Fantasy QB Risers and Fallers: Who’s In and Who’s Out

Every fantasy football season, one of the biggest questions on managers’ minds is, “what QBs are going to finish in the Top-12 this season?” For the 2020 season, you have obvious answers like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and perhaps even Tom Brady, who finished as the QB12 in standard leagues last season. The obvious choices aren’t what you as fantasy fans and managers are looking for. No, you want the sleeper QB who no one will take until the 11th round of the draft that could possibly win you a title this year. We’re here to tell you the Top 3 Fantasy QB Risers and Fallers for the upcoming 2020 fantasy season. It’s never too early to start targeting your sleepers and creating your “Do Not Draft” list, so let’s dive right in!

Riser – Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield was the preseason darling of the fantasy football world this time last year. The added firepower of Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt made Baker seem like a can’t miss option going into the draft season. Fantasy owners showed their faith in Baker by giving him an ADP (Average Draft Position) of 4th among quarterbacks in standard leagues. This belief in Baker would not last long as he finished as the 20th ranked quarterback in standard leagues. So, you may be wondering, what changed to make him a Riser? Well, we’re here to break it down for you!

Improved supporting cast

When John Dorsey traded away Kevin Zeitler to the Giants and the Browns failed to fill the gap, Baker was left with a subpar offensive line. This was evidenced by the fact that Baker had, on average, only 2.78 seconds to throw the ball and was sacked 41 times. However, the new Browns front-office has addressed this problem by signing Pro Bowl Right Tackle Jack Conklin to anchor the right side of the line. Conklin, who gave up only 4 sacks in 933 snaps in 2019, will help to keep Baker upright in 2019. There is also strong anticipation around the league that the Browns will add onto the left side of the Offensive Line through the draft. If the Browns can use their first-round pick to bring in a left-side anchor in a prospect like Mekhi Becton or Tristan Wirfs, Baker will stay nice and clean in the pocket.

The Browns also went out and signed Pro Bowl Tight End Austin Hooper, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, to a record-breaking contract. Hooper had a breakthrough season in 2019 with 75 receptions for 787 yards and 6 touchdowns. Pairing Hooper with former first-round pick David Njoku gives Baker Mayfield two seam-stretching Tight Ends that are adept pass-catchers. Baker now has a pro bowler or former pro-bowler at every offensive skill position on the field. Not many other quarterbacks can say that.

Improved Coaching Staff

Freddie Kitchen’s disastrous play calling and lack of experience seemed to tank the Browns offence in 2019. In comes Kevin Stefanski, the Offensive Coordinator turned Head Coach that successfully turned the Minnesota Vikings into the 8th ranked offence in the NFL in 2019 with 25.4 points per game. Under Stefanski, Case Keenum had his best career season, throwing for 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Kirk Cousins has also benefited from having Stefanski as he has posted seasons of 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (2018) and 26 touchdowns and 6 interceptions (2019).

A problem that plagued Baker in 2019 was his 21 interceptions, over the last 3 years Stefanski coached quarterbacks combined for only 23 interceptions. The influence of Stefanski and his play-calling experience will aid Baker and the entire offence tremendously. Stefanski has an arguably more talented roster to work with in Cleveland than in Minnesota. And we believe, with Baker at the helm, he can push this offence to a top 5 spot in the league.

Keeping these reasons in mind, we are confident that Baker Mayfield will finish as a Top-12 Fantasy QB for the 2020-2021 season. He has nowhere to go but up from last year. The great benefit to taking Baker Mayfield this year, whether it be in dynasty or redraft formats, is that so many fantasy owners have soured on him from his underwhelming performance last year. Smart fantasy managers will use this negative recency bias to their advantage. Mayfield is among the highest upside plays at QB for the price you’ll be paying right now.

2019 Stats

  • 3827 yards 22 touchdowns 21 interceptions
  • 141 rushing yards 3 touchdowns
  • 229.18 Fantasy Points (QB20)

2020 Projected Stats

  • 4400 yards 29 touchdowns 8 interceptions
  • 155 rushing yards 3 touchdowns
  • 309.0 Fantasy Points (QB7)

Faller: Aaron Rodgers

We know, Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest QBs of all-time, both in the real world and in fantasy football. But, don’t dismiss the fact that Rodgers’ stats have regressed over the past few seasons, finishing as the QB10 last season–which would qualify him as a fringe QB1 in most leagues. The main issue with Rodgers is the price you have to pay to get him. Due to the name value, Rodgers still tends to be drafted in the upper-echelon of QBs, a tier he simply does not belong in anymore. There are a few contributing factors to Rodgers possibly falling out of the Top-12 this season.

