The pairing of one of the best receivers in the NFL with an ascendant quarterback coming off a strong rookie season is a dream for fake football players.
A treasured favorite in Hopkins won’t lose much luster while completely revolutionizing an Arizona offense that was already set to take flight in Kyler Murray’s rookie season. These two will make beautiful music in fantasy football and bring the best out of each other.
The trade also got me thinking about the best quarterback/wide receiver duos for the 2020 fantasy football season. With not much else going on in the sports world, I sat down to deliver my top-10 duos, with a few bonus awards. Just remember, before you eviscerate me on Twitter, these rankings are for fantasy purposes only, not reflective of the players’ real-life abilities, and are largely based on nothing but my feelings.
With that in mind, rage on.
The Top-10 FANTASY QB/WR duos
It’s hard to remember, considering we saw them win a Super Bowl just about two months ago (in COVID-19 times that feels like two years) but we didn’t even see this duo at the height of their powers in 2019. Patrick Mahomes played 14 games, while Tyreek Hill suited up for just 12.
Going into 2020, there isn’t a more powerful pair in fake football. Mahomes began to show stunning mobility to complement his already god-like passing ability in last season’s playoffs. He has a strong chance to be the top-scorer in the game this coming season.
Hill scored seven times despite not playing a full campaign and remains one of the game’s best big-play threats.
2) Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
And there it is. It cannot be overstated what a dramatic addition DeAndre Hopkins is to the Arizona Cardinals offense. Hopkins is perhaps the best wide receiver in the league and he’ll now be integrated with a group that beyond Larry Fitzgerald and a banged-up Christian Kirk featured a cast of vagabonds and misfits. Nuk ranks second in catches, third in yards and first in touchdowns among pass-catchers over the last three years. He was the WR5 in fake football last year.
Kyler Murray was a top-10 scorer in fantasy last season, all while working with that subpar supporting cast. He was more of a floor play thanks to his rushing ability as a rookie; now imagine we might see a bit more of his ceiling with the transformative addition of Hopkins. If you watch the games, you see Murray has all the special arm talent to be this kind of player.
It’s wild to think we’d say this even two years ago, but Davante Adams is doing most of the heavy lifting to get the Packers duo this high on the list. Adams wasn’t himself last season, dealing with a painful turf toe injury. However, he maintained a 110-catch pace and you can easily argue he’s one of the three best route runners in the league. Adams reminded us he’s a dominant player with two hammer-drops in the postseason.
Rodgers is starting to show some verifiable cracks in his game but should still push for a top-10 quarterback finish this coming season, especially with a year under his belt in a new system.
4) Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is not the fantasy all-star he used to be but Michael Thomas has grabbed that title with authority. Coming off a record-breaking 149-catch season, Thomas was the best receiver in fantasy in 2019. He could easily compete for that crown again in the fall. Meanwhile, Brees finished last year with an NFL-best 15:0 touchdown to interception ratio. The addition of Emmanuel Sanders actually gives the Saints legend a truly intimidating threat to file in alongside Thomas, Jared Cook, and Alvin Kamara, a presence that was sorely lacking in 2019.
Another old face in a new place, Tom Brady brings a wildly different style of quarterbacking to Tampa Bay than what they experienced last year. He won’t fill the air with footballs like Jameis Winston but he’s unlikely to kill drives with turnovers at the clip his predecessor did. With the talent at wide receiver and a proven offensive mind at the helm in Bruce Arians, it will be hard for Brady to falter. He should slide in around QB9-10 in early rankings.
Chris Godwin slides in ahead of his wideout counterpart because the role he played last year is far more conducive to Brady’s current skillset.
6) Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott was the second-highest scoring quarterback (albeit a distant second to Lamar Jackson) in fantasy football last year. Here in 2020, he’ll once again play with a strong one-two punch at the wide receiver position but will do it in an offense that doesn’t immediately default to prehistoric 1990s-era conservatism at the first sign of turmoil. Amari Cooper dings the duo ever so slightly because of his trademarked volatility. That has been part of the deal with him every season at this point.
7) Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones finished as the WR3 overall last season. He’s finished inside the top-five in all but one season since 2014, despite all the whining about his low touchdown totals. That is a remarkable run of consistency.
Matt Ryan might well be a better pure quarterback than some of the players ahead of him on this list. However, quarterbacks like Ryan with no rushing upside are becoming interchangeable in fantasy at this point. Always destined for a QB9-12 overall finish, he’s never the reason you win (outside of 2016).
8) Tom Brady and Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The only quarterback to make the list twice, Brady made his way to Tampa Bay and now gets to play with the best wide receiver duo in the league. As mentioned above, Godwin’s role as a big slot receiver with superior separation skills makes him a better fit with what Brady can do at age 43. Mike Evans’ spot as a big X-receiver who works along the boundaries invites more low-percentage throws than Brady’s arm can deliver anymore. That doesn’t mean Evans will be a flop. He has better skills as a mammoth route runner than the general public believes after watching Winston throw him into contested situations more often than not through his career.
9) Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Defying math for what seems like the fifth season in a row, Russell Wilson produced far better fantasy numbers than his volume stats indicated he should. He checked in as the QB3 overall despite recording the second-fewest (342) rushing yards of his career. Wilson deserves a spot on this list all on his own for the work he does in such a conservative offense. Tyler Lockett needs to be here on his own merit, as well. The Seahawks wideout recorded 82 catches and scored eight times, good enough for a WR14 finish in 2019. The whole Seattle passing offense looks like it could be even better with DK Metcalf flashing verifiably special traits as a rookie.
10) Matthew Stafford and Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
The final spot in the top 10 was difficult to fill but ultimately went to an under-appreciated duo out of Detroit. Matthew Stafford was enjoying one of his best seasons up until a back injury thwarted his 2019 campaign. He still led all quarterbacks with 8.3 air yards per completion, per NFL Next Gen Stats. For his part, Kenny Golladay showed he didn’t require the aid of Stafford to win people’s fantasy titles. He finished as the WR6 overall and led the NFL with 11 touchdowns. This duo could really erupt in 2020.
Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
The Bills have given Josh Allen a supporting cast that will make it damn near impossible for him to fail. Stefon Diggs and John Brown are two of the best route-runners in the league and Cole Beasley is a strong slot option. Nevertheless, Allen’s fantasy worth almost strictly hinges on his mobility and if anything, Diggs landing in Buffalo is a net neutral for his fake football value. Thus, they just miss the list.
Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill became the 2019 quarterback streamer that ended up solidifying your starting spot from the moment you picked him up. He’s due for some statistical regression this season after completing over 70 percent of his passes at 9.6 yards per attempt. Nevertheless, the Titans offense should afford him big weeks with shot throws off play-action. A.J. Brown will be on the receiving end of most of those passes, after looking like a star his rookie year.
The “Maybe Someday” Award
Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson could easily go down as one of the best fantasy players we’ve ever seen in football. He just doesn’t have a true No. 1 receiver to form a duo to push for this list ... yet. Don’t rule out Marquise Brown getting there. He’s a special deep threat with underrated route-running chops.
The “This Could Be Us But You Playin’” Award
Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
I’m still annoyed with how 2019 went for this pairing but I’m willing to write it off. It’s easy to see on film that Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t healthy last season. It’s just as easy to see that Baker Mayfield developed severely bad habits early behind a shoddy offensive line.
There’s every possibility these two reverse course and end up rebounding. If not, we have real problems here.