Staff Playbook: Which QB Offers the Best Value?

The QB List Staff tells you which QB offers the best value based on ADP.

Welcome to the QB List Staff Playbook Series. Every week throughout both the summer and season, we will conduct a staff survey, asking multiple fantasy analysts to share their insights on some of fantasy football’s most pressing questions. Essentially, we’re sharing our “playbook” with you, revealing the hard choices and strategic moves we would make to stay ahead of the competition.

This week, the QB List Staff was asked which quarterback represents the best overall value based on ADP. Let’s open the playbook:


Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs): Jimmy Garoppolo – ADP 150.2, 21st QB taken overall

Reasoning: Last year, “Jimmy G” was being over-drafted. This year, he’s being under-drafted. Injuries and recency bias are a potent combination. Let’s not forget that in 2017, Jimmy Garoppolo passed Kurt Warner and set an NFL record for most passing yards (1,250) by a quarterback in his first 4 starts for a team while throwing to a bunch of rookies and Marquise Goodwin as his number one receiver, a group of pass-catchers that ranked 31st in average yards of separation last season. Oh, and he did it behind an offensive line protection rate that was second to last in the NFL. During Garoppolo’s historic 2017 run, his yards per attempt was better than Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees. PFF’s Efficiency and Accuracy Under Pressure Rating placed Garoppolo (71.4%) above Brady and Brees with a higher YPA. You can see what cool under pressure looks like here. Additionally, 35% of Garoppolo’s throws graded out as positive attempts (better than Carson Wentz and Brady). His passer rating actually got better each quarter, with his highest rating being in the 4th quarter (an insane 133.7). In fact, his highest rating was when the team was tied or behind, rather than ahead. He was also #1 in football in pressured completion percentage that year. According to Football Outsiders, the 2017 49ers under Jimmy Garoppolo were better than the Patriots (Brady), Saints (Brees), Rams (Jared Goff), and Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger) in points per drive and yards per drive, while Jimmy’s QB DVOA (39.2%) topped Brady (27.9%), Brees (26.7%), and Wentz (24.3%). In short, the hype entering 2018 was deserved. Then came the torn ACL in Week 3. Now, Garoppolo is a forgotten man, drafted as the 21st quarterback behind such luminaries as Lamar Jackson, Mitch Trubisky, and Kyler Murray, who has never thrown an NFL pass. Garoppolo’s quick release is tailor-made for HC Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The 49ers have surrounded Garoppolo with new weapons in Tevin Coleman and a returning Jerick McKinnon, and they rebuilt their receiver stable by investing high draft picks in Deebo Samuels and Jaylen Hurd while signing Jordan Matthews in the offseason. Emerging wide receiving talent Dante Pettis enters his second year, and tight end George Kittle is a record-breaking All-Pro. Add it all up, and Garoppolo is the best value at the quarterback position.


Ben Davidowitz (@DavidowitzB): Lamar Jackson  – ADP 129, 19th QB taken overall

Reasoning: Jackson put together a debut season that saw him achieve some great highs and fight through some rough lows. At times, he struggled with his reads, setting up the offense, and his accuracy. With a completion percentage of 58.2%, Jackson was the 30th most accurate quarterback in the NFL. Through all those issues, he still achieved a 6-1 record with a playoff birth as a rookie despite the massive amount of room to grow. Year two should be much different. For starters, he is the lead dog now. During his rookie off-season, Jackson was an afterthought to getting Joe Flacco ready for the year. The current offense has been tailor-made to suit Jackson’s strengths, and he has reportedly been getting players set quickly and playing fast. He has already been the recipient of high praise from his coaching staff this off-season and looks entirely more comfortable. Jackson has been working on the details of his game, improving his foot alignment, throwing motion, and ball placement. He has also reportedly gained muscle this off-season and his massive dual-threat ability will always provide a high fantasy floor. Over the course of Jackson’s seven starts, he passed for 1,114 yards, five touchdowns, and added 556 rushing yards with four scores on the ground. Those numbers were good for a ranking of QB7 during that time with an average fantasy output of 18.6 points per game. That’s with only one game of multiple touchdowns, only throwing for more than 200 yards once, and achieving a high of 14 completions three times. Jackson’s season total of 695 rushing yards and five touchdowns certainly helped offset his low output as a passer. If he makes strides with his throwing abilities and maintains a similar level of production on his runs, he could see a much higher fantasy output for the upcoming season. Jackson could easily outperform his ADP as the 19th QB taken in drafts and 129th overall with slight improvements to his passing game while maintaining a similar level of production on designed runs and scrambles.


