On the latest episode of our Fan Fuel Fantasy Show series, we played “Buy, Hold, or Sell” using ESPN’s PPR consensus quarterback rankings. See our draft day plans and rationale for each of the quarterbacks listed below.
The Old Heads
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – Projected QB Rank: 15
Big Ben obviously missed all of last season due to injury, but everything I’ve seen indicates he is healthy and has a bigger chip on his shoulder than ever. He finished as the number three overall QB in 2018, and yes, I know Antonio Brown is gone. But Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and rookie Chase Claypool (Pittsburgh’s first pick in the draft this year) are more than enough for Roethlisberger to work with. He will come back without missing a beat, making a strong push to finish as a top 10 QB yet again.
After slowing things down for Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph last year, Mike Tomlin must be thrilled to have the 2018 passing leader back under center. The freakish Chase Claypool (6’4″ and 13 TDs at Notre Dame last year) and Eric Ebron will give Big Ben two go-to red zone targets, joining the promising pairing of Juju Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson as middle-of-the-field targets. As Jackson said, Roethlisberger simply has too much talent not to catapult back into the top 10.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions – Projected QB Rank: 14
One thing you can always rely on with the Detroit Lions is them throwing the ball a ton because they’re always behind. That will be the case again this year, equating to another solid fantasy season for Matt Stafford. The guy has been incredibly durable throughout his career (played almost a decade without missing a game), so there is no injury concern for the guy who was on pace to throw for 5,000 yards last season. Stafford still has a lot left in the tank and will be a fringe top 10 QB this year – like nearly every year.
Prior to his season-ending back injury, Stafford was on pace for 4,998 passing yards and 38 touchdowns, which would have ranked second and first in the NFL, respectively. Armed with a bad defense and a talented pass-catching pool in Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and TJ Hockenson, Stafford is likely to rack up some points in garbage time this season. I’m all-in on Stafford as a late round steal and a top 10 finish.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Projected QB Rank: 8
Tom Brady has finished with more than 300 fantasy points in a season only once in the last seven years, and it was half a decade ago. I am buying Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a team, but I am selling Tom Brady as a fantasy player. He is just in no way, shape, or form worth taking ahead of Mahomes, Lamar, Kyler, Deshaun, Russell, Rodgers, Dak, Stafford, Big Ben, or even Josh Allen at this point in his career. The only reason I would look to draft Brady is if you take Chris Godwin or Mike Evans with one of your early picks.
Despite the talent around the GOAT, you can find much better value this year. Jameis Winston was second in the league with 10.4 air yards per attempt last year, while Brady’s 7.6 checked in at 23rd behind Jared Goff and ahead of Andy Dalton. You’re playing yourself if you think Tom is going to sling it like Jameis did in 2019. Grab your tight end or stash another talented player on your roster instead of drafting Brady.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – Projected QB Rank: 10
I went back and forth on Drew Brees but ultimately decided to sell. What I saw in the playoffs last year concerns me. Taysom Hill is going to get his snaps at QB (yes, I know it won’t be a lot, but it will be enough to slightly hurt his fantasy value), and I just have a bad feeling Brees will show his age this season. He should still be solid, just not the Drew Brees we are used to seeing. Do not reach on Brees, as there are going to be much better options outside of the top tier. I would take Stafford and Big Ben over him this season.
My initial thoughts were sell. The arm-strength is declining, and Taysom Hill will steal a handful of snaps from the Saints’ Hall of Fame QB. Upon further investigation, Drew Brees’ weekly average from last season was on par with Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. Like the next guy on the list, the week-to-week upside isn’t quite what it used to be, but I like Brees’ as a top 10 QB with Michael Thomas and the newly-acquired Emmanuel Sanders.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – Projected QB Rank: 12
Aaron Rodgers managed to finish as the eighth overall QB last season with the weakest WR group he has ever had. DaVante Adams missed half of the season, and Rodgers still managed fantasy-relevance with Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow. He threw 4,000 yards, 26 TDs, and only 4 picks last year, so all you clowns with the “Rodgers has lost it”-takes can hush. Though the Packers didn’t get him any receiver help in the draft, they did manage to light a massive fire underneath him by taking his eventual replacement in Jordan Love. Aaron Rodgers will be yet again a top 10 QB, and look for Devin Funchess to be an impact, number-two receiver across from DaVante Adams.
