3 Late-Round Quarterbacks Who Offer Rushing Upside in Fantasy Football
In 2013, on this very site, Rich Hribar first detailed the Konami Code, and in 2020, it seems that cheat code has been fully realized. No longer will you find a Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray available at a discount.
But maybe Jackson putting together one of the best fantasy quarterback seasons in history in 2019 is leaving us with unrealistic standards for what to expect from signal callers in the double-digit rounds in 2020. So while we need to keep expectations in check, budget shoppers should take a look at the following cheap quarterbacks who offer rushing upside.
All average draft position (ADP) info comes from BestBall10's May ADP data, and we are going to focus on passers going outside the top 150 overall players.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
ADP: 156th (QB13)
Daniel Jones flashed intermittently as a rookie, and many may have had the pleasure of using him during his on weeks. Now, Danny Dimes is looking to become a more consistent and efficient passer in Year 2.
More to the point -- Jones can bring the Konami Code to your fantasy team in the double-digit rounds, unlike many quarterbacks going in front of him.
Doing some quick math with Pro Football Reference's advanced passing data, we can see that Jones scrambled on 5.2% of designed pass plays (a designed pass play being a scramble, pass attempt, or sack taken). That rate is the ninth-highest among passers with 200 or more designed pass plays. Moreover, the former Blue Devil was one of the league's most efficient scramblers at 8.4 yards per scramble, which was fourth-best, behind only Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill, and Patrick Mahomes. He also posted a mark of 0.50 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry. For context, Jackson has 0.52 Rushing NEP per attempt, though it came on significantly more volume.
One cap on Jones' Konami Code appeal in 2019 was the lack of designed run plays. Jones ran 45 times as a rookie -- of which 27 were scrambles. That leaves only 18 designed runs, a number which, due to the quirks of quarterback stats, includes kneel downs. Fortunately, Jason Garrett appears willing to call run plays for his signal-caller as evidenced by Dak Prescott's rushing totals despite Prescott scrambling at a lower rate than Jones did.
Jones can't necessarily be called a bargain, but he is a player who gives you solid running ability, which helps with his weekly floor as well as the weekly ceiling. We project him for the sixth-most rushing attempts (61) and sixth-most rushing yards (266) among all passers.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
ADP: 175th (QB19)
Joe Burrow may have the highest ceiling of anyone in this article after he redefined what we believed to be possible from college quarterbacks.
Our models project Burrow for just 38 rushing attempts and 156 rushing yards, but converting college rushing attempts intp pro numbers is a tricky exercise and subject to high variance. In addition to kneel downs, NCAA stats count sacks as rushing attempts. For a player like Burrow, who was sacked 34 times in his final college season, this can have a noticeable impact on his numbers.
Despite this, Burrow ran for 368 yards in 2019, and his 2018 rushing numbers are marginally better than that. Despite his many strengths, Burrow seems predisposed to taking sacks and is behind what should be a below-average offensive line with the Cincinnati Bengals, even with Jonah Williams back. Luckily, the NFL differs from college football in how sacks are treated statistically.
All this is to say: Burrow offers at least some rushing upside.
So don't go expecting Michael Vick output on the ground, but Burrow can absolutely be a productive passer who sprinkles in 200 to 300 rushing yards on top. That makes him appealing as his price of QB19.
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars
ADP: 200th (QB26)
Gardner Minshew lead the league in scrambles last year with 49 and was tops among passers who had 200 or more designed pass plays with an 8.9% scramble rate. Correctly stating that Minshew scrambled at a higher rate than Jackson is likely to win you a few bar bets, but it's also rendered less meaningful by the discrepancy in designed runs -- Jackson had 137 while Minshew had just 18.
Still, The Mustache is fully capable of taking a leap forward in Year 2 with the added rushing element.
There's some reason for skepticism in Minshew's newfound rushing prowess. Since sacks are included in collegiate rushing yardage, Minshew failed to crack positive rushing yardage until his senior season, and even then, he ran for only 119 yards as a senior. This is all despite being sacked far less at Washington State than Burrow was at LSU.
There may be a few red flags with Minshew, but for his price, the value simply can't be beat. In one-quarterback formats, he'll open the year in streaming-only territory, but in two-quarterback leagues, he's a cheap option that could wind up being a QB2.
Tyrod Taylor (ADP 235th; QB34) may not be a year-long option, but his rushing upside paired with an outstanding supporting cast make for an obvious Konami Code quarterback as long as he remains the starter. Taylor is likely to start at least a few games and is unlikely to disappoint -- at least fantasy-wise -- when he does.
Cam Newton (ADP 235th; QB33) doesn't have a team currently, and the league is lacking an obvious starting gig. But if he's able to land a starting role, his resume speaks for itself. Even if Cam is a shell of his former self, the discount will likely be steep enough for him to provide value.
Jalen Hurts isn't in line to start anytime soon, but his 1,298 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns as a senior at Oklahoma speak to his profound upside as a runner. His substantial experience and late-career efficiency as a passer hint that he may provide some upside in that aspect of the game, as well. He needs to at least be on the radar in two-quarterbacks leagues, and if he was forced into a starting role with the Philadelphia Eagles, he'd immediately be on the streaming radar in one-quarterback formats.
Conversely, Taysom Hill (240th; QB38) has never displayed much passing efficiency at any level, but if he cracks the starting lineup for the New Orleans Saints, he'll provide so much rushing upside that fantasy managers won't care (unless you also have Michael Thomas.) There's also a decent chance that Hill is listed as a tight end in your league, further increasing his upside and giving you the chance to play an extra quarterback.
Keep Using the Konami Code
More and more fantasy players are catching on. Exploiting the Konami Code no longer provides the same kind of advantage as it once did, but it's very far from dead. Avoid the statuesque quarterbacks late in your fantasy draft, and look at these mobile quarterbacks instead.