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Slow Starters Ready to Break Out in Fantasy?

We are now more than a third of the way into the fantasy football season and a seemingly clearer picture is available across the landscape. After a pandemic-shortened offseason and lack of preseason exposure, there were plenty of worries headed into the first month specifically. Thus far, one of the most prevalent topics with regards to how the pandemic played a part in fantasy is injuries because that is the easiest connection to make between lack of training camp reps, allowing for limited ramp-up time for players.

While injuries are the most tangible, slow-starting players are also ones who may have been hurt by the limited reps. Several skill guys had their snaps/roles cut early on in the season (Joe Mixon for example), yet were brought along over the course of subsequent weeks. Every player's performance is affected differently. Some are due to the pandemic, others are due to a rough schedule. It is often hard to pinpoint but this piece takes the best possible approach to evaluating each player's position.

Here are five slow starters expected to bounce back this season. For any questions on this topic or any other post, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@RotoSurgeon) and shoot it through.

 

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

I'm not buying any of the Jalen Hurts hype coming from the internet. Wentz has not been perfect, but thus far, he is not the only problem in Philadelphia's offense. Currently, nine out of 11 offensive starters are out with injury. Plus, Wentz is dealing with a league-worst 16 drops from his pass-catchers.

The Zach Ertz injury is a blessing-in-disguise because a plodding TE is now removed from the equation, allowing for more dynamic players to take his place. Richard Rodgers will sub in for the interim and Dallas Goedert, upon return from IR, will then take over. Ertz has been terrible this season despite having a fruitful history as Wentz's safety blanket. He shrinks the field around him, forcing more attention elsewhere.

Losing Miles Sanders would prove costly if the Eagles were not facing the New York Giants this week and then facing off against Dallas' putrid defense afterward. Boston Scott and the backups should fill-in just fine. With a bye week right after, Sanders should be fully healthy for the stretch run to take control of the NFC East in the second half.

Jalen Reagor's timetable to return from his thumb injury lines up here as well along with DeSean Jackson and Lane Johnson. The Eagles are in the most advantageous position within the division, making it possible they even add a dynamic piece at the trade deadline given the plethora of receivers potentially available for trade. Wentz is currently QB15 in scoring with a ceiling around the top-six given his increased rushing. Wentz is running more, and more efficiently than ever with 6.1 yards-per-carry on 28 carries. He is on pace for a career-high 75 attempts and already has four touchdowns on the ground which make up for and negate the increased turnovers this season.

 

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

It is inconceivable that Akers only played one snap this past weekend versus the 49ers but it happened and Rams head coach Sean McVay's "game-flow" explanation was a non-answer. Akers was not drafted with their first pick in the 2020 draft and named starter out the gates to ride the bench. Either there was an issue in practice or Akers is still not fully healthy.

Despite playing 13 snaps in Week 5 and touching the ball nine times, it did not make much sense to keep him benched the next week, especially with McVay commenting on his increased involvement. Akers returned along a reasonable timeline from his rib cartilage injury, yet the "optimal recovery time" according to Inside Injuries of The Athletic is five weeks as to not re-aggravate the rib. Akers suffered the injury in Week 2 and we are now heading into Week 7.

Darrell Henderson has looked very good in a handful of games and mediocre in others. Nevertheless, he has the "hot-hand" and will continue to start until he is usurped or fails. Akers will have to be the one to usurp him and fortunately for fantasy GMs who are stashing him, he is quite capable. Henderson is seldom used on third-down and obvious passing-situations because of his limitations as a pass-blocker and receiver. This is where Akers could thrive and eat into the RB snaps.

Malcolm Brown has been a black hole when given touches since Week 2 but that is nothing new. Brown is averaging 3.7 yards-per-carry and 2.2 yards-per-target thus far, below-pedestrian numbers. If Akers' issue with getting on the field is due to the Rams' desire to unleash him on third-down and passing downs, there is a fantasy monster brewing that should have been unleashed earlier.

 

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

Hilton has been extremely disappointing early on, no one is arguing against that. The assumption coming into the season was that despite a clear decline for Philip Rivers, the fringe Hall-of-Fame QB would still be an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett as a passer. That, unfortunately, has not been very true as Rivers is looking like a shell of himself but the Colts are winning games on the back of their top-three defense. The addition of RB Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the 2020 draft was meant to spark the offense as well but he has been just as disappointing, if not more than Rivers given the high hopes that come with youth. All-in-all, the Colts' offense is bad.

Hilton's 6.5 yards-per-target on the season is a career-low and he has not found the end-zone yet through six games. However, he did have a TD called back this past week on a penalty far away from the play. He has six red-zone targets on the season and is still building rapport with Rivers. Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman Jr. are out for the foreseeable future and now Hilton is playing nearly every snap. Over the first four weeks, he did not play more than 80% of the offensive snaps in a single game, but these past two, he has played 95% and 94%, respectively. Hilton owns a 19% target share this season with a season-high 10 coming two weeks ago versus the Browns. He is still fast/explosive and has brighter days ahead given a very soft second-half schedule.

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

Hollywood Brown is one of the fastest players in the league playing on arguably the most versatile offense, and yet, his fantasy production is lacking in 2020. Part of the reason for this is Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' low-passing volume, and another is the lack of need for extensive receiving production.

Brown has just one red-zone target on the season and did not crack 80% of snaps through the first four weeks of the season but has 86% and 85% over the past two weeks, respectively. The Ravens have outscored opponents thus far by a margin of 75 points. In their one loss to the Chiefs, Brown was blanketed and then phased out from the game by being on the opposite end of a blowout.

Brown's home-run ability makes him a stereotypical boom-or-bust option but with a 26% target share and nine yards-per-target, he is just on the wrong end of touchdown variance with one on the season. He's a fantasy star on the cusp of breaking out.

 

Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

Austin Hooper has ascended to fantasy relevance over the past few weeks but has yet to truly break out. After signing the largest free-agent TE contract ever, Hooper was expected to be a massive part of Cleveland's offense after a fantastic stretch in Atlanta. While a good bit of his production was driven by a high-volume passing offense next to Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Hooper held his own with a large target share and end-zone production.

Through the first three weeks of the 2020 season, Hooper totaled seven receptions on 10 targets for 62 yards and no touchdowns. Just this past week, he had five receptions on six targets for 52 yards with 57 yards the game prior. Snaps have not been an issue as he is on the field plenty but with David Njoku back in the mix, he has seen a dip below 80% over the past two weeks despite an increase in targets.

Fortunately, Njoku has once again requested a trade out from Cleveland, leaving Hooper and Harrison Bryant as the primary options at the position. Hooper played up to 98% of the snaps in games sans Njoku and will likely carry a massive share moving forward. He's building rapport with QB Baker Mayfield but there is work to be done.

Having only two red-zone targets thus far is disappointing, but that could change as the chemistry grows. Cleveland is being forced to throw more often than they'd like with star RB Nick Chubb out-of-commission. Hooper's role will continue to grow and it could hopefully blossom in the second half of this season.



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NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

It's been a month since the last time we took a look at our beloved quarterbacks. Numbers are numbers, and numbers don't lie. You can twist them, but looking at them objectively, numbers say that no matter what, rushing the ball is almost always a worse option than passing it in today's game. That's why this column is the most important one you'll read today. It's time to tackle how quarterbacks have done through six weeks of play.

To gain the biggest edge in your fantasy football league, it's necessary to understand how to apply the advanced statistics being used in sports nowadays. Back in the day, it was all about wins and losses, passing yards, and touchdowns scored. It's not that those stats are now worthless, they just don't offer enough information to savvy analysts. While football is still in its infancy compared to baseball in terms of analytics, the evolution the sport has seen lately in those terms is notable.

Each week, I'll be tackling NFL's Next Gen Stats, bringing you data from the previous week's games with notable takeaways you should consider when assessing fantasy players for the upcoming week. In case you're new to the series, or Next Gen Stats altogether, I recommend you read our NGS-primer. Now, let's get to the data!

 

Week 6 - The State Of The Passing Game

One of the most important concepts to consider when analyzing players are Air Yards. The metrics around it are key to know who is really over-performing or under-performing among receivers and passers, but it doesn't have much to do with rushers.

Today, I'll present each of the stats from the NFL's advanced metrics site, its correlation with quarterback-fantasy points, and a list of leaders and trailers in each category along with some notes and takeaways on both the players' and the metrics' impact on fantasy football as a whole.

As we'll be discussing quarterbacks and their passing stats, I will reduce the fantasy points per game averages to just those related to passing. That means that I have removed the rushing/receiving fantasy points the qualifying quarterbacks have logged during the season. I've called this metric paFP/G, which is to say passing Fantasy Points per Game.

So let's dive in. Note: The cutoff is set at 45 pass attempts.

 

Time to Throw

Correlation with Passing Fantasy Points: 1%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • When it comes to explaining fantasy points, there are few less predictive metrics than Time to Throw. The relationship sits at a measly 1% through more than a third of the season, just imagine...
  • That's why things like this happen: no. 1 quickest TT (Ben Roethlisberger) is averaging 17.8 paFP/G... while no. 2 slowest (Josh Allen) is averaging virtually a similar 20.7 paFP/G.
  • Three of four players with a TT below 2.5 seconds were either benched (Haskins), started the season as the reserve (Foles), or will be benched next game (Fitzpatrick).
  • On the other hand, all but one (Mitchell Trubisky) of the 21-slowest QBs in TT (all taking 2.7+ seconds to throw) have not been benched for a backup (some, like Drew Lock or Sam Darnold, were only benched due to injuries).
  • Through six weeks, there are six QBs averaging 20+ paFP/G, and their TT marks are spread all over the spectrum, ranging from 2.67 (Ryan Tannehill) to 3.07 (Josh Allen).
  • Something similar happens at the bottom of the paFP/G leaderboard: of the eight QBs averaging below 10 paFP/G so far, the TT numbers range from 2.65 (Jeff Driskel and Andy Dalton) to 3.05 (Drew Lock).
  • As expected, the longer a QB takes to throw, the more yardage he tends to rack up as routes have more time to develop. The relationship between TT and CAY and IAY is up to 49% and 44% respectively through W6.
  • On the other hand, there is a negative-46% relationship between TT and expected COMP% so far this year. The longer a quarterback takes to throw his passes, the lower the expectation is he completes them (makes sense, assuming "slower" passes are harder to complete as they tend to go for more yards downfield).
  • All things considered, don't put much weight on this metric, as it is way more descriptive of past performance than predictive of future ones.

 

Completed/Intended Air Yards & Air Yards Differential

Correlation with Passing Fantasy Points: 34% / 0% / 36%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • While there is a rather high relationship between Completed Air Yards and paFP/G, there is zero relation between Intended Air Yards and paFP/G. That is rather surprising, and will probably vary through the rest of the season, but interesting nonetheless with more than a third of the year in the rearview mirror already.
  • Take CAY and IAY for what they are. In fantasy leagues, what amounts to points are the things that happen on the field (CAY), not what players want to happen (IAY).
  • Although Ryan Tannehill IAY is just 7.6 yards, his CAY is at 7.2 yards, which means he has the smallest difference between both values (AYD) at just -0.3 yards. He might not be throwing the most explosive bombs downfield, but he's doing what he's attempting to to perfection.
  • Nick Mullens and Drew Brees are the only other quarterbacks with an AYD over -1.0 yards. The difference with Tannehill, though, is that they're averaging over one fewer air yard per attempt (6.5 and 6.1 IAY respectively), making their high AYD marks much easier to reach.
  • Drew Lock has been as wild as it gets. His AYD of -6.0 leads all qualified quarterbacks by a mile, with Flacco having the second smallest mark (-4.9), already more than a yard over Lock's value. No other quarterback is below -3.5 (Mitchell Trubisky) AYD.
  • Oh, by the way, try to find the similarities between those three (solution: all of them are bench-fodder).
  • Both Denver Broncos quarterbacks with min. 45 attempts (Lock and Driskel) have the two largest CAY+IAY combined marks at 19.8 and 18.5 yards respectively. Kirk Cousins is third with 18.2. The problem for the two Broncos is that none they're just completing 6.9 and 8.0 CAY compared to Cousins' league-leading 8.4.
  • Don't believe the lack of relationship between IAY and paFP/G? Well, Drew Lock has the highest IAY mark so far (12.9) while averaging the fewer paFP/G (5.7). Then, Andy Dalton has the second-lowest IAY (6.1), and is averaging the third-lowest 7.5 paFP/G... Similar outcomes, wildly distant IAY marks.
  • Same at the top of the paFP/G leaderboard: Aaron Rodgers (9.3 IAY) is averaging 20.6 paFP/G while Derek Carr is at a virtually similar 19.9 paFP/G average with a rather low 7.1 IAY (10th-lowest among 38 qualified QBs).
  • When it comes to the relationship between CAY and paFP/G, though, things are a little better. Of QBs with 20+ paFP/G on the season, their average CAY sits at 6.8. Of QBs with fewer than 10 paFP/G so far, their average CAY is at 5.6, more than a yard lower.
  • Complete more passes for more yardage, and reap the rewards. As simple as that, I guess.

 

Aggressiveness

Correlation with Passing Fantasy Points: negative-19%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • We define "Aggressiveness" as the percentage of passes a quarterback throws into tight coverage, that is, when a defender is within 1 yard or less of the receiver at the point of the catch/interception. Don't take this metric as a sign of "braveness" or anything like that, though. It relates more to reckless-passing than anything else.
  • A quick peek at the most aggressive passers gives you an idea of what we're dealing with here: Trubisky has been benched already, Foles replaced him, Fitzpatrick is insane (and will the bench next Miami's game), Jones has yet to prove his worth (which is growing smaller by the day), Haskins is on the trade list, and Joe Burrow has been forced to risk the biscuit on a weekly basis...
  • There is just a negative-19% relationship between AGG% and paFP/G, but it's rather funny to find the top-five most aggressive players averaging paFP/G inside a tiny 1.8-clip ranging from 12.8 (Foles) to 14.6 (Fitz).
  • Don't get it wrong or for what it's not. Of the seven least-aggressive players (all below 12.0 AGG%) the paFP/G range from a putrid 8.9 (Mullens and Darnold) up to the league-leading 26.0 (Russell Wilson).
  • Joe Burrow already led the league in aggressive attempts back in Week 3. He's still leading by a lot through Week 6, with 53 passes into tight coverage to Wentz's 44 and Fitzpatrick's 40. No other player is at 40+ attempts.
  • Of QBs with at least 100 passing attempts, Russell Wilson has thrown the fewer into tight coverage (14 of 169), followed by Sam Darnold (15) and Cam Newton (20).
  • Drew Brees has been long discussed being washed up. Well, it very well could be the case, and he's not really trying to improve by himself. Not only are his 5.3 CAY and 6.1 IAY two of the lowest marks among qualified QBs, but he's also throwing the ball -2.5 yards behind the first-down marker on average. That's virtually the same as hyper-conservative passers as Nick Mullens (-2.8), Teddy Bridgewater (-2.1), and Dayne Haskins Jr. (-2.1).
  • Obviously, King of Wilderness Drew Lock leads the league in AYTS (Avg. Yds. to the Sticks) with a monster 4.4 mark. Trubisky is second at a distant 2.0, followed by Aaron Rodgers (0.8), the first of mortals.

 

Attempts & Yards & Y/A

Correlation with Fantasy Points: 60% / 74% / 67%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • Not many big secrets hidden in these three stats, am I right? The correlation is high with fantasy points basically because fantasy points rely mostly on pure yardage, and to rack up yards you have to throw the ball (the more the better, that is). Doesn't take a genius.
  • Before getting injured (ugh) Dak Prescott was averaging a league-leading 44 pass attempts per game. Now that he's out for the season, Joe Burrow and Matt Ryan both sit at the top of the leaderboard with 41 each. Gardner Minshew II is third (40), and the only other player with a 40+ per-game attempt average.
  • Among QBs with at least 100 attempts over the season, Lamar Jackson is making it clear that Baltimore is not about to generate high passing-related numbers. Jackson has attempted the fewest passes per game so far (27), followed by Baker Mayfield (28) and Newton/Cousins (29).
  • The sample is small (three games, 73 pass attempts), but Nick Mullens wasn't bad while backing up Jimmy Garoppolo averaging 8.4 Y/A in his appearances this season. Only five other QBs are currently averaging that mark, although all of them have at least 141 pass attempts (Justin Herbert) and as many as 222 (Dak Prescott).
  • Speaking of Herbert. The battle of rookie-quarterbacks between him and Burrow is split in half: Herbert is the efficient passer (8.5 Y/A for 1,195 total yards on 141 throws) while Burrow is the volume leader (6.6 Y/A for 1,617 yards on 246 throws).
  • Tua will start his first game in Week 8, so we don't expect him to make this column at least until we revisit the quarterback NGS leaderboards in Week 12 (he won't reach enough attempts to meet the threshold just in Week 8 alone).
  • Y/A for quarterbacks with 20+ paFP/G: 7.8, 7.9 (x3), 8.4, 8.9.
  • Y/A for quarterbacks with fewer than 10 paFP/G: 5.0, 5.7 (x2), 6.1, 6.8, 6.9, 7.5, 8.4.
  • Yes, that explains the really-high 67% relationship between Y/A and paFP/G. Bank of bulky throwers, folks.
  • Now that we're into Y/A, there is another rather-high relationship between this statistic and touchdown-passing: positive 59% through six games. You might have expected this, or not, but the longer distance an attempt goes for, the higher tally of touchdowns a quarterback tends to rack up.
  • Both Deshaun Watson and Willson have the league-leading 8.9 Y/A, and they have scored 13 and 19 passing touchdowns respectively already (tied for fifth-most, and most, respectively).
  • On the other end, Daniel Jones and Darnold have just 3 passing touchdowns each (min. 130 attempts) while averaging paltry 6.1 and 5.7 Y/A marks...

 

Completion Percentage & xCOMP & COMP Above Expectation

Correlation with Fantasy Points: 59% / 26% / 56%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • The world of hypotheticals is cool, but what truly matters is what actually happens on the field. That is why the real completion percentage is the stat that matters, and why the expected rate doesn't cut a good deal for fantasy GMs.
  • That being said, the difference between both marks (CPOE) is also a very strong indicator of fantasy performance, almost on par with actual COMP%, which makes sense considering that those that "overperform" or play to higher-than-expected levels on average are the ones who more often than not put on high-octane performances.
  • As ridiculous as it sounds, after six weeks Chef Russell Wilson is the only player over 6.1 CPOE. I mean, he's at 7.7 completion percentage points over expectation, which means he's 1.6 above no. 2 Derek Carr. That 1.6 difference is the same as that between Carr and no. 7 Philip Rivers...
  • Say what you want about Carr, but he's been a beast this season--as he usually is on a yearly basis and I won't get tired of repeating. Get Carr from waivers if he's still available there, seriously. He's a QB1 in even the shallower of leagues, believe it.
  • While Wilson's 169 pass attempts are far from the league-leading Burrow's 246, they are a fairly high amount to still be putting on a massive 7.7 CPOE over five games. For context, only Kyle Allen (55 attempts) and Justin Herbert (141) have CPOE marks 4.0+ even though they have minimal and lower samples to show for it.
  • Once more, Herbert's 5.9 CPOE is way higher than Burrow's 3.6. Another W for the Chargers rookie. Burrow edges Herbert on actual/raw passes completed over expectation 9 to 8, though that's reasonable considering he's tossed 104 more balls over the year.
  • Wilson himself has completed 13 more passes than expected. Carr comes second with 11, followed by Tannehill (10) as the only three players at 10+ through W6.
  • On the negative side of things, the two of Haskins and Wentz have both missed on 10 passes expected to have ended in actual completions. No other QB has fewer than 8...
  • ...does that mean it is time to sit Wentz? Not so fast, folks. Patrick Mahomes' CPOE is a paltry -3.8 (seventh-lowest among qualifiers) but not a single soul is even thinking of benching the former reigning SB champ. The CPOE model doesn't love Mahomes because that model works with knowledge of where receivers are at to calculate pass-completion expectations. What does that mean? The model knows Mahomes is usually throwing balls to wide-open receivers, so every time he misses on them he gets ultra-negatively-impacted on the CPOE front.
  • The model isn't dumb and Wentz has been plain bad, though. Don't get it wrong and bench him for good (if you're reading this, then yes, you too, Doug).
  • Everybody could have guessed the leader in expected completion rate: mighty washed Drew Brees, at 70.6%. He's the only quarterback, in fact, over 70%+. Talk about trying to stay out of trouble...
  • Baker Mayfield, though... The Brown has tossed passes expected to be completed just 58.5% of the time, which ranks as the lowest percentage among passers with at least 100 attempts, and second-lowest (Drew Lock) among qualified QBs.
  • Kirk Cousins is the only other 100+ attempts passer below an xCOMP% of 60%.

 

That's it for today. Until we meet again next week, I hope you can crush your waiver wire, set up the best possible lineup, and get ready for another weekend full of fireworks!



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 7

Week 6 of the NFL season has mostly come and gone and it was one of the more explosive offensive showcases yet. Six quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards, three quarterbacks passed for four touchdowns, and another three signal-callers had three passing scores. NFL teams have continued to feast on defenses that missed out on training camp and have a bunch of moving parts. Thankfully, we also avoided major injuries to quarterbacks this week after a week that saw Dak Prescott lost for the year.

The grind doesn’t stop in fantasy football and we cannot rest on our laurels. Four teams have bye weeks in week 7, and three of them feature perennial QB1’s this season. The Colts, Dolphins, Vikings, and Ravens will be getting a week off (unless COVID shenanigans move schedules around again), so we will need to find some upside plays.

In this article, I will be focusing on players who are under 65% rostered in fantasy leagues while adding a couple of deep sleepers for two-quarterback leagues (less than 20% rostered).

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Yahoo: 60% rostered ESPN: 51.2% rostered

Despite leading the league in interceptions (9), Carson Wentz has had surprisingly steady fantasy numbers the past four weeks. Wentz has scored at least 21 fantasy points in three of the last four weeks and has thrown for at least two touchdowns in each of his last two games against the Steelers and Ravens. Wentz is doing all this despite missing four offensive lineman and his top passing weapons being Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward Jr., and Zach Ertz. As time goes on, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor should return, boosting his ability to establish a higher weekly floor. His next two opponents are the Giants and Cowboys, two weak defenses that should allow Wentz to succeed regardless of the players around him.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 54% rostered ESPN: 45.6% rostered

Fantasy players will likely have just one more chance to capitalize on having Justin Herbert on the waiver wire thanks to his bye week. Heading into the bye, Herbert threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns against the Saints despite losing Keenan Allen early in the game. Herbert will have a healthy Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry coming out of the bye, three players that should help him maintain his high fantasy floor. Matchups against the Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins, and Jets have high shootout potential, giving Herbert fringe QB1/QB2 upside for the next five weeks. That can only come in handy as you navigate byes and potential COVID shutdowns.

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo: 32% rostered ESPN: 24.4% rostered

If your league allows rolling waivers for players who haven’t played, you may want to do yourself a favor and snag Andy Dalton before tonight’s contest. Dalton was 9 of 11 for 111 yards in cleanup duty against the Giants, leading Dallas to a win after Dak Prescott’s devastating leg injury. Dalton has a history of producing QB1 numbers (yes, I know it has been a few years) and finds himself in an offensive system with coaches that know how to get the most out of quarterbacks. It also helps to have one of the best running backs and three wide receivers who could be the top pass catcher on a majority of NFL teams.

Dalton has an embarrassment of riches and plays in one of the softest divisions in terms of team defenses. Grab him while you can.

