Call Me Crazy But … Patrick Mahomes Has Already Peaked
Fantasy football is full of trash-talking, proving your better than your friends (at least at one thing, but we all know once you’re in a league everything else you do with your league mates becomes a competition), and bold predictions. Everyone thinks they have the hottest takes, wildest theories, or know something you don’t know as they try to look like the smartest guy in the room. Well, I am here to shut that shit down, no exceptions (shout out my man Negan)! This is a series I have titled “Call me crazy but …” in which I like to take the popular names, stats, or takes from the general consensus of the fantasy big-wigs and community and tear them apart like I play quarterback for the Steelers. So, let’s kick off the 2019 edition of the series with the reigning NFL, and arguably the 2018 fantasy football, MVP; Mr. Patrick Mahomes …
Call me crazy but … Patrick Mahomes has already peaked.
Why am I calling out the Chiefs franchise quarterback to start this off? For one I like a challenge. I like to play devil’s advocate and look at things from the other side. Everyone is already all over Mahomes as the first quarterback off the board this year, which is fine but he will go way to early for me or anyone who believes in waiting for a QB, but I can understand why people will try and snatch Mahomes up as their fantasy signal caller. After posting 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns while completing 66% of pass attempts in just his second NFL season, and first as a starter, it seems like the sky is the limit for Mahomes; not so fast. Now, I’m not saying Mahomes can’t be a very good quarterback this year and moving forward for your fantasy squad, but don’t expect him to just blow the doors off his QB competition like last season.
Patrick Mahomes lit up fantasy scoreboards last year to the tune of 417 points! That was the greatest fantasy season ever for a quarterback and only LaDainian Tomlinson’s 427 points in 2006 was better by any fantasy player all-time. Let’s take LT out of the equation and focus on just the quarterbacks’ fantasy realm. Since only Mahomes and Peyton Manning are the only quarterbacks to ever hit 400 points, I expanded my search to QBs who were able to hit at least 375 in a season. Let’s look at nine times a quarterback has posted 375 or more points in a season and what they did the following year:
|QB (Age at time of 375+)||Year (Points)||Following Year Points||Following Year Finish||Notes|
|Steve Young (37)||1998 (376)||26||—||Played in 3 games before injury and retiring|
|Daunte Culpepper (27)||2004 (381)||76||QB36||Played 7 games in 2005|
|Tom Brady (30)||2007 (398)||3||—||Injured in first game of 2008|
|Aaron Rodgers (28)||2011 (397)||342||QB2||1 of 3 QBs with back-to-back 340+ point years|
|Drew Brees* (32)||2011 (395)||345||QB1||Only QB to go for 340+ points 3 straight years|
|Peyton Manning (37)||2013 (412)||308||QB4||Only QB to hit 400 points besides Mahomes|
|Cam Newton (26)||2015 (389)||250||QB17||123 points came via rushing in 2015|
|Aaron Rodgers (33)||2016 (380)||129||QB29||Played 7 games in 2016|
|Patrick Mahomes (23)||2018 (417)||???||???||Youngest player to reach 400+ points and 50TDs|
- Brees in 2011 was the only QB on the list to not finish as QB1 in his 375-point season
Of the eight other 375+ seasons not by Mahomes, five of those quarterbacks finished the following year outside QB1 territory, four of those five sustained an injury that either ended their season early or forced them to miss more than half a year. The best finisher in those five seasons was Cam Newtown, who finished as QB17, but 50% of his points that season came with his legs; Mahomes posted less than 10% of his total points last year with his legs. Given his age, Mahomes should follow closer in the footsteps of Brees, Rodgers, and Manning, but the injury bug don’t care where you play or how old you are, it can happen to any one. Give this list of quarterbacks it already isn’t looking great for Mahomes to post a crazy monster season again this year but we just hit the tip of the iceberg like the freaking Titanic. Let’s move on to the passing yards.
