Over here at Fantasy Football Today HQ -- which is really more a head space than a physical space at this point -- we're in the process of putting the Spring issue of the CBS Sports Fantasy Football Draft Guide with Beckett Sports this week. That will be on newsstands in June with original content from the whole FFT team -- and that's really the first time we have to put things in ink. That means you're getting our first real run through the final rankings in that issue.
This whole week in the newsletter, I'll be going position by position to break them down. Obviously, these will change between now and draft prep season, but this is the baseline we'll be working from the rest of the way, so it's good to get familiar.
I've got Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings and my updated QB rankings, with our consensus as well as each individual's rankings as of today. I'll go through those in this newsletter, highlighting where we agree -- a lot at the top -- and where we disagree -- pretty much constantly outside of the top six.
Plus, I've got some more big questions coming out of the draft, focusing today on each team in the AFC East and West divisions. If you've got questions about the rankings or have any questions of your own, hit me up at Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com to get your answers. And now, here's the state of the QB position as of May 4.
- If Patrick Mahomes is the clear QB1, who the heck is QB2? Is Trevor Lawrence top 15? We break that down on the Fantasy Football Today podcast. Listen below and follow at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts:
Updated QB Rankings
I figure the best way to do this is to go 12 quarterbacks at a time and highlight the most interesting things about each range. Between the four of us, we've got 35 quarterbacks accounted for, with eight QBs being left out of at least one of our lists. Those guys are obviously mostly around the bottom of the rankings, while the top of the rankings feature quite a bit of agreement. The following rankings are listed by the overall consensus of our four rankings, and among the top 12 in that consensus, only two were not ranked somewhere in the top 12 for all four of us.
QB Rankings, 1-12
- No surprise at the top: It's Patrick Mahomes. We're starting to get to the point with him where Mike Trout has been in Fantasy Baseball for the better part of a decade -- he might not end up as the No. 1 QB by the end of the season, but if he isn't, it will take injury or someone else's career year to top him.
- There's no consensus at No. 2, but Josh Allen comes in no worse than No. 3 for any of us, so he's the obvious choice for the second spot. However, it's worth noting that Allen, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray all ranked No. 2 for someone -- in my case, Murray is No. 2, followed by Allen and Jackson. I just think he has the best combination of passing and rushing skills, and the addition of Rondale Moore could really help this passing game go to the next level.
- The first interesting disagreement comes with Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert. Wilson is my No. 5 QB, while he's No. 8 for both Dave and Jamey; they both have Herbert and Aaron Rodgers ahead of Wilson. Meanwhile, I've got Herbert 12th. I'll be honest, I don't feel great about it, but I think it would be a bit of a fallacy to assume he has to take a step forward in Year 2. Progress isn't always linear, and I think Herbert probably won't repeat last year's five rushing touchdowns, a sneaky source of value for him. I don't think he'll be bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I think he probably comes down to earth just a tad. It could make me look really dumb.
- I'm also on a bit of an island with QB9, Jalen Hurts. Or, rather, Dave and I just really disagree about him. I realize QB7 is an aggressive ranking, but he was a historically productive college rusher -- better at Oklahoma than Kyler Murray was -- and was excellent in that regard as a rookie. He won't be an elite passer, but he'll be one of the three or four most productive rushers at the position, and that's hugely valuable.
- And then there's Deshaun Watson. If we knew he was going to be cleared of all wrongdoing and would play in 2021, I would imagine he wouldn't be any lower than No. 5 for any of us. However, at this point, I don't feel good about having him 13th -- I think there's a decent chance he just doesn't play in 2021. And we've heard some whispers reported that some around the league expect that. I think it's exceedingly unlikely he plays all 17 games.
QB Rankings, 13-24
- The biggest disparity so far is with Heath having Matt Ryan ranked 17th, and he and I talked about why that is on the April 1 episode of Fantasy Football Today. Essentially, Heath thinks Arthur Smith, the new head coach and former Titans offensive coordinator, is going to push them pretty heavily in the run-first direction. However, after watching them almost entirely eschew the RB position in the draft after adding generational TE talent Kyle Pitts, I think they're still going to throw plenty. Maybe I'm being too overzealous in projecting Ryan to lead the league in attempts, but I just look at it like this: Arthur Smith is a smart coach, and he has to know every carry by Mike Davis means he isn't putting the ball in the hands of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley or Pitts, and that's a bad thing.
- I'm the low guy on Trevor Lawrence, Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford, which is interesting, because I don't feel like I'm low on any of them. Well, maybe on Tannehill, who has exactly one proven receiver to work with right now. He's been awesome since landing with the Titans, but because his pass volume is so low, he has to be consistently extraordinary to be a starting Fantasy QB. That might be asking too much with his current weapons.
- You can see some of the assumptions we're making in this stretch -- I'm ranking Justin Fields and Cam Newton as if they'll start the whole season until I have a good reason not to, while Dave and Jamey seem to think there's a pretty good chance Newton loses his job to Mac Jones at some point; Jamey also doesn't seem to think Fields will play the whole season. Those are fair assumptions, and I'll adjust if more information comes to light.
- I'm high on Tua Tagovailoa for the same reason I'm low-ish on Tannehill -- I love the weapons he has at his disposal. Maybe I'm guilty of take lock, but I also thought he was a comparable prospect to Joe Burrow coming out, and he's not the one coming off a serious injury this season. I have Burrow ranked higher, but with Will Fuller, Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, Tagovailoa has a pretty impressive collection of downfield playmakers, with Fuller and Waddle especially carrying the potential to score from anywhere on the field. I think he makes a big leap.
