I previously had former Indianapolis Colts gunslinger Andrew Luck as my favorite to win the league's MVP award, while also topping my fantasy football quarterback rankings, before he decided to retire. Mahomes is now back in the top spot and should have a very solid year in 2019 while throwing passes to superstars Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and others in Andy Reid's prolific offensive attack.
I split my top targets into five tiers: Hall of Fame, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Just Napping (early to mid-round targets) and Deep Sleepers (mid- to late-round sleepers).
Hall of Fame
1. Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes should again be close to the league-leader in touchdown tosses in 2019, but I don't expect Mahomes to come close to his 2018 production as the team's offense lost star running back Kareem Hunt. That being said, Mahomes will still put up elite stats due to his playmaking ability. He will finish the season as a top-three option at the position.
2. Baker Mayfield, 3. Aaron Rodgers
The Cleveland Browns were one of the most active franchises this off-season when it came to player acquisitions. Quarterback Baker Mayfield should be the biggest benefactor of the moves, which included trading for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Mayfield threw 27 touchdown passes in 14 games last season during his rookie campaign. I'm expecting 35 to 40 touchdown tosses during his sophomore season. Mayfield will be a very hot topic in fantasy football circles, meaning his draft-day value could move him out of sleeper status. Don't reach for him before the fifth or sixth round, as he has to prove his elite status before garnering a pricey draft slot.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was plagued by injuries last season, but still managed to start all 16 games. He quietly had a stellar season by typical quarterback standards, throwing for 25 scores against just two interceptions. This year Rodgers is healthy and plans to throw even more passes to emerging star Davante Adams. I'm expecting Rodgers to have a very similar season to Mayfield, with a ceiling of about 35 touchdown tosses. This also might be the first year in a long time that he can be had at a somewhat reasonable draft position. Keep an eye on his stock on draft day, you might be able to get the Packers star at a very good price.
In 2018, Matt Ryan nearly matched many of the statistics he posted during his 2016 MVP campaign. A lot of that production went under the radar as the Atlanta Falcons posted a 7-9 record. While some believed the 35-touchdown effort was a good bounce-back from a down year in 2017, Ryan told UPI he feels like his play has been consistent in each of his last three seasons. There is no reason to believe Ryan can't pass for at least 35 touchdowns again in 2019. I expect wide receiver Calvin Ridley to reach double-digit touchdowns again in his second season. Julio Jones should also come close to that number, as the two pass-catchers could combine for close to 30 receiving touchdowns. Ryan is a great value and also has some great matchups this season. The Falcons have four matchups this season against defenses that ranked inside the top five for allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2018. Atlanta has just two matchups against defenses that ranked inside the top five for allowing the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks last season. I expect Ryan to make it inside the top three of weekly fantasy football quarterback rankings for the majority of the 2019 season. He could win you your league if you can get him for a low price on draft day.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a ton of great matchups this season from a fantasy football perspective. He also has Christian McCaffrey, one of the best pass-catching running backs in football, in his backfield for nearly every snap. I expect second-year wide receiver D.J. Moore to make a big jump this season. Newton's rushing ability still gives him an advantage over other quarterbacks for fantasy point opportunity. He also has just one matchup all season against a defense that ranked inside the top five for fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks in 2018. He has an NFL-high six matchups against defenses who ranked inside the top five for giving up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2018. Newton is likely to slip in your draft. You should keep an eye on him and load up at other positions to build a very dangerous fantasy team.
One of the best values during your draft will be Jameis Winston. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback could be an absolute steal for you if you are able to get him any time after the 10th round. Winston has shown flashes of ability throughout his career, but has never been able to put it together on a consistent basis. Now he has quarterback whisper Bruce Arians in his ear, after the Buccaneers hired the veteran coach in January. If anyone can help get Winston to the next level, it will be Arians. The former Arizona Cardinals coach helped turn Carson Palmer into an All-Pro and MVP candidate. He also worked with Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger during Pro Bowl campaigns. Winston has some solid offensive weapons and young talent in the backfield. I'm expecting at least 30 touchdown passes and close to 4,300 yards from the fifth-year gunslinger. He comes in at No. 11 in my season long rankings, but will could be drafted outside the top-20 at the position. If you don't draft Winston alongside another quarterback and play matchups, he could also equate to a very solid backup and possible trade piece down the road.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has a lot of the traits that you want when it comes to a great fantasy football quarterback. He has an offensive-minded head coach. He has a great cast of surrounding offensive playmakers. He has a complementary running game. He also has a solid offensive line. Goff has made the Pro Bowl in two consecutive seasons entering his 2019 campaign. He also passes for a career-high 4,688 yards and 32 scores in 2018. With injury concerns surrounding Todd Gurley, Goff could throw even more than the 561 times he threw last season. I'm expecting another year with at least 30 touchdown passes and close to 5,000 yards from Goff in 2019. He should be drafted as a matchup-based QB1.
Nick Foles might not be surrounded with the same talent that Jared Goff has, but the Jacksonville Jaguars veteran has enough around him to be fantasy relevant in 2019. Foles is another matchup-based option in fantasy football. He has one of the most-favorable schedules of any fantasy football quarterback in 2019, with not a single matchup against a team that ranked inside the top five for allowing the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks in 2018. He also has five matchups against defenses which ranked inside the top five for allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season. He might not be the most-exciting pick on draft day, but he could help to upgrade your quarterback position overall if you didn't grab an elite option earlier in your draft.
Top 25 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for 2019
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12
2. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11
4. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 9
6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 9
7. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 7
10. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 7
12. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9
13. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 12
15. Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10
16. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7
18. Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6
24. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, Bye Week 6
25. Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6