 

2QB League Options and Stashes

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Yahoo: 23% rostered ESPN: 22.5% rostered

Derek Carr gets a bad reputation as a game manager, but he has quietly put together a really good fantasy season so far. Carr has thrown for 1,442 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception in five games for the Raiders this season. He has also had three games with at least 20 fantasy points so far this year. Carr is a matchup dependent QB2 but isn’t going to make mistakes and has an array of explosive weapons in the passing game that give him great value as a fantasy quarterback. He may not win you many weeks outright, but he is a consistently solid play and worthy of a bench spot on most teams.

Kyle Allen, Washington Football Team

Yahoo: 3% rostered ESPN: 1.6% rostered

Despite Alex Smith taking over for the Washington Football Team in Week 5, Ron Rivera went right back to Kyle Allen in week 6. Allen played with for the WFT’ers, going 31 of 42 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. If Allen can limit the turnovers (unlike last season in Carolina), he has a solid array of players around him that can move the football. Like Andy Dalton, Allen gets the benefit of playing in the NFC East with their terrible secondaries.

If Allen can hold on to the starting job, he will face the Cowboys, followed by a bye, and then the Giants, Lions, Bengals, and Cowboys again. That is a very soft passing schedule for a quarterback that unseated a former first-round pick. Don’t use Allen as your QB1, but he is worth a stash in deeper leagues as bye weeks approach.



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What Dak Prescott's Injury Means For Andy Dalton

On Sunday, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the New York Giants. It was a horrifying moment for anyone watching the game.

With Prescott out, the Cowboys turned to Andy Dalton at quarterback to end the game. Dalton was 9-for-11 throwing the football, with 111 yards. He didn't throw for a touchdown or an interception, but lost a fumble.

Dalton will now be the starter for the Cowboys moving forward. And while we've heard all of the "lol Cowboys still have the best quarterback in the division" jokes over and over now, what are we really to make of Dalton in this role? Can he be successful enough for fantasy managers to make him a starting option?

 

Dalton's Past Performance

Andy Dalton brings with him something that backup quarterbacks don't always bring: a long track record of NFL performances as a starting quarterback.

That gives us some room to explore his past, though it's not as simple as just saying "he's thrown for 4000-plus yards twice, so he's going to be fine."

Instead, let's focus on Dalton's 2019 performance to start, since it was his most recent season and was fairly uneven, since he was benched for Ryan Finley for a time.

Still, Dalton started 13 games last year, which is good enough as a sample size. He completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. The 14 picks were his most since 2014 -- that they came in three fewer games is definitely something that gives me pause.

Per PlayerProfiler, Dalton played on a Bengals offense that was fifth in passing plays per game last year. He was 11th among quarterbacks in attempts but just 18th in passing yards. A supporting cast efficiency that ranked 32nd among quarterbacks and protection rate that ranked 19th ere pretty big factors in that.

Still, even if we account for issues with who he was throwing the ball to, numbers like this worry me a lot:

image taken from PlayerProfiler

I'm especially concerned by that clean pocket completion percentage. If the offensive line woes were really the main culprit of his inefficiency, wouldn't we have seen some improvement on his completion percentage ranking on those clean pocket looks? Or was he so rattled by the lack of blocking and weapons that nothing could have saved his 2020 season and he was destined to be bad even when he wasn't getting pressured?

Good question and one I don't have an answer to except to say that the last time the Bengals had an offensive line rank in the top 10 in lowest adjusted sack rate was 2014, when they ranked fifth. Dalton was a Pro Bowler that year, passing for 3,398 yards and 19 touchdowns, but he also threw 17 interceptions and had a QBR that was lower than the year before and after. So, maybe the line isn't the culprit for Dalton's struggles?

 

How He Fits Into This Offense

Well, the Cowboys run the most passing plays per game in the NFL this year, thanks in large part to a defense that can't keep the opposing team from scoring. That's meant Dallas has had to run more plays than they might otherwise be running.

It also should mean that they're forced to keep running pass plays. Maybe not at quite so high a rate -- Ezekiel Elliott will get more chances to run the ball, though I don't think Booger McFarland was correct at all about this take:

Yes, Zeke's a good running back, but the downgrade from Dak to Dalton doesn't somehow make you better just because it means three more carries per game for Ezekiel Elliott.

Anyway, the big question is how Dalton will play with a better supporting cast. Remember, he was 32nd among quarterbacks in supporting cast efficiency last year. Dak this year is 14th and was eighth last year. Dalton gets a huge upgrade to the players who he is throwing the ball to, which is going to help him play more efficient football. And a better protection rate will keep him upright, though it might not help improve his efficiency too much.

But hey -- Dak was a top five fantasy quarterback rest of season and averaged 29.6 fantasy points per game including his final game, and he did so despite not being top 10 in any of these things:

image taken from PlayerProfiler

You can succeed in this offense without elite efficiency. So, even though Dalton does represent a decline in efficiency here, he can still be successful from a fantasy perspective because of the available opportunities for him.

This is, of course, assuming Dalton isn't completely cooked. Last year was bad bad, but he was throwing to the likes of John Ross and Auden Tate. Now, he gets CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. Considering the only consistent weapon he had last year was Tyler Boyd, I think this upgrade should help Dalton's efficiency. He was still 11th in accuracy rating last season, but 32nd in receiver target separation. In theory, Dalton should have some juice left and should be solid in Dallas.

Not Dak solid. But I'd project Dalton to be a high-end fantasy QB2 moving forward. He'll miss more than Dak. He'll throw picks more than Dak. He won't be as mobile. But he's also going to throw the ball a ton to three very good wide receivers, and Ezekiel Elliott's presence should open up passing lanes and the defense crowds the box a little more against Dallas.

 

Is There Dynasty Impact Here?

Could Dalton play so well that the Cowboys decide to let Prescott walk in free agency?

The answer to that is both yes and no. Yes, the Cowboys could let Dak leave if they don't feel comfortable with how much money he commands. No, Dalton's performance doesn't have an impact on that, and if Dak leaves, we'd expect to see the Cowboys draft a quarterback.

So, in terms of dynasty, Dak was a top-five dynasty QB before the injury. Because current-season value does matter, I might drop him a couple of spots, but he's still solidly a top-10 dynasty QB.

As for Dalton, his value does rise a good bit since we can assume he starts 11 games this year, but long term, he's about where he was, which is at the level of "solid backup." Yes, he should be universally rostered in Superflex. No, you shouldn't trade the farm for him, though a Dak manager in win-now mode might be fine with paying more than they should for Dalton right now.



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 6

Once again, the NFL was a perfect example of why people love and hate the game of football. On one hand, we saw the best feelgood story in several years with Alex Smith returning to play (and looking relatively good all things considered) for the Washington Football Team. Then, just hours later the brutal cruelty of football emerged as Dak Prescott suffered a major ankle injury that will likely end his 2020 season and bring him into an uncertain contract negotiation this offseason.

While all we can do is offer condolences to Dak Prescott for his horrible injury, the fact is the football season won’t stop moving forward. Each week we advance brings new bye weeks, and given the COVID-driven uncertainty this year, identifying the players to add to your team has never been more important. At this moment, the NFL has shuffled numerous bye weeks, making planning even more essential. Thankfully, we have now surpassed the quarter of the season mark, so there is plenty of data out there to point us in the right direction.

In this article, I will be focusing on players who are under 65% rostered in fantasy leagues while adding a couple of deep sleepers for two-quarterback leagues (less than 20% rostered).

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 49% rostered ESPN: 32.2% rostered

Thanks to the constant reshuffling of the NFL schedule due to COVID cancellations, the Chargers (based on what I can tell) will have a week 6 bye. That will probably buy you one more week to place a waiver claim on Justin Herbert, but honestly, it may be worth your time to be proactive and just roster him. Herbert looks to be the real deal, throwing for over 900 yards and five touchdowns in his first three starts. That doesn’t even take into account his week 5 performance against the Saints, which will be coming tonight. Herbert was recently named the full-time starter and is worth rostering thanks to the array of weapons at his disposal (including a soon to return Mike Williams).

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo: 2% rostered ESPN: 0.2% rostered

With the Dak Prescott injury, Dalton has been thrust into arguably one of the best offensive situations in the NFL. The Cowboys have a punishing run game with Ezekiel Elliott and three legitimate WR1 level talents in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. Dalton was 9 of 11 for 111 yards in relief of Dak Prescott against the Giants as he led the Cowboys to a win with a last-second field goal. Many fantasy players will remember Dalton toward the end of his Bengals career, but don’t remember the times he flourished with the Bengals in his prime. This is easily the most talented offense Dalton has ever played on (no offense to A.J. Green, Marvin Jones Jr., and Mohamed Sanu) and he is an instant weekly QB2 with QB1 upside for the rest of the season.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Yahoo: 32% rostered ESPN: 15.8% rostered

Through four weeks, Daniel Jones has been far from a roster able asset. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three weeks and has failed to surpass 11 fantasy points since the first week of the season. However, he has faced an absolute murderers row of fantasy defenses, going against the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams so far this year. His schedule softens up considerably from now until his week 11 bye week, with contests against Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia.

Jones should be able to bounce back even without the services of Saquon Barkley in the backfield. Jones is accurate enough to pick apart those defenses and still has a litany of weapons at his disposal in the form of Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton. Pick him up and stash him for a rainy day.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins

Yahoo: 20% rostered ESPN: 20.7% rostered

Kirk Cousins continued to bounce back from his abysmal showing against the Colts in week 2, throwing for 260 yards and a touchdown against the Texans secondary in week 4. Cousins doesn’t have the passing ceiling of most players considering he has yet to attempt more than 27 passes in a game this season despite the Vikings being 1-3, but he has a ton of weapons that maximize his completions. Adam Theilen continues to produce, Justin Jefferson has emerged as a legitimate weapon at wide receiver, and Dalvin Cook is always a threat to take a short pass the distance.

Cousins plays two of the three worst secondaries in the NFL in 2020 (Seattle and Atlanta) the next two weeks, which means he should see the same offensive statistical boost so many quarterbacks have enjoyed so far this season.

 

2QB Options and Stashes

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

Yahoo: 8% rostered ESPN: 5.9% rostered

It has been many weeks since we have seen Drew Lock take an NFL field. Before his shoulder injury, Lock had one game where he looked solid (13.14 points scored against the Titans) and a game where he threw five passes before getting knocked out by the Steelers. The Broncos signal-caller was coming into week 5 with a questionable tag, but thanks to the impromptu bye situation, he got one more week to rest and likely returns against the Dolphins in Week 6. Despite the loss of Courtland Sutton to an ACL injury, Lock still has a plethora of weapons at his disposal when he returns. Noah Fant has continued to dominate and Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy both looked strong with Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel under center. Beyond that, Melvin Gordon has been excellent, and Philip Lindsay is poised to return from his own injury. Lock has the complimentary cast to provide a nice floor as a QB2 for the remainder of the season.



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Now Is the Time to Sell High on Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott came into the season as a consensus top-five quarterback in fantasy football. Through four games, the Dallas Cowboys QB has soared past those expectations, completing 68% percent of his passes for 1,690 yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions. Currently ranked as QB1, Dak is on an absurd pace of 6,000+ passing yards on 800+ pass attempts.

With a franchise running back and a trio of talented receivers at his disposal, Dak has all of the pieces in place for elite production. He is also forced into shootouts because the Cowboys offense plays at a fast pace and their defense has struggled, allowing an NFL-worst 146 points on the season.

Despite this talented supporting cast and appealing team context, the time has come to sell high on Dak. His value will never be higher than it is now. In this article, we'll take a look at the offensive scheme, remaining schedule, and fantasy production to outline why you need to try and trade Dak while his value is at a season-high. We'll also provide a couple of trade offers that can guide you in your attempt to capitalize on Dak's terrific start to the year.

 

Offensive Scheme

Rotoviz: NFL Offensive Pace and Run/Pass Report (Top 10)
Team Offensive Stats, Point Dif: -7 to 7, Excluding Last 2 Mins of Half (Weeks 1-4)
Team GMs Plays Sec/Snap Pass% Run%
Cowboys 4 160 21.8 65% 35%
Cardinals 4 171 23.9 53% 47%
Titans 3 185 24.4 49% 51%
Washington 4 112 25.4 59% 41%
Falcons 4 111 25.5 59% 41%
Lions 4 168 25.8 58% 42%
Eagles 4 216 26.3 60% 40%
Giants 4 143 26.3 64% 36%
Jets 4 101 26.6 56% 44%
Bills 4 165 26.8 61% 39%

The Cowboys are playing at a much faster pace than any other team in football, taking 2.1 fewer seconds per snap than the second-fastest team. They are also airing it out 65% of the time, which ranks first in the NFL. While this has led to a ton of yardage and points, it has been taxing on the defense. This defense has regressed, partly due to a depleted secondary, but it's not as bad as it's looked so far.

Football Outsiders: Defensive DVOA (20-32)
Rank Team DVOA
20 Chargers 2.4%
21 Seahawks 3.8%
22 Bills 5.7%
23 Patriots 6.8%
24 Cowboys 7.9%
25 Falcons 7.9%
26 Packers 8.8%
27 Texans 9.0%
28 Panthers 9.8%
29 Lions 10.8%
30 Raiders 15.8%
31 Dolphins 16.0%
32 Jaguars 16.2%

Football Outsiders Defensive-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) analyzes every play to compare a defense with the league's baseline average, adjusted for the strength of each opponent. With the way the Cowboys have allowed points this season, you might expect their defense to rank in the bottom-five in the league, but that's not the case. This indicates that the fast-paced offense has left the defense out to dry, resulting in a 1-3 start to the season for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

We've seen the Cowboys hide a flawed defense by playing more of a ball-control style to great success in the past (13-3 in 2016, 12-4 in 2014), so perhaps we could see head coach Mike McCarthy opt to slow things down a bit. While Dak is putting up videogame numbers, the team isn't winning football games. Something needs to change here and I expect the Cowboys to try to lean on Zeke more in the coming weeks.

 

Remaining Schedule

Week Opponent PPG vs. QB
5 vs. Giants 19.6 (3rd)
6 vs. Cardinals 22.5 (T-14th)
7 at Washington 26.0 (T-26th)
8 at Eagles 21.4 (T-10th)
9 vs. Steelers 22.7 (16th)
10 BYE
11 at Vikings 22.5 (T-14th)
12 vs. Washington 26.0 (T-26th)
13 at Ravens 24.8 (T-23rd)
14 at Bengals 21.4 (T-10th)
15 vs. 49ers 20.9 (T-6th)
16 vs. Eagles 21.4 (T-10th)
17 at Giants 19.6 (3rd)

The Cowboys' remaining schedule ranks 24th for quarterbacks, including tough matchups in the fantasy playoffs against the 49ers and Eagles. Their schedule includes eight games where they project as favorites, including two games at home against the Giants and Washington which could end up as blowouts, resulting in more run-heavy game scripts. This is not a favorable schedule and when you account for a likely increase in rush attempts, you have a clear path to regression.

 

Fantasy Production

Rank Player PPG
1 Dak Prescott 31.30
2 Russell Wilson 31.23
3 Josh Allen 30.09
4 Kyler Murray 27.07
5 Patrick Mahomes 27.04
6 Aaron Rodgers 25.77
7 Tom Brady 22.37
8 Lamar Jackson 21.32
9 Ryan Fitzpatrick 20.07
10 Gardner Minshew 19.61

Despite leading the league in passing yards with 1,690 (364 more than 2nd place Josh Allen), Prescott is only slightly ahead in fantasy production due to a lack of passing touchdowns compared to his counterparts (nine TDs, sixth in NFL). This is because the Cowboys love to feed Zeke in the red-zone.

Red-Zone Usage
Player Inside 20 Inside 10
Ezekiel Elliott 17 ATT (3rd) 14 ATT (1st)
Dak Prescott 17 ATT (T-16th) 7 ATT (T-19th)

As we can see here, Dak is middle-of-the-pack in red-zone usage, which will affect his touchdown production. Quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Josh Allen are three elite fantasy quarterbacks who each have more pass attempts in the red-zone. The Cowboys will likely continue to feed Zeke in the red-zone, so the incoming regression in yardage due to fewer pass-heavy game scripts is unlikely to be supplemented by an increase in passing touchdowns for Dak. We also need to consider that Prescott already has three rushing touchdowns in only four games, which is only three less than his career-high of six. This rushing touchdown rate is unsustainable, influenced by the two pass-heavy game scripts that Dak encountered against the Falcons and Browns. Dak also doesn't run as much as Mahomes, Allen, Jackson, Murray, Watson, or Wilson, so that also caps his upside.

 

Outlook

Dak Prescott remains a top-seven fantasy quarterback for the rest of the season, but it's time to capitalize while his fantasy value is at its peak. A player to target in a trade could be Lamar Jackson, who's currently ranked as QB8 and could be acquired at a cheaper price. You might also decide to package Prescott with a player like Jerick McKinnon for a significant upgrade at running back, perhaps picking up a player like Josh Jacobs. You could even trade Prescott for an underachieving quarterback like Deshaun Watson plus a player at a position of need, like D.J. Moore or A.J. Brown. Capitalize on this selling opportunity and upgrade your team to guide you on your path to a fantasy championship.



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 5

With week 4 in the books, we have completed a quarter of the NFL season for each team. It has been a wild ride with COVID positive tests and an ever-growing list of injuries, but the waiver wire just keeps on churning. We got to see some explosive passing performances with Dak Prescott throwing for 500 yards and four touchdowns in an 11-point loss and Tom Brady defying father time with 369 yards and five touchdowns in an impressive come from behind win against the Chargers.

Thanks to COVID and injuries, it is more important than ever to be proactive on the waiver wire, especially with a position that is as fragile as quarterback. If your league starts only one QB, having a viable backup could be essential to your long-term success (if you only rostered Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill, or Ben Roethlisberger you likely found yourself behind the 8-ball this week). With bye weeks on the horizon, a thin position has the ability to get even thinner.

As always, this article will focus on players that are less than 65% rostered in single quarterback leagues and less than 20% rostered for two-quarterback leagues to try and identify the players to maximize your bench in this long weird season.

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars

Yahoo: 46% rostered ESPN: 45.9% rostered

If you aren’t a firm believer in Minshew magic yet, it still isn’t too late. Minshew completed 27 of 40 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in a loss to the Bengals in week four. It was the third game that Minshew eclipsed 20 fantasy points at the quarterback position this year and the third game he had multiple passing touchdowns. It was also his third consecutive game with 40 or more passing attempts.

The Jaguars are terrible, meaning Minshew will likely find himself in more and more shootouts. His next two opponents are the soft secondaries of the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions, giving him multiple week appeal if you are thin at the quarterback position.

 

Daniel Jones, New York Giants

Yahoo: 34% rostered ESPN: 28.3% rostered

Through four weeks, Daniel Jones has been far from a rosterable asset. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three weeks and has failed to surpass 11 fantasy points since the first week of the season. However, he has faced an absolute murderers row of fantasy defenses, going against the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams so far this year. His schedule softens up considerably from now until his week 11 bye week, with contests against Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia.

Jones should be able to bounce back even without the services of Saquon Barkley in the backfield. Jones is accurate enough to pick apart those defenses and still has a litany of weapons at his disposal in the form of Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton. Pick him up and stash him for a rainy day.

 

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Yahoo: 29% rostered ESPN: 15.7% rostered

Kirk Cousins continued to bounce back from his abysmal showing against the Colts in week 2, throwing for 260 yards and a touchdown against the Texans secondary in week 4. Cousins doesn’t have the passing ceiling of most players considering he has yet to attempt more than 27 passes in a game this season despite the Vikings being 1-3, but he has a ton of weapons that maximize his completions. Adam Theilen continues to produce, Justin Jefferson has emerged as a legitimate weapon at wide receiver, and Dalvin Cook is always a threat to take a short pass the distance.

Cousins plays two of the three worst secondaries in the NFL in 2020 (Seattle and Atlanta) the next two weeks, which means he should see the same offensive statistical boost so many quarterbacks have enjoyed so far this season.

 

2QB Options and Stashes

Teddy Bridgewater

Yahoo: 19% rostered ESPN: 9.8%% rostered

If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed the fact that the Carolina Panthers may be better than we all thought. Carolina has won the last two games without Christian McCaffrey against the Chargers and Cardinals thanks to Teddy Bridgewater. Teddy Two-Gloves scored 26.24 fantasy points in week 4 thanks to 276 passing yards and two touchdowns (with one interception). It marked the second game he surpassed 20 fantasy points this season. Bridgewater is the ideal spot start QB3 in two-quarterback leagues with two games against the Falcons remaining, plus matchups against Detroit, Minnesota, and Washington down the road.

 

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 16% rostered ESPN: 11.8%% rostered

At this point, it is fair to call Justin Herbert the real deal. The rookie just missed out on his third consecutive 300-yard passing performance, throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against the Buccaneers. It is getting hard to believe the Chargers can go back to Tyrod Taylor with the rookie playing as well as he has, but Anthony Lynn keeps insisting it is a possibility. Herbert has one of the QB friendliest schedules for quarterbacks from now until week 10, facing the Saints, Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Raiders the next five weeks. At the very least, he is worth a roster spot just in case Lynn has been throwing smoke to the media.



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Regression is Coming - Five Players Bound to Decline

It's been three weeks of games already. That means we're quickly approaching the completion of the first quarter of the season. Time flies, folks. With a big enough sample of data already in our hands, it's time we start separating the wheat from the chaff before it's too late. And that's what I'm here for.

By my count, at least 90 players--all positions considered--have been on the field for 150 or more snaps so far this season. Those 90 players are averaging 186 snaps through Week 3, which means they are playing near 62 any given Sunday. More than enough to put up numbers, right? Well, that's correct, but how are they scoring fantasy points? Are they getting them with season-long sustainable production, or have they just put on some fluky, bound to regress performances?

Today, I'm taking a look at some players around the league to let you know about their scoring so far this season, and how it is more than probable that they drop their production levels during the next few weeks. Let's go analyze!

 

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Before you close this tab and label me as a hater, let me tell you that I am and have always been Allen's no. 1 stan. This is not hating on Allen, it is just pointing out facts.

After three games, Allen leads all quarterbacks (tied with Russell Wilson) in fantasy points (100.9) and is second in FP per dropback with 0.79 (Wilson is first with 0.83). You can make a case for Wilson to drop his production too, but Wilson at least has some serious track record to make me believe he can average 20+ FPPG while Allen has been average through two pro-years averaging 17 and 18 FP per game.

So far, Allen has completed 81 passes against 6 drops. Among QBs with at least 100 pass attempts (20), Allen has the 9th-lowest drop-to-completion ratio. He has also passed for more than 300 yards in all three games of the season, being the only player to do so. He's second to Wilson (14) in touchdowns with 10 in three games.

Although he's not the highest-yardage rusher of the league (8th, 83 rushing yards) Allen has scored 2 TDs on the ground already, becoming one of just five QBs having 2+ scores rushing through W3.

While Allen ranks first in EP, that is, has had the best chances at getting high fantasy-point tallies, he's also third at the QB position in surpassing the expectations. In fact, strictly looking at passing numbers, he ranks second with 22.7 FPOE. All things considered, it's going to be tough for Allen to keep all of those marks up for much longer.

 

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

Former Illinois State running back and undrafted free-agent signee James Robinson has taken the league by storm in his rookie season. Three weeks into the year, Robinson is the RB5 only behind Kamara, Jones, Elliott, and Gordon in PPR points. He's already reached 61.9 for an average of 20.6 FPPG after replacing always-underperforming Leonard Fournette in Jacksonville. That, my friends, is unexpected and probably unsustainable at the very least.

