Unlock More Content Like This With a Footballguys Premium Subscription
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, NBC Sports EDGE
Hopefully by now you have joined some Superflex/2QB leagues to add layers to draft strategy and lineup setting choices. Even if you haven't Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes II ability to be well ahead of the pack creates more interesting early round choices, and the QB3-6 tier is enticing enough to eschew waiting on quarterback. Let's look at the quarterback landscape early in the 2020 fantasy football calendar.
Target at ADP: Jackson, Mahomes
Strategy: Is it finally time for “early round QB” (apologies to J.J. Zachariason) drafting? Jackson lapped the field in 2019 much in the same way that Mahomes did in 2018. Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott could take a big step forward and close the gap, although it’s much more difficult to time picking them when everyone has their fantasy output growing greatly this year. It’s as easy as ever to get 15-20 points from your quarterback, even if you have to turn to the waiver wire, but what is that worth when the top quarterbacks are averaging 30? Don’t let anyone tell you that taking Jackson or Mahomes in the second is the wrong move, especially if your scoring has performance bonuses or awarded more than four points for passing touchdowns.
Superflex: Both are worth the top-five pick cost, but only Jackson is worth the No. 1 pick and the choice if you are taking one over Barkley or Elliott.
Jackson was ridiculously efficient as a passer and productive as a runner last year, to the extent that some don’t believe he can reproduce those numbers. The Ravens offense could actually be better this year with a healthier (hopefully) Marquise Brown, growth from Miles Boykin, and the addition of excellent fits JK Dobbins and Devin Duvernay in the draft, who should add playmaking ability at running back and slot receiver, respectively. Jackson could also get better in only his third year in the league and we should remember that the Ravens were barely challenged in the second half in a lot of those games.
Mahomes was cited as a victory for regression last year, but he was actually only about two points off of his 2018 scoring average before he got hurt last year, and he only had Tyreek Hill for a little over a game during the stretch. The Chiefs kept Mahomes’ target group intact this offseason to help his case. If there’s any threat to his ceiling in 2020, it is an improving defense that held opponents to low scores in the second half of the season, encouraging fewer shootouts than he was forced into during the 2018 season. Mahomes' rushing-stats spike in the second half of the season and playoffs is the best hope for him to stay in the fantasy stratosphere this year.
Consider at ADP: Murray, Prescott, Wilson, Watson
Strategy: If you don’t take one of the top two quarterbacks, the second tier is full of possibilities. Murray is the most exciting in his second year with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins, and Watson is the riskiest because he lost Hopkins. Prescott added Ceedee Lamb and his defense could create a lot of shootouts. Wilson could end up being the best pick of the bunch if Seattle embraces his talents earlier in games and on earlier downs.
Superflex: Pass on Watson in the first for one of Wilson, Prescott, or Murray in the second. The dropoff in running back quality and level second tier at wide receiver makes it easier to go quarterback in the second, just as it does in 1-QB leagues.
Murray gained DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason and he only started concentrating on football last year. He should be much more effective in a better offense in year two of the Kyler/Kliff love affair. He’s the most likely quarterback to make the second-year leap that Jackson did last year and Mahomes did in 2018.
Prescott got a gift in the first round of the draft the Cowboys smartly took best-player-available Ceedee Lamb at #17. The secondary lost their best corner (Byron Jones) in free agency and the pass rush lost their second-best pass rusher (Robert Quinn), which could lead to more high-scoring games. Prescott could easily finish the season in the top three fantasy quarterbacks.
Wilson saw a big jump in pass attempts last year without much loss in efficiency, although his touchdown percentage dropped to 6 in 2019 from a lofty 8.2 in 2018. The Seahawks aren’t likely to bring back Jadeveon Clowney, so the defense might put the offense on the spot even more often this year. Wilson has been lobbying for a more aggressive pass offense, and if he gets his way, he’ll outperform his draft cost.
