Off-Season Tracker: QB

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Off-Season Tracker: QB


Tom Brolley and I covered every major offensive transaction from this off-season. We broke down all the important free agency signings and trades from a fantasy perspective in articles by position. The articles are ordered by players changing teams ("New Homes") and by players sticking with their 2019 teams ("Staying Put"), and players are ordered by their potential fantasy impact in each section.

RB FA Review WR FA Review TE FA Review O-line FA Review

New Homes

Tom Brady (TB) — Brady moves on from New England to Tampa Bay, signing a two-year, $50 million contract (with incentives and a no-trade clause) to make the big move.

Fantasy Points: Brady leaving the Patriots was always a “believe it when we see it” type of move, but it’s here, and it’s… weird. But there’s absolutely no doubt it’s good news for him for fantasy. Brady is coming off a year in which he averaged just 16.5 FPG, tied for 16th in the NFL with rookie Daniel Jones, who didn’t even start all the games he played in. Brady sported a 24/8 TD/INT ratio, but threw TDs on just 3.9% of his attempts, a career-low, and his 6.6 YPA was his lowest total since 2002, his first full year as a starter.

Of course, Brady spent much of the year throwing to as poor a group of receivers as he’s had in his NFL career, with short-area specialists Julian Edelman and James White dominating the targets. He has quite the opposite in Tampa, where superstars Mike Evans and Chris Godwin roam the perimeter, and TEs OJ Howard and Cameron Brate can perhaps help Brady replicate some of the on-field 12 personnel success of the Gronk/Hernandez days in New England.

For our purposes, the biggest fallout will be how Brady’s measured approach will affect Evans and Godwin, given the complete 180-degree turn from the YOLO style of Jameis Winston. The Bucs also have some questions in front of Brady in terms of protection. But it’s clear Bruce Arians thinks Brady can still sling it downfield well enough, and we’re excited to see what they cook up in their lab with their combined experience of an estimated 649 years in the NFL (a rough estimate). It will take some time for ADP to normalize, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see Brady go within the top 10-12 QBs in fantasy drafts if reports from the summer are positive (Winston finished QB8 last year despite throwing 30 INTs).

Philip Rivers (Ind) — Rivers signed a one-year, $25 million deal with the Colts.

Fantasy Points: This move is fascinating, because it provides Rivers with something he hasn’t had in some time with the Chargers — an excellent offensive line. That’s essential these days for Rivers, who never was mobile, but now looks like he’d struggle to break 6.0 in the 40-yard dash. The problem with the Colts — as currently constructed — is that they don’t have much around Rivers in terms of weapons.

Rivers is coming off a year in which he finished as QB25 with 14.7 FPG (thanks in part to 20 INTs) while throwing to Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekeler. In Indy, he has… TY Hilton. Jack Doyle, OK. Maybe Parris Campbell? Zach Pascal? Nyheim Hines?

The Colts still need help at the skill positions, and it’s unlikely that, barring a completely unexpected overhaul, they’ll be able to elevate Rivers to a consistent startable fantasy QB. But it’s clear they simply want some stability that they didn’t believe Jacoby Brissett could provide.

Teddy Bridgewater (Car) — Bridgewater’s bet on himself paid off, as he inked a three-year, $63-million deal with $40 million guaranteed in Carolina.

Fantasy Points: This move reunites Bridgewater with OC Joe Brady, who was with the Saints two years ago before jumping to LSU and developing Joe Burrow into the presumptive #1 overall pick. The move is a solid one for Teddy, as he gets to work the short and intermediate areas with Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, and Ian Thomas. In his time with the Saints last season, Teddy’s average depth of throw was just 6.1 yards, the lowest in the NFL, while he threw to his RBs 28% of the time, the second-most in the NFL.

This is, however, potentially bad news for Curtis Samuel, who led the Panthers with an insane 15.3 average depth of target in 2019, while also leading the NFL in unconverted air yards (thanks, Kyle Allen). If Brady can’t scheme Samuel’s speed into some action close to the line of scrimmage, this puts a serious damper on a potential breakout year for Samuel, as it was mostly his QB holding him back last year. It’s also not great news for Robby Anderson, the latest Panther add, whose aDOT was 14.6 a season ago.

Teddy is a great story, but he’s mostly a glorified game manager at this point. At least he’s surrounded with intriguing weapons.

