The sight, sound, and smell of football season are in the air. Quarterback is THE most important position on your fantasy roster, make no mistake about it – the quality of play from the position impacts upon every offensive scoring category. Check out our own Mike Miklius’ Top 30 Quarterbacks For 2020 for a deeper dive.
For all the smart players who nabbed a bonafide lock at starting QB for your team, congratulations and we will see you in the bye weeks. For all you late-round dart throwers, this is the article you need to be reading every week to ensure you maximize production from the QB slot on your fantasy roster.
Each week, we will piece together Frankenstein’s Monster at QB to help you win your league, using statistical data, performance variables, and favorable fantasy matchups. The caveat is that these players are less than 80% owned in Yahoo! leagues. Why? There are currently 16 QBs that are over 70% owned and these are likely to be unavailable in a standard 12-team league.
Following this week, we’ll review the top scorers of the week and see how our selections fared. We will also give kudos to anyone we missed as an indicator of potential in future weeks.
Let’s look at the lay of the land for Week One:
|QB||Matchup||% Owned (Yahoo!)|
|Jared Goff, Rams||LAR vs DAL||68%|
|Gardner Minshew, Jaguars||JAX vs IND||27%|
|Kirk Cousins, Vikings||MIN vs GB||40%|
|Derek Carr, Raiders||LV at CAR||18%|
|Ryan Tannehill, Titans||TEN at DEN||48%|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins||MIA at NE||4%|
|Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers||SF vs ARI||51%|
|Philip Rivers, Colts||IND at JAX||30%|
“Welcome to Best Buy”
Jared Goff, Rams
Somewhat surprisingly, the fantasy community seems to be jumping off the Jared Goff era in Los Angeles. The QB is less than 68% owned in Yahoo! leagues, which does not compute with the fact that he finished as the QB 12 in fantasy in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus, with 273.5 points. Take into account that it was a frustrating year, and a step back professionally, for Goff who suffered from a faltering offensive line and an ineffective running game, thanks to the concerns over Todd Gurley‘s knee.
The Rams did draft a productive back in Cam Akers out of Florida State University in the draft but all signals point to an air-raid offense with plenty of targets to Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee. Higbee came on down the stretch last season, establishing himself as a top tier TE and red-zone target with 43 catches, 522 yards, and 2 TDs in the last 5 games.
The Week One clash against the Dallas Cowboys will mark the first game at the phenomenal new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, and Goff will not only want to put on a show but he will need to in order to keep up with Dak Prescott. The Cowboys defense is nothing to write home about either, ranking 16th in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) in 2019 according to Football Outsiders.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars
“Minshew Mania” took the league by storm early last term after Nick Foles went down with a broken clavicle. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 draft by the Jaguars, Gardner Minshew finished up the season as the top-graded rookie QB by Pro Football Focus and impressed with his movement and ability to keep plays alive. To be honest, I have no idea what is going on in Jacksonville – General Manager Dave Caldwell has made a mess of this roster, and Head Coach Doug Marrone is coming off the back of two double-digit losing seasons. Combine those factors with the recent release of star running back Leonard Fournette, and the franchise appears rudderless.
This should allow Minshew to be a loose cannon, a role that he seems comfortable with and produces the best of him. Oh, there will be some horrible decisions and costly mistakes but the production will be there. The Jaguars were top-12 in pass attempts per game last season with 36.8 and that was with Fournette on the roster. Without him, you can expect this number to increase significantly. DJ Chark is an exciting outside receiver who will also work out of the slot this season, rookie Leviska Shenault Jr. will be a versatile Tyreek Hill-type option, and pass-catching specialist Chris Thompson should see the majority of reps out of the backfield. PPR heaven for Minshew.
The Colts are division contenders and should put up big scores each week, which means Minshew will be playing catch-up most likely. A good thing for an owner looking to stream a pass-happy QB!
Kirk Cousins, Vikings
Despite signing a two-year extension with the Vikings for $66 million, the pressure is still firmly on the much-maligned Kirk Cousins going into this season. He was somewhere near terrible in his two starts against division rivals the Green Bay Packers in 2019, throwing for just 352 yards in the two games with only 2 TDs and giving up 3 INTs and 6 sacks. The unhealthy mix of a new offensive line, injury to Adam Thielen, and ideological infighting between Kevin Stefanski and Gary Kubiak never allowed for Cousins to find his rhythm.
