Breaking down the top 40 QB's into 10 tiers to help you win your fantasy football draft! The following tiers below are based off standard 4-point per passing touchdown scoring formats. Remember, it's not so much about the specific rankings within each tier, but the rankings of the tiers themselves as a whole. Just because Tyrod Taylor is in tier four with Aaron Rodgers doesn't mean you have to draft Tyrod around the same time Aaron goes off the board. More on Tyrod later, by the way. Understanding tiers and how you form your own will allow you to see value in your drafts and capitalize on it when your opponents let key players slip through the cracks. Disagree with my Tyrod take or any of the tiers below? Too high or low on your guy? Let me know your thoughts. Hit me up on Twitter @maddjournalist.
ORIGINAL QUARTERBACK TIERS BELOW WITH FULL NOTES:
Tier #1 - The Goat Tier
The term "Generational Talent" simply cannot be overstated when it comes to these two quarterbacks. They are easily the only two fantasy signal-callers worthy of a draft pick inside the first two to four rounds in 2020.
Patrick Mahomes still finished as the QB6 in points per game in 2019 despite dealing with a broken kneecap and bum ankle for a majority of the fantasy season. With health now on his side, in addition to a Super Bowl MVP in his pocket and positive TD regression coming his way, Mahomes is due to rival Lamar for the overall QB1 spot in fantasy this season. The Chiefs return nearly their entire roster and now Clyde Edwards-Helaire is in the fold with the potential of becoming one of the top pass-catching backs in the league. Take Mahomes as the first QB off the board if you're in a 6-pt per passing TD league format like CBS. 4-pt per passing TD leagues, it's close.
Although Lamar Jackson is set for his share of passing TD regression, his positive regression in the rushing TD department could more than balance things out for the Raven's star signal caller. Lamar is worth grabbing in the second round if you want a legit 6+ point advantage at the position this season. Mahomes is worth a third-round snag if he's still available, especially if he continues to run like he did in the Chief's 2019 playoff run. Overall, Lamar's rushing upside is so high that even as a below-average passer he will have his go-to guys like Mark Andrews and Marquis Brown streaking wide open down the field more often than not. The rushing floor combined with another year of improvement in his passing and improvement from his pass catchers makes Lamar the #1 QB. Don't hesitate to pounce in Round 2.
- Lamar - Target in late 2nd round; Positive rush TD regression is coming.
- Mahomes - Target in late 3rd/early 4th round; If he runs more, watch out
Tier #2 - The Just-As-Great-But-Not-Goat Tier
In a perfect world, all four of these quarterbacks could be the overall QB2 behind Lamar Jackson. But unfortunately none of them have Lamar's wheels, nor Andy Reid's playbook. Take whichever falls the furthest in your draft. Hopefully it's Watson, but don't be disappointed with Russ, Dak or Kyler either.
If you decide to pass on Lamar/Mahomes or simply don't get a chance to draft one of those Tier 1 studs, fear not. All four of the guys in Tier 2 have a chance to finish in top two or three at the position this season. Best case scenario? Take the guy who falls the farthest, which is right now looking like Deshaun Watson according to his Average Draft Position (ADP) consensus on FantasyPros.com. Watson and the Texans' will be trailing early and often this season, which means garbage time points and Watson scrambling for his life more often than that. All of that equates to fantasy gold for a guy currently going in the 6th round as the sixth overall QB drafted. Let's not forget Watson finished as QB2 in ppg in 2019 & QB4 in 2018.
With an over-the-hill David Johnson in town and no more Nuke Hopkins, Watson will be playing more YOLO ball than he has in his entire NFL life, both on the ground and through the air. He could easily rival and outscore Patrick Mahomes for the overall QB2 spot this season, which is why I hesitate to take Mahomes earlier than the 4th round, especially f I can get Watson as late as the 6th. Sure, Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson are two similar types of mobile QBs with immense upside, but let's not forget that each of these quarterbacks finished outside the top 10 in points per game just two seasons ago in 2018. Coaching has been an issue in the past, and could be again in 2020. Mike McCarthy arrives in Dallas after being run out of town in Green Bay - and being vilified by fantasy owners as well. Let's not simply assume McCarthy hands the playcalling reigns over to Kellen Moore, although Dallas' addition of CeeDee Lamb, the potential emergence of Blake Jarwin by replacing Jason Witten, and their key losses on defense, all point to positives for Dak's ceiling. The Mike McCarthy playcalling/coaching question mark remains, however.
