The quarterback position is seeing a bit of a resurgence in fantasy football these days due to the continuing emergence of 2QB and Superflex formats. While I am not big a Superflex devotee I do enjoy the format and I won a few 2QB expert leagues in 2018. I want to make a run at repeating if I can. So you know I care about what I’m writing in this space.
This year’s quarterback class is an unusual one for sure. I mean, most people have a QB1 who is just a sliver over 5 foot ten. That man, Kyler Murray, is my QB1 as well, and my QB2 is a guy with only a single season as a starter,—which is also the case with Murray, by the way. So my top two quarterbacks have attempted a combined collegiate 1,109 passes. For perspective, Baker Mayfield attempted 1,497 by himself. Daniel Jones, my QB4 attempted 1,275 over the last three seasons at Duke. Yes, this is an unusual board, but it’s where the tape has brought us, so let’s get into it.
And, remember, these rankings and tiers were made with fantasy football in mind. My real NFL draft grades would be a bit different. I may add a few more quarterbacks on Thursday if I have enough time.
I’ll be back tomorrow early in the day with the wide receivers.
|1||1||Murray, Kyler||Oklahoma||5-10 1/8||207||9 4/8||I said most of what I wanted to say about him in our pre-combine report. Nothing’s really changed save for him weighing in pretty heavy and not doing any drills to validate his agility at said weight. It’s about fantasy and Kyler is a potential fantasy star in the Cam Newton mold—a guy who can legit pass and run in mass statistical quantities. Could Murray be here at just the right time with the new NFL rules protecting QBs? In 2QB formats he’s at the top of my board. He’s just so good from a technical point of view. The feet are phenomenal both in terms of talent and technique. The arm is strong. His ability to process what he sees is top shelf. This kid is advanced. He can play right away. He can fill a stat sheet right away. And here’s the best thing. He can get better. He’ll gain more nuance and feel for the position. This kid only appeared in 29 college football games and attempted only 519 passes. For context, Baker Mayfield attempted 1,026 passes as a collegian. Hopefully the landing spot doesn’t add any cold water and hopefully the kid stays healthy over time. One of those questions will be answered before we need to place our bets.|
|2||1||Haskins, Dwayne||Ohio St.||6-3 3/8||231||9 5/8||It was a tough combine for Haskins, but if Tom Brady and Philip Rivers can play with dad bods, then so can big Dwayne. He’s got the look of an NFL QB to me. He will need to work hard on his conditioning, but he’s got natural size and strength like Charles Barkley or, for those who go way back, Kevin McReynolds. These are guys whose ability and strength was belied by their body type. I would avoid defining Haskins by things that happen without a helmet and pads on. He’s a baller between the lines. He may be the ultimate example of the combine just not mattering. He makes plenty of NFL throws on film. In fact, on an NFL level, you could make a decent argument for Haskins over Kyler Murray, but as I’ll say throughout my rookie rankings, these are fantasy rankings. Haskins will get as many fantasy points as his arm allows. His foot-points should be in the Brady/Rivers/Matt Ryan range. My guess is that Haskins is the next QB of the NY Giants. He’s a Dave Gettleman kind of QB. That’s just my gut feeling. The Giants would be my guess. Here’s a question for you to ponder. Does being slow make you a bad athlete? Sometimes we assume that guys who lack speed and explosive traits are bad athletes. The thing is, if you are too stringent with this concept, you miss the Larry Birds and Magic Johnsons. In football you’d risk whiffing on Richard Sherman, Marcus Allen and maybe even Jerry Rice among many others. Sometimes an athlete might not be fast or super twitchy as scouts like to say, but don’t forget to factor in everything, like how they play the game. Consider things like awareness, technique, presence, hand-eye-coordination, motor planning and toughness. These are hard things to ascertain in a track meet setting. Haskins is strong in these areas and it matters. He makes impressive throws consistently and can use creative arm angles to make plays when needed—the kind of thing a good athlete can do. I’m not talking Mahomes here, but there are some similarities in terms of creativity. Obviously Mahomes is a freaking artist out there. Haskins is a little more meat and potatoes. Some team can change their trajectory by taking this guy. Maybe that team is your fantasy team. Landing spot will obviously have a huge impact on early numbers and on if he even plays much in 2019.|