Watson is a risky early quarterback pick this year because he lost his most dependable receiver when Bill O’Brien shipped DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for a second-round pick. The Texans added Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks to pick up the slack, but none can win at the catch point like Hopkins, and both are injury risks, along with Will Fuller and Kenny Stills (who might not even be with the team come Week 1 if they can find a taker). The situation around Watson has changed and become more fragile. Pass at ADP.
Target ahead of ADP: Stafford
Target at ADP: Wentz
Consider at ADP: Allen
Strategy: Allen is usually the next quarterback off of the board after the top six. He might justify that, but pulling the trigger a round or two earlier will get you a quarterback with a higher passing ceiling. Wentz is slightly undervalued and could be a hit if Desean Jackson and/or Alshon Jeffery stay healthy or the wide receiver play otherwise improves from the 2019 disaster. Stafford’s late-career breakout under Darrell Bevell has been forgotten and he should be one of the top targets if you want to wait as long as possible at quarterback.
Superflex: Stafford should be a top QB2, or wait on QB1 target in 2QB/Superflex. The cost of Allen is close enough to the Strong QB1 tier to make him a pass at ADP in that format, but Wentz is a solid Superflex QB1 or killer QB2 if you want to stack quarterback picks early.
Allen gains Stefon Diggs this year and could have more big plays in the passing game if his deep accuracy improves from an abysmal 2019. His rushing involvement, especially at the goal line, keeps his floor high, but performance bonus leagues or league with a scoring emphasis on passing yards and touchdowns aren’t as kind to him.
Wentz was actually better than you remember last year despite playing with almost nothing at wide receiver. He struggled against good defenses but finished strong against weaker defenses. Wentz shouldn’t be considered as big an injury risk coming into this year after playing all 16 games last year.
Stafford’s 2019 game log will surprise you. He had at least three passing scores and 291 passing yards in five of his eight games played. You never want to see a quarterback miss significant time with a back injury, but the Lions didn’t take a quarterback despite picking third this year, so they must feel good about it. He’s maybe the best target if you are taking your quarterback outside of the top 10.
HIGH FLOOR QB1
Consider at ADP: Brees
Avoid at ADP: Ryan
Strategy: Brees had some nice ceiling games after he returned last year and he gained Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason, so he is a justified pick at ADP, but not necessarily a preferred target outside of performance bonus and passing stat heavy scoring leagues. Ryan’s ceiling dropped in the second half of the season, so unless that trend reverses, he’ll be overvalued.
Superflex: It's probably better to aim higher or lower at quarterback than this tier in super flex. You may find that the wide receiver options in the same part of the draft are too good to pass up for a limited ceiling quarterback.
Brees had at least three passing touchdowns in every game after he returned except the pair against the Falcons and his pass offense should be even better this year. He’s a good target in leagues that inflate the value of good passers, but he could have more frequent floor games than he did last year if the Saints defense is strong.
Ryan had some big numbers when the Falcons were a sinking ship in the first half of the year, but as the team improved in the second half of the year, his efficiency went down, although he was missing Austin Hooper and Calvin Ridley at times during that stretch. He won’t be a fantasy bust but isn’t likely to greatly outperform his draft slot.
HIGH CEILING QB1
Target ahead of ADP: Burrow
Target at ADP: Tannehill
Consider at ADP: Roethlisberger
Strategy: Burrow is another ideal “wait on quarterback” candidate with his running ability, an arsenal of weapons, and the likelihood of numerous come from behind game scripts. Tannehill was a top-five fantasy quarterback last year but is still available outside of the top 10. Roethlisberger has been a consistent fantasy QB1 and he’s also available outside of the top 10. Options that can yield QB1 scoring abound outside of the top 10.
Superflex: Any of these options are decent QB1s if you decide to wait at quarterback in 2QB/Superflex leagues, and if you take your QB1 in the top 10-12 this should be your QB2 target list.
Burrow will enter an offense with AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, John Ross, and barring a holdout, Joe Mixon. The team will also gain 2019 first-round pick and starting left tackle Jonah Williams, so expect this to be a better offense than what we saw last year, and that’s before we factor in the improvement Burrow could represent. The Bengals should give him a lot of pass-happy game scripts, and Burrow will add value as a runner. He should be fantasy relevant, if not a fantasy QB1.
