2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Quarterback breakouts

You don't want to reach on a quarterback. Ever. 

Well, maybe not "ever"; if Patrick Mahomes can repeat 95% of what he did last season, you wouldn't feel too bad about taking him in the first round, even. But, barring that unlikely circumstance ...

You want quarterbacks with the potential to provide a big return on the investment you make in them. Sometimes, that comes in the late rounds, where you can take a flier on someone who is basically free and hope they hit their best-case scenario. But it doesn't always have to be that risky. 

You can still find values in the middle rounds, even among the quarterbacks taken in the top-five. But you're not looking for guys who might finish sixth at the position; when looking for breakouts, you need No. 1 potential. That's what we've got here, with our staff breakout picks for quarterback. 

Here's who you'll be hearing from: 

  • Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
  • Dave Richard, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
  • Heath Cummings, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
  • Ben Gretch, CBS Fantasy Editor
  • Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy Senior Editor
Quarterback Preview
Breakouts
Jamey Eisenberg's breakouts
Projections powered by Sportsline
TB Tampa Bay • #3
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
119th
QB RNK
9th
PROJ PTS
331
SOS
20
ADP
100
2018 Stats
PAYDS
2992
RUYDS
281
TD
20
INT
14
FPTS/G
21.2
One of my favorite breakout candidates at any position this season is Winston. He had a choppy season in 2018, but this should be a better situation for him this year under Bruce Arians. The coach won't fear Winston making a mistake or two to hopefully get a big play. As Arians has said in the past, "no risk it, no biscuit," meaning you have to take risks to get the reward. Winston also doesn't have a proven starter like Ryan Fitzpatrick waiting in the wings to take him off the field since Fitzpatrick is now in Miami, and Blaine Gabbert is the backup in Tampa Bay. In 2018, Winston started nine games, and he scored at least 20 Fantasy points in five of them. I expect plenty of big production from Winston in 2019.
ARI Arizona • #1
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
114th
QB RNK
11th
PROJ PTS
317
SOS
9
ADP
97
I admit, I have a little bit of a crush on Murray as a Fantasy option, and I have since he was selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft by Arizona. Murray might be small at 5-foot-10, which could lead to him being an injury risk. But the upside for him in Kliff Kingsbury's offense could be amazing. The Cardinals are going to run a lot of plays, and Murray will have the chance to run as well. Remember, he had over 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards last season at Oklahoma, so the potential for a big season is there. He's worth drafting as a No. 1 quarterback in all leagues, and I expect him to finish as a top-10 passer in 2019.
Dave Richard's breakouts
Projections powered by Sportsline
PHI Philadelphia • #11
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
90th
QB RNK
7th
PROJ PTS
325
SOS
18
ADP
76
2018 Stats
PAYDS
3074
RUYDS
93
TD
21
INT
7
FPTS/G
21.3
In his past two seasons, Wentz has come through for at least 22 Fantasy points in 17 of 24 games. That makes him among the most consistent quarterbacks on the planet. There's no reason to believe he'll slow down, especially after the Eagles added DeSean Jackson's deep speed and bolstered their offensive line. He's surrounded by a bunch of really good pass catchers to help make his stats rise and a run game that figures to steal little from Wentz over the course of the season. So long as he's healthy, Wentz will be a reliable top-seven Fantasy option. He's going to have a career year.
ARI Arizona • #1
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
114th
QB RNK
11th
PROJ PTS
317
SOS
9
ADP
97
A rookie breakout quarterback? Count on it. Murray is actually a veteran of the Air Raid offensive scheme he's playing in with the Cardinals, complete with a legit seven-year relationship with his head coach and playcaller. I know, you don't get points for that stuff, but figure it'll help accelerate Murray's understanding and production. He's an accurate, strong-armed passer with incredible mobility who will contend with leading all quarterbacks in rushing yards. He's also a candidate for over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, making him a Fantasy explosion waiting to happen. If I'm wrong, the draft capital used to get him won't hurt those who take him. If I'm right, he's a must-start quarterback every week.
Heath Cummings' breakouts
Projections powered by Sportsline
HOU Houston • #4
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
59th
QB RNK
3rd
PROJ PTS
