Thursday, August 27, 2020

Fantasy Football QB Rankings 2020

Every league may be different, but five of the top-seven performers in fantasy football last year were drafted as a QB2 (i.e., outside the top 12) on average (i.e., using 2019 final ADP data).

Three upside-QB2 types from 2019 -- Lamar Jackson (ADP: QB14), Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston -- actually finished 1-2-3 in fantasy points scored last year.

Heading into 2020, Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are the league's two most recent MVPs and the clear top tier of fantasy quarterbacks. Prescott will lead the next tier, for many including myself.

As absolutely dominant as Jackson was in 2019 (and Mahomes before him in 2018), would it be reasonable to avoid drafting either stud quarterback? Excluding 2-QB leagues or super flex leagues (with a QB-eligible flex spot), it's more than reasonable to put Jackson and Mahomes on your fantasy avoid list.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly wise to wait last year.

Combing through the weekly data last year, streaming would have been the most successful method if we excluded the top-12 in ADP plus the other five drafted as QB13+ that finished the year in the top 12.

So, in other words, I found the best weekly streamer after excluding that pool of 17 quarterbacks. For the bye, I excluded the highest point total -- Ryan Tannehill, 32.36, Week 12 -- during the span of 2019 byes (Week 4-12).

Using the highest total from Weeks 1-11 and 13-17 (remember, Week 12 was our bye in this exercise) outside the 17 excluded quarterbacks, the ideal streamer quarterback would total 452.12 fantasy points and finish as the QB1 overall to outscore Lamar Jackson.

With that said, here are my fantasy football quarterback rankings heading into 2020:

1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

What's not to like about Jackson? Well, I mean, aside from his ADP? Jackson led the NFL in passing touchdowns (36) and TD% (9.0) and his rushing production -- 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns -- accounted for double-digit fantasy points (10.84) per game on its own. The dual-threat quarterback's rushing production provides an extremely high floor -- only one game with fewer than 19.8 fantasy points -- and high ceiling -- 10 of his 15 weeks were top-four weekly performances.

2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Regression from his statistically-historic 2018 campaign (5,097/50) was expected and a midseason knee injury also slowed the 2018 league MVP. On a team loaded with speed and talented weapons, Mahomes should bounce back in a big way in 2020.

3. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Shattering previous career highs as a passer, Prescott threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns and only Lamar Jackson scored more fantasy points in 2019. With CeeDee Lamb slipping to Dallas in the draft, the trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Lamb give Prescott one of the league's best trio of pass-catchers. Dak's rushing ability -- 277-plus rushing yards every year and 21 scores in four seasons -- raises his fantasy floor.

MORE: Dallas Cowboys 2020 Fantasy Football Projections

4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Few teams are more commited to the run than the Seahawks, but Wilson has finished as a top-three fantasy quarterback in four of the past six seasons. One of the league's best deep passers, Wilson has thrown more than 30 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons and he's a near lock for 300-plus rushing yards and a couple more scores.

5. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Not only was he dominant in his partial (six starts) rookie season, but Watson finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback in both of his full seasons (2018 and 2019). The loss of DeAndre Hopkins in addition to the durability concerns of Will Fuller IV and Brandin Cooks poses a threat to his ability to yield another top-four campaign for his fantasy owners in 2020.

6. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and finishing as fantasy's QB7 in 2019, Murray gave the Cardinals and his fantasy owners a glimmer of hope of what he could become. By adding DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona's receiving corps, Murray's outlook is significantly improved heading into his sophomore campaign.

7. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Allen's passing numbers improved in 2019 and he should take another step forward in his third season, especially given the team's offseason trade for Stefon Diggs. When it comes to fantasy, however, it's Allen's rushing ability that makes him a viable starter. After rushing for 631 yards and eight scores as a rookie, Buffalo's dual-threat quarterback ran 109 times for 510 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019.

8. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Coming off multi-year lows in completion percentage (60.8, six-year low), TD% (3.9, 11-year low) and Y/A (6.6, 18-year low), things are looking up for Brady in terms of his fantasy outlook as he replaces Jameis Winston in Tampa's high-powered offense. While the team should play with more leads and Brady likely won't lead the NFL in pass attempts (like Winston did in 2019), he inherits a supporting cast loaded with talented pass-catchers -- Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, (an unretired) Rob Gronkowski, etc.

9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Eclipsing the 300-yard mark in 11 of 15 games, Ryan finished 2019 with 4,466 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The veteran signal-caller has alternated seasons between finishing outside the top 10 (QB19 in 2015, QB15 in 2017 and QB11 in 2019) and top two (QB2 in both 2016 and 2018). Currently drafted as the QB10 based on his ADP, Ryan more potential upside than downside risk.