Only Lamar Jackson was clearly better than Tannehill in fantasy leagues after he took over for Marcus Mariota in Week 7 last year and yet he is still often available outside of the top 10-12 quarterbacks. There must be a widespread belief of regression to the mean Tannehill established in Miami, but in a more efficient offense without Adam Gase pulling the strings, it appears that risk has been overestimated.
There was worry about Roethlisberger’s ability to stay at his typical fantasy output levels last year without Antonio Brown, but since last year, we saw the Steelers quarterback, Diontae Johnson became a phenom, James Washington took a step forward, Eric Ebron was signed in free agency, and Chase Claypool was drafted in the second round. As long as Roethlisberger’s throwing elbow is sound, he’ll outperform his draft cost.
Consider at ADP: Goff
Avoid at ADP: Rodgers, Brady
Strategy: When in doubt, fade the name-brand value of Rodgers and Brady. The Packers offense is only getting more run-heavy and the Bucs offense should be much more conservative than it was last year. Both should still have peaks in good matchups, along with Goff who is cheaper and fits well in a QBBC approach.
Superflex: Goff is a viable QB2, or minimal quarterback drafting QB1 target at ADP in 2QB/Superflex.
Goff had a very good December after a touchdown-less November, but those two stretches highlight the vast chasm between his ceiling and floor as we go through the season. He can’t be trusted as a plug and play QB1, but we’ll project Goff as a solid to strong QB1 when he faces Seattle, Arizona, the NFC East, and Miami.
Rodgers was a true boom/bust fantasy quarterback last year, and his booms were less frequent than his busts. Big games against Philadelphia, the Raiders, the Giants, and Kansas City were at least predictable, and he handled the Lions well within the division, but otherwise, you wanted to steer clear of Rodgers when it was time to set your lineup. That isn’t likely to change this year as the Packers doubled down on the run game and a Rodgersless future in the draft.
Brady will be adjusting to the Bruce Arians offense, although he’ll have influence over the scheme and he’ll also be reunited with Rob Gronkowski. This still looks like a team that will have more low-scoring games and better defense than they had in 2019, which will keep Brady’s season-long ceiling low. He could be a hit with much better receivers than he had last year, but his ADP is already on the optimistic side.
HIGH CEILING QB2
Cam Newton, NE
Target ahead of ADP: Bridgewater, Newton
Target at ADP: Lock
Strategy: And the list of answers to “Who should I draft if I wait at quarterback?” gets even longer. Bridgewater and Lock are both cheap enough to be easy calls as second quarterbacks in a late-round quarterback approach. They could make a big leap for fantasy because of their surroundings and the draft cost lost if they bust is couch cushion change. Newton remains off of the fantasy radar, but savvy early drafters should be adding him in the very late rounds. When we see him again, he will very likely be in line to start. It might require waiting for a quarterback injury, but Newton should start in 2020.
Superflex: As long you can get these quarterbacks outside of the top 20, there's little cost to waiting for your QB2 in 2QB/Superflex, and there are crazier draft strategies than taking them both as your QB1/QB2. Newton should be a must-draft in the late rounds in 2QB/Superflex, especially if you are worried about your depth or ceiling at the position.
Bridgewater is reunited with Joe Brady, who coached him with the Saints in 2018, and he should well-acclimated to Brady’s style and scheme, which produced the legendary 2019 LSU offense. The Panthers added Robby Anderson to help outflank opposing secondaries, and Bridgewater is a good fit for an offense that wants to get the ball out quickly to set up run after catch opportunities. The Panthers should also be playing from behind as much as any team this year.
Lock was one of the biggest winners at quarterback of the NFL offseason, as the Broncos drafted future third-down security blanket Jerry Jeudy in the first round, a speedy slot KJ Hamler in the second, and Lock’s favorite red-zone target from college, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth. Melvin Gordon was signed in free agency to bolster the pass-catching ability in the running back room to boot. Lock is still a bit raw and there’s a lot of moving parts to orchestrate in new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s offense, but if/when it comes together this year, fantasy players will be happy to have him on their rosters.