Wilson's ceiling can always flash on any given week, but it's usually not week-to-week due to Seattle's emphasis on being a ball-control, run-first squad. Add Jamal Adams to the mix and it only serves to potentially cap Russ' upside once more. I still rank Russ only so ever slightly above Dak because of he's been so insanely efficient and accurate for years, whereas Dak has had one top 5 season under his belt. Seattle's lack of health in the backfield if Chris Carson goes down could be the green light Russ needs to finally cook and break back into the top 3 in fantasy points per game, where he hasn't been since 2017. While Kyler Murray's career upside could be the highest of this tier, he also plays for a team with a premier run game with Kenyan Drake coming back into the fold. Murray was the QB12 in fantasy points per game last season and while I believe he is a QB1 with top-5 potential, it will be asking a lot for him to meet his ADP of QB4, which is too rich for me. Whichever of these four fall in your draft, take the value.
- Watson - Highest upside, yet lowest ADP; snag him late 5th/early 6th.
- Dak - Going in the late third/early fourth; Do we trust McCarthy though?
- Kyler - Ceiling is insane, but ARI boasts premier run game with Drake.
- Russ - Coaches might let Russ cook once in a while, but not enough.
Top-5 upside guys with potential great value in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft. Allen and Wentz lead this tier due to the rushing and scrambling upside they provide, but Ryan and Stafford could easily sling their way to the top of Tier 3 with their premier accuracy & heavy projected passing volume in 2020.
Josh Allen's first six weeks of the schedule is insanely soft and he just added one of the league's premier route runners and deep threats in Stefon Diggs. That said, you don't want any part of Josh Allen starting in Week 7 and onward. The Bills' offense will face a gauntlet of top tier defenses beginning with the Patriots in Week 7, followed by the newly revamped/Josh Adams-led Seahawks secondary in Week 8. Five out of the next six weeks they play the Chargers, 49ers, Steelers, Broncos and Patriots again. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about riding Josh Allen for six weeks then streaming QB the rest of the way, but in that case is he really worth the QB7 price tag?
Matt Ryan's overall strength of schedule against defenses doesn't fare too well either, but does it even matter? The Falcons defense is putrid and Atlanta will be playing catch up/accumulating garbage points in so many games, Ryan will rack up the passing yards in many a blowout loss. FantasyPros' strength of schedule tool lists both the Bills and Falcons as two of just five teams with a one-star rating for quarterback/defensive matchups in 2020. While we know things can change quickly and both Allen/Ryan have the upside to be top-5 QBs, there is downside to consider.
On the flipside, Carson Wentz and the Eagles earn a solid 4 stars out of 5 for QB/fantasy strength of schedule in 2020, one of 12 teams that Fantasy Pros rates as having a positive schedule for their QBs. Even with the Eagles' depleted WR corps last season Wentz still managed to finish as the QB13 overall, and he's still less than two years removed from being the overall QB2 in fantasy points per game in 2017. Wentz has had an extended offseason to get healthier, he gets a talented rookie wideout in Jalen Reagor and a second season from Miles Sanders. The pieces are there for Wentz to play his way back into the top 5 if Ertz, Reagor, Goedert and Sanders can all remain relatively healthy. His ADP of QB12 allows you to stack at RB/WR.
Same goes for Matthew Stafford, currently going as the QB 13 in the 13th round. Stafford was QB4 in points per game last season for a Lions team that started 2-0-1 and was SLINGING IT before he went down for the year. If Kenny Golladay is a consensus top 10 WR pick this year, then there is absolutely no reason Stafford shouldn't be a top 10 pick at QB. You really want value at the position? Stack up on six RBs, four WRs and a tight end before grabbing Stafford in the 12th round. Sounds pretty appetizing to me.
- Allen - Love the talent, but schedule could be disastrous after Week 7.
- Wentz - Current ADP round 11, but has top-10 talent with top-5 ceiling.
- Ryan - Probably won't fall to round 10, but you know he will sling it 24/7.
- Stafford - Pick up where he left off in 2019? If so, he is THE 2020 steal.
Tier #4 - The ADP Doesn't Matter Anymore Tier
A vast majority of analysts and fantasy managers have written these four guys off for 2020, when the fact is the last time they all started and played a full season (minus Tannehill) they were all rock solid QB1's and safely within the top 10 at the position. My favorite though? Tyrod F****** Taylor.