|3||2||Lock, Drew||Missouri||6-3 6/8||228||9||Lock seems to be more of a volatile evaluation because Jay Cutler existed before he did. It’s really quite remarkable. The disdain for Cutler seems to drip down onto this kid, who has no connection to Cutler, Jeff George or Kristin Cavallari. Seriously, there’s a point here. Judge Lock on what he brings and nothing else. He’s bigger and more mobile than Cutler. He has a different fantasy profile. We knew Lock’s hands would be small going in and while this could pose a problem in heavy rain, we’re not too concerned with it. Once again, these are fantasy rankings. We like the athleticism, arm strength and plus mobility. He’ll be playing most of his career at over 230 pounds, so he’s a lot to handle in the open field. There’s a lot of debate about Lock’s worthiness at the top of the draft. It’s a fair debate, but don’t get lost in the weeds for fantasy purposes. This guy has round one talent or very close to it. If he is going to get an opportunity, he has legit value in 2QB formats as a prospect. Landing spot is big to me, and one of the things I really want to see is a good coach or coaching staff/scheme. This is a player who will benefit greatly from some learning time. For those dismissing this player, remember that Alex Smith, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill all exist and have made plenty of starts and plenty of money in the NFL. This guy has superior talent compared to these types save for Flacco, who has a ring. My point? We tend to make perfection the enemy of good sometimes. Lock’s not perfect, but he’s a good prospect. He’s got legit arm talent and most of the physical traits we look for in addition to a pro arm. He’s a bit inconsistent from the neck up, sure, but he’s had the time in the barrel that you look for. Lock made 50 college games. His completion percentage went up each season—peaking at 62.9 in 2018. There are a lot of twists and turns coming for this player. How good he will be is tough to predict, but I think it’s probable that he will make plenty of starts and will return value for those who draft him in dynasty leagues. This assumes the NFL agrees and that he’s off the board in the top 50 or so selections. I think he goes somewhere in round one—and then becomes a potential bargain in dynasty leagues. Lastly, if you are really into comps, consider Lock versus Mitchell Trubisky. Same basic flaws but Lock is bigger and faster and may have more arm talent. He won’t get Matt Nagy as his coach, but you get the point.|
|4||2||Jones, Daniel||Duke||6-5 1/8||221||9 6/8||I’m intrigued by Jones, who had a reasonably good showing at the combine. As I said going in, I’d like to see him add some good weight (think Tom Brady), but he has a lot going for him. He’s long, mobile and throws a solid ball, though he does have a bit (nothing crazy bad here) of a long release. He’s an advanced prospect who has logged enough college snaps to feel good about his experience level. My concern, if that’s the right word, is the lack of “special” in his game. Maybe it’s nitpicking but most quarterbacks have something to hang their hat on. Jones is mobile but he doesn’t stand out compared to today’s mobile passers. He has a good enough arm, but in a league with Patrick Mahomes, Matt Stafford and Carson Wentz, just to name a few, he’s got a typical arm and perhaps a tad less. And while he’s tall, he did get 12 passes batted down at the LOS in 2018, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. So am I being fair? Should we care that he lacks the “special” stuff? Maybe not. Does this hurt Jared Goff, Matt Ryan or Kirk Cousins? Tom Brady is considered by many to be the GOAT. Brady lacks any physical trait that separates him from the average quarterback. He weighed 211 pounds when he left Michigan and added 14-20 pounds of good weight early in his career. You could say that Brady has a stronger arm than Jones, and you’d be right, but his Michigan film doesn’t show a significantly stronger arm. Brady was always a winner, but we know about his body when he entered the league. The guy worked his tail off as a young pro and remade himself. Jones doesn’t need as substantial a makeover as Brady did, but he can improve his hand by putting in that same kind of effort. What he does need is a good home, like the one Brady found. A good landing spot will definitely help me find the love for Jones in rookie drafts. He can play if he finds a good platform to work from. Think Goff. Jones can be the Jeff Fisher model and he could be the newer McVay version. Landing spot is key in terms of how much I will prioritize him. And, if Jones does everything right, could he get onto a “Brady track”? I don’t see that. He’s just not the natural thrower that Brady is. He’s like a cross between Brady and Sean Mannion at times. He could become Brady light perhaps—and don’t kid yourself, you can win a lot of NFL games if you are Brady light. Process isn’t sexy or fun and this is a QB who will win largely on process—the ability to handle the offense and read the defense. So, again, for me, what I am looking for is a situation where Jones’ skills really work. Landing spot will have a lot to do with whether I am chasing him in rookie drafts—specifically 2QB formats. It’s a long shot that he really moves the needle for me in single QB formats.|
