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NFL Fantasy Football Love, Hate, and Sleepers: Quarterback Edition

Football is Upon Us… Time to Talk Fantasy. Love, Hate, and Sleeper Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NFL Fantasy Football Love, Hate, and Sleepers: Quarterback Edition

Estimated Reading Time: 16 Minutes

Have you joined a fantasy football league yet?! It’s that time of year.

Welcome to my version of Love, Hate, and Sleepers. I will be covering every position (except kickers and defense). Here we will focus on quarterbacks, and I’ll tell you the quarterbacks I love and hate going into this fantasy season (not personally of course!), as well as some sleepers to consider. The Sleepers are players who could significantly exceed their expectations, or surpass their average draft position (ADP). The quarterbacks I love are ones who I think will have a really good fantasy year, and the quarterbacks I hate will be ones who could potentially be busts or who I really would not reach for or go out of my way to draft.

Quarterbacks I Love

Deshaun Watson

He had a terrible offensive line, was without Will Fuller for most of last season, practically had no tight ends, was a little sluggish in the first seven games of the season due to coming off his ACL injury, and played with a partially collapsed lung.

And Watson still finished fourth in fantasy points among QBs.

So yeah, I’m high on Watson this year.

Matt Ryan

Ryan was second in points among QBs in fantasy last year. And yet, he probably won’t even be picked until at least the 9th or 10th round. He’s got plenty of weapons on offense, and his defense will be healthier this year (at least to start). Ryan is big-time value and is certainly capable of finishing in the top-five among quarterbacks again. The Falcons also don’t really have a great running game, so expect Ryan to fire away this season.

Ben Roethlisberger

There are a few reasons why I love Big Ben in fantasy this year, and none of them have to do with me being a huge Steelers fan – I promise. Big Ben had 16 interceptions last season. Not good, right? But 10 of those interceptions were balls that were thrown (and mostly forced) to Antonio Brown.

Well, guess who’s not a Steeler anymore. And because Brown is gone, I think what’s going to happen is Big Ben is going to do what he does very well…

He’s going to spread the offense.

Big Ben doesn’t have to worry about force-feeding Antonio Brown anymore, and I think that will work in his favor. He still has Juju Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Ryan Switzer, and James Conner who are capable of being heavily involved in the passing game. The drama swamp has been drained and the Steelers offense is still deep.

Big Ben led the league in passing yards last season and finished third in fantasy points among QBs. With Antonio Brown gone, I don’t think he will throw for as many yards, but I do believe he will have less turnovers this season. And like Matt Ryan, I think Big Ben will be overlooked and could provide tremendous fantasy value.

Tom Brady

I’m all in on Brady this year in fantasy. Statistically speaking, he wasn’t at his best last season, sure. But the GOAT still threw for 29 TDs and 11 INTs with over 4,300 yards passing. Folks, that’s over 4,300 yards and a near-3-to-1 TD/INT ratio. He wasn’t THAT bad. And remember, he was without Edelman for four games last season. That’s probably an additional 2-4 touchdown passes on his stat line. So, don’t drink the ESPN Kool Aid.

But there are really three reasons why I like Brady in fantasy this year:

  1. He knows he didn’t have his best season last year, and that’s why he’s going to do better. Brady will be motivated, and when Brady gets motivated…look out. He also just signed an extension. Again, he’ll be motivated.
  2. Brady is getting older, but he also will have a much younger and more athletic offense around him. Oh, and by the way, he just got Josh Gordon back.
  3. And finally, have you seen the Patriots schedule? Brady has cupcakes for matchups. He’ll be fine, and I think he will throw up a lot more fantasy points than you think.

Patrick Mahomes

You have to love Mahomes this year. I can’t believe the articles I’ve read that tell you to “stay away from” drafting Mahomes. He threw for 5,097 yards with 50 TDs, over 318 yards passing per game, and a 113.8 QB rating last season.

You really want to stay away from that? Yeah, okay.

And even if Mahomes regresses this year, if you shed 50 points off of his total fantasy points scored last season, he still would have been the #1 ranked QB. Insane.

Look, I’m all about being patient for drafting quarterbacks – I get it. But Mahomes averaged more fantasy points per game last season than all of the top wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends in both PPR and Standard scoring leagues last year. So, I’m really not going to knock you if you decide to take Mahomes in the second or third round. First-round? Eh, that’s a bit much. But all of this talk about avoiding Mahomes in the draft is nonsense.  Just hope you know what you’re doing in the later rounds and have a plan.

Quarterbacks I Hate

Aaron Rodgers

I know, call me crazy…call me an idiot, but I’m sorry I am just not high on Aaron Rodgers this year, and it’s really mostly because I’m just not high on the Packers overall. Additionally, I don’t like the relationship between Rodgers and new head coach Matt LaFleur. I thought the head coach hire was a head-scratcher, and it seems like the Packers front office has had a lot of those recently.