It is too early to know if Robinson's performances are just a fluke, or if he's actually a stud on his way to becoming one the best rushers in the league. That being said, though, the EP he's been put in position to get (22nd-most among RBs) and the way in which he's overperforming the expectations (3rd-highest FPOE) don't align at all. And the marks he's putting up make it clear.

Robinson has played 101 snaps in 2020. In those plays, he has seen 54 opportunities and turned 53 of them in actual touches. He's converted 10 of 11 targets and rushed the ball 43 times already. Not only is Robinson good at running with the rock, but he's also played to an incredible level as a low-volume receiver so far this season averaging 11.7 yards per target and 12.9 per reception (both lead the league among RBs with at least 10 targets, and it is not even close).

Only two other RBs are generating more PPR points per snap (Mostert, Kamara, and Jones) than Robinson (0.61) among players with at least 25 opportunities through W3, and Robinson is also generating the 8th-highest PPR points per touch (1.17). The rookie has scored 3 TDs too, one of only 10 rushers to do so this season.

 

Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots

Veteran rusher Rex Burkhead is currently the RB17 in PPR leagues. He's scored 46.9 points in three games playing for the Patriots and as part of an infinite-RB-committee backfield that will be welcoming back even more players soon.

Looking at Burkhead counting stats you'll be amazed at his production given his low-key profile entering the year: he is averaging 15.6 FPPG, has caught 11 of 15 targets for 96 yards and a score, and most importantly he's rushed the ball a super-efficient 19 times for 83 yards (4.4 YPC) and 2 TDs on the season.

Now compare those numbers to these ones: 13 rushing attempts, 4 of 6 receptions, 81 yards from scrimmage, zero touchdowns. Those were Burkhead numbers in weeks 1-2. And those stats are most probably what we should expect from Burkhead going forward, not his monster W3 performance (6 carries for 49 yards and 2 TDs, 7 receptions for 49 yards and 1 TD).

Rex Burkhead featured in 13 games in 2019 and finished with 103.1 PPR points as the RB47. This season, in just three games, he's already at 46.9 (that is 45.5 percent of all points he got last season in four-times more games). Among running backs with at least 30 touches through Week 3, Burkhead (1.56) ranks second to Alvin Kamara (1.84) in PPR points per touch and he's 13th in PPR points per snap played.

Of Burkhead's 46.9 PPR points, 74.2 percent of them came in just his Week 3 performance against Las Vegas. Forget about this becoming the average and expect a hard-hitting regression coming his way.

 

D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

Truth be told, calling Metcalf regression-bound might be a stretch at this point. The Seahawk has played all three games to an impossibly steady average level of performance: 19.5, 19.2, and 19.0 are the PPR points he's scored to start the season, which amounts to virtually no variation at all in his scores. And in fact, his stats have been very similar game to game: 4 receptions in each of them, 95/92/110 yards in order, and one TD in every game. That's insane.

Obviously, such a great three-game span has Metcalf ranked as the WR5 in 2020 with 57.7 fantasy points. Now, the problem I see with Metcalf is his usage and the ridiculous efficiency he's put up through Week 3. Metcalf has played 199 snaps, and just for context, Tyler Lockett has played 194 himself in the same offense. Lockett has scored 73.9 PPR points in the same games.

The difference between Lockett and Metcalf, though, is that Lockett is averaging a reasonable 0.38 PPR points per snap to Metcalf's 0.30, but Metcalf is outperforming Locket by a thousand miles in PPR points per touch: Metcalf has just 12 receptions for 297 yards and 3 TDs (should have been 4 had he not fumbled in W3 near the end zone) while Lockett has 259 yards and 4 TDs in twice those receptions (24).

Metcalf has caught just 60% of the passes thrown his way, has an aDOT of 17.5 yards downfield (third-highest among WRs targeted 20+ times), and his averages of 14.9 Y/Tgt and 24.8 Y/R (!!!) aren't even close to the rest of the players at the position. To put a cherry on top of this unsustainable level of performance, Metcalf is also averaging 5.3 YAC good for 6th among WRs.

We all know Russ is cooking, and Metcalf is definitely eating. But at this rate, the logical next event is for Metcalf to put on a dud and have very serious indigestion served by Chef Wilson.

 

Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

As I'm writing this (Saturday), we have already watched the match between the Jets and the Broncos from the W4 scheduled games. Right now only three tight ends have reached 49+ PPR points in the season (Smith, Noah Fant, and Travis Kelce) and just two are averaging more than 14 FPPG (Kelce and Smith). Not bad, right?

Jonnu Smith (179) leads Tennessee is snaps played, followed by Corey Davis (171) and Derrick Henry (161). One man missing that top-three but expected to get there in due time: WR A.J. Brown, who has been out from Week 2 on after getting injured. That alone is reason enough to expect some regression from Smith. But there is more to it.

In a similar case to that of Burkhead (read above), Jonnu Smith has tallied most of his fantasy points in just one game in Week 2. After starting the season with a relatively good game (4-36-1 for 13.6 PPR points) he absolutely exploded in Week 2 against Jacksonville posting a 4-84-2 line that rocketed Smith to 24.4 fantasy points and a TE4 finish on the week. He came back to Earth already last weekend when he could only reach 11.1 PPR points even while having a season-high in receptions with 5 and being targeted the most times so far this season (8).

The tight end position holds no secrets. It is the most volatile one, and heavily touchdown-dependent. Up to 25 tight ends have been on the field 120+ snaps through Week 3 and W4's TNF. Of those, Jonnu Smith is averaging the second-most PPR points per snap (0.27) while "only" having 181 receiving yards compared to Fant's 219 and Kelce's 227. The reason? Smith's 3 TDs compared to Kelce's and Fant's 2 TDs.

On top of all of the prior numbers, Smith is also posting the highest YAC average at 7.5 yards (T.J. Hockenson is second at 7.3; no other TE is over 6.5 YAC), the highest Y/R average at 13.9 (Higbee is second at 13.4)... but one of the lowest catch rates among the heavy-use TEs this year catching just 65% of his targets (Kelce, for context, is catching 84% of his targets).



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NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

You can officially start panicking. We're already through three weeks of the year, and by next Monday at this time, you'll be looking at the schedule to realize that a quarter of the season is already behind us. It sucks, but it means there are still three more quarters ahead of us! Yay!

To gain the biggest edge in your fantasy football league, it's necessary to understand how to apply the advanced statistics being used in sports nowadays. Back in the day, it was all about wins and losses, passing yards, and touchdowns scored. It's not that those stats are now worthless, they just don't offer enough information to savvy analysts. While football is still in its infancy compared to baseball in terms of analytics, the evolution the sport has seen lately in those terms is notable.

Each week, I'll be tackling NFL's Next Gen Stats, bringing you data from the previous week's games with notable takeaways you should consider when assessing fantasy players for the upcoming week. In case you're new to the series, or Next Gen Stats altogether, I recommend you read our NGS-primer. Now, let's get to the data!

 

Week 3 - The State Of The Passing Game

Back a couple of weeks ago when I introduced the series to you, I mentioned one of the most important concepts to consider when analyzing players: Air Yards. The metrics around it are key to know who is really over-performing or under-performing among receivers and passers, but it doesn't have much to do with rushers. For this last group, which mostly features on the ground, we can look at time, speed, and efficiency metrics.

For the first week's analysis, I opted to go with the receivers (and tight ends) group. For the second one iteration, I turned my attention to running backs, for which we looked at Efficiency and time-related metrics to try and get some insights from the data.

Now the time has come to tackle the most important position at football and probably every other sport out there: quarterbacks.

Today, I'll present each of the stats from the NFL's advanced metrics site, its correlation with quarterback-fantasy points, and a list of leaders and trailers in each category along with some notes and takeaways on both the players' and the metrics' impact on fantasy football as a whole.

As we'll be discussing quarterbacks and their passing stats, I will reduce the fantasy points per game averages to just those related to passing. That means that I have removed the rushing/receiving fantasy points the qualifying quarterbacks have logged during the season. I've called this metric paFP/G, which is to say passing Fantasy Points per Game.

So let's dive in. Note: The cutoff is set at 23 pass attempts.

 

Time to Throw

Correlation with Passing Fantasy Points (based on the 2019 season): negative-10%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • As you can see, there is a clear top-of-the-leaderboard group of four quarterbacks through three weeks of games, led by a second-year player (Dwayne Haskins Jr.) and the biggest of boom/bust plays (Ryan Fitzpatrick) at the position.
  • Except for Washington's OL, which ranks a putrid 28th in Football Outsiders' DVOA in pass protection, the other three OLs of the top-four QBs in TT rank 11th-best at worst. Haskins keeps getting rid of the ball early fearing a sack (he's absorbed 10 already...) but it is not that he's being too good at it with a paltry 11.7 paFP/G and a 56.4% completion rate, both among the three-worst marks of QBs with at least 100 pass attempts.
  • Only Big Ben has been able to put up more than 13 paFP/G while throwing the ball in lightning-quick fashion. His points are quite inflated thanks to his 7 TDs, as the other three QBs in that group have 4 TD at most. That being said, Roethlisberger has thrown just one interception, also helping his outcomes.
  • It would be cool if throwing the ball quickly meant the opposite to taking more time to throw it, but as we saw last season that is not the case (paltry negative-10% correlation with fantasy points).
  • Just look at the bottom of the chart above. Sure, Josh Allen and Russell Wilson are both over 26 paFP/G with TTs above 3.00, but they are sandwiched between two absolutely disastrous quarterbacks in Lock and Mayfield, both averaging below 13 paFP/G.
  • Of the six quarterbacks averaging more than 20 paFP/G, four of them are posting TTs below 2.85 with the other two (Wilson and Allen) over 3.07.
  • On the other end, six more QBs ar at-or-under 10 paFP/G, and all except one (Drew Lock) are throwing the ball in fewer than 2.80 seconds.
  • Wilson and Allen, having the 24th and 18th best OLs of the season in pass blocking DVOA so far, are the only QBs averaging 19+ paFP/G with a worse-than-8th OL. They have overcome that and spent more time to throw than the rest of the quarterbacks of that group, though.
  • All things considered, don't put much weight on this metric, as it is way more descriptive of past performance than predictive of future ones.

 

Completed/Intended Air Yards & Air Yards Differential

Correlation with Passing Fantasy Points (based on the 2019 season): 49% / 39% / 10%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • If you have been paying even a minimal amount of attention to the storylines of the season through three weeks of play, you know how the "is Drew Brees done?" debate is splitting crowds in half. Truth be told, Brees has looked bad so far with a middling average of just 3.9 completed air yards (second-worst) and a much more worrying league-worst 4.8 intended air yards. That mark is 1.2 yards lower than second-worst Jared Goff's 6.0 IAY...
  • New Orleans has missed WR Michael Thomas and saw TE Jared Cook went down to injury, which has put the passing game in a precarious condition only sustained by RB Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. Kamara, obviously, is not going to boost Brees' air yardage as the tailback is averaging a stupid 0.2 aDOT in 31 targets...
  • This is concerning for Fantasy GMs with shares of Brees and the Saints, as there is a very strong correlation between both CAY and IAY and paFP/G.
  • We all knew that Sam Darnold, Drew Lock, Dwayne Haskins, or even Herbert/Garoppolo/Carr/Rivers were always going to "underthrow", and that has been the case. The problem is that we expected that, while it wasn't so clear in Brees' case (just look at his ADP entering this season).
  • Although Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins are at completely opposite ends of quarterback play styles, both of them have pretty similar CAY and IAY numbers so far. Ryan is doing it on a much higher volume, though, which has him averaging almost twice as many paFP/G as Cousins is. Ryan is always bombing the ball away (128 passing attempts) while Cousins keep the passing volume low (78 attempts) only throwing seemingly efficient bombs. The latter is hitting them, but on such a low volume those passes are too risky to rack up massive points on a steady diet.
  • Only Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson are throwing the ball more than 9.0 yards downfield while not having been intercepted once through three games. Rodgers, on top of that, is at 9 TDs already to Jackson's 5 TDs. Lamar, though, is doing it while playing under the 31st-best OL, which is to say the 2nd-worst in pass protection...
  • Jared Goff is the only player through W3 with a neutral difference between his average depth of target and average completion depth, both at 6.0 yards downfield.
  • Ryan Tannehill is completing, on average, 95% of the yards he's targeting with his passes (8.0 IAY, 7.6 CAY). Goff leads at 100%, and only four more QBs are at 90% or above (Nick Mullens, Daniel Jones, Josh Allen, and Dak Prescott).
  • Re: the last point. Daniel Jones' outcomes might look impressive, but he's reaching them on 6.2 yards per attempt while all of Goff, Mullens, and Allen are averaging at least 8.8 Y/A, a much tougher proposition.
  • Getting back to that group of six 20+ paFP/G QBs, Aaron Rodgers is the only one there with an AYD lower than minus-1.5 yards. It must be said that he also has the second-highest IAY of them at 9.6 yards, though.
  • Of the six under-10 paFP/G QBs, four have AYD marks below minus-3.0. As you can see, the correlation from 2019 pops up here strongly once more.

 

Aggressiveness

Correlation with Passing Fantasy Points (based on the 2019 season): 4%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • We define "Aggressiveness" as the percentage of passes a quarterback throws into tight coverage, that is, when a defender is within 1 yard or less of the receiver at the point of the catch/interception. Don't take this metric as a sign of "braveness" or anything like that, though. It relates more to reckless-passing than anything else.
  • A quick peek at the most aggressive passers gives you an idea of what we're dealing with here. Trubisky has been benched already, Fitzpatrick is insane, Jones has yet to prove his worth, Haskins is a second-year and dubious franchise quarterback, and Joe Burrow has played three games as a pro...
  • Although the trailers and leaders showed in the chart above might make you think otherwise, we saw in 2019 how there is virtually no relationship at all between Agg% and paFP/G. It's funny to find the most aggressive passers are almost all underperforming in comparison to the least aggressive ones through three weeks, though.
  • Joe Burrow has attempted the second-most passes so far this year (141), and he has also thrown the most attempts into tight windows (29 passes). Fitzpatrick is second with 28 such passes, followed by Trubisky (27) and Jones (26).
  • Russell Wilson, even having attempted 103 passes, has thrown just 8 of them into tight windows. Only he, Sam Darnold, and Teddy Bridgewater have attempted 10 or fewer "risky" passes while throwing at least 96 overall through W3.
  • Of the top-six QBs on paFP/G, only Dak Prescott and Matt Ryan have thrown more than 13% of their passes into tight windows.
  • Of the bottom-six QBs on paFP/G, three are over 15% AGG%, and the other three below that rate.
  • The correlation, as noted before, is virtually just random between this metric and fantasy production even though the early-season (small) sample might make it look otherwise.

 

Attempts & Yards & Y/A

Correlation with Fantasy Points (based on the 2019 season): 55% / 67% / 65%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • Not many big secrets hidden in these three stats, am I right? The correlation is high with fantasy points basically because fantasy points rely mostly on pure yardage, and to rack up yards you have to throw the ball (the more the better, that is).
  • Only six quarterbacks are attempting more than 40 passes per game, and five of them are averaging at least 14.8 paFP/G. Tip: throw the ball often, folks.
  • Prescott is averaging the most passes per game at 47.7, followed by Burrow (47), and Carson Wentz (44). Given that Wentz has been absolutely atrocious to start the year, he better start attempting 60 passes per game, or his fantasy outcomes will remain super low... You have to try, I guess.
  • San Francisco clearly has a defined style, as both Garoppolo and Mullens have averaged the second- and third-fewest passes per game this season in two games (one split in half) each with just 24.5 and 23.5 respectively. Drew Lock trails at 19 Att/G.
  • Josh Allen is as good as he has looked so far, folks. Believe it. His 1,038 passing yards rank second only to Prescott's 1,188. The thing is, Allen has reached that mark on 29 fewer attempts through three weeks of play, averaging 9.1 Y/A compared to Dak's 8.3.
  • The usual suspects populate the top of the yardage-leaderboard, with Prescott, Allen, Ryan, Wilson, Mahomes, and Rodgers in the top six. The seventh might surprise, you, though: Teddy Bridgewater has passed for 871 yards already in just 104 attempts for a pretty sweet 8.4 Y/A average (on par with Rodgers, Prescott, or Deshaun Watson).
  • Sam Darnold has been mediocre at best. He is the only QB with 90+ passing attempts that has yet to reach 600 passing yards... He's averaging a paltry 5.9 Y/A and only Wentz (5.6) and Burrow (5.8) have been worst at that (yet both of them have 140+ attempts compared to Darnold's 96...)

 

Completion Percentage & xCOMP & COMP Above Expectation

Correlation with Fantasy Points (based on the 2019 season): 49% / 9% / 53%

Leaders and Trailers:

Leaderboard Notes:

  • The world of hypotheticals is cool, but what truly matters is what actually happens on the field. That is why the real completion percentage is the stat that matters, and why the expected rate doesn't cut a good deal for fantasy GMs.
  • That being said, the difference between both marks (CPOE) is the strongest indicator of fantasy performance, which makes sense considering that those that "overperform" or play to higher-than-expected levels on average are the ones who more often than not put on high-octane performances.
  • As with all rate or average metrics, they don't mean much if they don't come attached to volume. Take Philip Rivers. The new Colts QB is completing 78.3% of his passes, but he only has 92 attempts with an aDOT of 6.9 yards per pass. He's hitting the mark at an impressive clip, but he's averaging almost one-third of Russell Wilson's paFP/G. Why? Because Wilson is completing 76.7% of his passes while attempting 103 of them at an aDOT of 7.9 (and playing with a better receiving corps, too).
  • Rivers might very well be the exception that proves the rule--or high correlation, in this case. In a group made of 10 players, he's one of only four QBs averaging fewer than 13 paFP/G with completion rates above 70%. Among those 10 QBs, only Nick Mullen's is averaging fewer than 12 paFP/G.
  • On the other end, only Nick Foles (who else...) is averaging more than 13.5 paFP/G while completing fewer than 62% of the passes attempted so far this season.
  • The "Let Russ Cook" slogan is starting to get beaten to the ground and turning into a dad's joke already, but it is as true as it can be. Wilson has completed 76.7% of his passes while expected to connect in just 67% (!) of them. That makes for a CPOE of 9.7, which ranks first in the league and is 1.5-percentage points above second-best Rivers (8.2).
  • Outside of the top-three QBs in CPOE (Carr is third at 8.1), nobody is above 6.7 percentage points of his completion expectations.
  • It's nice to find Joe Burrow already completing 4.6 percent more passes than expected as a rookie, with just three games under his belt.
  • Dwayne Haskins Jr., the supposed guy to lead Washington back to contention from the pocket, is net-worse than Russell Wilson, obviously in the opposite direction, completing negative-9.8 percent fewer passes than expected. That means that he should have completed 67 throws instead of his 57 through W3.
  • As expected, Mahomes is all alone as the only quarterback averaging more than 18 paFP/G while having a negative (minus-3.0) CPOE. Such is life. On the contrary, Nick Mullens (4.1 CPOE) and to a lesser extent Daniel Jones (0.7) are the only two QBs with fewer than 10 paFP/G averages but positive CPOE marks.

 

That's it for today. Until we meet again next week, I hope you can crush your waiver wire, set up the best possible lineup, and get ready for another weekend full of fireworks!



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 4

A very interesting week unfolded with some very unexpected names topping the leader board in week 3. Among commonplace names like Dak Prescott (472 passing yards and three touchdowns) and Russell Wilson (315 passing yards and five touchdowns) were names like Nick Mullens (343 yards and a touchdown), Justin Herbert (330 yards and a touchdown), and Ryan Tannehill (321 yards).

While there weren't too many significant injuries, especially at the quarterback position, we did have our first quarterback benching of the season. Nick Foles took over for Mitchell Trubisky in the second half and threw for three touchdowns in a huge come from behind victory against the Falcons. It is difficult to imagine that the Bears would put Foles in the game if they weren't prepared for him to be the full-time starter, but no formal announcement has been made yet.

With bye weeks on the horizon, snapping up solid waiver wire options at quarterback is important. Below are my week 4 picks of quarterbacks worth rostering or FAB dollars this upcoming week. As always, you'll only see names of players under 63% rostered on the Streamers list, and less than 20% rostered on the stashes list. Here we go.

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Yahoo: 63% rostered ESPN: 37.5% rostered

Jared Goff is just on the threshold of not being on this article with a 63% ownership, but regardless, that number is still far too low. Goff threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in a close week 3 loss to the stout Buffalo Bills secondary. It marked the second consecutive game that Goff surpassed 20 fantasy points, giving him a very high floor. Goff has an easy matchup against a Giants secondary that allowed Nick Mullens to pass for 343 yards in week 3. Regardless of if you stream him next week, Goff is the perfect high volume QB2 and should be rostered in every league, especially with bye weeks on the horizon.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Yahoo: 44% rostered ESPN: 20.8% rostered

Baker Mayfield hasn’t had the flashiest season, but he has proven to at least be a safe fantasy asset. Mayfield threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns against the hapless Washington Football Team, but he didn’t need to do much else in a game the Browns controlled most of the second half. With the weapons in Cleveland, and a looming week 4 matchup against the sieve that is the Cowboys secondary, Mayfield is a very streamable option in your week 3 lineup.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Yahoo: 26% rostered ESPN: 15.2% rostered

After a -1.48 performance in Week 2, nobody needed a bounce-back week more than Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, the Vikings’ defense couldn’t hold on to a late lead, but Cousins was able to shine regardless. He threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns (with two interceptions) against a solid Titans Defense. Ultimately, the big story in Minnesota is the budding connection between Cousins and his rookie weapon Justin Jefferson (seven receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown). Minnesota should be able to further exploit that connection against a Texans secondary that has allowed 652 passing yards and six touchdowns through three weeks this season.

 

2QB Options and Stashes

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 21% rostered ESPN: 14.9% rostered

Justin Herbert was able to continue his impressive run as a rookie quarterback, throwing for 49 times for 330 yards and a touchdown and interception while also getting three carries for 15 yards. Herbert wasn’t able to lead the Chargers to a win, but he did avoid mistakes for the second straight week. The Chargers haven’t been afraid to let the young signal-caller cut loose, as he’s thrown the ball 82 time and completed 69% of his throws. Tyrod Taylor will likely continue to miss time thanks to his punctured lung, so Herbert has a multi-week upside, especially with the Buccaneers average secondary on deck week 4.

Nick Foles, Chicago Bears

Yahoo: 2% rostered ESPN: 0.9% rostered

Well, the Trubisky train couldn’t even make it three weeks before it was derailed. After a rough interception in Sunday’s game against the Falcons, Trubisky was benched in favor of Nick Foles, who provided a spark leading a come from behind victory. Foles completed 16 of 29 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, but a bad drop and questionable end zone interception could have boosted his stats even further. There is still some question over if Foles will be named the full-time starter, but all indications are Trubisky will be riding the pine for the foreseeable future. Week four is a difficult matchup against the Colts, but soft matchups against the Buccaneers and Panthers in the coming weeks make Foles an excellent stash in deeper leagues.



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups- Week 3

How quickly things can change. After hoping and waiting for football, Week 2 of the NFL season was an absolute bloodbath on the injury front. A bunch of players missed snaps during the game for a myriad of injuries while major names like Saquon Barkley find them looking to 2021.

The quarterback position, while relatively safe, did see some turnover during Week 2. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely miss several weeks due to an ankle injury and Justin Herbert got a surprise start thanks to a Tyrod Taylor chest injury during the Chargers’ pregame. That means there are some options to consider heading into Week 3 (and preparing for bye weeks).

In this article, I will be focusing on players who are under 65% rostered in fantasy leagues heading into Week 3 for seasonal 1-QB leagues and less than 20% for 2-QB leagues.

