2020 Fantasy Football Quarterback Landscaping: Paying up for Lamar, or picking the field?

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Although the NFL season is still months away and is no sure thing to start on time, draft season is much wider in the current version of Fantasy Football. Best Ball drafts are the perfect driving range of sorts for a fantasy player, where you can get in reps and work on muscle memory. It’s never too early to start diving into the personality of every position pool

I did one Best Ball draft prior to the NFL draft, as wonky as that can be, flying blind on so many player landing spots. But now that the NFL’s draft is done (and free agency is also in the books), I want to earnestly start my seasonal prep. With that in mind, I’ll be running a series of first-look positional previews, my opening thoughts at each spot. Consider these comments in pencil; we still have plenty of time to change course, consider new angles or information.

That said, I’ll start putting together more rosters ASAP, trying to get a sense of what’s what. 

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My seasonal drafts will come later in the summer and will be the foundation of my fantasy year. But it’s a good time to get to work on the shape of each position. Today, we sketch out the quarterbacks. 

I’ll consider two NFFC drafts held from April 25-29 as the ADP to analyze, and I’ll introduce players in that ADP order. It’s a small sample, of course, but it’s what we have. The data before the NFL Draft is not something I want to consider, especially at the thicker positions. 

And away we go: 

To Lamar or not to Lamar?

Lamar Jackson carries an overall ADP of 9 in the two-draft sample, a price I’ll never consider paying. It’s easy to justify the price from a past-looking lens, but his touchdown rate is a lock to regress, and his rushing production could mildly dip as well. Outlier seasons are generally bad bets to chase unless a healthy amount of regression is already priced into the cost. That’s certainly not the case with Jackson. Fading him is the easiest call on the board, and I’m sure you’ll read several versions of this article in the fantasy football blogosphere this summer. 

Patrick Mahomes is only two picks cheaper than Jackson, which means I’m probably out on him too. This is a crusher for me, given the ridiculous batch of weapons Mahomes has at his disposal (not to mention Andy Reid’s mind and playbook). Mahomes’ dip last year is partly explained by injury; if I had to take one of the designer QBs, he’d be the guy. But I need to do a lot better than an ADP of 11. 

Dak Prescott rose to QB3 in the most recent drafts, carrying an overall ADP that’s 10 spots higher than Kyler Murray. This is the first year Prescott isn’t a screaming value, and the first year I’ll reluctantly pass on him for better values (heck, I drafted him aggressively in his rookie season, despite the looming return of Tony Romo). Prescott is unlikely to fail — he’s tied to the best supporting cast of his career (CeeDee Lamb arrives, Blake Jarwin rising), and he always adds to his line with handy scrambling. But this quarterback board is always a deep one, and our dollar can go further in other spots. Unless the room surprisingly ignores Prescott, I have to sit it out. 

Kyler Murray (QB4, Overall 50) is also likely to carry a trendiness tax, which nudges me away from him. But he only needs to slide a round or two before I can talk myself into it. In earlier drafts, Kenyan Drake was my likeliest grab in this intriguing offense. 

Russell Wilson (QB5, Overall 53) was a recent Best Ball purchase of mine, banking on the floor, and durability of his career. Consider his record of finishes at the position: 9th, 8th, 3rd, 3rd, 11th, 1st, 9th, 3rd. He has the running profile you like at the position; aggressive enough that you can count on that secondary scoring, but not reckless to the point that you are petrified of his body holding up. He’s never missed a game as a pro. As always, you fear that Wilson’s biggest opponent is the offensive design of his offense.

Quality options outside the luxury ones 

If you told me six weeks ago that Tom Brady would be landing around QB6, I would have scratched him out with a black pen and been done with it. But Tampa Bay has done everything it could to welcome Brady (Gronk, OL help, backfield help, Jeter’s house). An ADP of 58 still sounds pricy for someone asked to produce in an age-43 season, but at least you can see the plausible upside. I’m still leaning outside this one, but willing to be talked into it. Bruce Arians is an unquestioned plus. 

We already had a discussion on Deshaun Watson (QB7, Overall 67) not long ago. Another player who has to succeed despite rotting infrastructure around him. Can we count on Will Fuller to stay healthy? Was Randall Cobb worth that big contract? Why is Brandin Cooks traded every 15 seconds? Too many rhetorical questions for me. I love Watson as a player and person, but it’s just business. 

John Allen ranked QB8 in this small sample (72.50), which seems juicy when you consider his sturdy rushing floor. Some risk is baked into that type of playing profile, but Allen also gets Stefon Diggs as a new downfield toy. If this tag lasts, I’ll purchase some shares. If Allen improves as a passer — no certainty, but a reasonable ask — you could make a handy profit. 

