Anybody who has played fantasy football over the years knows the basic tenants of the game is to wait on a quarterback. It's one of those common knowledge things we've all known since birth. Kind of like how you to look both ways before you cross a street. Don't swim after eating. And Han shot first. Like, everyone knows these things.
What I would like to do today is to use that in practice. By looking over average draft position of quarterbacks, I have found the best, worst and sleeper values at the position. And look, every draft is different. There are some leagues where the managers won't take a quarterback in the first eight rounds. And then I have home leagues where three quarterbacks go in the first. But this, again, is based on current ADP and can be used as a rule of thumb moving forward.
Let's get started.
Best quarterback values
Cam Newton, New England Patriots
Let's not pretend Newton is washed up in the NFL. He's 31 years old currently. A mere child in terms of NFL quarterbacks who are now playing well into their 40s. He's also the same age as Taylor Swift. Let me just say rumors of Cam's demise are just (wait for it) folklore. Oh please, don't log off now. I won't do that again. The point is Cam is young. This situation reminds me of the time Steve Young had to take over for the best quarterback in the game in the 1990s and dominated the league. Like Cam, Young was 31 at the time. The only difference being Cam was the face of the damn league as recently as 2015 when he was the MVP. And really, you only have to go back to 2018 when Cam was QB5 through the first 14 weeks of the season.
Plus, he gets to work with Josh McDaniels. The same Josh McDaniels who was well ahead of the curve when he drafted Tim Tebow to the Broncos because he wanted to work in some run-pass option into his offense. This is something McDaniels hasn't had in New England recently. Even though he did try to get Tom Brady to catch a pass in the Super Bowl. A motivated Cam with McDaniels is going to win a lot of fantasy leagues this season.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Many of you got burned by Baker last year and won't ever draft him again. Which is fine. But with that kind of thinking, we never would have had Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool because of his ill-fated stint as Hal Jordan. Let's cut Baker a break because his two main issues last year were coaching and the offensive line. The latter was addressed with the signing of Jack Conklin in the offseason and the drafting of Jedrick Willis. And you add Austin Hooper to the mix and you're all set on the line. That won't be an issue.
Kevin Stefanski is a huge upgrade over Freddie Kitchens. Stefanski helped guide Kirk Cousins to his best season as a pro, mostly because of his work in play-action. Cousins led the NFL with 129.1 passer rating on play-action. Baker was already third in the league. This is going to be a huge win for Baker, Browns fans and your fantasy league.
Other great quarterback values: Matt Ryan is that song you downloaded that you like, but every time it pops up on your play list, you hit skip for whatever reason. He wasn't great down the stretch last year (averaging 16.8 points in his last seven), so people are passing on him in drafts so far. But take advantage of the discount. … People are also disrespecting Aaron Rodgers this year, too. Including his own GM who drafted the Packers' quarterback of the future. I don't draft him because I'm a Bears fan and can't' do that. But I wouldn't pass on him later in drafts. … And then there's Carson Wentz, another quarterback who produces. He was the QB10 last year and was solid in the fantasy playoffs. He did it without recognizable names at the end of the season, too.
Worst quarterback values
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Jackson is the best player in football, according to his peers who voted in the NFL Network Top 100 list. And he's awesome. But he's being overvalued in fantasy football. Mostly by people who watched their friends draft him in the 12th round last year and win a fantasy championship. And this is why we don't draft quarterbacks early! They are overcompensating this time around. It's like how you didn't keep your Star Wars toys as a kid and now they are worth a fortune. You responded by buying hundreds of action figures from the new movies, and well, it's just not working out. (I have like 40 Mace Windu action figures if anybody needs one.) And since you never want to draft last year's best fantasy team, I would let somebody else take a chance with Jackson this year.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Blasphemy, I know. Somebody in your league is going to draft Mahomes in the first round because people can't seem to disconnect fantasy from reality. But let me give you a little pro tip. Mahomes was great last year. But through the first six weeks of the season, he was the QB5 in fantasy. Being outscored by Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Lamar. No doubt, he's awesome. But any of those quarterbacks listed above will give you similar output in standard leagues.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Other quarterbacks with poor draft value: Philip Rivers is playing with the best offensive line of his career, or at least since the Nick Hardwick era. But with T.Y. Hilton out at the start of training camp, I expect the Colts to run the ball a lot, too. … Kirk Cousins again had one of his best seasons as an NFL quarterback. But it hasn't translated to fantasy points. And I expect them to throw even less without Kevin Stefanski. … Matthew Stafford was on-pace last year to post MVP numbers. But don't let that fool you. The Lions would love to run the ball more this season.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Speaking of not overreacting to what a quarterback did last year, Tannehill is suffering from the opposite effect. Many feel that he's going to regress this season and aren't touching him. But the dude was the QB4 from Weeks 6 (when he took over as the starter) through Week 16. He averaged 21.25 points per game. I'm not ready to say that he's going to be the MVP of the league. Or that the Titans will make the playoffs again. But he had some solid fantasy production and can be a low-end QB1.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Jones replaced the legend Eli Manning last year and was pretty good. He is one of three rookie quarterbacks since 1950 to have three games with four passing touchdowns. What I'm looking at is that he averaged more fantasy points per game from Weeks 8-16 than Mahomes (22.08 to 21.60). I love the move of having Jason Garrett as the offensive coordinator as well. Tony Romo had over 4,200 passing yards and 36 touchdowns in Garrett's first season as offensive coordinator in Dallas. I'm not going to say that Jones will become the next John Madden in the broadcast booth. But he's going to be a pretty good fantasy quarterback this season.
Other quarterbacks with sleeper potential: The Broncos surrounded Drew Lock with a lot of talent in the draft and could have sneaky value. … Teddy Bridgewater is joining a new team, but he's worked with offensive coordinator Joe Brady when both were in New Orleans. … I would love Joe Burrow a lot more if he had a full offseason. But he's one of those guys who I believe can be pretty valuable once he gets comfortable in the last part of the season.