FANTASY FOOTBALL: A summertime update of the QB-starter rankings for 2020

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Seahawks QB Russell Wilson owns robust three-year averages of 3,847 yards passing, 35 total touchdowns and a cumulative completion rate of 64.2 percent.

BATSBY Sports offers a summertime 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.

POSITIONAL RANKINGS

TOP 60 PPR TAILBACKS

TOP 75 PPR WIDE RECEIVERS

TOP 30 PPR TIGHT ENDS

TOP 150 PPR PLAYMAKERS

QB-STARTER RANKINGS

  1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens
  2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
  3. Deshaun Watson, Texans
  4. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
  5. Kyler Murray, Cardinals
  6. Matthew Stafford, Lions
  7. Tom Brady, Buccaneers
  8. Josh Allen, Bills
  9. Drew Brees, Saints
  10. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
  11. Dak Prescott, Cowboys
  12. Matt Ryan, Falcons
  13. Ryan Tannehill, Titans
  14. Carson Wentz, Eagles
  15. Daniel Jones, Giants
  16. Jared Goff, Rams
  17. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
  18. Derek Carr, Raiders
  19. Kirk Cousins, Vikings
  20. Baker Mayfield, Browns
  21. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
  22. Cam Newton, Patriots
  23. Drew Lock, Broncos
  24. Joe Burrow, Bengals
  25. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
  26. Philip Rivers, Colts
  27. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins
  28. Gardner Minshew II, Jaguars
  29. Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers
  30. Sam Darnold, Jets
  31. Tyrod Taylor, Chargers
  32. Dwayne Haskins, Redskins

BREAKDOWN

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).

In other words, consider Mahomes’ ranking (alongside Lamar Jackson) to be more of the ‘1A’ variety … than a No. 2.

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 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.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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