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.
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.