Fantasy Football Do Not Draft List: Quarterbacks (2020)
There are very few players who are true “do not drafts” under any circumstances. As Matt Kelley told us, “I don’t hate players, I hate ADPs.” In 99% of cases, the reason for placing a player on the “do not draft” list is because of his ADP.
That will be the focus of this list. I’ll feature quarterbacks that many of us like and would love to have — it’s just that they cost too much. Let’s take a look at 2020’s “do not draft” quarterbacks.
Aaron Rodgers (GB): QB8 ECR
I can’t remember the last quarterback to survive so long on name value alone. There was a time when Aaron Rodgers was the undisputed best quarterback in both the NFL and fantasy. That was a long time ago. Rodgers is currently the QB8 using FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings (ECR) with a sixth-round ADP.
There’s not much you can do to justify spending that much on Rodgers. The opportunity cost is just too high! You’re passing up on wide receivers and running backs with actual upside to select a 36-year-old quarterback with exactly one desirable pass-catcher. Rodgers is also coming off a season where he finished as the QB14 by PPG (10 games played to qualify). Rodgers was the QB4 as recently as 2018, but it’s important to give that some context — he was just 0.58 PPG better than the QB8.
Rodgers led the league in money throws last season, and he protected the ball well, but he’s a far cry from the elite passer he once was. Rodgers’ 68.7% true completion percentage was just 17th in the league, and his 72% clean pocket completion percentage was 21st in the league. Simply put, he was inaccurate despite his weak receiving corps managing to lead the NFL in target separation as a group.
As will be a theme for the mid-round quarterbacks, it’s hard to justify sacrificing the wide receiver or running back to take a mid-round quarterback when you can get guys like Matt Stafford, Daniel Jones, Ben Roethlisberger, and Ryan Tannehill in the double-digit rounds.
Deshaun Watson (HOU): QB6 ECR
The Texans’ quarterback is young, talented, and just an all-around bad value in 2020. Deshaun Watson is the ECR QB6 with a fifth-round ADP. You just can’t take a quarterback like Watson in the fifth round.
Watson is coming off an overall QB2 finish where he was closer to the QB18 than the QB1, Lamar Jackson. Other than Jackson, no quarterback was a difference-maker last season, including Watson. What reason do we have to believe Watson will be a significant advantage over the quarterbacks going over five rounds after him now that he just lost DeAndre Hopkins?
I like Watson. He’s the long-term answer for Houston at quarterback, and he will be a fine fantasy option this season. He just won’t be five rounds better than a number of other quarterbacks that you can draft without sacrificing a starting running back or wide receiver.
Drew Brees (NO): QB10 ECR
Drew Brees is properly ranked amongst quarterbacks as the QB10. That’s a good spot for him. The problem, as always, is cost. What advantage is Brees giving you? Even in the eighth round, there are still wide receivers and running backs with real upside. Does a 41-year-old Brees really have that?
Without looking, if you had to guess, when’s the last time Brees averaged over 20 fantasy points per game? I’ll filibuster for a bit while you do some thinking before I reveal the answer. In some years, Brees was a top-six QB1 with around 20 PPG. In other years, he was a bottom-six QB1. But in none of the years did Brees give your fantasy team an edge.
Oh, and the answer is 2013. He averaged 21.32 ppg and provided a relevant advantage over the bottom half QB1s. Since 2013, however, having Brees hasn’t really mattered. He’s provided numbers that you could either beat or come pretty close to achieving with a late-round quarterback or streamers.
Brees led the league in completion percentage the past three seasons, but that doesn’t win fantasy matchups. What wins fantasy matchups is ceiling. How do you reach your ceiling? Big plays. Brees was 19th in deep-ball attempts in 2018 and 30th in 2019. He’s still immensely accurate, but he doesn’t push the ball down the field.
Brees was once a true gunslinger that threw for a ton of yards and touchdowns with a ton of interceptions. Over the past three seasons, Brees has been turning the ball over significantly less, but his yardage and touchdown numbers have dipped as well. From 2005-2016, Brees threw double-digit picks in every season, but he also led the league in yards seven times, including five 5,000-yard seasons.
Even if you extrapolate his 2019 season for 16 games, his highest yardage total of the past three seasons would be 4,334 in 2017. I don’t want to leave out the fact that he was on pace for 39 touchdowns last season, too, but touchdowns often correlate with yardage, and 39 is a number bound to regress. Unless you think that Brees will return to mid-2010s form in 2020, he won’t provide you with anything that you can’t find for less in 2020.
Philip Rivers (IND): QB23 ECR
I know what you’re thinking. “Don’t draft Philip Rivers. Obviously. Who is drafting Philip Rivers?” It’s a fair position to take, but I would be negligent in my duties to all of you if I didn’t include Rivers here.
For the better part of the last decade, fantasy managers should not have been drafting Rivers. Yet every year, without fail, you saw his name come off the board as a back-end QB1 in fantasy drafts.
Rivers certainly isn’t being drafted as a QB1 this year, but why did it take so long for everyone to figure that out? The last time Rivers was a QB1, Peyton Manning was shattering records, and Josh Gordon was the hottest thing in fantasy football. Rivers has long been a high-end QB2 that was worth playing in the right matchups, and that was evidently enticing enough for fantasy owners. Following a QB23 finish, everyone should be completely out on Rivers. I’m sure he’ll have a couple of weeks this season where he’s a viable streamer, but under no circumstances should any of you be drafting Rivers.
Rivers is the QB20 by ADP, but he still has an overall ADP inside the first 15 rounds. That needs to stop. You are better off selecting almost any other starting quarterback that has some actual upside. Rivers has none.