Fantasy Football: 4 Quarterback Bust Candidates in 2019

Jordan Cohn
July 23, 2019 - 11:41 am
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Fantasy football busts are few and far between at the quarterback position for a few reasons.

Most of the QBs that are considered “busts” do not perform up to standards simply because they suffered an injury, and injuries to this position do not happen very often.

The more important factor to consider when labeling a quarterback as a bust is whether or not their performance is reflective of their draft position. Year in and year out, we see fantasy quarterbacks finishing very close to each other among the scoring leaders. In fact, the difference between Dak Prescott (2018’s QB10) and Mitchel Trubisky (2018’s QB15) was less than 1.7 fantasy points per week.

Last season, Tom Brady was commonly selected as one of the first five QBs off the board only to finish outside the top 10. However, he finished only 26.1 points behind Jared Goff (QB9 from Weeks 1-16) How much of a bust is that really?

On the statistical surface, not a big bust at all. However, when accounting for where you likely drafted Brady in the first six rounds in 2018 drafts, he becomes a bigger disappointment and drag on your fantasy team’s starting lineup.

Therefore, this list of “busts” focuses on quarterbacks that are most likely to fail to return on investment based on where you will have to draft them in 2019.

This does not mean that they will have a bad season, but instead that it could hurt your overall roster construction to overvalue them. Pass on these QBs early and you’ll be a step ahead of your leaguemates

4. Patrick Mahomes

Don’t freak out. Mahomes should still be one of the first quarterbacks off the board. However, his MVP season will be extremely difficult to replicate.

Mahomes threw for 50 touchdowns last year, only the third player to reach that plateau in history. The other two were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Manning dropped from 55 touchdowns to 39 the following season. Brady tore his ACL the season after throwing 50 scores, but only threw 28 and 36 in his next healthy seasons.

His touchdown percentage of 8.6 last year, the highest in the NFL since 2011, is another figure that may not be repeatable. Among the other quarterbacks who have thrown 45 or more touchdowns in a single season, their TD% dropped by an average of 2.53%.

That would drop Mahomes’ passing touchdowns from 50 to 35, still enough to be a top-5 QB but not enough chase his otherworldly 2018 statistics with a pick in the first three rounds of 2019 fantasy drafts.

3. Carson Wentz

In our bounce-back quarterback rankings, we have Wentz as a top candidate to return to form. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, that he could also be a bust again in 2019.

His vulnerability to injury is the biggest factor, as he has not proven that he can consistently remain on the field for a full season. Injuries held him out of five games last season, but even when healthy he wasn’t exactly the MVP-level quarterback that he was in 2017. In weeks he played, his 17.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG) was only good for No. 18 among QBs.

If he stays healthy, a huge rebound could be in store. There’s a reason Wentz is one of the favorites to take home the MVP title, but there’s also reason to question spending a fantasy draft pick on him before the 8th round.

2. Drew Brees

You might be thinking, “What? The Saints have one of the best offenses in the NFL.” You would be correct, but it has gone increasingly run heavy as Brees has aged. Brees is now 40 years old and comes off a season with his fewest pass attempts in a season since 2004, when he was a San Diego Charger.

Brees attempted 673 passes in 2017, 536 in 2018 and 489 in 2019. Continuing to invest a fantasy pick in the first seven rounds in Brees means you are relying on outlier efficiency with little hope of a high-volume ceiling.

Brees had a TD% of 6.5 in 2018, well above his career average of 5.3. Negative regression could be coming. His home-road splits also are concerning for his weekly consistency.  Brees averaged 16.1 FPPG on the road in 2018 versus 24.7 FPPG at home.

1. Russell Wilson

Known as one of the best runners in the league at his position, Wilson actually did most of his damage through the air with a career-high 35 touchdowns last year. He led the NFL with 34 the season prior. But we still find it difficult to trust the five-time Pro Bowler as a reliable passing quarterback, and the stats indicate why.

The Seahawks ranked dead last in pass attempts last season and his 35 touchdowns came at an unprecedented rate (8.2 TD%). Only Patrick Mahomes had a higher percentage (8.5), and Wilson’s career TD% is 6.0. 20-25 scores through the air is a much more probable outcome than another 30+ TD season.

There’s no reason to believe that the Seahawks will abandon their run-heavy approach given the exciting duo of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny (No. 2 in rushing attempts, No. 1 in rushing yards). Wilson doesn’t have a great receiving corps either, as his most-targeted receiver Doug Baldwin (73 targets in 2018) retired and Tyler Lockett is the only proven option on the field.

One thing that could save Wilson’s fantasy value is his ability to run, but he’s 31 years old and ran a career-low 67 times in his 2018 campaign. If the Seahawks want him to live up to his four-year, $140 million extension, then conserving his health is a top priority. Expect Wilson, just two years removed from the No. 1 fantasy finish, to be outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks, despite people selecting him in the 8th round of drafts.