|5||3||Grier, Will||West Virginia||6-2 4/8||217||9 3/8||Grier is a nice block of clay for developmental purposes and my only guy in tier three. I don’t have a lot of company with that take, but I see things that need to be cleaned up. He’s got a pro body, plenty of arm strength and he’ll get drafted—maybe even on day two or even day one, but I see too many questionable throws and too much bad reaction to pressure. He has a tendency to believe in his own athleticism to a fault, which is worth noting in that he’ll be relatively less athletic in the NFL. I also see inconsistent footwork that has to be cleaned up or he’ll be too inconsistent at the next level. And I stress inconsistent versus bad, because at times he’s using decent footwork, but he also drifts into Geno Smith/Brock Osweiler territory too often. Perhaps my perceptions will prove faulty, but assuming I’m seeing him clearly, the rest of his game—the positives, just aren’t substantial enough for me to buy into him as an impending fantasy asset. If the Patriots actually pull the trigger as Brady’s heir apparent, I’ll revaluate and maybe there are a few other landing spot scenarios that would perk my ears up, but for now, I’m not targeting Grier in single quarterback formats. I just don’t see the ceiling for fantasy that we look for. Full disclosure, there are a lot of very smart people who see this player in different terms than I do. I’m open-minded to being wrong. I bring up the Patriots because they’d be a good fit in terms of going to a good home and having at least a season to learn. If he went to the Chargers, Giants or Broncos, he’d have a chance to be groomed. Denver would actually be a good spot, because John Elway would fix this guy’s feet in a matter of weeks. Elway’s footwork is arguably the best of all time, and his strength is the polar opposite of Grier’s weakness. This would assume that Grier’s strength are enough to tempt him. Perhaps his experience with Paxton Lynch was enough to scare him off. That would be too bad, because Grier is a whole lot better than Lynch. He kept a high-powered offense on schedule for the most part and made plenty of good solid NFL throws. Granted, he worked from a clean pocket most of the time, but he worked it well.|
|6||4||Stick, Easton||NDSU||6-1 2/8||224||9 2/8||Every now and then I like to remind you that these are fantasy rankings. In real NFL rankings, maybe Stick is too much of a long-shot. In fantasy terms, I like what I see and for what it’s worth, I like the real NFL potential some as well. While he has a name better suited for baseball or hockey (I mean c’mon), this kid has some very valuable traits. He’s got a low center of gravity while still weighing 224 pounds and while still running a 4.63 40. He also pinned the needle on his three cone and has a pro arm though not a big arm. There’s a lot to work with here, and, if he hits, he’ll have some fantasy appeal because he will add significant points with his feet. This ranking is not a prediction of NFL Draft capital but a reflection of what his fantasy value could be if he gets a shot. If the rumblings we hear are true, and Stick is not being taken seriously in NFL war rooms, he could really tumble in the post-draft update. I’m very interested to see where and if Stick gets taken.|
|7||4||Jackson, Tyree||Buffalo||6-7||249||10 2/8||Once again, these are fantasy rankings…. Huge. Athletic. Monster arm strength. There’s no doubt that this player has a big ceiling. As I said heading into the combine, Jackson leaves me wanting on a high percentage of his snaps, but he also makes plenty of manchild plays in the Josh Allen mold. The problem is that, by my eyes, he’s farther off than Allen was. He has timing concerns and he does not process the field as well as Allen did at Wyoming. His 55.3 completion percentage last year was even lower than Allen’s, who checked in at 56.3 in his final year. And, Buffalo has better receivers and threw more—giving Jackson more opportunity to find his rhythm, though that happened too infrequently. Still, he could be an interesting player in time and in the right situation. I like the