Fantasy Football 2020 Preview: Quarterback reality check

Last season proved once again how critical quarterbacks are, but consistency was seriously tested. Its time for a reality check as we look ahead to Fantasy Football 2020.

All during the fantasy football regular season, we ranked the quarterbacks to use in two-quarterback and SuperFLEX leagues. Though we each ranked 24 passers per week, the top 12 were glossed over in favor of reasoning behind the next group of 12 players. We assumed that the top 12 would normally need no explanation. This was far from true and has major ramifications for fantasy football in 2020.

As fantasy players know, even the top 12 is no guarantee. It was rare but there were times players we ranked inside the top 12 didn’t even finish as top 24 players in a given week. And vice versa. Players not ranked at all finished with weeks worthy of standard leagues, let alone two-quarterback leagues. The quarterback position was dominant but consistency was hard to come by. It’s time for a reality check as we preview fantasy football in 2020.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate Fantasy Football 2020 in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

At the end of every season, it is worthwhile to explore the consistency rankings for fantasy quarterbacks. This is supposed to be one of the most reliable positions in fantasy, and it still kind of was even as the position saw so much upheaval. With turnover because of poor play or injury, there were 36 quarterbacks who topped 75 fantasy points and a whopping 25 who surpassed 200 points, with Andy Dalton falling just one point shy of making it 26.

We know the domination of the quarterback in fantasy, but for comparison, just one wide receiver and eight running backs reached that 200-point threshold this past season.

Is consistency key, though? Two passers who score 40 points in two weeks are technically equal. If one scores 20 and 20 while the other scores 35 and 5, they offer vastly different outputs for your squad. My gut reaction is to want the 20-20 guy. But does he ever win you a week?

The 35 and 5 can win you a week, though also lose you a week. And what if we’re talking about a second quarterback and lower point totals? If it’s 40 points over four weeks, would you rather have the 10-10-10-10 or something like 22-6-6-6? It is an interesting quandary.

This past season, the most consistent quarterback was also the best: Lamar Jackson. No surprise there. The top 12 is pretty fascinating, but my hypothetical comparison comes further down the list and it involves two of the biggest names in the sport.

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers both had disappointing seasons. They finished 17th and 18th respectively in start-ability. But even ranking side-by-side, they took different paths to get there. By ESPN’s metrics, both players were worth starting in standard leagues just five times.

Brady was pretty consistent in his 16.5 fantasy points per game average, never being deemed a “star” in a given week but “busting” just four times. Meanwhile, Rodgers was one of the most inconsistent players at the position. He averaged 17.4 points but had three “star” weeks and eight “busts” on the way there. Which is preferable?

Obviously, it may depend on your team structure. But in a vacuum, I think I would prefer my second quarterback in a two-QB league be the Rodgers prototype over the Brady. I want to be able to win a week with my second quarterback’s star performance. It’s why Daniel Jones remained so intriguing (four stars and five busts). He was the ultimate second quarterback of last season, even as he finished outside the top 24 in ESPN’s ranking system.

Dan Salem:

Fantasy football team building is an art form, with the quarterback sitting at the top and the bottom. Call it a quarterback sandwich, because you need them as your foundation and to set your team’s ceiling. There is nothing worse than an inconsistent player, so I vehemently disagree with your logic.

Having a player like Rodgers or Jones on your team who stars three to five times and busts just as many will only work out in your favor if you happen to get lucky. If that player is your first quarterback, then you are cooked. If they are your second quarterback, then perhaps you survive.

When a player busts your inclination is to bench them. This makes perfect sense, as they just stunk and you can’t risk having them bring down your team another week. But then, all of a sudden, they star the next week while sitting on your bench.

So you go ahead and start them the following week because they just proved how valuable they are, only they bomb again and ruin your team’s chances of winning. You see the problem inherent in this pattern?

A fantasy football owner must sacrifice their team and start this terribly annoying player every week in order to ensure those few starring performances. Say you do this and get four dominant weeks out of 15 chances. You also get four awful weeks, leaving seven mediocre performances.

The alternative is 15 consistently mediocre performances. You’ve locked in a set amount of points and can compensate with other players. Maybe you get a star week mixed in, say three. But you won’t get more than one bomb. This strategy can save you because you will never get hung out to dry.

This is why Tom Brady was preferable to Jones and Rodgers last season. Lock him in for around 15 points and go find those missing five elsewhere. Quarterbacks are supposed to be consistent, but last season proved the opposite to be true. My team didn’t start winning until my quarterbacks were consistent.

Next: 2020 NFL Mock Draft: Trades rule 3-round projection

Philip Rivers was infuriating. He literally cost me weeks with late interceptions or terrible first halves. I don’t want that boom or bust quarterback. I want consistency that’s slightly above average. 20 points is an ideal output but give me those 16 points any day over multiple weeks of under ten.

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