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Patrick Mahomes vs Drew Brees: Where’s the Value?

It is a tale of two quarterbacks; the fiery young gun vs the poised super bowl champion veteran. It’s also a story of value, though, and fantasy football players looking to draft Mahomes are currently paying a much higher price than those choosing to wait for Brees. This article will help fantasy football players decipher which of these two quarterbacks is right for their team in 2019.

Patrick Mahomes

Current ADP: 3.06 | QB1

Mahomes took the NFL by storm in 2018, shocking many fantasy football players. Mahomes 2018 ADP, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, was 10.10 in redraft 1 quarterback leagues. That made him the 15th QB taken off the board. Mahomes, though, well outplayed his draft position; finishing as the QB1 in 2018.

Games CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TD
16 383 580 66 5097 50 12 113.84 60 272 2

Statistics compiled from Fantasy Data

The Chiefs superstar led the league in passing touchdowns, with 11 more than Andrew Luck who had the second-most passing touchdowns in 2018 and 29 more than the average passing touchdowns for any quarterback in 2018 (21) who played in at least 8 games. He also finished with a 4.1 TD: INT ratio, which is more impressive than DeShaun Watson’s (current ADP: QB4) 2.8 ratio or Baker Mayfield’s (Current ADP: QB5) 1.7 ratio. Mahomes finished 2nd in passing yards in 2018, just 32 yards shy of Ben Roethlisberger-who threw the ball 69 more times than Mahomes last season.

Mahomes will potentially lose his top target, Tyreek Hill, for part of or all of the 2019 season due to off the field issues which still have to be processed through the NFL. Hill, the WR3 in PPR formats in 2018, accounted for 1,479 (29%) of Mahomes passing yards and 12 (24%) of his touchdowns in 2018. Mahomes also loses Kareem Hunt, who accounted for 378 receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns for Mahomes through the first 11 weeks of 2018. Through those 11 weeks, Hunt’s receiving yards accounted for 10% of Mahomes’ total yards and his 7 touchdowns accounted for 16% of Mahomes’ total touchdowns.

Kansas City’s projected offense line has an average rating of 67.4, according to Pro Football Focus, which considers that score to be “average”. According to FantasyPros, the Chiefs have a much tougher road ahead-they have the hardest strength of schedule in the NFL in 2019.

Drew Brees

Current ADP: 7.03 |  QB7

Brees is entering his 19th season in the NFL, he has been a consistent source of success for fantasy football players since joining New Orleans in 2006. Brees’ 2018 ADP, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, was 6.07 in 1 quarterback leagues. That made him the 6th QB taken off the board. Brees nearly returned that value perfectly in 2018, finishing as QB8. Brees, unlike Mahomes, has a proven track record of fantasy football success. I have extracted the last 4 years of Brees’ career below:

Year Games CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RAT
2018 15 364 489 74 3992 32 5 115.68
2017 16 386 536 72 4334 23 8 103.87
2016 16 471 673 70 5208 37 15 101.69
2015 15 428 627 68 4870 32 11 101.03


Statistics compiled from Fantasy Data

Over the last 4 seasons, Brees has completed at least 68% of his passing attempts-which is at least 2% more each season than Mahomes completed in his record-setting sophomore campaign. Brees finished 6th in the league in touchdowns in 2018 with 32 touchdowns and has averaged 31 touchdowns per season over the last 4 years. In 2016, just 2 seasons ago, Brees threw for 5,208 yards which are 111 more passing yards than Mahomes in 2018. Brees finished 2018 with a 6.4 touchdown to interception ratio, much higher than Mahomes’ 4.1 ratio. Brees threw the 2nd fewest interceptions of any quarterback to start more than 10 games in 2018, with Aaron Rodgers (2) having thrown the fewest.

The New Orleans Saints avoided headlines in the 2018-2019 offseason and instead will return a roster which mirrors closely the team that led them to the 2018 NFC championship game. Brees will again have Michael Thomas, who finished as WR6 in PPR formats in 2018. Thomas led the NFL in receptions, finished 6th in receiving yards, and caught and pulled in 9 touchdowns for the 2nd time in his 3 year career. Brees will also have Alvin Kamara, the dynamic running back that contributes to the passing game just as much as the Saints ground attack. Kamara finished 4th in receptions, 5th in receiving yards, and 7th in receiving touchdowns for running backs in 2018.

The Saints projected offensive line has a slightly higher rating than the Chiefs, 67.7, according to Pro Football Focus. Brees, though, will have Armstead (87.4, or elite) and Ramczyk (81.3, or high quality) protecting him at the tackle positions. The Saints’ strength of schedule is much easier, according to FantasyPros, they have the 17th most difficult strength of schedule for 2019.

 

 

Comparing Positional ADP

I am confident that Mahomes will score more fantasy points than Brees in 2018. Points, though, do not equal value. Below is a chart which shows the average fantasy point totals of QB positional ADP 1 and 7 over the last 3 seasons:

Year ADP QB1 ADP QB7 Point Difference
2018 312 283 29
2017* 295 210 85
2016 254 252 2

*QB1 in ADP in 2017 was Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a season-ending injury. The 295 points included in this chart reflects Tom Brady’s 2017 performance, he was QB2 in ADP in 2016.

Statistics compiled from Fantasy Data

Over the last 3 season, the average point difference between the first quarterback drafted on average and the 7th is just 38 points. Currently, AJ Green has a matching ADP to Pat Mahomes (3.06). That makes him the 13th wide receiver off the board in 2019 ADP. Robby Anderson has a current ADP of 6.12, which is slightly higher than Brees’ 7.03 but the closest WR to him. That makes Anderson the 30th wide receiver off the board in 2019 ADP. Below is a chart which shows the average fantasy point totals of WR positional ADP 13 and 30 over the last 3 seasons:

Year ADP WR13 ADP WR30 Point Difference
2018 215 132 83
2017 175 33 142
2016* 246 243 3

*WR13 in ADP in 2016 was Alshon Jeffery, who did not play a complete season. The 246 points included in this chart reflects Brandin Cooks 2016 performance, he was WR14 in ADP in 2016.

Statistics compiled from Fantasy Data

Over the last 3 seasons, the average point difference between the 13th wide receiver and the 33rd wide receiver drafted on average is 76 points. This suggests that if a fantasy football player was to choose AJ Green over Mahomes at 3.06 and wait to get Brees at 7.06 they would gain an additional 38 total fantasy points for their roster, based on the past performance of the players selected at similar ADPs over the last 3 seasons.

In addition to losing value in the form of fantasy points, fantasy football players selecting Mahomes will be working against historical trends which suggest the QB1 in ADP will not finish as QB1 in positional ranking at the end of the season, as shown below.

Year QB 1  in ADP End of Season POS Rank
2018 Aaron Rodgers 6
2017 Aaron Rodgers 29
2016 Cam Newton 27
2015 Andrew Luck 28
2014 Peyton Manning 4

Verdict: The Value is with Brees

Mahomes is a tempting 3rd round selection, but Brees is the more valuable choice of the two. Brees has a record of consistency, better offensive tackles protecting him, more weapons surrounding him, a more stable roster, and an easier strength of schedule than Mahomes. Although Mahomes is likely to outscore Brees, the gap does not justify the higher draft selection based on historical trends in player performance relative to average draft position.

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