I don’t trust the front office. I don’t trust LaFleur who led a solid (being sarcastic here) 25th ranked offense as the Titans’ offensive coordinator last season. I don’t trust Rodgers’ health, and unless your name is Davante Adams, I really don’t trust any other offensive player on that team. With the exception of Elgton Jenkins out of Mississippi State, I thought the Packers didn’t draft well. I think their front office is an issue and, quite frankly, they’re lucky they finish third in their division this year. The NFC North will be brutally competitive.

Patience Fantasy Grasshopper

Look, I’m not saying Rodgers will be a bust; he’ll have a good season. But I think you’ll be a bit disappointed, and he’s not anyone I would really reach for in the draft. And the issues I have with Rodgers in fantasy are not really directly related to Rodgers himself. He doesn’t have a great offensive line, his coach is probably going to be in over his head, he doesn’t have any quality weapons besides Davante Adams, his front office hasn’t thrown him a bone and has spent a bazillion dollars on four decent AT BEST defensive players and, again, he’s in a tough division – arguably the toughest in the NFC this year. Vikings, Bears, Lions…all those defenses are not cupcakes. The NFC North is anybody’s division.

Take Rodgers if you want, but don’t reach for him. Be patient.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Recent history has shown us that quarterbacks have a tough time getting back into the swing of things when they come back off of a serious injury.

Remember what I said about Deshaun Watson? Last season in his first seven games back from an ACL injury, Watson had a 4-3 record and threw for 10 TDs, 7 INTs, 276 passing yds/gm, a 61.8 completion percentage, 7.83 passing yards per attempt, and an 87.6 rating.

In his next seven games after that, he had a 6-1 record and threw for 14 TDs, 2 INTs, 236 yds/gm, a 73.9 completion percentage, 9.0 passing yards per attempt, and a 117.3 rating.

Huge difference, with passing yards per game the only statistic where he regressed.

How about Andrew Luck – remember when he came off of his shoulder injury last year?

Luck – First seven games back: A 2-5 record, 20 TDs, 8 INTs, 278 yds/gm, a 65.7 completion percentage, 6.2 passing yards per attempt, and a 93.2 rating.

Luck – the following seven games: A 6-1 record, 14 TDs, 5 INTs, 286 yds/gm, a 70.3 completion percentage, 8.4 passing yards per attempt, and a 107.7 rating.

Again, huge difference with just fewer TDs thrown.

Even Brady when he came back off his ACL injury in 2009 was a bit sluggish to start. Week 2, for example, he loses to the Jets and doesn’t even complete half of his throws, nor does he throw any TDs in that game.

It takes time, and it’s going to take time for Jimmy G to get back into his groove.

A Struggle to Start

I think Jimmy G will struggle in the first half of the season, and because of that, I would hold off on drafting him – it’s not worth it. Honestly, Garoppolo is someone who I would certainly not reach for and would probably rather save him for a waiver wire moment.

By the way, have you seen his schedule for the first seven games?

  • Week 1: At Tampa Bay
  • Week 2: At Cincinnati
  • Week 3: Pittsburgh
  • Week 4: BYE
  • Week 5: Cleveland
  • Week 6: At Rams
  • Week 7: At Redskins

So first of all, he starts off with two back-to-back road games. He’s got to travel coast-to-coast to Tampa and then to Cincinnati. I bet you he loses one of those two.

Buccaneers have a much better coach in Bruce Arians, and unless you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati is not an easy place to play. Then he’s got a good Steelers team with a talented defensive line and then a much-needed Bye Week. There’s a real possibility the 49ers start the season 1-2.

Then after the Bye Week, Garoppolo gets a talented Cleveland team with a tenacious defensive line and a loaded offense. Then he goes on the road to visit Aaron Donald and the Rams. All of a sudden, the Niners could be looking at a 1-4 record to start the season. Then Week 7 comes another road game coast-to-coast to face the Redskins. Who knows…maybe Dwayne Haskins will be the starting quarterback by that time. Garoppolo gets four road games in his first six games of the season. Not easy.

I think the jury is still out on Jimmy G, and I think he’s in for a rough ride this year. Quite frankly, I would stay away. Drafter beware.

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson has Tyler Lockett…and that’s about it. Seahawks fans are praying that D.K. Metcalf becomes something special, but we will have to see. Time will tell.

Wilson did not have as great of a fantasy season last year as we all thought he would. He threw for just 3,448 yards last season – his lowest since 2013. Wilson sort of falls into the same realm where Aaron Rodgers stands, where he’ll still have a good season, but may disappoint in the fantasy world. Don’t reach for Wilson.

Lamar Jackson

It’s really simple: I just don’t trust him as a passer. He completed just 58% of his passes and threw for just 75 yards per game through seven games last season. Yeah, I think I’ll pass (no pun intended).

