Yes, the top-two quarterbacks in Fantasy Football have projections and expectations higher than everyone else in the game. But the quarterback position is also the absolute deepest it's ever been. I mean EVER.
It's going to create an intriguing dilemma on Draft Day -- chase the stud quarterbacks within the first 24 picks, or settle for what could turn out to be incredible value in Round 5 or later? And here's the kicker: Because there are so many start-worthy quarterbacks, you could whiff on one in September and October, pick up someone off waivers and still go on to have a wildly successful year. Everyone who took a chance on Ryan Tannehill last year knows how that went. Also, I still can't believe Tannehill did THAT.
If there's one rule to follow, it's this: YOU REACH, YOU LOSE. I've been saying that for years and it's especially true of quarterbacks in 2020.
Lost in the glow of Lamar Jackson's amazing MVP season (31.5 Fantasy points per game!) were two huge facts: One, he used rushing stats to send his Fantasy stock into the stratosphere. Two, he was a late-round pick.
It would behoove you to remember one if not both of these things. For most of us, a quarterback running for 10 yards is the same as him passing for 25. That means if a quarterback can rack up 400 yards on the ground, it's the equivalent of an extra 1,000 yards through the air! You should want that.
Also, Jackson was the latest in a conga line of late-round/waiver-wire quarterbacks who became Fantasy darlings. A year before him, Patrick Mahomes was a league winner. Before that, Carson Wentz and Alex Smith and Dak Prescott and plenty more went from unknown and unwanted to amazing and awesome.
So in a year where quarterbacks are plentiful, you should focus on trying to find the NEXT Jackson or Mahomes. Learn the late-round guys, focus on the ones who do plenty of rushing, and spend a pick on someone who could become a league winner.
And that does not mean you shouldn't draft Jackson or Mahomes, either. You just shouldn't do it with a top-24 pick. Their expectations are through the roof, and Mahomes' 2019 is evidence that real football doesn't give a damn about Fantasy's expectations. Also an irritating fact: Fantasy hasn't had a quarterback repeat as the No. 1 point-getter since the early 2010s, and only three people since 2000 have accomplished the feat. Kinda dims the hopes for Jackson.
Taking them after 24th overall, and maybe closer to 30th overall, is recommended. If you get them, cool. If not, there are four more quarterbacks with nearly the same kind of expectations and not the same kind of draft cost. Those are the passers in the second tier. They all will run with the ball, they all have 30-score potential and they can be had as late as Round 6.
The consolation for missing on those quarterbacks is another high-upside rushing quarterback in Josh Allen and a duo of decidedly immobile passers in the third tier. Fortunately for Drew Brees and Tom Brady, they each have the arm and aggressive passing offenses to overcome that lack of rushing with a possible 4,700-yard, 30-touchdown season. And they can routinely be found after Round 8.
The fourth tier is nearly as juicy as the third tier, and the fifth tier is absolutely loaded with names you know and breakout candidates who you might learn about really quickly. All in all, there are 18 quarterbacks (!!) who you should feel comfortable starting in Week 1 in one-quarterback leagues.
It's why I'm going back to my ol' catch phrase for the position: YOU REACH, YOU LOSE.
You can't look stupid waiting for a quarterback in a league that starts one quarterback. But you sure can look stupid waiting for a quarterback in Superflex and 2QB leagues.
Mahomes and Jackson in Round 1 (more like the top five overall) is encouraged. The second tier is worth taking in the second round. And the third tier will be wiped out by the fourth round. I've seen Joe Burrow go as soon as Round 6 in a 2QB draft. If there are 10-plus teams and you can start two quarterbacks, then expect the talent pool to get soaked up fast.
In this case, consider the passers in the sixth tier to serve as the mid-round gems to hunt for like you would late-rounders in one-quarterback formats. Cheap price tag, good upside. You should get them.
And trust me, you're not reaching for quarterbacks in 2QB formats no matter what (unless you do something stupid like draft Mitchell Trubisky in Round 7 because that's just ridiculous).
One last word: The COVID-19 pandemic is sure to impact players in Fantasy. You need to consistently prepare your roster with a backup quarterback in case your starter is suddenly ruled out. For Jackson, that's as simple as carrying Robert Griffin III and hoping he could deliver 60% of Jackson's stats. For Mahomes or Murray or Watson, it means carrying a starting quarterback on another team since their backups are nowhere near as prolific. Whether your top gun plays on Thursday night or Monday night, it's on you to have a backup on your bench ready to go in case of emergency.
The bottom line
Quarterback is exceptionally deep.
You can win your league without spending a top-25 pick on a quarterback in one-QB leagues.
You might even be able to win your league without spending a top-100 pick on a quarterback in one-QB leagues.
You reach, you lose
If you feel like you're stealing a quarterback, you're doing it right.
Don't throw away your shot at a league winner -- consider carrying two quarterbacks. You might need the second one at a moment's notice.
Quarterbacks will go exceptionally sooner in Superflex/2QB leagues, be ready for it.
COVID-19 emergency plans must be made weekly.