Quarterback Shuffle Up: Matt Ryan, forever a value play

Scott Pianowski
·7 min read

Shuffle Up season is here, my friends. Here’s the idea: How would we rank fantasy players if the season were starting right now?

A few caveats up front. The salaries are unscientific in nature, merely used as a way to compare players within their position. I do not compare salaries outside of position — the salary of a quarterback is only meant to be considered within his positional class. I am generally far less expectant with injury-returning players, so don’t be surprised when I like them less than you do.

Every Shuffle Up is done from scratch. I think it’s counterproductive to justify an old, dated list.

We’ll start with the quarterbacks, and then hit the running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends in future weeks.

The elite class

$25 Patrick Mahomes

$24 Lamar Jackson

Mahomes is the best player in the league right now, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s tied to probably the best offensive designer in the NFL and the deepest set of skill players. I am unlikely to offer up for a vanity quarterback simply because the position is so deep, but if I were to attack this part of the board, Mahomes is my play . . . The Ravens can take a bow for their foresight with Jackson, seeing potential and upside where other teams couldn’t figure it out. OC Greg Roman also deserves props, making the pieces fit. But Jackson’s on his own on the field, and he’s made it work with a combination of aggressiveness and discretion. The Ravens would love for Jackson to run a little less this year and throw more — which is a good reason to get Hollywood Brown on your wideouts-to-target list.

More vanity quarterbacks

$19 Russell Wilson

$18 Dak Prescott

$17 Deshaun Watson

$15 Josh Allen

Has anyone ever shown a fantasy loss when rostering Wilson? The Seahawks stubbornly refuse to give Wilson the full keys to the offense, but Wilson’s efficiency makes up for the frustrating volume. I want as many DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett shares as I can get . . . Prescott is another quarterback who’s generally been a fantasy value, but his setup is so ridiculously deep now, I suspect the discount days are over. It doesn’t mean you can’t target him; maybe I’m just rueful for the value ticket we previously had . . . I’ve always loved Watson’s game and makeup, but I’ve had to reconcile that against the frustration I feel for Bill O’Brien. And no one likes to see Watson without DeAndre Hopkins, who the Texans impetuously shipped to Arizona. But maybe we’ll finally see something close to a full season from Will Fuller. And if Randall Cobb is telling us the truth about his new glasses, perhaps he was the steal of the free-agent season . . . I’m not confident that the scattershot Allen will immediately click with new WR Stefon Diggs, a precise route runner. But Allen is still as athletic and competitive as they come, and the odds-on favorite to lead Buffalo in rushing touchdowns. I’ve been saying it for my multiple decades in the business, it’s just algebra: Rushing quarterbacks, so long as they can stay healthy, are an unfair weapon in fantasy.

Guys you’d want to play most weeks

$13 Kyler Murray

$12 Matt Ryan

$11 Carson Wentz

$11 Aaron Rodgers

$11 Drew Brees

$10 Tom Brady

$9 Jared Goff

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan celebrates after throwing a touchdown during the first half of their NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Louisiana September 8, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Matt Ryan remains one of those boring-but-reliable fantasy jams. (REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

Sophomore quarterbacks broke through and won the last two MVPs — Jackson last year, Mahomes in 2018. I suspect this has led to Murray being just an eyelash overrated; it’s not that I don’t like him, but I feel I’m a little under the national tidal wave. I suspect the full step forward will have to wait until Year 3 when he’s had more time to get acclimated with new toy Hopkins . . . Ryan is one of those boring veteran picks that I’m often drawn to. Atlanta has a fun schedule (mostly indoors and climate-controlled), dependable wideouts, and a leaky Falcons defense that will probably force regular shootouts. The Falcons are the strongest case to be 2020’s Carnival Team; race to 35 every Sunday . . . I wish I knew I could count on Wentz’s wideouts. Nothing wrong with the coaching, the backfield should be fine if Miles Sanders is all they say he is, and no team is better stocked at tight end. Philly needs Jalen Reagor to be a favor right away . . .

The Packers needed a wideout infusion badly and the 2020 draft class was loaded. Alas, they took a wait-and-see quarterback and an unneeded running back; Rodgers will have to swim with what’s left over from last year. Free-agent acquisition Devin Funchess has already opted out for the 2020 season . . . Brees enters his age-41 season and plays for a coach who can’t wait to get Taysom Hill on the field. Brees retains a sturdy floor, but no longer has the upside we enjoyed for years . . . The Buccaneers played with their hair on fire last year; this year, they’d like Brady to helm a steady ship while Tampa tries to win games in a more-boring style. New England no longer could protect Brady from the interior rush; Tampa’s success there will have a major say in how well Brady does in his new city . . . Goff will probably never be a superstar, but Sean McVay is still a plus coach and the Rams were humming with Tyler Higbee at the end of last year. Goff looks like another boring value pick to consider, especially if you’re in a format that allows you to start more than one quarterback.

You can make an upside pitch

$8 Matthew Stafford

$8 Ben Roethlisberger

$7 Baker Mayfield

$6 Cam Newton

$6 Kirk Cousins

$6 Daniel Jones

$5 Ryan Tannehill

$5 Gardner Minshew

$4 Jimmy Garoppolo

$4 Joe Burrow

Stafford was on pace for a Pro Bowl season before his injury around Halloween. Kenny Golladay is a bonafide No. 1 target, Marvin Jones has been underrated most of his career, and perhaps T.J. Hockenson is ready for a step forward in Year 2. The Lions always feel like a 6-10 or 7-9 team in perpetuity, but at least they’ll be explosive and interesting . . . A healthy Roethlisberger belongs much higher on this list, but this deep in his career, he can’t be treated as a sure thing. He’s an interesting upside target if you’ve already secured a safer starter . . . Maybe Mayfield can pop again this year, now that the Browns have mercifully cleaned out a coaching staff that was over its head . . . Newton needs to run aggressively to maintain weekly fantasy status because he’s usually been slightly overrated as a downfield passer. Worse yet, the New England skill collection is one of the weakest in the league . . . Minshew is one of my favorite value targets, for those who play in Superflex or multiple-start leagues. Jacksonville has that Carnival feel as well — collapsing defense, aggressive quarterback — and while Minshew only has one sure thing on the outside, D.J. Chark looked like a Top 10 wideout at times last year . . . Burrow comes into the league at an advanced age, courtesy of his transfer in college, but I’ll treat that as a feature, not a bug. Cincinnati’s skill talent is better than average, even if A.J. Green can’t replicate his previous level of play.

The rest of the rack

$3 Drew Lock

$3 Philip Rivers

$3 Teddy Bridgewater

$3 Sam Darnold

$2 Derek Carr

$1 Dwayne Haskins

$1 Nick Foles

$1 Tua Tagovailoa

$1 Tyrod Taylor

$1 Ryan Fitzpatrick

$1 Justin Herbert

If I knew Fitzpatrick would start all year, I’d have him around the Jones-Minshew tier.

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