Quarterbacks going too early in fantasy football drafts: Nearly everything is working against Aaron Rodgers in 2020

ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of many members of the fantasy football industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site-to-site). This will be an ongoing series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks. In general, it’s usually best to regress to the market some, and knowing your league’s ADP remains equally important when drafting, but I rank the following players a lot lower than the general fantasy community.

Players who should go higher: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
Players going too early: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ECR = QB11 vs. DDD = QB23)

He’s 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.

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (ECR = QB7 vs. DDD = QB17)

Allen is super entertaining and possesses good fantasy upside thanks to truly dominant rushing ability, but his serious inaccuracy (and health risk) also gives him a low floor. It’s tough to expect a quarterback repeating eight rushing TDs (although Allen admittedly just did it), and Buffalo also added a big back in rookie Zack Moss. Allen is young enough to improve, and the Bills added Stefon Diggs in the offseason, but it’s awfully aggressive to draft a poor man’s Mitch Trubisky as a borderline top-5 QB who needs to improve so dramatically just to approach being average as a passer (Allen has posted the lowest CPAE over the last two seasons).

Moreover, the Bills face the toughest fantasy QB schedule overall, in the first four weeks, and in the fantasy playoffs; Allen’s schedule during the crucial Weeks 13-16 is @SF, Pitt, @Den, @NE. Draft a similar version in Gardner Minshew (who threw more TD passes in two fewer games last year, scrambles at a similar rate and is set up well on a tanking team with a terrible defense that should give him a long leash) at a much cheaper ADP.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (ECR = QB13 vs. DDD = QB22)

While coming off an NFC Championship Game appearance, Rodgers’ play has declined over the last few seasons, both in fantasy terms (he finished as the QB13 in ppg last year after being drafted as the QB3) and real life (he finished #28 in CPAE last year, behind Kyle Allen). Rodgers is without question one of the best quarterbacks of all time and remains terrific at limiting turnovers, but that’s actually a detriment to his fantasy value, as is his lack of running at this stage of his career.

Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after a play against the San Francisco 49ers
Aaron Rodgers' outlook isn't great in 2020. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Rodgers is 36 years old and got just 5.9 YPA while averaging 210 passing yards with 10 TDs over the final eight games last season, and the Packers inexplicably drafted zero receivers (and saw Devin Funchess opt out) during the offseason, instead adding AJ Dillon to a backfield that’s going to be the focal point of the offense. Rodgers is going to make Davante Adams fantasy’s #1 wide receiver this season, but there are many more intriguing QB options who are headed in the opposite direction of their careers.

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (ECR = QB9 vs. DDD = QB16)

An injury-prone quarterback who got 6.7 YPA last year without a top-50 WR (according to ECR) to throw to doesn’t scream top-10 option at an extremely deep position, but here we are. It took Wentz 131 more attempts to throw as many touchdowns as Jimmy Garoppolo last season (and 229 more than Drew Brees). Wentz’s efficiency should improve with better wide receivers, but last season was his first healthy one since his rookie year in 2016. Losing star guard Brandon Brooks won’t help in a division featuring vastly improved Dallas and Washington defensive lines, and Sports Injury Predictor gives Wentz a 92% chance of getting hurt and projects the most games missed among all QBs (making Jalen Hurts a serious deep sleeper in Superflex leagues).

Of course, the Eagles sport the league’s best tight end duo, an innovative offensive system, and Wentz has performed at borderline MVP levels before, so I get the appeal, but drafting him as a top-10 QB with so many intriguing alternatives is a stretch.

Cam Newton, New England Patriots (ECR = QB15 vs. DDD = QB32)

I stated my case for Jarrett Stidham here, so it stands to reason I’m lower on Cam Newton than consensus. A healthy version of Newton in his prime would be incredibly fun in this offense with Josh McDaniels, but at this stage of his career and coming off multiple serious surgeries, it just doesn’t seem the most likely outcome, especially during a truncated offseason (Stidham learned the system all of last year). Given his rushing ability, Newton obviously has fantasy upside, and if you’re in a 1QB league with small benches the risk is minimal, but Superflex players should take caution, as Newton’s ADP has been soaring lately and he hasn’t been very good since winning the MVP in 2015.

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