 

Top QB Streamers and Adds

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Yahoo: 45% rostered, ESPN: 34.4% rostered

Ryan Tannehill continued his run as the efficient signal-caller for the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, completing 75% of his passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars. Tannehill also added four carries for 12 yards on the day. He was able to sustain the passing offense through Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis in the absence of A.J. Brown. The Titans will face another soft secondary in the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, a unit that is surrendering 30.8 points per week to quarterbacks, which is the second-worst mark in the NFL this season.

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars

Yahoo: 32% rostered, ESPN: 19.3% rostered

A little regression was a given for Minshew after he completed 95% of his Week 1 passes, but the QB still found a way to deliver in Week 2 against the Titans. Minshew completed 66.7% of his passing attempts for 339 yards and three touchdowns (with two interceptions) in a close loss to the Titans. At this point, it is very apparent that Minshew can be trusted in fantasy leagues as he has thrown for 512 yards and six touchdowns in two weeks. Minshew will now get a Dolphins Defense that has allowed 571 passing yards, 94 rushing yards, and six total touchdowns to Cam Newton and Josh Allen the first two weeks of the season.

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

Yahoo: 7% rostered, ESPN: 10.8% rostered

Week 2 started out promising for Mitchell Trubisky, but a slow second half and a couple of bad interceptions settled him back in as a low-end QB2 once again (which is probably where he belongs). Trubisky completed 64% of his passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a close win against the Giants. It was a relatively disappointing day against a secondary filled with replacement-level players, but that’s Trubisky in a nutshell. However, he is worth rostering again in Week 3 thanks to a prime matchup against the Falcons' overmatched secondary. In two games, Atlanta has allowed 744 passing yards, including 9.2 yards per attempt and eight total touchdowns on the season. Trubisky has QB1 upside for at least one more week.

 

Two-QB League Options and Stashes

Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers

Yahoo: 0% rostered, ESPN: 0% rostered

Once Jimmy Garoppolo was finally taken out of the game and ruled out with a high ankle sprain in Week 2, Nick Mullens took over. High ankle sprains are notoriously fickle injuries, and Jimmy G. likely misses a few weeks while he is on the mend. Nick Mullens will be the quarterback to replace him with on the 49ers, and he showed that he still has some of the ability he flashed a couple of seasons ago when he was the starter in San Fran. Mullens was 8/11 for 71 yards and an interception but didn’t need to do much as the 49ers controlled the game against the Jets. Kyle Shanahan will surely do his best to maximize Mullens’ success, and the improving health of Brandon Aiyuk and return of George Kittle will give him intriguing upside against the porous Giants Defense in Week 3. At the very least, he makes for a solid QB3 to stash on your bench until bye weeks start popping up.

Jeff Driskel, Denver Broncos

Yahoo: 0% rostered, ESPN: 0% rostered

The second major quarterback injury of Sunday was Broncos’ starting quarterback Drew Lock, who suffered a sprained AC joint during a strip-sack in Pittsburgh. AC Joints are multi-week injuries, especially when they come to a quarterback’s throwing shoulder, so Driskel will be the starting QB for the foreseeable future in Denver. Driskel performed admirably once he was put in the game, throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Driskel will likely be a bench player or bye week pivot for the future but has some intriguing upside in Week 3 as the Broncos prepare to face the average Buccaneers secondary.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Yahoo: 3% rostered, ESPN: 1.7%

Justin Herbert played fantastic in Week 2 after getting an emergency start against the Kansas City Chiefs. Herbert completed 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown (with one interception) while adding 18 yards and an additional score on the ground. It was a very encouraging start for a rookie quarterback who didn’t get any starter reps during the practice week. So why isn’t Herbert ranked higher? Because in the post-game interviews, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn stated that Tyrod Taylor would be the team’s starter once he was healthy regardless of Herbert’s performance. Even with that, he is worth a speculative add as a bench quarterback. He isn’t a priority over Mullens or Driskel but has shown he can provide upside potentially later in the NFL season.



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The Mysterious Case of Carson Wentz

It was only a few seasons ago when Carson Wentz was the darling of the NFL. Despite missing the final month of the season, he was in serious consideration for MVP. He got the Philadelphia Eagles in position to win their first Super Bowl. He was also beloved by the city of Philadelphia. How times have changed.

Based on my family group chat, Carson Wentz sucks. At least this is what I heard more times yesterday than the Eagles gave up points. Of course, being in Philadelphia, my family is made up of the quintessential obnoxious Eagles fan. The point still stands.

Wentz is not the same quarterback anymore and just two games into the season, fantasy GMs are starting to worry.

 

Worrying About Wentz

There are many reasons for his decline in production. Some of it has to do with his unwillingness to scramble and use his mobility. In the first two games, Wentz has run the ball three times for nine yards. Last year, Wentz averaged nearly four attempts and 15 rushing yards per game. In 2017, before his ACL injury, Wentz averaged 4.9 carries and 23 rushing yards per game. Of course, it was on a QB keeper that his injury took place.

More of it has to do with the volume of injuries suffered by a once elite offensive line. But the biggest impediment to his being a fantasy starter is simply the lack of receivers on the team.

By the end of last season, the Eagles were using more two tight-end sets, or 12 formation, than any team in the NFL besides the Baltimore Ravens. They were the only two teams to deploy the set more than 30% of the time. For the Ravens, this was more so due to the type of offense they want to run. In the case of Philadelphia, it was due to the fact their only other receiver who was healthy was Greg Ward. Miles Sanders came on strong in the second half of the season as did Boston Scott down the stretch but counting on your running back position is not a successful plan in what is now a passing league. This led to a mediocre 9-7 season and being bounced from the playoffs by the Seahawks.

This offseason Philadelphia was hoping to get stronger at the WR position with Alshon Jeffery coming back healthy alongside DeSean Jackson. They also added receivers Jalen Reagor and John Hightower in the draft. While Reagor was injured in camp leading up to the season, Jeffery has still yet to make his debut in 2020. Second-year receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has still not found his way into the good graces of the team meaning it is reliant upon its TE duo to once again carry the load. Dallas Goedert had a big Week 1 with over 100 yards and a TD but Zach Ertz was lacking with only two catches for 28 yards. In Week 2, Ertz raised his receptions to five yet still only gained 42 yards. Goedert also had a quiet week with four receptions for 30 yards.

It was nice to see Jackson get involved in the game plan but with the defenses of Pittsburgh and San Francisco coming up, the road ahead is difficult. The 49ers have lost some major pieces this week in Nick Bosa on defense and Jimmy Garoppolo for a while. Add in a banged-up George Kittle and still-absent Deebo Samuel, this means they will become even more run-heavy to slow things down. This will limit the time Wentz will have to gain you any stats.

With all the issues the Eagles are having on offense, Carson Wentz has only thrown for two TD while also throwing four interceptions in the first two games of the season. His 58.8% completion rate is also down over four points from his career average and his 6.0 yards per attempt is also far lower than his career mark of 6.9. The lack of receivers is part of the issue but Wentz has himself to blame too, with a 32.9% On Target rate in Week 1. After an end-zone INT in Week 2, the fans let him have it.


With tough games against Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and New England coming up, you are likely to find better streaming options on a weekly basis. Whereas Wentz was a clear top-10 QB only two seasons ago, he now becomes a fantasy backup each week unless things change drastically. If the receiving corps gets healthier, this could mark a turnaround. In the meanwhile, let this change happen without Carson Wentz on your team. You will be better off for it and so will your fantasy record.



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The Checkdown- Week 2 QB Matchups

Check out this week's episode of The Checkdown, a show that covers waiver wire quarterbacks, game breakdowns, player analysis, DFS lineup picks and more for Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season.

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Week 2 NFL QB Matchups

In this episode, RotoBaller hosts Joey Christopoulos and Dave Rispoli break down their top NFL QB streamers and daily fantasy football strategies.

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Tape Tells All: Cam Newton's Week 1 Performance

Welcome back to the third year of my Tape Tells All column, which is now fresh off a spot as a finalist for the FSWA Football Series of the Year award. Can we get that top spot this time around? The push for the honors begins now!

If you haven't read this column before, here's what it is: a misleadingly-named look at the film and the advanced stats behind a selected player's performance from the previous week of NFL games. The tape doesn't actually tell us everything, but it serves as a starting point for our investigation of how a player looked that week and what that means for fantasy managers going forward.

This week, we begin in New England with new Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. Newton was 15-for-19 in Week 1, with 155 yards and no scores, but he also added 15 rushing attempts for 75 yards and two rushing touchdowns. What does all that mean?

 

Background Information

Oh, where do we begin?

For the first time in a long, long time, the New England Patriots enter the season without Tom Brady -- arguably the GOAT at the quarterback position -- under center. For much of the offseason, it looked like Brady's replacement would be either Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer, neither of whom inspire much confidence as starting options in the NFL.

But then, at the end of June, the team signed former MVP Cam Newton, and while some people still thought there was a battle for the starting spot in Foxborough, it should have been clear that this was Newton's job.

Injuries have plagued Newton's career, but when healthy, he's a multi-dimensional threat. In that 2015 MVP season, Newton threw for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. On the ground, he added 636 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Newton is the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 60 of them, including two in Week 1.

Newton is coming off a 2019 season in which he played just two games due to injury, and he's joined a New England team that looks fairly light on skill position weapons for him. In the team's 21-11 win over the Dolphins, only two wide receivers -- Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry -- were targeted. Ryan Izzo received multiple targets. J.J. Taylor had four touches. Newton's working with a supporting cast deficit, which has the ability to derail his 2020 season.

But will it? Let's look at that first game.

 

The Game Tape

Oh, well...about that game tape.

As of the writing of this, the NFL has not released the All-22 film for Week 1, which means we can't watch the film that actually matters for this week. So, let's instead look at all the available advanced stats and things like that for Newton, and then we can just watch some of the broadcast film from his game, which is not going to be nearly as helpful or satisfying. Sorry!

First, let's talk about his passing game. He was near the bottom of the league in Week 1 in average intended air yards, which suggests that he was throwing shorter passes. Considering how few real weapons Newton has to get the ball to, that makes sense, because there's not a standout deep threat. Newton led the NFL in intended air yards in 2016, so he can definitely throw the ball deep, but the personnel here might prevent him from doing so.

In fact, Newton was last in Week 1 in the longest completed air distance at just 23.8 yards. I do think there's a reason for concern here: as dumb as this sounds, you can't get yards unless you get yards.

Looking at Football Outsiders' passing stats, we see that Newton through one week ranks 14th in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement, so right around the middle of the league. He's seventh in QBR.

Of course, Newton's ability as a rusher adds a lot of value to his game. Newton had five red zone rushing attempts this week, which ranks him in a tie for eighth among all players -- not just quarterbacks. His 15 carries were 35.71 percent of the rushing attempts for the Patriots, were the most of anyone on the team, and he received 55.56 percent of their red zone carries.

A healthy Cam Newton will get a huge amount of rushing attempts, which will lead to chances for him to do this:

Newton's such a force when he's moving with the ball because you can't fully sell out and play the run since he can sling the ball around. On this play, Newton just jogs in for a way-too-easy score. But on this play...

...we do get to see why Newton's so frightening if you're a defensive coordinator. He's way too fast for you to cover with a defensive lineman, as we see Newton pretty easily gets past that first defender. From there, another Dolphin is barreling down on Newton and gets to him right around the one-yard line. What does Cam do?

ABSORBS THAT CONTACT AND GETS INTO THE END ZONE.

Sorry, got really excited there.

 

Fantasy Impact

So, what does Cam Newton's Patriots debut say about his fantasy value?

I think the biggest thing is that we saw he's still Cam Newton as a rusher. He's still got some great vision. He still can drag some defenders and is probably the best between-the-tackles runner on this whole roster. That gives him a lot of fantasy upside.

But while Newton's passing was accurate, I have serious concerns about his upside in an offense that has a severe lack of weapons. Only two wide receivers had catches! Ryan Izzo played most of the game, and until recently, I thought "Izzo" on the Patriots was somehow still Larry Izzo, which makes no sense.

The Patriots are giving Cam Newton one of the worst supporting casts in the NFL. He had just one deep passing attempt. He was 32nd in the league in attempts.

But, he also currently ranks really high in some efficiency stats, such as fourth in accuracy rating, fifth in true completion percentage, and first in red-zone completion percentage.

Newton can get the ball to his receivers, but it's likely we see a ton of short passes. Without much of a vertical passing game, Newton's overall ceiling is capped.

I think fantasy managers should feel encouraged about this week. Newton's going to float between being a low-end QB1 and high-end QB2 all season as long as he's healthy.



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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 2

We finally got a Sunday of glorious NFL football and now comes the fun of tinkering with rosters to try and build a league winning team. After one week, it is a good time to look at your roster and start shoring up areas of potential weakness for the long haul.

Thankfully, there were no major quarterback injuries for week 1, so it doesn’t seem like anybody will have to use a valuable waiver wire position or free agent dollars in an emergency. However, players who roster Sam Darnold, Tyrod Taylor, or Ryan Fitzpatrick may be looking for a little more upside on their teams after flat Week 1 performances.

In this article, I will be focusing on players who are under 65% rostered in fantasy leagues while adding a couple of deep sleepers for two-quarterback leagues (less than 20% rostered).

 

QB Waiver Wire Options To Consider

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Yahoo: 52% rostered, ESPN: 21.4% rostered

One week after a difficult matchup in the Denver Broncos, Tannehill gets a chance to face a defense that is going to let him throw the ball all over the field. Despite getting a hard-fought win over the Colts, the Jaguars allowed Philip Rivers to throw for 363 yards and a touchdown. While Jacksonville did get two interceptions, at least one of them was Rivers trying to fit a throw into a window to try and win the game. Tannehill is hyper-efficient and offers sneaky rushing upside, giving him a solid floor if you find yourself in a tough quarterback situation. Tannehill threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns against the Jacksonville defense last season and should thrive playing against a young, unproven secondary.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Yahoo: 34% rostered, ESPN: 21.4% rostered

On the other side of the Colts/Vikings week, 2 matchup is Kirk Cousins. Cousins played admirably against a stout Packers Defense in week 1, throwing for 259 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in a high-scoring loss. The Colts were able to hold Gardner Minshew to just 173 passing yards but offered little resistance in the secondary by allowing 19 out of 20 completions and three touchdowns in the passing game. If a shootout develops in Minnesota in week two, Cousins will be forced to air it out once again. His conservative playstyle and play-action passes make him an excellent stash with top-10 weekly fantasy upside in all fantasy leagues.

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

Yahoo: 27% rostered, ESPN: 18.8% rostered

Speaking of Philip Rivers, while the week one team result wasn’t pretty, he did deliver a solid stat line that is playable in a lot of leagues. Rivers threw for just one touchdown, but he utilized a multitude of options in the Colts passing game. 10 players had multiple catches against the Jaguars, with five players having 45 or more receiving yards. Rivers gets a matchup against a suspect Vikings secondary in week two, fresh off 364 yards and four touchdowns for Aaron Rodgers. With his variety of weapons and the Vikings stout run defense, Rivers has the potential to throw it for high numbers again week two.

 

Two-QB League Options and Stashes

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars

Yahoo: 25% rostered ESPN: 14.9% rostered

Gardner Minshew continued to make his case toward being a viable NFL quarterback in his week 1 matchup against the Colts. Minshew scored over 20 fantasy points and had more touchdowns passing (three) than incompletions (one). Minshew won’t throw up video game numbers like other quarterbacks, but he provides a solid, consistent floor thanks to his accuracy and ability to avoid turnovers. In deeper leagues or leagues that start two quarterbacks, Minshew is an excellent option that can be used to get a consistent point floor to free up higher upside plays at wide receiver, running back or tight end.

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

Yahoo: 3% rostered ESPN: 3.3% rostered

Mitchell Trubisky was on track to have a forgettable week one matchup that signifies his career to this point. Through three quarters on Sunday, Trubisky was just 12 of 26 for 153 yards against a depleted Lions secondary. However, Trubisky erupted in the final quarter, completing 8 of 10 passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bears to a huge come from behind victory and keeping him in control of the offense for at least another week. Trubisky also added 64 yards on 13 carries, utilizing his legs to keep drives moving in the second half. Nobody will feel good rostering Trubisky, but he is a starting NFL quarterback and has the rushing upside to score big points every week. The Bears also have a soft early-season schedule, which could make him an effective spot starter if you play your cards right.



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QB Week 1 Matchups & Start/Sit - The Checkdown

Check out this week's episode of The Checkdown, a show that covers waiver wire quarterbacks, game breakdowns, player analysis, DFS lineup picks and more for Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season.

Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!

Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, every weekday afternoon from 1-2 PM ET and Saturday nights from 9-11 PM ET. You can also find new weekly shows on the site under RotoBaller Radio podcasts.

 

Week 1 NFL QB Matchups

In this episode, RotoBaller hosts Joey Christopoulos and Dave Rispoli break down their top NFL QB streamers and daily fantasy football strategies.

Thanks for listening to today's episode! Be sure to tune in throughout the week, and to also follow RotoBaller on Twitter, YouTube and iTunes for the latest fantasy news and analysis. We are your secret weapon...

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Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 1

It’s game week ladies and gentlemen! Thanks to a global pandemic, nobody was ever quite sure we would make it to this point, and here we are!

If you’re reading this right now, odds are you completed your fantasy draft over the weekend or will be completing it in the next few days. Depending on where you are in your fantasy season, can either be used as a suggestion for optimizing your already completed roster or a guide to late-round drafting before Thursday. While most teams will league their draft feeling great, often you can make minor improvements to your bench that can have league-winning potential.

Regardless, there is plenty of value at the quarterback position again this season thanks to some highly talented rookies and veterans in new situations. Because of this depth, fantasy gamers have more incentive than ever to play the matchups with quarterbacks (unless they drafted a premium player early). In this article, I will be focusing on quarterbacks that are still widely available in fantasy leagues to best prepare you to win this football season!

 

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco

AVAILABILITY: (Yahoo: 52% rostered, ESPN: 36% rostered)

2019 marked Jimmy Garoppolo’s first full season as the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback thanks to an ACL injury. The 28-year-old quarterback completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns with 13 interceptions en route to a 49ers Super Bowl appearance. Jimmy G didn’t get a ton of publicity, but he averaged 16.27 fantasy points per week on his way to a QB14 finish overall in fantasy football. Garoppolo was rarely flashy but provided an extremely high floor that you could count on weekly.

Looking to week 1, Garoppolo gets a fantastic matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were one of the worst defenses against opposing passing games in 2019, especially from the tight end position. The Cardinals allowed the second-most passing yards (4,510), passing touchdowns (33) and generated the lowest number of interceptions last season (seven).

The 49ers wide receivers are banged up at the moment, with Deebo Samuel (foot surgery), Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring), and Jalen Hurd (ACL tear) all on the injury report heading into the season. Even with that, Garoppolo has targets like George Kittle, Kendrick Bourne, Jordan Reed, and his backfield to make a dent in the passing attack. While the Cardinals added Isaiah Simmons in the first round of the draft, a matchup against George Kittle figures to be a difficult introduction to the league.

Beyond week one, the 49ers have a very soft schedule at the start of the season that benefits rostering Jimmy Garoppolo. According to sharpfootballstats.com, the 49ers will face the 4th easiest schedule when it comes to defensive efficiency in 2020. After the Cardinals, the 49ers face weak secondaries in the form of the Jets, the Giants, and the Eagles. As these games are played out, players will start healing and the passing game will go to full strength.

Even though we haven’t played a game in 2020 yet, Jimmy G should be rostered in all leagues for at least the first quarter of the regular season.

 

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

AVAILABILITY: (Yahoo: 32% rostered, ESPN: 15.5% rostered)

For one of the first times in his career, Philip Rivers started to show his age for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019. Rivers had his seventh straight season with at least 4,300 yards passing but took major steps back in touchdowns (23, lowest since 2007) and interceptions (20, most in a season since 2016). Despite the dip in numbers, Rivers still finished the fantasy season as QB15 while averaging 15.97 points per week while supporting an RB1 (Austin Ekeler), a WR1 (Keenan Allen), and a TE1 (Hunter Henry). Rivers moved on from the Chargers during the offseason, signing a 1-year, $25 million deal in Indianapolis.

The Colts get arguably the best matchup for their offense in week 1 against a rapidly tanking Jaguars’ team, especially on defense. Jacksonville spent the past week releasing running back Leonard Fournette and trading their best pass rusher (Yannick Ngakoue) and top safety (Ronnie Harrison) to accrue more draft picks.

Rivers may have shown last season that his arm strength was diminishing, but he was still fairly accurate (66% completion percentage) and has different types of weapons in the receiving game. TY Hilton and Parris Campbell are more explosive weapons at receiver after the catch and the trio of Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, and Jonathan Taylor can also provide targets out of the backfield.

The Colts face three weak secondaries to start the 2020 season, giving Rivers solid value to begin the year. The Jaguars, Jets, and Vikings all suffered personnel change on defense and could struggle mightily thanks to a loss of preseason games. Meanwhile, the Colts receivers have the running ability to break open short-to-intermediate throws and turn them into long touchdowns.

Rivers ultimately may not spend the whole season on your bench, but he is an excellent addition to try and get your team off to a fast start.

 

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

AVAILABILITY: (Yahoo: 19% rostered, ESPN: 12.1% rostered)

Derek Carr finished his sixth year with the Raiders with arguably the best performance of his career. Carr had his second consecutive season with over 4,000 passing yards. The 29-year-old as had a 21/8 touchdown to interception ratio and set a career-high for completion percentage (70.4).

Carr finished as QB17 with 15.77 points per week during the 2019 fantasy season. The Raiders added an array of weapons in the passing game, picking up Nelson Agholor in free agency and drafting Henry Ruggs III out of Alabama in the first round and Bryan Edwards out of South Carolina in the third round. These players will slot in nicely to 2019 standouts Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow.

The Raiders find themselves facing the Carolina Panthers week one. The Panthers spent the 2020 offseason overhauling their offense while relying mainly on the draft to add talent to the defense. Ultimately, the Panthers spent seven draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, but only first-round defensive tackle Derrick Brown figures to start.

The linebacking corps and secondary are filled with unproven players, making them a fantastic week one matchup. Carr has some of the best yards after the catch weapons in the league, and this game may turn into a track meet with a projected over/under of 46.5.

The Raiders have a very rough stretch of games after week one, so Carr would be more of a short term solution if you don’t like your starting quarterback’s matchup in the opening week. Ultimately, we don’t know how well he will utilize his new weapons in the air attack, making him a decent stash unless you have to add players to offset injuries as weeks go on.



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Best Late-Round QBs to Target

The 2020 NFL season is almost here and fantasy football drafts have been kicking off in full force. Whether you're a fantasy football junky or a casual fantasy football fan, you're probably reading this as you're preparing for your drafts.

The stud quarterbacks are pretty well known regardless of how dedicated you are to fantasy football, but I'll be touching on some of the late-round quarterbacks to target. These guys come with their own degree of upside and based on where they're being drafted, they're either going undrafted or as late, backup quarterbacks in your drafts.

Depending on how deep your leagues are, here are some quarterbacks going very late and could very well out-perform their current ADP. I'll be using RotoBaller's industry average draft position.

 

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

ADP - QB17

The first quarterback that I'm looking at as a potential 'Sleeper' for the 2020 season is Ryan Tannehill now with the Tennessee Titans. Tannehill really shouldn't be a sleeper, but with his current ADP, he's definitely being overlooked for redraft leagues and needs to be mentioned.

