Believe it or not, the 2018 fantasy football season is upon us.
If you want to have a championship-worthy team, you need to be strong at every position. Sure, you can start all the sexy skill players you want, but your team won’t get far without a good quarterback.
(Notice we said “good,” not “great.”)
Truth be told, you don’t need an elite quarterback to wreak havoc on your league. A dependable, consistent signal-caller will do just fine, provided you know who to target in your drafts.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top quarterbacks for the 2018 fantasy football season:
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week: 7)
Despite seemingly yearly health concerns, as well as the Packers’ occasionally frustrating playcalling, Rodgers remains the premier fantasy QB. Sure, he no longer has receiver Jordy Nelson to rely on, but the emergence of Davante Adams should suffice, and the acquisition of tight end Jimmy Graham will help, too. Rodgers should be the top QB taken in the draft.
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 7)
Wilson was the top overall scorer in standard formats last season, and a repeat could be in store for 2018. He led the league in touchdown passes (34) last season, and ran for 586 yards and three scores. Furthermore, Seattle no longer boasts the defense it once did, meaning Wilson and the ‘Hawks should face more passing situations than in years prior.
3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (Bye Week: 11)
At 41 years old, Brady’s days as an elite fantasy QB are numbered — but they’re not over. He might get off to a slow start, given Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension and how thin the Pats are at wideout, but once everyone gets on the same page, Brady should roll.
4. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (Bye Week: 10)
Prior to suffering a season-ending ACL tear last season, Watson was one of the most productive fantasy QBs. And while it’s probably wise to not go too overboard about his seven-game performance last season, we just can’t help ourselves. A legitimate dual-threat, Watson should post elite numbers this season.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 6)
Brees, like Brady, is nearing the end (probably). But, like Brady, he still is one of the best fantasy options at the position. Sure, he threw for his fewest scores (23) and yardage (4,334) since arriving in New Orleans in 2006, but we’re not looking too much into that. He remains a top-five fantasy QB.
6. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (Bye Week: 4)
We’re not crazy about Newton, but it’s hard to argue with his fantasy upside. Yeah, he’ll throw a ton of interceptions, and is a risk to get hurt at any moment, but his big-play ability — both on the ground and in the air — is too tantalizing to pass up.
7. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye Week: 9)
Provided he’s fully recovered from last season’s season-ending ACL tear, Wentz should resume being a legitimate fantasy stud. We have concerns about his willingness to run as as much as he did last season, but he and the Eagles should throw the ball enough to make up for it.
8. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 10)
Finally out of the fantasy black hole that is the Washington Redskins, Cousins should put up strong numbers with the Vikings this season. Flanked by stud wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen and dependable tight end Kyle Rudolph, Cousins has plenty of places to throw the ball to. Expect big things in 2018.
9. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Bye Week: 6)
Stafford is your classic example of a quarterback who’s much better in fantasy than he is in real life. Assuming the Lions once again find themselves in a ton of passing situations, Stafford should put up QB1 numbers, and occasionally be the premier option at the position.
10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye Week: 7)
“Big Ben’s” health always is a concern, but when you have Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster to throw the ball to, it doesn’t really matter. If Roethlisberger is healthy, he’ll be among the best at the position.
11. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (Bye Week: 11)
Yeah, we’re buying the Jimmy G hype. In five starts last season, the former New England Patriot threw for six touchdowns while completing 67.1 percent of passes and throwing for no fewer than 308 yards in any game. He’s also got enough athleticism to put up points when the passing game struggles.
12. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (Bye Week: 9)
We have concerns over whether Luck will play like his former self, but he remains a top-15 quarterback regardless. Helping matters is the fact the Colts likely will stink, meaning Luck should, at the very least, pick up plenty of garbage-time points.
13. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (Bye Week: 12)
Was last season a mirage? Maybe, but we think Goff showed enough to warrant being drafted like a borderline fantasy starter. We also expect him to develop a strong rapport with newly acquired receiver Brandin Cooks, who is a perfect fit for the Rams’ offense.
14. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 8)
We keep waiting for Mariota to make the jump to QB1 status, but until we see it, we can’t justify drafting him high. New head coach Mike Vrabel might get the best out of the talented Hawaiian, but we’re still taking a wait-and-see approach.
15. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 8)
At this point, you know what you’re getting with Ryan: fringe-starter numbers with the occasional monster game to make you believe he’s a stud. There are worse options, but there are better ones, too.
16. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye Week: 12)
We expect the rookie to struggle at times, but there’s no denying his talent. Mahomes has a huge arm, and plays the kind of game that should work well with wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. There will be bumps in the road, but Mahomes might be a top-10 QB by season’s end.
17. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (Bye Week: 7)
Yes, there’s a chance head coach Jon Gruden helps Carr find his 2016 form — but we’re doubtful. Carr threw just 22 touchdowns last season and, perhaps more worrisome, never looked on the same page without wideout Amari Cooper. Draft him as a backup, and hope he surprises.
18. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye Week: 8)
Here’s another guy who you know what you’re getting from: some big games, but too many duds to warrant starts. If the matchup is right, Rivers can be a good play, but you still could do much better.
19. Alex Smith, Washington Redskins (Bye Week: 4)
Smith was a dynamite fantasy QB at the beginning of last season before he returned to being, well, Alex Smith. He’s good enough to put up OK numbers in Washington, but he should not be drafted as a starter.
20. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 8)
Prescott is a true wild card. Sure, he and the Cowboys could surprise, and Prescott could put up good numbers, but there’s also a chance Ezekiel Elliott gets a million carries and Prescott is useless. We expect the latter to happen.
21. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears (Bye Week: 5)
He looked OK last season, but we need to see much more before we feel confident putting him into lineups. The acquisition of wideout Allen Robinson bodes well for Trubisky’s outlook, though.
22. Eli Manning, New York Giants (Bye Week: 9)
The return of Odell Beckham Jr. should help, as well as the presence of rookie running back Saquon Barkley, but Manning has proven too inconsistent over the years to trust on a weekly basis. Put him on your bench, and hope you struck gold.
23. Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns (Bye Week: 11)
Taylor has been a sneaky-good fantasy QB in the past, and the Browns have a decent array of offensive weapons. Still, this is the Browns we’re talking about, and we wouldn’t be shocked if rookie Baker Mayfield takes over the starting job by midseason.
24. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye Week: 5)
Winston is suspended for the first three games of the season, and we don’t expect much when he returns. Yes, he showed promise during his rookie season, but he’s too erratic with the ball to trust on a weekly basis.
25. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye Week: 9)
26. Case Keenum, Denver Broncos (Bye Week: 10)
We think Keenum has a decent chance of putting up QB1 numbers this season, provided he develops chemistry with wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. However, there’s also a chance he and the Broncos continue being fantasy irrelevant.
27. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye Week: 9)
We really, really want to trust what Bortles did last season — but we just can’t. At the end of the day, the Jaguars are a run-first team, and Bortles is too mistake-prone to trust as a starter.
28. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (Bye Week: 11)
Could he develop a nice relationship with Danny Amendola? Yeah. But will that translate to useful fantasy numbers? Doubtful.
29. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (Bye Week: 10)
Flacco has some shiny new toys around him, but the looming presence of rookie QB Lamar Jackson should scare off anyone considering drafting him. Besides, Flacco never has shown enough to suggest he’s a viable fantasy quarterback.
30. Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 9)
Too many short-yardage plays and too many health risks. Oh, and he has Josh Rosen ready to take over the keys to the position. We’ll pass.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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