The end-of-round quarterback has become an increasingly popular strategy in fantasy football. Lamar Jackson was the perfect example of last year, when he conquered the NFL with 27.7 fantasy points per game, the most absolute of all players. Fantasy owners who shot at the end of Jackson had a 69% chance of making their playoffs in the league.
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It wasn’t just Jackson, the end-of-round quarterback had a banner year in 2019. The list of top eight quarterbacks is full of players who had ADP outside the top 10.
|Player||’19 ADP||’19 Fantasy Finish|
Who will be the quarterbacks of this year’s late round to destroy their ADP and launch the positional ranking?
The following five quarterbacks are main candidates. Everyone has an ADP and PFF consensus ranking outside the top-14, but it could end the 2020 season in the top five if things broke optimally.
Cam Newton (ADP: QB14 | Consent rank PFF: QB14)
Newton has been a fantasy superstar for much of the past decade. Here is a breakdown of his fantasy ends by year:
- 2018 – QB13
- 2017 – QB2
- 2016 – QB17
- 2015 – QB1
- 2014 – QB17
- 2013 – QB3
- 2012 – QB4
- 2011 – QB3
Those are the top five five fantasy finishes in its last eight healthy seasons. Although Newton is suffering from a serious foot injury, he has played at least 14 games in every other season of his career. Newton’s QB14 ADP is too cheap considering its ceiling is literally the roof. Based on the dropback from 2011-2018, Newton ranked in the top seven QBs in each season except one (it was QB12 in 2016).
The running skill is the cheat code to catch the top five raises in a quarterback. Newton has 2,307 rushed yards after making contact since joining the league in 2011, 940 more than any other QB. In fact, Newton has three of the five highest attempts to run from a QB in a season since 2006 (Lamar Jackson has the other two).
Newton also leads all QBs with 23 top attempts from within the 5-yard line since 2015, five more than any other QB. Conveniently, Tom Brady has the second highest number with 16: a lot of quarterback thefts could be in Newton’s future.
This year the New England receiving body looks desolate, but if Bill Belichick leaves Newton free, it would be a dark horse that will end up in the top five fantasy QBs. The Patriots have the sixth simplest strength of the QB program this season.
Ben Roethlisberger (ADP: QB16 | Consensus rank PFF: QB18)
An arm injury destroyed Big Ben’s 2019 season, but fantasy people have been neglecting the NFL passing leader since 2018 when he had 675 attempts to pass for 5,129 yards and 34 TDs en route to a fantasy QB3 finish.
Pittsburgh has explosive weapons in all skill positions. Juju Smith-Schuster was hampered by injuries last season, but was a legitimate superstar in 2018 with an 81.8 PFF (15 °) and 2.08 yards per route (18 °) grade while racking up 1,426 yards of reception ( fifth). Diontae Johnson is everyone’s favorite wide breakout receiver and has led all WRs with 18 forced tackles last season.
Vintage Roethlisberger can throw him across the field as he led the NFL with 15 TDs on passes more than 20 meters deep downhill in 2018. This is where James Washington comes in. He shot eight deep balls last year to 335 yards (17th), an extremely impressive total considering the QB on the other side.
Steelers’ offense was a disaster last season with Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges – we can only pretend it never happened. Perhaps Big Ben regains its 2018 form and is once again a fantasy QB in the top five – Pittsburgh has the easiest number 1 strength of the QB program this season.
Baker Mayfield (ADP: QB17 | Consent rank PFF: QB22)
Mayfield seems like the perfect post-hype breakout. Last year was a disaster for Mayfield as the biggest disappointment for the entire QB position – he had an ADP of QB4 while he finished as QB20. However, hiring Kevin Stefanski brings hope: he was the fourth best NFL playercaller last season and worked wonders with Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. In the 5-11 weeks of last season, Cousins was the overall QB2 as he launched an absurd 18 TD on that stretch. Anyone can have a good seven game streak, but that’s the kind of advantage Stefanski brings to Cleveland.
He thinks back to the Mayfield rookie season in 2018, when he stormed the NFL (83.2 PFF grade, 11th). His deep ball (over 20 yards downhill) was electric: 1,008 yards (sixth) and 11 TD (sixth) despite having only started 13 games. That positive side of this great game is precisely why the fantasy owners were excited about Mayfield before the last season.
