A New Number One Quarterback: Redraft Edition

One of the great aspects of fantasy football is how the format lends itself to debate. Will a player be consistent from the previous year, or will a new face break out in the course of the season? Free agency and the NFL Draft are over and now is a great time to take stock of our top-ranked redraft players at each position. Unlike the dynasty articles, these players are all new. That’s right, a new top five is coming for this redraft edition. Today we’ll look at quarterbacks.

Off-limits Quarterbacks: Watson, Mahomes, Mayfield, Rodgers, Luck

Tom Burroughs (@FF_TomB) Drew Brees

Drew Brees has not lived up to his traditional expectations the past two seasons for fantasy. At the same time, he has twice broken the record for pass completion percentage and demonstrated he is the most efficient quarterback in the league. His advanced metrics are truly something to behold.

Drew Brees’ 2018 Efficiency Metrics:

*Visit Playerprofiler.com for additional statistics

He had one of the deepest yards and air yards per attempt while maintaining the highest completion percentage (both standard and “true,” which accounts for throwaways and dropped passes) in the league. Brees excelled in play action, red zone, throwing deep, and while pressured. He also fueled one of the most incredible receiver seasons ever in Michael Thomas, who had 125 receptions with an 85% completion percentage.

He threw for 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 2018, good for an eighth-place finish at the position. While this rank does not seem stellar, he was only 1.8 points per game behind the second highest scorer, and his weekly total of 20.1 points per game would have been second among quarterbacks in 2017. The team did not load up on additional weapons in the offseason, but he has newly acquired tight end Jared Cook to compliment Thomas, Tre’quan Smith, and Alvin Kamara. His floor is potentially the safest of any quarterback in 2019 and he has the ceiling to win weeks.

Michael Stephenson (@FantasyGeordie) Josh Allen

Ok, I know, bear with me, it isn’t as crazy as you think, I promise.

After the Bills Week 11 Bye last season, they took the training wheels off Allen and let him run, and boy did that work out. Over the last six weeks of the season, Josh Allen was the actual QB1, averaging 24.2 fantasy points per game. He ran for 79.3 yards per game and scored five rushing touchdowns across this stretch. But it was not just on the ground where Allen improved.

Josh Allen Passing Splits QB RAT ATT CMP YDS Y/A TD INT SACKS
First 6 weeks 63.42 23.17 12.5 138.67 5.83 0.33 0.83 3.5
Last 6 weeks 77.12 30.17 15.67 207 7.13 1.33 1.17 1.17

He improved across the board, but his counting stats are not the only improvement in Buffalo heading into 2019. Allen’s weapons have drastically improved. The Bills have quietly had one of the best off-seasons in the NFL, offensively speaking. They have added safe hands at every position to surround their gunslinging QB. New slot WR Cole Beasley has a career catch rate of 70.3% and new TE, Tyler Kroft, has flashed in the past and was a steady stand-in for Tyler Eifert in Cincinnati. Kroft also has a 70.5% catch rate and has a 7 TD season on his resume. Their latest addition T.J. Yeldon is also a proven pass-catching asset; he is coming off of a 55 reception season, logging 487 yards and four receiving TDs. Allen and Robert Foster developed a rapport as last season progressed, with Foster recording 3 100+ yard receiving games in the last six games of the year. The biggest potentially needle-swinging move, however, is the addition of John Brown. Finally, Allen has someone capable of stretching the field long enough for him to use that big arm.

If we see the Josh Allen that ended 2018 connect with his wealth of new weapons, a surprising QB1 season is well within reach.

Anthony Zaragoza (@ZaragozaAnthony) Matt Ryan

The always-forgotten Matt Ryan gets my pick for QB1 in 2019. After his MVP season three years ago, Ryan disappointed fantasy owners with a less than stellar 2017. And I think that’s why Ryan gets a bad rap. It gave many fantasy owners a bad taste in their mouths. But if you peel back the surface and look at his 2018 year, you can see why he actually has a great case for top QB this season.

Last year, Ryan finished third and fourth in passing yards and touchdowns in the NFL. And if you think the production was purely volume based, Ryan only threw seven interceptions all season and completed 69.4% of his passes. Better yet, if you compare his MVP year with 2018, the numbers are nearly identical. Ryan had 20 fewer yards and three fewer touchdowns compared to 2016. You put all this together, and Ryan has a great chance to finish as the top dog among QB’s in 2019.

Matt Walker (@DFF_Walk) Cam Newton

You want stats to back this up? Using CBS scoring, Cam has never been a Top 5 QB in even-numbered years or outside the Top 5 in odd numbered years. Guess what year it is? That’s right 2019. All reports have Newton’s recovery from offseason shoulder surgery on schedule (I know, I know Andrew Luck). I am deciding to believe those reports (I didn’t believe a word Irsay said about Luck a few years back). Add in the fact that Cam might have the best supporting cast that he has ever had during his time in Carolina, and I’m believing in SuperCAM in 2019.  

Steve Halupka (@TheRealHalupka) Jameis Winston

When you are taking quarterbacks in one-QB formats, you want to look for upside, and that is something that Jameis Winston can deliver on a weekly basis. Winston had five games over 300 yards out of the nine he started, an insane 55% of games to go along with two outings of four touchdowns. As Winston heads into 2019, he gets passing game guru Bruce Arians at the helm to go along with an impressive set of weapons. All of Winston’s major pieces return (Evans, Godwin, Howard, and Brate) who can all create mismatches on the outside and inside for Winston to exploit.

Another key for Winston will be just how bad this Tampa Bay defense should be in 2019. Even adding Devin White in the first round of the NFL Draft will not be able to reshape a defense overnight that allowed 29 points and 260 passing yards per game. The Bucs young secondary will be tested early and often as there isn’t a player in the secondary with more than three years of experience. Winston will need to throw the ball to keep them in games, and Bruce Arians is more than happy to oblige. Of course, the good news is even if Winston gets off to a lackluster start you can just cut him, it’s a one QB league after all.

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