Josh Gleason (@JGleas): Ben Roethlisberger – ADP 108, 13th QB taken overall

Reasoning: Quarterback is the most volatile position in fantasy football because it is affected more so by outside factors than just talent. Ben Roethlisberger is certainly no exception to that rule, but his present ADP provides insane value. According to FantasyPros Consensus Ranks, nobody has Big Ben as a top 10 QB. Everybody is scared off by the Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown departures, and that does add some pause for concern. However, the Steelers continue to preach this off-season that they will fill the void left by AB’s departed targets, not let them disappear. Volume is ultimately king and if Roethlisberger is getting his attempts, then that is ideal. He finished as fantasy football’s QB3 last year and since 2016, he is tied for the third-most top 2 quarterback performances with seven. Not to mention, he has been quite consistent, performing as a top 10 quarterback in 45.8% of his starts, a clip that ties him with Aaron Rodgers for third highest. If you take a zero QB approach into your draft, you are going to be looking week-to-week at your matchups, and you want to draft somebody with good early weeks. Roethlisberger and the Steelers open on the road against the Patriots which admittedly is not an ideal start, but then they face a Seahawks team at home which lost its best pass-rusher, go on the road to San Francisco which finished 25th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks a year ago, and then host the Bengals and Ravens which is a boon for Roethlisberger because he has notably been a better performer at home as opposed to on the road. In terms of points per game, Roethlisberger has not finished outside of the top 10 since 2012. Antonio Brown is a Hall of Famer but losing him will not cause Roethlisberger to spiral into complete fantasy irrelevance. He still led the league with 675 pass attempts last year and remember… volume is king.


Dan Adams (@Dadams0323): Dak Prescott – ADP 128, 17th QB taken overall

Reasoning: Dak Prescott has everything a late-round quarterback could ask for. He should have an elite offensive line protecting him now that center Travis Frederick has recovered from the illness that cost him all of last season, and he’ll have the benefit of a full offseason to build on the already impressive chemistry he was developing with his new star receiver Amari Cooper. The Cowboys added slot receiver Randall Cobb and convinced tight end Jason Witten to come out of retirement to help Prescott and the offense move the chains. Add to that a potential step forward from 2018 third-round pick Michael Gallup, and the continued excellence of All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliot, and the offense surrounding Prescott seems poised to be one of the most talented in the league. Prescott also offers rushing upside, having averaged over 300 rushing yards a year and scoring six rushing touchdowns in all three of his seasons in the NFL. He’s shown his fantasy upside before, finishing as a top ten quarterback in 2016 and averaging the sixth-most fantasy points per game among quarterbacks from Week 9 on once Cooper arrived in Dallas. That alone should make Prescott an interesting late-round pick, but he could also take a step forward under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. While it seems unlikely that the Cowboys are installing a brand new offensive system with Jason Garret remaining as head coach, Moore should be able to add a few wrinkles to the playbook. Prescott blends a high floor with a solid ceiling, and that makes him an excellent value where he’s currently being drafted.


Eli Grabanski (@3li_handles): Sam Darnold – ADP 172.6, 23rd QB taken overall

Reasoning: Sam Darnold is one of my sleepers to be a QB1 in fantasy this season. He is extremely cheap in fantasy drafts with an ADP of 172.6 (QB23), so there’s very little risk in taking him. He possesses a ton of upside being the #3 pick from the 2018 draft, and with a year of experience under his belt and a better situation, he boasts a good chance to make the jump as many other QB selections have in their second season. In recent memory, we’ve seen Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Mitchell Trubisky, and Patrick Mahomes make significant jumps their second year to QB1 or near QB1 play. In fact, we’ve seen QBs that may not be franchise quarterbacks throw the most touchdowns of their career in year two like Jameis Winston (29 touchdowns in 2016), Marcus Mariota (26 touchdowns in 2016), and Blake Bortles (35 touchdowns in 2015). Sam Darnold is also decent as a runner for a quarterback, running 44 times (11 red zone carries according to his player profile) for 138 yards in 13 games. The Jets have also made some splashes in free agency to help Darnold progress. They added Le’Veon Bell, one of the best running backs in the league and a phenomenal pass catcher (85 receptions when he last played in 2017) who can line out wide. At wide receiver, they added Jamison Crowder, who struggled in 2018 with injury, but caught over 65 passes in 2016 and 2017. And finally, they strengthened the line adding Ryan Kalil at center and Kelechi Osemele at left guard. Darnold is a good player to take a gamble on late in fantasy drafts and if he doesn’t pan out, he cost you very little.


David Saunders (@DavsaundersQBL): Josh Allen – ADP 153, 22nd QB taken overall

Reasoning: When people talk about Josh Allen, they usually mention how strong his arm is. It is incredibly strong, but it is not the source of his fantasy value. Allen’s legs were responsible for over half of the fantasy points he scored last year, rushing for 631 yards and 8 touchdowns in 12 games. He also had the 5th most rushing attempts for a rookie quarterback since 2000. Why is this important? Quarterbacks who run can be extremely valuable in fantasy football since rushing yards are worth more than passing yards, and rushing touchdowns are worth two more points in most leagues. Allen displayed the potential of an elite running quarterback late last season. After returning to the starting role in Week 12, he was the No. 1 QB in all of fantasy football, scoring 145.28 points in six games. If you extrapolate his average of 24.21 points in those games over the course of season, it would have been second only to Patrick Mahomes’ 26.07. It’s not likely that Allen could maintain that pace for a season with his poor passing efficiency (6.5 yards per pass attempt vs 7.1 yards per rush attempt), but he is entering his second year in the league and the Bills added wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley to stretch the field and catch passes underneath, respectively. If he does improve throwing the ball and keeps running, he could easily make his current ADP look foolish.


