In the just-completed season, it was a good year to wait on quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan all threw 35-plus touchdowns, and none of them were among the first five quarterbacks chosen in the vast majority of fantasy drafts. Is that a sign we should all be waiting longer to select quarterbacks?

Those who moved early on quarterbacks, after all, got left holding Aaron Rodgers, who had an off year. Not only did he cost a high pick (that could have been used on a different position) but he wasn’t even as good as those breakout guys who were chosen much later.

But every year (and player) must be considered on their own merits, and best to not to re-work a draft strategy heavily on the basis of an outlier year.

More commonly, the great quarterbacks tend to be the guys everyone knows is going to be good.

See the chart below. It shows the 50 most productive quarterbacks (standard scoring) since 2000. Twenty of these players (and I’ve got them in bold) are players who were also top-6 quarterbacks the previous year. Guys like Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are great, and they tend to be great year after year.

Only 11 of the 50 were quarterbacks who weren’t in the top 20 the previous year, and even in that small group of exceptions, over half of them were guys coming off injuries – players who had shown the ability to be top-5 quarterback in the past (the likes of Rodgers, Manning, Carson Palmer, Deshaun Watson and Luck twice). I’ve got those guys with a black dot next to their name.

Only four other quarterbacks by my count who truly and unexpectedly burst onto the scene like Mahomes did last year. Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford in 2011, Daunte Culpepper in 2000 and Blake Bortles in 2015. Those were the only true outlier-type guys, and I’ve got them flagged with double dots.

Many tend to want to wait at quarterback, and that’s fine, but I’m not opposed to using a very early pick on Mahomes; I think he’s got another 40-plus touchdowns in him. And I expect I’ll also have Luck higher on my board than most.

YearPlayerT YdsT TDPointsPrev Rk
2013Peyton Manning, Den.5,44656496.86
2018•• Patrick Mahomes, K.C.5,36952496.1--
2011Drew Brees, N.O.5,56247476.44
2007Tom Brady, N.E.4,90452462.17
2011Aaron Rodgers, G.B.4,90048455.92
2015Cam Newton, Car.4,47345455.517
2004Daunte Culpepper, Min.5,12341450.51
2011Tom Brady, N.E.5,34442446.76
2016Aaron Rodgers, G.B.4,79744446.38
2011•• Cam Newton, Car.4,75735445.2--
2014Andrew Luck, Ind.5,03443443.47
2012Drew Brees, N.O.5,18244437.41
2013Drew Brees, N.O.5,21442437.31
2018Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.5,22737428.39
2011•• Matthew Stafford, Det.5,11641427.7--
2004Peyton Manning, Ind.4,59549427.72
2018Matt Ryan, Atl.5,04938426.714
2016Drew Brees, N.O.5,22839422.46
2000•• Daunte Culpepper, Min.4,40740421.9--
2017Russell Wilson, Sea.4,56937415.811
2016Matt Ryan, Atl.5,06138414.916
2014• Aaron Rodgers, G.B.4,65040412.0--
2012Aaron Rodgers, G.B.4,55441410.72
2009Aaron Rodgers, G.B.4,75035409.32
2015•• Blake Bortles, Jac.4,73837406.4--
2015Tom Brady, N.E.4,82339405.811
2000Jeff Garcia, S.F.4,69235405.318
2012Tom Brady, N.E.4,85938404.63
2018• Andrew Luck, Ind.4,74139404.5--
2015Russell Wilson, Sea.4,57735398.56
2018• Deshaun Watson, Hou.4,71631397.4--
2014Peyton Manning, Den.4,70339394.01
2001Kurt Warner, St.L.4,89036393.513
2014Drew Brees, N.O.5,02034392.42
2012Cam Newton, Car.4,61027391.64
2018Jared Goff, LAR4,79634391.213
2008Drew Brees, N.O.5,06834389.44
2002Daunte Culpepper, Min.4,46228387.615
2016• Andrew Luck, Ind.4,58133386.1--
2014Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.4,97932384.38
2012Matt Ryan, Atl.4,86033384.18
2012• Peyton Manning, Den.4,66537383.6--
2015• Carson Palmer, Ariz.4,69536382.0--
2007Tony Romo, Dall.4,34038379.517
2016Kirk Cousins, Was.5,01329379.59
2015Drew Brees, N.O.4,88433378.94
2013Andy Dalton, Cin.4,47635377.012
2002Rich Gannon, Oak.4,84529376.16
2014Russell Wilson, Sea.4,32426374.710
2006Peyton Manning, Ind.4,43335373.53

On the chart above, I’m showing total yards (passing plus rushing) and total touchdowns (passing plus rushing). Fantasy points are standard, including 2-point conversions and whatnot. If a player didn’t rank in the top 20 statistically the previous year, I just put a slash there. I figured that would make them stand out more than sticking with 24, 36, 53, etc.

—Ian Allan