QB1 Predictions (2020 Fantasy Football)
Fantasy football season is back, and the start of legitimate NFL action will soon be upon us! As we gear up for fantasy drafts or look ahead to potential moves to make, we can start to examine who the top plays at each position might be. Today, we’ll take a look at the quarterback position and which players should finish among the top-12.
1. Lamar Jackson (BAL)
+1 vs. ECR
After a 2019 MVP and an overall fantasy QB1 performance, Jackson will look to take another step forward in 2020. He’s likely to take a step back from the 36/6 TD/INT ratio he posted in 2019, but Jackson is more than capable of putting up numbers that don’t fall far from the mark. Baltimore returns Mark Andres and Marquise Brown, and the team added rookies J.K. Dobbins and Devin Duvernay. The Ravens’ strong running game should open up plenty of big-play opportunities for Jackson, and it’s tough to overlook his own rushing abilities. He posted 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in 2019, and he’s now averaged 61 rushing yards on over 10 attempts per contest in his career. While the No. 2 quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, is the more talented passer, L-Jax’s ability in the run game gives him the edge as fantasy’s numero uno in 2020.
2. Patrick Mahomes (KC)
-1 vs. ECR
No reason to go against the grain with this pick. If Mahomes isn’t the top overall quarterback this season, he should finish as number two. Mahomes is arguably the most talented quarterback in the league, and he’s already shown just how dominant he can be. Though he came back to earth considerably in 2019 from his 2018 MVP season (5,097 yards, 50 TDs), Mahomes still has all the tools to be 2020’s overall QB1. The stable of weapons is substantial in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Mecole Hardman. Andy Reid is still the coach, and Kansas City’s schedule isn’t noticeably difficult. Fresh off a Super Bowl victory, expect Mahomes to be a top-two option this season, falling just shy of eclipsing Lamar Jackson.
3. Kyler Murray (ARI)
+2 vs. ECR
Last year’s No. 1 overall pick came out of the gates electrically, rolling for 4,266 total yards and 24 total touchdowns to go with 12 picks in his rookie campaign. He did this with an aging Larry Fitzgerald as his top receiving option and a less-than-healthy David Johnson anchoring the backfield. Upgrades at both positions (DeAndre Hopkins and Kenyan Drake) and a year of experience under his belt should be beneficial to Murray’s outlook. The Cardinals’ offensive line is still below-average, but the dual-threat passer/rusher shouldn’t have any problems breaking into the top-three at his position in 2020.
4. Russell Wilson (SEA)
-0 vs. ECR
“Steady as she goes.” Just as Jack White crooned on the Raconteurs’ 2006 hit single, Wilson has been the model of consistency in his eight-year career. In that time, he’s averaged just north of 3,700 yards through the air, 499 yards rushing, and almost 31 total touchdowns per season. Most impressively, he’s done it with often sub-par offensive lines and the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. There’s no reason to believe he bucks the trend of consistency in 2020, especially with a new contract, uncertainty in the running game, and an emerging D.K. Metcalf at his disposal.
5. Dak Prescott (DAL)
-2 vs. ECR
It feels funny talking about Prescott’s fantasy outlook without mentioning his contract (or lack thereof), but it’s time to move on from that worn out story line. Dak is coming off the best season of his career (4,902 passing yards, 30 TD, 11 INT, 277 rush yards, 3 TD) and gets basically the same team back in 2020. Sure, he’ll be without the services of Jason Witten and Randall Cobb, but Blake Jarwin and talented rookie CeeDee Lamb will be fine replacements. Dallas’ offensive line is among the best in the league, Ezekiel Elliott should be at full health, and Dak should be extra motivated while playing on the franchise tag. It’s tough to count him out as a top-5 option this season.
