Fantasy Football Under the Radar – QB – 2020
Derek Carr – Las Vegas Raiders
Whenever analysts start talking about the Las Vegas Raiders it inevitably turns to replacing Derek Carr, and frankly I just don’t understand. There is a herd mentality going on without watching him play or looking at the numbers. Carr is consistently accurate (career high 70.4% completions last season) and puts the ball on the numbers. He’s got great zip on the ball and compliments that with a nice touch when going deep.
Head coach Jon Gruden has consistently said Carr is the guy and yes, he’s supposed to, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to suggest he’s involved in a massive conspiracy to replace him. Las Vegas also signed Marcus Mariota and if that’s a supposed to be a sign that Carr now has competition, that’s not a plausible idea. Mariota isn’t a starting caliber quarterback. He does have excellent mobility that can get you through the second half (with the lead) in the event Carr goes down. Carr will be the starter for a long time.
Looking back at last season, Carr put up solid numbers. Are they knock your socks off, first round fantasy pick type of numbers? No, but he did top 4,000 passing yards for the second time in his career which was good for 8th in the league. His completion percentage was 2nd in the league along with a 7.9 yards per attempt average which put him in the top ten. The touchdown total of 21 was way off from his career high 32 but let’s also consider the loss of Antonio Brown. (I hate to include in him in any commentary but unfortunately is necessary).
Oakland was lacking weapons at the wide receiver position, but tight end Darren Waller has been a fantastic surprise. The addition of Nelson Agholor and Jason Witten add solid veterans to guide rookie Henry Ruggs III. The Raiders are starting to put together a supporting cast that will ultimately determine the caliber of quarterback that Derek Carr can be.
Don’t forget to check out our other Fantasy Football Under the Radar Players!
Daniel Jones – New York Giants
The Giants made the transition early to Daniel Jones and not a moment too soon for fans of the G-Men. After a quick appearance in week one, Jones took over week three and this offense never looked back. The Giants understandably focused on the short passing game (6.6 yards per attempt). This gave Jones a chance to learn the offense on Sunday’s as well as weekly work.
He was able to surprisingly minimize turnovers while running for his life with an offensive line that ranked middle of the pack. Speaking of speed, Jones is very mobile for a 6’5” quarterback and rushed for 279 yards and 2 TD’s. Most were not planned runs but Jones should still get you a couple points a week with his legs. Tackle Andrew Jones was selected with the 4th overall pick to solidify the offensive line.
Comparisons to Josh Allen, based on size and mobility are fair. If you look at Allen’s rookie year, you could be a little enthusiastic about Jones’s potential in his sophomore year. Both Jones and Allen played 12 full games in their respective rookie seasons, so the overall totals are comparable. Jones threw for 3,027 in his rookie year vs 2,074 for Allen two seasons ago, Jones had 24 TD passes vs 10 for Allen with both having 12 interceptions. Daniel Jones wins the rookie stat comparison by a country mile.
The Giants have a decent compliment of wide receivers. With Slayton, Tate and Shepherd as the top three, the Giants have a roster of complimentary level wide receivers but no true dominating number one. This does allow for Jones to confidently spread the ball around. The trio combined for 6 drops all season and I’d rather have a crew of guys who catch everything in a 3-block radius than paying $20 million to one guy. 2020 looks bright for Daniel Jones and he’s worth a roster spot and potential fantasy starter by mid-season.
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
After a monster year in 2018 with over 5,000 passing yards and 34 TD’s, the 2019 season was cut short by a brutal elbow injury on his throwing arm. Not the kind of injury a veteran quarterback was hoping for as his career winds down. The 38-year old towering quarterback has been a staple under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers for over a decade. Unfortunately he’s only played a full slate in 4 of 16 seasons.
Big Ben loves to hold onto the ball much longer than most quarterbacks, giving wide receivers the chance to create space. He also pays a physical price for his toughness. The Steelers offense capitalizes on the deep ball under Roethlisberger (why corners still bite on the patented pump fake I’ll never know). That was sorely missing with the veteran sidelined.
I’ve got a wait and see approach for Roethlisberger for the 2020 season. He is still recovering from a mystery surgery which may or may not have included reattaching tendons on his throwing elbow. Sounds gruesome but the rehab continues. This is a situation where a preseason game that tests arm strength is a prerequisite to make him your backup quarterback.
Until we see success in the first few weeks of the season, I can’t see slotting him in a starting lineup. The backup situation for the Steelers with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges splitting duties was less than spectacular. As Roethlisberger rolls so does every Pittsburgh skill position player in the fantasy world.
Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan is an NFL veteran in the true sense of the word. After 12 seasons under center for the Atlanta Falcons, he’s produced multiple seasons with 4,000+ passing yards and 25 or more TD passes. He still has a little mobility to make plays and the pocket awareness to make you think he could be a viable fantasy starter. More recent trending shows way too many whiffs on open receivers and inconsistency week to week.
Last season, he started on fire with six 300+ passing yard games and 15 TD’s even though the Falcons lost 5 of 6. Wins and losses in real games are irrelevant in fantasy terms but the psychology of it makes you think that losing equals poor fantasy numbers, but many times it’s the opposite. If they are scoring, then wins and losses don’t matter.
Mid-season came upon the Falcons and the team turned a corner. They went 6-2 to end the season and finished second in the division. During that time Ryan’s numbers dropped a little but he still averaged over 15 fantasy points a game. The struggle with Ryan is the ceiling is low but conversely, the floor is high. He averaged 17.8 fantasy points a week last year and in 10 of his 15 games played, he was +/- 3.5 fantasy points of his average.
So, Ryan is consistent, consistently average with a couple 3 or 4 TD’s games and a couple flops mixed in. There are plenty of weapons at the skill positions with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Todd Gurley is excellent out of the backfield and now two years removed from a serious knee problem. The wild card might be Hayden Hurst, who will more than compensate for the departure of Austin Hooper.