Cam Newton

This is another guy who I don’t trust as a passer. He’s also currently injured. The days of thinking Cam Newton is going to be an electric fantasy player are over. Pass.

Quarterback Sleepers

Kirk Cousins

As I write this, I’m looking around and listening for the angry mob of Kirk Cousins haters.

Ok, I think the coast is clear.

Phew! Anyway, I think Cousins is in for a surprisingly big year. He’s got weapons for days in Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, Laquon Treadwell, and Kyle Rudolph. And yes… Rudolph will have a better season this year. Not to mention I really like their draft pick, Irv Smith Jr., tight-end out of Alabama.

Obviously, if you’ve read some of my articles in the past, I am a bigger supporter of Cousins way more so than most. But one big thing I’ve always knocked Cousins for is his play in primetime games. His record is 5-13. Not good. But to be fair, that might be mostly a byproduct of being on cruddy Redskins teams where Cousins might as well had been throwing to himself.

The best way I can sum up Cousins’ career is that he’s always been a statistically good quarterback who had fallen victim to being on shitty teams with shitty coaching and a franchise in Washington that’s poorly run and usually don’t know what they’re doing. That basically sums it up for me.

Vikings’ Offense is Loaded

But now he’s on the Vikings, and they have talent EVERYWHERE on offense, and their offensive line will be better than last year. Cousins has thrown for over 4,000 yards the past four consecutive seasons and is coming off a 70.1 completion percentage last season. I’m high on the Vikings this year and I think Cousins will be a big part of that. He could be the type of quarterback that has us banging our heads against a wall for not picking him. But hey, if you don’t pick him, at least on the bright side the Kirk Cousins Angry Hate Mob won’t come after you!

Jameis Winston

Winston has been a disappointment at quarterback and he has not been good in fantasy at all. Take a look at Winston’s rankings in fantasy among QBs since entering the league:

  • 2018: 21st
  • 2017: 22nd
  • 2016: 16th
  • 2015: 13th

Winston has NEVER been a good fantasy option at QB. Not once has he broken into the top 10 for QBs. But this year he’s got Bruce Arians on the sideline. Arians has called shots for Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, and Andrew Luck. Yeah, pretty good company. Arians has two Super Bowl wins with the Steelers and, hell, he’s even managed to turn Carson Palmer into Johnny Unitas and take the 2002 Cleveland Browns into the playoffs.

I think with the talent that already exists on the offensive side of the ball, Arians might be able to be the guy who finally gets the best out of Winston. Will the Bucs be able to stop a nosebleed? No. But Winston will have at least plenty of opportunity to make plays and learn from some of the best quarterback tutelage we’ve seen in this league. And it’s not like Tampa Bay has a threatening run game. So, bombs away! Maybe Winston will finally crack the top 10 this year in fantasy.

Josh Allen

Lamar Jackson, Carson Wentz, Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton, Sam Darnold, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, Blake Bortles and Josh Rosen. What do all these quarterbacks have in common?

They all had fewer fantasy points than Josh Allen last season.

Yeah, Josh Allen was a top-20 QB last year and he had NO ONE to throw to. Now he has John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Tyler Kroft to throw to. The Bills went out and got pass-catchers and beefed up their offensive line. And given Allen’s natural athletic abilities, including his ability to run, and his cannon for an arm, I think it’s possible we see a new Josh Allen this year.

Can Allen Become a More Accurate Passer?

The things you can’t really teach a quarterback, Allen’s already got. But you can work with him to become a better passer – it can be done. And the worst-case scenario is you draft him as a QB2, he continues to struggle with his accuracy, and then you drop him before the midpoint of the season. But I think Allen will be one of those sneaky-good fantasy options who people will take a flyer on.

Matthew Stafford

You want to know something crazy? Matthew Stafford has been a top-10 QB in fantasy every year since the 2011 season… except for last season when he was 19th among QBs.

But this offseason, Stafford gets a healthy Kerryon Johnson back and a bowling ball in C.J. Anderson in the backfield. Perhaps finally the Lions will have a legitimate backfield this season to take the pressure off of Stafford.

Additionally, the Lions added Danny Amendola, Jesse James, and drafted rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson to add to an arsenal that already carries Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.

So, what am I saying? The Lions could actually have a legitimate offense, making Stafford a nice QB2. That’s what I’m saying. Look for Stafford to be one of the major sleepers at QB this season.

Philip Rivers

You really want to impress people at a party? Then tell them this…

Philip Rivers is the ONLY quarterback in the NFL to have thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 25 TDs every season since 2013.

The only one. I’m not kidding – look it up.

So why is he currently projected at 18th among QBs in fantasy per ESPN? Beats me.

We have a five-count across the board! Look at that:


  • Love Count: 5
  • Hate Count: 5
  • Sleeper Count: 5

Stay tuned for the running backs!

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing's strictly sports.

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