Last year, Tannehill played his first full game as the starter in Week 7 against the Chargers. From Week 7 through Week 16, Tannehill was the QB3 overall, behind just Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen during that time. Tannehill was not just good, but he was elite for fantasy purposes and finished the year with 2,742 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He also added 185 yards with his feet and four rushing touchdowns.

Tannehill is clearly the Titans quarterback for the foreseeable future, and he's not getting near the love that he deserves after the way he played last year. If you're looking for a late-round quarterback option after waiting to draft one, Tannehill is someone I'd be targeting without a doubt.

 

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

ADP - QB22

If you're an avid fantasy football fan or spend a lot of time on Twitter, there's a good chance you're well aware of Drew Lock and this Denver offense. However, he's currently being drafted as the 24th quarterback off the board and 173rd overall.

With weapons like Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon, and Philip Lindsay this offense has quickly become extremely high-powered and could be explosive this year.


Lock showed signs of promise last year in his five starts beginning in Week 13 against the Chargers. Sutton finished as WR19 in PPR last year and WR17 in standard-scoring leagues. Lock threw for seven touchdowns and three interceptions in those five games and really looked pretty solid. He totaled 1,020 passing yards in those games and most importantly, the Broncos appear to be moving forward with Lock as their starter for at least the 2020 season.

With plenty of talented weapons around him, Lock could easily outperform his ADP and I wouldn't be shocked if he finished as a top-15 quarterback this year. As someone who is going either undrafted or as a backup, he's got plenty of upside and is definitely someone worth keeping an eye on late in your drafts.

 

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

ADP - QB28

Next up is Teddy B, now the leader of this Carolina Panthers offense. He's going as one of the last starting quarterbacks off the board, so undrafted altogether in many leagues. In single-QB leagues, you're more than likely not going to see him get drafted, but if you are punting the quarterback position, I'd gladly grab someone like Tannehill and then Bridgewater later and be totally set at quarterback.

We all know how much of a stud Christian McCaffrey is and D.J. Moore really broke out last year, finishing as the WR16 in PPR and WR21 in standard-scoring leagues. Despite some absolutely atrocious quarterback play last year, we saw two excellent fantasy options in McCaffrey and Moore. Curtis Samuel has shown some real talent as well but hasn't put it all together yet. We've also seen Ian Thomas show some potential at times as well.

Overall, there's plenty of weapons on this offense for Bridgewater to utilize, and the Panthers invested in him with a three-year $63 million dollar contract. Bridgewater is almost a lock to out-perform his current ADP as the 25th quarterback and is someone worth targeting late in deeper leagues or keeping an eye on the waiver wire for.

 

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

ADP - QB24

Darnold has finished as the QB17 in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, playing in 13 games in each of them. Darnold is going undrafted and isn't really on many fantasy owner's radars as far as someone to target this year. That being said, he has a good chance to improve and out-perform his current ADP.

Building off of his rookie campaign, Darnold threw more passing yards, more touchdowns, fewer interceptions, and more rushing touchdowns in his second year than his first. The Jets haven't had many offensive weapons for Darnold to work with during his first two seasons, but they do have more weapons this year than they've had in recent years. Jamison Crowder was acquired from Washington in 2019 and finished as the WR26 in PPR last year. He'll likely be the main target for Darnold, with rookie Denzel Mims and tight end Chris Herndon is, as of now, looking healthy heading into the 2020 season. He's shown a lot of promise and has had a good connection with Darnold when he's on the field.

Le'Veon Bell should be a nice safety net for Darnold to lean on, so if the Jets can figure out how to use him, that will be a big factor that could help Darnold improve for fantasy purposes. If this group of pass-catchers stays healthy, Darnold should improve and see his best season yet in 2020. I like him as a breakout candidate, but he's just someone that I'd keep an eye on and potentially plugin for bye weeks.

 

Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team

ADP - QB30

A young player that is completely off the radar and really isn't being drafted at all is Dwayne Haskins in Washington. As the 32nd quarterback off the board, his ADP is 253 meaning he's only getting drafted in 14-team leagues with deeper rosters. Basically, he's not even being considered this year for fantasy football.

Haskins isn't someone I'm actively going out of my way to roster, but he's someone that could end up being a bye week filler or someone that gets some steam off the waiver wire occasionally. Terry McLaurin showed that he is a very talented wide receiver and is more than capable of being in your fantasy lineup each week. Outside of McLaurin, this team is in need of some weapons, with guys like Dontrelle Inman, Trey Quinn, and rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden really being their only other options. For the most part, McLaurin is really the only player in Washington getting any love, with the exception of Adrian Peterson in some leagues.

Haskins is going to have to take a big step forward, but as the 32nd quarterback off the board, he should absolutely out-perform his current ADP so long as he's the starter of the Washington Football Team. So far, it appears he is on his way to securing the job and could hold onto it despite low expectations.




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Tyrod Taylor - 2020 Fantasy Football Sleeper

It's probably been a while since you've thought about Tyrod Taylor.

Sure, he's currently set to open 2020 as an NFL starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, but I'm sure you've done countless drafts where you had the option of adding Taylor to your fantasy squad and you decided to go with someone else instead.

That was a bad decision. Taylor's got QB2 upside this year, and you can draft him extremely late. It's time to board the "Tyrod Taylor is a fine option in 2020" train.

 

Past History

Let's start by revisiting Tyrod Taylor's past in Buffalo.

Taylor was the starting quarterback in Buffalo for three seasons from 2015-2017. Over that span, he completed 62.6 percent of his passes with 51 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He also rushed for 14 touchdowns in that time.

One of Taylor's most notable traits in Buffalo was he didn't turn the football over. His interception rate was under two percent each year, including a league-leading one percent rate in 2017.

To put that into perspective, his 1.0 percent rate would have tied him with Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson for second-best in the NFL last season, and his worst Buffalo season would have ranked as the 11th-best mark last year. The Bills version of Taylor didn't throw the ball to the opponent much.

During that span, Taylor had completion percentages of 63.7, 61.7, and 62.6. The best of those numbers would only rank as the 18th-highest in the league last year, while the worst would have ranked 26th. Taylor's tendency to throw incompletions is a concern, but it's mitigated somewhat by his ability to gain yardage on the ground. Current Bills QB Josh Allen had the lowest completion percentage among qualifying passers last season, but his ability to throw the deep ball and to make some things happen on the ground made him a viable fantasy option.

That's what Taylor was in Buffalo when it comes to fantasy: viable. He wasn't an elite fantasy play, but per Pro Football Reference, here are his three seasons in Buffalo, sorted by position rank:

One QB1 finish and two QB2 finishes sum that up. Taylor's ability to keep the ball away from the other team and extend plays on the ground helped him to solid fantasy finishes.

The other thing about Taylor is his deep ball. In 2016, when he was the fantasy QB8, Taylor was sixth in the NFL in average intended air yards, but just 13th in average intended air yards. In other words, Taylor threw deep a lot, but he wasn't necessarily accurate on those deep looks.

For as much as people talk about former Chargers QB Philip Rivers as a gunslinger, his average intended and completed air yards have ranked mid-pack for the past few years. Taylor might actually be better for stretching the field than Rivers was, provided he can improve his accuracy on the long shots.

 

Taylor's New Supporting Cast

What's one way Taylor's accuracy can go up? Well, he has significantly better weapons around him in Los Angeles now than he did in Buffalo.

Four important names spring to mind: Keenan Allen and Mike Williams at wide receiver, Hunter Henry at tight end, and Austin Ekeler at running back. If these four can stay relatively healthy, Taylor's looking at the best supporting cast of his career.

Let's compare this to 2017, which was Taylor's worst fantasy year with Buffalo. The leading receivers on that team in terms of both receptions and yards were the running back and tight end. RB LeSean McCoy caught 59 passes for 448 yards. TE Charles Clay caught 49 for 558, which made him the team's leader in receiving yards. Beyond that, Taylor threw to such great wideouts as Deonte Thompson, Zay Jones, and Jordan Matthews. Heck, Andre Holmes led the team in receiving touchdowns with three despite catching just 13 passes.

In L.A., he doesn't have that problem. Keenan Allen has three 1000-yard seasons in a row. Mike Williams is coming off his first 1000-yard season and caught 10 touchdowns in 2018. Hunter Henry was almost healthy last year, playing 12 games and finishing with 55 catches for 652 yards and five touchdowns. And Ekeler had 993 receiving yards.

2020 will teach us a lot about Taylor. Was the reason he never broke out even more in Buffalo because he had a weak supporting cast, or is Taylor's style of play not conducive to creating a strong performance from the players around him? We know how good this group that'll be on the field with him this season can be, which means Taylor's going to get every opportunity to show that he can take his play up a notch.

When he didn't have strong players around him, the QB's fantasy finishes were still really good. I'm willing to bet the plays made by his new, talented receivers will lead to improved numbers for Taylor.

 

Should We Worry About Justin Herbert?

The answer to this question is yes! We should definitely worry about rookie Justin Herbert taking over for Taylor, but I don't think we need to worry as much as we would have to worry in a normal year.

With so much of the offseason activities messed up by COVID-19 along with there being no preseason games, it's going to be tough for any rookie quarterback to get up to speed this year. Some teams like the Bengals won't have a choice but to throw their first-year passer (Joe Burrow) to the wolves, but the Chargers do have a choice. They've got a capable starter in Tyrod Taylor, a team that could contend for a Wild Card spot in the new expanded playoff format, and a rookie who doesn't have the same expectations on him that Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa will have on them.

If the Chargers wind up out of contention late in the year, they'll turn to Herbert. But Taylor's not your plan A at quarterback. At his ADP, he's your plan B or plan C. He is someone who you can stream during the season when he's playing, and someone who can deliver steady results for fantasy managers in two-QB leagues.

And hey, if Herbert takes over Week 14 or something, you can always pivot and grab him off waivers as a replacement for Taylor. This is unless you're in a really deep league where Herbert is already rostered.



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2020 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rookie Rankings: Post-NFL Draft

Welcome back RotoBallers! Below you will find our staff's updated 2020 fantasy football rookie quarterback rankings. These rankings are being released after the 2020 NFL Draft, but things will of course change as we get closer to the NFL season. You might have already seen the first iteration of our updated fantasy football rookie rankings, released the morning after the draft. Now, it's time to break down each position in detail.

The RotoBaller crew has been busy fine-tuning all fantasy football rankings in the hours immediately following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. The first task was to focus on the recently-selected prospects in order to prepare dynasty owners for upcoming rookie drafts. Analysts Brandon Murchison, Phil Clark, and Pierre Camus have put together their early consensus wide receiver rookie rankings for our loyal readers to use to their advantage.

Quarterbacks are tricky as they are not truly valuable outside of Superflex and 2-QB leagues due to their inherent replaceability for typical fantasy leagues. The 2020 Draft had its fair share drafted, but if you're looking for anything resembling a safe floor, I'd suggest looking elsewhere. Each and every QB drafted this year has his warts but luckily, a massive upside to go along with them. As always, we take a forward-looking approach with our evaluations. These are subject to change as things unfold over the offseason, but for now, here is a look at our quarterback rankings for the 2020 rookie draft class.

 

NFL QB Rookie Rankings for Fantasy Football (Post-Draft)

Be sure to also check out our fantasy football rankings and analysis for the 2020 rookie running backs, rookie wide receivers, rookie tight ends, and our top 130 rookies list.

Tier Rank Player Name Team Pierre Brandon Phil
2 9 Joe Burrow CIN 7 9 12
2 12 Tua Tagovailoa MIA 6 14 20
3 20 Justin Herbert LAC 16 23 22
5 37 Jalen Hurts PHI 28 44 36
5 40 Jordan Love GB 31 48 39
6 54 Jacob Eason IND 41 55 75
7 59 Cole McDonald TEN 50 67 60
8 68 Jake Fromm BUF 48 66 80
8 71 Nate Stanley MIN 62 73 #N/A
8 72 Anthony Gordon SEA 55 81 #N/A
9 74 Jake Luton JAX 63 74 #N/A
9 79 Steven Montez WAS 70 #N/A #N/A
10 117 Brian Lewerke NE #N/A 107 #N/A
10 119 Bryce Perkins LAR #N/A 111 #N/A

 

Tier 1 - QB Rookie Rankings

Joe Burrow is the unequivocal QB1 in this class. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The Bengals did not think twice about drafting him and neither should you (if your draft position allows it). Burrow's historic Heisman campaign at LSU last season is only marred by the fact that he was not as successful the season before. The addition of Joe Brady and shift from a pro-style to a spread offense unlocked Burrow's game along with his teammates at LSU.

Burrow set the college passing touchdown record with 60 (and just six interceptions) while his completion percentage jumped nearly 20 percent from 57.8% to 76.3% between his redshirt junior and senior year. While he did a ton of talent/help around him in the form of NFL-level players such as Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Saahdiq Charles, Damien Lewis, and Lloyd Cushenberry III, Burrow's ability to extend plays behind the LOS along with his natural touch on throws should allow him to translate well to the league.

He will be joining a Bengals team that is not without some talent of its own. In the second round of the 2020 Draft, Cincinnati added a premium prospect in Tee Higgins who was a top WR recruit out of high school and shined over the past two years at Clemson with 16 total touchdowns more than 2000 receiving yards. Higgins will be added to a solid receiving corps that featured Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, and a former first-round pick, John Ross (who showed flashes in 2019). Not to mention, Burrow will potentially be throwing to A.J. Green if he does not get traded and have the luxury of handing the ball off to a premier running back, Joe Mixon if he does not hold out. The offensive line is improved as well since they are getting back a healthy Jonah Williams, their first-round pick in 2019 Burrow should be drafted in the top-3 of Superflex/2QB  leagues and towards the end of the first in typical dynasty rookie drafts.

Unpopular opinion #1 - Tua Tagovailoia is a luxury pick, not a building block.

While I do believe that Tua Tagovailoa is an incredibly talented quarterback, it is ridiculous to ignore the recent injury history. Tua is coming off of a hip injury that was discussed as potentially career-ending due to the severity. Luckily, he had great doctors on his side who repaired the broken ligament, and now, he is reportedly 100% healthy and recovered. While I am no doctor (despite being a RotoSurgeon), I am of the belief that Tua, even when cleared to play in September, is still at high risk of re-injury. The hits in the NFL come from significantly larger, and stronger individuals in college.

Despite the league doing everything in its power to mitigate the damage done to their star assets, it is nearly impossible to guarantee that they will not take a few hard licks during the coarse of a season. What happens when Tua is deemed a runner on a play and gets cracked from the side repeatedly throughout a year? Part of his appeal is his mobility, teams will have to determine whether it is worth taking away a dimension of his game in favor of his health. Alabama essentially did that in 2019 and we saw the offense take a step back from the incredible heights it reached the year before.

I have not even brought up the fact that Tagovailoa has had surgery to repair both ankles within the past two years. While this surgery was midseason to get him back on the field sooner, it is still very worrying to pile on to him. The term "injury-prone" is thrown around a lot and typically frowned upon from medical experts, however, when a player is showing you time-and-time again that his body cannot stay together while playing this game at a high-level, it might be appropriate in certain cases to stick them with that label.

Tua is a risky first-round pick in multi-QB leagues and should only be drafted by teams who can afford that risk. The upside is insane if he does manage to stay healthy, I just do not like those odds with a premium pick.

 

Tier 2 - QB Rookie Rankings

Justin Herbert might be an underwhelming QB prospect but boy, is he athletic.

Herbert is the prototypical tall, white QB that NFL front offices (like Denver) drool over because of the "tools". The fact of the matter is, while Herbert did have some success in Oregon, he was helped out a ton by a scheme that asked him to make a ton easy throws like screens and other open throws to the flat or just past the LOS that boosted his completion percentage and surface stats. Herbert completed just around 60% of passes that were not screen throws last season and did not show consistency in the intermediate part of the field, where an NFL QB should be asked to throw significantly more than in college.

To be fair, Herbert did not have close to the pass-catching talent that Hurts, Burrow, and Tua had in their respective offenses but that does not absolve him.

Herbert shouldn't be fully characterized as "inaccurate," however he does struggle in some aspects of the game that you would desire from a QB prospect and missing open receivers in the middle of the field a big worry. Accuracy is hard to teach, very few QB prospects truly become more accurate as they enter the league. Fortunately, there is no denying that he has a big arm and his athleticism will allow him to create with his legs when the right pass is not there.

If he can consistently make big plays downfield and not turn the ball over often, he should be a successful NFL quarterback despite probably not ever entering that upper-echelon of passers. A good comp for him is some mix of Ryan Tannehill and Josh Allen. Herbert should be in the league for a long time and be given every opportunity to succeed if health is not an issue. He's a fine upside pick in rookie drafts for his potential rushing production alone.

 

Tier 3 - QB Rookie Rankings

Jordan Love is an intriguing case. The Packers traded up from pick 30 to 26 in the first round to acquire the volatile QB who many deem as a bust from the jump. Love was favorably viewed after posting a 32 TD, 6 INT, 9.4 AY/A season while completing 64% of his passes in 2018 but absolutely fell off statistically in 2019. He threw nearly as many touchdowns and interceptions 20:17 lowered his completion percentage and his AY/A dipped to a 2017-like 6.4.

This raises eyebrows as to whether 2018 was just an aberration or if the loss of five out of his top-six primary receiving weapons (Darwin Thompson, Jalen Greene, Aaren Vaughns, Ron'Quavion Tarver, Dax Raymond), head coach and offensive coordinator played a major part in his regression. I'm tempted to believe the latter and that Love is not just some toolsy fluke.

Love is unfairly comped to Patrick Mahomes by some draft touts and it is wholly unfair to him to set some crazy standard like that. What Love does well is similar to what Mahomes does well in pocket-escapability and big-time throws but they are not on the same level. He is able to make throws on the move and sling dimes while at it.

Love is worth the upside, particularly in a plus-landing spot like Green Bay but is not worth taking too early in rookie drafts given that he is probably three or four years away from starting (much like the incumbent starter for the Packers).

Unpopular opinion #2 - Jalen Hurts is a gadget QB, not a future face of a franchise.

Jalen Hurts is Taysom Hill, if Taysom Hill was good at being Taysom Hill. Point being, he is so athletic that he belongs in the league but he just is not an accurate enough passer to cut it as a full-time QB. I am sure that in a spot-start situation, he could be a QB1 in fantasy due to his potential rushing production but that is not the ideal scenario for an NFL team to win unless in transitions its entire offense to a Ravens'-like mold on the fly.

What I see the Eagles doing with Hurts is operating him in short-yardage/goal-line situations to alleviate the hits that Carson Wentz will take. Hurts is not the "heir apparent" by any means. Wentz is only 27 and both of their contracts will run along the same timeline They'll utilize Hurts' size, athleticism, and durability on sneaks and QB runs that could option into passes to mix things up and give Wentz a break.

Hurts is deemed as this pick with massive upside, and it is possible he lives up to it if he was ever given the opportunity to start for a season, however, it would be unwise for any NFL team to make that decision if their goal was to win games.

 

Tier 4 and Lower - QB Rookie Rankings

This is really where we scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm were both potential Day 2 selection during the draft but saw their stock fall to Day 3. Eason landed in the more advantageous, long-term spot in Indianapolis while Fromm fell to the Bills in Round 6. Fromm is the antithesis of incumbent starter, Josh Allen, and has less of a challenge to eventually start if Allen goes down. Eason would have to challenge Jacoby Brissett for the QB2 role with the Colts and would likely lose that battle.

Fromm is much more game-ready than Eason due to his natural touch and awareness, however, Eason's upside is much larger due to his size and arm strength. Also, Philip Rivers is probably not the QB of the future with the Colts, opening up the door for Eason to have a slim chance of taking over in a year or two. Josh Allen is still extremely young and with his progression from year one to year two, it is doubtful that the Bills move on for at least a few years sans an absolute meltdown in performance.

Cole McDonald has a fun name and fun game but it is hard to see him taking over as a starter at the NFL level due to his unusual delivery and erratic game. He is athletic, stands at 6'4" 220lbs, and is quite capable of hitting some deep shots downfield. He has some of the best highlights in college. Unfortunately, a highlight reel won't win you games in the league.

Cole McDonald is a fun project for the Titans and is worth that late-round flier in multi-QB leagues given that he is capable of using his legs (750 rushing yards and 11 TDs last two years). He could easily become the Titans' QB by beating out former Toledo and AAF QB Logan Woodside and maybe start a few games this season if Tannehill goes down.

Nate Stanley landed in Minnesota where he would probably never be asked to throw given how little their scheme asks of QBs along with his inability to do much besides stand in the pocket.

Anthony Gordon is a low-key winner after signing with the Seahawks. While there is no chance in hell that he starts in place of a healthy Russell Wilson anytime soon, the QB2 job there is basically his already because there are only two QBs in that room. Gordon showed flashes in Mike Leach's spread offense last season and looked like someone who could be drafted not only off of his tape but because of Gardner Minshew's success translating to the league. Gordon might struggle when asked to operate a pro-style scheme but at least for fantasy purposes, he could get a few spot starts if he sticks around.

More NFL Draft and Fantasy Football Rookies


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football & NFL Rookies 2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Projections & ADP Analysis Editor Note Featured Football NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Quarterback Rankings, Tiers, and Analysis

With the influx of talented young prospects, the quarterback position in fantasy football seems to be the deepest it has ever been. Although the overwhelming mindset has been that you can wait on the position in drafts, it has become more prevalent as we enter the 2020 season. No longer is it a dire need to grab one of the top QBs off the board because building your roster at other positions while waiting is just as successful as owning Patrick Mahomes and limiting your value elsewhere. But as is always the case, each draft is different, and the time in which you look to add your QB changes based on how the drafts unfold. Sometimes you find yourself with the chance to select a QB that continues to slide down the board. In that case, you have to grab the value while it is there, even if it may be against your pre-draft strategy.

The staff here at Rotoballer have put together our consensus rankings for the position to help you better prepare for your drafts. Perhaps this road-map eases the draft process when the time comes to select your QB1 for the 2020 season and the selection isn't one that causes you a headache. There may come a point in your draft when you are faced with a decision between Drew Brees and Carson Wentz. Well, our handy cheatsheet or rankings will guide you in the right direction with the consensus best choice. Because we all know that you don't have to have the best QB to win in fantasy, but you must have a good one to stay competitive.

With that being said, let's take a look at the standard QB rankings from the staff as I analyze the tiers and breakdown the players within them. The goal is to give you a better perspective of players to target in your drafts and help you build your best roster.

