It’s never too early to look forward to 2019 fantasy football drafts. There is no offseason in the NFL and this is the perfect time to get a leg up on your friends and family. Situations change all the time and after free agency and the draft, we’ll have a better handle on players and their rankings. For now, let’s rank the position with the information we have now. One very notable omission is Cam Newton, who could miss the 2019 season with a shoulder injury.
10. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns- Mayfield had an amazing rookie year that has him as a finalist for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He managed to set the record for touchdown passes by a rookie despite sitting behind Tyrod Taylor for the first two weeks. It took an injury to Taylor for Mayfield to take over. Mayfield took off when head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were let go and Freddie Kitchens was installed as offensive coordinator. Mayfield tossed multiple touchdowns in nine of his 14 starts this season and with another year in the system, should continue to improve and grow. Cleveland is loaded with young weapons and Mayfield will be a great late-round quarterback to draft.
9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers- Roethlisberger finished the season with 5,129 yards this season, behind only Patrick Mahomes for the league-lead. The Steelers quarterback had stretches of inaccuracy this season and at times showed other cracks but produced for fantasy owners and should do so again this season. That is, provided Antonio Brown remains with the Steelers. If Brown is moved, then Roethlisberger takes a bump down, but for now, he’ll remain at nine. He also fixed his home/road splits that have been discussed so much over his career. The emergence of Juju Smith-Schuster and James Conner only adds to his fantasy outlook.
8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints- Brees has already publicly stated that he’s returning for 2019. He’ll be a top-10 QB as usual, but he’s closer to 10 than usual. The Saints have transitioned from the run-and-gun game with Brees to a much more balanced attack. Brees broke his own completion percentage record and started 2018 on fire, throwing multiple touchdowns in nine of the first 11 games including seven with three touchdowns or more. In weeks 13-16, though, Brees threw four total touchdowns. As usual, Brees lit it up in the Super Dome but took a noticeable dip on the road. In five of his road games, Brees had one touchdown or less. The offense will be potent again in 2019 so Brees will have his opportunities to produce for owners.
7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks- Wilson’s fantasy outlook used to be based around high passing volume and his rushing ability. Enter Brian Schottenheimer and his archaic rushing attack. The new Seahawks offensive coordinator was bent on running the ball 25-30 times every game. It led to Wilson posting his lowest passing-attempt total since his second year in the league. He produced purely off insane efficiency. Wilson only went over 30 passing attempts five times this season and still posted 3,448 passing yards with 35 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. He also didn’t run as much as fans are used to. Wilson posted his second-lowest rushing total in his career. Wilson is no longer the top three-to-five option, but still a solid one.
6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons- Ryan was most likely drafted in the later rounds of your draft but vastly outperformed his ADP, finishing the season as the second-best fantasy quarterback. Surrounded by receiving weapons galore, a non-existent run game and a porous defense was the perfect blend of fantasy success for Ryan in 2018. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was replaced by Dirk Koetter, who had been the Falcons’ offensive coordinator right before Kyle Shanahan. History shows us that it takes Matt Ryan a full year to fully master a new offense, but given his history in Koetter’s offense, that shouldn’t be a concern. Ryan threw for 4,719 yards, 32 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2012 under Koetter. Ryan’s ADP will be up after the season he had, and he remains a top fantasy option.
5. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams- Finishing ninth among quarterbacks, Goff had a good fantasy campaign in 2018, and the case can be made that he still hasn’t hit his ceiling and can play even better. Goff was great in the first 11 weeks, throwing for multiple touchdowns in seven of those weeks. In Weeks 13-16, Goff threw two total touchdowns. The loss of Cooper Kupp was much bigger than anticipated, but Kupp is expected to be back next season, which makes this offense so much tougher to cover. Goff finished with 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
4. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans- It wasn’t a stretch at all to predict regression for Watson after his insane pace in 2017 before his season-ending injury. Watson posted a modest touchdown total of 26, but the offensive line allowed him to take a lot of punishment. Playing through a collapsed lung and other injuries, Watson was hampered physically pretty much all season. Watson didn’t throw for over 300 yards once from Week 6 to Week 15. Houston is expected to address its offensive line issues, and Watson is surrounded by talent at the receiver position with Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee. It’s crazy to think his touchdown and yardage totals will increase and produce top four numbers for owners.
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts- Luck started the season slowly with whispers that his arm wasn’t fully healed after he was pulled in week three against the Eagles for a last minute hail mary. From that game on, Luck went on an absolute tear throwing for three or more touchdowns in eight straight games. Frank Reich was exactly what Luck needed, and this offensive line kept Luck upright all season. The Colts will look to add another receiver in the offseason, which only adds to Luck’s upside. Luck finished sixth on the season in fantasy with a stat line of 4,593 yards, 39 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers- It’s probably safe to say if you drafted Rodgers early this past season you weren’t happy with your return. The funny thing is, Rodgers finished the season as the No. 4 quarterback on the season. So what does a down year for Rodgers look like? 4,442 yards with 25 touchdowns and two interceptions. Those numbers will absolutely increase. Mike McCarthy is gone as head coach and Matt LaFleur is his replacement. Lafleur was the offensive coordinator for the Titans last year and their offense hardly impressed. Admittedly, I’m not sure what to expect from LaFleur but I still expect Rodgers to have a big year in 2019 and return to his expected form.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs- This seems easy even with Mahomes being the most obvious player due for regression. The thing is that regression for Patrick means 40 touchdowns thrown as opposed to 50. While he is absolutely capable of matching his historic 2018, I’d bet against it—but he’ll still be the number one quarterback in fantasy. Mahomes will be drafted as high as the second round in many drafts and will continue to produce at a high level.