The key to a mind-blowing Mayfield season will be to lean on his offensive directors. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered injuries last season to reach an average of 1.81 yards per career. There is no reason why a healthy OBJ cannot return to the mega-stud form we have seen throughout his career and until 2018 (90.0 PFF grade, fifth). Nobody brings a slope of five yards home just like Beckham: his 22 TD on catches of over 20 yards are the third most of all WR since 2014.
The Browns also boast Jarvis Landry (78.2 PFF grade, 20th) in the slot – he averages 2.04 yards of reception per course (15th) and shoots in 11 deep balls (10th). The acquisition of the free agent Austin Hooper (78.3 PFF grade, eighth) will be a major safety valve for Mayfield, as he has only dropped two passes and his goals have generated a solid score of 114.5 past last season (14th ). Rounding out Cleveland’s quartet to receive the directors is Kareem Hunt, who had 37 catches (fourth) and 15 forced backlashes (second) after returning from suspension in weeks 10-17.
A quarterback is as good as his weapons – perhaps Mayfield can break through in his third season in the top five QB.
Joe Burrow (ADP: QB18 | Consent rank PFF: QB15)
The choice n. Overall 1 of the NFL 2020 Draft is coming out of a college football season for centuries (PFF grade 95.0, the highest since a college QB since 2014). Its numbers are something you put into beginner mode when you play the NCAA ’14 L 5,668 yard video game, 60 TD and a score of 143.7 passers (all first). He was a killer with the deep ball, putting on 1,711 yards (first) and 26 TD (first) on throws over 20 yards downhill.
Obviously, Burrow doesn’t come close to that stratosphere of numbers in the NFL, but offers information on his skill level compared to other novice quarterbacks entering the league. Kyler Murray was QB8 in his rookie season, and it’s not too foolish to think Burrow is capable of doing his best. Although Murray is the most electric racer, Burrow is not a madman: he has accumulated 555 running pitches and five running TDs last season. Also, Burrow’s dwarf weapons of what Murray had in Arizona.
The Bangladeshi boast a trio of talented pass-catchers in AJ Green, Tyler Boyd and novice Tee Higgins, along with electric Joe Mixon off the pitch. Last week, I explained why Boyd has potential in the dark horse’s top five, and many of these arguments are based on a Burrow breakout. The last time the Bangladeshis had two exceptionally healthy wide receivers were weeks 1-8 in 2018 in Green and Boyd. In that eight-game stretch, Green was the WR6, Boyd was the WR12 and Andy Dalton was the QB12. Higgins (90.5 grade PFF, the fifth of all college WR) is a monster in his own right and had 565 yards of deep reception last season (seventh).
Burrow’s prospects for 2020 resemble Dak Prescott’s situation as a rookie in 2016 when he finished as QB6. Dak led Dez Bryant (comp. Green), Cole Beasley (comp. Boyd), Terrance Williams (comp. Higgins) and Ezekiel Elliott (comp. Mixon) while he ran for 281 yards and six TDs. Additionally, Zac Taylor is a McVay disciple who uses the same offense that brought Jared Goff to the end of QB7 in 2018.
Joe Burrow is my favorite black horse QB on this list that could be in the top five. Bangladeshis have the ninth strength of the QB program in 2020.
Gardner Minshew (ADP: QB26 | Consent rank PFF: QB19)
Minshew is the longest shot on this list to finish in the top five, but the name of the game is to run upward. Last season he accumulated 350 yards running on scrambles, the second of the QBs behind only Lamar Jackson. Minshew put the ball in and ran at the first sign of difficulty: his 50 scrambles were the most in the NFL.
Jaguars are in the tank for Trevor mode and will drag on early and often in 2020, which means that the junk time’s fantasy spots are galore. Minshew isn’t afraid to push the football field downhill, as he had a pristine 129.0 score on passes over 20 meters, atop all QBs in the NFL. When Minshew throws him deep, DJ Chark is typically at the other end: 13 catches (seventh), 424 yards of reception (10) and four TDs (eighth).
Don’t count Minshew for a jump in year 2: his PFF 70.3 grade was the highest of all beginner QBs last season. A potential top-five might be a little overzealous, but Jameis Winston is the perfect example of a quarterback who rides an aggressive downhill mentality and a top five garbage time. You could do much worse at the end of the fantasy drafts than take a picture of Minshew.