Let's remind ourselves that after the guys Tier 2 have been drafted, you've gotta throw ADP out the window. If you've got a guy in your Tier 3 or Tier 4 who you believe is a top 10 QB but isn't regarded highly by your competition, then by all means wait and draft him later. This is where Tyrod Taylor comes into the fold and recency bias is KILLING his current value/ADP. If you're like me and have done probably 100+ mock drafts this offseason you'll notice that nearly every single time Taylor is going undrafted. But why? The last time Tyrod punched in a full season as a started was for a ball-control, defensive-minded Bills team in 2016. The result? Tyrod was QB6 overall. The year before in 2015? Same shit. Tyrod was the QB7. I get it, we're talking about 2015-2016 and it's 2020. Doesn't matter in this case. Tyrod is only 30 years old, with a ton less mileage on his legs than the 31-year-old Russell Wilson. Must we remind ourselves that Tyrod is reunited with former Bills coach Anthony Lynn, when Tyrod threw for over 3,000 yards and 37 combined touchdowns as opposed to just 12 interceptions. Tyrod added 1,148 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 199 carries in both those of those seasons combined. Give me that all day as my QB1 and if he somehow loses his job to Justin Herbert I will happily free up a roster spot and stream my way to a fantasy title. Tyrod will run every week, limit turnovers, play behind an improved o-line and faces one of the easiest schedules in 2020.
I mentioned Fantasy Pros' Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule chart in my Tier 3 breakdown above, and while it's not an end-all/be-all by any means, it can point to an increase an optimism or pessimism surrounding certain players. In this case the Chargers again are one of just 12 teams to garner a 4-out-5 positive matchup rating for QBs against opposing defenses this season. Tyrod potentially could face the Bengals, Dolphins, Panthers, Jets, Jaguars and Raiders in six of his first nine games. In a COVID-19 season where continuity rules and rookies are at a disadvantage, I expect Anthony Lynn to start Tyrod all 16 games and rekindle the old Bills flames of 2015-16 when Tyrod was a straight stud from week to week with a high rushing floor.
You can make similar arguments in favor of Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers, two veteran signal-callers whose primes have seemingly passed them by. But you'd be mistaken to overlook the fact that Rodgers has never finished OUTSIDE the top 10 in any full season he has played in his career. 2020 is a YOLO year for Rodgers with Jordan Love waiting in the wings. He hears the criticism about his declining numbers and if any year he has extra motivation to put up numbers, it's this year. Same goes for Cam, who might've just wound up in the perfect scheme with Josh McDaniels calling plays and an actual underrated crew of weapons around him in James White, Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry and young potential breakouts in Jakobi Meyers and Damien Harris. I will always take the rushing upside/floor of guys like Tyrod and Cam before guys who offer nothing with their legs and could fall off at any second like Drew Brees, Tom Brady & Ben Roethlisberger.
Just a quick note about Ryan Tannehill, who between Weeks 9-16 was the QB2 overall in fantasy points per game behind Lamar Jackson. While you might doubt his overall talent and yes negative TD regression could be coming in a major way, Tannehill benefits massively from teams stacking the box against Derrick Henry in way that no other starting quarterback in the NFL could imagine. Tannehill, of every player in this tier, has the ability for a top-5 finish and could improve even more in just his second season NOT under the putrid coaching regime of Adam Gase. Look for Tannehill to take advantage of Derrick Henry's attention in the box and use his legs a little bit, too. Even with a major dip in TD % he would still rank as a solid QB1 / top 10 option looking at what he did in 2019. Regression factored in, he is still a fringe QB1 option with top 10 upside just having Derrick Henry as his teammate. Don't hesitate to snag Tannehill in Round 12 or later if he's there.
Overall this is by far my favorite QB tier for the value you're getting at these guys' ADP. You can literally wait until round 16 to draft Tyrod and get a potential top 10 QB. Wait until round 12 for Tannehill or Cam even though they both also have recent top 10 campaigns under their belt. Rodgers' ADP is the highest of the bunch but is also falling fast. Our next members of Tier 5 are all going multiple rounds ahead of the Tier 4 guys I've been hyping up here, and it makes no sense. Take the rushing floor and upside, especially if it's there late in drafts. That's the case for at least three, if not all four, of these guys in Tier 4. Rodgers could be the only one drafted inside the top 10 to 12 rounds depending on how high Cam Newton's stock continues to rise.
- Tyrod - Was QB6 & QB7 in last two seasons as starter with Lynn. All in.
