It’s not entirely accurate, but a notable fantasy football saying is that touchdowns are not predictable, so you should target volume and yardage. The next few weeks, we’ll be going over the most likely league leaders in passing, rushing, and receiving yards as the NFL season and fantasy football drafts creep closer.
Patrick Mahomes was second in the league in passing during last year’s MVP campaign, as he hit the 5,000-passing-yardage mark to go along with his 50 passing scores. The potential of not having Tyreek Hill for a chunk of the season (if not the entire season) would hurt, but the Chiefs have enough weapons—and Mahomes is simply really good—to easily be among the NFL’s best passing attacks again in 2019. It helps that Andy Reid makes things easier on his quarterback with an elite screen game that allows Mahomes to pick up 15 and 20+ yards at a time with quick dump-off passes out to his running backs, receivers, and tight ends.
This is a tricky one because the Falcons struggled through last season, which led to a lot of Matt Ryan either passing to keep up or passing to stage a comeback attempt; and Atlanta figures to try to run the ball more this season under a defensive-minded head coach in Dan Quinn. However, Matty Ice has plenty of weapons on the outside including the receiving trio of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu, and the two first-round additions on the offensive line could give him more time and comfortability in the pocket. Ryan’s last eight yardage totals are: 4,177, 4,719, 4,515, 4,694, 4,591, 4,944, 4,095, and 4,924. So fantasy wise, Ryan offers a nice floor with top-five upside.
After he struggled as a rookie in 2016, Jared Goff’s passing yardage totals in Sean McVay’s offense the last two seasons have gone from 3,804 to 4,668. With Todd Gurley’s uncertain status because of lingering knee issues, the Rams may ask Goff to do more this season, which would lead to another jump in passing yardage. Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp is arguably the best set of receivers in football, and LA’s offense is clearly potent enough to eclipse 5,000 yards passing if that’s what’s needed to win games.
In 14 games (13 starts) last season, Baker Mayfield set the NFL rookie record with 27 passing touchdowns, and he also added 3,725 yards on top of that. The Browns added star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the mix, along with former league-leading rusher and versatile backfield option Kareem Hunt (suspended eight games). Cleveland’s run game will make it difficult to defenses to just honor the pass, but Mayfield should get consistent opportunities to throw the ball around this season. 4,500-5,000 yards is definitely within reach for Mayfield, which would almost certainly put him in the strong fantasy QB1 range assuming his touchdown total isn’t exceedingly low.
No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray is locked in as the Cardinals’ starter, and he’s going to be able to just go out there and play right his game away in 2019. Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense will likely be the most opened-up offense in the league, and Murray has a legitimate chance to lead the NFL in passing attempts as a rookie. There’s obvious downside for an undersized quarterback playing behind a subpar offensive line for a head coach that was just fired from his college job at the end of last year, but there’s undoubtedly statistical upside, too.
Andrew Luck missed because the Colts figure to run the ball more consistently this season. Aaron Rodgers is never really among the league leaders in passing yardage. Drew Brees certainly still has the ability to lead the league in passing, but the balanced approach has worked for the Saints. Similarly, the Patriots are expected to be more of a power run team than a Tom Brady-led spread passing attack in 2019.