Three Late Round Quarterbacks Worth Waiting For (Fantasy Football)

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The late-round quarterback movement has exploded in the last few years. I recall being shocked at how long some guys stayed on the board last season and actually found myself being one of the first teams to take a quarterback if someone plummeted too far. Patrick Mahomes threw a 50 touchdown-sized wrench into the rhetoric going into last season, but thankfully his ADP leveled out quite a bit from where he was going in the summer. 

This season will be no different, except now we have two quarterbacks to ponder early on. Lamar Jackson and Pat Mahomes will be drafted within the first five rounds in most leagues, with Jackson carrying some serious risk to be overdrafted. Since I’m a hardcore late-round quarterback believer, I’m spending my efforts finding the best value in the twilight rounds instead. Let’s take a look at three of my favorite targets based on current ADP:

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns – ADP: 12.04 

Some players are overdrafted and some narratives go too far. Baker Mayfield falls into both categories, just different seasons. In 2019 he was going off the board in the middle of the draft after a solid rookie campaign and the addition of Odell Beckham. History has screamed at us that receivers don’t ever do well on a new team in their first year, even the best ones. I fell into the OBJ trap just like everyone else, but Baker was a time bomb waiting to happen. I’ll be the first to admit I expected a better season than he gave us, but looking back on 2019 as a whole, it’s pretty apparent that the entire organization was a mess. 

Kevin Stefanski has taken over the reins in Cleveland this year, and he has a solid resume that should bode well for the third-year signal-caller. He’s coached alongside 13 starting NFL quarterbacks, orchestrated a top-five offense with Case Keenum, and is coming off a top ten offensive output with Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. Mayfield struggled with seeing ghosts in 2019, but the Browns’ offensive line is much improved and he has another full offseason (kind of) to build chemistry with OBJ, Landry, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and the newly acquired Austin Hooper. His supporting cast is strong, they should have an excellent run game, and Mayfield should improve under Stefanski’s guidance. The most important aspect of his bounce-back potential is his ADP. He’s going off the board behind Big Ben, Cam Newton, and Daniel Jones. For a guy who had an ADP in the seventh round just a season ago, there’s enough here to slap a massive late-round target on his back. 

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams – ADP: 14.05

Sean McVay somehow went from the man orchestrating the comeback of The Greatest Show on Turf to another decent young coach who’s quarterback can safely be ignored in fantasy drafts. I won’t sugarcoat the motivation behind this ADP….  Goff was terrible in 2019. I think his output was a product of the offense struggling in multiple areas, but when the play-action scheme that helped McVay rise to fame was running smoothly, he had a lot of easy pitch and catch opportunities. His 2018 campaign was phenomenal from a fantasy standpoint, and McVay is too good of a coach to ignore. It’s arbitrary to pick a random week to cut things off, but since this is my article, I’m going to do it anyway. The last five weeks of 2019 saw the Rams accelerate in a number of categories offensively. I’m biased to Tyler Higbee, and this is the exact time frame that he became the starter after Gerald Everett went down. There’s a conspiracy theorists argument there that Higbee unlocked a lot of potential in LA. Time will tell, but it’s fine to be excited right now. 

Getty Images / Sean M. Haffey

I would bet a lot of money that Sean McVay noticed the offensive explosion once Higbee was featured and the improvement seen in his quarterback. Goff’s completion percentage jumped 5%, his yards per game went up more than 10%, and the Rams PPG improved substantially. If McVay is the data savant we all assume he is, I can promise you that he figured something out that caused this. The play-action tendencies in his offense increased, and the production went with it. If McVay continues these trends in 2020, Jared Goff will be an absolute steal at the quarterback position, simply because his offense will be built to help him succeed. 

Ryan Tannehill, Titans – ADP: 14.02 

What am I missing here? I know QB explosions come and go, but Tannehill was a top-seven quarterback from week five on. The offense is built around Derrick Henry, but that functions as an open door for Tannehill to run through, and an open window for him to chuck bombs to A.J Brown. I don’t expect top-five production from Tannehill in 2020, but his rushing ability and efficient play-action structure should provide for some huge games just like we saw in 2019. It’s tough to pin down a late-round target that can blow up, but it’s even tougher to be handed one that already did. 

His ADP suggests that he should be a swing for the fences streamer in 2020, but the back half of last year showed us he has capabilities to be an every-week starter in fantasy. His accuracy will remain a concern of course, and AJ Brown is due to regress, but this draft price is too phenomenal to ignore. He’s basically free at this point. If the Tennessee process breaks down in 2020, it will be easy to drop him for a streamer. I don’t use this word loosely, but this is some genuine disrespect for a man who helped people make the fantasy playoffs and has had absolutely no changes to his situation except a truckload of dolla dolla bills, y’all. He was paid, and Henry was paid. The boys are happy. Tennessee should rock and roll right into a solid 2020 campaign and Tannehill should provide easy value for fantasy leagues.

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