By Alex Kurpeski & Hunter Giordano
In fantasy football, the importance of the quarterback position is often underrated, as the margin between the QB1 and QB25 can often be a very small difference. However, with the rise of superflex leagues, the QB position is once again at the top of the food chain, as owners are now being driven to take passers early — and often — in their fantasy drafts. With a shiny new crop of QB prospects entering their names into this year’s draft class, it’s time to take a look at a few of the most fantasy relevant players on the board.
While some of these guys could become plug-and-play starters for your team in a redraft league, there are others whose fantasy football relevance will be relegated to dynasty leagues and taxi squads. So enough with the chit-chat, let’s take a look at the top-10 fantasy relevant QB prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft.
10. Mason Fine, North Texas
Pro Comparison: David Blough
Pro Ceiling: Case Keenum
Pro Floor: Tahj Boyd
Fine is as fine of a backup quarterback-type prospect as there is in this year’s class. He is undersized at 5’10, however Fine’s experience as a three-year starter for North Texas could be valuable to many NFL clubs looking to add a reliable arm to their QB room. Many insiders have compared him to Case Keenum, as Fine — like Keenum — comes from a small school with a pass-happy offense where he spent multiple years leading the offense. While Fine’s completion percentage fell to a career-low 62.1% (as a full-time starter), he was still very solid, throwing a career-high 29 touchdown passes during the 2019 season. With his combination of mobility, experience, and accuracy, Fine could very well be this year’s version of Gardner Minshew. That is assuming he makes it onto a team’s active roster and is then forced into action due to an injury. Regardless of the hurdles he may face in order to get to a fantasy relevant position, keep an eye on Fine over the summer, as he should figure out a way to stick with a team in a reserve role.
9. Steven Montez, Colorado
Pro Comparison: Mason Rudolph
Pro Ceiling: Dak Prescott
Pro Floor: Blaine Gabbert
Montez has NFL-grade arm strength and several years of starting experience. Unfortunately, his footwork is abhorrent and his collegiate production leaves a lot to be desired. With so many more accomplished and skilled passers in this class, it’s hard to see a team taking Montez with a high draft-choice. That being said, teams are easily swayed by good character and good workouts, so Montez will have a chance to convince some front offices that he is worth a shot as a developmental passer. With ideal measurements and some excuses for poor performance — the man played for Colorado, a program that has been smited by the football gods for three nearly decades — Montez could find himself as the next in-line for a starting spot on a team like the Raiders or Vikings. Montez displayed above average accuracy on deep throws and has put up decent stats considering the supporting cast outside of Shanault is far from NFL caliber. However, the biggest aspect of Montez’s game — for fantasy purposes — is his mobility, which is sneakily good. In his 4 years at Colorado, Montez ran for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 TDs, which may not seem all that good, but considering sacks in college count as negative rushing yards his numbers are solid for someone who’s taken nearly 100 sacks in his career. If given the opportunity to start, Montez could produce decent yardage totals in the right system, making him a passer with intriguing fantasy upside.
8. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Pro Comparison: Geno Smith
Pro Ceiling: Tyrod Taylor
Pro Floor: E.J Manuel
There were high hopes for Hurts heading into the 2019 season, as he took over as the starting QB for Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners, a team that had produced the previous two first overall picks in the NFL Draft (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). During his lone season in Norman, Hurts looked very good — not great — as he led the Sooners to a berth in the College Football Playoff. Hurts completed a career-high 69.7% of his passes while totaling 5,149 total yards and 52 touchdowns. Were it not for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s tremendous season, Hurts may very well have been the third consecutive Heisman winner for the Sooners.
While Hurts put up nice numbers this season, he faded hard down the stretch, throwing just four TD passes in his final four outings. With his struggles this week during practices for the Senior Bowl, it’s tough to see Hurts’ stock rising any time soon. However, hope is not lost for the former national champion, as his dual-threat ability could very well intrigue a team enough to select him with an early pick in this year’s draft, as his ascension to the NFL level comes on the heels of Lamar Jackson’s breakout campaign. Should Hurts find himself as a QB2 for an offensive-minded team — *clears throat* Chicago Bears — he could very well be a fantasy football factor sooner rather than later.
7. Anthony Gordon, Washington State
Pro Comparison: Sam Bradford
Pro Ceiling: Andy Dalton
Pro Floor: Luke Falk
For a guy that threw for 5,579 yards in his lone season as a college starter, Anthony Gordon has not garnered nearly enough attention to this point in the pre-draft process. While it’s easy to chalk up his production to the benefits of Mike Leach’s Air Raid scheme, Gordon was still mightily impressive in 2019, putting up better numbers than the man he replaced in Wazzu, Jaguars’ QB Gardner Minshew (Pro Football Focus’s highest-graded rookie passer in 2019).
Gordon in 2019:
Minshew in 2018:
While the Cougars were more successful with Minshew under-center, this can be attributed more to the talent surrounding him rather than the performance of the quarterback himself. Gordon has turned a lot of heads at Senior Bowl practices, with PFF rating him as the best player they have graded thus far. While he is a bit frail at 205 lbs and also comes from a wonky passing scheme, Gordon’s accuracy and ability to lead an offense should not be questioned. With such a steep drop-off after the top 6 prospects in this class, Gordon could very well be a late-round steal with the potential to become a starting QB in the long term.
6. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Pro Comparison: Derek Carr
Pro Ceiling: Alex Smith
Pro Floor: Brian Hoyer
Fromm has played in some of the biggest games at Georgia, including 11 contests against ranked opponents over the past 2 seasons. Fromm capped off his collegiate career with a solid game versus Baylor, throwing for 250 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs. This game seems to display his strengths perfectly, as he is a QB who isn’t going to air the ball out — like Patrick Mahomes — but is going to make very few mistakes (5 Int in 2019, 18 in his career) while completing passes at a high clip (63.3% for his career). With his low-risk style of play comes the downside to Fromm’s game, as he does not put up eye-popping stats very often, throwing more than four touchdowns in a game just twice in his career as a starter. Simply put, Fromm is not an elite prospect, as he plays to his strengths while avoiding his weaknesses to an extreme point. A game-manager through and through, Fromm is a capable low tier starting quarterback who will rarely be an in-demand fantasy asset, even if he manages to usurp a starting role.
5. Jacob Eason, Washington
Pro Comparison: Jacoby Brissett
Pro Ceiling: Carson Palmer
Pro Floor: Mike Glennon
If this were 20 years ago, Eason would have been the consensus number one overall pick, as his combination of size and strength are the epitome of an NFL grade pocket passer. Unfortunately for the Washington product — by way of Georgia — we now live in an era where mobility is a key to success for most passers, and standing in the pocket like a statue is a one way ticket to Sacktown — located next to Sacksonville and Blitzburgh.
Eason is a bit like the discounted version of Oregon QB Justin Herbert, as both passers are tall and possess immense arm talent while also being fairly inconsistent. Maybe this is simply the nature of the Pac-12 QB. Unlike Herbert, Eason lacks the long-term starting experience as well as the sneaky mobility necessary to escape pressure and improvise when protection breaks down. While Eason is big and sturdy at 6’5, 235 lbs, even the biggest statues can crumble when they get hit too much. Eason is a bit too much of a project for my liking, however his appeal to NFL teams in need of a developmental passer is obvious. Should he land with a team like the Patriots or Buccaneers, Eason could very well develop into a tremendous QB for fantasy football purposes.
4. Jordan Love, Utah State
Pro Comparison: Jameis Winston
Pro Ceiling: Carson Wentz
Pro Floor: Brett Hundley
Love is just the latest small school prospect to splash onto draft boards across the league, thanks mostly to his similarities in play-style to Patrick Mahomes and his utterly dominant 2018 campaign that saw him throw 32 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. While there was some regression in 2019 — his TD to INT ratio dropped to 20:17 — Love had to deal with the departure of HC Matt Wells and several starting receivers. Few prospects in this class possess the upside that Love has, and some team will certainly talk themselves into taking him early in the draft. While he may not be ready to start immediately, Love should be an intriguing dynasty league stash for anyone looking for the next big thing.
