Draft Prep: Four Quarterbacks Who Will Bust in 2019

Those who know me know that I like to wait on QB (broken record if you’ve read my other articles) and it’s easy to find busts at the position. A bust at the QB position is anyone you have to spend real capital on (let’s say a pick in the first 12 rounds) that is likely to disappoint in terms of final value. When I dub someone a bust, I’m not necessarily commenting on their real life talent or how I think they’ll do this year. My favorite example of this is Patrick Mahomes; he’d be on my real life team in a heartbeat if I could get him there, but he won’t be on any of my fantasy teams this year. He’s just too expensive in my mind, and he is unlikely to live up to his huge cost. Before we take a look at our list of busts, let’s first check how things finished up these last few seasons:

2018 Finish Points 2017 Finish Points 2016 Finish Points
Patrick Mahomes 1st 427.1 ——– —- ——— —-
Matt Ryan 2nd 350.5 15th 240.1 2nd 352.5
Ben Roethlisberger 3rd 349.0 10th 270.7 17th 259.2
DeShaun Watson 4th 340.7 26th 172.9 ——– —-
Andrew Luck 5th 337.5 ——- —- 4th 316.7
Jared Goff 6th 318.3 12th 262.5 36th 60.2
Aaron Rodgers 7th 308.6 30th 135.6 1st 383.0
Russell Wilson 8th 306.5 1st 354.9 12th 269.7
Drew Brees 9th 304.9 11th 270.7 3rd 347.3
Cam Newton 10th 291.6 2nd 313.5 15th 264.3
Tom Brady 11th 290.7 4th 299.8 18th 258.6
Dak Prescott 12th 289.9 9th 273.7 6th 290.9

Note: Scores in this table were calculated using Yahoo standard scoring.

 

Okay, so what do I gather from the data? Only three quarterbacks have stayed in the top-12 each of the last three years: Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and of course Dak Prescott. This shouldn’t be held against Mahomes, Watson or Goff though–they haven’t yet played three full seasons. Another takeaway from the data is that none of these quarterbacks have started in 10+ games and finished outside of the top-18 that season. They are all relatively safe options. Finally, I looked back for seasons where a fantasy quarterback put up 400+ points (like Mahomes last year) and it hasn’t happened since 2013. In fact, only three other quarterbacks have done it since the 2001 season…Peyton Manning (420.0), Aaron Rodgers (403.4), and Drew Brees (401.6). They finished with 323.7, 350.0, and 364.6 points their following seasons. We aren’t here to talk about number one finishers though…we want some QBs to avoid. Let’s get into it!

 

Patrick Mahomes (ADP 3.03)

 

I tend to avoid the first quarterback off the draft board each year; it’s nothing personal though. I was a big fan of Peyton Manning, I think Aaron Rodgers could be the best quarterback of all time, and Patrick Mahomes might be in the playoffs every season for the next 10-15 years. However, the best quarterback tends to get there with some luck and he tends to be overly expensive. Here is a look at previous #1 finishers at quarterback along with their touchdown percentages (TD%, % of all attempts that end in a touchdown):

Fantasy QB #1 TD%    Career TD% % Difference
2001 Kurt Warner 6.6% 5.1% +1.5
2002 Rich Gannon 4.2% 4.3% -0.1
2003 Daunte Culpepper 5.5% 4.7% +0.8
2004 Daunte Culpepper 7.1% 4.7% +2.4
2005 Carson Palmer 6.3% 4.7% +1.6
2006 Peyton Manning 5.6% 5.7% -0.1
2007 Tom Brady 8.7% 5.5% +3.2
2008 Drew Brees 5.4% 5.3% -0.1
2009 Aaron Rodgers 5.5% 6.2% -0.7
2010 Aaron Rodgers 5.9% 6.2% -0.3
2011 Aaron Rodgers 9.0% 6.2% +2.8
2012 Drew Brees 6.4% 5.2% +1.2
2013 Peyton Manning 8.4% 5.7% +2.7
2014 Andrew Luck 6.5% 5.2% +1.3
2015 Cam Newton 7.1% 4.7% +2.4
2016 Aaron Rodgers 6.6% 6.2% +0.4
2017 Russell Wilson 6.1% 6.0% +0.1
2018 Patrick Mahomes 8.6% ? ?