With only three 20+ point outings in 2019, Rodgers is no longer a top 10 fantasy quarterback. His QB8 finish last season is a testament to his consistency, not upside. The Packers’ draft day moves are an indicator not to reach on Rodgers this season. Second-round power back AJ Dillon and third-round H-back Josiah Deguara were drafted for Matt Lafleur to mold his offense after Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers. In 2020, Aaron Rodgers will be more of a game-manager than the playmaker we’re so used to seeing on Sundays.
The Young Heads
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans – Projected QB Rank: 5
Losing Hopkins will have a significant impact on Watson, this offense, and this team. That was their star guy, Watson’s sure-handed safety blanket, attention-getter who freed up other receivers, and tone-setting tank on that offense. The one positive to losing Hopkins is that the Texans will be behind more frequently than in previous seasons, causing Watson to have to throw the ball more. This is not the year to swing on Deshaun Watson, but he is still too good to pass up if available past the eighth or ninth round.
Watson’s big-play and rushing ability–413 yards and 7 TDs a year ago–will supplant him as a top tier quarterback. However, when you lose Deandre Hopkins, I’m forced to downgrade Watson from a BUY to a HOLD rating. Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills give Watson an excellent trio of deep threats, but I’ll be surprised if Watson cracks a top four finish for the third season in a row.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals – Projected QB Rank: 3
Kyler finished as a top 10 QB last season with a less than impressive WR group, average line, and first-year head coach who was conservative in his offensive approach. Expect Kingsbury to turn Kyler loose this season with more designed QB runs and more deep shots down the field. One big knock on Kyler last year was the fact that he only threw 20 touchdowns. Well, now you add DeAndre Hopkins to the equation (who has caught 31 touchdowns in the last three years) and Kyler is a lock to throw 30+ this year. You will not regret pulling the trigger on this guy as early as the fifth round, just don’t take him ahead of Mahomes or Lamar.
This is arguably the sexiest pick in this year’s draft. A QB8 finish in his rookie campaign has analysts drooling over what Murray can accomplish in year two under Kliff Kingsbury. With an emerging Kenyan Drake and two Hall-of-Fame receivers at his disposal, there is no shortage of weapons for Kyler Murray feed the ball to. Try not to swing too early on K1, but be ready to snag him if he falls into your lap.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills – Projected QB Rank: 7
I’m selling Josh Allen simply because the risk is not worth the reward. This might sound like a stretch, but he plays in Buffalo. Your fantasy playoff games will be in the middle of Buffalo winters–by far the worst winter weather of any NFL team–and it is damn near impossible to throw the ball downfield with any accuracy (not that Josh Allen could throw it accurately downfield in a dome anyway) when it is 8 degrees with whirling 30 mph winds. And if you throw in a blizzard-like snow storm… You see what I’m going for here. Sure, he’ll be fine for your regular season, but you can’t win in the playoffs when he is playing at home. I also don’t love him running the ball–out of fear of him taking big hits like he did in that New England game. If you draft him, trade him away after a big game or two in the middle of the season.
The “name theory”–that a player’s name can help or hurt their value–comes into play with Josh Allen. Whether it’s the poor completion percentage, “rocket arm/looks good in shorts” meme, or the questionable decision-making, fantasy players will continue to overlook Allen’s QB6 finish from a year ago. Snag him behind the flashy Brady/Rodgers/Wentz names and this bet will pay dividends.
Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers – Projected QB Rank: 24
For being ranked as the 24th overall QB, why not buy Teddy Bridgewater? He posted solid numbers in New Orleans. And although he didn’t take many shots downfield or do anything crazy, he did all he was asked to do–managing the game and going 5-0. His role in Carolina will be much more than that of a game manager. With weapons like Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel, Teddy is going to have some weeks where he lights it up. Seeing Carolina not take a single offensive player in the draft signaled to me that they feel good about Teddy and his offense doesn’t need any more help. Bridgewater could be the end-of-the-draft QB that winds up in the top 10.
In five starts in place of an injured Drew Brees, Teddy averaged just 16.7 points per game. If you’re concerned about that sample size, Teddy was QB23 as a year-long starter in 2015. DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson make for an intriguing group of receivers, but I need to see Matt Rhule’s new QB light it up before having any confidence in him as a fantasy starter. Unless someone invites me to a two-quarterback or 16 team league, I will not be drafting Bridgewater this season.