- Cam - Could we see vintage Cam? Even if not, he still has top 10 upside.
- Tannehill - Tempted to move him up. Life is so much easier with Henry.
- Rodgers - Hasn't been this motivated since Brett Favre. It's about time.
Tier #5 - The Be Careful What You Wish For Tier (Except for Teddy)
Age and injury history present major red flags for this group of veteran passers in Tier 5. Brees and Brady are being drafted as QB1's inside the top 12, but what upside do they really offer at that price? Big Ben seems the most fragile of the bunch, even though he's the youngest of those three. Bridgewater could be amassing junk time points all season long and at his ADP of QB27 he is an absolute late-round bargain in the last two/three rounds.
You really want to hitch your fantasy football title hopes to three guys who could fall off a cliff at any moment? Look, I believe that Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger could all have solid seasons and lead their teams on deep playoff runs, but the pass-happy, stat-racking days for these guys are over. Brady comes to Tampa Bay with tons of weapons but his best asset won't be throwing TD's, it will be not throwing INT's. Brees will be in a conservative state of mind with a talented backfield, solid defense and Winston/Taysom Hill waiting in the wings. Same goes for Big Ben, who comes back to a top 3 NFL defense and run-first mentality squad with Mike Tomlin calling the shots. Could these guys all finish the year as low-end QB1's? Sure. But to win fantasy titles we are either drafting for upside or streaming off the waivers for upside. Anything in between I want no part of. Teddy Bridgewater is the only guy I will consider because of the fact Carolina could be trailing massively in most of their games in 2020. With DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and Robby Anderson, not to mention Christian McCaffrey, this could be the year Teddy finally shows us what could've been. Top 12/QB1 type of potential for a guy being drafted outside the top 25 is something I love late. Gamescripts are the key for unlocking CAR's offense.
- Brees - Quick to forget he was QB5 in ppg, but had many down weeks.
- Brady - Ball control, limit turnovers, win. Works in real life, not fantasy.
- Big Ben - Walks into an AB-less team wanting to play defense & run.
- Teddy - Happy to take very late. If he doesn't work out I'll happily stream.
Tier #6 - The Swaggalicious Scrambling Tier
We've mentioned in the last few tiers how we're happy to take guys super deep / in the final rounds of drafts like Tyrod, Teddy, Cam and Tannehill. Same goes for this tier, who all offer rushing upside and the ability to blossom as second-year passers for Minshew and Daniel Jones. Burrow's weapons in Cincinnati make him an intriguing choice for rushing floor, junktime stats and pure talent as a rookie
Tier #7 - The "I Want-None-Of-These-Guys-Except-For-Fitzmagic" Tier
Limited mobility? Check. Either struggles under pressure or plays on a run-first offense? Check. While I do believe Haskins offers some upside in his second year after flashing late in 2019, the new coaching regime in Washington and lack of offseason practice keeps him behind the 8-ball coming into his sophomore season. Fitzpatrick is a great late-round flier to ride out until Tua takes over but not in Week 1 against the Patriots. Give me zero shares of Jimmy G, Kirk and Goff, only in the best of streaming QB matchups on a week-to-week basis.
Tier #8 - The Grab-An-Extra-Bottle-Of-Sanitizer-And-Run Tier
Remember when Baker Mayfield was the next great up-and-coming fantasy QB star? Yeah, me neither. Wash your hands for twenty seconds, apply sanitizer, wipe down, and repeat. These guys are only worth mentioning for the sake of two-quarterback leagues and the deepest of fantasy football rosters.
Tier #9 - The Waiting-In-The-Wings Tier
Tua sits above this tier in all likelihood that he becomes the Miami Dolphins' starter by midseason. While he does offer both rushing and passing upside in that scenario, he's not worth rostering and stashing for more than a month in a standard one-quarterback league. Whoever wins the Bears' QB battle will move up one tier but no further, with a fragile starting job to hold onto whether it's Foles or Trubisky. Both looked very shaky in 2019.
Tier #10 - The Premier Backup Tier
Winston and Dalton are only playing this season if an injury occurs ahead of them, but if that does happen, they are easily the most two capable backups in the league with a strong nod to Winston, despite his turnovers, the best backup in the NFL. Stidham is a re-aggravated Cam foot or shoulder injury away from becoming the Pats starter while Herbert, if the Chargers start slow, could provide some depth in two-QB leagues if he ever plays.