Nick Foles (Chi) — The Bears traded a fourth-round pick to the Jaguars for Foles.

Fantasy Points: Not only did the Bears take Foles’ contract off the Jaguars’ hands, but they gave up a mid-round pick to do it, which suggests to us one thing in particular: their expectation is that he will beat out Mitchell Trubisky to be the starting QB in Chicago this fall.

Look at the facts: Foles played for head coach Matt Nagy in Kansas City, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in Philadelphia, and QB coach John DeFilippo in both Philly and Jacksonville. He won a Super Bowl under Doug Pederson, who preceded Nagy as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City. To suggest Foles “knows the offense” is probably underselling just how comfortable he likely is in it.

The Bears also need to win now to save jobs in the front office and on the coaching staff, and they don’t — and shouldn’t — trust Trubisky to do that. Foles will execute what is schemed better, and he’ll probably be a nice asset for Allen Robinson, who finished as WR11 in FPG despite Trubisky’s shenanigans. Maybe Jimmy Graham or Trey Burton — the latter of whom played with Foles in Philly — will make an impact too.

Is this likely to make Foles a startable fantasy QB? No, and keep in mind he’s never been able to get through a full season healthy or without being benched (both, in the case of Jacksonville last year). But the Bears just need a steady hand, and they think his hand is steadier than Trubisky’s. That’s hard to argue against.

Brian Hoyer (NE) — Hoyer signed a one-year deal worth up to $2 million, marking his third stint in Foxboro.

Fantasy Points: Hoyer was released in Indianapolis following the signing of Philip Rivers. His agent, Joe Linta, told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that Hoyer turned down more money elsewhere because the Patriots are going to give him a chance to win the starting job. The problem with that? He had to compete with Jarrett Stidham for the backup job last year, and lost that battle and ended up released. If the Patriots don’t make another significant move at the position, it’s likely Hoyer is here as a safety net in the event Stidham’s preseason success and natural throwing ability don’t translate into regular-season success. At minimum, he’s intimately familiar with the offense and has made 38 career starts, so he could be a great mentor for a young QB. However, only 51 of his 1477 career pass attempts have come as a Patriot… and none of his 38 starts. He will not be an appealing fantasy option if he does win the job.

Kyle Allen (Was) — Washington dealt a fifth-round pick to Carolina for Allen.

Fantasy Points: The Redskins, under new coach Ron Rivera, brought in a former Panthers QB to push Dwayne Haskins… just not the one people expected. Allen, for all intents and purposes, is under contract for the next three seasons, as he was forced to sign an exclusive-rights tender this off-season, and will be a restricted free agent next off-season. Allen was PFF’s worst-graded QB in 2019 after making 12 starts for an injured Cam Newton, but apparently Rivera and OC Scott Turner saw enough to invest a late pick in him. Allen was aggressive, but his inaccuracy (Curtis Samuel led the NFL in unconverted air yards) and proneness to turnovers frustrated Panther fans — he threw 16 INTs, fumbled 13 times, and took 46 sacks for a league-high 397 yards lost. There is something to work with here given his athleticism, but Washington is probably in trouble if Allen is seriously able to push Haskins.

Case Keenum (Cle) — Keenum signed a three-year deal with $10 million guaranteed to be Baker Mayfield’s new backup with the Browns.

Fantasy Points: Keenum is one of those guys who is probably a low-end starting-caliber QB, but also one who isn’t good enough for teams to stop trying to upgrade. So he now took some security and is getting a very nice paycheck to back up Mayfield, becoming one of the league’s top backup QBs. If ever pressed into action, Keenum will be an appealing streamer and 2QB league option, throwing to Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Austin Hooper, and Kareem Hunt, though the offensive line could remain an issue. The Browns are loaded. Do they finally have the coaching staff to make it work?

Marcus Mariota (LV) — Mariota signed an undisclosed deal with the Raiders.

Fantasy Points: Mariota is trying to resurrect his career in Las Vegas, where many faded stars have tried to extend their shelf lives in the past. Perhaps Mariota is seeking to do the same thing Ryan Tannehill did to him — take the job from a generally successful but embattled veteran QB. There’s no reason to believe Mariota will even get the chance to compete for Derek Carr’s job, but with a few poor performances, Mariota could find himself in the conversation (again, like Tannehill a season ago). Mariota’s fantasy upside isn’t much, though, unless his play significantly improves — he’s thrown just 76 TD in 63 career games (1.2 per game). Carr, on the other hand, has averaged 1.5. It’s not impossible to see Mariota making starts this year, but this is more of a solid depth move for the Raiders.

