Dan Harris’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings (2020)
Hi. I’m Dan Harris. And I’m boring and risk-averse.
It’s true. When we moved to a small, suburban town, my biggest goal was to have our local breakfast shop see me walk through the door and say, “The usual, Dan?” (That happened after like four months, by the way). We stay in the same hotel in the same vacation spot year after year. That’s just me.
And I’m like that in every area of life, including fantasy sports. I don’t often employ fancy strategies or reach a round or two to make sure I roster that exciting rookie. I simply make my projections, craft my rankings, and stick to them.
Boring and risk-averse. It’s not really a tagline that you’d want to use if you’re running for mayor, but it’s one I happily employ with my fantasy football strategy.
So, with these overarching principles in mind, let’s talk about the quarterback position in fantasy football.
You’ve surely heard many fantasy analysts advise waiting on the quarterback position in single-quarterback leagues (two-quarterback or superflex leagues are obviously a different story). Or, put differently, you’ve heard that you should wait to draft your quarterback until the opportunity to do so presents value. And there is almost always much more value in waiting on the quarterback position than there is selecting one earlier in your draft.
Now, to be fair, if you could guarantee Lamar Jackson’s 2019 fantasy performance this season, he’d surely rank much higher on fantasy big boards. But regression is almost certainly coming (a 9% touchdown rate is sure to come down, as is his rushing total). So although Jackson may be the top quarterback off the board for some (though, as you’ll see below, not for me), the vast majority of analysts will likely advise you to pass on his and Patrick Mahomes’ second-round average draft position.
In other words, there’s not enough value, relative to the potentially elite running back or wide receiver you’ll pass on, to take Jackson or Mahomes that high. Nor is there to take Dak Prescott or Deshaun Watson in the fourth round, Russell Wilson or Kyler Murray in the fifth, or Josh Allen and Drew Brees in the sixth, as they’re all being drafted.
Not only are you forced to pass on impact players at other positions to make those picks, but there is hardly a massive difference between those players and quarterbacks who are going to be undrafted in many leagues.
For example, the difference in my projected fantasy points for my third-ranked fantasy quarterback, Prescott, and my 20th-ranked fantasy quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is about 58 fantasy points over the course of a season. That’s about three-and-a-half fantasy points per week.
That difference isn’t entirely insignificant, particularly when you factor in Prescott’s upside. But when Prescott is being drafted in the fourth round and Cousins isn’t getting drafted at all, the delta between their projected fantasy points just isn’t worth it.
Whenever you begin to consider selecting a quarterback (as you’ll see in a subsequent article breaking down my overall rankings, for me it’s the third round for Mahomes and Jackson, and the sixth round for Prescott and beyond), how you order them is largely personal preference.
For me, you’ll see that in comparing my rankings to the expert consensus, I essentially have Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson flipped, as I project the former to make up for the loss of DeAndre Hopkins with an increase in his rushing yards. But, my overall differences versus the expert consensus rankings are generally small. Again, boring and risk-averse.
I’m higher on Cam Newton (Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels should devise an offense around his skill set and his rushing ability should make up for the lack of reliable pass-catching options), Joe Burrow (plenty of weapons and bullish on his ability to make an immediate impact given his historic 2019 college season) and Gardner Minshew (likely repeated negative game script, rushing ability provides a solid floor, and was one of the more accurate deep-ball passers in the game).
Conversely, I’m a bit bearish on Ryan Tannehill (hard to count on historic efficiency numbers in a low-pass-volume offense) and Baker Mayfield (expecting Cleveland to lean into its run game under Kevin Stefanski, which should negate the fantasy impact of Mayfield’s likely improved real-life performance). But unless you’re in a two-quarterback league, you’re probably not considering either of them.
ADP – Average Draft Position