Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray highlight the new wave of fantasy quarterbacks who add a robust rushing game to their stat line. Gone are the Peyton Mannings of fantasy, strict pocket passers who are solely drafted for their passing ability.
New era fantasy quarterbacks add a whole new aspect of scoring to the game and because of that, fantasy quarterback scoring has taken off in the past couple years. In 2018, Mahomes set a new record for fantasy points scored in a season by a quarterback with 417.1 points according to fantasydata.com, differing among various scoring systems. Last year, Jackson nearly matched it by scoring 415.7 points.
While Mahomes’ success was due to his arguably unmatched ability to throw the ball, Jackson utilized his insane running game to put up stats, rushing for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns. At first glance, these seem like stud running back numbers.
Still, people have talked plenty about these two quarterbacks, so it’s time for the rest of the elite signal-callers to get their turn.
Most would argue that Wilson is superior to the rest of this group in terms of real-life play but in the world of fantasy, he’s a lot closer. Wilson has been a regular top 10 fantasy for a good part of the last decade. As of now, he’s 31 years old and still elite.
His rushing stats don’t do him justice in regards to his ability to run the football, notching 340 yards and three touchdowns last season, but he’s on just as high a level as everyone else. Wilson has seen his receiving core expand over the past few years and now has two great targets in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Both will be high fantasy commodities themselves and boost the value of Wilson.
Seattle’s run game has been subject to many injuries, as their best three running backs got injured last year, leading them to bring back Marshawn Lynch. They have talent this year in Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Carlos Hyde, but if injuries resurface, expect Wilson to be throwing the ball at a high volume.
Picking Wilson gives an fantasy owner consistency and a guaranteed return on the pick, barring any injury. His ceiling isn’t what’s drawing owners in, it’s his track record.
Not many people are talking about Prescott without mentioning his contract disputes, but don’t let that distract from the fact that he put up a career season last year. It seems as if the addition of Amari Cooper to the team put his weapons over the top, as he ranked second among all fantasy quarterbacks in scoring. His rushing numbers haven’t changed much, they’re decent, but his passing numbers were greatly inflated at 4,900 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Prescott throws a decent bit of interceptions, but it’s not nearly enough to disqualify him from top-tier quarterback play. He’s in arguably the most coveted quarterback position in the league with the Cowboys’ great offensive line protecting him, Cooper and Michael Gallup at wide receiver and Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield as another passing option that also bolsters their offense. Prescott isn’t nearly as talented as Russell Wilson, but his situation makes the two extremely comparable in fantasy play.
Another thing to note this season is that Prescott is playing under a franchise tag. His contract negotiations have been held back to next year, with Prescott aiming for a four-year contract. With this in mind, he has extra motivation to put up big numbers that will no doubt be mentioned in negotiating the biggest contract of his career next offseason. Of course he always wants to perform well to help his team win, but it doesn’t hurt that he has his personal interests in mind while he’s on the field.
The Internet freaked out when the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for David Johnson and two draft picks. Watson’s weapons appear to be very watered down, but they’re not nearly as bad as they seem.
The team added Brandin Cooks who is a great deep threat for Watson along with Will Fuller. If Fuller can stay healthy for most of the season (which is a big if), the two make the ceiling on Watson’s 2020 very high. Kenny Stills adds another deep threat for the team that can stay on the field consistently. David Johnson was one of the premier pass-catching backs in the league before his injury troubles, but if he’s healthy he could be in for a huge season.
Watson seemingly shook off his shoddy offensive line last season when he took 20 fewer sacks than the previous year where he led the league in it. He has the potential and the talent to have a top-three year at the position, but there’s a lot that could go wrong. Watson will have to depend on his team staying healthy, and if they do, he’ll have multiple deep threats and a star running back anchoring his offense.
Murray lived up to the hype last season, placing eighth among fantasy quarterbacks. With last year’s experience under his belt and a brand new superstar wide receiver on his team, there’s no reason he can’t be in the top four or five this year.
Along with Deandre Hopkins, Murray’s arsenal of receivers includes future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald on the last legs of his career and Christian Kirk, who showed loads of potential last year with 700 yards in 13 games. Murray should have three legitimately good receivers to throw to this year, raising his already high ceiling.
In terms of rushing ability, Murray has the most potential out of these four quarterbacks. As a young player, he still has fresh legs and should improve upon his 544 yards and 4 touchdowns last year. If he can do that, paired with his passing stats likely to improve as well, he could be looking at fantasy superstardom by the end of this season. If a fantasy owner wants a quarterback with a high ceiling, they should go with Murray.
Featured image courtesy of Dallas Morning News.