Quarterback Rankings Update

Fantasy football draft season is kicking into high gear. With news from training camps and preseason games constantly shifting player values, it’s time to update my 2018 quarterback rankings. If you want to backtrack through previous iterations of the rankings to get a feel for my process, start here and work back through the links in each post. This update is more of a quick-hitter, primarily including notes on recent shifts in rankings or tier structure.

Tier 1: Best of the Best

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB

Nothing new to report here. Rodgers remains great. According to our redraft ADP, he is being selected in the middle of Round 2 on average. That range feels correct to me, but he’ll go higher in more casual two-quarterback leagues. I wouldn’t consider drafting him until near the end of the second round or early third, so I won’t end up with him this season.

Tier 2: Best of the Rest

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

Luck continues to hit all the necessary checkpoints for Week 1 readiness, and while he remains my QB6, I’ve bumped him up into Tier 2. Wilson and Brady are typically too expensive for me in drafts, but Newton, Brees, and Luck will sometimes slide into the fourth round or later. When that happens, pouncing on a potentially elite signal-caller is justifiable. Still, the higher percentage play is probably to pass on this tier because if they’re sliding, the lower-tier quarterback values will also slide.

Tier 3: The Danger Zone

7. Deshaun Watson, HOU

Carson Wentz felt so dangerous, I dropped him into the next tier, so Watson now has the danger zone all to himself. In the Two-A-Days series of the 2QBXP podcast, I asked each of my 18 guests who the most overvalued quarterback was for fantasy, and Watson was the most common answer:

2QBXP Two-A-Days EpisodeAnalystMost Overvalued QB
81 - Part 1@Fantasy_MansionJared Goff
@ericmcclungDeshaun Watson
82 - Part 2@amicstaDeshaun Watson
@FantasyGumshoeCarson Wentz
83 - Part 3@JimSannesCarson Wentz
@gdula13Deshaun Watson
84 - Part 4@ScottFish24Patrick Mahomes
@FantasyADHDDeshaun Watson
85 - Part 5@evansilvaRussell Wilson
86 - Part 6@BenCumminsFFRussell Wilson
@FFHitmanDeshaun Watson
87 - Part 7@MikeTagliereNFLJimmy Garoppolo
88 - Part 8@FF_TravisMAaron Rodgers
89 - Part 9 (Coming 8/22)@friscojoshDeshaun Watson
@ChrisAllenFFWXDeshaun Watson

How overvalued is Watson? Check out the podcast for opinions from the analysts above, but my general feeling is Watson still belongs in the top-10. He offers a ton of upside with his rushing ability, and he still gets to throw to DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.

Tier 4: Solid Starters

8. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
9. Matthew Stafford, DET
Matt Ryan, ATL
11. Kirk Cousins, MIN
12. Carson Wentz, PHI

The injury concerns surrounding Wentz were too prominent for him to stay ranked ahead of more proven and healthy quarterbacks like the others in this tier.

Tier 5a: Solid Starters Remix

13. Marcus Mariota, TEN
14. Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
15. Philip Rivers, LAC
16. Patrick Mahomes, KC
17. Dak Prescott, DAL
18. Jameis Winston, TB

Winston falls from QB13 in the last edition of these rankings to QB18, but I’m still higher on him than most. Missing a few games to start the year is an issue, but only a minor one. Take the discount and enjoy Winston’s per-game numbers after he returns.

Tier 5b: Solid Starters Bonus Tracks

19. Alex Smith, WAS
Jared Goff, LAR

I’m optimistic that Jay Gruden will keep Smith fantasy-relevant, but I’m afraid 2017 might have been his one huge outlier season (ala Andy Dalton’s 2013, which was with Gruden for what it’s worth). Smith’s performances in seasons prior to 2017 were extremely stable, but also fairly mediocre. I don’t want to buy too much recency bias and project another top-12 season for Smith. The same goes for Goff, whose situation hasn’t become worse since last year, but his fantasy red flags from 2017 are easy to overlook if you only consider his full-season stat line. These draft value tweeners feel closer to the tier above (hence the 5a/5b disctinction), but the same sort of optimism could be applied to players in Tier 6. Ultimately, it’s very difficult to project sizable value differences from QB13 to QB26, so Smith and Goff land here, splitting the difference between “Solid Starters” and the “Bargain Basement.”

Tier 6: Bargain Basement

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

I continue to shuffle these players around, but the only ranking that feels solidified is Tannehill at 27th. Trubisky made the biggest move since my last update, mostly based on assumption of a soft schedule, but I’m not confident he’ll finish better than the rest of this group.

Tier 7: Depth Chart Deciscions

28. Baker Mayfield, CLE
29. Tyrod Taylor, CLE
30. Sam Darnold, NYJ
Joe Flacco, BAL
32. Sam Bradford, ARI
33. Lamar Jackson, BAL
Josh Allen, BUF
Josh Rosen, ARI
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB
Teddy Bridgewater, NYJ

Mayfield has played well in preseason and I still expect him to start more games than Taylor, but I acknowledge this a leap of faith on my part, so I’ve got them ranked back-to-back. Otherwise, we’re getting more clarity in this tier by the day. Darnold and Allen are shaping up to be Week 1 starters (if only because it makes sense to develop them immediately with real NFL reps), while Flacco is holding off Jackson in Baltimore for now. The situation in Arizona remains pretty opaque, but we should assume Bradford gets the first shot at starting, and he’s good enough to hold the job as long as he’s healthy. Bridgewater has made a leap in value for me, but his ranking is based in part on the chance he gets traded to a team that will let him play.

Tier 8: Handcuffs and Hail Marys

38. Nathan Peterman, BUF
Nick Foles, PHI
Chad Kelly, DEN
Josh McCown, NYJ
Jacoby Brissett, IND
Cody Kessler, JAC
Mason Rudolph, PIT
Geno Smith, LAC
Kyle Lauletta, NYG
47. C.J. Beathard, SF
Brian Hoyer, NE
Logan Woodside, CIN
DeShone Kizer, GB
51. Blaine Gabbert, TEN
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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