Dynasty Quarterback Busts (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Depending on the constitution of your league, a quarterback’s value can vary widely. If you participate in SuperFlex and 2QB leagues, the quarterback is likely the most valuable position in your league and extremely hard to come by. Many owners will overpay to acquire a mediocre quarterback given the scarcity and high-scoring potential of the position.
On the other hand, quarterbacks in 1QB leagues are not as important. The position is still scarce, but given you only need to start one each week, you can get by with just two or three on the roster. There is not as big of a premium on the position, allowing you to buy a quarterback for a considerably lower cost than in SuperFlex leagues.
Nonetheless, in both types of leagues, it is extremely important which quarterbacks you choose to rely on. Depth at the position is not easy to obtain, so investing in a quarterback with a high risk of failure could critically damage your title chances.
In this article, I am going to look at dynasty quarterbacks who are likely to bust in 2020 (and beyond). I define a quarterback bust as one who will severely underperform relative to their ADP or trade value. As such, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson won’t be on the list; while regression is likely, I’d be surprised if both of them still did not finish quite close to their ADPs for the foreseeable future.
So let’s look at quarterbacks that will bust on your dynasty roster and why you should try to avoid them at all costs. Check out full rankings using our expert consensus dynasty rankings.
Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE)
The Cleveland quarterback may have a great deal of potential to become an above-average passer for NFL standards, but he presents a great deal of bust potential for fantasy football purposes. Coming off of a down season with inept coaching, Baker Mayfield finished as the QB19, behind the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Derek Carr. While many expect him to improve in the following season, I don’t see that translating to fantasy success.
Mayfield’s new coach is Kevin Stefanski, the former offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. In his previous stop, Stefanski introduced a run-heavy scheme that featured a low-volume, efficient passing attack. Kirk Cousins, his former quarterback, ranked 33rd among quarterbacks in attempts per game and finished as the QB13 on the season. Cousins only produced five top-twelve performances in 2019, with one showcase in the top-three.
The reason I am harking on Cousins so much is that Mayfield projects to see a similar trajectory as the Minnesota quarterback. He’s an accurate passer with limited mobility, he plays in a system that will utilize heavy tight end personnel, and he has the second-leading rusher in the league playing behind him. Let’s also note that Mayfield will have to play against the Ravens and Steelers defenses twice a year; in those contests, he averaged 18.4 fantasy points per game.
At a dynasty ADP of QB8, Mayfield is bound to disappoint relative to his high standing. He’s being drafted over proven fantasy assets like Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan, who are perennial top-twelve finishers when healthy. Mayfield is tied to Stefanski for the foreseeable future and given they are likely to have real-life success with this system, the quarterback will consistently underwhelm. With a low passing volume expected and little rushing upside, Mayfield will come crashing down from his inexplicably high ADP.
Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB)
Every year, Aaron Rodgers is consistently over-drafted. I am not sure if it’s purely name value or if people get jumpy when seeing the former MVP drop so low down the board. Unfortunately, Rodgers doesn’t fall far enough in fantasy drafts, as he’s currently being taken as the QB11 in dynasty startups.
Rodgers has entered the Tom Brady territory of fantasy passers. He’s a top-five quarterback in the NFL, but he does not belong in the esteem of top fantasy quarterbacks. Last season, Rodgers had a generous finish of QB11; when I say “generous,” I mean that his overall fantasy finish doesn’t do his season justice. The future Hall-of-Famer only produced five contests where he scored over 19 points; he scored below 15 points in each of the remaining ten occasions.
Like Mayfield, Rodgers plays in a system that is primarily focused on running the football. That sentiment was made even more transparent this offseason when the Green Bay Packers elected to draft a backup quarterback, a running back, and a fullback with their first three draft selections. The only addition made to the wide receiver room was Devin Funchess.
Rodgers will likely have some better performances this year, as some of Aaron Jones’ 19 touchdowns will instead be taken in by Rodgers. Still, that won’t make up for the fact 67% of Rodgers’ outings last year put your lineup at a clear disadvantage. Given the Packers just drafted his replacement, Rodgers’ longevity is even put into question. Unless we see a greater commitment to the passing game like we saw under Mike McCarthy, Rodgers will disappoint those who grab him at his QB11 ADP. It will likely be at least two years (if not more) until Rodgers will get the necessary volume to be a worthwhile fantasy asset.
Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN)
Efficiency is often unsustainable. When Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting quarterback for Tennessee in Week 7 of last year, he produced an extraordinary season that will likely be an outlier over the course of his career. Tannehill, who finished as the QB10 on a fantasy points per game basis, scored 26 total touchdowns in ten starts. Tannehill threw more touchdowns per start than many high-performing fantasy quarterbacks like Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, and Russell Wilson.
