I woke up the other morning with visions of Flacco in my head. I went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. “You’re a Super Bowl winning quarterback with millions in your bank account, not the backup QB on a winless team that’s tanking! Go get ’em tiger!” I put on my Pumas and raced outside, not quite realizing it’s 15 degrees when I stepped out the door. Still, I ran. I ran like Rocky ran, sweat-banded and sweat-shirted. And when I cross the mile threshold, I told myself, “It’s three weeks until the fantasy championships! All your friends will validate you! They’ll say you’re handsome and smart and five years from now they’ll remember that Kirk Cousins brought you the fantasy championships!” I looked around, slightly crazed and slightly lost, and realized I was far from home. But aren’t we all. With Joe Flacco on my mind, I started to retrace my steps, one-by-one. Russell Wilson started strong. James Robinson was a fluke FAAB win that brought me to the playoffs. Derrick Henry surged through the defenses while Ryan Tannehill sliced secondaries. And all the while, Corey Davis grabbed first down after first down. There were so many Titans I couldn’t figure out if I was talking “Attack on” or “Remembering the.” But one thing stuck with me: it was the fantasy friends I made along the way. If I made you a fantasy friend of mine or the site, please show some love by getting an ad-free membership or checking in on the basketball or baseball sides and following the fantasy fun all-year round.
As a preface, this is the last “Rest of Season” quarterback article for the 2020 fantasy football season. It’s been a pleasure having you along for the ride. As always, I’m available on Twitter or in the comments section for questions that you have. Donkey Teeth and MB will take you the rest of the way for your current quarterback needs, and I’ll probably finish out the fantasy football writing season with a look forward to next year and possibly a fantasy league advice article. If you’re looking for more of my writing, you can follow me on the basketball side of Razzball where I’ll have weekly player highlights, and when baseball kicks in again, I’ll be your regularly scheduled pitcher ranker. Now, let’s see some quarterbacks!
Carson Wentz — Ooof, this one hurts. HAHA I MADE THE HURTS JOKE JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. But for real, Carson Wentz is out as a starter in Philadelphia and second-rounder Jalen Hurts is in. AND YOU THINK HIRING ME WAS A MISTAKE! Wentz is going to make something like ten thousand dollars a day for the foreseeable future to carry around a Surface Pro and a headset and further prove that we all chose the wrong career path. Funny thing is, you could have been rostering Wentz all year on your fantasy team and you wouldn’t have known much was wrong. He’s QB16 right now, and if he had one more TD and one less interception over the course of 12 games, he’d be QB12. I’ve been shouting it all year: Quarterbacks have stunning point parity in fantasy football. If you don’t have one of the top QBs, just choose a favorable matchup in the streamers and don’t sweat the small stuff. Sweat the running backs. You know where Jameis Winston finished in fantasy football in 2019? QB5. He threw 30 interceptions and was the fifth best QB for your fantasy roster. SEW. I’m not here to defend Wentz, but rather say, there’s a fair amount of you who are probably looking for a new streamer, and I’m here to help you out.
Jalen Hurts — The runner up in the 2019 Heisman voting and the 2nd round draft pick for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020, is a straight up weapon. He put up nearly 1300 yards rushing in his senior year and added over 20 TDs to go with over 30 passing TDs and a ton of air yards. Makes you wonder why somebody in the Eagles’ front office was like, “Let’s give Wentz — a fair QB who gets injured a ton — over a hundred million.” But, whatever. It’s not like Moneyball hasn’t been around for 20 years. ENYWHEY, Hurts will likely get plenty of running room in the Eagles offense because the offensive line is pretty terrible and he’ll be trying to get away from defenders like Joe Burrow did. Think about Burrow and the awful Bengals’ line as a fair comparison for Hurts’ upside this year. Next week, the Eagles face the Saints’ stout DEF, but the Eagles finish the year against Arizona and Dallas, which should make fantasy managers get hot and bothered. He’s got the upside of a streamer, but don’t miss the forest for the trees: the Eagles are still a mess, and you’ve got to look at their situation as volatility. If you need a ton of points, gamble on Hurts. If you need guaranteed floor, take another streamer.
