Quarterback Rankings Update and #SFB8 Giveaway

Quarterback Rankings Update and #SFB8 Giveaway

You read the title of this post right, 2QBers. I have a spot in this year’s Scott Fish Bowl to give away, and the winner will be determined by trivia! I recommend checking out the latest 2QB Experience podcast for details (and perhaps a couple hints). The episode also doubles as a companion piece to this quarterback rankings update, with three more case studies to contrast the one laid out below. But before we get to the first case study of I apply my rankings to a two-quarterback draft, here’s a link to the TwoQBs trivia quiz to determine who among you will win an invite to #SFB8, the biggest Superflex tournament of the season:

TwoQBs & 2QBXP Trivia

Editor’s Note:  The trivia contest is now closed.

With all of that out of the way, let’s dive into my latest run at quarterback rankings. I want to frame this update around case studies of my recent two-quarterback drafts. Most of the case studies are covered in the podcast, while this article focuses on one of the mock drafts put together for TwoQBs by Josh Smith (no relation, except we’re both awesome). Josh will be filling up and firing mock drafts all offseason, and you can sign up here if you want to join one (or two, or three, or four…), but I’m getting off track. Without further ado, here are my 2018 redraft quarterback rankings and how I applied them to one of our 10-team, 16-round two-quarterback drafts with standard scoring plus 0.5-PPR.

Tier 1: Best of the Best

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB

I landed the second pick in this particular mock, and as good as Rodgers is, I can’t justify taking him that early, even in a 2QB league. Good quarterback play just isn’t as scarce as elite rushing production. Todd Gurley went first, I snapped up Le’Veon Bell, and poor Aaron Rodgers slid all the way to the middle of the second round.

Tier 2: Best of the Rest

2. Russell Wilson, SEA
3. Tom Brady, NE
4. Cam Newton, CAR
5. Drew Brees, NO

Wilson and Newton didn’t have great 2016 seasons, so their values were slightly depressed in 2017 drafts. Those days are over, as both were drafted in the third round of this mock, along with Brady and Deshaun Watson. Brees is now the player being disrespected in drafts. After finishing each season from 2012 to 2016 fifth or better in points per game and seventh or better in total points among quarterbacks, Brees’ production backslid to 11th in PPG and ninth in total points in 2017. As a result, drafters often pass over Brees to take passers from the lower tiers who performed well last season. That’s exactly what happened in this draft, as Brees went in the fourth round, after Watson and Carson Wentz. Recency bias is a hell of a drug.

Tier 3: The Danger Zone

6. Andrew Luck, IND
7. Deshaun Watson, HOU
8. Carson Wentz, PHI

Our long national nightmare is over. Andrew Luck is throwing footballs again, and now my QB6 ranking of him finally makes sense. I was optimistic he’d be ready for the 2018 season, but the bizarre nature of his return-from-injury saga had me too scared to draft him. I’m kicking myself now. Considering the amount of time he’s had to recover, the safe bet was always Luck being ready for Week 1.

If you bought Luck at a discount over the past couple months, well done. He went in the eighth round in this mock as the QB18, but his price is only going to rise from here on out. I was aggressive with my Luck evaluation in the last iteration of these rankings, same as now. He has the talent to rejoin his elite quarterback brethren in Tier 2, but I worry about the limited offensive weapons in Indy, so Luck is staying put in the danger zone for now.

While Luck has a multi-year résumé of top-end quarterback production, we only have partial-season track records of success for Watson and Wentz. They were drafted to the same team at 2-3 turn, which is way too optimistic for me. That drafter is paying ceiling-based prices for efficiency over small sample sizes. Watson and Wentz can hit their ceilings under the right circumstances, but we must consider what it costs to draft them.

Marcus Mariota has a similar pedigree of a top pick from the NFL draft, and he was drafted highly in fantasy last season (QB9 in our 2017 ADP). Now he’s the QB14 in ADP. Could we be telling a similar story about Wentz and Watson next offseason? I’m worried enough about the answer being “yes” that I’m avoiding both as top-eight quarterback picks.

Tier 4: Solid Starters

9. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
10. Matthew Stafford, DET
11. Kirk Cousins, MIN
12. Matt Ryan, ATL
13. Jameis Winston, TB
14. Marcus Mariota, TEN

Enter the signal-caller middle class. How to rank these quarterbacks (and those in the two tiers below) is nebulous. I feel like I can shuffle them around in countless ways and the rankings would still make sense. I noted this on the companion podcast, but sometimes I want to bump Jimmy Garoppolo and Philip Rivers up into this tier. Other times, I want to drop Winston and Mariota to the tier below.

This mock draft does a great job of illustrating the nebulous values of the QB middle class. I consider these Tier 4 players pretty close, but the range in which they were drafted spans a lot of picks, from Kirk Cousins at 4.04 to Matt Ryan at 8.06. I made my first quarterback selection in that range with Ben Roethlisberger near the beginning of the fifth round. With 16 picks between that 5.02 selection and my next one, I was hoping to start (or at least get in front of) a potential quarterback run, so I grabbed Big Ben from the top of this tier. Only three quarterbacks got picked before action was back on me in the sixth, and seeing how much longer Stafford (7.02), Mariota (7.07), and Ryan (8.06) all lasted, my fifth-round Roethlisberger choice turned out to be a reach in hindsight.

