News & Analysis

Quarterbacks to target after Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes in redraft fantasy football leagues

Picking the right — or wrong — quarterback will go a long way in determining the outcome of your fantasy football seasons. Much debate has been made about how to address the quarterback position, with no strategy clearly separating itself from the pack. Let’s take a look at which quarterbacks you should target in redraft leagues in 2020 after the clearly superior options of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.

All average draft position (ADP) info sourced from BestBall10’s for the month of June 2020.

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Golden Tickets

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals — ADP 71.03

No rookie quarterback scored more fantasy points than Murray in 2019, as he totaled 294.9 points in standard, full-point PPR leagues. Murray’s ability to overcome the lack of an established stable of weaponry speaks to his quality, though those concerns have partially diminished heading into this season. The Cardinals went out of their way to provide Murray with more help, trading with the Houston Texans to acquire wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (fourth-highest grade last year among receivers with 100-plus snaps) and applying the transition tag to running back Kenyan Drake.

Some of Murray’s dominance stems from his productivity with his legs, as his 94 rushing attempts (third), 544 rushing yards (second) and four rushing touchdowns (fourth) each ranked in the upper echelon league-wide. Murray’s performance in out-of-structure play proved solid, with his passer rating ranking 16th when throwing the ball after 2.5 seconds or more, compared to 31st on throws that required less than 2.5 seconds.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme has proven to be quarterback-friendly, offering opportunities for cheap points by way of play design and reliance on yards after the catch. Murray led the league in screens thrown (76), earning a 71.3 PFF passing grade (ranked second) on those plays.

Murray is currently ranked 17th among our projections at PFF, with a total of 238.5 fantasy points. His current average draft position (ADP) may be rich relative to his 2020 upside, particularly when compared to his peers.

Dec 29, 2019; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) moves out to pass in the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys — ADP 72.28

The second-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football last season was Prescott, totaling 350.7 total points. The intrigue for Prescott is rooted in multiple factors. He’s surrounded by arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys hired a new head coach and a potentially large upgrade in Mike McCarthy and Prescott has the possibility of playing in another contract year.

Prescott — like Murray — is no stranger to accumulating fantasy points with his legs, though he has established himself as a dangerous passer to boot. Prescott put together eight games of 300-plus passing yards last season, ranking fourth in the NFL. His average depth of target (aDOT) of 9.8 yards, 14 red-zone rushing attempts and 62.0% air yards percentage suggest that much of his production was not a fluke.

Plus, the Cowboys made it a theme to add to an already-strong group this offseason: their receiving corps. They drafted wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and elevated Blake Jarwin to start at tight end after veteran Jason Witten’s departure in free agency. Talented rookie Lamb joins a loaded group that already boasts star Amari Cooper and budding star Michael Gallup.

Replacing two veterans — in Witten and Randall Cobb — with much more dynamic youthful players — Lamb and Jarwin — is likely to turn out well for the Cowboys, and in turn, for Prescott and his fantasy football upside.

Silver Medals

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles — 108.26 ADP

The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the more intriguing teams heading into 2020, and much of that has to do with the Wentz's health and the added weaponry surrounding him. The Eagles added speedsters Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins through the draft and acquired veteran deep threat Marquise Goodwin for pennies on the dollar in a draft-day trade.

Wentz threw a deep ball on 12.2% of his attempts in 2019, ranking 20th among quarterbacks who attempted at least 20 passes of 20 or more yards downfield. In addition, Wentz also ranked 20th in average depth of target (aDOT), averaging only 8.5 yards per attempt. But the additions assembled by general manager Howie Roseman — in addition to the health of deep threats such as DeSean Jackson — suggest the Eagles are interested in strengthening their downfield passing attack. And while Wentz didn't throw the deep ball often last season, he still graded out as the ninth-best quarterback on passes that traveled 20 or more yards downfield (91.6).

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions — 122.26 ADP

Arguably, the biggest potential steal among the position group in 2020 is Stafford, who ranked ninth in total fantasy points and seventh in fantasy points per dropback in his eight games in 2019. Stafford's dominance didn’t stop there, as he led the league in aDOT (11.4) and deep passing percentage (19.2%) and ranked second in yards per attempt (8.3).

