lest we all forget Marshon Lattimore‘s butt pick in Week 16 last year). There were two things that really hurt Ryan’s fantasy value last year—first, his accuracy on deep balls dropped a fair bit. In 2016, he led the NFL with a 57.1% completion percentage on balls thrown 20+ yards. Last year, that number was 37.3%, tied for 23rd in the league. The second thing that hurt his value was the drop in touchdowns. Ryan threw 38 touchdowns in 2016, that dropped to 20 last year—his lowest total since his rookie season. I think it’s pretty clear that 2016 was an outlier season for Ryan, and while he should be a productive, useful, and safe fantasy option, he’s not going to be the explosive one he was in 2016. I think something like last year (or slightly better) is more what we should expect.
16. Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) – Considering he was dealing with a hamstring injury for much of last year, Mariota did fairly well—and had he not been hurt he might have done even better. Still, he was inconsistent, especially late in the year, and that’s concerning, as is his -3.3% DVOA he finished the year with. He flashed his talent at times, making really difficult throws, but he also showed some lack of judgment, misreading coverage more frequently than he should. He also struggled throwing the ball deep, posting just a 56.7 QB rating on go routes, which comprised 13% of his total throws last year. He doesn’t have the most amazing weapons to throw to, though neither Rishard Matthews nor Corey Davis aren’t exactly slouches, and he’s got one of the better offensive lines out there, so if he’s healthy and running, he could put up some good fantasy numbers.
17. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) – Mahomes gets the benefit of being the starting quarterback in an Andy Reid offense, and he’s not likely to be challenged for the job at all (I mean, are they going to start Chad Henne?). Mahomes will have plenty of weapons in Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and now Sammy Watkins, all of whom are major deep threats as well. In the past two seasons, no tight end has more deep receptions than Kelce, and Watkins averaged 14.4 air yards per target last year (good for 16th in the league). Mahomes has a great arm and should be able to take advantage of his weapons, the question will just be how polished will he look. He’s got potential, he’s in the right situation, and he makes for a really interesting sleeper candidate.
18. Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams) – Goff’s big year last year was thanks to two things: First, he took a pretty noticeable step forward in the quality of his play, but I think the biggest reason was Sean McVay’s playcalling, Greg Olson’s coaching, and the quality of the offense the Rams had last year. If there’s one area where Goff improved significantly last year, it was his patience under pressure. When he was blitzed in 2016, he posted a QB rating of 71.9. That jumped up to 105.9 last year. Similarly, when he was under pressure, Goff posted a 47.5 QB rating in 2016, which jumped up to 74.1 last season. He definitely made strides but still has work to do. Now, Goff doesn’t have Sammy Watkins anymore, but he’s been replaced with Brandin Cooks, who’s even more talented. He’s still got Robert Woods and his favorite target Cooper Kupp, and any offense with Todd Gurley in the backfield is going to operate at a high rate, so Goff should be able to put up a similar year this year to the one he had last.
19. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) – Dak’s success in his rookie season was helped significantly by how good both the Cowboys’ offensive line was and how good Ezekiel Elliott was out of the gate. Both of those things took a hit last year, and as a result, Dak hit a rough sophomore slump. The Cowboys still have one of the five best offensive lines in football, and Elliott should be playing all year—both things that should help Dak’s value. But at the same time, his value is going to take a hit with the loss of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, both of whom combined for over 40% of his completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Taking Bryant’s place will be Allen Hurns, which is a downgrade, and taking Witten’s place will likely be Geoff Swaim, who is a significant downgrade. A lot of Dak’s value the past couple years has also been from his legs, rushing for six touchdowns in both of his seasons. It’s questionable exactly how sustainable those touchdowns are, however, as they didn’t come with a ton of rushing yards (282 and 357 for his rookie and sophomore year respectively). Plus, only one quarterback in the past 15 years has rushed for at least six touchdowns in three consecutive seasons, and that’s Cam Newton, who runs a pretty different game from the quarterback position than Dak does. As it stands, I expect Dak to be a QB2 with some upside.
20. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) – Derek Carr had a rough go of it last year, battling some injuries to turn in the worst season since his rookie year. Carr had some difficulties with his accuracy last year, often underthrowing receivers, and had a lot of trouble making game-changing throws. He was especially bad under pressure, posting a 40.8 QB rating under pressure, which was good for second-worst in the league ahead of just DeShone Kizer. He’s also lost his favorite target (and especially favorite red zone target) Michael Crabtree, but has gained Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant, and still has Amari Cooper, all of whom are very talented receivers (assuming Bryant can stay on the field). However if there’s one big reason to be optimistic about Carr’s prospects this season, it’s the addition of Greg Olson to the coaching staff—the man who helped turn Jared Goff into what he was last year, got Josh Freeman to a Pro Bowl, and coached Blake Bortles in 2015 when he threw 35 touchdowns. If he can stay healthy, he’s got some weapons and some good coaching (as well as a good offensive line) and could be an interesting sleeper quarterback pick.
Tier 4: Wind And Wuthering
21. Mitch Trubisky (Chicago Bears) – It’s hard to tell how much of Trubisky’s season last year was a result of his talent and how much was a result of a conservative Bears offense. As the season went on, the Bears’ offense got a little less conservative and Trubisky was able to flash some of his talent, though he wasn’t devoid of problems (most notably his awful Week 15 performance against the Detroit Lions), as he posted a -16.8% DVOA. Trubisky certainly had some accuracy issues, often throwing above receivers more than he should, and he struggled a fair bit under pressure, posting a 48.7 QB rating in those situations—but that’s somewhat to be expected from a rookie. There are some reasons to be optimistic about Trubisky coming into this season—first off, the Bears have a new head coach in Matt Nagy who’s spent his entire career working under Andy Reid, including as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs last year. He’s also gained some talent in the offensive game, with the addition of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. Plus, he’ll likely have a healthy offensive line that’s actually fairly talented (especially if Cody Whitehair bounces back from his slump last year). Trubisky could definitely take a noticeable step forward this year, but it’s hard to count on him too much. There’s definitely upside here though.
22. Case Keenum (Denver Broncos) – What a strange season for Case Keenum. After having been anywhere from a bad to mediocre at best quarterback, Keenum took the reins of the Minnesota Vikings offense and ran wild, posting the best season of his career by a longshot and a league-leading 28.1% DVOA (among quarterbacks with at least 200 passes thrown). He ended the year with 3,403 yards and 4,420 effective yards, it was insane. So what can we expect from him this year as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos? It’s really hard to predict. I could easily see last season being some weird outlier in Keenum’s career, or he could keep things up. There’s obviously going to be some regression next season, but it shouldn’t go without saying that Keenum made some strides last year. Most notably, he got a lot more comfortable under pressure. In 2016, he posted a 92.0 QB rating in a clean pocket but a miserable 37.4 rating under pressure. Last year, he improved significantly, posting a 107.0 QB rating in a clean pocket and a 72.6 rating under pressure. He had the fourth-best completion percentage under pressure at 53.6% and the second-best sack conversion rate at 10.3%, both of which are impressive given he was the sixth-most pressured quarterback in the league thanks to the Vikings’ poor offensive line. Unfortunately for Keenum, the Broncos’ offensive line isn’t much better, and he’s not going to have the greatest running game (though I could see a Royce Freeman breakout season), but he will still have two very talented wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Are they as good as Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs? Perhaps not, but they’re definitely close. There’s definitely risk here, given Keenum’s track record and the fact that he’s moved to a slightly worse offense, but he won’t be challenged for the job at all and still has some offensive talent to work with.
23. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars) – One of the most frustrating and inconsistent quarterbacks around, Bortles had yet another trademark Bortles year last year, with some great highs, some awful lows, and no consistency to be seen. Bortles did have his lowest interception total in a season, which is good, but likely was a result of the Jaguars’ efforts to protect him with a good defense and a good running game, and less a result of his actual skill. Losing Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns certainly isn’t going to help his offensive prospects, however the team will still likely have a good defense and run game, and Marqise Lee should be a solid-enough top option for him. Still, I wouldn’t expect much more from Bortles than what you’ve seen in the past—an inconsistent quarterback who will likely have four to six games where he’s excellent, you just won’t have any idea which games those will be.
