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Biggest Fantasy Busts of 2020 - Quarterback

The 2020 NFL regular season is now in the rear-view mirror, so let's look back on what happened. Today, that means looking back on some busts.

While plenty of good things happened this season, some players didn't live up to expectations. We're going to take a look at some of those players and try to diagnose why 2020 wasn't their year.

Today, we'll be looking at the three biggest quarterback busts of the season. ADP is from FantasyPros, and the final rankings are through the first 16 weeks because we don't need to pretend to care about Week 17 now that Week 17 is over.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens

ADP: QB2
Final Ranking: QB9

It's not a controversial take to call someone a bust even though they finished as a QB1, right?

Jackson's 2019 season made him look like the next big thing, and while he might still be, 2020 showed that there were a few signs we really should have paid more attention to. For example, Jackson led the NFL in 2019 in touchdown rate, tossing one on nine percent of his pass attempts. That was an incredibly high number and it seemed like a lock that regression would set in. And guess what? It did, as that rate fell to 6.9 percent, which is still good, but not astronomically good. He also saw his interception rate rise from 1.5 percent to 2.4 percent. Again, not bad, but enough of an issue that it impacted his overall fantasy scoring.

One issue with Jackson is that so much of his production comes on the ground, so the combination of 17 fewer carries for 0.6 fewer yards per attempt plus the drop in passing yards because of the lack of elite options at receiver for the Ravens led to some regression that probably should have been expected.

That said, Jackson was still very good! But, he was coming off the board in the second round in fantasy drafts last year, so you have to be more than just very good to justify that. Patrick Mahomes, for instance, was being drafted as the QB1 at 16th overall, one spot above Jackson. He finished 2020 as the overall QB3 with 380.4 fantasy points. Jackson had 316.56. Mahomes was arguably drafted too high in retrospect, so Jackson was definitely drafted too high. You could have gotten better production out of guys being drafted in Round 5 or later.

 

Carson Wentz - Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: QB11
Final Ranking: QB21

Never a good thing when a guy gets benched for a rookie!

Wentz was being drafted like a low-end QB1. And on a per-game basis, he was basically returning that value. If we eliminate guys who played in fewer than 10 games, Wentz was the QB15 in fantasy points per game. Drafting him at QB11 and having him finish at QB15 would have been a fine outcome. You might have been a little peeved you took him instead of waiting for a few rounds and taking Ryan Tannehill or Kirk Cousins, but you could have dealt with that.

The problem was that Wentz finished as the QB21 because his ineffectiveness in real life became a liability for him in fantasy. After not throwing for more than two touchdowns in any games and tossing multiple picks six times, the Eagles benched him against the Packers in Week 13, and we didn't see Wentz on the field again.

Availability matters when we're analyzing players. Through 12 weeks, Wentz had been on the field for virtually every snap and his career-high five rushing touchdowns had kept his value up. But then, fantasy managers lost Wentz for the rest of the season at the worst time for that. That's why Wentz goes down as a bust this year.

 

Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons

ADP: QB10
Final Ranking: QB13

While his overall ranking wasn't too far below his ADP, Matt Ryan likely would have finished a couple more spots back had Dak Prescott and Gardner Minshew II started the full season.

One of the biggest issues for Ryan this year was that he only had nine games with Julio Jones. Per the RotoViz game splits app, here are Ryan's numbers in games with/without Jones:

It's pretty clear from this that Ryan's numbers took a hit when he didn't have Jones. The biggest hit was in terms of yards, as the QB dropped from 309.67 per game with Jones to 256.29 per game without Jones. He also turned the ball over more with Julio out.

The QB has been lucky to have a top-level wide receiver in Jones for most of his career. While Matt Ryan is inarguably a good quarterback, he's not an elite quarterback. He needs someone like Jones on the outside to help him out. And while Calvin Ridley can give you a good approximation of Jones, having to use Ridley as the No. 1 option really exposes how the Falcons' depth at receiver takes a quick dive. Russell Gage is fine. Beyond that, though...meh.

Ryan's issues weren't all Jones related, though. Despite leading the NFL in completions for the second season in a row, Ryan threw touchdowns on just 4.2 percent of his passes. While his interception rate was fine, the QB's inability to find the endzone on a consistent basis has been an issue even with Jones in the lineup, as 4.2 percent was also last year's touchdown rate.

To put this in context, 2020's 4.2 percent touchdown rate ranks 24th in the NFL among players to throw at least 100 passes. He had the same rate as Andy Dalton. Joe Flacco was ahead of him. Ryan just has this weird inability to find the end zone despite high pass volume. He had that huge 2016 season where he threw 38 touchdowns and in 2018 he threw 35, but it seems like more often than not Ryan tops out in the mid-20s in touchdown passes. That limits his upside.

He also just doesn't run. Simple math shows that running quarterbacks produce more than non-running quarterbacks since you get 0.1 points per rushing yard but 0.04 per passing yard. Ryan had two rushing touchdowns, but just 92 yards this year. That's an average of 5.8 rushing yards per game, his lowest mark since 2015. The aging QB will probably keep scrambling less and less, which also lowers his upside going forward.



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