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DRAFT DAY: Late-Round QB Picks With Top-10 Upside

In a recent mock draft I participated in, I drafted Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the 10th round. It was one of those drafts where Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson come off the board, and then a staring contest ensues to see who can wait the longest and still get a viable weekly starter under center.

When I drafted Ryan, one of the other managers in the chat mentioned that it seemed like I drafted either Ryan or Detroit’s Matthew Stafford in just about every league. That’s not entirely true this year— I have multiple shares of Mahomes and Jackson in 2020. But it is accurate that I usually wait at quarterback.

Well, that was uncalled for.

The value at the position lies with patience — with only one starter at the position in most leagues, there are still players like Ryan and Stafford available in the double-digit rounds of many drafts.

As a matter of fact, you can take this strategy one step farther. Even in “typical fantasy leagues where the Top 10 quarterbacks are off the board by the end of the eighth round, there are still players available after that who have the potential to emerge as at least a low-end weekly starter.

If you’re really feeling froggy, you can wait until the later rounds (per Average Draft Position Data at Fantasy Football Calculator) and still land a fantasy quarterback with Top 10 fantasy upside. After stacking your roster with talent at running back, wide receiver and tight end, you can grab a couple of these quarterbacks late and platoon your way to a championship.


 Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP 145.8, QB18)

In 2019, Burrow peeled off arguably the best season ever by a collegiate quarterback — 5,671 passing yards, 60 touchdown passes and both a Heisman trophy and national title. Expecting those kinds of numbers as the starter for a Bengals team that won just two games last year is … um … a little nuts. But Frank Ammirante of Rotoballer believes that Burrow has all the tools necessary to be a Top 10 fantasy option.

“Burrow checks off all of the boxes you look for when searching for a value quarterback,” he said. “He has a strong supporting cast filled with an impressive array of weapons. The Cincinnati Bengals project as a weak defense, providing shootout opportunities. Burrow enters his rookie season as one of the more pro-ready prospects in recent memory. His athleticism allows for rushing upside. The Bengals have several enticing matchups during the fantasy playoffs. The team should also see improvement in (its) offensive line. When you add up each of these factors, you can’t help but come away intrigued with his potential in 2020. In fact, I’m convinced Burrow is going to finish as a Top 10 fantasy quarterback in his rookie season.”

In Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green, Burrow has a solid pair of wideouts at his disposal. Cincinnati’s offensive line should be much better with second-year pro Jonah Williams healthy. Burrow quietly rushed for more than 350 yards last year. And as we saw from Arizona’s Kyler Murray last year, it’s possible for a rookie quarterback to sneak into the Top 10 fantasy options.

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (ADP 150.2, QB19)

Goff’s NFL career has had more twists and turns than a telenovela. As a rookie, he was mostly awful. When Sean McVay arrived in Los Angeles, though, Goff surged — including a 4,688 passing yard, 32-touchdown, QB6 finish in Sharks League scoring season in 2018. Goff’s numbers dipped a year ago though, leading many fantasy managers to cast the fifth-year pro aside. As Sosa Kremenjas reported for Pro Football Focus, that’s being done rather hastily.

“Goff has proven to be one of the more underrated yet consistent options at quarterback dating back to the Rams’ hiring of head coach Sean McVay,” he said. “Since 2017, Goff ranks third in passing yards (13,130), fifth in touchdowns (82) and eighth in yards per attempt (7.9) among all quarterbacks with 500-plus pass attempts. In addition to his raw numbers — which stack up tremendously against other NFL quarterbacks — Goff has been highly usable in fantasy, with finishes of QB12 this past season (273.5 points), QB6 in 2018 (326.3 points) and QB12 in 2017 (268.3 points).”

The Rams may not be the team that represented the NFC in Super Bowl LIII anymore, but the passing game isn’t bereft of weapons. With an iffy running game, the Rams are going to be a throw-first team. And provided that Goff stays healthy in 2020 (he’s missed one game the past three years) it’s a safe bet that he’s going to blow his modest asking price out of the water.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.