Ultimate 2020 NFL Free Agency QB Primer: Rankings, Predictions, Ideal Fantasy Spots - Roto Street Journal
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Ultimate 2020 NFL Free Agency QB Primer: Rankings, Predictions, Ideal Fantasy Spots

With running backs and pass-catchers galore about to hit free agency, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, and Jameis Winston headline a loaded and unique crew of potential free agent quarterbacks.

The rumor mill is on fire. The GOAT could be on the move. There are potential quarterback swaps. Everything is happening and we should get some clarity between March 16 (“legal” tampering period) and March 18.

There hasn’t been a list of franchise altering quarterbacks who are bound to be unrestricted free agents… ever. And we’re here to give you our predictions and “value holes” to feed you your fix until the bell rings on March 16th.

2020 NFL Free Agency Fantasy QB Rankings

Tier 1

1) Dak Prescott

2) Jameis Winston

Tier 2

3) Tom Brady

4) Ryan Tannehill

Tier 3

5) Philip Rivers

6) Marcus Mariota

7) Teddy Bridgewater

Potential trade candidates:

Andy Dalton, Derek Carr, Nick Foles, Jimmy Garoppolo, Dwayne Haskins

2020 Top 4 “Value Holes”

Value Hole (noun)  – Your filthy mind could probably define this in an unlimited number of ways. In fantasy football, we use “Value Hole” to describe a (seemingly) open depth chart spot that will offer significant fantasy value to whoever fills it (via draft or free agency).

We judge “Value Holes” by assessing the Available Usage, Surrounding Talent and Coaching Scheme surrounding the hole. For QBs, the surrounding talent and coaching scheme are the two most important keys to success. Quarterbacks in fantasy flourish when their weapons make plays after the catch and when the system caters to the quarterback.

With these factors in mind, here are our Top 10 “Value Holes” for this 2020 crop.

Elite Value Holes

1) Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are a dream scenario for any quarterback. They have elite fantasy players in every spot and should improve on the offensive line.

Assuming both Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry return, they have Gordon and Austin Ekeler at running back. Then on the outside they have three monsters with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Henry as pass-catchers. If Gordon doesn’t return, then Ekeler proved he can handle the load with Justin Jackson.

Although they are separating themselves from the gunslinger that is Philip Rivers, the team will continue to be aggressive with Shane Steichen at offensive coordinator. This offense should continue to be a fantasy goldmine.

2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (if Winston is not re-signed)

This team is loaded across the board on offense and could be even better if they upgrade their running back spot in the offseason.

It’s led by the great Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, two 1,000-plus yard receivers who make play after play when the ball is in the air. Godwin is coming off a career year where he put up 1,333 yards and 9 touchdowns on 86 receptions, while Evans is a 1,000-plus yard lock every single season. Bruce Arians’ aerial attack also turned the once useless Breshad Perriman into a legit fantasy weapon. Unfortunately Perriman will likely price himself out of Tampa, but it shows they can plug and play any receiver in this offense.

Surprisingly, the offensive line was ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 7th best offensive line of 2019, led by Ryan Jensen and Ali Marpet.

Solid Value Holes

3) Tennessee Titans

The Titans would have been further down this list if it were made in the middle of the season, but after a crazy playoff run where the offensive line mauled and Derrick Henry rumbled, their offense is carrying serious momentum heading into 2020.

Re-signing Henry is the clear priority for the Titans. I’m not one who ever wants to pay a running back, especially when he says Zeke’s money is the floor, but he’s the identity of that team and maybe he’ll give them a bit of a hometown discount.

In the passing game, the team has young stud AJ Brown who exploded throughout the season and should be better in year two. Then there’s the obnoxious Corey Davis and hopefully a healthy Adam Humphries also on the perimeter. Jonnu Smith is another late-round fantasy tight end who could be in for a monster season.

In total, this is an exciting and enticing group of playmakers who make for a juicy situation for any quarterback.

4) Dallas Cowboys (if Dak is not re-signed)

Anyone with a brain knows that the Cowboys will be re-signing Dak, it’s just more of a matter of how long and how expensive the contract will be.

Still, the weapons cabinet in Dallas will be full for Dak, as long as they re-sign Amari Cooper. Despite playing through injury for much of 2019, Cooper set career highs in yardage (1189) and TDs (8) en route to the best fantasy season of his five year career. He can run the entire route tree, and proved fully capable of shouldering a team’s passing attack as an Alpha-X weapon, Jerry Jones just needs to open up that checkbook again.

Assuming Cooper returns, the team has their rock at running back in Ezekiel Elliott for a while, and they have the emerging Michael Gallup who is set to explode in 2020.