 

Looking at the list, 12 of 17 quarterbacks since 2001 saw a jump in their TD% the season they led the league. A reasonable TD% we can expect for a career is somewhere in the 5s for elite quarterbacks. After all, Peyton Manning finished at 5.7%, Tom Brady is currently at 5.5%, Drew Brees is 5.3%, and Aaron Rodgers has an outstanding 6.2%. If we regressed Mahomes back to Rodgers’ numbers, he would have thrown 36 touchdowns in 2018 instead of 50. Do elite quarterbacks drop off like that though? Here is every QB on the list with a TD% of 6.5 or higher along with how they fared the following season:

 

Quarterback TD% (#1 season) TD%,following season (finish)
Daunte Culpepper (2004) 7.5% 2.8% (34th, injury)
Tom Brady (2007) 8.7% —- (injury)
Aaron Rodgers (2011) 9.0% 7.1% (2nd)
Peyton Manning (2013) 8.4% 6.5% (4th)
Cam Newton (2015) 7.1% 3.7% (15th)
Patrick Mahomes (2018) 8.6% ?

 

Looking at this list, each quarterback on it dropped at least 1.9% the following year. For Mahomes, this would mean 11 fewer touchdowns last season. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just a list of no-name players…there are 4 or 5 future Hall of Fame guys on this list. Still, they drop back off all the same. If we regressed Patrick Mahomes’ TD% to that of Aaron Rodgers (the career leader in the modern era), he would have lost 14 touchdowns and scored a nearly identical amount as Matt Ryan. I don’t see anyone paying up for Matt Ryan. Skip Mahomes and grab someone cheaper later on. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Andrew Luck (5.04)

 

So first I hate Mahomes, and now I’m selling on Luck too. I’m just a buzzkill, aren’t I? I honestly do love the influx of talent at the quarterback position, and I hope the league’s passing games continue to improve. Still, there are two reasons I’m selling on Luck: general regression and injury history. First, let’s look at Luck’s career numbers to date:

 

Year Age Games Comp. Att. Comp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Yds/gm
2012 23 16 339 627 54.1 4374 23 3.7 18 2.9 273.4
2013 24 16 343 570 60.2 3822 23 4.0 9 1.6 238.9
2014 25 16 380 616 61.7 4761 40 6.5 16 2.6 297.6
2015 26 7 162 293 55.3 1881 15 5.1 12 4.1 268.7
2016 27 15 346 545 63.5 4240 31 5.7 13 2.4 282.7
2018 29 16 430 639 67.3 4593 39 6.1 15 2.3 287.1
Career 86 2000 3290 60.8 23671 171 5.2 83 2.5 275.2

 

What catches my eye here are two things: TD% and pass attempts. Like Mahomes, Luck enjoyed a better than usual touchdown rate last season. If we regressed Luck’s TD% to his career number, he loses 6 touchdowns from last season’s excellent finish. This doesn’t even mention his attempts, which I also expect to go down. Why do I expect his attempts to go down? Luck has already been dealing with a calf injury this preseason, and we remember how he sat out 2017. I’m sure the Colts won’t take any chances with the face of their franchise. They improved their O-line as a first step, but I also expect a managed workload to help. Let’s say Luck loses 50 attempts, or about 3/ game. He just lost another 2-3 touchdowns. I’m going to pass on Luck at his expensive 5th round price.

 

Matt Ryan (7.04)

 

As far as quarterbacks who just finished top three the year before go, Ryan actually has a reasonable price tag. You could grab three running backs, three wide receivers, and last year’s #2 finisher. So why am I staying away? Let’s look at Ryan’s last 4 years–along with his career numbers.

