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While the NFL Draft hurt the stock of veteran quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, three key quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Ryan, and Jared Goff saw their fortunes rise after the draft.
In 2020, Ryan Fitzpatrick had his least time to throw since NFL Next Gen Stats began tracking the statistic in 2016. This quick game benefitted Fitzpatrick as he had his second-best yards per attempt (7.8), despite having lesser weapons than he had in prior stops. Fitzpatrick’s 2020 completion percentage over expectation was also the best of the five-year period the Next Gen Stats tracked. Fitzpatrick’s move from Miami to Washington should see an improvement with Curtis Samuel, Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson. Washington was speculated to be a potential landing spot for a falling quarterback in the first round but chose not to trade up for one of the five quarterbacks drafted in the top 15 of the NFL Draft. With no threat from a highly drafted rookie, Fitzpatrick has top-12 upside this season and is a value play, particularly in Superflex leagues. While only signed to a one-year deal, Fitzpatrick could play himself into a 2022 starting opportunity.
The Atlanta Falcons selected fourth in the NFL Draft, which was firmly in the quarterback territory of the draft. Instead of selecting the quarterback of the future, the Falcons selected one of the best tight end prospects this century to give veteran Matt Ryan an additional weapon. Ryan’s contract was restructured this offseason which likely secured Ryan’s spot on the Atlanta roster through 2022. There is speculation that Atlanta may trade Julio Jones in a cost-saving measure, but the offense still has Calvin Ridley to go along with Pitts. Ryan threw on play-action only a quarter of the time in 2020, while new head coach Arthur Smith oversaw the Tennessee offense when Ryan Tannehill threw on play-action on over 36% of his passing attempts, the highest amount in the league. Ryan was more than 2.1 yards per attempt better on play-action than non-play-action, so the increased frequency of play-action passing in Atlanta can elevate Ryan’s ceiling in 2021.
Jared Goff, like Matt Ryan, has a contract that would be tough to exit before 2023. Like Atlanta, Detroit was in range to address the position with the seventh pick of the draft but chose to stick with their veteran. Goff’s situation is worse than Ryan’s with Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman as his leading receiver targets to go along with T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift. Goff should throw a lot, as Detroit is projected to be one of the worst teams in the league in 2021, and the volume could support usable QB2 type production. Notably, new Detroit offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn had top-10 performances in team passing yards in each of his four seasons as the head coach of the Chargers.