BATSBY Sports offers a pre-Labor Day rationale for separating the cluster of fantasy quarterbacks (read: presumed starters), as we remain optimistic about the NFL conducting a full 16-game campaign.
For now, we’ll assume everything starts on time; and as such, we’ll presume that weather largely won’t be a factor with quarterbacks during the months of September, October and November.
THE ANNUAL PPR SPECTACULAR
PRESSURE PACKED: Results of three simultaneous mocks (No. 8 slot)
FANTASY: 4 ways to invoke the risky ‘Bye Week’ draft strategy
FANTASY: How to fake your way through an uncomfortably early draft
DEEP DIVE: Fun Facts-style breakdown of the 2020 schedule
TWO OF EVERYTHING: Cool results from our ‘Noah’s Ark’ mock draft
FREE MONEY: Our second crack at NFL ‘Survivor Pool’ picks for 2020
READY, SET, GO: The NFL’s 30 most anticipated matchups of the season
MOCK DRAFT SIMULATION: # 11 slot
MOCK DRAFT SIMULATION: #4 slot
- Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
- Lamar Jackson, Ravens
- Deshaun Watson, Texans
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks
- Kyler Murray, Cardinals
- Matthew Stafford, Lions
- Tom Brady, Buccaneers
- Josh Allen, Bills
- Drew Brees, Saints
- Matt Ryan, Falcons
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers
- Dak Prescott, Cowboys
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
- Daniel Jones, Giants
- Jared Goff, Rams
- Ryan Tannehill, Titans
- Carson Wentz, Eagles
- Cam Newton, Patriots
- Kirk Cousins, Vikings
- Baker Mayfield, Browns
- Derek Carr, Raiders
- Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers
- Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
- Drew Lock, Broncos
- Joe Burrow, Bengals
- Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
- Philip Rivers, Colts
- Gardner Minshew II, Jaguars
- Sam Darnold, Jets
- Tyrod Taylor, Chargers
- Dwayne Haskins, Washington Football Team
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (expecting rookie Tua Tagovailoa to assume starting duties by midseason)
a) Yes, Patrick Mahomes finished sixth in fantasy points per game last year (behind Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson); but we’re also not prepared to minimize the awesomeness of his 2018 campaign of 5,097 yards passing and 52 total touchdowns.
What’s more, the Chiefs will encounter some of the NFL’s worst passing defenses from last season (Dolphins, Texans, Raiders, Buccaneers, Saints, Titans, Jets), which should offset the misery of potentially treacherous visits to Buffalo and Baltimore.
Bottom line: Mahomes has the skill set to flirt with 5,000 yards passing for the foreseeable future.
Of equal importance, we’ll bet the proverbial farm on the kid eclipsing 30 touchdowns in 2020, assuming he logs the vast majority of starts (injury-free).
b) I genuinely want to be proven wrong with the following proclamation:
Lamar Jackson won’t exceed 1,000 rushing yards in 2020.
What’s the rationale behind such blasphemy, considering how Jackson easily rolled for 1,206 rushing yards and seven rushing scores in just 15 games last year?
It’s simple. The Ravens have likely done the math on quantifying the numbers of Jackson’s mega-extension in 2022, likely after Mahomes and Watson sign their massive new contracts; and when talking annual salaries north of $40 million, it’s imperative that Baltimore has Jackson available for 15-16 games, while chasing the franchise’s third run at the Lombardi Trophy.
The best way to ensure reasonable health every Sunday? Encouraging Jackson to modify his rushing prowess, as the Ravens’ cast of pass-catchers expands over time.
That’s not to say Jackson will have trouble hitting 35-plus touchdowns again. We’re merely skeptical about the overall rushing yards, especially with Ohio State tailback J.K. Dobbins fortifying an already-loaded backfield, via the draft.
c) Back in April, we had zero interest in propping up 41-year-old Drew Brees’ preseason ranking, acknowledging that he’s likely not a threat for 5,000 yards passing.
However, Brees had the best finishing kick of any fantasy QB last season, averaging a staggering 297 yards passing and four touchdowns in his final four regular-season outings.
Throw in the addition of receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and 10 combined dates with NFC South and AFC West defenses … and this should be enough to clinch a top-eight ranking by season’s end.
d) At first blush, the Kyler Murray ranking seems a tad high; but it also matches our sky-high expectations for a breakout campaign, citing four factors:
**In Year 1, Murray accounted for nine outings of 300 yards passing and/or multiple touchdowns.
**Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk both notched 100-plus targets last season. For good measure, the wideouts each posted a catch-to-target rate above 62 percent.
**Tailback Kenyan Drake, who averaged 138 total yards and 2.3 TDs in his final three outings last year, has the capacity for 50 catches/70 targets in the explosive Arizona offense.
**DeAndre Hopkins’ arrival could be a real game-changer for the Cardinals, who now possess the requisite firepower to crack the top five in overall scoring (16th last year).
From 2017-19 with the Texans, Hopkins absurdly averaged 105 catches, 162 targets, 1,371 yards and 10.3 TDs.
e) It’s cool that Dak Prescott achieved career highs last year in passing yards (4,902), passing touchdowns (30), total TDs (33) and yards per game (306).
However, all four categories were seismic jumps in production, compared to the eminently consistent, but slightly under-whelming years of 2016-18.
So, what determination should be made for 2020?
For drafting purposes, it’s really simple: I’d rather corral the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz or Matthew Stafford anytime after Round 8 … than invest a Round 5-6-7 pick on Prescott.
And if you plan on grabbing Prescott anyway, regardless of today’s tepid endorsement, your backup option better come in Round 10 or 11 … instead of the basement options available at Round 16.
Speaking of Stafford …
f) This golden-armed passer’s midseason injury from 2019 served as a death knell for the eminently flawed Lions, who went winless without their franchise signal-caller.
There were also fantasy consequences to swallow, since Stafford was on pace for 4,998 yards passing and 38 touchdowns … before going down with a serious-but-not-surgery-worthy back ailment.
Can Stafford produce another year of monster numbers?
**Unlike previous years, the Lions are blessed with high-upside playmakers at the tailback (D’Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson), receiver and tight end slots.
**The schedule-makers have apparently been very kind, since Detroit draws the vulnerable pass defenses from the AFC South (Texans, Colts, Jaguars) and NFC South (Bucs, Falcons, Saints).
**Stafford posted the third-highest average of points among quarterbacks last year (25.9 per game).
The two passers ranked ahead? Lamar Jackson and Jameis Winston … currently Brees’ backup in New Orleans.