2020 NFL Draft Guide: Waiting on Quarterbacks
Published: Aug 19, 2020
The quarterback position is one of the more interesting in fantasy football. It is the position (unless your name is Christian McCaffrey in 2019) that tends to score the most points. However, if you listen to many of the personalities in the fantasy football industry, you will be told that you can always wait on the position. There’s no reason to take one in the early rounds, because there is so much talent at the position. Right now, there is such a glut of guys who can lead you to a fantasy championship that you should load up at other positions before considering the highest scoring spot on your roster. The following paragraphs will give you multiple examples to prove this point.
Sure, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the cream of the crop at the position. However, at the same time you will pay an awful pretty penny to get them on your roster. Both have an average draft position (ADP) in the second round, with Jackson going about four or five picks ahead of Mahomes. This is typically the point of the draft when you are picking the elite wide receivers, and very solid running backs. While the difference between Mahomes and Jackson and the rest of the field of fantasy quarterbacks is a decent gap, the difference between the running back or wide receiver you can take in the mid-second round and the mid-third round can be more significant. It also can push the time where you fill your tight end, and you might hurt your team at that position as well.
A 2019 Repeat?
With his running ability, Lamar Jackson scored about 80 fantasy points more than the second highest point total of any quarterback. Mahomes was obviously farther behind because of his injury problems. The difference of 80 fantasy points over a 16-week schedule is five points a week over the next best quarterback. That is a significant difference. However, Jackson was a record setter with rushing yards by a quarterback, and he also led the league in touchdown passes with 36. And while it is a no brainer that Jackson will lead quarterbacks in rushing yards, expecting him to top 1,200 again in 2020 seems like a stretch. He is also better passer than his detractors would give him credit for, but 36 touchdowns also would appear to be a longshot to be repeated. So, while he looks like he will be the top scoring fantasy quarterback again, Jackson might not put as much of a gap between him and the rest of the fantasy quarterbacks.
We’ve talked about the top of the position, now let’s talk about the mid-range. Dak Prescott , Kyler Murray , Russell Wilson , and Deshaun Watson make up this tier of fantasy quarterbacks. Murray is a bit of a wild card because many expect him to do much better in 2020 than last year because of his maturity and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins , but if you look at the point total between the others you might be surprised. Prescott was the highest with a career-high 348 points in 2020. Wilson was close behind with 333 and Watson came in at 331. There is almost no difference between any of them. However, if you take a look at them against that later tier QB1 group, there tends to be about 30-40 points between the Prescott-Wilson-Watson tier and the next group. Over a 16-game season that is only about 2-2.5 points per week. Now sure, we have all been in matchups during the season where we won or lost our week by three points or less, but generally that is a minimal difference. However, if you pass on this tier as well and continue to wait you will have another round or two of filling your running backs, wide receivers, tight end, or flex and still will get a quality quarterback.
Late Round Options
If you don’t get reach for one of the top two guys, there is really no sense in drafting a quarterback until much later in the day. Here are the rounds that some of the best fantasy quarterbacks are being drafted. According to the NFFC, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz go in the seventh round, Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Drew Brees are going in the eighth round, and Daniel Jones, and Matthew Stafford are going just before the 100th overall pick in drafts. All of these quarterbacks appear to be in line for fantastic season barring injuries, and all are going at a time in draft where your starting running backs, wide receivers, and sometimes tight end are already full. You can pay up for one of the top two and still end up with a great team. But you could end up passing on some elite talent like Kenny Golladay , Amari Cooper , Miles Sanders, or George Kittle .
Not only can you continue to wait for the lower end of the top 12 quarterbacks, but each year there are a number of guys who come out of nowhere and can help your fantasy team. Last season was no different. There were several quarterbacks who were not drafted or were drafted late who were starting quarterbacks on fantasy teams that were in the playoffs. Jameis Winston might have thrown 30 interceptions, but he still finished as the QB3 in 2019. Josh Allen was not drafted in the top 20 quarterbacks last season but finished as the QB6. Jimmy Garoppolo was QB14, Ryan Fitzpatrick was solid from week to week, and Ryan Tannehill was a giant surprise in the second half of the season. Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes might be elite at the position, but there will be guys who emerge during the season who can put up a good number of points at some point during the year. This is further proof that it doesn’t make sense to burn an early pick on a quarterback.
Real World Examples
This week I was lucky enough participate in the 14-team FSGA American Conference Draft on rtsports.com. The results of this draft will further show you that it is wise to wait at quarterback. Only three teams selected their starting quarterback in the first six rounds. Eight more, including me, took their quarterback between Round Seven and Round Nine. This is a solid place to take your starting quarterback, however, that leaves three teams that continued to wait. One team took Tom Brady in the 11th round, and another got Drew Brees in the 12th. That is in a 14-team league. Two teams waited an incredibly long time and still got Hall of Fame quarterbacks who are being drafted among the top 12 quarterbacks on their team. If this doesn’t prove that you can wait on quarterback, nothing will.
Turnovers At The Top
While we love Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson , we have not seen guys stay at the top of the position from year to year. In 2019 the top two quarterbacks were Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott . In 2018 it was Patrick Mahomes and Matt Ryan . The previous year Russell Wilson and Cam Newton were the top two. Mahomes and Jackson appear to be a lock for the top two at the position, there could be guys that we don’t expect to jump up, or either of them could get injured or have an unexpected bad season.
There is one caveat to this, and that is to know your draft. Many of your drafts, especially with friends, will not follow the usual ADP. It seems that many drafts that include family and friends tend to draft quarterbacks earlier than high stakes or drafts with industry folks in it. So, if you see an extended run on quarterbacks happening you might have to act sooner than you would hope. Sometimes people also take more than one quarterback. However, it is still recommended that you wait for two reasons. The first is the depth at the position. There are at least 15 quarterbacks that you can feel comfortable as your starter. The second is that sometimes it is good to zig when others zag. You can wait while others take quarterbacks and load up on quality running backs and wide receivers and then even get a young up and comer like Daniel Jones or Drew Lock , a bounce back candidate like Baker Mayfield , or a surprise stud last year like Ryan Tannehill . If you wait a long time you can always roster two quarterbacks and have two shots at getting a reliable quarterback. The moral of the story is that while Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes might be studs at the position your roster will likely be stronger from top to bottom if you wait at least seven rounds to take your starting quarterback.