Tier 5: Solid Starters Remix

15. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
16. Philip Rivers, LAC
17. Patrick Mahomes, KC
18. Alex Smith, WAS
19. Jared Goff, LAR
20. Dak Prescott, DAL

Calling this “Tier 4B” would probably be more appropriate, as these players will often mix in with the previous tiers during drafts. Creating a break between Mariota and Garoppolo is less about a clear value drop-off and more about a personal trust or preference drop-off. This group generally has just as much upside as the tier above. I simply have a few more concerns about the players here. Jimmy G.’s hype is based on a very small sample, while Rivers’ sample size might be growing too large and driving decline. Mahomes is entering his first year as the starter, taking over for Alex Smith, whose new supporting cast in Washington is worse than what he left in Kansas City. Goff could be the new Kirk Cousins, but he feels more like a potential one-year wonder like Andy Dalton. For all the concerns I have about Smith’s weapons downgrade, he’s much better off than Prescott, who probably has the worst receiver group in the NFC, if not the entire NFL.

In terms of this draft, Garoppolo, Mahomes, and Goff seemed overdrafted, while Alex Smith held serve as one of fantasy football’s most underrated assets.

Tier 6: Bargain Basement

21. Andy Dalton, CIN
22. Derek Carr, OAK
23. Mitchell Trubisky, CHI
24. Case Keenum, DEN
25. Blake Bortles, JAC
26. 
Eli Manning, NYG
27. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

At this point in the rankings, teams are drafting mostly for need. Those who pay up for high-priced passers can afford to wait longer to draft from this tier, not caring quite as much which quarterback they land (as long as bye weeks don’t overlap). Late-round quarterback drafters need will have stronger convictions in this range. An owner who pairs Jameis Winston and Patrick Mahomes might prefer a more known quantity like Dalton than a riskier options like Keenum or Tannehill. On the flip side, a starting pair of predictable options like Matt Ryan and Alex Smith might look better alongside the upside of Trubiksy at QB3 than another boring option like Manning.

I was hoping to get Trubisky to go with Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. I thought about taking the Bears’ QB at the end of the 10th round, but instead opted for Rex Burkhead to shore up my running back depth. Trubisky got sniped at the turn. While getting the younger player in a potentially ascending offense would have been nice, Dalton was a fine consolation. Despite the previous paragraph’s game theory on how to group different player archetypes, differentiating between QB3 options shouldn’t be a huge concern when drafting.

Looking at how this draft played out, Tannehill was devalued the most from this tier. Recency bias strikes again, as Tanny was drafted behind both Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield. Mocking this early in the offseason often means dealing with more dynasty-minded drafters, so take these results with a grain of salt. Based on Tannehill’s solidified starting role, I suspect he would have leapfrogged those timeshare candidates if this draft had occurred closer to the start of the season.

Tier 7: Depth Chart Deciscions

28. Baker Mayfield, CLE
29. Tyrod Taylor, CLE
30. Joe Flacco, BAL
31. Lamar Jackson, BAL
32. Josh Rosen, ARI
33. Sam Bradford, ARI
34. 
Josh McCown, NYJ
35. Sam Darnold, NYJ
36. Josh Allen, BUF
37. AJ McCarron, BUF
38. Jacoby Brissett, IND

If you happen to miss out on the locked-in starters from the tiers above, you’ll need to make some educated guesses in this range of signal-callers. It’s a cop out, but I’ve put pairs of teammates back-to-back for now, with the players I expect to make more starts during the season ranked higher in each respective situation.

The Jets’ quarterback plan is currently the most foggy from this group. McCown, Darnold, and Teddy Bridgewater weren’t even drafted in this mock. One might argue that Buffalo’s situation under center is just as dubious as New York’s, but I think it’s pretty clear cut. The Bills are going to be bad, whether Josh Allen starts or not, so it makes sense for them to give Allen as many starting reps as he can handle. He probably won’t start the full season, but he’s a safe bet to lead the Bills in starts.

Tier 8: Handcuffs and Hail Marys

39. Chad Kelly, DEN
40. 
Nick Foles, PHI
41. 
Cody Kessler, JAC
42. 
Teddy Bridgewater, NYJ
43. 
Kyle Lauletta, NYG
44. 
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB
45. 
Geno Smith, LAC
46. Brian Hoyer, NE
47. Logan Woodside, CIN
48. 
DeShone Kizer, GB
49. 
Mason Rudolph, PIT
50. 
Davis Webb, NYG
51. Blaine Gabbert, TEN
52. Chad Henne, KC
53. E.J. Manuel, OAK

Greg Smith

Greg Smith is an engineer, co-founder of TwoQBs.com, and enthusiast for the strategy and design of variance-based games.  When he started playing fantasy football in 2001, his home league's small number of teams necessitated starting two quarterbacks.  That necessity has since grown into obsession, making Greg one of the preeminent champions of 2QB and Superflex formats.

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