Fantasy Football Quarterback Shuffle Up: Patrick Mahomes has company

Fantasy football draft season is here. Time to sort through the positions and hash out the tiers and the salaries. In the No. 2 slot is the quarterback position; we ran the tight ends last week.

A few of the usual caveats upfront. 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 running back 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.

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Players with the same salary are considered even. Assume a half-point PPR scoring system (for the field players, that is; it’s a moot point for quarterbacks).

The Big Tickets

$26 Patrick Mahomes

$25 Josh Allen

$24 Lamar Jackson

$23 Kyler Murray

$22 Dak Prescott

If you want a vanity quarterback, I’d angle to get someone in this first tier without being the manager who opens the tier . . . Mahomes still gets my yellow jersey, tied to the trinity of Reid, Kelce, and Hill, and hopefully operating behind a fixed offensive line. Mahomes also offers some contributions as a runner . . . Allen will percolate to the top of some boards and I have no issue with that, as the Buffalo offense brought all key members back (including OC Brian Daboll). NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell sees Allen as John Elway 2.0, and Buffalo stocked the fridge for Allen a lot quicker than Denver did in the Elway era . . .

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen is getting favorable comparisons of late. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

The Ravens aggressively improved the downfield targets for Jackson, but it’s Jackson’s running ability that provides the sturdy floor . . . Murray’s passing did improve last year, though there’s plenty of room for another leap. I’m not comfortable being tied to Kliff Kingsbury, but if you project Murray to keep a similar amount of rushing touchdowns, he’s still a fun fantasy pick . . . Prescott and the Pokes were poised to rip up NFL records last year, partly because of talent, partly because of offensive shape, and partly pushed by the awful Dallas defense. A healthy Prescott has a plausible case at finishing No. 1 on this list.


Set it and forget it

$18 Justin Herbert

$18 Russell Wilson

$17 *Aaron Rodgers

$16 Tom Brady

$16 Jalen Hurts

$13 Ryan Tannehill

$13 Matthew Stafford

$12 Joe Burrow

$12 Trevor Lawrence

Herbert wasn’t even supposed to play last year — Anthony Lynn, you’re adorable — but a medical mishap with Tyrod Taylor pushed Herbert into the chair for Week 2. The Chargers roster is deep on both sides of the ball, making LAC an interesting prop target as a new coaching staff takes over . . . The hope for Wilson is that OC Shane Waldron has a fair amount of autonomy, with Pete Carroll taking a step back. Seattle let Russ cook for about half of 2020, then pulled back on the offense, though a dinged-up Tyler Lockett was tied to some of that. Wilson hasn’t been a big rushing scorer, but he did add a resourceful 513 rushing yards last year. His tank remains plenty full into an age-33 season . . . Rodgers was already a screaming regression candidate no matter what, but that’s the back-burner story as we have to sweat his ugly relationship with the organization. As my colleague Frank Schwab points out, all of this could have been avoided had the Pack simply taken one of several talented wideouts in the 2019 or 2020 draft classes. Generally, it’s my nature to fade holdouts — players don’t want to miss game checks, and veteran players hear their biological clocks ticking — but Rodgers marches to his own drummer. While he seemed ticked off enough to hold out, new reports claim Rodgers is planning to play for the Pack in 2021. Still, I can’t draft him proactively . . . Brady is older than the bible, but Tampa Bay brought all its starters back and this offense was really humming in the second half of the year. Over his final seven regular-season games, Brady posted 20 touchdowns, just five picks, only eight sacks taken, and a juicy 110.0 rating. He also chucked for 2,235 yards over that span. It took a while for the Bucs to figure it out, but they sure figured it out.

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Yahoo Fantasy Plus

Hurts is no sure thing and the Eagles aren’t even clear on what they have, but he can play a poor game and still finish inside the QB10 in any week, given his athleticism and willingness to run. The Eagles aggressively upgraded their skill talent, too . . . Burrow is another quarterback with all the skill toys to play with, but did Cincinnati do enough to fix the offensive line? . . . Sean McVay finally has the type of quarterback he wants, which means all systems go for the Rams passing game. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee all look like destination picks at their current ADPs, and although Stafford has no rushing juice, he looks like a safe bet for 4,200 passing yards and 30 or more touchdowns, something close to the QB1 cutline . . . Lawrence has a hybrid run/pass skillset and the Jaguars present good receivers for him, but I’m not sure what to make of Urban Meyer — running game enthusiast — as he takes his NFL swing . . . Tannehill has been an efficiency darling since moving to Tennessee time, but the Titans have a shallow set of skill talent, and things could fall apart if anything happens to their Big 3 of Henry, Brown, and Jones. Tannehill’s resourcefulness around the goal — 11 rushing touchdowns in two years — provides a sturdy floor.


Better targeted for Superflex use

$11 Matt Ryan

$11 Kirk Cousins

$10 Baker Mayfield

$9 Carson Wentz

$9 Ryan Fitzpatrick

$8 Tua Tagovailoa

$8 Daniel Jones

$8 Derek Carr

$7 Ben Roethlisberger

Ryan is all floor now, no upside, with Julio out the door and no rushing production to speak of . . . Cousins has three excellent pieces to work with — Justin Jefferson is a star, Adam Thielen forever underrated, Dalvin Cook a dual-threat — and maybe it’s four if Irv Smith Jr. steps forward in his third season. But the Vikings defense surely will be improved from last year — Mike Zimmer will make sure of that — and Minnesota always wants to keep the offense in balance . . . It’s a make-or-break year for Jones in New York, but if he can’t fix his awful pocket awareness, no amount of talented teammates is likely to save him . . . The Steelers want to get back to basics (read: run the ball into the ground), and Roethlisberger’s reluctance to take the cheat code of play action puts a modest ceiling on this passing game . . . I have no idea if Wentz will ever be a star again, but at least he landed with the right team; Frank Reich and Wentz made beautiful music together in Philly. Had Wentz not gotten injured late in 2017, he probably wins the MVP that season.


Bargain Bin

$5 Justin Fields

$4 Sam Darnold

$3 Trey Lance

$3 Zach Wilson

$3 Teddy Bridgewater

$2 Jared Goff

$2 Taysom Hill

$2 Jordan Love

$1 Jameis Winston

$1 Cam Newton

$1 Jimmy Garoppolo

$1 Drew Lock

$1 Tyrod Taylor

$1 Mac Jones

$0 Andy Dalton

$0 *Deshaun Watson

If I knew Bridgewater had the Denver gig, I’d put him in the $6-8 range simply out of respect for Denver’s outstanding pass-catchers . . . I was fading the New Orleans offense even before the Michael Thomas injury, and more so now. I suspect both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will play a fair amount, with Sean Payton going to the bullpen liberally . . . It’s not clear when New England, Chicago, or San Francisco will start their fresh rookie quarterback, putting an unusually high amount of uncertainty into 2021 fantasy offenses . . . Watson’s situation is much more complicated than the Rodgers situation, and he could be especially difficult to trade. A new Watson team needs to offer up trade compensation, sweat out possible league sanctions, and make the new quarterback happy. A lot of dots need to connect.