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Mike Tagliere’s Quarterback Rankings and Tiers (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Aug 13, 2020

Patrick Mahomes could approach record-breaking numbers in 2020

Ranking players is what we do at FantasyPros. It’s what you want as the fantasy player. “Tell me who to draft ahead of everyone else once I’m on the clock.” Does that sound like something you’d say? What if I told you that rankings aren’t the only thing you should be looking at?

I know I sit down and spend a lot of time creating projections, which then turns into me creating my own personal rankings. But why is it that every time I’m in a draft, I’m not drafting those players in the exact order of my rankings?

Tiers. That’s why. Rankings are just a general gauge for where a player should be going, but it doesn’t tell you the complete story about the role they’d fill on your fantasy team. If you don’t understand this concept, that’s what I’m here for today.

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Imagine having a taste for pizza and then going to a steakhouse. Does it mean that steak is no good? No, but it may not satisfy what you’re looking for that particular day. Not a good comp? How about having a stock portfolio with all of your life savings in nothing but high-risk stocks? Ask any financial advisor, you need balance in your portfolio, just as you need balance in your fantasy lineup.

By showing you this tier list, it should help you understand the importance of adjusting your mindset on the fly. I’ll explain the rounds that each tier should be targeted in, as well as the impact they’d have on your roster construction. These tiers are based on half-PPR settings in a 12-team league, as it gives us the widest range of usability in leagues.

Here are the links to the other positional tier lists (as they’re available):

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

The “Every Week Starter” Tier (Rounds 2-4)

1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Lamar Jackson

These are the quarterbacks I’d feel confident playing every week, no matter the opponent. Some will say that Jackson should be at No. 1, and while it’s hard to disagree, you can’t deny the risk of injury with a mobile quarterback who weighs 210 pounds isn’t higher. The lack of preseason and camp only helps offenses, especially those that have been together for a bit. The Chiefs have, and it’s possible we see Mahomes break records. These are the only quarterbacks you should consider inside the top four rounds.

The “Start Most of the Time with Top-Three Upside” Tier (Rounds 5-6)

3. Dak Prescott
4. Russell Wilson
5. Deshaun Watson
6. Kyler Murray

Those who draft the quarterbacks from this tier will tell you they’re starting them every week, though it may not be advisable. Did you know Wilson posted QB1-type numbers just 43.8 percent of the time in 2019, or that Kyler Murray hit that mark just 37.5 percent of the time? I have them ranked here because of the safety and projected upside, but don’t reach for this tier, as you should be able to stream and have similar results. Prescott is the one I’d consider in the fifth round, but again, there are some great positional players still available in that range. Watson would be in the top tier if he still had DeAndre Hopkins, but we can’t pretend losing his go-to-guy doesn’t hurt his outlook.

The “Won’t Win You Your League but Also Won’t Lose It” Tier (Rounds 7-10)

7. Matt Ryan
9. Carson Wentz
11. Tom Brady
12. Matthew Stafford
13. Drew Brees

These are guys where you just put them in your lineup 75 percent of the time and they’re not going to hurt you. They may not win you the week like some of the options above them, but you also don’t have to spend a high-round pick like you do with them, either. Ryan has shown top-two upside in the past and has a steady floor. Wentz has been a top-12 type quarterback in at least 50 percent of his games in each of the last three years, which is more consistent than most realize. Brady has the best supporting cast of maybe his entire career but is aging. Stafford is coming off one of the best eight-game stretches of his career in 2019. Brees has been a staple in fantasy football as a QB1 forever but is now 41 years old and has the best defense of his career behind him.

The “Top-Five Upside but Severe Downside” Tier (Rounds 7-8)

8. Aaron Rodgers
10. Josh Allen

We have actually seen Rodgers finish as a top-two quarterback seven times. Don’t tell me he doesn’t have elite upside. Still, we can’t ignore what Matt LaFleur has done. Allen may have finished as the No. 6 quarterback last year, but he posted QB1-type numbers just 43.8 percent of the time, and that was while he scored a ridiculous nine rushing touchdowns.

The “Unknown Upside” Tier (Rounds 10-12)

14. Joe Burrow
15. Cam Newton
16. Daniel Jones

I haven’t watched a quarterback as poised as Burrow come into the league since Andrew Luck. Knowing he’s throwing to A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and Joe Mixon, he has some serious upside. Newton is now over 30 years old and coming off major surgery while having almost no offseason with a new team. Rushing upside will slowly dissipate. Jones finished as a top-five quarterback on four separate occasions, highlighting his upside, but outside of those games, he didn’t score more than 14.7 fantasy points. He also has a BRUTAL schedule to start the season.

The “Streaming-Only” Tier (And Solid QB2 Options in Superflex/2QB Leagues)

17. Ben Roethlisberger
18. Baker Mayfield
19. Gardner Minshew
20. Jared Goff
21. Ryan Tannehill
22. Kirk Cousins
23. Teddy Bridgewater
24. Philip Rivers
25. Drew Lock
26. Jimmy Garoppolo
28. Sam Darnold

This is the group of quarterbacks you’ll be streaming from most of the time, as they aren’t drafted in many 1QB leagues. If you play in a SuperFlex/2QB league, I’d be okay with almost everyone on this list, though judging by ADP, Minshew is by far the best value. All the quarterbacks in this tier have job stability and have almost zero chance of being benched, which is what you want for your QB2 in the Superflex/2QB formats.

The “Pair the QBs Together” Tier

27. Derek Carr
29. Tyrod Taylor
30. Mitch Trubisky
31. Dwayne Haskins
32. Ryan Fitzpatrick

I loved the name of this tier because it’s an approach I’ve taken myself in a few 2QB leagues I’m in. Let’s pretend you’re near the turn in your 2QB/Superflex draft and you have just one quarterback on your roster, but don’t feel like reaching for someone like Sam Darnold. You decide to wait even longer. Suddenly, all the proven starters with job security are gone. No worries, snag the combination of Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles, or Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert, or Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa. It does take up one of your valuable bench slots, but it also guarantees you have a second starting quarterback.

Here are the links to the other positional tier lists (as they’re available):

Wide Receivers
Running Backs
Tight Ends

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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