Tier 5: Foxtrot
24. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) – Not re-signing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zietler proved to be one of the worst decisions the Bengals could have made for their offense, as their offensive line was pretty terrible last season. As a result, Dalton saw his yardage total drop to a career-low 3,320 yards. Outside of that, Dalton was pretty much what you’d expect from Andy Dalton—a guy who can make some big-time throws but also makes some pretty dumb decisions that lead to turnovers. If the Bengals’ offensive line improves this year, Dalton could be more of a mid-level QB2, but as it stands, the upside isn’t all that great, even with the talent surrounding him.
25. Eli Manning (New York Giants) – Similar to Dalton, Manning had to deal with a pretty garbage offensive line which certainly didn’t help his offensive performance, but it wasn’t all the line, as Manning finished the year with a -8.2% DVOA. Eli is getting old, and he’s steadily been declining for years. This past year, Manning struggled to make deep plays, posting just a 77.4 QB rating on go routes. In general though, he was fairly accurate and did alright on short-yardage plays. He excelled in the red zone though, posting a 108.4 QB rating in the red zone—the Giants just didn’t make it there very often. That being said, the Giants are poised to have a much better run game this year with rookie Saquon Barkley, which could help improve the passing game, but given Eli’s declining skillset and the team’s poor offensive line, there’s not a whole lot of fantasy upside here.
26. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Famous Jameis had a rough season emphasized by injury and inconsistency. There were definitely good weeks, like his Week 15 performance, but then there were games like his Week 9 game. Still, Winston showed an adept ability at making big throws, especially on corner routes where he posted a 114.3 QB rating, and he did finish the year with a solid 14.3% DVOA. However he was a pretty volatile player, making some poor decisions on his throws, leading the league with eight fumbles, and struggling mightily with his accuracy, throwing the ball high far too often. He’s a boom-or-bust type of player, and given he’s suspended for the first three games of the year because he groped an Uber driver, it’s hard to consider him a viable fantasy option this year.
27. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) – It’s hard to know exactly what we’re going to get from Ryan Tannehill following his ACL injury that sat him out for the entirety of last season. He should be healthy, and he’s provided good, QB2-level fantasy value in the past, but at the same time, he’s lost Jarvis Landry and has a wide receiving corps that consists of DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Danny Amendola. There’s obviously the chance that Tannehill provides some fantasy value, but there’s a fair amount of risk along with him.
28. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) – After the performance he put on last year, it’s pretty clear that the Joe Flacco era is coming to an end in Baltimore pretty quickly. Flacco has typically been seen in his career as a big arm, deep ball thrower (and he has been), but last year that wasn’t the case. Flacco opted for safe throws a lot more, and when he did throw deep, he didn’t do well, posting a 49.7 QB rating on go routes and a 37% adjusted completion percentage on deep balls, good for 26th out of 35 qualifying quarterbacks. And on top of all that, he posted a miserable -19.3% DVOA, good for sixth-worst in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 200 passes. The good news (if there is any for Flacco) is that the Ravens improved their offense this offseason, signing Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown, giving them a solid receiving corps. Not only that, but they added Hayden Hurst in the NFL draft—a big, solid receiving tight end. He’s got the weapons, it just doesn’t seem like he has the skills anymore, and Lamar Jackson is knocking on his door.
29. Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns) – Mayfield likely won’t start the year as the Browns’ starting quarterback (that’ll go to Tyrod Taylor), but he’ll more than likely end up there sooner rather than later. If you told me Mayfield was the guaranteed starter from Week 1, I’d have him higher given the talent in the Browns receiving corps, but that’s not the case. That being said, I could see Mayfield coming in midseason and being an interesting quarterback for really deep leagues or two-quarterback leagues.
30. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) – The Ravens really like Jackson, he’s been impressing in camp, and as I mentioned earlier, Joe Flacco is getting worse quickly. This team is built to contend, signing three quality wide receivers to go with breakout star running back Alex Collins and a defense that was among the best in the NFL last year. If Joe Flacco is the thing that keeps them from contending, he’ll be gone and Jackson will be in. Jackson has the potential to be a dynamic quarterback in the NFL, and he’s in a good situation in Baltimore, as he’ll be with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who coached Michael Vick, and assistant coach Greg Roman, who coached Colin Kaepernick. If any offensive coaching staff is prepared to create an offense for a mobile quarterback like Jackson, it’s the Ravens, and if he gets the starting job at some point this season, there could be a lot of fantasy points to be had.