You ever watch that move Napoleon Dynamite? Come on, you’re looking at advanced statistics for your imaginary football team — I KNOW you’ve got that movie on DVD and a “Vote for Pedro” shirt sitting non-ironically in your closet. ENYWHEY, there’s the character of Uncle Rico, who kept taking film of himself throwing a football in an effort to chuck it over a local mountain or grain field or really, just about any object that could be placed in front of him. Now, after the complete decimation that your fantasy football team received in week 2, are you thinking, nay, hoping that some team will sign Uncle Rico so he can bring his swagger and dynamite — see what I did there? — arm to your favorite team? Well, worry not! Blake Bortles has come back! Undrafted free agent Nick Mullens is taking the field! Taysom Hill is making $8 million to be the third best quarterback on the Saints and he’s completed 6 passes in his NFL career. And Kaep is still on the outside. At this point, let’s give Uncle Rico a shot. Heck, Gardner Minshew is 90% Uncle Rico DNA. Fingers crossed no more QBs get hurt in Week 3, otherwise you should be gearing up to start Dwayne Haskins in your next DFS hot taek.
September 21-27, 2020
Jimmy Garoppolo — JB Barry’s favorite late round quarterback target, Jimmy Garoppolo, suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s game. Fortunately it’s just a sprain, and Garoppolo didn’t have to wait for his diagnosis from the MRI van that got waylaid on its way to San Francisco to check out the many, many, many 49ers who hurt their knees through Week 2. Garoppolo was on pace to have nearly 40% of his pass attempts come through the run-pass option or play action, which gave him one of the lowest intended air yards in the league. With most of his wide receivers out of commission, Jimmy G relied on his running backs to catch passes. In the first two weeks, 21 out of his 49 attempts went to Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon, or Kyle Juszczyk, which accounted for nearly 54% of his passing yards. With Jimmy G suffering through a high ankle sprain, the 49ers are maintaining that he might start in Week 3. If he does start, his hobbled ankle will likely make the RPO/play-action offensive playbook rather predictable. I recommend staying away from Garoppolo in all formats for at least the next week. The 49ers take on the Giants in Week 3, and the Giants have stymied Big Ben and Mitch Trubisky so far, giving the G-Men the league’s 2nd fewest passing yards allowed.
Nick Mullens — If Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t go, Nick Mullens will take over as the 49ers signal caller. A former undrafted free agent from Southern Miss, Mullens saw NFL action in 2018, when he started 8 games for the 49ers and had a 3-5 record while tossing 13 TDs and 10 INTs. Subbing in for Garoppolo in Week 2, Mullens went 8 of 11 for 71 yards and a pick. Again, the Giants have been stingy on defense so far, and Raheem Mostert — who is actually the 49ers leading receiver right now — will likely sit out Week 3. Just like Garoppolo is an avoid, Mullens will also be an avoid. If you’re in a superflex league and desperate, you might want to pick, well, anybody else for your superflex spot.
Justin Herbert — Herbert made his unexpected NFL debut in Week 2 after Tyrod Taylor ultimately went to the hospital to be treated for chest pains. After completing 66% of his passes for 311 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT, fans clamored for Herbert to remain the Chargers’ signal caller. However, Chargers’ coach Anthony Lynn stated this week that veteran Tyrod Taylor will remain the starter when he is physically capable. Now, far be it from me to provide medical advice, but when your quarterback is in the hospital for chest pains in the middle of a respiratory pandemic while playing home games in a region that is beset with wildfires causing inhospitable air quality, perhaps the last thing a head coach should do is say, “We’re putting this guy with chest pains back on the field the first available week.” I mean, Herbert was drafted to be the Chargers’ quarterback of the future. He made some dumb throws in Week 2, but overall, he looked like a capable NFL-rookie signal caller who could provide a pop to a Chargers offense that’s filled with talent. When your young core is Austin Ekeler, Justin Kelley, Hunter Henry, and Mike Williams, wouldn’t you want them to build as much rapport with their future QB as possible? The Chargers face the surprisingly stout Panthers defense next week followed by the equally formidable Buccaneers’ D, so even if you’re FAAB-ing hard on Herbert (phew, is this article NSFW now?), you might want to wait before starting him.
Tyrod Taylor — See above. Chest pains. If he gets the start in Week 3, well, you should bench him on your superflex roster, lest you be feeling chest pains too.