Most importantly, they have an upgrade in offensive coaching scheme with Mike McCarthy taking over for Jason Garrett, plus a more experienced Kellen Moore returns for his second season as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Other teams to watch

5) Indianapolis Colts

The Colts roster is one dependable quarterback away from a deep playoff run. Jacoby Brissett still has one year remaining on his contract and has been better than expected, especially considering his situation last season. However, the team has been connected to Philip Rivers and others this offseason.

The Colts offense is led by HC and play-caller Frank Reich, who stems from the Doug Pederson tree. Like Pederson, Reich is aggressive and creative as a play-caller. There’s also a handful of very good weapons, led by TY HiltonMarlon Mack, Jack Doyle, Nyheim Hines, and Parris Campbell. The team will also look to add another outside receiver either in the draft or through free agency.

What’s even more impressive than their weapons is their beastly offensive line led by Quinton Nelson. Pro Football Focus ranked them as the third best offensive line in 2019 and all five starters played over 1,000 snaps. A dominating offensive line will keep their starting quarterback upright throughout 2020 — whoever it may be.

6) Cincinnati Bengals

The BENGALS over a team like the Patriots?! Well, if we’re judging by our “value hole” and stock formula system, the Bengals surrounding talent far exceeds the remaining five teams and they have an offensive minded coach from the Sean McVay tree in Zac Taylor. Now that the team is talking about at least franchising AJ Green, that means their future franchise QB Joe Burrow (who we’ll talk about below) will get Green, Joe MixonAuden Tate, and John Ross as a surrounding cast. Not too bad.

7) New England Patriots (if Brady is not re-signed)

Prior to free agency, the Patriots offensive weapons are currently the downfall of the team. They still have a major offensive coaching advantage over just about every team in the NFL, but outside of an aging Julian Edelman and a first rounder in N’Keal Harry, there isn’t much there. If Brady moves on from New England, the team could add a cheaper option as a bridge quarterback to surround with better weapons. Until then, things don’t look promising from a fantasy standpoint moving forward.

8) Chicago Bears

It’s not a secret that Mitch Trubisky stinks and the team could now be looking for competition in 2020 (see: 2019 Titans) or 2021 when Trubisky is an UFA. Either way, the Bears have a creative play-caller in Matt Nagy and a handful of weapons highlighted by Allen Robinson, David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Anthony Miller, and Cordarrelle Patterson. If the team has balls and want to make a move with this solid core, they should move on from Trubisky and sign someone who could lead this team to a deep playoff run.

9) Las Vegas Raiders

Derek Carr is still under contract, but rumors are swirling that the team might be on the lookout for some new, exciting blood on the Vegas Strip. They have a coach and GM with a big set of cajones and neither are married to the quarterback. Outside of Josh JacobsDarren Waller, and Tyrell Williams, the weapons aren’t too exciting, but they have two picks in the top 20 and one will likely be a stud wideout. The Raiders are suddenly trending upwards, especially offensively.

10a) Washington Redskins

Although Ron Rivera did not draft Dwayne Haskins, I would be shocked if they dealt Haskins and took Tua Tagovailoa at No. 2 overall over Chase Young. However, there have been some internet rumors that have said it could happen. If so, they are also a team that’s on the incline with Terry McLaurin, a healthy Derrius Guice, and a handful of other upside guys. Plus, Scott Turner makes things easier for his quarterback.

10b) Miami Dolphins

All signs are pointing to Tua falling to the Dolphins at No. 5 overall and even if they get nervous, they have the artillery to move up in the draft to get their guy. The team surprisingly moved on from Chad O’Shea in order to bring Chan Gailey and his spread scheme, which is the perfect fit for Tua’s dual-threat skill-set. If/when they add a running back, their surrounding talent score will be increase.

NFL Free Agency QB Predictions

1) Dak Prescott

Ideal spot: Dallas Cowboys

Predicted spot: Dallas Cowboys

Wildcard: Cowboys franchise tag

The Cowboys hurt themselves by signing Ezekiel Elliott to a monster deal when they probably should have signed their quarterback first… but here we are. Jerry Jones has been known to do some weird, egotistical shit, especially back in the day, but there is a zero point zero zero chance Dak Prescott will be playing anywhere besides Dallas in 2020. It’ll be fun to watch him make plays in Mike McCarthy’s system and Kellen Moore now has some real experience under his belt.