Mahomes joined an elite group of signal-callers, tossing the 11th season of 5,000+ yards, and becoming the 7th QB to do so; Drew Brees has done it an insane five times making him the only quarterback to do it more than one. Mahomes’ 5,097 yards ranked as the 8th best season in that respect, but his 9.01 yards per attempted topped the list of the 5K club. So, why is the 5,000 yards a curse for the following year? Well, as mentioned before, Drew Brees is the only QB to hit the threshold multiple times hitting in three consecutive years from 2011-2013 as well as 2008 and 2016, so that means there is always a drop off in yardage after a QB goes for 5,000. Take away the two seasons Brees hit 5,000 in his streak, as well as Mahomes and Big Ben who did it last year, and the other six seasons saw every QB play at least 15 games and all going for 4,100+ yards with Brady, Manning, and Stafford all posting 4,700 or better. On average those six seasons saw those quarterbacks average 4,618 yards. The average of the 5,000 yard seasons was 5195; a difference of 577 yards.
Even if we drop from 5,000 to 4,500 yards, only eight quarterbacks have ever had consecutive seasons with 4,500+ passing yards. Drew Brees (surprise, surprise) did it for 7 straight years (2010-2016), Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan each accomplished it 5 times, Matthew Stafford hit the mark 3 straight years, and Dan Fouts, Phillip Rivers, Warren Moon and Tom Brady has all done it in back-to-back seasons once. None of those men did it before years three and four in the league (Stafford). Now breaking down yardage into fantasy points. It’s hard to say how that difference in yardage computes with touchdowns but break these quarterbacks seasons down and they averaged 4PPG less the year after their 5,000 yard season! Outside of Brees averaging almost identical points per game in 2008 and 2009, the rest of the group posted 2.5 or fewer points per game in their year following 5K. So far the points look to come down, the yardage will drop by over 10%, so what about the passing strikes that Mahomes cumulated in 2018? That should be his saving grace, right? Well …
With Mahomes hitting the 50 touchdown mark last year there isn’t much to compare here as only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have ever hit the 50+ mark in this category. After Peyton set the record of 55TDs in 2013, he came back in 2014 with a more-than-respectable 39 scoring tosses ranking him second that season behind Andrew Luck’s 40. Brady was the first to reach the 50TD mountain top in 2007 when he threw exactly 50. The following season he went down game one and missed the year and in 2009, his first full season back, he threw 28 touchdowns which was 5th in the league. Mahomes is 7 years younger than Brady and 14 years younger than Peyton hitting the 50TD mark so we have to all agree his ability to reach that plateau again is the best we’ve ever seen. That being said let’s break down quarterbacks who has passed for at least 35 scores in consecutive seasons as that sounds like a reasonable number for Mahomes to reach in 2019. We’ve seen five QBs toss 35+ passing strikes in at least two straight seasons; Brett Favre (95-97), Drew Brees (2011-13), and Peyton Manning (2012-14) each did it three times, while Tom Brady (2010-11) and Aaron Rodgers (2011-12) each did it in back-to-back year, that’s it! If Mahomes can hit 35 this season he’d be just the sixth to accomplish that task and by far the youngest; he would be three years younger than Favre was when he started his streak in 1995 at 26 years of age. Mahomes hitting 35 passing scores this year would be 15 less than 2018, or 60 fewer fantasy points. Again, a great feat to reach but 60 fewer points (almost 4PPG fewer) in that category would be a huge blow to those who want to take Mahomes high in their draft and expect a similar result to last year. Once more, another big drop off from his 2018 MVP campaign.
As I mentioned before Mahomes would be the youngest to hit that mark, among the others we previously talked about, so if we look at age, how difficult is it to light it up in such a monstrous way as Mahomes did in 2018?