Lack of Offensive Weapons

For some unknown reason, the Packers front office doesn’t believe in giving Rodgers help in terms of adding real pass-catching weapons, outside of Davante Adams. Adams has a 30.3% target share which ranks 3rd in the NFL. Sure, if you’re a fan of Devin Funchess you can argue they “added” a pass-catcher, but not really. Outside of Adams, Rodgers does not have a weapon to throw to that is of note. Having to rely on a single receiver does not bode well for a Fantasy QB in a league plagued with injuries (as evidenced last year when Davante got hurt).

Coaching Scheme

The introduction of Head Coach Matt Lafleur’s run-heavy scheme worked wonders for real-world football success, but it was atrocious for Rodgers’ fantasy value. The Packers went from a 34.2% / 65.8% Run/Pass Ratio in 2018 to 41.8% / 58.2% Run/Pass Ratio in 2019. This offence is trending in the direction of converting Rodgers from a franchise QB tossing Hail Marys up and down the field to a high-end game manager that won’t make mistakes that cost the team games. This scheme must be taken into consideration when drafting Rodgers next season.

Rodgers Fantasy Regression

This is the hardest pill to swallow for fantasy owners, Rodgers has simply regressed downward over the years. Since Rodger’s 40 touchdown season in 2016. His completion percentage has dropped from 65.7% to 64.7% to 62.3% to finally 62.0% in 2019. Are you sensing a trend here? Rodgers’s touchdowns have also fallen from 40 to 16 (injury in 2017) to 25 to 26 in 2019. Combine this with only 4000 yards in 2019 and you have what appears to us as a QB on the fantasy decline. I say fantasy decline because Rodgers still only has 6 interceptions over the last 2 seasons because well he’s still Aaron Rodgers.

Based on these reasons, one has to acknowledge that Rodgers is not the same Fantasy QB that he was five years ago. The diminishment in skills and the mounting injury concerns over the past few years lead to Rodgers falling out of the Top-12 in Fantasy QBs for the first time in a non-injury season.

2019 Stats

  • 4002 yards 26 touchdowns 4 interceptions
  • 183 rushing yards 1 touchdown
  • 278.38 Fantasy Points (QB9)

2020 Projected Stats

  • 3700 yards 22 touchdowns 5 interceptions
  • 130 rushing yards 1 touchdown
  • 245.0 Fantasy Points (QB15)

Riser – Tyrod Taylor:

When the LA Chargers said going into the 2020 off-season that they were comfortable rolling with Tyrod Taylor as their starting QB, they weren’t joking, and for good reason. We are all prone to having a short memory in the NFL and were quick to forget that Tyrod Taylor was more than a serviceable QB in the NFL and a QB1 not too long ago. Let’s dive into Tyrod’s fantasy potential this year:

High Floor Potential:

Tyrod’s mobility at QB gives him a reasonably high floor. We’ve seen mobile QBs in the past produce a safe and reliable week-to-week fantasy floor, a la Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Mike Vick, RG3, the list goes on. 94 of Tyrod’s 270 (35%) fantasy points in 2016 came from rushing the football.

Previous Fantasy Performance:

Tyrod has already shown he can be in the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks as he finished as the QB11 in 2015 and QB8 in 2016 as the starter for the Bills. On a per-game basis, Tyrod’s 2016 season is comparable to current Bills starter Josh Allen (he only averaged 1 point less per game). His previous performances with a weaker roster lend optimism to the belief that he can replicate his previous success this year on the Chargers.

Premier Offensive Supporting Cast:

Tyrod Taylor has the best supporting cast that he has had in his entire career. Allen has a bonafide WR1 in Keenan Allen and WR2 in downfield 50/50 ball threat Mike Williams. Taylor also benefits from a Pro Bowl talent at Tight End in Hunter Henry that he can use as a safety net. Speaking of safety valves in the passing game, Taylor also has arguably the best scatback in the NFL in Austin Ekeler.

Possibly the best point of optimism for Taylor’s fantasy relevance this season is the solidified Offensive Line he has protecting him. The additions of ex-Packer stalwart Left Tackle Bryan Bulaga and Former Panther Trai Turner strengthen an Offensive Line that struggled to keep the pressure off of Philip Rivers last season. This line gives Tyrod the time to let long passing plays develop downfield, which means more fantasy output.

Convinced? Don’t write-off Tyrod Taylor to be a Top-12 Fantasy QB this year if he gets full reign of the Offense (he is slated as the starter as of this date). The final point of support is that Tyrod will cost next to nothing for you to acquire in Redraft and Dynasty teams since the fantasy world seems to have written him off as a legitimate fantasy option. Tyrod is a riser, but he exists squarely in the “sleeper” category of players going into the 2020-2021 Fantasy Season.

