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Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Breakouts: Awesemo’s Top Three Quarterbacks

Geoff Ulrich

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Quarterback has very much been a have-or-have-not position the last two years — in other words, you’ve either had Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson or you haven’t. Both quarterbacks went from being polarizing mid-round picks in 2018 (Mahomes) and 2019 (Jackson), to league-leading QB1s that outscored their nearest competition by over three points and were the best fantasy football breakouts in their respective years.


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Unfortunately, unless you’re in a two-man league, there’s a very good chance that you won’t be drafting either of these superheroes next year as their popularity means inflated ADPs. And maybe that’s a good thing. As good as those two players are, saving your draft capital and identifying the next breakout stars at quarterback for 2020 is how you can really get ahead. While the names this year may not lead to huge record-setting seasons like we’ve seen the last two years, out-performance of ADP by your quarterback — no matter his actual finishing rank — is always a good thing for your team, as it means you’ve been able expend more capital at other positions.

Below, we’ve targeted three quarterbacks to hone in on this year in season-long leagues. None will cost you a high draft pick, as 2020 looks like a great time to be a drafter who likes to wait as long as possible before drafting his or her quarterback. We may not get another late-round Jackson or Mahomes this year, but out-performance of their current ADPs from these three men in 2020 is all on the table.

Awesemo’s Fantasy Football Breakouts: Top Three Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew

Minshew ended his rookie season as QB20 in fantasy football rankings. The sixth-round pick ended up being quite a serviceable quarterback last year at times for fantasy purposes. In his 12 starts and two relief appearances, Minshew threw for 21 touchdowns versus just six interceptions. He also showed some poise on the ground, averaging 24.6 yards per game as a rusher, which put him inside the top five in that category among quarterbacks for the year.

Minshew’s rookie season also starts to look more than just “good” when you consider the kind of pressure he was under. The Jaguars offensive line graded out as the ninth-worst in the league at pass blocking, per Pro Football Focus, yet Minshew still was able to maintain the sixth-lowest interception number in the entire league and had the 10th-best passer rating under pressure among starters.

Minshew also ranked first in deep ball passer rating last year, which should also make you like D.J. Chark, a player I highlighted in my wide receiver breakout candidates column.

Despite Minshew’s downfield prowess, the fact he was one of the most competent quarterbacks under pressure all season and his added rushing capabilities, there’s been little hype for the second-year quarterback in fantasy circles this year. Minshew’s current ADP (203) has him going around QB23, which sticks him well behind players like Jared Goff and Ryan Tannehill, two men who seem far less likely to vastly out-perform their current ranking.

This valuation also seems ludicrous when you consider the fact that Minshew is, unlike last year, entering 2020 with a full offseason (albeit somewhat belated due to COVID-19) to prepare as starter. Already sporting a solid receiver corps, he’ll also have some increased “weaponage” to work with in Tyler Eifert and a healthy Josh Oliver at tight end. The extra man power is good news as the Jaguars featured the ninth-highest passing play percentage in the league last season, a mark, which may even increase considering the team lost Calais Campbell in the offseason and aren’t expected to be much better on defense in 2020. Minshew is currently the #1 quarterback on Awesemo’s fantasy football breakouts list.


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Minshew certainly exceeded expectations in 2019, but 2020 has more fertile ground ahead of him. He’s more appealing than quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, who are both locked into low-volume passing offenses yet have higher ADPs than him. Minshew is a perfect breakout target for those waiting on quarterbacks until late in regular redraft leagues this year.

Joe Burrow

Rookie quarterbacks starting in their first season can be exciting to talk about but often lead to disappointment for fantasy purposes. Since 2016, there have only been three rookie quarterbacks who have cracked the top 20 quarterbacks in terms of overall fantasy points scored at the end of the year, and only one (Kyler Murray, 2019) cracked the top 10. However, despite not getting as much fantasy hype as Murray, Burrow feels like a player who will have a shot at replicating and, perhaps, even exceeding Murray’s fantasy success in 2020.

Like Murray in 2019, Burrow is entering a franchise that has seemingly bottomed the last couple of seasons. The Bengals were close to last in a variety of different categories last year, including points allowed, where they allowed the eighth-most in 2019. After spending their highest two draft picks on offensive players in 2020, this trend seems unlikely to change much in 2020, so we can again expect Cincinnati to be allow a ton of points.

This is a big factor in why Burrow could easily push for back-end or even mid-range QB1 status in his first year. Even if the Bengals want to run more to protect Burrow, they’re not going to be able to stop the fact they’ll be down in a ton of games. Cincinnati had the fifth-highest passing play percentage in the league last year and seem like a great bet to stay at least inside the top 12 in that stat for 2020. If they do, Burrow will not only have a healthy A.J. Green to throw to, but a big slot receiver in Tyler Boyd, a true downfield burner in John Ross and an explosive pass-catching back in Joe Mixon. With Burrow potentially slinging it out to this crew late in games, yards could be aplenty for Burrow in Year 1. And remember, garbage-time points count just the same as regular ones in fantasy.

There’s also the fact Burrow is a plus athlete:

Like Minshew last year, who ranked fifth in rush yards among quarterbacks behind a porous offensive line, Burrow has good escapabilty and rushed for 12 touchdowns his last two years combined at LSU.

There’s always concerns with rookies, especially ones going to bad teams like the Bengals, but the breakout signals seem pretty high with Burrow, especially if all his weapons stay healthy. He’s going around QB20 at the moment with an ADP of 142, which makes him a perfect mid-to-late-round platooning target for 2020. Burrow is currently the #2 quarterback on Awesemo’s fantasy football breakouts list.

Teddy Bridgewater

For fantasy purposes, it’s hard to imagine a quarterback walking into a better situation for 2020 than Teddy Bridgewater. On top of hiring new head coach Matt Rhule, who’s known as a great motivator, the Panthers also brought in Joe Brady from LSU to run the offense. Brady’s spread schemes were responsible for Joe Burrow’s record breaking campaign last season and the Panthers wasted no time in getting Bridgewater surrounded with appropriate weapons for a similar breakout.

Carolina already was in possession of two great burners in Curtis Samuel (4.31 speed) and D.J. Moore (4.43), but then they went out and signed Robby Anderson (4.36). Unsurprisingly, the Panthers have already come out and said they plan on taking a few more downfield shots this season. This is good news for anyone planning to target Bridgewater, as his 7.1 yards per attempt from last year had him ranked just below league average in that area.

Bridgewater may not have a cannon, but his deep ball accuracy might shine through next season with this group of receivers:

On top of some untapped talent and landing in a great scheme, there are also a couple other factors that could really push Bridgewater to perhaps even creep up into the top eight quarterbacks by the end of the season — assuming he stays healthy. The Panthers allowed the second-most points per game last season and, as a result, attempted the second-most passes per game in the entire league. The defense likely won’t be as bad as last year, but it’s not likely to be that much better either. In a division with the Saints, Falcons and Buccaneers, Bridgewater could pick up more garbage-time stats in 2020, which should suit fantasy owners just fine.

Finally, there’s the schedule. Carolina has, on paper, the second-easiest (best) schedule for fantasy football purposes. There are a couple late season games that could see cold weather games — Week 14 at Green Bay, Week 15 at Washington — but the rest is as rosy as it gets. At his current ADP (173, around QB25-27), Bridgewater looks like a fantastic late-round pickup and someone whose high ADP will allow you to platoon him with another late-round quarterback if that late-season schedule worries you. Bridgewater is currently the #3 quarterback on Awesemo’s fantasy football breakouts list.


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