6 Divisive Quarterbacks, and When to Draft Them

6 quarterback situations where our experts have a wide-range of opinions, and how you should handle them on draft day.

You don’t need us to tell you Patrick Mahomes II and Lamar Jackson are this year's top two quarterbacks. We might not agree on which one is first, but we almost all agree they're in an elite tier by themselves. Even if we made a case for another quarterback, you probably wouldn’t listen to us.

In a similar vein, it's possible Sam Darnold or Derek Carr or Gardner Minshew emerge as top-12 options, but almost no one is going to draft them that way. Whether we see them as QB25 or QB28 or QB30 isn’t relevant to you on draft day. They'll all be very late picks as someone's QB2 or waiver wire fodder.

But what about those quarterbacks who will be drafted in most leagues, but there isn't a consensus view? At Footballguys, unlike many sites, we allow all of our staff to share their rankings. In fact, we encourage it. But the reality is most subscribers focus on the consensus of all of our disparate viewpoints. With someone like Mahomes, where 15 of 15 rankers have him No. 1 or No. 2, our individual opinions don’t matter much. But what about the players you’re targeting who we see quite differently?

Those are the picks that can make or break your draft. When you’re on the clock, and someone we have ranked at No. 7 is on the board, do you reach for him a round earlier than ADP, or do you lean toward letting him fall?

With the draft season underway, here are the highest-variance quarterback debates and how you should handle them.


Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rank Name Avg Median St Dev Min Rank Max Rank Difference bw Min Max
7 Tom Brady 8.7 8.0 3.1 4 16 12

The Details: On average, 15 staff members ranked Brady 8.7, although that slots as QB7 by virtue of being the 7th-highest average ranking. The median ranking is 8, but only two staff have him there. One brave ranker sees Brady returning to the top-5 (QB4) for the first time since 2017, while a naysayer thinks Brady is no better than a league-average starter (QB16). There's a hefty 3.1 standard deviation, with 12 ranking slots separating the highest and lowest staff. The dispersion is something to behold, as Brady holds at least one spot at QB4, QB5, QB6, QB7, QB8, QB9, QB10, QB11, QB13, and QB16. Nine of fifteen staff rank Brady lower than his ADP, while only three rank him higher.

The Upside Case by Joe Bryant: This one isn't a surprise but the guy I'm planting my flag with this year is Tom Brady. It's the classic "Was it the system or the athlete?" question. Or the bigger, "Teacher or the pupil?" drama. And it's fascinating. I suspect the answer there is the same as it usually is: It's both. Belichick is great. Brady is great. The reason I'm all in on Brady with this though is the dramatic upgrade in surrounding talent. He's going from a situation where Julian Edelman was far and away the best receiver to a team where Rob Gronkowski is arguably the fourth-best receiver. Bruce Arians may not be Bill Belichick. But he's entirely capable. Byron Leftwich as OC and Todd Bowles running the defense is exciting. This is a really good team and staff. The announced death of Brady's arm is way premature. He's never had freakish arm talent. He's simply just a great quarterback. The big worry will be adapting to a new team. That's a worry any year, but especially in 2020. A familiar Rob Gronkowski will help there. Brady's always played the game with a mental over physical aspect and that should serve him well here as he acclimates. Last but not least, it'll be incredibly fun. It's an age-old story and I'm here for it.

The Downside Case by Ryan Hester: There's no need to draft a mid-tier pass-only quarterback in fantasy football. Want a better shot at top-three production? Draft a quarterback earlier. Better yet, draft a couple of quarterbacks later that have a combination of decent weapons and rushing ability. Players like Patrick Mahomes II II (two seasons ago), Lamar Jackson (last year), Russell Wilson and Cam Newton early in their careers, and even Robert Griffin III III as a rookie are examples of later-round quarterbacks with passing limitations that ended up winning people their fantasy leagues. Brady isn't getting his fantasy GMs elite quarterback production. Don't play it safe. Aim higher.

Conclusion: You Can Do Better

It won't surprise any of us if Brady finds his new surroundings, system, and the best collection of skill players he's had since Randy Moss and company, and thrives. Very few of us think he'll be a bust. But there are two definitive QB1 tiers this year. There is the Mahomes/Jackson duo at the top, and they justify early draft picks in most formats. Then there's a consensus 3rd through 6th of Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson. There's not a lot of agreement on which of those four should be No. 3, but almost everyone agrees they're the next tier and will be off the board before anyone else at the position. Do you really want to be the person who takes the 7th quarterback? That's fantasy no man's land, particularly given the unprecedented depth at the position.


Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Rank Name Avg Median St Dev Min Rank Max Rank Difference bw Min Max
10 Carson Wentz 10.5 10.0 4.2 7 23 16

The Details: On average, our staff ranks Wentz 10.5, as QB10. It's also the median ranking among 15 rankers. Our average ranking is a full 1.5 position spots higher than his current ADP (QB12), although there's extreme volatility in how our staff sees the Eagles quarterback. Three staff rank him QB7 -- aka, the next best thing after the consensus Top 6 are taken. Four more rankers have him QB8. Twelve of fifteen staff rank Wentz in the Top 12 and ten of those have him 10th or higher. Only three staff project Wentz to finish below his current ADP. He's one of the most volatile signal-callers with a 4.2 standard deviation.

The Upside Case by James Brimacombe: The Eagles passing offense was completely banged up during the second half of last season as Wentz really only had his two tight ends to rely on getting the ball to. Even with all the injuries to the wide receiver position, Wentz still found a way to lead the Eagles to the NFC East title and finish as the QB8 last season with over 600 passing attempts for 4,039 yards and 27 passing touchdowns. Heading into the 2020 season, the Eagles have been trying to build up the receiving talent for Wentz, adding Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins in the draft. Add in Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson coming back from injury along with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with a potential rebound season. Don't forget about the emergence of Miles Sanders who caught 50 passes for 509 yards and 3 touchdowns and the best duo of tight ends in the league in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Wentz has all the weapons heading into the year and has a great shot at finishing as a top-five quarterback this season.

The Downside Case by Matt Waldman: If I believe Wentz would stay healthy for consecutive seasons, I would rank him between Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan as the No. 11 passer. I can't make that projection in good faith based on Wentz's track record for placing himself in harm's way in the pocket. He lacks a true feel for how to protect himself when it comes to his stance and falling to the ground. He's a good quarterback with an excellent scheme fit and surrounding talent, but he's below average at managing his risks on the field.

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