2016 Stats

  • 3023 yards 17 touchdowns 6 interceptions
  • 580 rushing yards 6 touchdowns
  • 270.9 Fantasy Points (QB8)

2019 Stats *Wasn’t a starter*

2020 Projected Stats

  • 3000 yards 22 touchdowns 8 interceptions
  • 550 rushing yards 5 touchdowns
  • 277.0 Fantasy Points (QB9)

Faller – Carson Wentz

Say it ain’t so, Carson. This projection is not a knock on Wentz’s talent. He has the frame, the arm, and the mobility of a legitimate franchise QB and perennial Top-12 choice in Fantasy. This projection is a knock on the Philadelphia Eagles and other factors out of Wentz’s control.

Offensive Line Woes:

Say what you want about Jason Peters, he may have been ancient, but he got the job done. Injuries have mounted over the past couple of years which led to a decline in his play, but he was still serviceable. Peters is gone. High-performing Swing Tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai a.k.a Big V signed with the Detroit Lions. Which is a significant blow to the depth of Offensive Line. Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are still there, both being premier Offensive Lineman, but the Eagles have to address this line if they want to keep Wentz upright for 2020-2021. Wentz was bottom 10 in the league with only 2.71 seconds on average to throw the ball and losing 2 starters does not help this fact.

Injury History:

We all know by now that Wentz has had issues with injuries in the past (see Nick Foles Super Bowl MVP Trophy). A torn ACL, fractures in his back, the list goes on. Wentz’s injury history has to lead for reasonable concern from a fantasy perspective. Coupling his injury past with the current Offensive Line situation leads to Wentz falling farther down the Fantasy QB Rankings.

Lack of Offensive Weapons:

Wentz has the same issue that Rodgers has, except Wentz doesn’t have Davante Adams to lean on as Rodgers does. The closest thing Wentz has to a WR1 is an oft-injury and frankly washed-up Alshon Jeffrey. A receiver who is likely to be a cap casualty as a Post June-1st roster cut designation. As much as people hate Nelson Agholor, he is another pass-catching loss for the Eagles. He still held an 18% target share in 2019. Wentz is forced to lean on Tight Ends Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz (39.4% target share combined). As well as Running Back Miles Sanders. Wentz desperately needs a true WR1 in order to stay in the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks.

This ranking could change if the Eagles surround Wentz with pass-catchers via the draft. Playmakers such as Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor, or even Donovan Peoples-Jones could go a long way to helping Wentz’s fantasy potential for the 2020-2021 season. But, for now, he is free-falling.

2019 Stats

  • 4039 yards 27 touchdowns 7 interceptions
  • 243 rushing yards 1 touchdown
  • 285.9 Fantasy Points (QB10)

2020 Projected Stats

  • 3800 yards 23 touchdowns 9 interceptions
  • 180 rushing yards 1 touchdown
  • 250.0 Fantasy Points (QB14)

Riser -Daniel Jones:

Dave Gettleman and the Giants took a lot of heat for taking Daniel Jones 6th overall. So far the man they call Danny Dimes has proven the Giants’ front office’s confidence in him. Coming off a surprisingly solid rookie season, we believe the best is yet to come for Daniel Jones. Both on the field and in fantasy football.

Offensive Core Improvements:

The starting offensive core of the Giants was not healthy and together all at the same time last season. Saquon Barkley suffered a high ankle sprain early in the season. He was not the same until the end of the year when he fully recovered. Expect a rookie version of Saquon, fresh and explosive. The receiving core of Golden Tate, Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepherd was not healthy all at the same time. Along with Big Slot Tight End Evan Engram, not seeing the field much in 2019. The addition and progression of these young Offensive weapons (except for the aging Tate) will lead to a much-improved fantasy season for Daniel Jones in the 2020-2021 season.

Per-Game Fantasy Performance in 2019:

If you project Daniel Jones’ per-game average of 17.46 fantasy points over a full 16-game season, he would have finished as the number 12 QB in 2019. For context, Jones would have finished with 279.36 fantasy points. Ahead of Tom Brady and Jared Goff. Only 3 points less than Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. Jones also did not start every game he played in this season and was even injured at one point of the year. Taking these anomalies out of his statistics and looking at the bigger picture, Jones projects as being a Top-12 QB in fantasy for the 2020-2021 season.

Positive Regression/2nd Year Step:

Daniel Jones’ comfort level in the NFL should increase as he goes into his 2nd season with the Giants. Pair this with the peace of mind that he is the bonafide starter in New York and you have the makings of a confident young quarterback. Many of Jones’ negative fantasy points last season came from the 6 fumbles he lost, tied for 4th most among quarterbacks.

