2020 NFL Draft: Ranking the top landing spots for rookie quarterbacks for Fantasy


There’s no shortage of viable quarterbacks for Fantasy these days, and that group should get yet another injection of talent in the 2020 NFL Draft Thursday night. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love are all projected to go off the board in the first round in Ryan Wilson’s latest mock draft on CBSSports.com, with Jacob Eason and Jalen Hurts also looming as late-first or early second-round picks.

That group features some pretty exciting talents, including two record breakers from the SEC, who could step onto the field as early as Week 1 of the 2020 season and be Fantasy relevant players. Plus, there always mid-round or later guys who land in the right place and surprise — think of Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and Gardner Minshew as rookies.

Talent isn’t everything, of course. You have to wind up in the right spot to make the most of your talent for Fantasy. First, you need to end up starting, preferably sooner than later. And it always helps to have weapons around you from the start.

There are plenty of teams who figure to be in the market for a quarterback in the draft this week — 11 who could be looking for a potential contributor in the near term, and that’s not even counting the likes of the Bucaneers, Colts, Saints and Steelers, who all have older incumbents who could look to retire after the 2020 season. Or the Cowboys, who still don’t have a long-term answer on Prescott’s future.

Before the draft gets underway Thursday night, let’s take a look at those 11 situations, ranking them by how excited Fantasy players should be to see a rookie quarterback land there. We’re judging these situations on how likely it is a rookie could play, as well as how good the weapons around them would be.

Bengals

Not that it matters, of course, because Joe Burrow has been destined for the Bengals since they locked up the No. 1 pick with a Week 16 overtime loss to the Dolphins. The good news is, this is the best situation for a rookie quarterback to step into, with proven contributors in A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd to throw to and a very good running back in Joe Mixon to hopefully take some of the pressure off him. We’ll also hopefully see more from the offense in Zac Taylor’s second year at the helm. Burrow figures to step in and start from Week 1, and coming off the best passing season in NCAA history, expectations will be high. If he establishes rapport with Boyd and Green early, it’s not inconceivable Burrow could be a Fantasy starter right away.

Chargers

In terms of weapons, there’s no better potential landing spot for a young quarterback than the Chargers. He has a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Keenan Allen, a viable downfield weapon in Mike Williams, one of the better pass-catching tight ends in Hunter Henry, and even an elite playmaker with the ball in his hands out of the backfield in Austin Ekeler. You really couldn’t hope for more. The reason they aren’t the top landing spot is simply because it’s not clear if a rookie would get the chance to start from Day 1. Tyrod Taylor is a fine placeholder, and reports have surfaced that the Chargers might even view him as something more than that. That could be a smoke screen for a team that picks at No. 6, but it’s enough to raise legitimate questions about whether there would be an immediate opportunity. It could make for the ideal landing spot for Tagovailoa, who might be well served sitting for a while coming off a serious hip injury.

Dolphins

The Dolphins had a better-than-expected season under first-year coach Brian Flores, but this is still just the beginning of a deep rebuild. Ryan Fitzpatrick figures to start in Week 1, but he’s also stepped aside for young passers before, so it presumably wouldn’t be an issue if it happened again. The chances of a rookie seeing significant time in Miami in Year 1 are pretty high, and it would actually be a decent landing spot. Devante Parker finally lived up to his pedigree in 2019, and Preston Williams was looking like a steal for the Dolphins before his ACL tear. If he is back healthy, that duo would combine with Mike Gesicki to give Miami a solid corps of pass-catchers for any rookie, and they showed a willingness to be aggressive even with Josh Rosen under center last season, so it might not be a bad spot schematically either.

Jaguars

Well, as we saw last season, this is a pretty good place to land. The Jaguars haven’t invested a ton in their non-Leonard Fournette skill players, but they have made a point of targeting premium athletes at wide receiver, and that group, led by the breakouts of D.J. Chark and Chris Conley, helped Minshew serve as a viable Fantasy option as an injury replacement rookie. Minshew’s presence obviously complicates the picture for any potential draft pick, especially after they seemed to give him a vote of confidence by trading Nick Foles this offseason. But Minshew was just a sixth-round pick himself, so they aren’t too invested in him if they fall in love. Minshew would be the odds-on favorite to start Week 1, but they showed last year they aren’t afraid to make a change if they think it gives them the best chance to win.

Patriots

It’s hard to tell whether the Patriots would be a good place for a rookie QB to land or not these days. On the one hand, there isn’t much competition; 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer aren’t much of a road block. Plus, we know the coaching staff in New England is great. On the other hand, the Patriots are pretty bereft of talent at the skill positions. Not for lack of trying; N’Keal Harry was a first-rounder last season, and Sony Michel was just a year before. However, Harry barely saw the field as a rookie due to injuries, and Michel looked pretty bad in 2019. Julian Edelman is still around, as is Mohamed Sanu, so the cupboards aren’t totally bare, but we saw how little even Tom Brady could accomplish with this group last season. There’s upside if Harry takes a step forward after a healthy offseason, and the coaching staff should get the most out of whoever might land here, but it wouldn’t be a spot you would want to chase after unless someone like Tagovailoa or Hurts lands there, given their rushing ability.