 

Season Age Comp Att. Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Yds/gm
2015 30 407 614 66.3 4591 21 3.4 16 2.6 286.9
2016 31 373 534 69.9 4944 38 7.1 7 1.3 309.0
2017 32 342 529 64.7 4095 20 3.8 12 2.3 255.9
2018 33 422 608 69.4 4924 35 5.8 7 1.2 307.8
Career 4052 6201 65.3 46720 295 4.8 133 2.1 268.5

 

I see two excellent seasons (2016 and 2018) and two pedestrian seasons (2015 and 2017). I also see a TD% and Int% that are cruising for regression. This regression alone would have dropped Matt Ryan’s touchdowns by six and increased his interceptions by six (coincidentally) as well. That would be a 36 point change in fantasy last year. In addition to Ryan’s regression, we see how hot and cold he can be. For those who are curious, 2014 and 2012 were also solid seasons while 2013 didn’t quite match up. Factor in an aging #1 receiver (Julio Jones), a running back who’s getting older and dealing with more injuries, little other talent in the running game, and a likely improved defense, and I see a less impressive season from Ryan this year.

 

Ben Roethlisberger (11.01)

 

Like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger finished as a top-3 quarterback last season. Also like Ryan, he has a surprisingly cheap ADP on the surface. It starts to become clear, however once we dig into the numbers. First, there are the weapons that left in the offseason; the Steelers traded away mega-star Antonio Brown to the Raiders, and they let Le’Veon Bell leave in free agency. It’s possible that they just let the #1 wide receiver and running back in 2018 walk. Any team who sees that much firepower vanish is certainly going to drop off, right?

Well to be fair, James Conner held his own last season in the running back role; maybe all hope isn’t lost. Did Pittsburgh also replace AB? Well…James Washington and Donte Moncrief are going to try. Washington had 217 receiving yards last year and 1 touchdown in his rookie season. Moncrief has 21 touchdowns and 2,500 yards through five seasons, or an average of 500 yards and 4 touchdowns per year. This is a far cry from the 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns Brown had last season in only 15 games. I personally think almost no one in the league can do what Brown does, and his loss will be felt. Moving beyond position players, let’s look at Roethlisberger himself:

Age Games Comp. Att. Cmp% Yds TD TD% Int Int% Yds/gm
2004 22 14 196 295 66.4 2621 17 5.8 11 3.7 187.2
2005 23 12 168 268 62.7 2385 17 6.3 9 3.4 198.8
2006 24 15 280 469 59.7 3513 18 3.8 23 4.9 234.2
2007 25 15 264 404 65.3 3154 32 7.9 11 2.7 210.3
2008 26 16 281 469 59.9 3301 17 3.6 15 3.2 206.3
2009 27 15 337 506 66.6 4328 26 5.1 12 2.4 288.5
2010 28 12 240 389 61.7 3200 17 4.4 5 1.3 266.7
2011 29 15 324 513 63.2 4077 21 4.1 14 2.7 271.8
2012 30 13 284 449 63.3 3265 26 5.8 8 1.8 251.2
2013 31 16 375 584 64.2 4261 28 4.8 14 2.4 266.3
2014 32 16 408 608 67.1 4952 32 5.3 9 1.5 309.5
2015 33 12 319 469 68.0 3938 21 4.5 16 3.4 328.2
2016 34 14 328 509 64.4 3819 29 5.7 13 2.6 272.8
2017 35 15 360 561 64.2 4251 28 5.0 14 2.5 283.4
2018 36 16 452 675 67.0 5129 34 5.0 16 2.4 320.6
Career 216 4616 7168 64.4 56194 363 5.1 190 2.7 260.2

 

Big Ben has only completed 600 passes twice in his career–last year and 2014. He has only thrown 30+ touchdowns twice since 2008. He’s only completed 400 passes in a season twice, and last year he completed 452. He’s thrown 13 or more interceptions in 5 of his last 6 seasons. He is 36 years old and he has taken a beating over the length of his career. He lost possibly the best receiver and running back of the last five years in the same offseason. I’m sorry, but even an eleventh round pick is too much to spend on Roethlisberger.

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Michael Miklius

Mike is a lifelong Bears fan who is just about ready to give up on Mitch Trubisky for good... Twitter: @SIRL0INofBEEF

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