Jul 26, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) gets set to throw a pass during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The first week of real football action is at hand as the NFL’s preseason schedule starts in full gear on August 9. As we close out our rankings series, today marks the transition to the backfield, and rankings for all 32 NFL team’s quarterback and quarterback situation. Coinciding with our quarterback rankings, PFF’s fantasy football expert Jeff Ratcliffe has also simultaneously released his Fantasy QB Rankings for the 2018 season as well.
One thing of note, some of these rankings are predictive of the future signal-caller, forecasting a rookie first-round pick who should likely garner playing time over a veteran as the season progresses.
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Our top-graded quarterback for the last two years, Brady is in the midst of the best stretch of his career despite heading into his 41-year-old season. He’s the most accurate quarterback in the league over the last two years (No. 2 in 2017), and he’s ranked in the top five in big-time throw percentage each of the last three years while still taking care of the ball and ranking in the top five at avoiding turnover-worthy plays.
When healthy, Rodgers is right up there among the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s graded at 90-plus in four of his last eight seasons, including a 91.4 grade in 2016 that ranked third int the league. Rodgers is as good as it gets at making the big-time throws while avoiding turnover-worthy plays, a good combination when defining elite status for a signal-caller.
Last season was not as bad as the stats would indicate while 2016 may not have been as good as the MVP stats showed, but Ryan is a consistent, top-tier quarterback. He ranked third last year with an 88.3 grade and second in 2016 with a 92.2 grade, and the story of last year was his ranking first at avoiding turnover-worthy plays while finishing 14th in interception percentage (poor interception luck).
The counting stats took a hit last season, but Brees was as efficient as ever on a throw-for-throw basis. He had the best accuracy percentage in the league, both overall and at the 20-plus yard level. Brees is still more than capable of carrying a team and his 89.5 overall grade ranked second among quarterbacks last season.
Wilson has showed incredible year-to-year consistency since entering the league, annually ranking as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Last year was his most volatile season of his career, as he ranked fourth in big-time throw percentage, but only 22nd at avoiding turnover-worthy plays, a number that wasn’t reflected in his 11 interceptions which finished on the low side given his performance. Still, WIlson is a special playmaker with the ball in his hands.
After a slight step back in 2016, Roethlisberger bounced back to rank fifth among quarterbacks with an 86.5 overall grade last season. He’s been a consistent top-5 to top-10 performer for the majority of his career and he’s capable of carrying a passing game with his ability to make big-time throws, both from within and outside of structure.
While Luck didn’t take a snap last season, he’s one year removed from the best season of his career, a 90.4 overall grade that ranked fourth in 2016. Luck has always been able to make the special throws as he consistently ranks among the league’s best in big-time throw percentage, but 2016 represented his best year at taking care of the ball as he ranked fifth at avoiding turnover-worthy plays.
After an excellent 2013 season, Rivers slowly started a decline over the next three years, perhaps in part due to a terrible offensive line situation. He bounced back nicely last season, grading at 80.4 overall to rank ninth in the league. He was one of the league’s most accurate passers in the short (0-9 yard) range and he’s still a solid intermediate passer (10-19-yard range), ranking eighth in PFF grading last season.
Wentz had a breakout 2017 season, grading at 84.9 overall, good for sixth in the league before going down to a knee injury. He had the second-highest percentage of big-time throws and also ranked second in accuracy percentage on tight-window throws.
Stafford has improved over the last 2.5 years and he finished No. 9 in our grades in 2016 (81.4) and 12th last season (78.6). At his best, Stafford looks the part of top-three quarterback, making special throws both inside and outside of structure, however it’s his week-to-week consistency that keeps him from the top echelon of quarterbacks. Stafford was not as good as his 99.3 passer rating suggested last season as he led the league with 16 dropped interceptions while adding a number of poor fumbles that didn’t show up on the stat sheet.
It’s been a small sample, but Garoppolo has had an excellent start to his career, particularly an 86.6 overall grade that ranked fourth in the NFL last season. He had the highest percentage of positively-graded throws in 2017, despite ranking only 39th in big-time throw percentage. Garoppolo also did a fine job of taking care of the ball with the fifth-lowest percentage of turnover-worthy plays.
Prescott took a step back after an outstanding rookie season, in part due to his supporting cast regressing around him. In his two years in the league, he’s shown that he can take care of the ball, ranking in the top-10 at avoiding turnover-worthy plays in both seasons, however it may be time for the Cowboys to throw the ball down the field more often as Prescott has ranked in the bottom three in deep pass attempts despite ranking 15th in adjusted completion percentage on deep passes in 2016 and fifth last year.
Last season was a disappointment for Carr after he finished No. 5 in PFF grades in 2016 (85.3). He had the highest turnover-worthy play percentage of his career (4.2 percent), while not supplementing the mistakes with big-time throws (ranked 35th out of 41 qualifiers). Carr remains high in the rankings due to his strong 2015 and 2016 seasons in which he executed a high percentage of big-time throws while avoiding the big mistakes that marred his 2017 campaign.
The stats have always been a bit better than Cousins’ actual performance, generally an indicator that his supporting cast has helped to elevate his numbers. Still, Cousins has been a solid quarterback the last three years, finishing 15th in 2015 and 10th in 2016 before dropping to 20th last season. He’ll have another strong set of receivers in Minnesota, and his aggressiveness down the field should allow the Vikings’ pass game to take the next step in 2018.
Coming off the best season of his career, Smith was more aggressive in 2017 and it paid off as he led the league in adjusted completion percentage (54.8), yards (1,344) and touchdown (12)…