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QB Rankings, 25-35
- You can see some other assumptions happening here: Jamey and Heath have Taysom Hill starting for the Saints, while I'm going with Jameis Winston. And I think he could be excellent in that offense. I know about his accuracy and decision making issues, but I also know his aggressive style of play has historically led to a ton of Fantasy points. I have Winston as my QB14, and -- spoiler alert -- I've got Michael Thomas as my WR2. I think either Hill or Winston would be a borderline No. 1 QB if they started, but I'm rooting for Winston because I think he would be much, much better for the rest of the offense.
- If I was to project Trey Lance to start for the 49ers, he would probably end up in the high-20s, but I have a hard time seeing the 49ers turning to him at the beginning of the season given his lack of experience and leaving Lance on the bench until next season.
- As you can see, there is not collectively much hope for Sam Darnold or Drew Lock to turn things around. I'd love to see both, because I love the weapons around them, but I can't expect it until I see a reason to.
Biggest Questions: AFC East, West
Bills -- Do any of the RB have value?
The passing game seems pretty much set, and Josh Allen will hopefully be able to sustain his breakout -- if he doesn't nothing else will matter much here because this offense will disappoint. But even if the offense is great, it hasn't been particularly great for running backs -- the Bills had the second-fewest PPR points from their running backs in 2020 and they've never ranked higher than 30th in the Allen era. If either Devin Singletary or Zack Moss could emerge with, say, 65% of the RB work, that probably wouldn't even be enough to make them much more than a No. 3 RB. With no clear sense of how the work will be split, I'm comfortable fading both.
Dolphins -- How many targets does Jaylen Waddle get?
Waddle came out shockingly low in my first run through my projections, coming in at WR69. It's possible he's good enough immediately to push DeVante Parker as the No. 2 target for the Dolphins, but I'm worried he might not get enough work to be more than a frustratingly inconsistent Fantasy option. The upside is obviously incredibly high, especially if Tua Tagovailoa takes a step forward and looks for his former 'Bama teammate early and often. But I wouldn't be willing to pay a premium for Waddle to find out.
Patriots -- Is there enough talent here in the passing game?
The Patriots invested a lot in their passing game this offseason, adding Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne … and it still doesn't look like enough, does it? They may choose to push Mac Jones into the starting role to see what he can give them immediately, but I'm not sure the combination of QB and weapons would really be all that enticing. This offense is still a stay-away for me.
Jets -- How long until the rookies are the focal point of the offense?
Those rookies are Zach Wilson, Michael Carter and Elijah Moore, by the way. Wilson will start from Week 1, and Carter could absolutely be the lead back by then -- his only real competition is Tevin Coleman, who doesn't really move the needle anymore. Moore currently has the most competition for targets, but that could change quickly if the Jets decide to move on from Jamison Crowder. There are actually reasons to be excited about the Jets offense for the first time in a long time, and these rookies are key to that.
Chiefs -- Can Clyde-Edwards Helaire get more involved?
Or, rather, will the Chiefs get CEH more involved? He was actually plenty involved in the offense as a rookie, averaging 13.9 carries and 4.2 targets per game in the regular season but regularly ceded playing time starting in Week 7 and was often playing behind Darrell Williams in the two playoff games. He was recovering from a pretty serious injury then, so that could change in 2021, but it's fair to wonder if the reduced role from Week 7 on reflected a certain level of disappointment in last year's first-rounder. There's plenty to like about Edwards-Helaire if he can get back to that 14-carry, four-target rate again, and it might be worth buying in with his price falling.
Chargers -- Can Justin Herbert avoid a sophomore slump?
Herbert had just a 3.7% TD rate and 6.7 yards per attempt over the final six weeks of his rookie season, so he already hit the proverbial rookie wall. Can he avoid the similarly cliched sophomore slump? The good news is, the Chargers have recognized the need to get him help, adding three starters to the offensive line and drafting WR Josh Palmer from Tennessee in the third round this offseason. The Chargers did not just rest on their laurels, and that should mean good things for Herbert's chances of continuing his development.
Raiders -- What does the RB split look like?
The Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake on a not insignificant contract -- two years, $11 million, with all of that money guaranteed. So, he's not just gonna be a third-down back. He'll split out wide occasionally and line up next to Josh Jacobs in the backfield from time to time, too. It's possible those two coexist happily, both getting enough touches to be Fantasy relevant without it being too much of a zero-sum game. However, I worry Jacobs is likely to go back to being an afterthought in the passing game, and that makes his margin for error as a Fantasy option awfully slim. In 2019, he rushed for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games and was just RB15 per game. He would need an outlier touchdown season to be an RB1 if the split works out like I fear.
Broncos -- Can Drew Lock be good enough?
The Broncos have no shortage of intriguing Fantasy options, from Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams in the backfield to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant and KJ Hamler in the passing game. But that's a lot of mouths to feed, and it's pretty rare to see that many Fantasy relevant players on a bottom 10 offense -- the Broncos ranked 28th in scoring in 2020 and are averaging 21.1 points per game in Lock's full starts, which would've ranked just 24th in 2020. They've given him all the weapons he needs, but if Lock continues to play erratically, this team is going to disappoint a lot of people -- at least until Teddy Bridgewater comes in to replace him, if it comes to that.