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Leading the NFL in completion percentage in each of the past three seasons, Brees posted a career-high 7.1 TD% in 2019 and he has posted a 59-to-nine TD-INT ratio over the past two seasons combined. The team's offseason moves will help Brees, the NFL's all-time leading passer, continue his high level of play into his age-41 season. Not only did the Saints use their first-round pick on the top interior offensive lineman in the draft, but they added Emmanuel Sanders as an upgrade opposite Michael Thomas.

11. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have a dynamic one-two punch at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but their receiving corps was decimated by injuries last season. Wentz became the league's first 4,000-yard passer without a 500-yard (wide) receiver. The front office turbo-charged the receiving corps with the addition of speed and lots of it this offseason.

MORE: Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster projections

12. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

The days of Aaron Rodgers being a perennial top-two performer are over. Since taking over from Brett Favre in 2008, Rodgers has finished as the QB1 or QB2 in seven of his first eight full seasons. In his two most recent campaigns, however, the future first-ballot HOFer has finished as fantasy's QB6 and QB9, respectively. In a draft loaded with wide receiver talent, the Packers brass failed to add any help for Rodgers and free-agent addition Devin Funchess has opted opt due to COVID-19 concerns.

13. Daniel Jones, New York Giants

As is expected with any rookie quarterback, it was an up-and-down season for Jones, who will need to cut down on turnovers (especially fumbles) heading into year two. In terms of upside, however, only Lamar Jackson (seven) had more games finishing as a top-two weekly performer at quarterback than Jones (four) last season. It wouldn't surprise me if Jones turned in a Josh Allen-like second-year performance and he's one of my favorite QB2/streamers in 2020.

14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

A back injury cut his season in half, but Stafford was on pace for nearly 5,000 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (4,998/38/10) and the QB6 through Week 9. Healthy now, Stafford is poised for a big season if he can stay healthy as the Lions return all of their top receiving options and added one of the best pass-catching backs (D'Andre Swift) in the draft.

15. Cam Newton, New England Patriots

While not guaranteed to be the starter when a signed his one-year deal, all signs point to the one-time league MVP winning the competition for the starting gig. As ESPN's Mike Reiss notes, Jarrett Stidham is "fading out of the quarterback picture" and it's been "basically the Cam Newton Show." Playing only two games in 2019, the chip-on-his-shoulder version of Newton offers plenty of upside if he can stay healthy in 2020. In his first eight NFL seasons, Newton performed as a top-four fantasy quarterback five times.

16. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Goff posted the worst non-rookie ratios of his career in 2019 in Y/A (7.4), TD% (3.5) and INT% (2.6), but he closed the season on a positive note. Over his final five games, Goff threw multiple touchdowns every week, averaged 328.6 passing yards per game and compiled an 11-to-four TD-INT ratio.

MORE: Robert Woods 2020 Fantasy Football Profile

17. Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars

While the Jags are the early favorites to win the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, there is little competition for Minshew in 2020. As a rookie, Minshew threw for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. An underrated aspect of his game is his rushing ability as Minshew averaged 5.1 YPC and gained 344 yards on the ground. Only four quarterbacks -- Lamar Jackson (1,206), Kyler Murray (544), Josh Allen (510) and Deshaun Watson (413) -- rushed for more.

18. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Missing virtually all of 2019, Roethlisberger is a QB2 that should produce QB1-type numbers on a per-game basis. GM Kevin Colbert improved the supporting cast around him by adding Eric Ebron in free agency and Chase Claypool through the draft.

19. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Without a traditional offseason program, it will be more difficult than ever for rookies to transition into the NFL, but Burrow made it look easy at times last season by throwing an FBS-record 60 touchdowns in his Heisman-winning season. The Bengals have some talent at the skill positions (A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and fellow rookie Tee Higgins) and last year's first-rounder Jonah Williams returns from injury to improve the offensive line. Burrow enters 2020 as a streamer, but game script could lead to plenty of pass attempts for the rookie, who should improve as the season progresses.

20. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Cousins' ratios -- 5.9 TD%, 1.4 INT%, 8.1 Y/A and 107.4 passer rating -- were all better than his career averages, but a five-year low in pass attempts (444, 29.6 per game) is the problem. Cousins will have good games and good stretches (the QB2 from Weeks 5-11 last year), but the lack of volume makes him unreliable as an every-week starter in standard single-QB leagues.

21. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

At this time last year, expectations were through the roof for the Browns in general and for Baker Mayfield's development. Those expectations were met with nothing but disappointment as Mayfield managed to score 20-plus fantasy points in only three of 16 games. An improved offensive line and new coaching staff generates some renewed optimism for Mayfield, but he's better viewed as a QB2 heading into 2020.

22. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, Tannehill led the NFL in Y/A (9.6) and passer rating (117.5) and scored the third-most fantasy points from Weeks 7-17 (his stretch as the team's starter). While he parlayed that into a new four-year contract to remain in Tennessee, fantasy owners should expect regression from his career-high TD% (7.7). Considering he threw it 22 times (or less) in six of his final 10 games counting the playoffs, low volume and lower efficiency levels should concern fantasy owners.