 

2020 Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier Player Name Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Lamar Jackson 22 3
2 1 Patrick Mahomes 27 3
3 2 Dak Prescott 58 5
4 2 Kyler Murray 63 5
5 2 Russell Wilson 64 5
6 2 Deshaun Watson 65 5
7 2 Josh Allen 71 5
8 3 Matt Ryan 80 6
9 3 Drew Brees 81 6
10 3 Tom Brady 89 7
11 3 Carson Wentz 91 7
12 4 Aaron Rodgers 99 7
13 4 Matthew Stafford 105 7
14 4 Daniel Jones 113 8
15 4 Ben Roethlisberger 117 8
16 4 Baker Mayfield 122 8
17 4 Ryan Tannehill 125 8
18 4 Jared Goff 131 8
19 5 Joe Burrow 153 9
20 5 Kirk Cousins 156 10
21 5 Philip Rivers 158 10
22 5 Drew Lock 160 10
23 5 Jimmy Garoppolo 162 10
24 6 Sam Darnold 181 11
25 6 Derek Carr 194 11
26 6 Gardner Minshew II 199 12
27 6 Cam Newton 204 12
28 6 Teddy Bridgewater 205 12
29 7 Ryan Fitzpatrick 237 13
30 7 Tyrod Taylor 266 14
31 7 Dwayne Haskins 267 14
32 7 Mitch Trubisky 298 15
33 8 Nick Foles 323 16
34 8 Tua Tagovailoa 324 16
35 8 Justin Herbert 333 16
36 8 Jarrett Stidham 396 18
37 9 Andy Dalton 456 19
38 9 Jameis Winston 459 19
39 9 Jacoby Brissett 476 19
40 9 Jacob Eason 482 19
41 9 Jalen Hurts 490 20
42 9 Marcus Mariota 493 20
43 9 Taysom Hill 503 20
44 9 Jordan Love 510 20
45 9 Kyle Allen 512 20
46 10 Mason Rudolph 534 20
47 10 Jake Luton 535 20
48 10 Matt Moore 537 20
49 10 Cole McDonald 538 20
50 10 Blaine Gabbert 540 20
51 10 Jeff Driskel 542 20
52 10 Ryan Finley 543 20
53 10 Brett Hundley 544 20
54 10 Chase Daniel 545 20
55 10 Brian Hoyer 546 20
56 10 Nate Stanley 547 20
57 10 Jake Fromm 548 20
58 10 Colt McCoy 549 20
59 10 Case Keenum 550 20
60 10 Joe Flacco 551 20
61 10 Nick Mullens 552 20

 

Tier 1

The top tier in our rankings is filled by the top two QBs in fantasy with Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. When it boils down to it, you can't go wrong with the selection of either. It all boils down to what you want from the position. With Lamar Jackson, you know you are getting more upside from a rushing perspective (1,213 yards on the ground). But shockingly enough, Jackson led the league in not only total points but also passing touchdowns. The question with Jackson for 2020 will be how to value him if there is a regression from his rushing yardage? If that yardage dips, can he offset that with increases from a passer?

Any way you slice it, the Ravens offense is geared to help Jackson succeed and that he does. Outside of industry drafts, expect to see Jackson taken at some point in the first three rounds. Heavy price? yes, but one that is certainly worth it.

The other QB in this tier, Patrick Mahomes, is without a doubt the top passer in the game today and a threat to score from any point on the field. The Chiefs' high-powered offense is tailored for Mahomes skill set allowing him to use his incredible accuracy to hit his playmakers in stride. Due to the injury, Mahomes took a step back in 2019 but still managed to finish as QB6 on the season. With his ability to pile up points (nine QB1 games in 2019), Mahomes should easily be one of the top two QBs off the board during drafts.

 

Tier 2

The next tier is chock full of established fantasy talents that still have some upside in their value. Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and Josh Allen all reside within this group. Dak Prescott has been one of the most consistent scorers in fantasy with a QB1 finish in each of the last four years. Now heading into 2020, he is playing for a big contract, surrounded by an immense amount of talent. Playing with a Cowboys offense that is among the best in the league in scoring (6th) and pace of play (6th), Prescott will have his opportunities and should be among the top at the position yet again in 2020.

Between the next two (Murray and Wilson), you have two players that are years apart in experience but bring similar value to their game. Even with a very inconsistent year, Murray used his legs (544 yards and four TDs) to finish as the QB9 on the season. Now with a full year under his belt in the system and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins, Murray has the table set for a major step forward in 2020. The defense is expected to be subpar, putting Murray and the offense in a positive game-script in terms of fantasy production. Wilson continues to be the model of consistency in fantasy scoring never failing to provide a QB1 finish in his career. The Seahawks offensive mentality remains a run-first offense, but we did see an increase in passing attempts (516) from Wilson a year ago. He has the weapons there to utilize (Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf) but must be allowed to be let loose to have value as a passer (only two 300-yard games in 2019). He's become incredibly efficient in scoring (over 30 passing TDs in each of the last three seasons) and must continue to be that way to hold his ranking in fantasy.

The final two QBs in this tier, in my opinion, come with question marks. With back-to-back top-5 finishes at the position, Watson has proven to be a valuable commodity for fantasy owners. But we saw some inconsistencies in his game in 2019. His YPA dropped below 8.0 for the first time, while his interceptions (12) rose as well. The departure of Hopkins will hurt this offense, but the opportunities will still be there for Watson to hold his value in these rankings. As for Allen, there is a lot of promise that he will make yet another step forward in his progression (QB8 in 2019) in the upcoming season. The rushing potential is what drives owners to Allen (17 rushing scores in his first two years), but if Allen is to truly reach his potential he must improve as a passer. He graded out as the worst QB in the league in catchable passes 20-yards downfield a year ago and now has a receiver (Stefon Diggs) that excels in that area. I have Allen as QB14 in my rankings, but I can see Allen taking that step forward and maintaining QB1 value this season.

 

Tier 3

This group consists of only two veteran QBs playing on high-powered offenses (Matt Ryan and Drew Brees). Even though he has the 26th toughest schedule for the position in 2020, Ryan and the Falcons offense always put up numbers. With weapons all around him and a defense that is expected to be bad, Ryan will have to put up points. He has not been under 4,000 yards passing since 2010 and consistently is around 30 TDs each year. So you know what you are getting with the player. Also, if you believe in superstition, Ryan has been the QB2 each of the past two "even-numbered" years.

Due to the injury last year, it was the first time for Brees outside the top-10 at the position since 2003. Expect for him to be there yet again in 2020 (also may be his final season) thanks in large part to the outstanding supporting cast he has around him.

What could be called the veteran tier, this group is full of years of fantasy football experience. Tom Brady is learning the first new system of his career but is surrounded by what may be the best set of receivers he's ever had. The potential is there for him to see 30 TDs yet again, but I believe the time of him being a high volume passer is done.

Carson Wentz suffered to a QB24 finish a season ago as the team was hit with countless injuries to receivers. But after re-stocking the tool shed, we should see Wentz get back to his QB1 ways in the high-powered Eagles offense.

 

Tier 4

Both Rodgers and Stafford are aging veterans that seem to be heading in opposite directions.

Sure, Rodgers was again over 4,000 yards passing last year with 26 TDs, but his second-half performance left a lot to be desired. Add in a run-based offense with a lack of receiving options and you have a QB that could likely struggle to get back to his once-dominant ways. Stafford, meanwhile, was on the way to what may have been the best season of his career before the injury. Playing a poor defense and a group of talented wide-outs, Stafford should be able to push for a low-end QB1 finish.

In this next group, you find a mixture of established talents along with some up-and-coming players. Out of this group, the player that catches my eye the most is Daniel Jones. He had an up and down season, as most rookies do, but when he hit he hit big. Two of his big scoring weeks were inside the top-10, a stat that only Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson can claim for 2019. The supporting cast around him may not be the greatest, but with a poor Giants Defense allowing plenty of points, the honus will be on Jones and the offense to match points. With a full 16 games to work with, I believe that Jones could put together a 4,500-yard season with over 30 TDs. Putting him in the discussion as a low-end QB1.

Meanwhile, the other QBs in this tier all have questions surrounding them. Can Ben Roethlisberger come back from the elbow injury and return to QB1 form? Or will the passing attack continue to suffer after the departure of Antonio Brown? Will Ryan Tannehill carry the momentum of the eight-game stretch to finish the 2019 season forward, or will we see the Titans offense from the playoffs that solely focused on Derrick Henry? Both Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield are coming off of disappointing seasons but have the tools and weapons to make a large leap forward. Goff has been there before but the 12 personnel of the Rams could limit his opportunities to score. While Mayfield flashes the skills of a potential QB1, he lapses in judgment, and turnover worthy plays lead to bouts of inconsistency that lands him in this spot on our rankings.

 

Tier 5

Joe Burrow stands above veterans Kirk Cousins and Philip Rivers but this is where the rookie QB belongs. He brings a talent at QB to the Bengals that they have not had in years. He can make all the throws and even does that with accuracy down the field. The talent around him is good enough to carry him on off weeks, but Burrow could find himself putting consistent numbers. The Bengals offensive line will be vastly improved in 2020, while the defense may be one of the worst in football.

When it comes to what you need in a fantasy QB, those two factors in heavily. Opportunity is the name of the game, and Burrow should see plenty of it. I would not be shocked to see him put 4,000 passing yards and 30 TD in his rookie season.

 

Tier 6 and lower

The rest of the QBs that fill out of rankings are players that you will see hold value mostly as QB2s in fantasy or if they are even rostered at all depending on the size of your league. But still, you can find diamonds in the rough down in this area that could prove to be helpful for you in the 2020 season.

Cam Newton - Continues to rise up the rankings and should have weeks in which he puts up QB1 numbers. We've seen in the past when he is healthy he is a viable option to fantasy owners and I expect to see Bill Belichick get the most out of Newton. There will be weeks in which Newton could cause you headaches, but drafting him as a QB2 for fantasy allows you to find the right matchups in which to start him.

Drew Lock - The second-year QB showed down the stretch in 2019 that he has some tools to work with. So the front office went out and added pieces around him to help take the next step. Although they will lean more on the run with Melvin Gordon, look for the Broncos to utilize a lot of 11 personnel with stud Courtland Sutton and rookie Jerry Jeudy causing tough matchups for opposing defenses.

Gardner Minshew II - Minshew's rookie campaign was full of ups and downs but also saw six QB1 finishes. He is starting to catch the eye of other experts in the industry as a potential sleeper for the 2020 season. Much of that is due to the addition of Jay Gruden as offensive coordinator who has gotten the most of QBs like Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins. With the state of the Jaguars Defense, we could see plenty of garbage time scoring from Minshew in 2020. Which helped a former Jaguar (Blake Bortles) put together a QB1 season previously.



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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




Categories
2020 Fantasy Football Advice 2020 Fantasy Football Projections & ADP Analysis Editor Note NFL Analysis RotoBaller - All Fantasy Sports Articles

Quarterback Best-Ball Tiered Rankings and Analysis - August

So far so good. It appears the NFL season will start on time as planned, so fantasy football draft season should proceed as usual. Of course, if you are a best-ball player, you've been drafting for months and will simply continue to build your portfolio of rosters.

The quarterback position requires a specific plan of attack in best-ball leagues, as you cannot play the streaming game based on matchups throughout the year and a backup is required to compensate for the bye weeks and account for injuries. Roster construction varies based on strategical preference, but it's usually advisable to stick with two QBs on a roster if your QB1 is a top-15 pick at the position or three if you play the waiting game. This makes analyzing tiers critical in order to assess who and when to select the right signal-caller.

We will continue to update rankings in every format throughout the offseason and you can find the latest rankings here. When you're finished here, check out our excellent coverage of the running back position by Phil Clark.

 

QB Best-Ball Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier Player Name Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Patrick Mahomes 35 4
2 1 Lamar Jackson 37 4
3 2 Kyler Murray 56 5
4 2 Dak Prescott 69 6
5 2 Russell Wilson 70 6
6 2 Deshaun Watson 71 6
7 2 Josh Allen 73 6
8 3 Carson Wentz 82 7
9 3 Matt Ryan 89 8
10 4 Daniel Jones 101 9
11 4 Tom Brady 102 9
12 4 Drew Brees 103 9
13 4 Aaron Rodgers 104 9
14 4 Baker Mayfield 105 9
15 5 Matthew Stafford 120 10
16 5 Jimmy Garoppolo 125 10
17 5 Ben Roethlisberger 128 10
18 5 Joe Burrow 132 10
19 5 Jared Goff 140 11
20 5 Ryan Tannehill 145 11
21 5 Cam Newton 146 11
22 5 Philip Rivers 151 12
23 5 Kirk Cousins 154 12
24 6 Drew Lock 176 13
25 6 Derek Carr 179 14
26 6 Teddy Bridgewater 183 14
27 6 Sam Darnold 184 14
28 6 Gardner Minshew II 185 14
29 7 Ryan Fitzpatrick 205 15
30 7 Dwayne Haskins 215 15
31 7 Tyrod Taylor 217 15
32 8 Tua Tagovailoa 237 16
33 8 Mitchell Trubisky 252 17
34 8 Jameis Winston 263 18
35 8 Jordan Love 265 18
36 8 Nick Foles 273 18
37 8 Marcus Mariota 278 18
38 9 Justin Herbert 294 18
39 9 Jarrett Stidham 300 18
40 9 Kyle Allen 323 19
41 9 Andy Dalton 335 19
42 9 Alex Smith 339 20
43 9 Jalen Hurts 346 20
44 9 Taysom Hill 354 20
45 9 Jordan Ta'amu 360 20
46 9 Jacoby Brissett 372 21

 

Tier 1

It's obvious that Lamar Jackson and Pat Mahomes will comprise the top tier on their own this preseason in all formats. What's notable is how their ADP seems to be slowly creeping up, as many owners decide that it's worth having a difference-maker at QB. Jackson is going 19th overall and Mahomes 23rd overall in FFPC Best-Ball leagues (non-Superflex). They rank slightly lower in BB10s at 21 and 27 respectively.

The RotoBaller rankings crew doesn't have either passer quite that high. In fact, we suggest passing on this tier in favor of acquiring high-end RB/WR in the second and third round instead. The likelihood of either passer reprising their career years is unlikely. While you can achieve a high floor on a weekly basis, you could come close to replicating that production with a pair of reliable passers later on. The lack of depth beyond the first couple of tiers at running back, along with their inflated ADP, make it more important to address that position in the first couple of rounds.

 

Tier 2

Josh Allen as QB7 seems about right but it may be surprising to see him a full 14 spots higher than his 95 ADP in BB10. It turns out there is a big discrepancy between sites, as he is going 82nd in FFPC and 83rd in NFBC drafts. There is a wider variation in value once you look at QB3-8, so if you are set on a guy, don't necessarily expect him to be available where he is typically taken. Allen could take a step forward with Stefon Diggs in town but placing him above Prescott is a bit much for me. Speaking of...

Dak Prescott is one of the biggest preseason ADP risers in 2020. The addition of CeeDee Lamb, a more aggressive head coach in Mike McCarthy, and the simple acknowledgment that he is indeed an elite quarterback have conspired to bring him into the second tier for most drafters. Another factor that works in Prescott's favor is the fact that the Cowboys have the third-easiest projected strength of schedule. Even without a new deal (what is Jerry Jones actually thinking?), Prescott is viewed as a solid top-five QB for redraft purposes.

Our rankings have him down a tier nearly 20 spots lower than his current draft position on FFPC, partly due to my own rankings. The issue is two-fold for me. 1) I don't value quarterbacks as highly as others in this format, so many of my rankings will be lower than ADP consensus. 2) The higher the draft slot, the less likely you are to find a good return on investment. Prescott is rock solid, but not likely to put up better numbers than last year, so you could find comparable value a round or two later. Consequently, I won't own too many shares outside of a Terminator league where I want a safe pick at the position.

 

Tier 3

Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan sit in the dead zone between high-upside QBs who offer rushing production and riskier picks due to age, inconsistency, or other concerns. In other words, if you like your QB safe and boring, here's your sweet spot.

Even with a skeleton crew at wide receiver much of the season, Wentz consistently put up QB1 fantasy numbers on a regular basis.

The addition of Jalen Reagor and possibility of a healthy Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson can only help. The only issue with Wentz is that he doesn't have tangible upside for a breakout, league-winning type of season. There is no need to reach for him, so make sure to secure eight flex players (RB/WR/TE) before pulling the trigger.

A case hardly has to be made for Ryan. He led the NFL in pass completions (408) last year despite missing a game and has one of the best WR duos along with pass-catching back extraordinaire Todd Gurley II. Ryan has missed a total of three games over a 12-year career, so securing him just inside the top 100 players practically assures you can wait for a backup and safely keep your QB roster count to two with no risk.

 

Tier 4

We're far more optimistic about Aaron Rodgers than most. He has fallen outside the top 10 QBs in FFPC best-ball leagues and comes in at 10th on BB10. This is the inverse situation of Prescott, where perception of Rodgers' fantasy value may be unnecessarily low. Jordan Love won't see the field this season as long as Rodgers is healthy and concerns over the receiving corps are overblown. He actually should have an easier time finding his targets this year. If you recall, his main man Davante Adams was injured and missed four games and Allen Lazard was a rookie. Rodgers still managed to finish 2019 as the fantasy QB9. I'm pretty sure he'll be passing Jameis Winston on that list, so a top-eight finish is quite reasonable.

Rodgers had a very low 6.9% win rate on FFPC last year (lower than Joe Flacco, unbelievably) but that was based on a 73.9 ADP. Now that he's going around pick 114 as QB13, he makes for a good value for those who don't want to roll the dice on a second-year QB.

Full disclosure: Daniel Jones is tearing the inside of my soul apart. OK, that might be hyperbolic but he does create much internal conflict on draft day. On one hand, I have him pegged as a breakout candidate based on a wealth of targets at his disposal and a defense that could be worse than last year. On the other hand, he turns the ball over a helluva lot. He tossed 12 INT in 12 starts but also fumbled a league-high 18 times, recovering only three. Offensive line has been an issue (just ask Eli Manning), so he's not solely to blame, but it doesn't inspire confidence that he can reach his full potential just yet. I would keep him as a QB2 if paired with a high-floor veteran like Brees or Brady.

Tom Brady in Tampa under Bruce Arians, throwing to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Gronk feels like it should be a safe bet. I have him down at QB17 in best-ball, however, which is the lowest of our rankers. I worry that the peaks might not make him the ideal draft target based on an ADP that keeps creeping upward. Brady is the anti-Daniel Jones in the sense that he rarely makes mistakes but also won't sling it down the field, at least not anymore.

According to NFL NextGenStats, Tom Brady ranked 26th with a 15.2 Aggressiveness rating while Daniel Jones ranked third at 22.4. Add in the fact that Tampa may have one of the most improved defenses, along with far fewer turnovers without Jameis Winston at the helm, and this team simply won't need to pass as much. Brady is a fine second QB but won't be a league-winner.

 

Tier 5

Once the starting-caliber quarterbacks are gone, there's a big cluster of passers lumped together ranging from rookie Joe Burrow to veteran Philip Rivers. Roster construction should dictate which direction you go for your second QB, depending on who was selected prior. If you already rostered a QB from the first two tiers, it makes sense to wait and take a chance on someone like Burrow or Newton, who could put up the occasional big week but most likely won't be needed in your starting lineup. If your QB1 is Baker Mayfield or Daniel Jones, then it should be a priority to select someone like Matthew Stafford or Jared Goff for a safe floor.

Big Ben might be the riskiest "safe" pick of this whole pack. There are arguments on both sides. Critics will point out that he's 38 years old, coming off elbow surgery, and doesn't bring a high floor due to a lack of rushing ability (and a propensity for turnovers at times). Supporters will astutely note that he is one year removed from a 5,000-yard passing season, has a deep, young receiver group, and hasn't finished worse than QB20 in the past 10 years, 2019 not included.

I'm about 40-50 spots higher on Goff than my fellow rankers. He was fifth in xComp% at 66.5% and has been a consistent performer with 4,600 passing yards the past two seasons. Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley are gone, but neither were 100% healthy last year and Gurley's presence may have hampered the offense with his 3.8 yards per carry. Having an explosive back like Cam Akers and now three pass-catching tight end threats should keep Goff's yardage total high as usual.

 

Tier 6 and lower

I currently own more Derek Carr shares in best-ball leagues than I ever imagined. The prevailing thought is that Marcus Mariota may displace him in 2020, but as someone who has watched Mariota actually play, I don't share that concern.

Mariota's xComp% was 61.8%, fifth-worst among qualified passers (128 pass attempts). He was dispatched by the Titans, who picked him second overall mind you, and will simply serve as the backup unless Carr really struggles early on. He's not the most exciting, but Carr has always been efficient and at least has some new weapons at receiver.

I had some hopes early this preseason that Dwayne Haskins could be a sneaky backup QB target this year but those are gone now. His 76 QB Rating was worse than all but Duck Hodges and David Blough and the new coaching staff will have no attachment to him. Typically, second-year quarterbacks are able to make progress but the backfield situation is now a mess and the receiving corps is filled with inexperience. Hell, he might fall to third on the depth chart by season's end.


Best-ball drafters are catching on to this sentiment, as his ADP continues to fall. If you are going with a three-QB setup, you can do better than Haskins.

If I had to pick out a late QB target that could be a league-winner, it would be Drew Lock or Gardner Minshew. They are both going within five spots of each other in FFPC, around the 150 range. Minshew's ADP has slowly climbed but it's obvious that his ceiling is limited based on the situation in Jacksonville. Lock has better targets and a better O-line protecting him. Minshew will likely rack up garbage time yardage on several occasions but I expect Lock to rack up more touchdown passes.

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Superflex Strategy: How to Attack Draft Day

Draft season is here, and you're preparing to get to work defeating your opponents. Leagues aren't won on draft day, but they can certainly be lost on them. In Superflex, the strategy is vastly different than that of redraft. The importance of quarterback is greatly amplified because of the ability to start two quarterbacks every single week. With that in mind, you have to be ready to vastly alter your typical plan of attack. While single-quarterback leagues allow you to find your starter after the 10th round, Superflex will see the majority of teams find a starter no later than the third round.

Last year, quarterbacks made up 13 of the top 24 and 19 of the top 36 scorers in fantasy. Over one half of that group was a quarterback, and there are only so many of them to go around. Compare that to positions like wide receiver where one team can have multiple viable fantasy options. With quarterbacks scoring so many points, you can't afford to ignore the position for too long before you're going to end up without enough production.

Compared to last season, quarterback prices in Superflex have gone up. While only three quarterbacks had ADPs in the first two rounds last year, you're seeing six players going in the first two rounds this season, and four of them are names that are new from last year. It's important to find value at each spot, and, in Superflex, you're going to have to be even craftier to find them.

 

Strategy 1: Quarterback Early

While most single-quarterback leagues will see one or two quarterbacks coming off the board in the first three rounds, you're going to have to pay up in Superflex, and a lot of that is going to depend on your draft spot to determine who you're targeting when. If you're in the front half of the first round, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are going to be who you're looking at. Mahomes still has a loaded offense, and Jackson's running ability makes him the most dynamic player we've seen since Michael Vick 15 years ago.

If you're in the back half of the first round, you'll likely be targeting Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. Both of them have a litany of weapons around them along with offenses that should allow for a large amount of production. Now that you have an elite option, you can do one of two things. You can double up on quarterbacks in the second with someone like Kyler Murray or Dak Prescott, or you can wait until the third round while grabbing a running back in the second. Tight end is the thinnest position in fantasy football, but running back isn't far behind. Grabbing a guy like Joe Mixon or Derrick Henry would give you a safe option with a high level of volume.

If you choose to grab a running back, the third round still has plenty of quarterbacks to choose from. Guys like Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees are all currently sitting with ADPs in the third round. Even Matt Ryan in the fourth round is an extremely viable second option due to the high volume of passing his offense does. Getting both of your quarterbacks straight before the end of the fourth round gives you an advantage over other players in the later rounds.

 

Strategy 2: Quarterback Split

If you're able to get one of the top five quarterbacks, you have the ability to be patient when getting your second guy. Having one of the truly elite players at the position will give you more leniency with who you fill out your Superflex spot. In that time that you're waiting on a second quarterback, you can start attacking running backs and wide receivers without feeling like you're at a quarterback disadvantage thanks to the elite player you already grabbed.

Some of the quarterbacks you could have had in the middle rounds included Matthew Stafford, Josh Allen, and Kirk Cousins. Stafford and Allen were both going to be top-10 quarterbacks last season, and you could have gotten both of them after the ninth round. Contrary to the belief of a lot of fantasy analysts, you can get good fantasy production out of your Superflex without paying a premium price.

This year, you should be looking at players like Ben Roethlisberger, Gardner Minshew, and Cam Newton as your second option. Two out of those three should have no problem finishing at the top of the position as long as they remain healthy. Minshew is the sleeper here. He flew under the radar for fantasy last season despite being one of the most entertaining personalities in football. He averaged a tick under 20 fantasy points per game because he was able to take care of the ball while generating decent yardage.

