4 Quarterbacks Primed to Breakout

4 Quarterbacks Primed to Breakout

The 2019 season features a plethora of options at quarterback. The top tier has the A-list players, our every-week starters on teams with playoff potential. After that, we’ve got the veterans with potential. They have their flaws, but we can make a case for them. Finally, there are the streamers, who are matchup-based starters with upside given the right conditions. Quarterback tiers and rankings follow this general categorization with ADP typically following suit. But we want to draft that guy that can break out and beat his current rank.


More Breakout Candidates: WR | TE | RB


Breakout candidates can be hard to identify. Short samples can be incorrectly extrapolated to full seasons without the proper context. Using historical examples, we can extract a few common traits and apply them to the 2019 class. From there, we can highlight a few candidates that should be on everyone’s list for the upcoming season.

A Look Back at 2018

Patrick Mahomes, in his record-setting season, gives us the blueprint for a breakout quarterback. His seasonal point total (417.0) was the best for any quarterback in NFL history. But while everyone will remember the no-look passes and off-platform throws, fantasy managers will remember his draft cost. Mahomes had a 10.10 ADP (QB15) in 12-team leagues. A break out of that magnitude with his draft cost is a league-winning combination. By the 10th round, core players have been drafted and the hope is that the quarterback drafted provides a steady floor with production spikes. Mahomes gave significantly more than a production spike. Consequently, the market has adjusted to the Kansas City signal-caller. But, in his wake, we have some traits we can pull when looking for other breakout candidates:

  • Late-round ADP – Seems intuitive, but this is for both value at the position and opportunity cost with respect to roster construction. You’re looking to draft a QB2 with a path to finish as a QB1.
  • Reliable surrounding talent - A quarterback isn’t alone on the field. If we’re interested in the weapons, we should be interested in the quarterback. In the words of Rumford Johnny, “Buy the syrup. Not the pancakes.”
  • Rushing upside – Passing production can fluctuate week to week. A quarterback who can complement his passing with rushing allows them to score touchdowns on the ground and through the air increasing their weekly range of outcomes.

Bridesmaids: Late-Round Options that Lack Upside 

Now let’s compare the above traits against the options of quarterbacks with late-round ADPs. Using 4for4's ranks, we can isolate the likely list of players along with their projections for 2019.

Late-round QB Options with 4for4 projections.
Player Projected Points ADP

Jameis Winston

285

10.10

Philip Rivers

278

10.11

Dak Prescott

278

10.09

Lamar Jackson

276

11.04

Tom Brady

275

10.01

Mitch Trubisky

275

11.07

Josh Allen

262

13.08

Kirk Cousins

256

12.09

Jimmy Garoppolo

256

13.05

Sam Darnold

240

16.09

Andy Dalton

234

20.11

Tom Brady appears viable, but his points per game have been 23.5, 23.1, 20.3, and 19.3 since 2015 with only 7 designed runs in 2018. Josh Allen sits on the opposite end of the age spectrum, but his situational uncertainty isn’t conducive to fantasy upside. His 631 rushing yards were second-most in 2018, but only 37.1% of his runs were designed. The Vikings want to run more capping Kirk Cousins’ upside, and Andy Dalton is behind yet another poor offensive line. The names may be viable based on the matchup, but less likely to finish ahead of their ADP. But there are a few with the right combination of situation and talent to be breakout quarterbacks in 2019.

Breakout Candidates

Lamar Jackson, Ravens

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