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Way-too-early 2019 fantasy quarterback preview: Will youth beat experience?

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Whether you’re basking in glory or wallowing in defeat, the 2018 fantasy season is officially in the books. Because owner minds never rest, the Yahoo Fantasy crew looks ahead to what the New Year may hold. Today’s position under the microscope: Quarterbacks.

Among passers that finished inside the position’s top-12, who do you believe could experience a decline in 2019?

Brad: DREW BREES. The venerable passer remains one of the league’s most accurate throwers (82.2 adjusted comp% — ranked No. 1). However, his advanced age combined with the Saints’ metamorphosis into a balanced, defense-centered club could force him onto the edge of the QB1 ranks in 12-team leagues. Keep in mind he finished QB15 in points per game from Weeks 8-16. Assuming he doesn’t call it a career, people are sure to overpay for his services in what could be his final season.

Dalton: BEN ROETHLISBERGER. He just finished a big season as the QB3, even uncharacteristically producing more fantasy points on the road than at home. But it also marked the first time Roethlisberger played in 16 games since 2014, and he’ll enter next season 37 years old. Moreover, there’s a real chance Antonio Brown is traded during the offseason (thanks in no small part to the QB himself). Big Ben also lacks the upside of other fantasy quarterbacks purely because he doesn’t run as much.

This year marked just the third time he’s reached 30 TD passes during his 15-year career, and his YPA (7.6) was essentially league average (some might even call him overrated). In other words, everything went right (Brown and JJSS stayed healthy, Le’Veon Bell never played) for Roethlisberger’s fantasy value, resulting in the fourth-most pass attempts (675) in NFL history. Expect a serious decline from Roethlisberger in 2019.

Liz: CAM NEWTON. Newton’s strength of schedule — particularly down the stretch — was the reason many fantasy heads aggressively ranked and drafted Carolina’s dual-threat QB. Unfortunately, Newton wasn’t healthy enough to take advantage of the matchups. In what was supposed to be a fantasy bonanza versus the Saints in Week 15, Newton passed for 131 yards — his lowest yardage total since 2015. In that same game, he completed just a single pass over 15 yards.

[Early position previews for 2019: QBs | RBs | WRs]

It had been clear for weeks that Newton’s shoulder wasn’t right, but the extent of the injury was made painfully evident at New Orleans. The Panthers’ signal caller was shut down for the remainder of the season and is now facing a potential offseason surgery.

The parallels to Andrew Luck’s shoulder struggles — which kept him off the field for all of 2017 — are obvious. Regardless, Cam will be entering his age-30 season, and likely recovering from his second (right) shoulder surgery in two years. That’s not worth messing with … regardless of perceived value.

Conversely, what signal-caller outside the 2018 QB1 ranks do you think leaps in value next season?

Dalton: BAKER MAYFIELD. Plenty of interesting options to choose from here, which highlights why you should once again wait on this position as long as possible. That said, give me Mayfield, who got 8.6 YPA with 19 touchdown passes over eight games after Hue Jackson was fired. The rookie impressed with middling weapons that Cleveland will almost certainly upgrade during the offseason. Mayfield could go nuts on the league as a sophomore.

Liz: JIMMY GAROPPOLO. Out of sight, out of mind. Don’t sleep on the 49ers franchise QB, who the team signed to a five-year deal nearly a year ago. Expected to be ready for OTA’s, Garoppolo has been rehabbing his knee (ACL) alongside metrics maven Jerick McKinnon. He’ll also have YAC monster George Kittle and the emerging playmaker Dante Pettis at his disposal in 2019.

Additionally, the team’s offensive line should continue to gel with RT Mike McGlinchey building on his impressive rookie effort. Averaging well over 8.0 YPA as a 49er, Garoppolo enters the new year with oodles of bounce-back appeal.

Brad: SAM DARNOLD. Quietly, the rookie passer transformed from J.A.G. into juggernaut over the final several weeks of the regular season. Weeks 14-16 he ranked QB11 in fantasy points per game, amassing 7.9 yards per attempt, 254.7 pass yards per game and a 6:1 TD:INT split. With the Jets very much in the hunt to acquire Le’Veon Bell and likely to add additional weapons, Darnold is poised to bolt up the ranks.

Baker Mayfield received some comparisons to Drew Brees through his draft process. Will he surpass his veteran counterpart in 2019 fantasy? (Photos by Sean Gardner/Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield received some comparisons to Drew Brees through his draft process. Will he surpass his veteran counterpart in 2019 fantasy? (Photos by Sean Gardner/Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Listomania. Scribble down your initial top-10 quarterback ranks for next season.

Liz: 1) Patrick Mahomes, 2) Andrew Luck, 3) Aaron Rodgers, 4) Deshaun Watson, 5) Ben Roethlisberger, 6) Jared Goff, 7) Jimmy Garoppolo, 8) Russell Wilson, 9) Baker Mayfield, 10) Matt Ryan

Brad: 1) Patrick Mahomes, 2) Deshaun Watson, 3) Andrew Luck, 4) Aaron Rodgers, 5) Ben Roethlisberger, 6) Jared Goff, 7) Matt Ryan, 8) Lamar Jackson, 9) Russell Wilson, 10) Josh Allen

Dalton: 1) Patrick Mahomes, 2) Deshaun Watson, 3) Andrew Luck, 4) Aaron Rodgers, 5) Jared Goff, 6) Russell Wilson, 7) Cam Newton, 8) Baker Mayfield, 9) Josh Allen, 10) Matt Ryan

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