Last-Minute Gifts: Quarterbacks

Eric Hardter

With week 16 in the books and another season behind us, what’s a dynasty aficionado to do? Hopefully, you’re able to bask in the warmth of a hard-won championship (or two…or three), but our work as owners is never done. At DLF our motto is “there is no off-season,” and as such I’m hoping to lay out some potential next steps as we navigate into the long, cold fantasy football-less months.

In that spirit, and taking the holidays into account, this mini-series seeks to explore some players who were able to show signs of fantasy viability (whether newly proven or resurgent), but still appear to be discounted per the DLF ADP (as of December 2019). In other words, these players have outperformed what would currently constitute their startup draft slot. So even though (most of) the fantasy championships are in the rearview, I want to provide my opinions on which players you can do a little last-minute shopping for! Let’s get started with the quarterbacks!

Josh Allen, BUF


2019 Player Rank = QB6

I touched on Allen in a recent Sunday Six Pack article, where I posited that he was very close to joining the dynasty signal-caller upper echelon. I’m here to reiterate that viewpoint, as there still appears to be a small inequity in his performance versus his cost.

While it’s fair to argue Allen will never match the efficiency stats of a standard pocket passer, he’s clearly improved in nearly all relevant passing categories from his rookie season. To that point, his accuracy has improved by a whopping 6%, he’s turned a negative turnover differential into a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio, his yards per game have gone up by just over 30, and he’s even nominally improved his yards per attempt. Much of this can be attributed to the improved supporting cast, but Allen is still doing a better job of making the throws.

More importantly, his running ability has continued to distinguish him from all quarterbacks not named Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray. While his rushing efficiency has dipped, he remains third in the league in rushing yardage, and first in the league in rushing touchdowns. All told, on a weekly basis he’s been able to add seven points per game to his output solely by running the ball.

The Bills are clearly a team on the rise, and Allen is a big part of it. I expect him to continue to grow and potentially solidify his place as an elite fantasy quarterback.

Matthew Stafford, DET

ADP = QB16

2019 Player Rank = QB29 (QB3 in PPG)

What if the 2018 season was merely a blip on the radar for the Lions signal-caller? It was the first time since 2010 that he failed to throw for at least 4,200 yards and the first time since 2012 that his yards per attempt dipped below 7.0. Seemingly, the goodwill Stafford had been able to build up over the previous years dissipated with one down season.

It’s true Stafford’s 2019 was cut short due to injury, but he’s long shed the “Mr. Glass” moniker that saw him miss 19 games over his first two seasons prior to an iron man stretch of eight straight 16-game campaigns, and this particular malady isn’t expected to linger into 2020. More importantly, Stafford recaptured his mojo from previous years, averaging 25.9 PPG as a high-end QB1. He was on pace for 5,000 yards, put forward a sterling 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio, and was smoking his previous best YPA by 0.7 yards. Even if his pace slowed, we were looking at a midrange QB1 at worst.

Perhaps the best thing about Stafford is how it never gets old that he, well, never gets old. Amazingly despite 11 years in the league, he will only be 32 come 2020. At a position where the greats have shown an ability to play into their mid-to-late 30’s (and beyond), I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect at least five more years of high-level output. Given all this, you might not find a better value at the position.

Daniel Jones, NYG

ADP = QB19

2019 Player Rank = QB20 (QB12 in PPG)

In many ways, Jones is a combination of the two players I’ve just chronicled. Much like Stafford, you need to separate the signal from the noise and ignore that which initially caused your doubts (in this case it was the off-season chatter about what a terrible pick he was). Similar to Allen, while Jones has holes in his game, he’s been able to add a little bit of value via his legs (just over three PPG running the ball).

All told it’s impossible to view Jones’ rookie season as anything other than a success. He fumbles the ball way too much and takes too many sacks, but has a completion percentage north of 62%, and over a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio. He’s thrown in a few “spike” weeks, with four games of four or more total scores, and has provided at least one touchdown in every game. He’s managed to do this despite having literally every relevant weapon shelved for multiple games.

Clearly, Jones is not the laughingstock many expected. More importantly, he’s shown the traits for us to believe he could actually wind up being genuinely good. For the cost of a low-end QB2, the upside and proven ability clearly surpass the cost.

Teddy Bridgewater, NO

ADP = QB31

2019 Player Rank = QB40 (QB31 in PPG)

Admittedly, Bridgewater is a pickup geared more towards those in superflex and 2QB leagues. And as you can tell, his numbers don’t exactly jump off the screen. However, it’s prudent to note that during Drew Brees’ injury-related absence, the once-and-perhaps-future starter got better as the games went on.

After mediocre performances versus the Rams, Seahawks, and Cowboys (though the latter two resulted in wins), Bridgewater upped the ante in contests against Bucs, Jaguars, and Bears. Over that three-game stretch, Teddy averaged 278 passing yards per game (7.7 YPA) and had seven total passing scores to just one turnover, while only taking four sacks. While these surely weren’t the strongest defenses, good things happened when Bridgewater was allowed to put the offense on his back.

To me, this is the most important point. For a player who had been starved for an ability to start games following his horrific injury, Bridgewater appeared to get better the more he was able to settle in. In a league where there may only be around 15-20 actually good quarterbacks, his brief output is notable for a player on a one-year contract with many teams starved for talent at the position. You’ll likely never want him as your QB1, but there’s more of a chance now that Bridgewater is able to resurrect his career.

Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27 (even though I don’t post anymore).

eric hardter