It would be hard for quarterback to be any deeper than it is heading into the 2019 fantasy football season. That makes it perhaps the most interesting position for looking beyond the top-tier and trying to find sleepers. But we know some signal-callers are being slept on, so the real question might be whether your draft strategy should be to wait at QB or simply try to get a potential breakout as your backup.
There are various reasons quarterbacks find themselves on this sleeper list. Some are here because of the addition of new teammates. For instance, Dak Prescott became a surefire starter after the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper last season. Obviously, it was impossible to predict that trade, but the idea is there. A single addition to a quarterback’s arsenal can make the difference between barely rosterable and every-week starter.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2019 Fantasy Cheat Sheet
Others have new offensive coordinators, improved health, or simply more talent than their ranking might indicate. Some people are fond of saying you can’t win a league in the first round, but you can lose it. Sleepers are where you win your league. Nail the lower-round picks and you might have a trophy at the end of the season. That’s what this list is for.
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2019 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterback
Kirk Cousins, Vikings
We’ve got Cousins ranked about 10 spots higher than his FantasyPros ADP among QBs. There’s no reason Cousins should finish the season that low, even with the more run-heavy offensive system change. Coming off a 70.1 completion percentage in 2018, he still gets to throw to a pair of stud wide receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. He has a good red-zone target in Kyle Rudolph and a solid RB behind him in Dalvin Cook. The Minnesota offense should hum all season and allow Cousins to outperform his current draft slot.
Derek Carr, Raiders
Carr had a solid 2018 in which he posted a career-best completion percentage despite a lousy receiving group and putrid offensive line that let him be sacked 51 times. Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams were added in the offseason to help address the first issue, and the Raiders paid tackle Trent Brown the most money an offensive lineman has ever received to shore up the second problem. So, if Carr’s growth sticks, he could be looking at a career-best season across the board. He just might not be drafted with that in mind. He’s currently the 24th QB off the board per Fantasy Pros’ ADP. That’s absurdly low.
Josh Allen, Bills
Allen showed promise in his rookie season. He runs a lot, but the learning curve from the Mountain West to the NFL was rightfully steep. Now Allen gets to take a second-year leap from a point further along in his development than many expected, and he’ll do so with the help of offseason acquisitions John Brown and Cole Beasley. Accuracy will always be his biggest question, as he struggled to complete more than half his passes even in college. But he has a cannon and can run. Those are traits worth taking a chance on. If you draft Allen as your backup, the worst thing that can happen is you drop him early in the season because the accuracy remains too big an issue. But if he puts it together, you might be onto something.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
It’s been reported that Stafford played part of 2018 with a broken back. If that’s true, that would account for some of his decline in production. Some people will question whether he’ll ever be the same player, and others will chalk last season’s questionable stats up to other issues. That makes him available at a value. Stafford is also the type of veteran who fantasy owners get tired of. We’ve probably seen his peak, so why bother? You can only draft Stafford so many times, and with shinier new players out there, why rely on the old man? Except that creates value, too, because you’ll be able to nab him later than some of the shiny new toys who aren’t necessarily better. Stafford still has weapons (including new TE T.J. Hockenson) and some of the best arm talent in the game, plus has the benefit of playing his games indoors. There’s still a lot to like here.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2019 Fantasy Cheat Sheet
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
Tampa Bay threw a lot last year, and that shouldn’t change with Bruce Arians running the show now. But Winston hasn’t shown any type of consistency. He’ll have a few big weeks, but no one will be able to predict when they’re coming. He’ll throw a few back-breaking interceptions, too. His sleeper status comes mostly from the potential those big weeks and his obvious talent. If Winston were to ever figure it out for an entire season, especially in a Bruce Arians offense, the output could be massive.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Garoppolo is recovering from a torn ACL that knocked him out of the majority of last season, so health is a concern. He’s never gotten a full season to be the man, so he’s still a bit of a question. The New England hype train could’ve blown his ability out of proportion. But when he’s played, he’s been solid. He averaged 16 standard fantasy points per game (FPPG) last year before getting hurt, so he should be able to help your team. If you get him where he’s ranked among QBs, in the early 20s, he has a great chance to return value.
Kyler Murray, Cardinals
There’s a reason Murray chose football over baseball, and it only partially has to do with the money. He’s a really good quarterback. The situation in Arizona is one of the biggest reasons he might slide in your draft. The putrid Cardinals chewed up and spit out No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen last year, and now he’s banished to Miami. Larry FItzgerald is on the wrong side of the aging curve, and Christian Kirk might not have reached his potential yet. So, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned with those around Murray.
But much like with Baker Mayfield in 2018, this Heisman-winning Oklahoma quarterback can make plays at all parts of the field. His accurate arm reaches both short and long passes on time and on target, and Murray adds the ability to beat defenses with his legs. When taking a shot on a rookie QB, the situation around him almost never looks good, but it’s the natural ability of Murray that makes him a sleeper anyway.
Sam Darnold, Jets
Darnold is one of those QBs whose name has long preceded him. Committing to USC will make a high school quarterback seem like a prodigy, and playing with the Trojans won’t slow that hype. He had a fine rookie year, too. Darnold might possess a few of the mistake-prone traits that Jameis Winston does, but that’s part of what makes him a sleeper. Some fantasy owners want nothing to do with a QB who throws a ton of picks, but Darnold still has time to learn and improve on those errors. His receiving corps isn’t great (especially with TE Chris Herndon suspended for the first four games), but it’s probably good enough to return value if he’s picked as a mid-20s quarterback.