Newton's health is a big questionmark heading into 2020, but he is one of the best quarterbacks of this era and seeing someone of his quality sitting in free agency for as long as he did before Belichick struck was difficult to believe. Newton should either be the starter or released at the end of camp because we learn his body is broken.
Consider at ADP: Darnold, Carr
Avoid at ADP: Jones, Garoppolo, Cousins
Strategy: Quarterback has enough upside in the top 20 this year that you shouldn’t feel the need to draft players who probably don’t have top 10-12 season-long numbers or a high weekly floor and that describes this group. Jones is the most overdrafted, along with Garoppolo and Cousins, while Carr and Darnold’s ADP reflects their actual value, which is on the fringe of draftability.
Superflex: Bridgewater and Lock are much better targets at cost than this tier, although you can't expect Jones to get dropped early like you can in one quarterback leagues, so if you like him, you'll have to take him as one of the first QB2s off of the board.
Jones' fantasy performance last year wasn’t that different than Aaron Rodgers, but this year he is learning the Jason Garrett offense and he starts off the year with Pittsburgh, Chicago, and San Francisco in a three-game stretch that could be gory for fantasy football. The best bet is to let someone else draft Jones and swoop in when he is dropped after a disappointing September.
Garoppolo has a high weekly ceiling but his floor is about as low as any quarterback in the league. As the 49ers showed in the playoffs last year, if they don’t need to throw to win, then they won’t. He does have favorable matchups against Arizona, the Jets, the Giants, Philadelphia, and Miami to open, so he’s still a solid 2QB/Superflex in leagues that start two quarterbacks.
Cousins would be much better in leagues that rewarded quarterback efficiency. He will remain a low volume quarterback and his weekly ceiling could be hurt by the loss of Stefon Diggs. He’s only a bye/injury fill-in in one quarterback leagues and a “you could do better, you could do worse” 2QB/Superflex.
Can Darnold overcome Adam Gase to have consistent fantasy relevance? He’ll have to adapt to new wide receivers and will be playing in front of a rebuilt offensive line. Darnold also faces Buffalo, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Denver to open the season, so if he is drafted, he’ll likely end up on the waiver by October.
On paper, Carr’s situation looks good with the addition of Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards in the draft and a return to health for Tyrell Williams, along with one of the best offensive lines in the league. On the field, Carr is a low ceiling uninspiring fantasy option, who now has Marcus Mariota breathing down his neck if he falls out of favor with Jon Gruden.
HIGH FLOOR QB2
Consider at ADP: Rivers, Minshew
Avoid at ADP: Mayfield
Strategy: This group really shouldn’t come into play in one quarterback drafts, but they will be low 2QB/Superflex candidates. Mayfield is being vastly overdrafted, while Rivers and Minshew are about right.
Rivers looked like a quarterback in decline last year with the Chargers, and that decline could continue this year, but he will be playing behind a much better offensive line. The Colts offense should be balanced, limiting Rivers' attempts, but if he is more efficient, he could still be a matchup/bye/injury option in one-quarterback leagues.
The Jaguars did not bring in legitimate competition for Minshew, so he’ll have a chance to elevate his game in year two under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who has generally made his offenses more productive than they should be. Minshew’s floor is helped by some rushing stats as a scrambler and he did have some ceiling games last year, but will likely be only a low-end bye/injury/emergency option in one quarterback leagues.
Mayfield could be much improved this year in a highly-structured offense under new head coach Kevin Stefanski, but his attempts should drop. If Kirk Cousins can’t be a fantasy QB1 in this system, Mayfield certainly can’t. He’s being overdrafted on trailing overoptimism from 2019.
Strategy: Both of these options can get you through in QB2/Superflex leagues for some amount of time, but the first-round rookies are coming to turn these veterans back into backups sooner than later. Taylor has the high rushing floor and an easier schedule to open.
