Who is QB1? Mahomes, Luck, or Rodgers?
The quarterback position is a strange one when it comes to fantasy football. Many experts believe taking one late like Lamar Jackson is the way to go, while others will take Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, or Aaron Rodgers in the early rounds.
For those who are in favor of taking a quarterback early, you might be having a hard time deciding who should be QB1. In this article, I’ll tell you who should be drafted as QB1 between Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers.
Patrick Mahomes was a fantastic story in 2018. Per fantasyfootballcalculator.com, he was selected in the 11th round of drafts in 2018. His MVP-winning season has obviously risen that ADP to round three. With all his star players returning and being in an Andy Reid offense, Mahomes is destined for another fantastic fantasy season.
When evaluating quarterbacks, it’s important to look at the weapons around him. The Chiefs offer one of if not the best-supporting casts in the NFL. The chart above shows where the Chiefs main skill positon players finished last year. Travis Kelce finished as TE1 in PPR scoring while Tyreek Hill, who won’t be suspended, finished as WR3. Kareem Hunt was RB12 even though he was released after week 11. Damien Williams performed well as his replacement and if you combine the production between the two, they would finish as RB6 in 2018. The Chiefs will return Hill and Kelce in 2019, and Williams will start at running back, who showed great promise in last year’s playoffs.
It’s clear Mahomes has a tremendous set of skill players around him. As he continues to grow more chemistry with each one, his fantasy numbers will continue to amaze people.
Not to take away from Patrick Mahomes’ talent, but being in Andy Reid’s system certainly helps Mahomes produce.
These charts show the finishes of two former Andy Reid quarterbacks, Donovan McNabb, and Alex Smith. McNabb, when playing a full 16-game season, was able to sustain consistent top-12 fantasy finishes. Alex Smith, who is a middle-tier NFL quarterback, finished in the top half of the league more often than not. Although he’s only played one full season, It’s fair to say Mahomes has more ability than both McNabb and Smith. Reid’s consistent success with multiple types of quarterbacks shows he’ll continue to lead Mahomes to QB-1 caliber seasons.
Along with his weapons and the system he’s in, Mahomes has fantastic playmaking ability. His highlight reel from 2018 consists of multiple jaw-dropping plays. Mix all these factors together with his tremendous talent and it makes an easy candidate for QB1.
Luck entered 2018 as a huge question mark. He didn’t play in 2017 due to a shoulder injury and all football fans were unsure how his shoulder would hold up in 2018.
As you know at this point, it held up just fine. Luck finished as QB5 in 2018 and was an MVP candidate down the stretch, which is why he’s in contention be taken as QB1.
As a quarterback who consistently tops the league in throwing attempts mixed in with an elite offensive line, and past fantasy success, Luck certainly has a case for QB1.
Consistency and Volume
Looking at these numbers, two things stand out. First, Luck’s fantasy finishes when playing 15 games or over give plenty of reason to believe he should be QB1. That kind of consistency within the quarterback position is what you look for in QB1. Secondly, his passing attempts or fantasy opportunity are also incredibly high. In the years he’s played 15 games or more, his lowest finish in attempts was 16th, which came in 2016. The rest of his finishes are 5th (2012), 11th (2013), 3rd (2014), and 2nd (2018). The second-place finish in 2018 is encouraging because it came under first-year head coach Frank Reich. Reich is back as the head coach in 2019 and I expect Luck to finish in the top-3 in pass attempts which offers more opportunity for fantasy points.
It’s no secret that Luck has had shaky offensive line play throughout his career. In 2012, he was the most sacked quarterback in football. In 2016, he was sacked the third most times. This obviously means Luck didn’t have great pass protection in past years, which makes it hard to be QB1.
This all changed in 2018. The Colts selected Notre Dame Guard Quentin Nelson with the sixth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Nelson went onto receive First-team All-Pro and was named to the Pro Bowl. The Colts also saw strong seasons from Offensive Tackle Anthony Castonzo and Center Ryan Kelly. After the season was over, PFF ranked the Colts as the third-best O-Line in 2018. Luck finished as the least sacked quarterback in the NFL and the line led the league in sack rate at 2.8%.
Luck has been able to produce top-tier fantasy numbers under numerous circumstances. His team and situation in 2019 could be the best one he’s had since entering the league.
Rodgers was the consensus QB1 in both 2018 and 2017, per fantasyfootballcalculator.com. He finished as QB7 last year in what many considered to be an “off-year”. Longtime head coach Mike McCarthy is gone and former Titans and Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur is now the head coach. As of right now, he’s currently the third quarterback off the board, but Rodgers, like Mahomes and Luck, has a very strong case to be selected QB1.
While it’s effective to evaluate a player’s fantasy situation based on the resources around him, it’s also vital to evaluate the actual player. Of the quarterbacks on this list and in the NFL, Rodgers is considered one of if not the most talented quarterback in the NFL. Stephen A. Smith and Nick Young have said it, while Tom Brady said Rodgers is “much more talented than me”.
The talent is evident when looking at Rodgers’ numbers and fantasy finishes.
He’s finished as QB2 four times and QB1 once. He’s been a top-8 QB seven times and has two MVP awards to his name. Rodgers has done it with a different supporting cast over his time as a starter and that speaks volumes about his talent.
Longtime Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was fired after the 2018 season. Enter Matt LaFleur.
LaFleur received the Packers job after an impressive stint with the Los Angeles Rams and a one-year disappointment with the Tennessee Titans.
Although the Titans offense wasn’t great in 2018, I don’t think this is indicative of who he is or how he’ll perform as a coach. He was the QB-coach for the Atlanta Falcons during Matt Ryan’s MVP season and he was the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2017, which is when they led the NFL in PPG.
The trend with LaFleur is that when coaching an above-average quarterback, he seems to play a big role in getting the most out of them. Marcus Mariota is heading into a contract year in Tennessee. No one truly knows if Tennessee will re-sign him. This shows who he is as a quarterback and what the Titans think of him. Guys who LaFleur has coached, like Matt Ryan and Jared Goff, have been to super bowls and have received or will receive an extension.
Aaron Rodgers is at the very least in the same tier as Ryan and Goff. LaFleur will be able to get QB1-type numbers out of Rodgers and make him the fantasy stud he once was.
The other two quarterbacks on this list have a go-to wide receiver in their offense (Tyreek Hill/Chiefs and TY Hilton/Colts). However, the best receiver on any of these teams is Packers wide receiver, Davante Adams. As I wrote about in my “Who should be WR1?” article, Adams is viewed by many as one of the best receivers in the league. His chemistry with Rodgers is among the best QB-WR connection in the NFL and the stats show it. With Adams being elite in 2018, he certainly helps Rodgers’ case to be QB1 in 2019.
As I stated in the first line of this article, quarterbacks are a strange position in fantasy football. You can get lucky and strike gold in round 11 or play your cards and pick who you might think is the QB1. After evaluating each player in great detail, Patrick Mahomes should be selected QB1. The talent mixed in with the situation makes it too hard for me to choose anyone else as QB1.
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