Marc Salazar (@dingwog): Kirk Cousins – ADP 132, 20th QB taken overall

Reasoning: So let me get this straight because I am very confused about Kirk Cousins’ current ADP. Dalvin Cook is the consensus RB12. Adam Thielen checks in as the consensus WR11. Stefon Diggs? Consensus WR14. Kyle Rudolph, a starting-caliber TE for five straight years. Yet fantasy owners believe Cousins is the 21st best quarterback, available in the 14th round? It just doesn’t make sense; all of these skill players cannot have the years they are being expected without a fantasy stud QB leading the charge. There aren’t five teams that have a better supporting cast than Cousins. Admittedly, Cousins had a down year in 2018, you know, finishing as the QB13, ten points off a top 10 finish, or where he’s finished for three straight years now. All this with a new team, new playbook, and new coordinator. With one more year in the system, a full complement of weapons, and one of the best supporting casts in the league, Cousins is a lock to return starting QB value for pennies on the dollar. He’s the steal of the draft and a player I will be targeting everywhere. Drafting a starting QB in the double-digit rounds allows you to load up on the skill positions, and a player of Cousins’ caliber allows you to complete with the early round QB drafters. A top 5 finish is not out of the question.


Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF): Mitch Trubisky – ADP 159, 22nd QB taken overall

Reasoning: When drafting a quarterback late, there are a few traits I look for. First, it’s great if the quarterback has some rushing upside. Running quarterbacks have an elevated ceiling at the position, and Trubisky put up 421 rushing yards in 14 games last year. That’s 42 extra points on the season or 2.5 per game. Second, I’d like the quarterback to start showing improvement or to already have shown his high ceiling as a passer. Trubisky greatly improved last year in total yards, touchdowns, TD/INT ratio, and completion percentage. He still hasn’t broken out, but I like the direction things are heading. Finally, I’d hope for a good offense with a coach I trust. Matt Nagy has proven his offensive chops in Chicago, and Trubisky has a wealth of weapons in Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Tarik Cohen, and David Montgomery. I expect another step forward from Trubisky, and we should remember that he was on pace to finish as the QB6 over his last 11 games of the 2018 season. If we paced out his last 11 games, Trubisky would have had 32 passing touchdowns, close to 4,000 passing yards, and over 500 rushing yards. Call me a Bears homer, but I’ll take my shot with Trubisky this year. Even better is that I can get him in the late 13th round.


Caio Miari (@caioNFL18): Derek Carr ADP 171, 24th QB taken overall

Reasoning: Derek Carr had an MVP-caliber season in 2016, passing for 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Combining the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Carr’s 60 touchdowns were the seventh-best in the NFL. Since then, however, things haven’t gone as planned for the 28-year-old quarterback as he combined for 41 TDs and 23 INTs in the past two seasons. Right now, Carr is ranked as the 24th QB in fantasy, which makes him an excellent option at the position based on value. In his career, he has never finished outside the top 20 among quarterbacks. Plus, there’s plenty of reason to believe he can finally come back to his best form (9th best QB, 2016). The Oakland Raiders have three new starting wide receivers, including Antonio Brown, who has been a Top-3 WR in each year since 2014. The offensive line, too, looks better. Even though the Raiders drafted running back Josh Jacobs in the first round, head coach Jon Gruden knows he has to rescue Carr’s best form in 2019. I’m expecting a solid season from Carr, undoubtedly better than what his ADP looks like right now.


Tom Schweitzer (@QBLTom): Kyler Murray – ADP 100, 12th QB taken overall

Reasoning: This is Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton all over again. An efficient, Heisman-caliber college QB with elite rushing ability gets the keys to the car in Week 1, with the rest of the league unsure what to expect. Now add head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s fast-paced, shotgun heavy offense. Then add a talented group of wide receivers and indoor home games. His ceiling is the #1 QB in fantasy, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. There’s also a fairly low floor, but so what? If it doesn’t work out, you just have to stream QB like the rest of the people that waited on the position. I suspect Murray’s stock will continue to rise as the season approaches, especially if he makes a few flashy plays in the preseason, but I’m drafting him all day at the current ADP because, after Week 1, it may be too late to buy low.


Bonus: Jameis Winston (ADP 112, 15th QB taken overall): According to PFF, in the last three years, Winston has the top three seasons of highest% of air yards in a season. Winston is surrounded by great weapons in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard, not to mentioned his stellar red zone chemistry with tight end Cameron Brate. Under conventional scoring, Winston has scored 15 fantasy points or more in 35 of 54 games started, good for 65% of his starts. Lastly, new head coach Bruce Arians is an offensive guru.


(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)


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