The Gut Check No.513: Waldman's 2020 All-Nostradamus Squad

Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Nick, Chubb, and A.J. Brown are among several Waldman alumni. Who is on this year's team?

Everyone has a specialty. Two years ago, in January, I was sitting next to a wildly successful high-stakes daily fantasy player watching an AFC playoff game and trying my best to be polite. His specialty was the game of daily fantasy, and he has won millions of dollars from learning the ins and outs of that game.

His specialty earns him a lot more money from football than mine. I admire his achievements in that realm.

He's skilled at gaming a system to earn money. This isn't a derogatory characterization. It's just a fact about what he does.

It's also a fact that when you compare his specialty with mine, he doesn't understand football.

He makes a living off a subset of fantasy football using mathematics. I've been making a living identifying talent, especially talents that most doubt.

So, as we're watching the Ravens and the Chargers, this millionaire tells me that Lamar Jackson isn't a good quarterback and will likely never be one, and I'm doing everything I can to suppress hysterical laughter. After all, Jackson hadn't proven to the average schmoe—especially the average millionaire schmoe—that he was a capable NFL passer.

For me, Jackson had already proven that capability at Louisville just as Russell Wilson did at NC State and Wisconsin, Patrick Mahomes II at Texas Tech, Nick Chubb and Georgia, and A.J. Brown at Ole Miss. I've earned my living seeing what others don't.

I can't expect others to see what I see—even a millionaire daily fantasy expert who many would make the mistake of drawing a false equivalency with our football knowledge. We're in different silos.

And regardless of the nonsense he was sharing about Jackson on that day, there was no doubt that once Jackson emerged, Big Money would be making stacks of cash off the Ravens quarterback in 2019. After all, being right about player development has nothing to do with his job.

Fortunately for you, it's a bigger part of my gig. While I'm far from perfect, I've become pretty good at it for the past 18 years. I'm confident that those in the industry will corroborate my claim.

The customer testimonials I receive regularly do. If I created an amalgamation of these emails they would go something like this: "Matt, thanks to you I drafted ______ _______. While everyone at my draft snickered, that pick led me to a championship in my league, and that pick is now the stuff of legend."

Just as it's a personal goal for a quarterback to never throw an interception, my personal goal is to achieve Nostradamus status with identifying underrated, overlooked, and unsung options who will have a fantasy impact. The goal may be realistically unachievable, but it pushes you to work harder at the craft of evaluating talent.

With this in mind, here's my 2020 All-Nostradamus Squad, players who I expect to emerge as fantasy values. Some are early-round picks that are worth a moderate reach. Others are mid- and late-round options that most have doubts about their value.

And some aren't even draftable, but you better have them on your waiver-wire shortlist because their skills can help your starting lineup and shock your league mates. Regardless of their draft-day value, these are players I believe have the talent and opportunity to out-perform their current value.

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady: The difference between 2019's No.8 quarterback, Carson Wentz and Russell Wilson, the No.4 fantasy quarterback was 43 points. This is roughly 2.7 points per game.

The was also a 43-point difference between the No.8 and No.4 tight ends and a 45-point difference between the No.8 and No.4 running backs. In contrast, there was only a 10-point difference between the No.4 and No.8 receivers.

This isn't an argument for taking a quarterback early as much as it is a point about taking the right player. Tom Brady is often the eighth quarterback off the board in fantasy drafts. I have his projected production as the fourth-highest at the position.

However, his value isn't the only factor that places Brady on this list. It's clear that fantasy players think Brady has diminished skills.

If you paired Patrick Mahomes II, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, or Russell Wilson with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard, only Mahomes would have a legitimate right to say that his overall surrounding talent declined in some respect. Add Rob Gronkowski to that equation, and Mahomes may still have pangs of regret but you wouldn't be dropping any of these quarterbacks down your draft boards.

This is the best talent Brady has ever worked with. The past two years in New England has included some of the worst talent Brady has worked with. Every year, fantasy players demonstrate that they cannot separate the skill of the player from the box score.

Not only should you be drafting Brady because his baseline value will likely land him inside the top-5, his upside puts him in the realm of top-two production at the position. The average difference between the No.2 and No.4 quarterback in fantasy football for the past five years is 22.8 points and the No.1 and No.4 quarterback is 59.8 points.

Guess who was the No.2 quarterback during two of those seasons?

Guess who has more surrounding skill talent of note than any team in the league?

Guess which quarterback has worked with his talent during the summer more than any team in the league?

And guess which team is letting its quarterback play in a multiple offense that creates potential pre-snap mismatches?

Your fantasy quarterback rating is currently through the roof.

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