339
SOS
24
ADP
46
2018 Stats
PAYDS
4165
RUYDS
551
TD
31
INT
9
FPTS/G
23.9
If it wasn't for Patrick Mahomes, we'd be talking about Watson having one of the best starts to a career we've ever seen from a signal caller. Among quarterbacks with at least 700 attempts in their first two seasons, Watson's ranks second in Y/A (8.3), first in completion percentage (66.4%) and second in passer rating (103.1) The only quarterbacks ahead of him on any of those lists are Dan Marino and Russell Wilson. With Wilson we saw a slow build up in the number of passes he was allowed to throw. We saw that same small increase in Year 2 with Watson, as he topped 30 passes per game for the first time. I expect another small increase in 2019, and that coupled with his production on the ground makes Watson the No. 1 contender for Mahomes' throne.
TB Tampa Bay • #3
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
119th
QB RNK
9th
PROJ PTS
331
SOS
20
ADP
100
2018 Stats
PAYDS
2992
RUYDS
281
TD
20
INT
14
FPTS/G
21.2
Hopefully it's the last year we have to talk about "pace" with Jameis Winston. But in 2017 he averaged 306 yards per game he started and finished. Last year he started nine games and averaged 294 yards per game. There's every reason to expect if he plays 16 games he'll be among the league leaders in passing yards. He has a very talented set of pass-catchers and his defense is absolutely atrocious, which should keep him passing. The way this really pays off is if Winston quickly acclimates to the system of Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich. If he does, and he stays healthy, Winston could be one of the top quarterbacks in Fantasy this season.
Ben Gretch's breakouts
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #6
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
80th
QB RNK
5th
PROJ PTS
325
SOS
8
ADP
55
2018 Stats
PAYDS
3725
RUYDS
131
TD
27
INT
14
FPTS/G
21
Mayfield wasn't quite a Fantasy stud as a rookie, but he was efficient. His adjusted yards per attempt ranked 11th out of 170 rookies since the merger to throw at least 100 passes in their first season. And now he gets Odell Beckham, plus a head coach and an offensive coordinator who both have coaching histories in vertical passing offenses that have racked up air yards in recent seasons. The biggest concern with Mayfield isn't about him at all -- it's that the Browns might be in enough positive game scripts to wind up a run-leaning team.
ARI Arizona • #1
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
114th
QB RNK
11th
PROJ PTS
317
SOS
9
ADP
97
Yes, he's a rookie, and an undersized one, with a bad offensive line, and a first-time NFLhead coach who frankly didn't even have much success winning games at the college level. You can find plenty of reasons to question Kyler Murray's ADP. Don't. Recent seasons have shown us that modern, Air Raid offenses have been great for Fantasy, and we know what legitimate rushing upside can mean for Fantasy potential. Murray's dual threat ability in Kingsbury's system is what Fantasy upside looks like.
Chris Towers' breakouts
Projections powered by Sportsline
HOU Houston • #4
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
59th
QB RNK
3rd
PROJ PTS
339
SOS
24
ADP
46
2018 Stats
PAYDS
4165
RUYDS
551
TD
31
INT
9
FPTS/G
23.9
Watson has averaged 25.5 Fantasy points per game for his career, and there is reason to think 2019 could be his best season yet. The Texans' offensive line almost has to play better this season than it did in 2018, which means those league-high 62 sacks he took in 2019 can turn into more passing or rushing opportunities. Watson might be the only player in Fantasy with 4,500 passing yard and 500 rushing yard potential, with 40 total touchdowns to go along with it. If you're looking for someone who can top Patrick Mahomes, Watson with a healthy receiving corps is that guy.
CAR Carolina • #1
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown
OVERALL RNK
83rd
QB RNK
6th
PROJ PTS
335
SOS
27
ADP
81
2018 Stats
PAYDS
3395
RUYDS
488
TD
28
INT
13
FPTS/G
23.5
Did you know Newton had an 11-game streak with at least two passing touchdowns last season? In that stretch, he averaged 26.0 Fantasy points per game, which would have been good for second in the NFL. He clearly wasn't right by the end of the year, but we've gotten nothing but good reports about his shoulder this offseason, and with the development of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, this could be one of the most talented receiver groups he's ever had at his disposal. Take Newton at a discount and prosper.

So which Fantasy Football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which RB2 can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Andrew Luck's huge season, and find out.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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