- The Texans’ DeShaun Watson moves up one spot to 5.
- A slew of positive camp reports push the Bills’ Josh Allen up to 8.
- An improved group of pass-catchers and a sense that the Saints’ continuity will pay dividends this season has Drew Brees up to 11.
- The Eagles’ Carson Wentz drops to 12 after not only suffering his own lower-body issue but seeing injuries weaken his WR corps and his offensive line.
Keep in mind that things can and will continue to change rapidly, particularly in the event of injuries, new developments with the novel coronavirus pandemic and/or personnel moves. Thus I’ve embedded my overall rankings at the bottom, which will update frequently between now and the start of the regular season.
1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (bye week: 8)
So far I have picked last year’s highest-scoring RB, WR and, now, QB to repeat at No. 1. I don’t feel great about that, in part because it almost certainly won’t happen in all three cases, but then again, Christian McCaffrey, Michael Thomas and Jackson were ridiculously far ahead of the No. 2 scorers at their respective positions, and conditions don’t appear to have changed all that much. If anything, as with McCaffrey’s Panthers offense, the Ravens could be even more dangerous in Jackson’s second full year at the helm, and the former Heisman winner has room to improve as a passer.
2. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (10)
Not much needs to be said here, except that if you wanted to draft Mahomes over Jackson, even at No. 1 overall in a 2QB/superflex league, you would not be remotely crazy to do so.
3. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (10)
The massive leap Prescott took last season, resulting in a No. 2 finish at his position, did not compel Dallas to give him a long-term contract extension, but it should encourage you to consider him a top-flight fantasy option. That’s all the more true following the Cowboys’ drafting of elite WR prospect CeeDee Lamb, who helps give Prescott the best set of weapons of his career.
4. Kyler Murray, Cardinals (8)
Just the sixth QB and second rookie (after Cam Newton) to throw for more than 3,500 yards and run for more than 500 yards in a season, Murray has nowhere to go but up in the second year of Kliff Kingsbury’s offense and first with all-world WR DeAndre Hopkins.
5. Deshaun Watson, Texans (8)
Watson lost Hopkins but still has a pretty good-looking group of receivers (Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, various Johnsons at RB) and is a solid bet to post a top-five finish at QB for a third straight year.
6. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (6)
We can chant #FreeRuss until we, like some Seahawks fans on game day, are blue in the face, but Pete Carroll’s squad will likely never unleash the QB’s talents to their fullest. Good thing for Seattle and the fantasy community that Wilson is a magical being capable of conjuring big numbers from a relatively small amount of opportunities, and he looks to have better help than usual from his WRs (Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf) and TEs (Greg Olsen, Will Dissly).
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons (10)
A top-10 fantasy QB much more often than not over the past decade, Ryan again looks set to be among the league leaders in pass attempts while enjoying the benefits of playing in a dome.
8. Josh Allen, Bills (11)
Allen’s legs give him plenty of fantasy value, but his arm remains a question mark, and his ceiling could be capped if Buffalo is able to ride its top-tier defense to low-scoring victories.
9. Tom Brady, Buccaneers (13)
Normally, I wouldn’t be very excited about a 43-year-old switching teams during a pandemic-altered offseason that would seem to favor continuity. Brady, though, has been proactive about trying to get on the same page with his new teammates, and, more significantly, he will have old favorite Rob Gronkowski to go with an elite WR duo in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, plus a “no risk it, no biscuit” play-caller in Coach Bruce Arians.
10. Matthew Stafford, Lions (5)
Before a back injury ended his 2019 season after eight games, Stafford was the QB6 on the strength of a surprisingly aggressive passing attack that resulted in a career-best mark of 8.6 yards per attempt. He figures to take a step back from that level of efficiency while still having some tempting targets downfield, so slotting Stafford in as a low-end QB1 makes sense.
11. Drew Brees, Saints (6)
Sort of the anti-Jones, from a roll-of-the-dice perspective, Brees offers a very safe floor for production and, as noted, the kind of continuity New Orleans boasts should be valued by drafters.
12. Carson Wentz, Eagles (9)
While Wentz’s efficiency has dropped off sharply since his MVP-caliber campaign was cut short in 2018, he still was able to post QB9 numbers last year after playing in all 16 games for the first time since he was a rookie. We can hope that healthy trend continues for Wentz this year, and expected improvement in his receiving corps should boost him a couple of notches.
13. Cam Newton, Patriots (6)
What’s nice is that the 2015 MVP doesn’t have to be an exact replica of his old self to return plenty of value at his current ADP, and it’s not hard to imagine Bill Belichick licking his chops at the thought of the schemes and gadget plays he can unveil to get the most out of Newton’s skills.
14. Daniel Jones, Giants (11)
If your league heavily penalizes turnovers, you may want to downgrade Jones a bit. Otherwise, he’s worth a gamble that he’ll have more of his high points — three games last year with 300 yards passing, four touchdowns and no interceptions, as many as the combined total of all rookie QBs in NFL history — and more help from a very talented supporting cast that rarely was at full strength in 2019.
15. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (8)
It was just two years ago that Roethlisberger finished as the No. 3 QB in fantasy while leading the NFL in passing yards, so this ranking reflects some concerns about his age (38), his surgically repaired elbow and the chance that Pittsburgh runs a more conservative offense than in 2018.
16. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (5)
By drafting a QB and giving every indication of moving to a run-heavy attack, Green Bay seems to preparing for life without the 36-year-old Rodgers on its roster. We probably should follow suit.
17. Ryan Tannehill, Titans (7)
I’ve mentioned efficiency a couple of times already, but nobody came close to Tannehill in that regard last year, as he led the NFL in yards per attempt (9.6) and was second in touchdown percentage (7.7). It will be tough, if not impossible, to keep that up, and his out-of-nowhere play came over just 12 games and 10 starts with his new team in Tennessee, so I’ll need to see it again before I believe it.
18. Jared Goff, Rams (9)
After a pair of top-12 seasons that coincided with Sean McVay’s arrival in Los Angeles, Goff’s numbers tumbled in 2019 while his coach’s beloved 3-WR scheme appeared to have been solved to some degree by opponents. McVay began moving away from those formations and figures to use more 2-TE sets this year, getting both Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett on the field, which could give defenses some new challenges.
19. Baker Mayfield, Browns (9)
There’s a fair amount of post-hype appeal in Mayfield, who might benefit greatly from Cleveland’s switch from the overmatched Freddie Kitchens to new coach Kevin Stefanski.
20. Joe Burrow, Bengals (9)
The No. 1 overall pick this year after setting the NCAA record book ablaze at LSU, Burrow has all sorts of weapons in Cincinnati, figures to be playing from behind a lot, and can even pull the ball down and run. A relative lack of preparation this offseason, combined with lingering questions about his offensive line, keep Burrow down this low, but it would not be a shock if he quickly proves worthy of fantasy lineups.
21. Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (13)
22. Gardner Minshew II, Jaguars (7)
23. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (11)
24. Kirk Cousins, Vikings (7)
25. Derek Carr, Raiders (6)
26. Tyrod Taylor, Chargers (10)
27. Drew Lock, Broncos (8)
28. Philip Rivers, Colts (7)
29. Sam Darnold, Jets (11)
30. Dwayne Haskins, Washington (8)
31. Nick Foles, Bears (11)
32. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (11)
33. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (11)
34. Mitch Trubisky, Bears (11)
35. Justin Herbert, Chargers (10)
36. Jameis Winston, Saints (13)