2) Jameis Winston

Ideal spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Predicted spot: Las Vegas Raiders

Wildcard: LA Chargers

From a fantasy standpoint, Jameis Winston’s landing spot will be the most interesting of this bunch. The dude is coming off a legit 33 touchdown, 30 interception season where he also threw for over 5,000 yards! He also did this while playing through a fractured thumb, a torn meniscus, and relative blindness (underwent Lasik surgery in the offseason). Now equipped with a new thumb, new meniscus, and new eyeballs, Jameis is a new man as he enters free agency.

Unfortunately, the Bucs seem to be fine with Winston walking away, so there will be no more Mike Evans or Chris Godwin to make magic with downfield — which will be detrimental to all parties involved. Godwin is coming off a career year where he put up 1,333 yards and 9 touchdowns on 86 receptions, while Evans is a 1,000-plus yard lock with Winston throwing him the football. Those two will undoubtedly take a hit, while Winston’s touchdown and yardage numbers will also likely drop no matter where he lands.

With Peter King saying it’s “likely” Winston will leave Tampa, our friend of the FFBDPod, Adam Schefter, had this to say about an intriguing landing spot:

“I always remember Jon Gruden being a big Jameis Winston fan from our production meetings with him back when he was with ESPN,” said Adam Schefter on The Dan Patrick Show. “And so you wonder, would they have any interest in Jameis Winston? That would seem to make sense to me based on the way he felt.”

Imagine Gruden’s face boiling in the Las Vegas heat after watching Jameis throw his fourth interception on the afternoon? That would be quite a sight to see.

3) Tom Brady

Ideal spot: Tennessee Titans or LA Chargers

Predicted spot: New England Patriots

Wildcard: San Francisco 49ers

They say all good things must come to an end… but is Tom Brady’s time really up in New England? Or is he using his first time as a UFA to get wined and dined around the country by other teams? Patriots fans are hoping it’s the latter, but this constant smoke makes it seem as though there might be a fire.

We’re not quite with Max Kellerman that Brady has fallen off the cliff, but anyone with two eyeballs can see he’s declined a bit. He completed only 60 percent of his passes (worst since 2013), threw 24 touchdowns (worst since 2006), and threw for 4,057 yards (his worst since 2010).

With an aging Julian Edelman, a clueless N’Keal Harry, a useless Mohamed Sanu, and a handful of nobodies as weapons, it’s clear Brady has a few reasons to be pissed off.

Potential landing spots if he continues to be pissed off at Belichick & co.:

a. Titans – Brady and Mike Vrabel are besties and have been good friends since the two played together in the early 2000s. He would have an upgrade in weapons, a solid defense, and most of all, it would be a real kick in the dick to Belichick.

b. Chargers – Brady could head “home” to the west coast and be the face of the franchise as they open up a new stadium. They are the best “value hole” available and are a quarterback away from being legit Super Bowl contenders. But does he really want to potentially play in a half empty stadium in front of fans who don’t give a shit about the team? Probably not.

c. Raiders – Brady and Mark Davis were cuddling up at a recent UFC fight in Las Vegas and the team is also unveiling a new stadium in Vegas this season. Imagine Brady and Gruden lighting up scoreboards in Sin City? Or how about Brady dawning the silver and black? That would be… wow. Unfortunately, they don’t have the greatest set of weapons and Brady would have to learn Gruden’s system, which he likely doesn’t want to do at his age. Pass.

d. 49ers – NBC Boston’s Tom Curran told the world to “don’t dismiss” the prospect of the 49ers signing Tom Brady in free agency and that set the internet on fire. It continued to pick up steam by real members of the media, such as Patriots bobo Mike Lombardi and PFT’s Mike Florio. For the Tom Brady it would make the most sense. He can play for his childhood team and he can be the missing piece to the 49ers Super Bowl dreams. But from a 49ers perspective, why would they move on from Jimmy Garoppolo for a 42-year old? Would they really want to go all-in for 1-2 more years with Brady and give up on their franchise quarterback? It doesn’t add up to me.

However, Lombardi explained why it would make sense from a 49ers point of view:

“Garoppolo was never part of Shanahan’s master plan,” Lombardi said. “Even after making the trade with the Patriots in October of 2017, he thought he was still going to sign Cousins when he hit free agency in 2018. All Jimmy G provided at the time of the trade was an asset, a quality player who was in demand throughout the NFL. The 49ers believed after making the initial trade that they could convert Garoppolo into a higher pick than the second-rounder sent to the Patriots. This is one of the reasons they made the midseason deal — they had a chance to add more assets to their portfolio.”

“After they completed the deal, the 49ers were not shy about admitting they could send Garoppolo to another team like the Browns for a future first,” continued Lombardi. “Then something occurred that even Shanahan could not ignore: Garoppolo played well, extremely well, far beyond what Shanahan had expected.”