idea of Buffalo drafting him and developing him as an Allen clone. He needs time without question. I think he needs more than a year in a reserve role which complicates things as far as how the NFL works. Playing one more year as a collegian may have been the best choice for him, but here we are. IF Jackson can develop, he has a big ceiling for fantasy. The round he gets taken in will be HUGE because it will tell us how committed his team is to developing him. This is a player, who, according to himself has never had a private quarterback tutor until this year. He’s now working with Jordan Palmer, who worked with Allen last year. Legit professional coaching could help this young man a whole lot, so if a team used, say a 4th rounder on him, and we like the coaching staff he’s going to, his value spikes. If he gets a generic landing spot as a UDFA, he’s little more than a flier. Jackson is the classic example of a player who makes me wish that the NFL was more of a developmental league, because more guys like Jackson would get a chance. He’s for sure a prospect 2QB leaguers need to know about. What he’s worth in dynasty rookie drafts will get drilled down in a few days.|
|8||4||Thorson, Clayton||Northwestern||6-4||222||9 6/8||Thorson has some of the “it” quality that we look for in a quarterback. He’s tough and he’s a leader who plays with plenty of heart. Ultimately, I see the same problems with Thorson as I saw with Blake Bortles and with Paxton Lynch. Too many area throws. Having said that, it’s important to note that Thorson’s issues are less extreme in my view. He has a better feel for the game than both of them. He has a chance to clean things up enough to play at the next level, and he won’t cost his team a day one pick like Lynch and Bortles did. He’s a project and will likely be priced like one. For fantasy footballers, Thorson has some appeal because of his athletic profile. He rushed for 27 touchdowns at Northwestern and he can be a QB who adds some foot-points if he ever earns a gig in the NFL.|
|9||4||Finley, Ryan||N.C. State||6-4||213||9 4/8||As I said in my pre-combine rankings, I am a fan of Finley’s because his offense always seems to be on schedule. He finds the right man with stunning consistency and that’s a big time NFL trait we often don’t talk much about. And, for a QB with below average arm strength, like Finley, it’s a must-have skill. I could see Finley excelling in the right read-based system. He could be a steal if the Patriots got him in the later rounds. He can play right away if needed but he’s the kind of kid who will use any extra time to his advantage. Finley eats up a playbook. It’s obvious when you watch him play. He’s rarely surprised and he handles pressure well. Which leads me to his age. Finley will turn 25 in December. This explains some of his poise and advanced skillset. His footwork is very good as well, and the extra time certainly helps in that area. Finley, ironically enough, left Boise State after the 2015 season (he was a redshirt freshman in 2013), and transferred to N.C. State. The quarterback who replaced him in Boise is our next guy up, and is in a virtual tie with Finley on my board. As for Finley, his landing spot will be huge and he could move up in our post-draft ranks.|
|10||4||Rypien, Brett||Boise St.||6-1 5/8||210||9||I’m a big believer in Rypien as far as playing at the next level goes, but he’ll be a product of his surroundings when it comes to fantasy value. He’s a classic quarterback who will not add much with his feet. I like his footwork a lot. I like his moxie and the way he sees the field. He can make most of throws-certainly all the ones you need him to make. He’s got a shot to start somewhere someday. Adding 5-10 pounds of good weight would help. His ranking here is lower than it would be if I was ranking purely for NFL purposes. He’s better for real football than for fantasy in my view.|
|11||5||Stidham, Jarrett||Auburn||6-2 3/8||218||9 1/8||I’m not his biggest fan, but the guy throws a solid ball for sure and has plenty of support from major guys in the industry. I’m open-minded on eating some crow here. A really good landing spot might make me rethink things.|
|12||5||Ta'amu, Jordan||Mississippi||6-2 5/8||221||9 7/8||He’s a good athlete with a live arm and I see an NFL future for him—probably as backup, but if he can continue to grow and synthesize all of his physical traits he has a chance to be a starter someday. He’s needs to be more decisive with his reads so he can get the ball out more consistently, but he can make some serious throws and he’s more than willing to take some hits to make plays. He’ll be a foot-point guy if he gets the chance so he has some ceiling, but he’s also a bit of a long shot.|