While the days of names like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are coming to an end, we are in good hands with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Looking at last year, we saw the same consistency from Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan as well. Kyle Murray entered the scene with a top ten fantasy season, and Dak Prescott moved into the spotlight with a 4,900-yard season and 30 touchdowns. Jameis Winston carried himself to a top-three fantasy quarterback finish with a ton of volume, throwing well over 600 attempts.
Baker Mayfield struggled after all of the offseason hype and comes into 2020 with even more to prove. Injuries hit quarterbacks hard in 2019. Drew Brees missed five games, while Matthew Stafford missed the entire second half. Ben Roethlisberger going down in Week 1 didn’t do the Steelers or fantasy players any favors. Ryan Tannehill and Daniel Jones showed upside in the second half, and are looking to be late-round options this year.
QB Fantasy Draft Strategy
You are going to find various strategies out there as far as drafting a quarterback goes. One thing that is important right off the bat is to understand how your league size and scoring format works. Sometimes quarterback scoring can be weighted differently. The standard is usually four fantasy points per passing touchdown and one fantasy point per 25 passing yards. If it is six fantasy points per passing touchdown, and yards are weighted differently, then you can have an advantage drafting a quarterback earlier. League size can determine if you need to wait longer or not. A shallow 8-10 team league will not emphasize the quarterback position in comparison to anything that is 14 or more. We will look at what is usually standard though.
After a historic season in 2018, we saw Patrick Mahomes go from a league winning mid-late round quarterback to a very early round quarterback. While he missed a few games, Mahomes wasn’t going to bring any sort of value for where he was drafted even if he stayed healthy. Instead, we saw Lamar Jackson go very late, and put up a historic season. These later-round options will not be as productive as they were every year, but there will always be guys who produce higher than their average draft position goes.
There are some pros and cons for every strategy. Taking a high-level QB1 like a Mahomes, Jackson, or Watson is going to give you some week-to-week comfort. The weekly production is safe, and these names are not matchup dependent like some names later in drafts. The downside is that you are passing up on strong running back and wide receiver talent. I would be more considered with passing up on a running back because the position is not as deep. We generally do not see quarterbacks produce those historic types of years in multiple seasons in a row.
The tier with names like Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, and Carson Wentz is going to be safe picks. You will get them a few rounds later, but not in the double-digit rounds. You can count on them every week, but during those prior rounds, you will be able to address other needs. The higher upside names at other positions can be selected instead. There isn’t a con with this draft strategy.
Finding quarterbacks who also have rushing potential is a strategy to consider as well. We will focus on Josh Allen. His weekly floor was pretty safe because of his rushing production. If a quarterback runs for 30-40 yards each week is a nice 3-4 fantasy points you can add onto his passing stats. Of course, the rushing touchdowns and extra yardage will give you more upside. Allen finished with nine rushing touchdowns, so his rushing ceiling was hit in 2019. There is some more injury risk, but that isn’t enough to negate this strategy.
Now for the more popular late-round quarterback strategy. This is not a contrarian strategy, so that would be the only con if you want to consider it one. Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, and Jameis Winston were 2019 late-round quarterback darlings. They all finished inside the top five. Names like Kirk Cousins and Philip Rivers have continued to be there year in and year out for late-round targets. The biggest plus side is that you get to solely focus on the rest of your roster, maximizing upside and safety before addressing quarterback. There also won’t be draft capital tied to your quarterback. If he is struggling, you can go find another off the waiver wire.
Quarterback (QB) Fantasy Football Rankings Frequently Asked Questions
Who Are The Best Fantasy Quarterbacks?
Much like most positions, you want a mix of consistency and upside. Lamar Jackson brought that every week in 2019, and it is hard rule against him bringing this type of production in 2020. The rushing floor and ceiling he is every week is unmatched. You also have Patrick Mahomes, who is going to give you that week-to-week consistency. Both of these names you are not going to have to worry about matchups each week.
