ADP Battle: Brees vs Ryan vs Wilson
There is not a better feeling in fantasy football than absolutely crushing the draft. You study for weeks, print out your rankings, shoot a Five Hour Energy, and then destroy your league-mates to kick off the fantasy season. While it sounds easy enough, preparation is key in order to nail your picks and exploit your foes. The easiest exploit is finding discrepancies in average draft position (ADP).
There are often a group of guys huddled around a similar ADP that you’ll need to decide between. This year we have a batch of veteran quarterbacks going at the 6/7 turn in season-long leagues. Those names are Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan. All three have posted multiple top-5 seasons over their careers, and all three have also had a down year in the recent past. Today, we’ll look at their yearly fantasy finishes and weekly consistency data to find out which one should be taken first.
Yearly Track Record
Taking a look at their fantasy finishes over the last five years, Brees has been the most consistent performer of the three. Over the last five seasons, he was top-six in three and has finished no worse than 11th among quarterbacks in fantasy points. He was also a top-six fantasy quarterback in every season with the Saints before they shifted to a dominant run team in 2017.
Russell Wilson has shown similar consistency, as he has finished in the top-12 of quarterbacks in all but one season (an injury-plagued 2016) throughout his career. He has also posted three top-five seasons in the last five years, including a QB1 overall finish in 2017. Last season was a concern, as the Seahawks finished dead-last with fewer than 30 pass attempts per game. They also ran the ball at the second-highest rate behind only the Ravens. Wilson still managed a QB9 finish on the back of remarkable efficiency. But another season of Brian Schottenheimer calling plays doesn’t inspire confidence.
Matt Ryan has been the wild card of the bunch, with two poor fantasy seasons wedged between three strong ones, including an NFL MVP performance in 2016. Ryan did bounce back last year, posting his best fantasy finish in his career (QB2). His 38 total touchdowns matched his MVP season. His first-round wide receiver, Calvin Ridley, grabbed 10 and the perennial fantasy stud, Julio Jones, nabbed 8 scores of his own.
Taking a look at their weekly finishes from 2018, we see that Brees posted the highest percentage of top-5 weeks among the group. Russell Wilson was surprisingly low. He only finished in the top-five in 18.75 percent of his starts. When we zoom out, we see that Wilson made up for it with a top-12 finish in 68.75 percent of his starts. That was tied with Matt Ryan for the highest percentage. Only Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck posted more top-12 weeks in 2018.
Despite his high ceiling, Brees actually landed outside the top-12 in 60 percent of his starts. In fact, his four QB25-36 finishes were more than Eli Manning and tied with Sam Darnold, Ryan Tannehill, and… Taylor Heinicke. Brees’ six top-five weeks were the second-most behind Mahomes, meaning his 2018 season was probably more inconsistent than you remember.
Ryan was the best blend of consistency, as he finished inside the top-five in five of his starts and was never worse than the QB24. That combination of floor and ceiling is rare, as Mahomes was the only other quarterback to accomplish that feat.
Our Rankers Take On This ADP Battle
The rankers at FFStatistics favor Russell Wilson in this ADP showdown. Wilson has the best rushing floor, which helped him to 11 top-12 fantasy weeks. The Seahawks also just handed him the size-speed specimen named D.K. Metcalf through the NFL Draft. While his ceiling might not be as high in the Schottenheimer offense as the other quarterbacks, his legs and efficiency make him a consistent fantasy asset.
Ryan and Brees are less than a slot apart in the FFStatistics rankings. While the rankers have Brees ahead, there is an easy case to be made for Ryan based on his high floor. Brees is also 40 years old. While his efficiency seems to be aging like a fine wine, his passing yards have dipped in each of the last two seasons.
When you have three impressive veteran QBs with a similar ADP, it is always a tough decision. Fantasy managers will need to make a decision based on what they value more. If they want high-ceiling games that can swing fantasy weeks, Brees seems like the guy to target. Need a “set it and forget it” guy? Wilson sounds like the best bet. If they want the perfect compromise to both, then look no further than Ryan.