Fantasy Football Busts – Quarterbacks – 2020
Sam Darnold – New York Jets
The Jets offense can be summed up as no room to run and no time to pass. An offensive line ranking toward the bottom of the league isn’t surprising but to their credit, they were very aggressive in free agency to re-tool the trenches. They also drafted Mekhi Becton, a 6’7” 364-pound offensive tackle. Time will tell if the investment works. Darnold has troubles of this own and fixing the offensive line is just one step to rejuvenating an offense that was second to last in points scored last year.
Darnold throws way too much while fading away or stepping backwards, frankly there is just no zip on the ball. His poor mechanics coupled with average arm strength are just the beginning of the problem. At 6’3” you’d think he wouldn’t have so many balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. Darnold has some work to do to adjust arm angles and look off defensive backs, instead of starring down his target from the snap to release. Year one to year two showed very little statistical improvement in the major categories. He had a slight increase in passing yards, two more TD’s (17 to 19) and a completion % about 4 points higher. Baby steps, I guess.
Fantasy quarterback success is built on the weapons around them and the Jets have little star power. Le’Veon Bell was a product of the Steelers system and superior supporting personnel. The signing of Breshad Perriman after losing Robby Anderson isn’t much of an upgrade. Darnold will continue to struggle and rumblings of preparing for his replacement may start in the second half of this season. The Jets signed Joe Flacco as a backup, but he could find himself on the field by mid-season.
Don’t forget to check out our other Fantasy Football Busts!
Philip Rivers – Indianapolis Colts
Rivers traded one of the worst offensive lines in Los Angeles for one of the best in Indianapolis. It’s going to take more than that, a miracle in my estimation, for Philip Rivers to leave the league on a high note. With time to throw Rivers is capable but exceptionally inaccurate when forced to leave the pocket. His arm looks weak, has zero mobility and by mid-season may reconsider retirement. The Indianapolis coaching staff, Reich specifically, has stated he doesn’t see any diminishing of Rivers skill set. I’ve watched film as well and Reich better get his eyes checked.
Can you blame Rivers for giving it a go one more time? A team is going to gift you a $25 million one-year contract to prep Jacob Eason for 2021, I’d take it too. But I’m not convinced Rivers is an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett. Rivers certainly has the experience advantage. Over 14 seasons as starter, he’s proven ironman status after playing a 16-game season every year since becoming the Chargers lead guy. The addition of Rivers could help the skill position players but will have no fantasy value himself this season. The Colts made their bet with a new quarterback, new running back and new wide receiver rookies, but it’ll be a while before they’re on the field together and yielding high quality fantasy weeks.
Jimmy Garoppolo – San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo managed to lead his team to the Super Bowl and almost won it. If it wasn’t for the pesky quarterback play of that young kid, the 49ers would be Super Bowl champs. And that’s what fantasy football is all about, passing yards and passing TD’s. Garoppolo is efficient in a short, crisp passing game but rarely takes chances and therefore reaps few rewards.
Running back and tight end screen are a staple for this offense as well as the run (498 rush attempts vs 478 pass attempts overall in 2019). Garoppolo averaged 15.5 fantasy points a game last season which puts him outside the top twenty and therefore barely backup material. The 2020 outlook isn’t much better even though Trent Williams anchoring the offensive line will help, but this isn’t a passing team.
Jarrett Stidham / Cam Newton – New England Patriots
The New England Patriots relied on essentially two quarterbacks since 1993, Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady. This is the first season in nearly three decades where there is an open competition for the top job. Cam Newton joins the mix along with a second-year man with a marginal college career, a journeyman veteran whose had a few chances to secure a starting job and has failed to do so, and a rookie who regressed two years in a row for a struggling Michigan State Spartans program. If there is a rabbit in Bill Belichick’s hat, now is the time to pull it out.
Stidham was a one-year starter at Baylor as a freshman and two-year starter at Auburn University. His season high in TD’s was 18 and passing yards was 3,158, not exactly heir apparent numbers. Brian Hoyer will take a few preseason snaps but if history is any indicator, he have zero shot at leading this offense to any level of competency. This really leaves Cam Newton and the myriad of question marks surrounding the veteran entering his 10th season. It’s a wait and see how camp and preseason games go but I’m a seller on all New England quarterbacks.