Who Is The Number One Fantasy Quarterback?
You have a pretty good debate between Mahomes and Jackson right now, but Jackson’s dual-threat ability just works better for fantasy. Jackson shot up in auction value and for his average draft position, so you will be paying a premium price on him this season. He projects for another strong season, and the weekly floor is higher than most, and I could see him hitting QB1 more weeks than Mahomes just due to the rushing ability. We will give the slight edge to Jackson here.
Do I Need Two Quarterbacks On My Roster?
League size and waiver wire names will dictate this a bit, but in most cases you are better off having a backup quarterback. There are a few reasons for that. You can play the matchups with two late round quarterbacks on a weekly basis. With 32 quarterbacks in the league, a 12-team league is going to suck up around 24 of them. I wouldn’t want to be left searching through the scraps if your quarterback gets injured. If you are in a more shallow league, then having a backup quarterback isn’t a must have.
What is Streaming Quarterbacks?
Streaming is a fantasy concept for any position, where you will look at things on a week-to-week basis and set a position on the fly. For quarterback, you can start your prep before the season by looking at the schedule and drafting two quarterbacks who have alternations in positive matchups throughout the year. You can also draft for the first few weeks and then start streaming on the fly. While we don’t want to weight strength of schedule heavily in other strategies, you are going to weight it more here. Drafting a name like Kirk Cousins later in drafts, and maybe a name like Derek Carr late or off the waiver wire can be a way to go. This gives you the option each week to start the quarterback in the best spot.
What Should I Look For In Drafting A Fantasy Quarterback?
There are a few notes to make before heading into your fantasy drafts. The strategies above will help you prepare for what direction you want to go, but also have a backup plan if the names you want get drafted. You might have come across some debates about volume vs. efficiency. At other positions, volume ranks a bit higher. While we still want some volume at quarterback, efficiency generally is something we weight higher.
Being able to put up numbers on the ground is also noteworthy because it takes away from pass attempts. It was a bit of a mixed bag when correlating volume with fantasy production. Jared Goff put up a QB11 season, ranking first in attempts. Tom Brady had the fourth most pass attempts, yet ranked as QB14. Russell Wilson is generally someone who doesn’t throw a ton, yet his efficiency makes him one of the more consistent fantasy quarterbacks.
Find names that produce on a stable basis week-to-week, and are not extremely matchup dependent. Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan are two names that come to mind in middle rounds that just bring that 20+ fantasy point floor each week.
Do Other Positions Have A Drastic Effect On Quarterback Production?
Generally bad teams are going to have bad quarterback production. But there are a few things to note for how teams are built and how that translates into quarterback production. Sometimes a team’s receiving core can give a quarterback a bump. Offensive line play is also something to note. In 2019 we saw teams like the Cowboys, Saints, Chiefs, Eagles, and Ravens all finish inside the top ten in pass protection. While they have strong quarterback play, it also ties into them being able to have comfortability in the pocket. Take a team like Oakland for example, they finished inside the top ten in pass protection too. Carr didn’t have a great receiving cast, but finished 17th in scoring.
The movement receiving corps have on a quarterback’s fantasy production is there to a degree. It isn’t something to weigh heavily, but look at Jacoby Brissett. T.Y. Hilton was banged up most of the year, and it gave him a limited supporting cast. He was going to have a tough time succeeding given he isn’t a playmaker on his own. Josh Allen saw some help with John Brown and Cole Beasley, and his numbers took a slight rise. There is room for growth with adding new weapons to an offense, but we saw how that worked out with Cleveland.
An overlooked aspect of how a team can increase fantasy production is how bad a team’s defense is. The Falcons defense has been hit by the injury bug, but boy did they struggle at times. This gave the passing offense increased volume and urgency to throw just to stay within contention. Daniel Jones and Ryan Fitzpatrick were also examples of that, where they were fantasy relevant because game flow helped them out most weeks.