Drew Lock — Will miss 3-5 weeks after getting his throwing shoulder smashed while trying to avoid a sack. You probably shouldn’t have been rostering him anyway, right? But if you care about Drew Lock, that means you’re probably in a superflex league, which means we gotta talk about…
Jeff Driskel — You know what was really, really weird to discover as I was researching the Top 30 QBs Preseason edition? Jeff Driskel kept popping up in a number of the top rankings. Completed air yards per attempt? Driskel tied for 9th with Josh Allen, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes. Yards per scramble? Again, 9th. Yards per game? Well, 25th, but he was right next to Ryan Tannehill and Kyler Murray. Quarterback rating? OK, 26th, but he was right in-between Josh Allen and Gardner Minshew. OK, OK, let’s not reinvent the wheel on Jeff Driskel. However, he’s a capable backup that has accuracy issues but showed sparks of talent as a member of the Detroit Lions in 2019. Now with the Broncos, he’ll take the reins of a depleted Broncos offense, which lost Courtland Sutton for the year, and he’ll have lost incumbent running back Philip Lindsay for 2-4 weeks due to a toe injury. The good news is that Driskel has Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Noah Fant as major upside receivers. The bad news is that the first three of that group weren’t with the Broncos last year, and Fant was pretty meh. However, it’s 2020 now, and Fant has seen 20% of the Broncos red zone targets and he’s pulling them in for TDs. The Broncos play the Buccaneers next week, and the Bucs let Touchdown Teddy Bridgewater throw for a bunch of yards but kept him and his receivers out of the end zone. If you’re suiting up Driskel on your roster, it’s best to wait until week 4 when the Broncos play the New York Jets. UPDATE: see below.
Blake Bortles — And just when I put the last period on the Driskel hype, Blake Bortles comes in an signs with the Broncos. Trivia, hot shot! Which QB is just outside the top ten for yards and TDs from 2015-2018? That would be ya boi Blake. Also, he ran a ton. I see the eyes of the superflex owners getting glassy with nostalgia right now. That said, Bortles hasn’t started for an NFL team since 2018, when he was booed out of (checks notes) the bottom-dwelling Jaguars. Now, Bortles will come in to at least back up Driskel in Week 3 if not take over as the Broncos signal-caller in Week 4. Keep your ear to the old radio-fone to see what Bortles may or may not do in the Mile High City. He’s certainly got upside over the 2020 disaster offenses like the Jets or the Vikings, but Bortles’ ceiling is not much more than QB 25.
Ryan Tannehill — Tannehill is tied for third in the NFL with 6 TD passes over the first two weeks, and he’s also third in TD%. He hasn’t thrown a pick and he’s taken 2 sacks on the year, which is a vast improvement over the Titans’ awful pass protection in 2019. A corollary to the better pass protection is that Tannehill hasn’t needed to run very much. Surprising fact: Tannehill is just outside the top 10 for QB rushing yards since he entered the league in 2012. But best of all, Tannehill gets the Vikings next. The Vikings have been a mess in 2020, and are sporting the third worst pass defense in the league. Philip Rivers under-performed a bit last week, but that was largely due to Jonathan Taylor dominating in the running game and T.Y. Hilton dropping a bomb of a touchdown pass. The Vikings still don’t have Danielle Hunter and now they just lost starting linebacker Anthony Barr for the season. These Vikings injuries probably speak more to success with Derrick Henry than a Tannehill boom in Week 3, though. Tannehill’s #1 target, A.J. Brown, missed week 2 a bone bruise in his knee, so he’s relied a lot more on tight end Jonnu Smith. With the Vikings giving up 5 catches and 111 yards to Mo Alie-Cox in Week 2 — which basically matched his production over the past two years combined — expect Jonnu to get a lot of looks against the depleted Vikings secondary.
Josh Allen — Somebody went and did all the accuracy drills in Madden! Allen was generally inefficient as a QB in 2018 and 2019, although he put up some gaudy numbers that were better for best ball formats than H2H in fantasy. Now in 2020, Allen got Stefon Diggs, and it’s been a marriage made in Buffalo sauce. Allen targeted Diggs 22 times through the first two games, and has spread the ball out to John Brown and Cole Beasley as well. If Dawson Knox can get a bit more involved in the passing game, there really won’t be much hampering an Allen top 5 QB campaign. Allen has dramatically improved his accuracy, is throwing more than ever, and has receivers who can keep moving the ball down the field. Now that we’ve seen Allen chucking the ball like he’s a Tecmo Bowl quarterback, I boldly moved him up to QB 4. You just better hope opposing defenses don’t sic Lawrence Taylor on him.
With two weeks of data at our disposal, we’re approaching the point of the season where we can get meaningful trends to report. Is Cam Newton the lowest intended air yards and lowest yards per game QB that we saw in Week 1, or is he more the top 3 yard per game passer we saw in week 2? Is Drew Brees at the end of his career, or are his receivers letting him down? The advanced stats are leaning toward the latter (he has the third worst differential in expected completion percentage in the league). I’ll add more advanced stats as they become more meaningful through the season, but here’s where I’m ranking the QBs for rest of season performance as of Week 2.
If you want tiers, then QBs 1-8 have taken a giant lead and should be unquestioned starters for your team every week. QBs 9-20 all have upsides in matchups and most of them have a fair track record of production. QBs 20-32 are a mess and you don’t want them on your team unless you’re in a superflex league or being contrarian or stacking against the Vikings. In theory, these are the starters going forward, although Drew Lock may find himself out of a job if one of his backups plays well in his absence.
- PY/G = Passing yards per game
- RY/G = Rushing yards per game
- Total TDs = Passing + Rushing TDs
- CAY/AT = Completed Air Yards per Attempt (Shows accuracy + Thrown Distance)
- YAC/C = Yards After Catch per Catch (Shows role of receivers in yardage)
- Bad% = Percentage of badly thrown passes (not including spikes/throwaways)
- Green = Player is top 5 in that category
Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.