Baker Mayfield is a trend-setter. Remember those Progressive Insurance commercials where he threw a party in an empty stadium? It’s like he knew those stadiums would be empty in 2020! Let’s throw our own party now–you get the grill out and make some bacon burger dogs while I talk about what Baker Mayfield will do for your fantasy football team in 2020. Don’t worry about spilling mustard over the 50-yard line. We know Baker will suck it up (with a hand vacuum! Come on!). 

Baker Mayfield: Fantasy Starter, Backup, or Undraftable?

According to Fantasy Pros, Baker Mayfield is going as high as the 9th QB off the board, and as low as 20th off the board. In the Scott Fish Bowl mock drafts, Mayfield is the 15th QB off the board and has been drafted as high as 25th overall (I’ll save you the time–the 25th ADP in the SFBX drafts is Clyde Edwards-Helaire!). Here at Razzball, Rudy ranked Mayfield as the 25th QB in 2020 Fantasy Football, and Donkey Teeth ranked Mayfield as the 10th overall quarterback for 2020

Can we agree that Baker Mayfield is a divisive quarterback? Some people are drafting him as a QB1, others are drafting him as a backup, and others wouldn’t draft him at all. 

Further complicating the situation, Baker Mayfield has a new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, who brought in veteran backup QB Case Keenum. In case you didn’t know, when Stefanski was the quarterbacks coach for Keenum on the Minnesota Vikings, the Minneapolis Miracle resulted. Although Baker Mayfield began his career on a historically bad Cleveland Browns team, he’s won only 12 games in two years and is on his third head coach. Are we looking at Baker Mayfield being a QB1 in 2020 fantasy football, or are we looking at Case Keenum taking over halfway through the season? Baker Mayfield is surrounded by talent: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt are just the start of the highly-regarded Browns offensive squad. 

2019 Stats:

In 2019, Mayfield finished as the 19th ranked QB in standard fantasy leagues. He was haunted by 21 interceptions, which was only topped by Jameis Winston’s stunning 30 picks. For comparison, Mayfield’s 21 picks stands as the third most turnovers by a quarterback in a season since 2014, behind former Brown DeShone Kizer’s 22 picks in 2017 and Winston’s 2019 debacle. Despite being surrounded by receiving talent, Mayfield managed only 22 touchdowns on 317 completions, making him 22nd in the league in touchdown percentage. The poor touchdown percentage was complicated by Mayfield’s poor red zone control, where he completed only 40% of his passes. Mayfield was the ninth most aggressive passer in 2019, but his talented receivers weren’t pulling in those tough passes. By the end of the year, Mayfield’s receivers stuck him with a 5.8% drop rate, the ninth worst in the league. The drop rate may have been strongly influenced by Mayfield’s 70.6% on-target rate, which was second worst in the league in 2019 only to Jameis Winston. So, that’s two poor performance categories–INT and on-target rate–where Mayfield was second to Winston in 2019. And Winston isn’t a starter in 2020. To recap, Mayfield’s 2019 season showed him throwing off-target nearly 30% of the time, which resulted in defensive backs stealing the ball away and his receivers being unable to secure the ball. 

How are those bacon burger dogs sitting with you now? 

However, there’s a surprising upside to Mayfield that cannot be ignored: he is a second-half sprinter. In games 9 through 16 in 2019, he threw 13 touchdowns, tied for eighth best in the league. His 13:6 TD:INT ratio over that span demonstrated a better sense of decision making and on-target passing. When including the second half of 2018, Mayfield had the fourth most TDs (29) and ninth most passing yards (3736) among eligible quarterbacks. In those games, he took a league-low 18 sacks and completed a solid 66% of his passes. Remembering that Mayfield has had a carousel of head coaches since he entered the league, it makes some sense that the first half of the season is a learning curve, and the second half of the season demonstrates improved knowledge of the offense.

Baker Mayfield in 2020 Fantasy Football: 

Sure, we all want to give Mayfield ten bucks to mow our lawn, but do we want to roster him on our fantasy football teams? Myself, I’m more on Team Rudy: I have Mayfield at a tentative rank 24 in my top 30 QB rankings. 

For standard fantasy leagues, I would consider Mayfield as your backup QB in 2020. Keep on eye on his performance early in the season. If he struggles, Stefanski might put in Keenum to hope for a Cleveland Miracle (quick, somebody give that a definition in Urban Dictionary!). If Mayfield is on the waiver wire toward the middle of the season, he would be a worthy pickup for his better second-half performance. Because the QB lineup is so deep and talented in 2020, with late-round upside picks like Ryan Tannehill sure to be on the draft board, I would think twice about taking Mayfield as your QB1. I certainly can’t agree to taking him at 25th overall as seen in the Scott Fish Bowl mocks. 

I’m more intrigued by using Mayfield as a second or third quarterback in bestball leagues, though. Mayfield’s strong second half performance can give a bestball team a nice ceiling going towards the playoffs. Because you picked up a stronger quarterback earlier in the draft, you won’t suffer through Mayfield’s bad games, but will benefit from his good games. 

