Dynasty Fantasy Football: 3 Buy-Low Quarterbacks
With free agency going and the NFL Draft not too far away, the level of activity in your dynasty leagues should be ramping back up.
I find this window -- between free agency and the draft -- a great time to trade. Unless you're lucky enough to be in a league that's active year-round, your leaguemates are likely to be more interested in the NFL right now than they were a month ago, something that's particularly true at the moment with the sports world on pause. And with free agency shaking up situations around the league, the market can be pretty fluid and unpredictable.
We've already covered wideouts, tight ends and running backs in this position-by-position series that hits on players I'm buying at each of the fantasy-relevant spots. Let's take a look at three quarterbacks who make for good buys right now.
All average draft position (ADP) data comes from Dynasty League Football's March startup ADP numbers. We'll look at superflex data in this piece, too, since quarterbacks are more relevant in that format.
Baker Mayfield, Browns
One-QB ADP: 107th overall (QB9)
Superflex ADP: 28th overall
A year ago, Baker Mayfield was a hot commodity in dynasty. Coming off a pretty great rookie campaign, Mayfield was the QB6 last March and was being taken 14th overall in superflex drafts. He rose as high as the QB4 in August.
Then Baker took to the field and stunk it up in 2019. He's now the QB9 and has fallen roughly a full round in superflex startups.
It's undeniable Mayfield struggled in his first full season under center -- in both real life and in fantasy. By our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Mayfield ranked 32nd on a per-drop-back basis in 2019 among the guys to drop back at least 150 times. He recorded just 0.01 Passing NEP per drop back. The league average was 0.10, and Baker's 0.01 mark tied him with -- gulp -- Mitchell Trubisky.
Fantasy-wise, Mayfield was the season-long QB20 and was QB27 by points per game among passers who played at least eight games.
He. Was. Bad.
But there are reasons for optimism. The two most impactful changes the Cleveland Browns have made so far this offseason -- adding offensive line help and a change at head coach -- should aid Baker.
Cleveland's offensive line had a rough go of it in 2019, with PFF ranking the Browns with the 10th-worst line. The woes in the trenches led to Mayfield getting, on average, just 2.78 seconds to throw, per Next Gen Stats, which ranked as the 23rd-most among qualified signal callers. Cleveland tried to address this in free agency by signing Jack Conklin, and they could add more beef up front in the draft, with a few mocks predicting them to do so in the first round.
At head coach, Kevin Stefanski is taking over for Freddie Kitchens. Baker and Kitchens worked well in 2018, but they weren't able to replicate that success a season ago. Stefanski progressed through the ranks as an offensive coach, and he helped Kirk Cousins finish 2019 -- the first year in which Stefanski called plays full time -- with the league's fourth-best passer rating and seventh-best clip in Passing NEP per drop back.
Also, don't sleep on how good of a prospect Baker was. Mayfield going first overall might have surprised some, but it was absolutely the right call going by analytics. And Baker now has Austin Hooper to throw to alongside Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, giving him a slew of top-notch options.
In short, Cleveland should be improved up front, and when you pair that with all the weapons Mayfield has at his disposal, there are a lot of reasons to believe a bounce-back season is in the cards. Baker can still be a very good fantasy quarterback for a long time, and this is a great window to buy.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
One-QB ADP: 152nd (QB16)
Superflex ADP: 53rd
Matthew Stafford was the real deal last year, and due to the his season getting shortened to eight games, it's kind of flown under the radar.
By our metrics, Stafford was the league's fourth-best passer in 2019 on a per-drop-back basis. He ranked fourth in fantasy points per game (20.8) and threw for 312.4 yards per outing, the second-best mark of his career. He put up at least 23 fantasy points in five of eight starts. Guy was legitimately ballin' out.
Of course, Stafford got in just eight games before a season-ending back injury. But the guy is somehow going into just his age-32 campaign in 2020, and he's got an underrated group of pass-catchers around him, led by Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson and Marvin Jones, the latter of whom is a nice buy-low option himself.
Stafford is currently 53rd overall in superflex startups, and while I don't think he's some kind of screaming value, I do think he's a tad cheaper than he should be given his age, locked-in role and 2019 production, even if it was half a season.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
ADP: 233rd (QB30)
Superflex ADP: 110th
As has been the case a few times in this position-by-position series, we can find cheap production by targeting aging veterans.
Ben Roethlisberger, going into his age-38 season, is certainly a short-term investment, but I think he still has some juice left.
Big Ben tossed just 62 passes last year, so we can't take much from that. In 2018, however, he paced the league with 5,129 yards while chucking 34 tuddies and ranking as the QB3 both overall and by points per game. In fact, going by points per game, Roethlisberger has been a top-10 quarterback in each of his last five seasons (not counting 2019).
He's the QB30 right now.
I get the fears here. A lot has changed since that 2018 season, with Roethlisberger suffering a serious elbow injury and Antonio Brown departing. But the tandem of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson isn't bad, and the addition of Eric Ebron should help.
He should have volume on his side, too. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the most pass-heavy team in the league in 2018, throwing it on 66.6% of their plays. That was the continuation of a trend that has seen the Steelers post a pass rate of at least 57.5% in every year since 2012, with last year -- when they went to a more run-heavy attack sans Big Ben -- being the lone exception.
As long as Roethlisberger is fully healthy -- early reports are good -- he's capable of delivering a QB1 (top-12) season in 2020. Just one quality season would more or less make him worth his current cost, which has him outside the top 100 overall players in superflex. Plus, there's a chance he could be good beyond 2020. In superflex formats, unless you're loaded at quarterback, Roethlisberger is a player you should be targeting this offseason.