Quarterbacks who should be going higher in fantasy drafts: This pair of NFC West passers shouldn't be ignored

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 higher than the general fantasy community.

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

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (ECR = QB19 vs. DDD = QB11)

He’s a below-average real-life quarterback who doesn’t add much fantasy value with his legs, but Goff is yet another example of why waiting on quarterback is so easy. Thanks to Sean McVay, Goff is one season removed from posting a top-five fantasy QB year (despite a mediocre 0.6 CPAE) and finds himself in arguably an even better situation to put up stats in 2020 with a declining defense, Todd Gurley (and his NFL-high 42 rushing TDs over the last three years) gone and the Rams being loaded with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett as receiving options. LA ranked No. 3 in Pace (situation neutral) last year with one of the league’s pass-heaviest offenses and should be in a bunch of high-scoring games in a division featuring the Cardinals, 49ers, and Seahawks.

I’m not expecting Goff to make a giant leap (although he’s still only 25 – just one year older than Josh Allen), but he’s going to end up providing a massive profit at draft tables even with just average play in this situation. Goff is the only quarterback who has a pair of WR teammates in the top-20 and a TE in the top-eight in ECR; I’ve done the math, and that should result in a big profit.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (ECR = QB22 vs. DDD = QB12)

He got 10.0 YPA(!) on first downs last year and plays for a team that just scored the second-most points per game and will almost certainly regress on defense in 2020, resulting in higher passing volume. During the offseason, SF added Trent Williams at left tackle, drafted a receiver who led college football in yards-after- the-catch average with a wingspan like Calvin Johnson, and saw Jalen Hurd and Jerick McKinnon return. Moreover, Jordan Reed joins the beast known as George Kittle in SF’s tight end room, and San Fran runs a system that allowed Garoppolo to attempt the third-most passes inside the 10-yard line last season despite a dominant run game and defense that’s going to be tough to repeat. During Matt Ryan’s second full year as a starter in Kyle Shanahan’s offense (like Garoppolo will be this season), he threw for nearly 5,000 yards with 38 touchdowns and won MVP.

Garoppolo was the only QB in the NFL last season to finish top-five in YPA, passing TDs, and completion percentage despite being blitzed by far the highest rate while still recovering from knee surgery, and there’s room for further growth having fewer career starts than Baker Mayfield and fewer career pass attempts than Sam Darnold. Since 2010, only Peyton Manning has gotten more YPA than Garoppolo with more than three seconds to throw — but keep talking about his overthrow in the Super Bowl after taking this hit (ironically, he finished #1 in deep completion% last season). The 49ers also have one of the most favorable QB fantasy schedules, so Jimmy G’s ADP is comically low (all bias aside).

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (ECR = QB20 vs. DDD = QB13)

Burrow enters coming off a ridiculous college season that saw him get a whopping 13.9 YPA on first downs. Over the last decade, only Russell Wilson had a better college CPOE than Burrow’s 2019 season, which he finished with a silly 60:6 TD:INT ratio and revealed further fantasy upside by adding 368 rushing yards and five scores on the ground. Burrow’s somewhat advanced age should be considered a plus for his 2020 fantasy value, and while he relied heavily on identifying mismatches pre-snap in college, the Bengals are ideally suited for that being so deep at receiver. It’s riskier drafting a rookie in 2020, but Burrow looks special, and few get to enter a situation with so many skilled position players at their disposal (plus, LT Jonah Williams is returning). I’m treating Burrow as a borderline fantasy QB1 right away.

Quarterback Joe Burrow of LSU looks on during NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium
Is instant success in the cards for Joe Burrow? (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts (ECR = QB24 vs. DDD = QB18)

This isn’t an upside pick with Indy likely sporting a strong rushing attack and much-improved defense, but Rivers is undervalued in Superflex leagues because of it. It’s fair to consider Rivers in decline at age 38, but last year’s spike in INT% also came with him ranking #8 in CPAE, so I’m not exactly ready to write his fantasy obituary. He’s gotten 8.0 YPA indoors during his career and most importantly, is going from arguably the league’s worst offensive line situation to maybe the NFL’s best. The Colts also have plenty of weapons, with T.Y. Hilton joining rookie Michael Pittman Jr. and the highly intriguing Parris Campbell, whose workout metrics look like this, while Nyheim Hines offers similar elite athleticism as a receiver out of the backfield.

The Colts almost certainly slowed down their pace last year thanks to Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement, and they somehow averaged the 16th-most ppg despite Jacoby Brissett posting the fourth-worst CPAE, so it’s extremely beneficial being tied to Frank Reich and Indy’s system. Rivers is one season removed from throwing 32 touchdowns despite just 508 attempts, so a lack of league-leading volume shouldn’t be a problem (although I’d be remiss not to at least point out that Jonathan Taylor looks ready to score approximately 20 touchdowns himself).

Jarrett Stidham, New England Patriots (ECR = QB36 vs. DDD = QB29)

This is a stretch and only for Superflex players looking for a deep sleeper, as I feel like the only person who gives Stidham a real chance at being New England’s best quarterback this season. A former four-star recruit who was expected to be a high first-round draft pick before a disappointing final college season that can easily be blamed on circumstances beyond his control, Stidham is described as a gym rat with a high football IQ whose teammates love him. He’s 6’2, 220 lbs with a strong arm and good accuracy. Both his college YPA (9.6) and breakout age (19.1) were in the 90th percentile or higher, and he becomes even more interesting in fantasy thanks to an ability to run. While there’s no Randy Moss here, don’t forget Matt Cassel was the QB7 in fantasy during his lone year starting in New England’s system (the league’s fastest).

Stidham was a fantasy afterthought in a loaded QB position even before the Cam Newton signing, and his services are completely free at draft tables now. Drafters appear to be overestimating the hurdles facing Newton at this stage while underrating the Patriots’ affection for Stidham.

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