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Finding This Year's League-Winning QB


Finding a top-5 QB late in your draft is a fantasy football cheat code. Just ask anyone who in 2019 drafted Lamar Jackson, who helped 41% of his teams advance to the finals that year.

Of course, values like Lamar Jackson are rare. But, on average, we tend to see about 1 per season.

Over the past 10 years, there were 11 QBs drafted outside the top 12 at the position that went on to finish top 5:

Cam Newton (2011)

Andy Dalton (2013)

Ben Roethlisberger (2014)

Blake Bortles (2015)

Carson Palmer (2015)

Matt Ryan (2016)

Kirk Cousins (2016)

Patrick Mahomes (2018)

Matt Ryan (2018)

Lamar Jackson (2019)

Dak Prescott (2019)


Who are the most likely league-winning QBs this season? To help us pinpoint the right guys, I looked at how those 11 QBs who did it over the previous 10 years fared in the following categories:

NFL Draft Pick Number

NFL Experience

Pass Attempts

Passing TD Rate

Rushing Yards

Team Total Points Rank

Team DVOA Rank


Here’s what I found in each category …

NFL Draft Pick Number

The league-winning QBs were overwhelmingly early picks in the NFL Draft. Seven of the 11 were top-11 picks. And only 2 -- Cousins and Prescott -- were selected outside the top 35.

NFL Experience

This was kinda all or nothing. Five of the 11 league-winners were in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd NFL season. But another 4 of them were in season 9+.

Pass Attempts

Not surprisingly, big pass volume fueled a lot of our league winners. Seven of the 11 finished among the top 8 in pass attempts. Only 2 -- Jackson and 2016 Ryan -- ranked lower than 13th.

Passing TD Rate

The league winners generally had above-average passing TD rates. Nine of the 11 threw a TD on 5+% of their attempts, with 4 of them posting TD rates of 6.5+%.

Rushing Yards

This was not nearly as important to the league winners as I thought it’d be. Only Jackson (176-1206-7) and Newton (126-706-14) turned in truly massive rushing seasons. Otherwise, only 1 other league-winner topped 277 rushing yards. Six of the 11 finished with fewer than 200 rushing yards.

Team Total Points Rank

All 11 of our league winners played on teams that ranked top 14 in points scored. Eight of the 11 played on teams that finished top 7.

Team DVOA Rank

Eight of our 11 league winners played on teams that ranked top 9 in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA.


Add it all up and our league-winning QB profile looks something like this:


So which QBs outside the top 12 in current ADP check the most of these boxes?