MORE: Fantasy Football 2-QB mock draft

23. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

Lock showed some end-of-season promise as a rookie and heads into 2020 with an improved cast of pass-catchers. While Courtland Sutton had a breakout sophomore campaign, he was the only returning Bronco wide receiver to eclipse the 300-yard mark. Adding Jerry Jeudy and speedster K.J. Hamler in the first two rounds as well as a potential mismatch at tight end (Albert Okwuegbunam) in the fourth round, Lock is an intriguing streamer that is poised to make a sophomore leap.

24. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Finishing as a top-20 fantasy quarterback every year of his career, Carr was fantasy's QB17 in 2019. On the other hand, Carr has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback only once (2016) in his career. So while he's performed better than most likely realize, there has been limited upside as well. That said, the Raiders are giving him every opportunity to succeed by loading up on pass-catchers in the draft and free agency.

25. Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Joe Douglas made it a priority to improve one of the league's worst offensive lines this offseason, so Darnold should be better-protected in his age-23 season. The team let Robby Anderson walk in free agency, but they get back Chris Herndon, who played only one game, and drafted Denzel Mims, a height-weight-speed (6'3"-207-4.38) prospect.

26. Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

Reaching the 20-interception mark for the third time in his career, Rivers also set a 12-year low with 23 touchdowns in 2019. Will a change of scenery and a reunion with Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni help the 38-year-old quarterback bounce back in 2020? Given what he showed last season, fantasy owners should temper expectations.

27. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

As productive as they are running the ball, it's no surprise that only the Titans (26.9/G) threw it less often than the 49ers (28.2/G) in 2019. While Garoppolo finished 14th in fantasy points (in large part to his 16-game durability), he was only 22nd on a per-game basis last season.

28. Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

Bridgewater wasn't asked to push the ball down the field, but he was efficient as a fill-in starter when Drew Brees was injured. In his five starts, Bridgewater completed 69.7% of his pass attempts and threw nine touchdowns to only two interceptions. By adding deep threat Robby Anderson in the offseason, perhaps the Panthers will ask Bridgewater to take a few more deep shots than he did in New Orleans, but he's off the fantasy radar outside of 2-QB and super-flex leagues.

29. Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team

Starting seven games as a rookie, Haskins averaged just 175.0 passing yards per game and 6.77 per attempt while throwing seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Learning a new offense in such an unusual offseason could make it even more difficult for Haskins to take big steps forward in his sophomore campaign.

30. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

While a redshirt season may make sense given his injury history, head coach Brian Flores has said that there will be a competition at quarterback and hasn't ruled out Tagovailoa from starting as early as Week 1. Given the lack of preseason games, however, it would make sense for Fitzpatrick to be (at least) the early-season starter.

MORE: Miami Dolphins 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup

31. Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers

As the Chargers transition into the post-Philip Rivers era, Taylor takes over as the starter although it's likely only a matter of time before we see rookie Justin Herbert. In his three full seasons as a starter, Taylor finished as fantasy's QB14, QB8 and QB16, respectively, which gives the dual-threat quarterback some appeal as an early-season streamer. While the Chargers open with three tough matchups -- Chiefs (Week 2), Bucs (Week 4) and Saints (Week 5) -- in their first five games, it's certainly possible that they are favorites in all six of their other games before their Week 10 bye.

32. Nick Foles, Chicago Bears

It's unlikely that the Bears have their long-term starter on their roster (as many mocks have the Bears taking a quarterback in 2021) and it wouldn't be surprising if both Foles and Mitch Trubisky made multiple starts in 2020. On his fifth team since 2015, Foles has the edge over Trubisky to outscore the former No. 2 overall pick. That said, neither signal-caller is on the fantasy radar outside of two-QB leagues.

33. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins

Reunited with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, Fitzpatrick was the QB18, QB12 and QB20, respectively, in the three years (2010-12) the duo spent together in Buffalo. That said, it's possible that Miami hands the keys of the franchise to fifth-pick Tua Tagovailoa sooner rather than later.

34. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Considering the Chiefs are prohibitive AFC West favorites, it's only a matter of time before Herbert gets some starts even if Anthony Lynn is patient with L.A.'s rookie signal-caller. Given his combination of arm strength and mobility, Herbert could achieve some Josh Allen-like fantasy success (i.e., better fantasy quarterback than real-life quarterback) early in his career.

35. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

Some (NBC Chicago's J.J. Stankevitz, for one) believe that Trubisky will be the team's Week 1 starter. Even if he begins 2020 as the starter, it's much less likely that he ends the season as the starter.

36. Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

37. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

38. Jarrett Stidham, New England Patriots

39. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

40. Marcus Mariota, Las Vegas Raiders

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