We know no one Mahomes’ age (23) has hit 5,000 yard OR 50 touchdowns so let’s look at other huge numbers that we have seen young gunslingers reach; 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns through the air in one of their first two NFL seasons. Outside of Mahomes only two other QBs have accumulated those numbers in either their rookie or sophomore season; Dan Marino and Kurt Warner. Two of the best we’ve ever seen behind center, both Marino and Warner hit those numbers in their sophomore seasons. Marino hit 5,000+ yards (first to ever do it in NFL history) like Mahomes while Patrick tossed two more touchdowns (50 to Marino’s 48), and Warner led “The Greatest Show on Turf” to a Super Bowl with his 4,353 yards and 41TDs. But the bigger question is what did these two Hall of Fame quarterbacks do in their junior campaigns to follow up their massive sophomore showings? Let’s take a look:
|PLAYER (YR OF 4K/40)||POINTS IN 4K/40 SEASON||FOLLOWING YR YARDS||FOLLOWING YR TDS||FOLLOWING YR POINTS||NOTES|
|Dan Marino (84)||361||4,137||30||241||Still led league in passing yards and TDs in 1985|
|Kurt Warner (99)||319||3,429||21||186||Missed 5 games|
Marino bounced back in 1985 with another 4,000-yard season and led the NFL in both passing yards and scores but his fantasy points dropped by 33%. Warner missed five games in 2000 but his 3,429 yards ranked 11th and his 21 scores placed him 8th in that category, but like Marino, Warner’s fantasy points took a big hit as they decreased by a whopping 42%! Not only did both Marino and Warner see decreased in yards and touchdowns, but they both also threw five more picks than the year of 4,000 and 40. Uptick in interceptions, less yards, less touchdowns all seem all-but-sealed for Mahomes’ 2019 season, but he might not be as susceptible because he’s got such great players around him on offense, right?
2018 saw Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs offense post one of the best offensive seasons in NFL history. They became just the 6th team ever to average 35 or more points per game in the regular season joining the 1998 Vikings, 2007 Patriots, 2011 Packers, 2012 Patriots, and 2013 Broncos in that category. Mahomes was the spark plug that juiced that offense to be as great as it was, but what are the chances that the Chiefs can repeat a similar performance and in turn help Mahomes to another monster fantasy year? As of now the only thing we can count on in the Chiefs offense is Travis Kelce. The tight end played all 16 games last year and turned in just the 5th season in NFL history of a tight end getting at least 150 targets (Kelce hit 150 on the nose joining Zach Ertz and Tony Gonzalez, who hit that mark three times, as the only players to accomplish that feat). The other two main pieces in the Chiefs offense in 2018 are the problems that could befall Mahomes in 2019. Tyreek Hill is arguably the most dynamic playmaker in the league, and while he played all 16 games last year posting career-highs in catches (87), yards (1,479), and touchdowns (12), Hill is facing some potential legal troubles coming into this season and if he misses any time that means that Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson would slide in as the top two wide outs in KC. However, the biggest offensive piece that will, and has, set Mahomes back is former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. We all know the story and how Hunt was cut immediately the video surfaced. Hunt plaid the first 11 games of the year, and the 5 games he missed really brought Mahomes down. With Hunt in the line up, Mahomes was able to rack up 9 games of 300+ yards (including a streak of 7 straight), 8 games of 3+ touchdown passes, and he failed to score at least 22 fantasy points just twice in those 11 games. After Hunt was cut, the following five games saw Mahomes hit 300 yards just once, 3+ passing scores twice, and hitting the 22-point threshold just twice as well. With Hunt in the line up, Mahomes averaged over 27PPG and without Kareem, he managed 23 per contest.
In the end Patrick Mahomes, barring injury, should still be a top five quarterback at the end of 2019 at worse. He’s young, he’s got some dynamic weapons around him, and he’s got one of the best offensive-minded coach in the game, and arguably ever, in Andy Reid. That being said, the 2018 season he put up helping his fantasy owners reach and win championships will not be forgotten, although his numbers look to take a significant dip looking at the historical data of similar seasons by quarterbacks. If Mahomes slips far enough from his ADP of mid round two then he may be worse the pick (I preach waiting until late for a QB but to each their own) but if someone scoops him up in the first or second or third round don’t be upset you missed out because whoever drafts Mahomes this year won’t be getting 26PPG. Mahomes is one of the best and most fun to watch players in the NFL right now, but in the world of fantasy football … call me crazy, but Patrick Mahomes has peaked.