Draft day, like life itself, is very complicated. Oh, it may seem
easy to those on the outside, but you and I know it is far from
it. “Just draft the best quarterback” says the uninitiated. If only
that were so easy!
As an example, let’s look at the last three top-ranked
In 2017, Deshaun Watson was a rookie quarterback out of Clemson,
but he wasn’t even the Houston Texans’ starter. Tom Savage started on Opening Day. Of course, Savage only lasted until
halftime, but as the preseason starter it caused Watson to not
be drafted in many leagues. The dynamic Watson averaged 28.6 FPts/G
over seven games until he was injured, but that was almost three-points-per
game better than runner-up Russell Wilson.
The following year, Patrick Mahomes burst on the scene after
starting just one game in his rookie season, the final game of
2017 against Denver. Few saw what he was going to do, but as the
15th quarterback off the board (ADP 118.1) Mahomes blazed his
way to an NFL MVP, a stunning 5,097passing yards along with 50
touchdowns and led a vast majority of his owners to a fantasy
And last season, despite carrying his Baltimore Ravens to the
playoffs as a rookie (going 6-1 down the stretch), fantasy owners
still didn’t trust this “new-age quarterback”
and Jackson was the 11th quarterback off the board. We are a stubborn
lot aren’t we? All Jackson did was average 30.9 FPts/G -
4.6 points more than runner-up Jameis Winston.
So when a neophyte says “just select the top quarterback”,
that’s a much harder assignment than they know.
Looking back at the last 10 “first-quarterbacks” taken in fantasy
drafts (chart below on right), their average production placed
then about sixth (6.1 to be exact). Obviously, “just pick the
best guy” is not so simple.
FFToday has Jackson’s projection at 26.1 FPts/G for 2020,
still good enough to take the top spot, but that doesn’t
come with any kind of guarantee, because the top quarterbacks
over the past five years has been drafted with an ADP of 110.7
and the 12.8th quarterback off the board.
OK, so all I’ve basically done to this point is tell you
not to draft a quarterback early because history says (or at least
in four of the last five seasons) the most productive quarterback
of 2020 will be drafted after the 10th round.
So who might qualify under these guidelines? Who has the weapons
to explode? Who is being overlooked either because we think they
are too young, too old, not ready, or just not good enough?
I’ve already mentioned Matthew
Stafford in a piece earlier this preseason (The
Underappreciated Matthew Stafford), so who else is ready to
take the world by storm? Who might we worth a later draft pick
as a sleeper who just might turn out to be the best value and
most productive quarterback of 2020?
I’ll give you three names.
Mayfield, Cleveland (ADP 133.4) –
Yes, I know last season was horrible when Mayfield (ADP 63.2)
was all the rage and was the fourth quarterback off the board
behind Mahomes, Watson and Aaron
Rodgers. His completion percentage fell to 59.4%, his touchdowns
were down (27-to-22) and his interceptions were up (14-to-21).
Head coach Freddie Kitchens and OC Todd Monken were clearly overmatched.
Kevin Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt will be much better. The team
brought back all its weapons and they are formidable – wide receivers
Jr. and Jarvis Landry, running backs Nick
Chubb and Kareem
Hunt. They even added tight end Austin
Hooper (75-787-6 with Atlanta). Meanwhile, the team used their
first-round draft pick (10th overall) on left tackle Jedrick Wills
(Alabama) and signed Jack Conklin away from Tennessee to bolster
the offensive line (40 sacks). Chubb may take away a few too many
touchdowns for Mayfield to be the top quarterback in 2020, but
as the 17th quarterback off the board, in the 14th-round, he’s
definitely a small gamble with huge upside.
Denver (139.4) – Lock finished 2019 with a 4-1 record,
an 89.7 QB rating and seven touchdowns to just three interceptions.
He might finally be the answer John Elway has been looking for
as the team didn’t draft another quarterback. They did, however,
load up on talented wide receivers. To go along with emerging
Sutton who proved to be the real deal in his second season
(72-1,112-6), the Broncos added the most “pro-ready” receiver
in Jerry Jeudy
(77-1,163-10 at Alabama) and quick KJ
Hamler (56-904-8 at Penn State). This just a year after selecting
tight end Noah Fant
in the first round. Denver also added running back Melvin
Gordon, who can catch passes (150 receptions in 39 games over
the past three seasons), as well as run and still have Phillip
Lindsay along with Royce
Freeman under contract. That’s a lot of tools and they will
need all of them if they are to go toe-to-toe with Mahomes and
the division-rival Chiefs twice a season. The end of the 14th-round
is an insignificant price to pay for the possibility he blows
Goff (157.0) – It wasn’t that long
ago that Sean McVay was an “offensive genius” and Goff was throwing
for more than 4,600 yards while averaging 24.1 FPts/G. In fact,
it was 2018 when they went to the Super Bowl. The Rams no longer
Cooks (traded to Houston), but he was a disappointment last
year anyway. They still have the underrated pairing of Robert
Woods (90-1,134-2) and Cooper
Kupp (94-1,161-10) at wideout along with tight end Tyler
Higbee (69-734-3). The Rams used a second-round pick on Florida
Jefferson. There are two questions to answer here. Can the
running game be a big enough threat without Todd
Gurley? Will Malcolm
Henderson or rookie Cam
Akers emerge as a star? Can McVay bring out the best in Goff
as he did in 2017 and 2018? To me, he’s certainly worth a flier
in the 16th-round in case the answer to those two questions is