There are multiple options available if you choose to wait for that second quarterback. You don't have to be tied to any individual one of them, and you can still be successful. With an elite first option, grabbing a high-floor second option would be in your best interest. A player that knows how to take care of the ball or has some rushing upside to him would be a good pairing to make.

 

Strategy 3: Quarterback Later

In 2019, you could have elected to completely punt on the position in Superflex while still coming out with a successful season. As I mentioned last year, Stafford and Allen could both have been had at a discount. This year is no different with other players that are available. After investing in your wide receivers, running backs, and maybe tight end through the first several rounds, it's time to grab a quarterback or two.

Starting in the eighth round, there are multiple starters available. Right off the bat, you can grab Minshew or Drew Lock, who saw his offense get completely reloaded with receiving weapons throughout the offseason. Lock brings some question marks with him due to his offensive tackle situation. We also only have a five-game sample size to work with after he was relegated to the bench until late in the season last year.

After those first few, we have a few other options available. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow finds himself with an ADP above Newton, and he will start from Day 1. While he's a rookie behind a bad offensive line, his running back and receiving weapons are a pretty good group. Further down, you can grab Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick to give yourself a guaranteed starter depending on how the team lines up moving throughout the year. In a run-and-shoot offense, they give you an easy path to a high ceiling.

In every draft, there is no such thing as one size fits all. You have to be ready to change and adapt your draft as you're moving through. If your opponents are letting quarterbacks slip, you can take advantage of that value. If they're targeting them early, you may have to move up your plan of attack to fit the board. Keep yourself open to the flows of the draft, and adjust accordingly. If you do that, you'll be sitting with a great roster by the time it's all said-and-done.



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Fantasy Football ADP Fallers at Quarterback

We continue looking at ADP risers and fallers through the offseason as we already completed our first run back in June. You can check our first review of the early-summer risers and fallers at running back, wide receiver, tight end, and quarterback.

Average Draft Position (ADP) indicates the average position where a player is drafted over more than one fantasy football draft. You can consider it as the price you have to pay to draft and get a player in your team.

ADPs are helpful to gauge the average value of players on draft day as viewed by the competition.

 

Quarterbacks - ADP Fallers

 

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

No quarterback has seen a huge drop in ADP during the past few weeks. Carr leads the pack, but the fall sits at just 4.5 picks, which isn't even half of a round in 12-team redraft leagues. No news has dropped about the supposedly ongoing quarterback battle between Carr and Marcus Mariota, so it makes sense.

As I see it (and it is the same in the case of Mitchell Trubisky/Nick Foles, for example), Carr will hold onto the starting role at least for a few weeks (three? four?) before Vegas decides to move on if he puts on a streak of duds to start the season. But there is no chance Carr is not your Raiders' starter in Week 1.

That being said, Carr projects to just 258 PPR points in 2020 per PFF, which would make him the 19th-best QB in the league. Fantasy GMs are still drafting Carr as a late-rounder inside the 14/15th rounds, but there should be much better options out there earlier or even that late in drafts for you to look at instead. With his short-term future in the air and his back against the ropes (Mariota is waiting in the wings, remember), I'd pass on Carr.

 

Daniel Jones, New York Giants

Jones and Carr are super close in terms of PFF projections. Carr is at 258 PPR points and Jones at 256, but the difference in ADP is massive. Carr is getting drafted as the QB27 while Jones is getting off the board as the QB14. The distance is ADP is currently at almost 50 spots, which is to say four rounds in 12-team leagues.

The Giants passer is projected to finish the year as the QB20 in 2020 but is getting drafted six spots earlier in the QB-draft-ranks. If we go by potential return on investment, there are 19 quarterbacks above Jones right now, and seven of them are cheaper than Jones while projecting to more fantasy points in 2020: Ryan Tannehill, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield, and Philip Rivers.

I think Jones has some upside to him, but the price is a little high for what he could end doing on the gridiron for the Giants next season. Truth be told, I'd rather bank on a rookie like Joe Burrow than paying a high price for someone like Jones.

 

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

Jacoby Brissett is nowhere close to Rivers' ability at manning a team, and Rivers is seemingly unbreakable no matter his age so he won't be missing any games. Even with that, Rivers only projects to 245 fantasy points in 2020, which would be good for only QB22 while he's getting drafted as QB25 with an ADP of 155 overall (13th round). As a late flier, that's not bad, but he's barely a QB2 by PFF projections so there is not much upside to getting him with a pick.

If anything, just grab him from waivers for free once the draft is completed and stream him when the situation (your roster and the bye weeks hitting) calls for it. Although only Carr has a better projection while being drafted at a cheaper ADP (assuming he plays all year as the starter, that is), it doesn't make much sense to me to waste a late-round pick on Rivers while you can get a receiver or rusher with much more upside to become a league-winning player instead of drafting a middling QB you can get for free easily. And if you can't, there will be plenty of other similar QBs on waivers for you to pick for free. Easy fade.



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Fantasy Football ADP Risers at Quarterback

We continue looking at ADP risers and fallers through the offseason as we already completed our first run back in June. You can check our first review of the early-summer risers and fallers at running back, wide receiver, tight end, and quarterback.

Average Draft Position (ADP) indicates the average position where a player is drafted over more than one fantasy football draft. You can consider it as the price you have to pay to draft and get a player in your team.

ADPs are helpful to gauge the average value of players on draft day as viewed by the competition.

 

Quarterbacks - ADP Risers

 

Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers

The last news regarding the battle-of-quarterbacks going on in LA between Tyrod Taylor and rookie Justin Herbert reported about the freshman battling the veteran in training camp in order to get the starting gig for Week 1. That seemed a little bit optimistic for the rookie back then, and it still does now. That is why fantasy GMs keep banking on Taylor as the early starter because his ADP upward trend (small but sure) shows.

For how long Taylor will remain as the Chargers starter we don't know. But similar to the situation of Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago, Taylor will start the first game of the season and the team will go from there. Does that mean you should buy Taylor at his current (and rising) ADP? Not really. PFF has the combination of Taylor and Herbert projected to reach 281 PPR points. That's an insane amount, but again, that's combining both players' points. If we assume Taylor gets the highest tally, he'd end with 185 points... good for QB30 in the ranks and 93rd-best player in the season when all positions are considered.

Those numbers would make the veteran quite a value given his undrafted stock, but he'd also be the worst starter in the league. You just don't draft or even get such a player for free through waivers in any league, even if it's a two-QB, 20-team league. Don't buy on this trend and fade Taylor even if Herbert gets injured in camp and misses the whole season. The upside is minimal no matter how you look at it.

 

Cam Newton, New England Patriots

Although Cam Newton's ADP is in fact rising, it surprises me that it is not getting even a larger boost up. I don't believe one bit of the talk regarding a potential battle between Newton and Jarrett Stidham for the starting QB position on the Patriots. No matter how bad Newton looks this summer in training camps, he'll be there on the field when the ball is snapped for the first time during the 2020 season. And if that is not the case, it won't take more than a drive for him to overcome Stidham and make it to the field, let's be honest here.

With all of the injury concerns he carries with him, Newton is projected to only get 241 PPR points next season (PFF). That would see him finish the year as the QB23, which is on par with Philip Rivers and Gardner Minshew II. The former Panther brings massive upside though, as he can pass, run, and even receive passes himself if he wanted.

And all of that is at a nice ADP of "just" around 130 overall, which means Newton is getting drafted outside of the top-10 rounds and is definitely someone to consider as your late-round quarterback draftee. Even if his ADP keeps rising, I'd still bet on Newton having a great season in his comeback year. Target Cam.

 

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott's ADP is getting insane (to a certain extent, you know) as he's now become the third QB getting off the board and only behind clear no. 1 and no. 2 Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Prescott is currently boasting a 65 ADP overall and getting drafted inside the sixth round of redraft league drafts. He's the only one getting picked that early along with Kyler Murray, but the value Prescott is poised to produce is way above the Arizona Cardinals QB.

PFF has a projection of 316 PPR points for Prescott, who would finish the year as the QB3 and fifth-best player overall in 2020 fantasy leagues. That's crazy production no matter how you look at it or the price it comes at. You might want other players at the position such as Deshaun Watson, but the difference in ADP and projected PPR points isn't really great as to make one a true better value over the other one.

Superstar players come at expensive prices, which doesn't mean you shouldn't pay for them. It is hard to see Prescott's ADP getting much higher, but even if it still rises a little bit, he'll be worth paying for even considering the high-octane offense of his Cowboys.



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Fool Me Once... Sophomore QBs Set to Bust Again

Just because QBs have one year of NFL experience under their belt does not mean natural progression will come sophomore year, unfortunately. In fact, many players, especially QBs, undergo growing pains for their first few years in the league before emerging as a true gunslinger.

Look at what Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen did in year two. Those are just a few of the more recent QBs to have not upped their game to an elite level in their sophomore season (which was last year). Development is different for every QB, but for fantasy owners, consistency and explosiveness are needed from players at all positions.

A few QBs entering their sophomore year this season have the potential to be fantasy stars due to offseason growth, the addition of weapons, and a stronger offensive line. Examples include Broncos QB Drew Lock and Giants QB Daniel Jones. Unfortunately, some QBs may not have that luxury and could struggle in fantasy. Let’s look at some sophomore signal-callers to avoid for your fantasy team in 2020.

 

Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team

Ohio State product Dwayne Haskins was thrust into the NFL spotlight last season in Week 4 against the Giants and the 23-year-old had a turbulent rookie season on the Washington Football Team. The QB finished with 1,365 pass yards, seven touchdowns, seven picks, 6.7 yards per pass attempt, 151.7 pass yards per game, a 76.7 quarterback rating, and 101 rush yards in nine games played. He had 38 bad throws and a 19.4 percent poor throws per pass attempt rate.

The New Jersey native finished 35th among fantasy QBs. Among NFL QBs, he ranked 34th in pass yards, 33rd in pass touchdowns, 22nd in interceptions, 34th in pass yards per game, and 23rd in rush yards. The team went 2-7 during the games Haskins played, and the young QB didn’t finish with more than 261 pass yards, two pass touchdowns, a 92.2 quarterback rating, and 28 rush yards in any of the nine games he appeared in.

Heading into his second season, Haskins has room to improve; however, he is still young and unproven for fantasy. In addition, Washington doesn’t boast a high-powered offense, but instead one of the weakest (if not weakest) in the league. The QB’s only reliable weapon on the entire pass-catching unit is fellow Ohio State product, Terry McLaurin. Other than that, Haskins doesn’t have proven playmakers to toss the pigskin to. When considering that he is still growing as a QB, along with the lack of firepower on the offense, it makes Haskins a candidate to be a fantasy bust. He can only be viewed as a backup in deep fantasy leagues heading into drafts.

 

Jarrett Stidham, New England Patriots

Coach Bill Belichick has made it clear that newly-signed veteran QB Cam Newton will have to earn the starting QB job for the New England Patriots, but the former Panther’s abilities and experience in the NFL give him the edge on sophomore QB Jarrett Stidham.

Stidham was viewed as the “successor” to Tom Brady after he departed for Tampa, and Belichick must see something in the kid because New England didn’t draft a QB in the draft despite much speculation about them needing one.

Nevertheless, an open QB competition does not bode well for the fantasy value of the 23-year-old, as he is unproven, young, and lacking NFL experience. The Auburn product appeared in three games for the Pats last season and only mustered four pass attempts, 14 pass yards, one pick, a quarterback rating of 18.7, and -2 rushing yards. It will be hard to consider Stidham a capable fantasy QB heading into drafts, and the presence of Cam Newton (and even Brian Hoyer) just sends his fantasy value to non-existent. He is the safest pick on this list to call a fantasy bust for 2020.

 

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars

Gardner Minshew may have taken the NFL world by storm last year with his playmaking and hip mustache, be he does remain a risky fantasy option heading into his second year. The 24-year-old had 3,271 pass yards, 21 touchdowns, six picks, 233.6 pass yards per game, a 91.6 quarterback rating, and 344 rush yards in 14 games. He had 84 bad throws and an 18.6 poor throws per pass attempt rate.

Minshew finished 20th among fantasy QBs. He also ranked 20th in pass yards, 20th in pass touchdowns, 21st in pass yards per game, 16th in quarterback rating, 17th in bad throws, eighth in poor throws per pass attempt rate, and 20th in on-target throws (332). The Washington State product also had 13 fumbles, which was tied for fourth-highest among NFL QBs.

The Mississippi native is a risky fantasy option heading into 2020 because he has the tendency to fumble and only ranked average in mostly all passing categories. Though he could shine some weeks, he can flounder in others. This means the QB could potentially be a fantasy bust, especially considering there are better and more reliable options at the position. Minshew shouldn’t be considered more than a backup in 12-team fantasy leagues heading into drafts.



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Stop That Hype Train! Kyler Murray

When it comes to the young quarterbacks in the NFL, few are as exciting as Kyler Murray. The dual-threat quarterback started his career with plenty of recognition, going from a first-round pick in the MLB playing quarterback for a season at Oklahoma to a Heisman-winning first overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 draft.

After choosing to forego his baseball career, Murray immediately made an impact in the NFL, throwing for 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions while adding 544 yards and four additional touchdowns on just 93 carries. Murray took home the rookie of the year honors on an offense that was being run by a first-time head coach (Kliff Kingsbury) and an offense that lacked a true alpha wide receiver. He finished as QB7 in fantasy leagues, averaging 18.58 points per game and scoring 297.28 points overall.

The momentum from a successful 2019 season has carried over to the 2020 draft for fantasy gamers. During the offseason, The Cardinals packaged David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick to the Texans for the services of DeAndre Hopkins. That move provides Murray with a true number one receiving option, accelerating his hype. Murray is currently going off the board as the QB3 in NFFC draft data around the fourth to the fifth round. While he does have tantalizing upside (and the rushing ability to truly excel as a dual-threat quarterback), there are some red flags to consider hinting that Murray could find himself to be a bust at that ADP.

 

Improved Defense

One of the major benefits of the Cardinals’ offense in 2019 was the fact that the Arizona defense was so bad. The Cardinals ranked in the bottom-10 in the NFL in terms of points against (442), yards against (6,432), passing yards against (4,551), rushing yards against (1,922), team interceptions (7), and first downs (375). According to Football Outsiders, the Cardinals spent 28:51 of every game trailing the opposing team, which ranked 24th in the NFL.

Often, a bad defense can lead to a good fantasy offense, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. Teams that are trailing need to throw the ball to catch up fast, which leads to more stats (and fantasy points) for the quarterbacks. That was especially true for Arizona. They averaged 25.71 seconds between plays, the fourth-fastest mark in the NFL. The Cardinals recognized this problem and sought to address it ahead of the 2020 season.

The Cardinals added a variety of playmakers on defense throughout the offseason. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips was brought in to anchor the defense, Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell were signed join Jordan Hicks as athletic tacklers with pass-rushing acumen at the linebacker position, and a top-10 pick was used on Isaiah Simmons, the versatile defensive chess piece out of Clemson. The Cardinals will have plenty of upgrades on defense in 2019, which could hinder their offense.

If opposing offenses take longer to score, it will result in fewer plays for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ offense to run. Despite being fourth in terms of seconds per play, the Cardinals only finished .66 seconds behind the fastest team in the NFL (Carolina). Beyond that, a stronger defense will result in closer games, which means a more balanced offensive game plan (more on that later) and more designed rushing attempts for Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds.

Yes, the Cardinals will still utilize Kyler Murray in the run game. But, as with most dual-threat quarterbacks, the bulk of their rushing attempts come from breakdowns in the passing game which could lead to a reduced role as a runner for Murray.

 

Bad Offensive Line

Any way you look at it, the Cardinals offensive line struggled during the 2019 season. According to Football Outsiders, the Cardinals finished as the 26th offensive line against in the passing game and the 22nd offensive line in the run game. The Cardinals also offensive line had an 8.4% sack rate, leading to Kyler Murray suffering 48 sacks, tied for the third-worst in the NFL. Some of these sacks can be attributed to a young, athletic quarterback trying to make plays, but the weak offensive line cannot be ignored.

Looking to 2020, the Cardinals return four of their five starting offensive linemen from last season. They also added a third-round rookie in Josh Jones out of Houston and signed Kelvin Beachum to compete for a spot at tackle, or at the very least, serve as an upgrade as a swing tackle for the team. A year of familiarity playing with each other is never a bad thing for an offensive line, but if they are truly bad it could lead to problems for Murray and the Cardinals offense again in 2020.

 

Sophomore Slump

Finally, the second season is usually where we find out what players and head coaches/ play-callers are made of. At the end of 2018, hope was high in Cleveland after Baker Mayfield set the rookie touchdown record and Freddie Kitchens parlayed a strong offensive finish into the head coaching job in Cleveland. Then Baker Mayfield struggled in 2019, opposing coaches figured out Kitchens’ play-calling, and the Browns sputtered to another sub-.500 finish and brought in a new coach with a new scheme. The Bears also face a prove-it year in 2020 after feeling optimistic about a second-year head coach (Matt Nagy) and a solid 2018 campaign from Mitch Trubisky (in his second full year as a starter) before falling flat in 2019.

These concerns should also exist for the Cardinals. Not only is Kliff Kingsbury entering his second season as a head coach in the NFL, but it will also only be his second season at the NFL level. Yes, his offense was probably more successful than anyone could have hoped in 2019, but can he make the proper adjustments to avoid teams keying in on his tendencies in year two? Kyler was largely accurate in 2019 (64.4 completion percentage), but he also struggled to get the ball in the end zone and took an extremely high number of sacks trying to extend plays.

Another issue to monitor is the obvious difference in the Cardinals game plan depending on how the game was going. In their 10 losses (and 1 tie), Murray averaged 33.5 pass attempts a game (369 total attempts made) and threw for 2,688 yards and 15 touchdowns. But he also accounted for 11 of his 12 interceptions and 44 of his 48 sacks in those contests. He also compiled 48 carries for 264 yards and three of his four rushing touchdowns. In the team’s five wins, Murray averaged only 26 attempts a game but threw five touchdowns compared to one interception. He took only four total sacks in five games and was also more efficient as a runner (48 carries for 280 yards and a touchdown).

 

Summary

As previously stated, if the Cardinals can improve as a defense, then it could lead to a more efficient game plan for Murray. Efficiency isn’t necessarily bad for the Cardinals as a football team, but in terms of fantasy, it could limit Murray’s already capped ceiling. If Murray is being drafted as QB3 in NFFC leagues (rightfully behind Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes), he has to improve upon all of his statistics from last season to surpass the names that he finished behind (Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston, Russell Wilson, and Josh Allen) beyond out playing big names that finished behind him (Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady) as QB1’s.

The addition of DeAndre Hopkins is obviously a massive help, but a limited offseason and lack of preseason may lead to a longer period before they truly being to gel on offense. Moving teams is historically difficult for wide receivers because of route timing and ball placement and that issue may be even more compounded with a lack of practices to truly time up plays together. The success of Kenyan Drake at the end of last season could also eat into the team's total passing game since they will be able to utilize the run which was instrumental in all five of their wins.

While Murray could certainly finish as a top-three fantasy quarterback during the 2020 season, it is far from a slam dunk and signifies a big risk during the early rounds of your fantasy draft. Let's pump the brakes on this hype train before it goes flying off the tracks.



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Gardner Minshew - 2020 Fantasy Football Sleeper

Entering the 2019 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars were receiving warranted hype after the pickup of former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles. By the end of the season, the Jaguars had stumbled to a 6-10 record while finding a pleasant surprise in young rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II. The mustached Minshew threw for 3,271 yards and sported a shiny 21-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his first campaign as a professional.

To build off of his first-year success, Minshew decided to take a 17-day cross-country trip in an RV, where he made stops to visit the Grand Canyon, flew an F-16 jet with the Air Force Thunderbirds and made plenty of time to partake in one of his favorite offseason activities - duck hunting. While his off-the-field personality has quickly endeared him to Jaguars fans, it was his on-the-field performance as a graduate transfer in the Mike Leach "Air Raid" offense at Washington State that put him on the map for NFL scouts.

As a sixth-round draft pick last season, Minshew was expected to compete for a backup role behind the team's notable 2019 offseason free-agent acquisition Nick Foles. The rookie was thrust into a starring role early on though after Foles was injured in the season-opening game. Minshew would go on to start 12 games last year and far exceeded industry expectations for his rookie season.

 

Opportunity Knocks

The Jaguars showed their faith in Minshew when trading 2019 notable free-agent acquisition Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears, and leaving their quarterback room relatively untouched. As a sixth-round draft pick in 2019, the expectations for Minshew were low, but after a promising rookie campaign, the starting job is his to lose. The depth behind Minshew consists of astrophysicist and career backup Josh Dobbs, journeyman Mike Glennon, and 2020 sixth-round draft pick Jake Luton.

New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who previously served as the head coach of Washington's football team, heaped praise on Minshew already, citing his "competitive spirit." Gruden's teams have historically run West Coast-style offenses, and he has had success with Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins in the past, two quarterbacks whose success could provide a blueprint for his new project with the Jaguars.

An overlooked talent of Minshew's is his ability to improvise and take advantage of his athleticism. Minshew averaged 5.1 yards-per-carry last year as a runner, trailing only Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray among quarterbacks with at least 30 rushing attempts. Minshew's rushing ability should provide a solid floor to his fantasy outlook, similar to Josh Allen of the Bills last season.

The stable of weapons at the young quarterback's disposal has improved in 2020, with draft picks Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson providing high-upside wide receivers, and the addition of long-time Bengal Tyler Eifert at the tight end gives Minshew another quality red-zone target to augment his statistics. The improved receivers, combined with an unstable rushing game and a defense that seemingly will regress based on the transactions on paper, should create a perfect storm to increase the Jaguars' passing game.

Minshew, who is ranked as the 26th best fantasy football quarterback by our resident experts at Rotoballer, will have every opportunity to throw the ball in the Jaguars offense this season for a team that is not expected by many experts to compete in 2020. In deep leagues, Minshew provides more upside and opportunity than some of the other quarterbacks in his draft tier, such as Tyrod Taylor, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jared Goff. Expecting a season approaching 4,000 yards through the air, 500 yards rushing, and 25+ touchdowns would place Minshew in the higher tier of QB-2 candidates and a solid candidate to stash as your backup fantasy football quarterback this fall.



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The Perfect Pair: Turning Mid-Round QBs Into QB1 Value

Since 2015, I've been in a fantasy football league with a guy whose sole mission on draft day is to select Tom Brady. And when I say it is his sole mission, I do not mean he takes four or five backs and receivers and then grabs Brady a round early just to make sure he gets his boy. No, I think the latest I've ever seen this guy draft Brady was the third round.

The main reason that sticks out in my mind is that it was in 2018 when he couldn't make the draft, and had a friend draft for him. That friend asked for permission to take Tyreek Hill instead, knowing Brady would be available for at least another round. His request was denied, and Hill went on to run away with the top WR ranking at the end of the season.

To each his own. If anything, a league mate operating this way is advantageous, especially if my draft slot is in close proximity to his. If he's drafting the preseason QB8 in the second or third round, that's one more top RB or WR that will be on the board when it's my turn to pick. Except the one thing I didn't factor into my assessment of his draft strategy is that the same unorthodox approach that compels him to take Brady before most of the league is even thinking about quarterback so early yields more wacky results later on.

 

Avoiding No Man's Land

In 2016, he and I were drafting right next to each other on the board at picks 11 (me) and 12 (him). I was eyeing Drew Brees somewhere near the seventh round, and the only person who could prevent me from getting him was Brady Guy. And so I foolishly selected a running back or receiver, assuming Brees would still be there on the quick turnaround for my next pick. I was woefully mistaken. Brady Guy drafted Brees right before me. As his backup...