The Titans quarterback also benefited from his team’s incredible red zone efficiency. According to NBC Sports, “When in the red zone, the Titans score a touchdown 75.6 percent of the time, the league’s best mark by about 13 percent. Inside the 20-yard line, Tannehill boasts the second-best completion percentage of quarterbacks with more than 10 passes in the red zone at 69.23 percent.”
Hyper-efficiency is not always prime for regression, especially when it is accompanied by elite talent; however, Tannehill has never shown any flashes of this talent in his prior NFL experience. The former Dolphin had only finished as a top-twelve quarterback once in his entire career, finishing as the QB9 in 2014. Now, many may argue that the scenery was Tannehill’s problem, so playing in Tennessee should allow him to maintain his efficiency. I would strongly disagree.
Tannehill plays in a run-oriented offense that sees passing the ball as a secondary feature. Last year, Tannehill ranked 45th among quarterbacks in attempts per game, seeing an average passing volume of 23 passes per contest. He also has few perimeter weapons, with A.J. Brown being Tennessee’s only player to surpass 1,000 receiving yards since Delaine Walker in 2015. At an ADP of QB21, Tannehill could severely disappoint, given more established quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Tom Brady are going behind him. I know age plays a factor in dynasty drafts, but I’d rather have two years of solid production than a quarterback that could lose his job altogether.
Drew Lock (QB – DEN)
Every year there seems to be a quarterback that receives an unnecessary amount of hype entering the regular season, only to provide disappointing returns once the season begins. This year, that honor belongs to Drew Lock. Lock showed some promise last year, but he wasn’t spectacular. In fact, he was being undervalued enough where I actually had him as a buy-low candidate before the draft. Now, however, his ADP has skyrocketed and the argument must be flipped on its head.
Lock’s current ADP in dynasty startups is QB18; yet, I have seen him go for extraordinary prices in SuperFlex leagues. The main cause of Lock’s ascent is his newfound arsenal of weapons, which includes Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler. These players already join an impressive core of Courtland Sutton, Phillip Lindsay, and Noah Fant. Yet, just because Lock has weapons doesn’t mean he will succeed.
With all of the support now surrounding Lock, the Denver quarterback will quickly have his expectations raised to unattainable levels. Given his drafted capital was merely that of a second-round pick, Denver has no ties to Lock if he disappoints this season. Lock could be great, but we have a very small sample size to warrant selecting him over more established players like Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins.
Lock’s range of outcomes are wide in scale, but he is not a “lock” (get it) to have his starting job after next season. I am not ready to pay the price for the young quarterback, especially in SuperFlex leagues, given Denver’s lack of financial commitment to him and the chasm between his ADP and the actual body of work.
Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)
There is always a tendency in dynasty leagues to overvalue incoming rookies. The prospect of the unknown and potential production is often more alluring than a known commodity. Yet, there’s a certain point where a player goes beyond rookie hype and enters a stratosphere of being over-drafted. Currently, Joe Burrow’s ADP in dynasty startups is QB10. Before taking a snap in the NFL, people already believe that the LSU product is the 10th best dynasty asset at the quarterback position. Let that sink in.
Joe Burrow is undeniably talented, but he’s entering a remarkably different situation than he had at LSU. The Heisman winner will likely start Week 1 for the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that has been the poster child for organizational dysfunction over the past few years. Burrow will be playing behind arguably one of the worst offensive lines in football, as they gave up the ninth-most sacks in the NFL last season and ranked 30th among all offensive lines according to PFF. Like Mayfield, Burrow’s protection problems will be compounded by his division’s incredible pass-rushing units that he must face for the next few years.
Burrow also doesn’t present enough rushing upside to carry him into the top-ten quarterbacks, as he averaged 3.1 yards per carry during his two seasons at LSU. He may be a solid pocket passer, but his praise is coming off of one incredible season; that is not enough to sell me on his production before he even steps on an NFL field.
Burrow could easily prove me wrong; after all, he had enough desirable traits to be selected with the 1st overall pick in the NFL draft. Yet, I’m not willing to push in all of my chips at his current ADP. I can’t fathom taking Burrow over proven veterans like Matt Stafford or Jared Goff. In SuperFlex, where quarterbacks’ values skyrocket, I have a hard time selecting him over generational running backs like Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor. Maybe Burrow turns out great, but his path for success in the short-term does not correlate with his current ADP.