Hmm…

4) Ryan Tannehill

Ideal spot: Tennessee Titans

Predicted spot: Tennessee Titans

Wildcard: LA Chargers or Chicago Bears

What in the hell happened to the Ryan Tannehill we all knew and made fun of in Miami?! Well, after a 10 game stretch, eventually quarterbacking the team to the AFC title game, where he went 7-3 and put up career numbers across the board, Tannehill is hitting free agency and is set to make some cash.

In those 10 games, Tannehill completed 70 percent of his passes and added 22 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. He wasn’t asked to do much in the playoffs since Derrick Henry was on another level, but he did a solid job of managing the game and knocked off both the Patriots and the Ravens on the road before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champions.

It would make the most sense for Tannehill to return to the team that revitalized his career, but with Mike Vrabel flirting with his old friend, Tom Brady, Tannehill might be waiting until Brady makes his move to find out where he’s headed next.

If it’s not Tennessee, then maybe he could replace Rivers in Los Angeles or even Trubisky in Chicago — which would basically be the same situation that he saw himself in Tennessee.

5) Philip Rivers

Ideal spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Predicted spot: Indianapolis Colts

Wildcard: Tennessee Titans

One of the league’s original gunslingers finally packed up his bags and moved his caravan of children to the east coast. Unfortunately for Philip Rivers, he’s a bit washed up. He threw 23 touchdowns in 2019, which was his lowest since 2007 and added another 20 interceptions to his career total. His completion percentage was surprisingly above (66 percent) his career average (64,7 percent), but he missed a ton of throws he typically makes.

But just like Winston, Rivers will be leaving his ideal fantasy fit that has a bevy of weapons. Still, he showed flashes that proves he still has it, even though he’s on the downswing.

The most intriguing option for Rivers is in Indianapolis with his old friend, Frank Reich.

“Rivers to Indy just makes sense,” a GM told Sando.

Between 2013 to 2015 with Reich on the Chargers’ staff, Rivers averaged 31 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions per season. Even more juicy is the Colts offensive line, which is touted as one of the best, if not the best in the entire NFL. Behind a line like that, Rivers’ career could extend and he could be kept clean from inside the pocket. The team has the weapons surrounding him, they just need consistent play from their quarterback to make a Super Bowl run. Rivers could be that guy.

“I could see them [the Colts] going in that direction and him wanting to go that direction and it being a really good fit,” a former GM said. “He has CAA (Creative Artists Agency) and they usually want to break the bank, but I do think that makes a lot of sense. I still believe he can play. For me, all of a sudden taking him, they are right back in the mix and they can draft a guy next year. They are so good at finding and developing guys.”

Other Notes:

  • Marcus Mariota has shown flashes, but the former No. 2 overall pick was unable to put it all together in Tennessee, ending his career in Nashville on the bench in favor for Tannehill. A change of scenery and a coach who will implement a spread offense will be key for Mariota to revitalize his career. If TB12 leaves New England, one could see the Patriots signing Mariota to a 1-2 year bridge deal in hopes of striking gold with the former Oregon Duck.
  • All signs are pointing to the Buccaneers replacing Winston for Teddy Bridgewater. “I am hearing Tampa Bay is hot on Bridgewater,” a GM said to Mike Sando at the NFL Combine. Although Bridgewater is not the ideal fit since Bruce Arians likes to be aggressive and take shots downfield, he would significantly cut down on the 100 turnovers that Winston accounts for each year. If he signs in Tampa, he’ll get a boost due to the elite surrounding talent, but his own talent doesn’t jump off the page.
  • With Joe Burrow a lock for the No. 1 overall pick, the Bengals will have their franchise quarterback of the future. This leaves Andy Dalton on the outside looking in and likely looking for a new home. Dalton has been one of the many who have been connected to the Patriots if Brady were to leave and he definitely possesses a skill-set that could thrive in New England. If not, he’d either serve as a mentor for a year behind Burrow or maybe push Trubisky in Chicago? Who knows.
  • Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love will all land in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and it’s likely that two (depending on Tua’s hip recovery) will be forced on the field in 2020. With Tua all but a lock to land in South Beach, will the Chargers try to find their next franchise quarterback? Or will the Saints or Patriots trade up for the other two? We shall see.

The legal tampering period begins March 16th, with Free Agency opening only two days later. Track all the wild value swings in the cleanest form possible with the RSJ Stock Watch Fantasy App (or bookmark our Web Stock Watch here).

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