Jeff Driskel (Den) — Driskel signed a two-year deal with the Broncos, after leaving the Lions.

Fantasy Points: Driskel made three starts in 2019 for an injured Matthew Stafford, and actually averaged 19.4 FPG in those starts, which would have ranked 8th among QBs if he were to extrapolate that over a full season. He went 62/105 for 685 yards with just 4 TD and 4 INT in those starts, but he added 22/151/1 rushing. He evidently didn’t show the Lions enough to bring him back — they gave a bigger contract to Chase Daniel to back up Stafford — but the Broncos saw enough to bring him in to compete to back up youngster Drew Lock. Driskel has no polish as a passer, but in eight starts over the last two years (with the Bengals and Lions), he’s shown plus athleticism, and that makes him a viable DFS and fantasy fill-in option if he’s pressed into action.

Chase Daniel (Det) — Daniel signed a three-year deal in Detroit, though it has just $5 million guaranteed and is easy to get out of after two years.

Fantasy Points: Daniel is livin’ the dream. Per overthecap.com, he’s earned over $35 million for five career starts in 11 NFL seasons, including three with the Bears over the last two seasons. Daniel quarterbacked the Bears to victory over the Vikings in relief of an injured Mitchell Trubisky in Week 4 last season, then started a Week 5 loss vs. the Raiders. Daniel grew up a short way from Matthew Stafford in Texas and the two have a friendly relationship. He’s been well respected as a veteran voice in QB rooms, but he’s not gonna win many games if he has to start long-term.

Colt McCoy (NYG) — McCoy signed a one-year deal with the Giants, sticking in the NFC East.

Fantasy Points: McCoy is a rock-solid backup QB, and we presume he’ll beat out Alex Tanney to be the top guy behind Daniel Jones. He’s capable of stepping in and providing decent play if need be. The issues come when McCoy is required to play for long stretches, as he had significant injury issues over his six seasons with Washington. He started games in each of the last two seasons, finishing 0-3 as a starter with 3 TD and 4 INT in those games.

PJ Walker (Car) — Walker, erstwhile of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, signed a two-year contract with Carolina.

Fantasy Points: Walker reunites with his college coach Matt Rhule, who coached Walker at Temple. Walker led the XFL in passing TDs (15) and passing yards (1338), and ran for another TD. If the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cut the XFL season short, he may have been the league MVP (Houston was 5-0 when the league went on hiatus). He’s the favorite to back up Teddy Bridgewater, after the Panthers traded Kyle Allen to Washington. Undersized but a good athlete, Walker is an intriguing add to the Carolina QB mix.

Staying Put

Drew Brees (NO) — Brees signed a two-year deal with the Saints worth $50 million to stick in New Orleans.

Fantasy Points: There was an unusual amount of QB movement this offseason, but Brees sticking with the Saints always made the most sense. The QB7 in FPG last year, Brees will continue throwing to the likes of Michael Thomas, Jared Cook, and Alvin Kamara, while the addition of Emmanuel Sanders to the mix makes Sean Payton’s offense all the more potent. Brees has become a “boring” fantasy option, and the prospect of Payton using Taysom Hill even more this year looms, but he should continue to provide a steady fantasy hand in one of the league’s best offenses. He has a cushy gig lined up with NBC Sports when he decides to hang it up.

Ryan Tannehill (Ten) — Tannehill signed a four-year, $118 million contract with $62 million guaranteed to stick with the Titans.

Fantasy Points: Tannehill’s play was spectacular in both reality and in fantasy, and though Titan fans likely have some pumpkin concerns here, GM Jon Robinson didn’t have a choice but to run it back. Tannehill won 9 of his 13 starts, including two playoff games, and led the NFL in every major QB metric, including yards per attempt, QB rating, yards per completion, and adjusted net yards per attempt. Tannehill took to the Titans’ heavy play-action pass game flawlessly, and he rode that to a finish as the QB9 with 18.7 FPG. While Tannehill’s hyper efficiency isn’t likely to be replicated, there’s a chance his budding relationship with young star WR AJ Brown could result in more volume in 2020.

Dak Prescott (Dal) — The Cowboys have franchised Prescott.