3. Justin Herbert, Oregon
Pro Comparison: Jay Cutler
Pro Ceiling: Ben Roethlisberger
Pro Floor: Blake Bortles
When I look at Justin Herbert’s tape, I see so many failed former top draft picks. I also see numerous Hall of Fame caliber passers, who like Herbert faced criticism about their decision-making when going through the pre-draft process. Not since Mitchell Trubisky has there been a more divisive QB prospect. With similarities to players like Ben Roethlisberger and Blake Bortles, there is a vast array of different outcomes possible for Herbert in his NFL career, all of which will depend on where he lands in this draft.
A traditional pocket passer, Herbert is not the mobile, throw-on-the-run type of quarterback that has become trendy in the modern NFL, although he is faster than we tend to give him credit for. Herbert reminds me a lot of Daniel Jones, with just a bit more polish and upside, although he appears to get flustered much easier than Jones. Oregon QBs have not had the best track record in the NFL, so this is yet another thing that will work against Herbert’s favor. Should the 6’6, 230 lb signal-caller land with a team like Indianapolis or Los Angeles (Chargers), he could very well develop into a premier NFL QB, thanks to the infrastructure of the organizations and their commitment to building a team before taking a QB. However, landing with a team like the Dolphins or the Broncos could spell doom for the Oregon product before he can even lace up his cleats. With a prospect as polarizing as Herbert, it’s hard to project him as anything more than a nice dynasty league stash at this point.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Pro Comparison: Baker Mayfield
Pro Ceiling: Steve Young
Pro Floor: Teddy Bridgewater
Tua Tagovailoa may be the most beloved NFL draft prospect in recent memory, as the former Crimson Tide signal caller has really endeared himself to fans in virtually every market despite suiting up for Nick Saban’s squad. This undersized yet explosive passer has drawn comparisons to every great NFL QB this side of 6’2. With a cannon for an arm and plenty of mobility, the left-handed Hawaiian reminds me so much of 49ers’ great Steve Young, with flashes of more contemporary passers like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson sprinkled in.
Although he will likely be taken by a team such as the Miami Dolphins — a team with very little talent on the roster as of January 2020 — Tagovailoa’s upside in the long-term is as high as any passer in this draft class. While it’s unclear whether the hip injury he suffered this past November will allow him to suit up immediately for an NFL team, Tua will be worth a stash in deeper re-draft formats off the bat thanks to his dynamic skill-set and experience starting in big games. Should he get a chance to start during his rookie season, it would be shocking to see Tagovailoa produce at a level above QB2 territory, as he adapts to the NFL game.
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
Pro Comparison: Young Peyton Manning
Pro Ceiling: Tom Brady
Pro Floor: Matt Schaub
Who could have predicted Burrow’s progression from 2018 to 2019? One look at his stats and you would swear these were two different quarterbacks entirely.
|*2015||Ohio State||Big Ten||FR||QB|
|*2016||Ohio State||Big Ten||FR||QB||5||22||28||78.6||226||8.1||9.5||2||0||169.9|
|*2017||Ohio State||Big Ten||SO||QB||5||7||11||63.6||61||5.5||5.5||0||0||110.2|
The leaps that Burrow made as a passer en route to winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy breach upon uncharted territory, as he improved his completion percentage by almost 20% while doubling his yardage output and quadrupling his touchdown production. With this unreal breakout in his fifth year of eligibility, you wouldn’t be crazy to write off Burrow as simply a one-hit wonder. However, the tape does not lie. Burrow is an absolute baller, as he is as precise a passer as there is in this class, with big game chops to boot. We’re comparing him to Peyton Manning in this article, mostly due to their size similarities and the mechanical precision of their techniques from the pocket.
It’s safe to pencil in Burrow as the Bengals selection at number one overall, as he is a perfect fit for Zac Taylor’s offense — descended from the one that has made Jared Goff one of the highest paid QBs in the league — while also bringing the charm and charisma necessary for a franchise passer (something that Andy Dalton severely lacks). Burrow should immediately slot in as a QB2 for fantasy purposes, with a chance to become a top-ten player at the position by the end of his rookie campaign.