At this point, I found myself in a place I call Quarterback No Man's Land. We've all been here a time or two, especially if we have a tendency to wait on QB at our draft. The last guy we truly wanted comes off the board before we can grab him, and then we're left with a decision: draft another QB we're not as high on just for the sake of shoring up the position or continue stockpiling at other positions and sort out QB later.

It's an unenviable crossroads at which to find ourselves, but fear not. You won't run into any German machine guns, razor wire, or mustard gas up here in Quarterback No Man's Land. You'll simply have to navigate through a minefield of quarterbacks you're not interested in. And if you do choose to continue waiting on QB after your targets are gone, what you might find yourself doing is pairing up two guys who can combine to return the value of a top-10 or top-12 option.

For those of you who wind up here in 2020, I'm here to help. In the passage below, we'll discuss a handful of quarterbacks being drafted outside the top 12 in an attempt to nail down the perfect pair--two guys who can join forces to create a season-long fantasy QB1.

 

Statistical Outliers and Positive Regression

One of the easiest ways to identify undervalued players (at any position) is to look at the full scope of their performance and see if there are any odd variances or outliers in their underlying numbers that suggest they should have been a better fantasy option the previous year.

One player that immediately jumps off the page at me when looking at 2019 in this regard is Philip Rivers. Rivers threw the second-most passes in a single season (591) of his entire career last year. He completed 66% of them, which was the fifth-highest mark of his 14-year career. His 4,615 passing yards were good for the fourth-best such mark in his time with the Chargers. Out of 32 qualified quarterbacks, Rivers' on-target throw rate of 76.7% was the 10th-highest, and his 15.4% bad throw percentage was the seventh-lowest.

None of this sounds like a guy who was a liability in fantasy lineups yet, does it? Well, where Rivers took a dive was in the touchdown department, with a career-low 3.9% touchdown rate on his throws. Rivers' career touchdown rate is 5.2%. With a 5.2% touchdown rate on 591 pass attempts, Rivers would have thrown 30 or 31 TD in 2019 instead of 23. Another seven or eight touchdowns would have landed him in the fringe QB1 tier.

Rivers compounded his lack of touchdowns by throwing 20 interceptions, but turnovers have always been part of his fantasy profile. Maybe his age and having to learn a new system keep him buried among unreliable QB options, but playing behind the Colts offensive line certainly isn't going to hurt his 2020 outlook, and it's not as though Indianapolis is devoid of skill-position talent. If your journey through QBNML leads you to Rivers, he's going to have his moments in 2020. He's being drafted as QB23, in the 14th round.

 

Exploiting Usage Trends

Naturally, a sizable chunk of what makes a QB desirable from a fantasy perspective is how his team uses him. A quarterback can be good in real life but not used properly for fantasy purposes. In some cases, it's best to steer clear of these instances on draft day. But not all of them.

I'm a card-carrying member of the "Don't Trust the 49ers in Fantasy (Unless We're Talking George Kittle, Of Course)" alliance, and there's a reasonable chance I wind up with zero shares of that entire offense in any draft this year. The one non-Kittle exception I'm willing to make for the right price is Jimmy Garoppolo, and he's precisely the type of guy I'll be looking for to rescue me if I get stuck in No Man's Land.

The glaring knock on Garoppolo as a fantasy QB is his sheer lack of opportunity, and that's completely fair for 80 out of the 100 yards on a football field. The 49ers attempted the fourth-fewest passes in the NFL in 2019, and only the Ravens ran the ball more often. Expecting a QB in that type of offense to consistently carry us in fantasy is a fool's errand. If we isolate Garoppolo's red-zone numbers, however, we find an intriguing trend.

Garoppolo attempted the eighth-most passes in the league inside the red zone last year (73). Of the 17 quarterbacks who threw at least 60 red-zone passes, Garoppolo ranked third in completion rate behind only Jared Goff and Lamar Jackson. Only Tom Brady and Jameis Winston threw more passes inside the 10 than Garoppolo's 40. Of the 10 quarterbacks who attempted at least 35 passes inside the 10, Garoppolo ranked second in completion rate (62.5%) and threw the most touchdowns (16). (Lamar Jackson also threw 16 touchdowns inside the 10 on a ludicrous 28 attempts.)

For as much weight as we appropriately give San Francisco's offensive philosophy when evaluating Garoppolo's full fantasy outlook, we shouldn't just gloss over his role in scoring position. The 49ers trust him to chuck it when they get in close, and he proved in 2019 that he can capitalize on such opportunities. If you're going to roster a relatively touchdown-dependent quarterback, it might as well be a guy with a track record of fantasy-friendly usage near the endzone. Garoppolo is being drafted as QB19.

 

Gambling on Upside

Having discussed two quarterbacks who should be relatively dependable in fantasy lineups, let's now rattle off a few players who come into 2020 with varying levels of upside. We'll start with Daniel Jones, whose unsightly mark of 23 turnovers in 2019 is unlikely to repeat itself in his second year. Jones threw 12 interceptions last season, which is hardly a number to hold against a rookie. Where he really limited his fantasy ceiling was in fumbling 18 times and losing 11 of them. The last player to fumble 18 or more times in a season was David Carr in 2002. Considering how admirably Jones played in other aspects of the game as a rookie on a 4-12 team, ball security will undoubtedly be a major focal point going forward. It's also worth noting Jones was pressured on 29% of his drop-backs; only Case Keenum was pressured more among qualified quarterbacks. This certainly didn't help in terms of holding onto the ball. The Giants spent the fourth overall pick of the 2020 draft on Andrew Thomas, who figures to become Jones' new left tackle.

Jones doesn't have the most exciting down-range weaponry, but having the luxury of peppering Saquon Barkley with dump-offs helps to account for an average receiving corps. A healthy Evan Engram also goes a long way toward providing Jones with the supporting cast to take a leap forward in fantasy. He's QB15 at the moment.

Joe Burrow figures to be a popular flier in 2020 drafts. The first overall pick of the actual NFL draft inherits a Cincinnati roster ripe with skill-position talent and an offensive line that should presumably be better than it was last year now that Jonah Williams has recovered from shoulder surgery. Burrow's fantasy season could go any of a number of ways. He could thrive early while defenses work to figure him out, and then fade once they do. He could struggle early with the pace of the NFL game, and then round the corner in the second half once he hits that proverbial "slow the game down" moment. The best way to view Burrow is probably to accept that you're going to deal with at least equal parts bad and good in his rookie year. Pick your spots on when to start him and when to sit him, and hope to avoid the misfires. Burrow is going off the board as QB18.

If anyone has completely given up on Baker Mayfield after last year, I guess I can't blame them. But let's acknowledge the possibility that expectations were set unfairly high for Mayfield in his first full season as the Browns quarterback. If he had been viewed as a mid-level QB as opposed to a surefire fantasy starter going into last year, he might not have lost so many advocates in the fantasy community. There are aspects of a catastrophic 2019 that are on Mayfield and Mayfield alone, but let's not pretend he didn't suffer from questionable offensive line play and suspect play-calling. Mayfield was in a seven-way tie for the lowest average pocket time in 2019 at 2.3 seconds. The Browns brought in reinforcements at both tackle positions in Jack Conklin and rookie Jedrick Wills, and Pro Football Focus ranked Cleveland's as the most improved offensive line heading into 2020. Cleveland also fired headstrong Freddie Kitchens and brought in a first-time head coach with a long-standing reputation of getting results out of quarterbacks in Kevin Stefanski. Mayfield still has a ton of weapons around him, and I'm still willing to take this gamble for one more year if I'm in the market for a quarterback at his QB17 ADP.

 

The Perfect Pair

I wanted to highlight more than two players because even in No Man's Land, we can still wind up watching helplessly as our secondary and tertiary QB options are snagged before we can draft them. Yes, even in the latter stages of the draft, we have to give ourselves multiple outlets. The above-mentioned five are the players I will be looking for late if I don't get a top-12 option. But now, as promised, I want to narrow down the focus to the "perfect pair." While I'd be fine rolling with the floors of Rivers and Garoppolo in this scenario, my personal preference would be to pair one of them with a higher ceiling. Furthermore, I'm inviting volatility on myself if both of my quarterbacks are upside plays. So regardless of which quarterbacks you intend to escape with from No Man's Land, my advice is to identify a handful of guys you consider to be relatively safe. Grab one of them, and then feel free to air it out with the other.

If I get stuck in QBNML in 2020, I'm going to try to walk away with Garoppolo and Mayfield. Give me the guy running the offense of the defending NFC champion 49ers. I'm willing to accept the trade-offs in full-scale opportunity for the assurance that San Francisco will be a good real-life team with a competently-run offense. The Niners did, after all, score 31 or more points in eight games last season (nine if we include the NFC Championship Game). Head coach Kyle Shanahan routinely puts his team in position to succeed, and that's about as much of a safety net as I'm going to find if I'm still looking for a QB this late in the draft.

As for Mayfield, well, there's a reason I'm penciling him in here as an upside play. He could totally backfire on me with another season like the one he had in 2019. The difference is now I can draft him in the 12th round as opposed to the sixth or seventh. At that price, it's not costing me much to be wrong. Let's give him a second chance in a better coaching situation and with better protection up front.

Now that we have our guys, next we have to map out when to start each one in order to maximize what we get out of our duo. After all, we're aiming for combined top-12 QB production.

 

Who to Start and When

Week 1 - Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Browns play at Baltimore in Week 1. No thanks. The Cardinals gave the 49ers a run for their money on the scoreboard in 2019, which lends itself to the possibility of a shootout to kick off the 2020 season. Garoppolo threw for 741 yards and eight touchdowns in two meetings versus Arizona, completing over 75% of his passes along the way.

Week 2 - Jimmy Garoppolo @ New York Jets

If Mayfield wasn't playing Thursday night in Week 2, I'd be inclined to pick him here. I'm not crazy about Garoppolo going across the country for a 1:00 start. For all their faults in 2019, the Jets were statistically the most difficult team to run on with a league-low 3.3 yards-per-carry average against. If I'm starting Garoppolo here, it's with the idea the 49ers will struggle to establish the run early on the road, thus giving him more chances to throw.

Week 3 - Baker Mayfield vs. Washington Football Team

Washington surprisingly had the third-highest pressure rate in the league last year at 28.5%, and adding Chase Young figures to make its pass rush even more formidable. Still, Washington might be the worst overall team in the league this season. If I can't trust Mayfield to put forth a respectable fantasy performance at home against Washington, I shouldn't have even drafted him.

Week 4 - Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Philadelphia Eagles

When in doubt, take the good quarterback on the good team at home against an opponent that has to travel 3,000 miles. Mayfield plays at Dallas this week, and I'm not sure I'll be ready to trust him on the road against good teams this early in the season.

Week 5 - Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Miami Dolphins

If Washington isn't the worst team in the NFL, it will probably be Miami. My only concern here is that the 49ers will get off to such a fast start that they won't need to throw after about the halfway point of the second quarter.

Week 6 - Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Los Angeles Rams

Garoppolo didn't play very well against the Rams in 2019, but there's always shootout potential when two quality division rivals meet up. Plus, Mayfield is going on the road to Pittsburgh, one of the league's better defenses and pass rushes from last season.

Week 7 - Baker Mayfield @ Cincinnati Bengals

The only reason I veered away from Mayfield in this matchup back in Week 2 was the short week. I try not to start questionable players in Thursday night games, especially that early in the season. That said, the Bengals didn't have the first overall pick in the 2020 draft for no reason. Cincinnati has its fair share of holes and gave up the most yards per completion of any pass defense in the league in 2019. If I'm right about Mayfield taking a step forward in 2020, right around now is when he'll be hitting his stride. Also, the 49ers play at New England this week.

Week 8 - Baker Mayfield vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Only Washington and Miami gave up touchdowns on a higher percentage of opponents' throws in 2019 than the Raiders. The artist formerly known as Oakland also permitted the second-highest yards-per-completion average in the league. Rounding it all out is the Raiders' 19.9% pressure rate, good for the sixth-lowest mark in the league. Garoppolo goes on the road to Seattle this week, so give me Mayfield at home against a very bad pass defense.

Week 9 - Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Green Bay Packers

The Browns are on a bye in Week 9, so we don't have much choice other than to start Garoppolo on Thursday night against Green Bay. For what it's worth, the 49ers absolutely had their way with the Packers in two meetings last year, one of which was an incredibly boring and lopsided NFC Championship Game. While most of the 49ers' success in those contests was the result of a completely disinterested Packers run defense, Garoppolo did pepper them for 253 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 pass attempts in the first matchup.

Week 10 - Jimmy Garoppolo @ New Orleans Saints

The Browns get the Texans at home this week, meaning both QBs have the recipe in place for a shootout. Still, the shootout of all shootouts took place in New Orleans last year when the 49ers outscored the Saints 48-46 in Week 14. Garoppolo threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns in that game, and completed just under 75% of his passes.

Week 11 - Baker Mayfield vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The 49ers are on bye this week, so unfortunately we have to settle for a middle-of-the-road matchup with Mayfield. The Eagles were neither a porous nor impenetrable pass defense in 2019, but their offense should be functional enough to keep this game close and force the Browns to throw.

Week 12 - Baker Mayfield @ Jacksonville Jaguars

By this point in the season, we're going to know full well whether any positive change has taken place in Cleveland. I'd like to think they'll be able to go on the road and handle the lowly Jaguars in Week 12. Gardner Minshew's propensity for gun-slinging adds an element of shootout intrigue. The 49ers play on the road against the Rams in Week 12, a contest in which I can see the 49ers relying heavily on their modus operandi of ball control via the ground game.

Week 13 - Baker Mayfield @ Tennessee Titans

The Titans had one of the least effective pass rushes in the league last year with a 21.1% pressure rate. A relative inability to get to the quarterback doesn't stack up very well against Cleveland's improved offensive line. Tennessee was, however, a solid run defense, which could make it tough for the Browns to get anything going on the ground. Garoppolo has to face the Bills at home in Week 13, and though I'm not crazy about Mayfield on the road with a potential fantasy playoff spot on the line, I'd rather take my chances against Tennessee than the vaunted Bills Defense.

Week 14 - Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Washington Football Team

The Browns play the Ravens at home. The 49ers play Washington at home. In the first round of the fantasy playoffs, this is a no-brainer.

Week 15 - Jimmy Garoppolo @ Dallas Cowboys

Since I never have any idea what to expect from the Cowboys defensively, this game has shootout potential plastered all over it. The 49ers answered the bell every time they were challenged on the scoreboard in 2019, and if there's anything we can definitively say about Dallas heading into 2020, it's that they should be one of the league's most prolific offenses. Give me Garoppolo against my Cowboys over Mayfield on the road against the Giants.

Week 16 - Jimmy Garoppolo @ Arizona Cardinals

Once again, we're looking at the possibility of a high-scoring affair with the 49ers facing a dynamic Cardinals offense on the road. And once again, let me remind you that Garoppolo torched Arizona for 741 yards and eight touchdowns in two meetings last season. With a fantasy championship at stake, I'm leaning Garoppolo over Mayfield, who gets the Jets on the road in Week 16.

Week 17 - Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Seattle Seahawks

If I play in a league that runs all the way through Week 17, I'm hoping the 49ers are fighting for home-field advantage here. Cleveland gets Pittsburgh's tough pass defense to end the season, and I really don't want to have to turn to the quarterback facing them in this situation. Hopefully, the 49ers still have something to play for in the final week, as the Seahawks were not a particularly formidable pass defense in 2019 except for limiting touchdowns effectively.

 

Closing Statements

Needless to say, it would be absurd for me to believe I can accurately project which quarterback to start for every week of the season when we haven't even gotten into the thick of training camps yet. There are plenty of variables at play. Defenses that were tough to play against last year may take a step backward in 2020 (New England) and vice versa. The run-heavy 49ers may pivot to a more aerial approach, in turn making Garoppolo more of a weekly starter than a matchup-dependent streamer. Mayfield may crash through the breakout barrier like many expected him to last year, which would thus render him a solid starting option as well.

All we can do at this point in the year is come up with a Plan A, while also acknowledging we are almost certain to have to adjust to what actually ends up happening on the football field. If we're staring down the barrel of a dual-QB streaming approach with Garoppolo and Mayfield, a good starting point would be to plan on avoiding Mayfield early against opponents like Pittsburgh and Baltimore, or in that early Thursday night game. We can pencil Garoppolo in for starts at home against divisional opponents like Arizona and Los Angeles, keeping in mind that a few of those NFC West games were high-scoring in 2019. And in some weeks, one of Mayfield or Garoppolo will be facing a clearly inferior opponent like Miami or Washington. From here, we just try to piece together each week the best we can based on whatever new information is presented to us.

At the very least, I hope I've helped you formulate a strategy for how to navigate through Quarterback No Man's Land. You don't have to believe in the same quarterbacks I do, but I hope my thought process in narrowing down my contingency targets provides you with the tools to identify your own guys. If you have any fantasy football questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter: @cjoreillyCLE



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Cheap-But-Good QB-WR Stacks in Redraft

When it comes to daily fantasy football, stacking players from the same team and offense on concrete weeks is a sound strategy. That is why elite DFS folks out there use that plan on a weekly basis. Data shows how around 80% of the best DFS results come from squads that stacked at least two players from the same team, so there is that. No wonder stacking is the way to go and a staple in DFS contests and best ball drafts.

That doesn't mean you can pull this off in redraft, season-long leagues. While there are no restrictions in terms of who make the players pool in DFS matches (every player is available to every gamer), redraft leagues are based on taking players off a common board. That means the odds of drafting all three of Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Drew Brees (three players expected to finish inside the top-20 of 2020 PPR leagues) are virtually zero.

Even with that caveat, there is still plenty of value out there to stack and take advantage of without overpaying too much or altering your draft strategy overboard. Today, I'm highlighting some QB-WR groups worth stacking given their projections and the price (ADP) they could be gotten at. Let's get to it!

 

Some Notes on the Methodology

First of all, I'm basing the following picks on PPR-format, 12-team leagues. Although it is common knowledge, I have calculated the average ADP for each position and the results (at the time of this writing) for them are as follow:

  • Top-12 QBs combined average ADP: 68.4 (6th round)
  • Top-24 RBs: 20.3 (2nd round)
  • Top-24 WRs: 36.1 (3rd round)
  • Top-12 TEs: 78.9 (7th round)

That means that most probably the quality of the players in your draft will follow the RB>WR>QB>TE order. Keep that in mind when you plan ahead your stacking strategy. Try to load on great expensive players first before they get off the board (RBs/WRs) and then try to find potential stacks that pair well with them in late rounds (TEs/QBs in this case).

For the purposes of this column, I'll be playing it safe. I've set a house-rule in that if I pick one player with an ADP lower than the average for the position I'll be forced to pick its partners from outside of the average ADP of those players' positions. For example, if I pick Patrick Mahomes (ADP lower than 68.4) I won't be able to pick Tyreek Hill (ADP lower than 36.1) and/or Clyde Edwards-Elaire (ADP lower than 20.3).

 

Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson > Tyler Lockett > D.K. Metcalf)

This is the only one of the three teams/picks that I have included in the column in which we'd be drafting an "above average" player: QB Russell Wilson. Wilson's ADP of 64.5 (QB5) would limit me (following the rules explained above) to not draft any other above-average Seahawk. Good for me, none of them are getting drafted inside that group of players at the wide receiver position and in fact they currently have ADPs of WR19 and WR21.

Scoring this three-part stack would be bonkers. It'd probably mean spending high draft picks on back-to-back selections of both Lockett and Metcalf given their close ADPs (both inside the fifth round) and also getting a little bit lucky in terms of how other fantasy GMs see them. The upside of this group, though, is really high. All three players project to reach 188+ PPR points in 2020 (using PFF projections). Only six teams in the whole NFL project to have a QB/WR/WR trio reaching that mark each.

Wilson has been a top-10 QB every year he's played and a top-5 one in two of the past three seasons. Just last year he finished as the QB3 and third-best player overall with 330.6 PPR over the year (4110 passing yards, 31 TDs, 5 INTs; 342 rushing yards, 3 TDs. Metcalf was far from a world-beater but had a tremendous rookie year that went for 187.1 PPR points (WR33) thanks to his 900 yards and 7 TDs on 58 receptions. Lockett was as efficient as always, racking all of his 235.2 PPR (WR13) points in just 82 receptions for 1057 yards and 8 TDs.

 

Cincinnati Bengals (A.J. Green > Tyler Boyd > Joe Burrow)

Stacking Bengals is a risky business, that's for sure. First of all, Joe Burrow is the no. 1 pick from the 2020 draft but still a rookie quarterback. While PFF has Burrow projected to 269.0 fantasy points, that would mean he's about to have the 13th-best rookie-QB season since 2000, on par with those of Jameis Winston, Andrew Luck, or Russell Wilson. That's a high bar to clear, but Burrow comes with both passing and rushing prowess so it shouldn't be too surprising watching him get there.

Moving on to the receivers, both Green and Boyd are getting off the board at virtually the same point (at the time of this writing) with ADPs separated by fewer than two picks inside the seventh round. Given that Burrow could be an affordable late-round pick (ADP QB19; 11th round), you can focus on getting Green and Boyd a little earlier in the early-mid rounds. The risk here is mostly about picking Green and hoping he stays healthy enough to sustain a full 16-game season of playing time. If that's the case, then you could easily be drafting a 200+ PPR stud to pair with another one in Boyd.

Last year, when playing a prominent role in the Bengals offense, Boyd finished the season with 222.9 PPR points good for WR18. He caught 90 passes for 1046 yards and 5 TDs while being targeted 148 times over the year. Although the targets might come down, they will mostly go Green's way, which is what makes this stack very appealing. Green missed all of 2019 but the last time he was on the field in 2018 he averaged 16.6 PPG in 9 games (would have finished with 265.6 PPR if translated to a 16-game schedule). Cincinnati will find itself down in the scoreboard often and that makes for a good case to all three players to rack up points on the passing game (plus the rushing side of it for Burrow).

 

Buffalo Bills (Josh Allen > Stefon Diggs  > John Brown > Cole Beasley)

Although Josh Allen's ADP is not considered "above-average" among quarterbacks (eighth round), he's close enough to consider him as such. In fact, he's currently the QB8 off the board, so it makes sense to treat him like that. That being said, all of the other three highlighted players (all WRs Diggs, Brown, and Beasley) have ADPs outside of the top-24 wide receivers getting drafted for 2020 at the time of this writing. Such has been Diggs' addition to the team in terms of the impact he's caused to his teammates' valuations.

While Diggs has become the best receiver of Buffalo and there is no doubt he's above John Brown on pure talent, the latter's ADP has plummeted all the way down to 124.8 (11th round) making him one of the best late-round value picks at the position. Don't be too worried if you need to reach a bit for Josh Allen, as he fits the passing&rushing QB profile that thrives these days and PFF projects him to break the 270-fantasy point mark in 2020 and finish as the QB7.

By the time you draft Allen you probably would have had to get Diggs, as he shouldn't make it past the fifth or sixth rounds of any draft. Diggs will be the no. 1 WR of Buffalo, projects to reach 184.5 PPR points, and comes from having a great season even playing under Kirk Cousins in a run-first offense. As for Brown, he's being completely overlooked while still projecting to 156.3 PPR points next season. Beasley is a little bit more of a waiver pickup at this point with an ADP of 206.3, and stacking four players from the same offense might not be too clever. Even then, Beasley has one of the highest floors for receivers not being drafted at all and PFF has him reaching 115.1 PPR points next season.



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