Matt Ryan (QB9, Overall 79) is more playing for par than a birdie at this stage of his career, but he’s a seasonal lock for 16 games and still has plus weapons on his side. But are you willing to invest in a quarterback who gets no boost from his legs? That seems about as modern as dial-up Internet. 

Is Baker Mayfield (QB10, 89.5) focused enough and mature enough to be great? What’s the frequency, OBJ? How much time will it take for Mayfield and Austin Hooper to get familiar with each other? Will Jarvis Landry be 100 percent for the start of the year? I’d like a prove-it season from most of the Browns. 

Drew Brees (QB11, 90) is another version of Ryan, a full-slate target who gets the benefit of dome cooking. Brees is also willing to stick his nose in at the goal line for some cheap points. The Saints didn’t make a major addition to the offense, but Emmanuel Sanders should be useful, at least. Which version of Alvin Kamara are we getting? I won’t attack Brees at this price, but I could grab a few shares. 

The Packers draft was all about antagonizing Aaron Rodgers, not helping him. Still, even with a paltry supporting cast, he can make a profit at QB12 (92.5). Davante Adams needs help, especially in a league where three wideouts is a base offense, and the emotional relationship between Rodgers and his organization is open to question. But Rodgers can’t be ranked any lower than this, can he? 

The Packers apparently did everything in their power not to help Aaron Rodgers in the NFL Draft. (Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Packers apparently did everything in their power not to help Aaron Rodgers in the NFL Draft. (Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Eagles somehow didn’t have a wideout over 500 yards last year, so I’m willing to give Carson Wentz (QB13, 96.5) a pass for his ordinary efficiency stats. Then again, Jalen Reagor isn’t a sure thing despite landing in the first round, and most of the other wideouts here have obvious fleas. In a regular offseason shape, I’d like to give Wentz and the Eagles a long look in the summer. But I can’t be sure if the same type of scouting and tea-leaf reading will be available to us in 2020.

I’ll consider him, I’ll give you that. I just wish they had one outside target I was completely sure about. 

What will these QBs bring in 2020?

Matthew Stafford (QB14, 100) can probably crush his ADP if he simply stays on the field. He’s proven in the past that he’s willing to play through most physical maladies. A boring value, perhaps, but a value nonetheless. 

[2020 Draft Rankings: Overall | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]

Daniel Jones (QB15, 102) was more valuable last year in our game than he was to the Giants. But he’s athletic and resourceful, and the Giants probably did the right thing moving on from Odell Beckham Jr. We just want the numbers. We don’t care where they come from. 

No one expects Ryan Tannehill (QB16, 110) to repeat last season, but this price bakes in a lot of regression. A.J. Brown’s production and tape is a reassuring angle, and the Titans are an offense that’s built on continuity, keeping every major piece from last season. In Best Ball and Superflex, I’ll be open to Tannehill. 

Joe Burrow (QB17, 115) has the head and the pieces to succeed immediately, and he’ll also put some rushing points on the board. He’s also a lock to start right away, making him the only rookie quarterback we can consider drafting right now. 

Jared Goff (QB18, 119.5) has been unmasked as an ordinary talent and someone who’s grossly overpaid for what he does. But we don’t have to pay his contract — he’s cheap in fantasy dollars — and I’m still willing to bet on Sean McVay. The Rams offensive line could be a major problem. Robert Woods is a sure bet to positively regress in the touchdown column. 

Ben Roethlisberger (QB19, 122.5) brings injury risk and a heavy odometer, stepping into an age-38 season. But at least you’re being paid to gamble. The quicker you solve the JuJu Smith-Schuster riddle, the better off you’ll be having the right angle here. 

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB20, 125) probably has a capped ranged, despite the presence of Kyle Shanahan and some fun downfield options. He’s also unlikely to run much. You can make a profit at this price — the depth of the position talking — but I’d be less likely to want him as my QB1 in seasonal. 

The Broncos stocked the fridge for Drew Lock, but are we sure Lock is any good? Maybe it doesn’t matter — at a QB21/132.5 price, there’s too much room for profit. Tons of plausible upside. The Broncos crushed the draft, too. 

We know the Vikings want to win on running and defense, so Kirk Cousins (QB22, 136.5) is another capped-range quarterback. But when you get this deep on the page, you’re just looking for Best Ball and Superflex playability. He offers that. 

Adam Gase is the cause of all fantasy suffering, but Sam Darnold (QB23) also has a sharp GM in his building and offensive improvements in several spots. A year removed from his mono season of hell, he’s an intriguing upside play. 

I’m not sure what Philip Rivers (QB24) has left in the tank, but I’m always willing to bet on a Frank Reich-organized offense. I’ll be open-minded on this penny stock — at least if the Colts can figure out how to support T.Y. Hilton in the passing game. 

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