6. Josh Allen (BUF)
+1 vs. ECR
Allen took a big step forward in his second season, setting career highs in passing yards (3,089), passing touchdowns (20), completion percentage (58.8), and rushing touchdowns (9), while throwing just nine interceptions. He’ll get new weapons in the form of Stefon Diggs and rookie Zack Moss, and if he continues to develop in Year 3, Allen could once again set career highs in 2020. He finished as the QB6 last season, and he’s in line to do so again.
7. Tom Brady (TB)
+4 vs. ECR
Age is just a number. Seriously, take a look at Brady. In 2019, he finished as the QB12 despite one of the weakest group of skill-position players around him, and he’ll get a major upgrade in that department in 2020. Brady will have Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, LeSean McCoy, and Rob Gronkowski to target, among others, and that boost should give him the firepower needed to remain among the QB1 ranks.
8. Matt Ryan (ATL)
-0 vs. ECR
It’s not a top-12 fantasy quarterbacks list without Ryan, and the veteran signal-caller should find himself among the position’s best once again in 2020. With Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, and Hayden Hurst at the ready to catch passes, Ryan should flourish. The addition of Todd Gurley will provide another pass-catching weapon, and if Gurley doesn’t work out, the team will likely be forced to rely heavily on the passing game. Win/win.
9. Deshaun Watson (HOU)
-3 vs. ECR
The loss of DeAndre Hopkins definitely stings. Watson’s receiving corps now consists of the injury-prone Will Fuller and new additions Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. If David Johnson can stay on the field, he offers plenty of upside as a pass-catcher for Watson, as well. Houston’s offensive line is still a work in progress, and the defense is not a stout unit, either. Watson has the talent to be fantasy’s QB1, but team matters, and he’s not in the best situation to succeed, which is why I’m projecting him as the QB9.
10. Aaron Rodgers (GB)
+3 vs. ECR
It’s been a very strange fall from grace for Rodgers, who many still regard as the most talented quarterback they’ve ever seen. Over the past three seasons, he’s seen his numbers fall off, and his fantasy stock is the lowest it’s been in recent memory. Green Bay’s first-round selection of Jordan Love should be enough to light a fire under Rodgers’ you-know-what, but if not, Matt LeFleur’s public chiding of the team’s big-play deficiencies should do the trick. Rodgers should have a healthy Davante Adams at his disposal as well as Aaron Jones and new-addition Devin Funchess. If that wasn’t enough, Pro Football Focus ranks the Packers’ offensive line as the fourth-best unit in football this season. I’m expecting a return to the top-12 for A-Rodg in 2020.
11. Baker Mayfield (CLE)
+7 vs. ECR
Mayfield’s tumultuous 2019 has many fantasy managers running away shrieking and screaming, but there’s no reason to flee in terror from 2018’s No. 1 overall pick. The Freddie Kitchens experiment was a bust, but the Browns are (once again) back to the drawing board, and Baker’s outlook is a bit rosier in 2020. The array of offensive talent is among the best in the league, and the pass-catching options include Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry (for part of the season at least), Austin Hooper, and Kareem Hunt, among others. This may be a make-or-break campaign for Mayfield in his third year, and I expect him to rise to the occasion. It’s also worth mentioning that his strength of schedule is the friendliest among quarterbacks for fantasy purposes.
12. Carson Wentz (PHI)
-2 vs. ECR
Wentz will be dependent on an uncertain receiving corps in 2020, though that’s been his M.O for most of his career. Despite relying heavily on backs and tight ends as primary pass-catchers, the North Dakota State product has tossed 81 touchdowns to just 21 picks over the last three seasons. He has a top-10 fantasy strength of schedule this season, and the talent is too much to bet against. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Wentz exceed this ranking.
Drew Brees (NOR)
Brees should provide plenty of accuracy and reliable quarterback play to guide the Saints into the postseason, but this team is built on the run game and an improving defense. Brees isn’t the focal point of the offense anymore, and the lack of volume should keep him outside the top 12 at his position.
Matthew Stafford (DET)
Stafford and several other Lions’ skill players have recently been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and it’s tough to include him as a QB1 in 2020 because of it.
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