Derek Carr — I recommended Carr earlier in the season because he’s been hovering around 12-team viability for most of the year and then he kind of dropped off the map in recent weeks. His Week 12 performance against the Falcons — who are one of the worst past defenses in the NFL — was nothing short of stunning in its sheer lack of productivity. Then he lined up against the Jets and went HAM for 381 yards and 3 TDs in the air and another on the ground. Carr is very much a floor play with volatile upside. I mean, in Week 12 he actually finished as QB 35, which is ridiculous considering there was a freaking practice squad wide receiver starting at QB and Wednesday Afternoon Football. ENYWHEY, Carr has finished outside of the top 12 QBs 5 out of the last 7 weeks, so he’s tough to trust going forward, and I would leave him in the streaming category for your fantasy playoffs.
Baker Mayfield — The Titans ended up as one of the worst defenses in 2020, and Baker Mayfield decided to earn his football money instead of getting hyped on Progressive Insurance cash. When you get screwed out of a settlement, he gets paid! I kid, Baker. But Mayfield has finished ahead of QB16 only 3 times this season, and that was against the Titans, the Jaguars, and the Bengals. I guess Titans must be feline, then? That’s all to say that you shouldn’t be starting Baker in your fantasy playoffs unless YOLO is your playing strategy. And if that is your strategy, then buy some of the ETF and puff, puff, pass it my way to say thank you for the fantasy advice.
Ryan Tannehill — Guess who is QB4 over the past month? Guess who was a top 10 QB on my pre-season QB list? Guess who I have on basically every team this year? That’s my bae, my Tanny! With the Titans getting beat up by the Browns last week, Tannehill had to play catchup and he put up 389 passing yards and 3 TDs in a losing effort. Tannehill is QB4 since week 10 despite (or because of?!) facing 3 top DEF — twice against the Colts and once against the Ravens. Sure, one of the Colts games was a dud. That happens. But for the rest of you that trusted my advice to give Tanny the rock, you’ve been well-rewarded. Let Tannehill take you to fantasy glory.
Taysom Hill — For every hit, I’ll take a miss. I do not like Taysom Hill, but just like Carson Wentz put up streamable numbers and got benched, Taysom Hill has been QB10 or better in each of his starts despite putting up seemingly ugly QB performances. He’s thrown for 2 touchdowns in 3 games (and those were in week 13), and rushed for 176 yards and 4 TDs. Yeah, you know where his value is coming from. The problem is that QB rushing TDs just aren’t that reliable. You can’t really predict and expect rushing TDs. Look at Lamar Jackson (4 rushing TDs in 2020). Look at Russell Wilson (4 rushing TDs in the past two years). Cam Newton has as many rushing TDs this year (11) as he had in 2016-2019 combined. From a fantasy advice perspective, we can look at Taysom’s skill set two ways: one is my cranky-ass old man way above, and the other is the hype-man approach. Taysom has as many rushing TDs in 3 games as all these other luminaries have in years! Also, keep in mind that Taysom’s Week 13 performance came against the Falcons, so, it’s not like he’s playing against elite competition. So, pick your pill: if you’re looking for wild upside, start Taysom. For the fantasy playoffs, remember that Drew Brees is expected to return in Week 15 or 16.
Russell Wilson — Let’s talk about Titan…fall (so many titan references this week!). Russ probably cooked your team to the playoffs this year with his record-breaking start to the year, and over the past month, he’s been ice cold. Now, every analyst knows that elite talent can and will go cold. In the past four games, Wilson is QB15, and he’s edging out Baker Mayfield by 0.1 points. Holy freeze, Batman! From a fantasy standpoint, I will move Russ down to tier 2 for the remaining season. This isn’t a knock on the man himself. You know I’d get the chef’s table in Russ’ kitchen. But we’re talking about an elite QB on a winning team playing the tanking Jets (don’t really need to score much against them) and following it up with games against the top-ranked Football Team and Rams DEF. The Rams already made Russ look foolish once this year. If Russ cooks through the playoffs, I apologize for steering you wrong. But all signs point to mediocre outcomes for the next few weeks.
