Well it feels like fantasy championships were just a week ago, but as the old adage goes, “there ain’t no rest for the wicked.” With 2020 and a whole lot of recency bias still ripe on my mind, I aim for these positional rankings to give you a premature preview of 2021, a season hopefully devoid of COVID complications among other things.
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Quarterbacks – The Elite Tier
- Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
- Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
- Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Pakcers
- Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
- Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
There’s a lot to dissect here with this elite tier. I have each of these guys locked in as “set it and forget it” caliber players. Maybe it’s a touch of homerism and my affinity for Josh Allen, but my ranking of him over Mahomes stems from three significant factors.
First, Allen is a more significant rushing threat; each season he has put up over 400 yards on the ground and at least 8 touchdowns from the ground. Mahomes is trending in the right direction, eclipsing 300 yards for the first time in 2020 but only finding the promised land twice. This difference amounts to around 3 points a game,
Second, the Bills will be in full Super Bowl mode after this season and are likely to pick up an extra offensive piece or two to bolster Allen’s arsenal of weapons even further. Rewind into 2020’s preseason and the Bill’s weren’t sure if they were going to win the AFC East. That feels like a million years ago; I fully expect them to go scorched earth, chips to the middle of the table, and roll the dice much like the Los Angeles Rams did a few years prior; this will translate to added fantasy value for Josh Allen.
Finally, the Buffalo Bills will likely draw a better slate of matchups by virtue of their weaker division and NFL rotational scheduling methodology. The NFC South has two defensive matchups that should be feastworthy for Allen in the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. The Bucs and Saints may be a little trickier for him, but so will the Washington Football Team and New York Giants for Mahomes. The AFC South has laughable defenses, hold for the Indianapolis Colts. The Titans, Jaguars, and Texans should all be smash spots for Allen though.
Inevitably, a marquise name like Mahomes will go too early in your draft (think 3rd round or so). Even if he finishes as QB1, does he do enough to separate himself from other top quarterbacks to justify the price tag? Allen and Rodgers were drafted significantly later than Mahomes and kept pace with him, give or take, for the entire season. You won’t hate having a player like Mahomes on your roster, but you may be thinner at other spots if you fail to find the diamond in the rough that is 2021’s Myles Gaskin, James Robinson, Justin Jefferson, Cole Beasley, or Chase Claypool.
As for the bottom of this elite tier, Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson differentiate themselves from Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson for more frequently exercising their titles of “rushing threats.” To give you some juxtaposition, Deshaun Watson’s highest rushing total has been 50 yards this season. Murray has gone north of that mark 8 times this season and Jackson an eye-popping 11 times. Russell Wilson rushed for two touchdowns in 2020. Jackson punched it in 7 times and Murray did so on 11 different occasions. Say what you want about Watson or Wilson, there’s more upside in the two Heisman winners.
As for ranking Kyler Murray above Lamar Jackson, that decision stems from a better receiving core, supplemented with a true alpha in DeAndre Hopkins. His bailout ability is something that the Ravens truly don’t have and need to address this offseason.
Right in the middle of it all is Mr. MVP himself, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers finished pretty comfortably at QB4 last year and all it took was a top-2 season by his standards. I love Rodgers to death, but he would need to maintain this level of production to earn this position and I wouldn’t be surprised if he underperforms this ranking. So long as he has Davante Adams and a chip on his shoulder, I won’t bet against him, though.