Taylor has actually been a near QB1 for fantasy in the past, and he should be a viable QB2/Superflex for as long as he starts. If he can win and keep the Chargers in contention, he might be the starter for the entire season, as Justin Herbert could benefit more from sitting than the quarterback who went right in front of him, Tua Tagovailoa.
Fitzpatrick was a quality fantasy quarterback in the second half of the year and he should open the season as the starter, but there has been a lot of optimism about Tua Tagovailoa’s health, so the Dolphins may seek to get the #5 overall pick on the field early in the season. Fitzmagic is still a solid 2QB/Superflex to open the season, but it’s a good idea to draft Tagovailoa too if that’s your plan.
This group is only of interest in 2QB/Superflex leagues. Haskins should take a step forward but still be among the lowest ceiling and floor weekly options. Stidham will almost certainly be the starter to open the season, but who knows how long that will last, and his floor and ceiling are even lower than Haskins. Tagovailoa should start before Herbert and be the better rookie stash in 2QB/Superflex leagues.
WAIT AND SEE QB3
Consider Foles the favorite to start in Chicago. Allen, Hoyer, and Mariota are the three non-rookie backups most likely to start without an injury to the quarterback ahead of them. Mariota has the most fantasy potential of the trio. They should all be rostered in 2QB/Superflex leagues.
Taysom Hill, NO
Hill is a worthy bench stash in 2QB/Superflex leagues because he can save your bacon in a week with no second quarterback because of bye or injury. Remember, he caught six touchdown passes last year. Jameis Winston is the backup to Drew Brees, but Hill has more value in 2QB/Superflex leagues.
BACKUPS BETTER THAN SOME STARTERS
Winston is behind the oldest starter, but chances are none of this tier gets a start this year, unless the Saints clinch the #1 seed before Week 17.
COULD STARTER GET BENCHED?
Daniel Jones and Baker Mayfield are playing under new offensive coordinators and head coaches this year. They should acclimate well enough to get a full season of starts and development, but if they have trouble and don’t seem like good fits (of if Jones gets hurt again), this duo, always among the best backups, but not good enough to become entrenched starters, could get valuable 2QB/Superflex starts.
RUNNING QB BACKUPS
This group of backups has a high floor as running quarterbacks, and Griffin has some added value playing behind a starter who puts himself in harm’s way as a runner more often than any other quarterback. The chances of Kaepernick getting signed have gone up in recent weeks, and he could even be signed by Denver or Arizona to upgrade from other backups in this tier.
STARTER INJURY RISK UPSIDE
This group isn’t exactly inspired for fantasy, but McCarron backs up a quarterback who will sacrifice his body to make a play, and Rudolph and Daniel are backing up quarterbacks who missed significant time last year.
BACKUP GRAB BAG
Nick Mullens, SF
Mike Glennon, JAX
Sean Mannion, MIN
Chad Henne, KC
Nate Sudfeld, PHI
Joe Flacco, NYJ
Matt Schaub, ATL
Jordan Love, GB
Blaine Gabbert, TB
Ryan Finley, CIN
John Wolford, LAR
Logan Woodside, TEN
Geno Smith, SEA
Any backup quarterback has potential value in 2QB/Superflex leagues, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with the names to know. The Bengals, Rams, Titans, and Seahawks might be in the market to upgrade this spot. Henne and Schaub both got starts last year. Mullens is the best stash in 2QB/Superflex dynasty leagues as a player who could get an increased opportunity on his second team in a few years.
SUPERFLEX WATCH LIST
Who will be the backup if Teddy Bridgewater gets hurt? Walker and Grier are both intriguing stashes in 2QB/Superflex dynasty leagues. Buffalo will have a battle for their backup quarterback this year. Luton is a decent quarterback in structure and if the Jaguars sour on Minshew, he could get a look later this year. Rosen is a candidate to be traded during the preseason or regular season to a team with a quarterback need. Hurts might get some Taysom Hill snaps and the Eagles could promote him over Sudfeld if Carson Wents gets hurt and they are happy with his progress.