Fantasy Football Slack and Forth: Quarterbacks to Fade in 2020
As is usually the case, the quarterback position is a deep one in fantasy football with a bunch of guys who should be serviceable options. But that doesn't mean Elisha Twerski and I are cool with taking just any signal-caller for our fake squads.
He and I had a back-and-forth conversation on Slack about some quarterbacks we're bearish on for 2020.
Here's what we had to say.
Austan Kas: As I scroll through the ADP data from July drafts on BestBall10, there's a lot of quarterbacks I would be fine leaving a draft with. But there are a few passers I'm iffy on. What about you?
Focusing right now on only the top-14 quarterbacks -- so that this is useful for fantasy footballers in standard 12-team, one-quarterback leagues -- who is a signal-caller you're out on?
Elisha Twerski: As I mentioned in our chat about quarterback strategy, I'm a bit wary of the curse of the "number one QB."
Fourteen of the last 15 quarterbacks to finish first in fantasy scoring at the position have scored fewer points the following season. It's not like their scoring dropped by a minuscule amount -- 10 of those 14 passers scored at least 44.4 fewer points the following season (ESPN scoring). The average drop came out to a whopping 116.5 points.
Lamar Jackson's 2019 campaign was just the eighth time in league history that a quarterback had a touchdown rate of 9.0% or better (minimum 275 passes). In the previous seven instances, the passer's touchdown rate dropped by at least 1.9%. On average, it dropped by 3.1 percentage points.
For reference, a drop of 3.1 percentage points based on last year's attempts for LJax would've equated to 10.4 fewer scores. That's a big deal.
But wait, there's more.
Prior to Jackson, there had been 14 instances in league history where a quarterback had 110 or more rushing attempts in a single season. In each of those 14 instances, the passer's rushing production dropped by at least 11.6% the following season. In fact, 13 of the 14 experienced at least a 21% decrease in fantasy points via rushing, and 11 had a drop of at least 31.6%. Not great, Bob!
Our editor-in-chief, JJ Zachariason, has already touched on the Baltimore Ravens being a prime candidate for touchdown regression in 2020, and Jackson should be at the forefront of that regression. Given his ADP of 26.48, you'd, at the very least, have to pass on either an RB2 or WR2 in order to acquire his services. That's a big "no thanks!" from me.
How do you feel about Jackson? Given your propensity to wait at the position, am I correct in assuming that you're in the same boat?
Austan Kas: Yeah, I wouldn't necessarily classify Jackson as a guy I'm definitely fading, but I don't see myself wanting to pay the premium for either he or Patrick Mahomes. Like you said, the opportunity cost is passing on a really good running back or receiver, and to me, those are the most important positions in fantasy football.
Elisha Twerski: Exactly.
Listen, if Lamar was there in the late fourth or fifth, I probably wouldn't pass on him, but there's no chance I'm taking him inside the top 30. Especially since I do think that regression will go full Thanos on Jackson (i.e., it's inevitable).
For what it's worth, I have two signal-callers -- Mahomes and Dak Prescott -- ranked ahead of Jackson as it stands now.
Which top-14 passer will you be fading?
Austan Kas: For me, it's Russell Wilson. Dude is a baller in real-life and one of the very best quarterbacks in the league, but the Seattle Seahawks' offense hinders his fantasy ceiling. The 'Hawks were the sixth-most run-heavy attack in the league in 2019, and they were the most run-heavy squad in 2018. That lowers Wilson's floor and ceiling on a weekly basis.
From Week 1 to Week 16 (not counting fantasy irrelevant Week 17), Wilson had just six QB1 (top-12) outings. He was the weekly overall QB1 on two occasions, but he also had five weeks in which he was QB16 or worse, including weeks where he was QB28 and QB24. Over Wilson's last nine games of 2019, he had as many weeks in which he was QB24 or worse (two) as he did weeks with top-12 outputs (two). From Week 7 on, he was just the overall QB12 by points per game among quarterbacks with more than three games in that span.
This is the part where I tell you Wilson was the season-long QB3 last year, and he hasn't missed a game in his eight-year career. (He's played eight years?! Damn -- I'm getting old.). Wilson offers plenty of season-long safety as an accumulator, but he's going 78th overall as the QB5. If I'm taking a quarterback there, I'm not aiming for safety; I want weekly upside. The other guys in his tier -- Prescott (70th), Kyler Murray (72nd) and Deshaun Watson (80th) -- offer the weekly ceiling I crave even if some of them (Watson specifically) might have a lower season-long floor.
At Wilson's price, I think there are better alternatives, and if Murray, Prescott and Watson get snatched up, I'm fine with waiting and taking someone like Matt Ryan, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers later on.
Recalling back to our aforementioned quarterback strategy convo from earlier this offseason, you had some later guys you liked, too, like Josh Allen. So where are you on Russ, and would you rather take Wilson 78th or, say, your boy Allen 96th?
Elisha Twerski: I like the word "accumulator" that you used to describe Wilson. I don't think any word describes his current fantasy value better.
At this stage, Wilson is essentially a guy who accumulates a bunch of mid-range performances to post a high-end fantasy finish. I'm not spending a top-80 pick on Wilson. Not a chance.
Are there any other quarterbacks inside the top 14 that you're fading?
Austan Kas: Right now, Daniel Jones is the QB14 (124th) in ADP, and I don't see myself landing on him much. In addition to all the guys you just mentioned, I'd take Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff and Cam Newton over Jones. I think the New York Giants have a sneaky-good supporting cast; I'm just not sure Jones is good enough to take advantage of it, and I prefer to roll the dice on some other late guys.
How about you? Any other top-14 guys you don't like?
Elisha Twerski: I'm not as sold on Matt Ryan as others seem to be. Ryan got off to a fantastic start last year. In Yahoo scoring, he recorded 20-plus fantasy points in five of his first six games. However, in his final nine contests, he topped 20 just once. The loss of Mohamed Sanu mattered, and losing Austin Hooper will likely have a negative effect as well.
Austan Kas: I didn't realize how much Ryan's ceiling dropped over the second half. That's interesting.
Elisha Twerski: Yep. He also faded a bit down the stretch in 2018 after a pretty bad 2017 season.
Austan Kas: I had been kinda into him as a cheaper quarterback who should pass the ball a ton, but I may need to dive into the numbers a little more.
Thanks, Elisha, for taking the time to talk negatively about some of the best athletes in the world. And for readers out there who have missed our previous players to fade installments, here are the running backs, wideouts and tight ends we're staying away from this season.
Elisha Twerski: I always have time for negativity. And remember, always fade Jack Doyle.
Austan Kas: *Insert Michael Scott no GIF*