2018 Target-Avoid Fantasy Football Quarterbacks - Footballguys

Outlining the quarterbacks to target and avoid in fantasy football drafts in 2018

The NFL Draft is two months old and the 2018 fantasy football season is right around the corner. One of the big advantages of Footballguys.com is a large database of staff rankings. This series looks at the difference between the collaborative Footballguys staff rankings and myfantasyleague.com positional ADP (Average Draft Position) at the skill positions. In this edition: quarterbacks.

Quarterbacks to Target

Ben Roethlisberger

  • QB7 Ranking
  • QB17 ADP
  • Why: Roethlisberger has 28 or more passing touchdowns in four-of-five seasons leading up to 2018 despite missing seven games over the span. Roethlisberger has arguably the best collection of skill position weapons in the NFL.

Philip Rivers

  • QB10 Ranking
  • QB20 ADP
  • Why: Losing Hunter Henry is a ding to Rivers' weapons, but Henry has been a part-time player early in his career anyway with an eroding Antonio Gates siphoning snaps. Rivers has played every regular season dating back to 2005. Rivers has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 10-of-12 previous seasons.

Alex Smith

  • QB16 Ranking
  • QB23 ADP
  • Why: Rushing is the quarterback trump card and despite being well into his 30s, Smith is among the best rushers at the position annually. Smith changes team (Kansas City to Washington) this season, but the strength of Washington's pass catchers is their tight ends with Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Smith avoids interceptions with seven straight seasons of less than 10 turnovers through the air.

Eli Manning

  • QB23 Ranking
  • QB29 ADP
  • Why: Manning has been one of the higher variance fantasy quarterbacks over his career. One constant in recent years has been his 'good Eli' numbers with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr Jr. in the lineup. After a down 2017 season, the Giants offense gets Beckham back (just four games played last season), Sterling Shepard back (missed a month), and adds arguably the best prospect in the NFL Draft (Saquon Barkley). After a section of last year had rookie Evan Engram and not much else to aid Eli Manning, this all-star cast is a marked improvement for Manning.

Quarterbacks to Avoid

Deshaun Watson

  • QB5 Ranking
  • QB2 ADP
  • Why: Watson was a rookie dynamo in 2017, but the sample size is less than two months. Also, Watson is coming off a historically rare touchdown rate through the air and with per-game rushing numbers to rival any quarterback in the league. Watson is a strong regression candidate and his high positional ADP offers no room for a sophomore learning curve season.

Carson Wentz

  • QB8 Ranking
  • QB4 ADP
  • Why: Wentz, like Deshaun Watson, is coming off a regression-worthy touchdown rate. Also, Wentz has the late-season injury to contend with if he is to start the year under center or on the PUP list. The Eagles have Nick Foles and a strong supporting cast to slow-play Wentz back into the lineup, which softens Wentz's appeal as a high-QB1.

Kirk Cousins

  • QB12 Ranking
  • QB7 ADP
  • Why: Cousins is coming off three top-10 fantasy seasons. However, his rushing production, particularly his touchdowns on the ground (at least four each season over the span) are uncommon for the position, especially for a marginal athlete. The Footballguys projections point to shedding a couple touchdowns through the air and as a rusher for Cousins this season.

Andrew Luck

  • QB20 Ranking
  • QB13 ADP
  • Why: With Luck yet to throw an NFL football at the time of publication, the risk with Luck is obvious. There is the possibility of setbacks along the way, but also getting zero return from the investment with another lost season. Also, there is an outcome where Luck returns to action but is not the top-10 fantasy performer he was in 2016, his last action for the Colts. 

Josh Rosen

  • QB32 Ranking
  • QB24 ADP
  • Why: The Arizona starting job is Sam Bradford's to lose either via injury or the Cardinals falling woefully out of the playoff race. While Bradford has the moniker of never staying healthy, the former No.1 pick did play 14 and 15 games respectively in 2015 and 2016. Bradford is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL and Rosen in the top-25 of positional ADP assumes he not only gets the starting nod by midseason, but he also plays above baseline for an incoming rookie quarterback.

Lamar Jackson

  • QB34 Ranking
  • QB26 ADP
  • Why: Joe Flacco is Baltimore's starting quarterback. Like Rosen, Lamar Jackson will need an injury or the Ravens to fall out of the playoff race to emerge with meaningful start volume. Footballguys staff universally has Jackson projected for less than five starts this season, making him a shaky bet in stock-depth formats and drafts considering the late for his (potential) payoff.

Baker Mayfield

  • QB35 Ranking
  • QB25 ADP
  • Why: Tyrod Taylor is Cleveland's starting quarterback and an underrated NFL option. Taylor avoids interceptions, which will be a welcome sight for the Browns after Deshone Kizer's showing in 2017 on a winless team and miring offense. Mayfield will get time under the center, but likely later in the season and the long probably hold - plus the rookie quarterback factor - make Mayfield less appealing than veterans behind him.