Risk management is fundamental to any fantasy football strategy. Let’s be honest: No one wants to endure heartbreak when a pick with high expectations doesn’t work out. To help fantasy gamers avoid disappointment this draft season, we’re unveiling our top bust candidates, position-by-position. Today, quarterbacks.
Dalton Del Don: TOM BRADY is 43 years old and got just 5.9 yards per attempt and an NFL-worst CPOE over the second half of last season despite half of those opponents ranking in the bottom-10 in pass defense DVOA. Put differently, Brady finished with the lowest completion percentage of his career despite having the second-highest expected completion percentage and the lowest aDOT of his career.
It’s possible there are explanations for this decline, but often at his age (actually, it’s usually years earlier) the cliff is steep; at 37 years old, Peyton Manning got 8.3 YPA, threw 55 touchdowns, and won MVP. Just 18 months later he was washed (while ironically winning a Super Bowl) posting a 9:17 TD:INT ratio and finishing last in the league in CPOE, although not nearly as bad as the recent mark from Brady, who’s going to be FOUR years older (while changing teams with no preseason).
Of course, Brady now has Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Rob Gronkowski at his disposal, so one could easily imagine a big season from the GOAT. But there are so many other intriguing QB options right now, many of whom also add rushing stats, aren’t as old as John Oliver and weren’t the NFL’s least accurate passer by a wide margin over last year’s second half.
Liz Loza: In 2019, DREW BREES only managed 11 games, his fewest since arriving in New Orleans. While playing in a dome certainly protects the 41-year-old from the elements, his arm strength has undeniably decreased, as evidenced by the decline of his ADOT (down from 7.1 in 2018 to 6.4 in 2019). While accuracy has long been a hallmark of Brees’ game, there’s no denying that his completion percentage is bolstered by a reluctance to push the ball deep. In fact, last year fewer than 59% of Brees’ attempts went beyond 5 yards, and he averaged just 3 deep ball attempts per contest (down from 3.8 DBA/gm in 2018).
He’s one of the most efficient passers in the game and the Saints are clearly leaning into that model again in 2020, letting field stretcher Ted Ginn walk in free agency while adding ultra-reliable slot receiver Emmanuel Sanders. This leaves Brees with an incredibly solid floor but no real ceiling. The big play excitement (and subsequent variance) belongs to Taysom Hill, who figures to steal more than a few opportunities away from vet.
Scott Pianowski: First of all, the idea is to give you something actionable. Calling someone around QB19 a bust, how does that help anyone?
With DESHAUN WATSON, I love the player, hate the situation. DeAndre Hopkins was hastily shipped to Arizona, and the receiver leftovers and replacements are uninspiring. Oh, Will Fuller is splashy when healthy, but that’s been an ongoing issue. The Rams were so down on Brandin Cooks, they set a record in salary eaten just to get rid of him. Cooks might be this decade’s version of Jordan Reed, a talented player done in by concussions. Randal Cobb isn’t a bad player, but he’s a non-seismic slot receiver entering his tenth year. The Texans threw a big contract at him; nobody can tell who they overbid.
And then there’s head coach and team architect Bill O’Brien; although he’s regularly piloted the Texans into the playoffs, he desperately lacks a colleague who can talk him out of his occasional bad ideas. The other quarterbacks in Watson’s ADP pocket are more interesting to me.
Andy Behrens: I’ve heard all the arguments for JOSH ALLEN as a breakout candidate — even a darkhorse MVP contender — and I remain unconvinced, to say the least. There’s little question the addition of Stefon Diggs is going to help to some extent, but the veteran wideout is going to have to endure a massive swing in QB accuracy. Allen, simply put, has not yet demonstrated that he’s a starting-quality NFL passer. He’s been a blast as a fantasy QB to this point, thanks entirely to his rushing talent. But as he enters his third season, his top single-game passing yardage total is just 266. Last year, nine different quarterbacks averaged more than 266 yards per game.
I can only rank a QB so high if he has zero chance to help me win a week without rushing for a touchdown. That’s still where we’re at with Allen. He’s completed only 56.3 percent of his throws in the NFL at 6.6 Y/A. He was a scattershot college passer who’s now a scattershot pro. I’m not going to reach for a player like this, not when he’s going in the neighborhood of true dual-threat QBs like Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray.
Matt Harmon: The idea of a bust at quarterback is a little silly considering that taking one who doesn’t really work out isn’t likely to make or break your fantasy team. They’re just so replaceable in our little fake game. That is predicated, of course, on you not taking an early-round quarterback who ends up as a flop. Honestly, I can’t come with a reason why any of the top-five passers this year won’t work out. So with that said, one semi-popular late-round selection that I’m out on is MATTHEW STAFFORD.
The Lions just aren’t an operation I want to be heavily tied to here in 2020. The gaps between the good organizations and those who don’t quite have it together will be starker than ever in this COVID-adjusted season. Stafford is coming off a strong half of a campaign in 2019 and is tethered to some ascendant young talents like Kenny Golladay and solid veterans like Marvin Jones. I’m just not buying he’ll be anywhere close to the efficient scorer (6.5 touchdown rate) or downfield passer (8.6 YPA) again in 2020. Stafford is the consensus QB13 in 4for4’s industry-wide ADP and goes earlier (102 overall) on Yahoo than any other platform. Again he’s not going to ruin your season but if guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Ryan Tannehill are going later, I’m passing.