Washington

Were Dwayne Haskins’ struggles as a rookie due to his limitations, or the issues with the roster around him? How you answer that question is going to color how you view Washington as a landing spot for any potential rookie. If you think Haskins was held back by the supporting cast, it might not make much of a difference whether they move on from him. Terry McLaurin looks like a future stud, but he’s the only skill player on the roster you can reasonably project to be even average at this point. This team still feels like it’s a year away from being a year away, though if you think Haskins was a bigger part of the problem, maybe an injection of talent from the QB spot could help everyone take a step forward. Personally, I think Haskins was a small part of the dysfunction in Washington, and I’m not really sure you can even fairly judge him based on what was happening around him, so I wouldn’t be too excited about a new quarterback’s chances. They only rank this highly because any quarterback Washington takes would almost certainly start from Day 1, like Kyler Murray a year ago replacing Josh Rosen.

Raiders

The Raiders have pieces, for sure — Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs and Hunter Renfrow are a solid starting place for a potential young quarterback. It’s not a complete set, something the Raiders understood last offseason when they took a big swing with Antonio Brown. The Raiders have contributors; they need a difference maker. They seem less likely to actually take a QB early, with an impact wide receiver in the first round seeming like a more immediate need. However, it wouldn’t be a shock if they targeted a possible successor to Derek Carr after that. It similarly wouldn’t be a shock if that successor got an opportunity sometime in his rookie season, given that the Raiders have probably seen enough of Carr, who can be cleared from the cap following 2020 with a minimal hit.

Broncos

Drew Lock showed some talent in going 4-1 as a starter last season, so I would be surprised if John Elway opted to take another quarterback early — he told reporters earlier this week he wants to build around Lock. However, he didn’t exactly commit to Lock as the long-term answer.

“By no means has Drew made it,” Elway said. “We believe he’s got the potential to do it, and we think he’s just going to continue to get better and better. But he’s still in the learning process and know that he’s going to have to get better. But we really liked what we saw.”

Yes, Lock won four of his five starts. He also averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt and 204 yards per game, so let’s not start working on his bust for Canton just yet. Lock remains a work very much in progress, and it might be prudent to take another quarterback early with the understanding Lock has to beat him out to remain the starter. If that happened, the potential for a talented young passer to step in if Lock falters and throw to an increasingly impressive collection of young talent would be significant. It wouldn’t be someone you’d draft to start the season, but it might be someone you ride in the second half.

Bears

The Bears are, unsurprisingly, uncommitted to Mitchell Trubisky as their long-term QB, and that might be putting it lightly. They traded for Nick Foles this offseason, and then when pressed in recent days about the looming decision regarding Trubisky’s fifth-year option, GM Ryan Pace said, “Right now our focus is all on the draft. We know we have until May 4 on that, and we’ll cross that bridge once we get through this weekend.”

Trubisky took a significant step backwards in his third season, and at this point you can’t blame the Bears for considering other options. Any young quarterback who ends up in Chicago would be stepping into a messy situation, with an incumbent hanging around and a veteran with at least some success under his belt on the depth chart as well. Of course, neither Trubisky nor Foles is an insurmountable obstacle, and if a rookie did somehow manage to wind up on the field for the Bears, it wouldn’t be a bad situation: They have a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Allen Robinson, a good pass catching running back and a coaching staff that has shown it can get the most out of everyone involved.

Lions

This one seems like a pretty significant long shot, but there were rumblings around the combine that the Lions could look to move their long-time starter, Matthew Stafford. Those rumors have died down significantly since, but with the dead cap hit for Stafford diminishing significantly in 2021, it wouldn’t be totally out of left field if the Lions acquired a potential successor. This would be a pretty great place for a young quarterback to land, with a young No. 1 WR in Kenny Golladay, a young potential stud TE in T.J. Hockenson, and a coaching staff that showed more of a willingness to be aggressive with the passing game in 2019. It’s a long shot a rookie would ever see the field without an injury to Stafford in 2020, but if the Lions do opt to snag someone early and you’re playing in a Dynasty league, it might not be a bad idea to stash them. Especially if that someone is Jalen Hurts. 

Panthers

Oh, this would be the dream, wouldn’t it? Imagine Hurts running the offense that helped fuel Burrow’s record-setting 2019, with Christian McCaffrey catching passes out of the backfield and D.J. Moore making players underneath, with Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel feasting on deep shots. Alas, the Panthers gave Teddy Bridgewater a contract that carries significant dead cap money through 2021, so a path to immediate playing time isn’t entirely clear. If the Panthers do take a quarterback in the draft and believe he gives them a better chance than Bridgewater to win in 2021, they could cut him and save $3 million against the cap, so it’s not impossible — just unlikely. Of course, we still haven’t seen Bridgewater hold up to a full season as a starter since his knee injury in Minnesota, so there’s that risk. This is a great landing spot for a quarterback, but it’s going to be Bridgewater who gets the first shot at taking advantage of it. 





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