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
Passing TD Rate
Team Total Points Rank
Team DVOA Rank
Here’s what I found in each category …
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.
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+.
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.
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+%.
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.
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.
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?