USA Today Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes
- Patrick Mahomes enters the 2019 season as the unquestioned best quarterback in the NFL.
- Ian Hartitz analyzes what to expect from Mahomes and whether he's worth a high pick.
Our experts are constantly refining their rankings and projections in the run-up to the 2019 season. Build custom cheat sheets featuring their latest updates with our Draft Kit.
Patrick Mahomes put the entire sport of football on notice last season, as his combination of next-level arm strength and elite improvisation took the Kansas City Chiefs’ already-explosive offense to heights the NFL has barely seen.
There were signs that Mahomes could function as a top-tier fantasy football quarterback entering last season, but nobody could’ve realistically expected him to post one of the best seasons the position has ever seen.
What follows is a breakdown on Mahomes’ ridiculous skill set as well as an analysis of his fantasy football value heading into 2019.
Patrick Mahomes Is on Pace to Be the Best QB … Ever
Two hundred and eighty-one quarterbacks have started at least 16 games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Mahomes already finds himself among the game’s best of the best in just about any efficiency metric.
- Completion rate: 65.9% (No. 6)
- Touchdown rate: 8.1% (No. 1)
- Quarterback rating: 111.7 (No. 1)
- Yards per attempt: 8.75 (No. 1)
- Adjusted yards per attempt: 9.42 (No. 1)
- Yards per game: 316.5 (No. 1)
- Fantasy points per game: 25.2 (No. 1)
Overall, Mahomes (417 fantasy points) passed 2013 Peyton Manning (412) for the single-best fantasy football season from a quarterback ever.
Mahomes also happens to be dead set on proving that he’s capable of making any throw on the field. Fantasy investors have been treated to no-look, sidearm and left-handed passes over the course of this record-breaking season.
Defenses have been forced to quite literally account for every square inch of the football field against Mahomes and Co.
The good news for Mahomes and the Chiefs is…
The Chiefs Once Again Have Plenty of Offensive Firepower
The NFL ruled that Tyreek Hill won’t be suspended ahead of the 2019 season. There isn’t another player in the league who strikes more fear into opposing defenses than Hill, and he’ll again be one of the top wide receivers in fantasy.
Still, the Chiefs boast a number of explosive playmakers outside of Hill. Let’s run through position-by-position:
- Running back: The Chiefs barely missed a beat upon releasing Kareem Hunt last season, scoring at least 27 points and averaging 31.2 points per game over their final seven games (including playoffs). Damien Williams is expected to continue to work as the offense’s featured back. Williams offers a fantasy-friendly dual-threat skill set as a rusher and receiver, making him worthy of lofty preseason expectations.
- Wide receiver: Hill is the league’s single most explosive player, regardless of position. Sammy Watkins is an overqualified No. 2 option. This means Demarcus Robinson will slide in as the offense’s No. 3 wide receiver, while 2019 second-round speedster Mecole Hardman figures to earn a decent role sooner-rather-than-later. He can fly. Giving Mahomes and Reid this amount of speedy weapons in the passing game is simply unfair.
- Tight end: Travis Kelce is expected to work as the No. 1 pass-game option in the Chiefs’ high-scoring offense. He’s plenty deserving of a first-round pick in drafts of all shapes and sizes. Rob Gronkowski (2011) and Jimmy Graham (2011 and 2013) are the only tight ends who have scored more fantasy points in a single season than Kelce did in 2018.
Add it all together and…
Mahomes Is the Clear-Cut Fantasy Football QB1
Negative regression is sometimes used as a fun way to say that a player isn’t expected to reach historically-elite levels of production in consecutive seasons.
Expecting Mahomes to again throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns goes against everything that football fans have ever seen.
There’s also not a long list of No. 1 fantasy football quarterbacks replicating this feat in consecutive seasons.
Note that Aaron Rodgers also had to deal with life without Jordy Nelson (torn ACL) in 2015. Still, with that said, quarterbacks who missed one or fewer games dropped an average of only 4.2 spots after finishing as the QB1 in fantasy.
There are two factors we haven’t touched on yet that could help Mahomes buck this trend and finish as the league’s most productive signal caller in 2019:
- The Chiefs defense again looks like a below-average unit that shouldn’t necessarily allow their offense to put games away too early.
- Mahomes has some room for positive rushing regression. He’s scored two rushing touchdowns on 67 career carries, but racked up 22 scores on the ground during his final 25 collegiate games at Texas Tech.
Mahomes is currently being selected as the 29th-overall player in average draft position. The next highest selected quarterbacks are Andrew Luck (48th), Aaron Rodgers (56th) and Deshaun Watson (62nd).
It’s hard to warrant using a top-three round pick on Mahomes in a season that could boast as many as 20 fantasy-relevant quarterbacks. I’ve stuck to a late-round strategy throughout the offseason, specifically targeting the following three players who are being selected outside of the top-16 quarterbacks in average draft position.
- Dak Prescott joins Russell Wilson and Drew Brees as the only players to rank as top-10 fantasy quarterbacks in each of the past three seasons.
- Lamar Jackson is an extreme dual-threat quarterback, the likes of which the league has never seen before. His 147 carries were the most in a single season at the quarterback position in the history of the NFL. He worked as the QB8 from Weeks 11-17 as the starter.
- Mitch Trubisky was the QB7 in Weeks 1-11 before suffering a shoulder injury. Further improvement from the Bears’ franchise quarterback as a natural passer could make him and the Bears league winners sooner than later.
The sheer number of high-quality fantasy football QBs is enough to let someone else in your league use an early-round pick on the NFL’s best quarterback.