Stafford proved to be a downfield passing extraordinaire, and we have no reason to believe that will change this upcoming season. His cannon of an arm and propensity to push the ball downfield may lead to an occasional turnover, though it also raises his ceiling a drastic amount with the potential for chunk plays and long touchdowns.

With his receiving corps remaining the same, expect the continued success of the downfield passing game for the Detroit Lions.

Aug 31, 2019; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates after a touchdown pass against the Georgia Southern Eagles during the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals — 147.40 ADP

Maybe the most interesting name on this list, Burrow enters the NFL into one of the most loaded offenses in the league. The largest hurdle for the rookie to overcome is the lackluster offensive line tasked with protecting him. The unit ranked 27th in the league in 2019 with its collective 63.7 pass-blocking grade while also allowing its quarterbacks to be sacked 40 times, a figure that placed them second-worst in the NFL.

Burrow’s weapons land on the opposite end of the spectrum — they’re excellent. Longtime veteran A.J. Green is finally expected to be healthy, though his injuries in recent seasons are something to note. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd has proven to be a model of consistency, registering back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons and a career catch rate of 65.6%. Arguably, the most intriguing of the group is fourth-year wideout John Ross. Ross played in only eight games last season but finished sixth in yards per reception (18.07), seventh in yards after the catch per reception (7.21) and 17th in aDOT (15.27) among receivers with 25% of their team's snaps. The potential connection between Burrow and Ross is highly intriguing, and we haven’t yet mentioned what fellow rookie Tee Higgins brings to the table.

Our projections are incredibly high on Burrow, ranking him third in projected fantasy points (284.9). Expect a lot of opportunities for Burrow and this passing offense, with the Bengals likely to operate in many negative game scripts.

Bronze Bombers

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos — 164.91 ADP

One of the more interesting names remaining on the board at this point in your drafts is second-year Denver Broncos signal-caller Drew Lock. His rookie campaign did not yield great results, as Lock scored only 73 total fantasy points (31st) and 0.42 fantasy points per dropback (22nd) in Weeks 13 through 17.

Still, the majority of the intrigue surrounding Lock is due to the talented core around him, particularly at wide receiver and tight end. The Broncos drafted Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in consecutive rounds in the 2020 NFL Draft, added another speedster in Albert Okwuegbunam and signed Melvin Gordon in free agency to pair with Phillip Lindsay. The Broncos sought playmakers to add to their already-talented nucleus in Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. Lock's putrid 7.1 aDOT (33rd) and below-average 6.0 YPA (25th) numbers could increase with the speed his added weaponry provides.

The impact these additions have on Lock's production is yet to be seen, though our projections currently have him projected to be the 22nd highest-scoring quarterback in 2020, with a total of 208.9 fantasy points.

Nov 11, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts — 170.14 ADP

Ol’ reliable. After 16 seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Rivers made the move to join the Indianapolis Colts in free agency, replacing Jacoby Brissett as the team's starting quarterback. Rivers — and the quarterbacks that follow him — are true late-round options.

Rivers has had no issues remaining productive as a fantasy football option, even at his age. Rivers ranked 15th in total fantasy points with 259.5 but only 28th in fantasy points per dropback in 2019. But even with his arm strength declining, Rivers ranked 12th among quarterbacks in deep passing percentage, with 13.4% of his total attempts traveling 20-plus yards downfield. The pairing between Rivers and vertical threat T.Y. Hilton could result in optimal production for both parties, as well as the vertical capabilities provided by rookie Michael Pittman Jr.

Rivers offers no ability with his legs, though the Colts field one of the better offensive line units in the league — one that ranked 11th in pass-blocking grade in 2019. The unit is likely to be the best of Rivers’ career and will prove essential to the pocket-passer style he deploys.

Our projections rank Rivers lower at 23rd in quarterback scoring, but he has finished inside the top 15 in points every year dating back to 2013. If you’re looking for a traditional dropback passer with a decent floor and a solid ceiling in certain weeks, Rivers could be your guy.

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