The Packers had a flimsy run defense last season and have done nothing to improve this aspect of their defense. The Vikings have Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison ready to fire with the full armory of Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking, stretch run offense. And with the emergence of young talent like Bisi Johnson and Irv Smith Jr. plus new first-round pick Justin Jefferson, Cousins has never had such a dynamic offense that has been tailored for him to succeed. The Packers secondary is full of young talent and they did rank 6th in pass defense DVOA last season. It will be an intriguing matchup but I for one think Cousins will hit the ground running this season.
Derek Carr, Raiders
Everyone thought Derek Carr was done in Oakland after Jon Gruden was hired two seasons ago, however, the former second-round pick topped 4,000 passing yards for the second season in a row, boasting a 21/8 touchdown to interception ratio and a career-high 70.4% completion percentage. You have to think that with the additions of Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards in the draft, Carr will improve on his 15.77 fantasy points per week last season.
Owner David Tepper has pressed the reset button in Carolina and the Panthers are the perfect Week 1 opponent for any team in truth. They lost experience and leadership all across the defense with the retirement of Luke Kuechly and the releases of stalwart veterans James Bradberry, Mario Addison, Gerald McCoy, and Eric Reid. It is a defense stacked with unproven players and young draft picks (7 in fact!), the cornerstone being #7 overall pick Derrick Brown. The projected over/under score for this game is 47.5. That suits Carr nicely.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans
Now it all depends on which version of Ryan Tannehill the Titans send out in Week 1 – the athletic do-it-all team QB who propelled the Titans to the playoffs (after taking over the starting job from Marcus Mariota in Week 7 last year) by going 7-3 in his 10 starts throwing for 22 TDs and only 6 INTs whilst also adding 4 rushing TDs; or, we will see the cautious approach as we did in the playoffs last year? Tannehill only threw the ball 60 times in 3 games, essentially acting as the hand that feeds the Derrick Henry-led run game. We hope the former, of course.
AJ Brown was the most explosive rookie wide receiver last year and quickly built a rapport with Tannehill. Essentially, the entire offense is returning with a fully healthy Adam Humphries to work out of the slot and rookie pass-catcher Darrynton Evans added in the third round of the draft. Tannehill hasn’t enjoyed this kind of consistency and dynamism in an offense at any point so far in his career, look for him to cash in. The Broncos will be a firm test, however, and in this same fixture last year the Titans were shutout 17-0, which provoked the end of Marcus Mariota starting at QB.
“Boom Or Bust”
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins
I for one was ecstatic to hear Brian Flores announce Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Week One starter ahead of first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa. Not only it is the right decision for the franchise, but it is also the correct decision for “Fitzmagic” lovers across the fantasy landscape. Fitzpatrick is the perfect streaming QB – experienced, risk-taker, wears-heart-on-sleeve. He also operates in an offense that regularly needs to play catch up in games. The Dolphins were 7th in total pass attempts last season with 615, an average of 38.4 per game. That usually leads to a healthy fantasy output.
The other reason to be excited is the young, hungry receiving corps of DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and Mike Gesicki. Throw in running back Matt Breida, too. The Patriots lost out to the 27-24 to the Dolphins in the final game of last season, a game that felt like a turn-of-the-tide on a larger scale in the AFC East. The Dolphins will be fired up to repeat this outcome this weekend.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
There is one clear reason to start Jimmy Garoppolo this weekend – the Arizona Cardinals were one of the worst defenses against opposing passing games in 2019, especially from the tight end position. Enter George Kittle! The “People’s Tight End” is an absolute monster and tied with Travis Kelce for the TE1 in scoring in fantasy with 15.9 points per game. Despite a plethora of injuries at the wide receiver position, the 49ers offense should be productive with Kyle Shanahan and his ability to effectively scheme for specific matchups. Jimmy G isn’t flashy, but he is efficient.
Philip Rivers, Colts
Yuck! I really didn’t want to add Philip Rivers to this list. The aging signal-caller looked a shadow of his former self last year with his arm looking ready to be sent out to pasture. He threw 23 TDs (his lowest since 2007) and 20 INTs (his most since 2016) with a stellar offensive cast in Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry. They really deserved much better than what Rivers produced. A one-year $25m deal with the Colts gives him one more shot at a Super Bowl run.
The good news – he faces off against the Jaguars in Week One. After trading away their elite pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and top safety Ronnie Harrison as part of a defensive overhaul, there really isn’t much to be worried about at all. If you are going to give Rivers a shot, this week may be the best time to roll the dice.
Don’t hesitate to give me your thoughts and hit me up for questions at @benjaminhaller1.
(Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire)