The offseason presents plenty of opportunities to make dynasty trades to acquire veteran players, as many owners are preoccupied with the incoming rookie class. This is particularly true right now, as the 2020 rookie class is receiving plenty of accolades and hype, and for good reason. However, the futures of rookie quarterback prospects like Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa are still very much undecided. On the other hand, we have enough NFL film and statistics to make determinations on some current quarterbacks. Here are three veteran quarterbacks to target in dynasty trades this offseason.
It’s a stretch to call Kyler Murray a veteran just yet with only one season under his belt, but the rookie certainly played like a veteran for much of the 2019 season. Despite some spans of inconsistency, which is to be expected for any first-year player, Murray finished the season as the no. 8 quarterback in fantasy. He recorded 3,722 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions and added 544 yards on the ground along with four rushing touchdowns. In fact, Murray is just the second rookie quarterback to pass for over 3,500 yards and run for over 500 yards, and he is the sixth quarterback to ever do so.
While a top-10 fantasy finish as a rookie is impressive, there is reason to suggest that Murray’s ceiling could be even higher in 2020. The majority of his 3,722 passing yards went to a 36 year-old Larry Fitzgerald, and Murray was also without his other top target, Christian Kirk, for three games due to a high ankle sprain. And though Murray’s 64.4 completion percentage as a rookie is notable, it’s even more remarkable taking into account the poor play of Arizona’s offensive line this season. Per Football Outsiders, the Cardinals’ offensive line ranked 21st in pass protection, and per Pro Football Reference, Murray was hurried on 67 drop backs, tied for third-most in the league.
With even minor upgrades in free agency or via the NFL draft to Arizona’s receiving corps and offensive line, Murray should see improvement in his passing stats next year. Even if Murray doesn’t significantly improve upon his passing production next season, his 544 rushing yards in 2019 ranked second in quarterbacks behind only Lamar Jackson. Murray’s rushing production gives him both a safe floor and high ceiling, virtually guaranteeing a repeat top-10 fantasy finish with a chance to finish the 2020 season in the top three at his position. Murray is a rare buy-high target in dynasty with a good chance to be a perennial fantasy QB1. He’s worth a late first-round rookie pick even in one-quarterback formats, and Murray is worth the price of even two early first-round rookie picks or more in superflex or two-quarterback leagues.
Barely a year after many proclaimed him to be a top-three dynasty quarterback, Baker Mayfield‘s dynasty value has plummeted. Following a noteworthy rookie campaign, Mayfield struggled in his second year. His completion percentage fell from 63.8 percent down to 59.4 percent, and his touchdown to interception ratio fell from nearly two-to-one to barely over one-to-one. Worse still, Mayfield’s sophomore regression came despite the addition of Odell Beckham last offseason. But while Mayfield has bad habits of leaving the pocket too early when pressured and trying to do too much on extended plays, much of the blame for a miserable 2019 campaign falls on the organization around him.
For one, the trade in which the Browns acquired Beckham last offseason was addition by subtraction. Though Cleveland added a superstar wide receiver, they lost guard Kevin Zeitler among others. In part due to that loss, the Browns’ offensive line ranked just 17th in pass protection this past season per Football Outsiders. Compounding the weakness of the offensive line was head coach Freddie Kitchens’s propensity for calling deep passes that require slow-developing routes. Just above, I mentioned that Kyler Murray was hurried on the third-highest amount of drop backs this season. Per Pro Football Reference, Mayfield was hurried on 70 drop backs, more than Murray and second only to Russell Wilson. And finally, though Beckham didn’t statistically disappoint, eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth time in his six years in the league, he was hampered all season long by a groin or sports hernia injury that occurred during training camp.
The Browns have already rectified their organizational dysfunction by parting ways with both Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey. Though there are no assurances that whoever Cleveland hires to lead the team in 2020 will succeed, it’s hard to imagine them doing a much worse job than Kitchens did in 2019. Ultimately, the burden falls upon Mayfield to continue developing and making better decisions on the field. However, his supporting cast could see big improvements depending on who will be running the offense next season, hopefully getting a fully healthy Beckham, and a potentially improved offensive line depending on what moves Cleveland makes this offseason. Mayfield is worth acquiring for a mid second-round rookie pick or less in one-quarterback formats, and he’s still worth an early first-round rookie pick in superflex or two-quarterback leagues despite the allure of the incoming rookies.
There’s plenty of risk in investing in a soon-to-be 38 year-old quarterback, but Ben Roethlisberger could be an ideal one-year rental for contending dynasty teams or a cheap asset to flip for profit in a few months. The Steelers’ offense was an abject disaster following Roethlisberger’s elbow injury early in the season. Neither Mason Rudolph nor Devlin Hodges showed any semblance of competency, solidifying Roethlisberger as the incumbent for the starting job in Pittsburgh once healthy in 2020.
Though two thirds of the “Killer B’s” have moved on, even without Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell, Roethlisberger will be returning to a Steelers offense that’s full of supporting talent. Second-year wide receiver James Washington developed into a veritable deep threat this season with 12.8 yards before the catch per reception, ranking seventh in the league. Rookie Diontae Johnson finished the year with 18 broken tackles on just 59 receptions, which was good enough to tie for the league lead. And while various injuries derailed JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s 2019 season after a spectacular 2018 campaign, a healthy Smith-Schuster should rebound in 2020 and will have extra motivation provided that it will be a contract year for him.
Perhaps most importantly, Pittsburgh’s offensive line has remained mostly intact. The Steelers’ offensive line ranked 12th in pass blocking based on adjusted sack rate per Football Outsiders, and Pro Football Focus ranked Pittsburgh third in pass blocking and ninth overall. Regardless of their exact ranking, the consensus is that the Steelers’ offensive line should be more than adequate to protect Roethlisberger upon his eventual return next year. With proper pass protection and a dangerous receiver corps, Roethlisberger is a dynasty bargain, as he can likely be gotten for just a third-round rookie pick in most one-quarterback leagues. He’s also worth acquiring for the price of a mid second-round rookie pick or less in superflex or two-quarterback formats.
For more fantasy football and dynasty content, follow me on Twitter @FFA_Meng.