For dynasty leagues, I have mixed feelings about Mayfield. Of course, Mayfield is talented and surrounded by quality players. However, if you’re trying to win this year, you probably want a more steady QB1. If Mayfield falters at the beginning of 2020, you might want to consider a trade, lest you find yourself stuck with Case Keenum’s backup. I’m not saying Mayfield is a bust as a real-life NFL QB, but I’m saying that in dynasty setups, you might be holding onto Mayfield for the wrong reasons. He has 30 games of NFL starting experience; he’s not a “prospect” anymore. 

In daily fantasy, I’m not sure if I trust Mayfield that much. There are so many good QBs in 2020, Mayfield’s poor accuracy and weak running game can lead to fantasy disaster. It’s your team, you do you.  

Make or Break or Trader, Baker?

Thanks for reading my take on Baker Mayfield, one of the most divisive quarterbacks in 2020 fantasy football. If you’ve got an opinion as to why Donkey Teeth put Mayfield as his tenth best QB, or why Rudy put Mayfield all the way down at 25, let us know down in the comments. If you liked what you read, follow me on Twitter @EverywhereBlair. And if you haven’t already, sign up to compete in the great industry vs rubes contest, the RazzBowl, where you can get a chance to show off your “better ball” skills. 

 

 

  1. Dase says:
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    The Cleveland Browns new head coach, Kevin Stefanski, who was the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He was the OC for the last two seasons, in his first season, his quarterback, Kirk Cousins averaged 37+ passes per game, but last year, he averaged fewer then 30 passes. In his two seasons as the QB, Cousins threw at least 26 touchdowns and and passed for 3606 yards. He was a solid QB2 as he finished no lower then QB15 in both seasons and his points per game was at least 18th best among all QBs.

    Like the Browns, the offensive skill players for the Vikings was not matched by many other teams. At running back you had Dalvin Cook, wide receiver Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen and a tight end combo of Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr.

    There are a couple HUGE (that’s what she said) difference between Cousins and Baker Mayfield. Cousins has completed at least 69% of his passes, while Mayfield has only had a high of 63.8% and was below 60% last year. Over the last two years, Cousins has a grand total of 16 interceptions, compared to 35 for Mayfield.

    I know, I know, your thinking when is this going to end, I’m almost there. Let’s say we split the difference and Mayfield gets to attempt around 34 passes a game (that’s still not top 20 for QBs), and he only throws one interception per game. The rushing attempts are almost no existent, he did have three rushing touchdowns but the year before it was zero.

    His current ADP is over the last month in best ball drafts is QB15. I do think he is a good QB2 option, but your probably paying for his ceiling at his current draft price. I think Donkey Teeth, Rudy and you are on both extreme ends when it comes to his possible outcomes. I’ll continue with my trend of splitting the difference.

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      Great take. I hope the takeaway from the article is that people disagree on Mayfield’s value this year. Fantasy sports is all about managers making their own decisions, and Mayfield is going to be a QB that people like Rudy and I will likely pass up. I think a lot of people will QB2 Mayfield in 12 team leagues. But, it’s those bullish QB1 Mayfield managers that will either look prescient at the end of 2020 fantasy football, or look the fool.

      Thanks for reading, love the analysis.

  2. I like Baker for best ball. The upside is there. Last year showed he isn’t ready (and possibly will never be) to succeed with bad O-Line play. Makes sense given his size. There is a reason the Saints invest heavily in interior linemen (and why trading Kevin Ziegler was dumb).

    I think this will be a team that skews run (like Stefanski’s Vikes) and avoids shootouts which is where Baker prospered in 2019.

    I think in retrospect that Odell was a bad fit with Landry. They’d have been better off pairing Landry with a deep threat (Odell was 29th percentile last year in YPT on 20+ yard passes – https://football.razzball.com/player/3660075/Odell+Beckham+Jr./).

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      I wrote this article before the new target distribution was added to the player profile page. That new system is going to be a powerful way for readers to quickly see the depth chart, see where those players make plays both in team format and index format, and make informed decisions. Can’t wait to use it on next week’s articles.

      • Jolt In Flow says:
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        EWB, thanks for this write up.

        Big favor to ask; when you write that article next week taking into account the target distribution add-in, can you expand on the benfits in fantasy terms?

        I took a quick look. I see the numbers and things attached to it. I just don’t know where to begin with it. Lots going on in that portion. Not sure on the reliability of that info (is it a good year-in/year-out indicator?).

        Thanks EWB for your write ups and for joining the Razzball team.

        • everywhereblair

          everywhereblair says:
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          Absolutely. Rudy’s got some fun data that he’s doing great work on making it accessible in terms of display.

          Myself, when I write my drafts I put a little box in OneNote to ensure that I make an attempt to summarize what these numbers mean for fantasy players. I’m aiming to make my articles educational and accessible, but ultimately, it’s the readers who will let me know if I’m effectively communicating the importance of the stats.

          Cheers!

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