Tier 1: Pat Mahomes, Lamar Jackson
Tier 2: Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson
Tier 3: Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Josh Allen, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz
Tier 4: Ben Roethlisberger, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garappolo, Joe Burrow
Tier 5: Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, Drew Lock, Sam Darnold, Derek Carr, Gardner Minshew
Analysis & Draft Strategy:
Perhaps the top story in the NFL last year – both real life and fantasy – was the emergence of Baltimore Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson as a superstar. Jackson rocked the fantasy football landscape, as 19.1% of fantasy league winners had the dynamic Ravens’ QB on their roster, per ESPN. While Jackson was a monster last year, his superlative play alone didn’t drive the championship roster percentage –his ADP of 124 served of equal importance. This means that Jackson was typically selected with in the 10th – 12th rounds of drafts – well after the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, etc. So not only did Jackson’s owners receive MVP play from their QB, they received such play from a late round pick, while having used their early picks to fortify their skill positions. Imagine teams who had Christian McCaffrey and Jackson on the same roster – not fun to play against.
This segues nicely into my long held position on fantasy football QBs, which I implore you to follow. Ready, here it goes…wait, wait and wait some more before drafting your first QB! The wait-for-your-QB mantra takes hold from economics. The NFL has as deep of a QB pool as it’s had in the fantasy football era, so you’ve got options galore. With most fantasy leagues only allowing one starting QB per week, you can wait in your draft and snag great options with mid to later round picks - just look at the QBs sitting in tier 3. Thirteen QBs comprise the tier 1 through 3 options, so you’ve got a rock solid opportunity to get a stud QB in your mid rounds. Instead of expending early draft capital on a tier 1 or 2 QB, use your first 5-6 picks to snag your RBs and WRs, and then give a look to QBs as they drop into tier 3. With all leagues starting multiple RBs and WRs, premier options at those two positions dry up quickly. So let someone else snag Mahomes or Jackson this year, while you fortify your stable of RBs and WRs.
While you should wait until rounds six and later to draft your first QB, don’t wait too much longer to grab your second signal caller. Especially with COVID-19 factoring into this season, you need to have a second solid option available to deploy. A reasonable suggestion for your QB strategy would be to snag a tier 3 QB, followed by one in tier 4 or 5.
*** The exception to the wait-for-QBs rule applies for leagues that require you to start two QBs. In two QB leagues, you should aim to grab your first QB from tier 2 or better, with your second QB coming from no further down than tier 4. Mahomes and Jackson make sense as early as rounds 1-2 in such leagues as well. Scarcity flips strategy, so just be mindful of the stark difference in strategy for two QB leagues.
Finally, quick hits on two QBs whom I expect will outperform their ADP, and therefore reflected higher in my rankings:
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals – Over the past few years we’ve seen enormous, league altering leaps by quaterbacks in their second NFL season. Patrick Mahomes electrified the NFL on his way to winning the MVP in 2018, and Lamar Jackson followed suit in 2019. Will Kyler Murray do the same in 2020? Well, Murray quietly ended 2019 as QB8, so he’s already an unquestioned fantasy starter. Now with a full year of NFL experience under his belt, plus the sticky glue hands of DeAndre Hopkins added to his arsenal, Murray will continue his ascent. Also helps the cause that the Cardinals haven’t exactly fixed their defense, meaning the play script will be favorable to Murray’s fantasy prospects (i.e. the Cardinals will be playing in shootouts). Don’t expect Murray to become the league MVP like the aforementioned QB1 duo, but the path lays out nicely for a top 5 QB performance. Given Murray’s scrambling ability, as evidenced by his 544 rushing yards last year, he also qualifies as a very safe, high floor pick at QB.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants – Let’s head to the Meadowlands where another second year signal caller, Daniel Jones, has taken over for long-time starter Eli Manning. Jones flashed at times in his rookie 2019 season, having three games with at least 300+ yards and 4+ TDs. Jones also had his stinkers, as most rookies do. In any event, Jones lands on the watch list because he can sling it and he quietly has a strong compliment of skill players to help him. The Giants will be interesting on offense this year, with stud Saquon Barkley at RB, Evan Engram at TE and the troika of Sterling Shephard, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton at WR. While devoid of stars at the pass catching positions, the WRs and TE comprise a solid group, which is all Jones needs in order to hang crooked numbers. Also a bit under the radar, but Jones quietly rushed for 279 yards and 2 TDs last season. Like Kyler Murray, Jones will also find himself mostly in fantasy-friendly game scripts, with the Giants D remaining a work in progress. Jones has QB1 upside, so if you decide to wait on QBs (great choice!), then you should target Jones in the mid rounds of your draft.
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