Predicting 2018 2QB ADP
The past two seasons I’ve attempted to predict the QB1 tier (top-12) of 2QB ADP for the upcoming redraft fantasy football season. It’s a simple way of looking back and looking forward.
In 2016, I correctly guessed 11 of the eventual 12 quarterbacks who made up the first tier of signal-callers and last year I went 10-for-12.
Trying to decipher the first 12 quarterbacks drafted in 2QB leagues this early in the offseason isn’t just a way to cure boredom until redraft season swings into high gear, but it’s a way to get an early sense of which quarterbacks might be value picks in the mid-to-late rounds.
A Look Back at 2017 2QB ADP
Here was my stab at guessing the first 12 QBs drafted in 2QB leagues last year:
Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins.
Here’s the actual order of the first 12 fantasy QBs drafted last season:
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady
3. Drew Brees
4. Russell Wilson
5. Andrew Luck
6. Matt Ryan
7. James Winston
8. Derek Carr
9. Marcus Mariota
10. Kirk Cousins
11. Cam Newton
12. Dak Prescott
The two QBs I missed were Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford, who came in at QB13 and QB14, respectively, in ADP. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota took their spots.
It was surprising to not see Stafford’s name amongst his fellow passing brethren in the QB1 tier, as he came off a 2016 season where he was the fantasy QB10 (when excluding Week 17). He hasn’t scored fewer than 250 fantasy points in a season since 2011, and he’s averaged 284.78 points over the last two seasons.
As for Roethlisberger, following a 2014 fantasy campaign in which he scored over 300 points, he was a top-six drafted QB on average in 2015 and 2016, and veteran QBs tend to overstay their welcome at the top of draft boards. That clearly wasn’t the case for the Steelers quarterback last season, dropping from QB6 to QB13 in ADP — his lowest ADP since 2014 (QB16).
It made sense to see passers like Roethlisberger and Stafford fall out of the QB1 tier — albeit not by much — for the younger Mariota and Winston, both of whom added exciting playmakers to their respective offenses last offseason. Eric Decker and Corey Davis in Tennessee, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard in Tampa. Fantasy players like to bet on potential, which catapulted the top-two picks of the 2015 NFL Draft into the QB1 tier.
What 2018 Might Have in Store
Here’s my guess as to which 12 signal-callers will be drafted first in 2018 (in no particular order):
Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Ben Roethlisberger.
Wilson, Rodgers, Brady, and Newton seem like surefire locks to be early-round QBs. I’ll add Brees to that group, but with recency bias likely to play a factor, drafters will remember the phenomenal rookie season of Alvin Kamara and that Brees scored the fewest fantasy points of his career since 2007. Not to mention he completed the fewest passes of his career since 2006, attempted the fewest passes since 2009, threw for the fewest passing yards since 2005, and threw the fewest passing touchdowns since 2003.
Since we began keeping track of 2QB ADP in 2013, Brees’ lowest ADP was QB8 (2015), and it’s more likely than not he continues his tradition of being drafted as a QB1, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his name outside of the top 12.
If we add Brees’ name to group of Wilson, Rodgers, Brady, and Newton, we’re left with seven slots to toy around with. This is where things get interesting. Let’s breakdown those seven passers…
Watson headed into the 2017 season backing-up Scott Barrett’s favourite quarterback, Tom Savage, who was promptly benched after the first half of the team’s season-opener. All Watson did was average 27.2 fantasy points per game (full starts) before being lost for the season — the most since 2002 (that’s how far back the FantasyData database goes). Aaron Rodgers’ 26.5 PPG average in 2011 was the next best score.
Watson was also a weekly QB1 in five of his six starts, with the only non-QB1 performance coming in Week 3 (20.14 points - QB15). He was also a top-two scoring QB in his last four starts, where he averaged 31.34 points per game. Watson’s season may have ended prematurely, but it was one of the more memorable stretches of production from a QB in recent years, which will lead fantasy owners to remember his name early in 2QB drafts.
Nick Foles won the Super Bowl MVP, but it was Carson Wentz who was in consideration for fantasy MVP before a knee injury forced him to miss the last three games of the 2017 season. Before being replaced by Foles, Wentz averaged 21.7 points per game, which was tied with Russell Wilson for most in the league of QBs who played 13 or more games. Even though he only played in 13 games, Wentz was tied with Tom Brady for fantasy QB5. He also finished as a QB1 (top-12) in 9-of-13 games, and did not finish outside the QB2 tier (top-24) in any game. Just like Watson, fantasy owners will remember the good times with Wentz and use an early draft pick on him.
In two seasons as a starting quarterback, Prescott has finished as a top-10 fantasy QB in both seasons (QB6 in 2016, QB10 in 2017). However, while he started the 2017 season off as one of the hottest fantasy QBs, averaging 24.91 points per game through the first eight games of the season, his second half saw him score 8.61 fewer points per game (16.3). The full-time return of suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott will likely ease owners’ minds when it comes to Prescott’s draft value.
This one will depend on landing spot, but since taking over as Washington’s full-time starter in 2016, Cousins has averaged 290.45 fantasy points per season and has finished as the QB10, QB4, and QB4. If Cousins lands in a cushy spot such as Minnesota, where Case Keenum averaged 15.9 points per game last season, Cousins could push for top-five QB draft status.
In 2016, Goff started seven games, and he scored double-digit fantasy points in a game just once — 16.56 versus the Saints. In 2017, Goff averaged 17.0 fantasy points per game, which was the ninth-most in the league (minimum 13 starts). With Sean McVay in charge, owners will feel confident targeting Goff early in drafts.
After being handed the reins to the starting QB job in San Francisco, Jimmy GQ was tied for fourth in attempts, sixth in completions, third in passing yards, and seventh in fantasy points from Week 13 to Week 17. There was plenty of excitement surrounding The Handsome One to end the fantasy season, and that could translate to QB1 status in 2QB drafts this offseason, especially if the 49ers add a true No. 1 WR via free agency or the draft.
If Le’Veon Bell returns, Roethlisberger would play in a offense with legit weapons at each position; Bell at RB, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster at WR (and Martavis Bryant if they don’t trade him), and Vance McDonald and Jesse James at TE. He was the QB7 in PPG (minimum 13 starts) last season. You could also make the case for Matthew Stafford over Roethlisberger (six QB1 fantasy seasons out of seven since 2011).
Honorable mentions: Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, and Derek Carr.
If you add up the 12 names I listed and the honorable mentions, we’re up to 18 QBs who have legitimate shots at being drafted in the top 12, which means there’s a possibility to get QB1 value in the QB2 tier. Don’t forget about Alex Smith (QB2) and Blake Bortles (tie-QB11) who finished as QB1s last season, nor the likes of Matt Ryan Ryan, Tyrod Taylor, Patrick Mahomes, and Mitch Trubisky — that’s 24 QBs in total who should be solid fantasy starters next season. For an in-depth look at how deep the position is, check out Greg Smith’s early 2018 tiered QB rankings.
We say it every year, but quarterback is deep enough — 57 different QBs started at least one game last season — that you shouldn’t be afraid to play in 2QB and Superflex leagues.
*Stats used in this article courtesy of Pro Football Focus, RotoViz, FF Statistics, and FantasyData