In a standard league, a fumble is negative 2 points. This means that Daniel Jones essentially gave away 3 passing touchdowns or 2 rushing touchdowns in 2019….ouch. Combine this with 12 interceptions in 13 games and you get your average rookie quarterback. Another full offseason of NFL training and the aforementioned confidence boost will help to clean up those sloppy mistakes and move his fantasy potential higher for the 2020-2021 season.

Jones will be a Top-12 Fantasy QB lock for the season. The reasons provided support this prediction. Along with the addition of a more well-rounded coaching staff that includes Jason Garrett, who is actually a good Offensive Coordinator, and Head Coach Joe Judge at the helm. The experience on this staff should provide Jones with a great support system going into year two.

2019 Stats (13 Games)

  • 3027 yards 24 touchdowns 12 interceptions
  • 279 rushing yards 2 touchdowns
  • 226.9 Fantasy Points (QB23)

2020 Projected Stats

  • 4000 yards 29 touchdowns 10 interceptions
  • 260 rushing yards 2 touchdowns
  • 294.0 Fantasy Points (QB7)

Faller – Tannehill

Many have been projecting Ryan Tannehill to be a QB1 for the 2020-2021 NFL Season. Which is fair given the fact that Tannehill would’ve finished as the 6th ranked quarterback had he played all 16 games rather than just 12. However, Tannehill has several factors that lead us to be bearish on his potential as a Top-12 QB in Fantasy this coming season.

Outlier Season:

This past NFL season was a do-or-die year for Ryan Tannehill’s career. After being traded to the Titans to serve as a backup Marcus Mariota, Tannehill was never supposed to take the Titans on a fairy tale ride to the AFC Title Game. Tannehill was healthier, and more motivated, than he has been as a Pro, and his stats prove just that. This past year was an outlier for Tannehill, who reached levels of efficiency never before seen in his career.

With a 70.3% completion percentage, Tannehill well surpassed his career average of 63%. His touchdown percentage (the percentage of touchdowns thrown when attempting a pass) soared to 7.7%. A far cry above his career average of 4.4%. Tannehill’s quarterback rating of 117.5 was also off the charts as his career average before this season stood at 87.5. Tannehill broke out after the age of 30, something that just doesn’t happen in the NFL. We believe that NFL defences will adjust as they always. Tannehill will regress to the mean of his career averages.

Loss of Right Tackle Jack Conklin:

Jack Conklin has found his way onto our list for the second time. The Offensive Line was arguably the greatest area of strength on the Titans’ Offense this past season. They helped pave the way for Derrick Henry’s breakout season. For a team that believes in running the football, the loss of Conklin stings. Both for the potential of the entire team and Tannehill’s fantasy value in 2020. The majority of Henry’s long runs were to the right side of the Offensive Line. With the loss of Conklin, opposing Defences will be more apt to send their best edge rushers to the right side. Meaning more pressure on Tannehill, less time to throw, and ultimately, less fantasy value.

Offensive Scheme: Emphasis on the Run

The Titans ran the ball on 49.8% of their plays, good for 4th highest in the league. By franchise-tagging Derrick Henry, Tennessee has shown that they are still fully bought into the run for the 2020-2021 season. Tennessee was also last in the league with an average of only 26 pass attempts a game in 2019. This run-heavy philosophy caps the potential of a fantasy QB. When you are looking for a QB1 on your fantasy roster, you don’t want them to be on an offence that is constantly looking to keep the ball out of the quarterback’s hands.

Tannehill’s performance last season will lead to him being over-drafted in both Redraft and Dynasty leagues. Tannehill’s career averages, along with a checkered injury history, will lead to a downtick in fantasy production as well. There are better options available for cheaper prices than Tannehill will be bought at. Tannehill is likely to finish this year out of the top-12. He may leave many fantasy owners wondering why they spent so much draft capital on him.

2019 Stats (12 Games)

  • 2742 yards 22 touchdowns 6 interceptions
  • 185 rushing yards 4 touchdowns
  • 230.2 Fantasy Points (QB21)

2020 Projected Stats

  • 3000 yards 21 touchdowns 8 interceptions
  • 180 rushing yards 2 touchdowns
  • 218.0 Fantasy Points (QB24)

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article! You may disagree with this and that’s okay, we love differing opinions. Feel free to contact us with your thoughts and opinions, or just to chat Fantasy Football through our Twitter page @ClinicFantasy or on Facebook at The Fantasy Football Clinic. Hopefully this helps you win some fantasy leagues this year!

-The Fantasy Football Clinic @ClinicFantasy

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