Deshaun Watson — Literally everybody and their mom shouted “WATSON TOO HIGH!” at me last week and I was like, “Yeah I saw it get smoked on Jeopardy, that computer’s whack!” One of the handy things about using regression as a predictive tool (like Rudy uses!) is that you can see how quarterbacks perform with and without their favorite receivers. So, Will Fuller gets suspended, and where was Watson on Rudy’s rankings? QB4. Where was he in my rankings? Tier 1. Where did Watson finish Week 13? QB11, but if he scored 2 more points, he would have been QB8. In rankings talk, that’s perfectly fine; the actual QB 4 scored 6.5 more points than Watson, which is 3 catches for 30 yards by Olabisi Johnson in terms of scoring. You know, fluky. Just like rushing TDs, passing TDs are also fluky to predict. Watson threw for 0 TDs and still scored more points than Patrick Mahomes last week, and nobody complained about Mahomes being in Tier 1. Watson has ranked QB1 over the last month, and Rudy’s got him finishing the year strong, so I’m keeping Watson in Tier 1 to finish out the season.
Alex Smith — The man was bloodied going into the game against the Steelers and he came out a Big Ben slayer. Quick! Who was QB3 in 2017? Alex M’Fin Smith y’all. Fast forward three years: dang, the world got dark! And Alex Smith is dump passing the world on fire! Terry McLaurin managers (all us Razzbois) are crying right now as Smith turned J.D. McKissic into fantasy gold on Monday night. Really, the Steelers shoulda had that game. But let’s put this into perspective: he’s got the lowest intended air yards per pass attempt in the NFL (nearly 2 yards shorter than Nick Mullens!), the lowest air yards per completion, and one of the highest yards after catch per completion rates in the NFL. What’s that mean? It means J.D. McKissic has 31 catches since Alex Smith took over in Washington. So, if you’re bullish on McKissic catching balls and running them down the field, then by all means, be bullish on Smith. Otherwise, leave him on the fantasy bench.
Josh Allen — He’s been textbook boom-or-bust this year, and I’m happy to take the brunt of complaints if people don’t want to believe. This week, he put up 375 yards and 4 TDs in the air, and we’re all shouting, “I’m a Bill-iever!” Problem is, 7 times this year, he’s finished as a top 5 QB. And 5 times this year, he’s finished QB14 or below. So, 7 times you’re dancing up and down with joy, and 5 times you got Jared Goff’d. So, you’ve got money on the line in your fantasy league, and you’re looking at a start/sit of Allen or Herbert, or Allen and Watson. Odds are, Herbert and Watson are going to outperform Allen the rest of the way. I don’t dislike Allen, and I’m super-pumped about his prospects in 2021. But don’t do that teeth-sucking sound if he Goff’s you in the playoffs.
I say this every week and every week it gets overlooked: I don’t rank within the tiers. QB scoring parity is immense, and you’re best suited looking for a QB that meets your weekly fantasy matchup need. Do you need huge volatility? Look for Taysom Hill. Do you need floor? Go with Ryan Tannehill.
The tiers below are what if situations. What if Carson Wentz comes back to start? He’s a streamer, just like Jalen Hurts. Because so many QBs have been late-game replacements or pre-game announcements, I put a whole bunch of them in the tiers and you can see what your options are.
To simplify things even further, I’m going with a simple Green / Yellow / Red ranking system. This should be clear enough to anybody who has a driver’s license (take that you New Yorkers!): Green = Start / Yellow = Take Caution / Red = Sit.
You’ve seen the plethora of data offerings early in the season, and the condensed data in the recent weeks, but the absolute truth is that Tuesday and Wednesday football + Covid has messed with the kind of data I use and it’s not fully available at the time of writing. I could run the tables but they’d all be wrong by the time the article is published. Last week had a major error when Justin Herbert was left off the data table because his games hadn’t propagated into the database I use. But between my own rankings, and Donkey Teeth and MB and Rudy offering rankings, I think Razzball readers are well-prepped for their playoff runs. Without further ado, I present to you the final rankings:
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.