Fantasy Points: The Cowboys have dragged their feet on extending Prescott, and he’s just getting more expensive given the big-money deals that guys like Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and most recently Ryan Tannehill have signed. The Cowboys made their team better when they traded for — and recently extended — Amari Cooper in 2018, and it turned Prescott from a guy we had legitimate questions about into someone the Cowboys can’t afford to lose. Prescott, with Cooper and Michael Gallup anchoring the passing game, was the #2 QB in overall scoring, and the #3 QB in FPG last season. He might need a great supporting cast to be great, but he sure as hell has one in Dallas, including a still-strong offensive line, though that took a hit with the surprise retirement of C Travis Frederick.

Brett Hundley (Ari) — Hundley returns to the Cardinals on a one-year deal.

Fantasy Points: Hundley went 5/11 for 49 yards in 2019, making zero starts. He added 7/41 as a runner. That’s by far his best asset — he was atrocious as a passer when filling in for Aaron Rodgers with the Packers in 2017, throwing 9 TD to 12 INT in nine starts, but he averaged 7.5 YPC on the ground (36/270/2). If Hundley were to start for Kyler Murray at any point, he’d have some streaming appeal because of that mobility and because of the Cardinals’ strong, DeAndre Hopkins-boosted supporting cast.

Blaine Gabbert (TB) — Gabbert re-upped with the Bucs on a one-year deal.

Fantasy Points: Gabbert probably won’t get a chance to compete for the starting job, given the Bucs just signed some guy named Tom Brady. He didn’t appear in a game in 2019, landing on IR in September with a shoulder injury, but started 21 games over four seasons from 2015 to 2018, in stints with the 49ers, Cardinals, and Titans. Gabbert has better-than-functional mobility and a strong arm, so in the event he were pressed into action, he’d have some streaming and DFS appeal given the weaponry surrounding him in Tampa.

Chad Henne (KC) — Henne signed a two-year deal with the Chiefs.

Fantasy Points: Both Henne and Matt Moore were free agents, but it was Henne the Chiefs opted to re-sign. We’re a little surprised considering Henne missed 2019 with a broken ankle and Moore played pretty well in two starts for an injured Patrick Mahomes, but the Chiefs obviously know more than we do. Henne hasn’t attempted a pass since 2018 and hasn’t made a start since 2014, but the Chiefs clearly value him in the QB room. He’ll be Mahomes’ backup.

AJ McCarron (Hou) — McCarron signed a one-year deal with Houston.

Fantasy Points: McCarron will return as Deshaun Watson’s backup. He started a meaningless Week 17 game in 2019, going 21/36 for 225 yards with a pick, adding 5/39/1 rushing. The Texans have a weak supporting cast following the trade of DeAndre Hopkins, so there wouldn’t be much hope for McCarron to put up numbers if Watson were to get injured.

Sean Mannion (Min) — Mannion signed a one-year deal to remain with the Vikings.

Fantasy Points: Mannion, 28, has started two NFL games. Both of them were meaningless Week 17 tilts — one with the Rams in 2017, the other with the Vikings in 2019. He has 0 TD passes and 3 INT on 74 career pass attempts, and the Vikings’ supporting cast looks weak following the trade of Stefon Diggs.

Nate Sudfeld (Phi) — Sudfeld remains with the Eagles on a one-year deal.

Fantasy Points: The Eagles had to bring in Josh McCown as a backup last year after Sudfeld suffered a wrist injury during the preseason. The Eagles have been developing Sudfeld for three years now, but he has just 25 career pass attempts and no starts. They seem to value him behind Carson Wentz, however. He’ll compete with Kyle Lauletta for the backup job.

David Fales (NYJ) — Fales signed a one-year deal to return to the Jets.

Fantasy Points: Fales has been with Adam Gase since his time in Chicago, including in Miami and with the Jets last year. He has no starts in six NFL seasons but “knows the offense,” and he must be valuable in the QB room. It just tells you all you need to know about Fales in terms of in-game readiness that the Jets opted to promote Luke Falk off the practice squad last season when Sam Darnold (mono) was ill and Trevor Siemian (leg) was injured, and immediately put Falk ahead of Fales on the depth chart. Fales must be a future coach or something.

Joe Dolan, a professional in the fantasy football industry for over a decade, is the managing editor of Fantasy Points. He specializes in balancing analytics and unique observation with his personality and conversational tone in his writing, podcasting, and radio work.

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