Gardner Minshew, Jimmy Garoppolo among 2020 fantasy football quarterback sleepers

Andy Behrens
·5 mins read

It can be reasonably argued that there's simply no such thing as a sleeper QB. It's the most high-profile position in American team sports. If you pay any attention at all to the NFL (and if you're here, you probably do) then it seems doubtful that any starting professional quarterback is gonna sneak up on you.

But for our purposes here, the term "sleeper" refers to any player who happens to be drafted late in virtually all fantasy leagues, if he's drafted at all. The names below are going to be plenty familiar, but fantasy managers haven't aggressively pursued them. All of these quarterbacks have ADPs beyond 120.0 and they're unattached in at least 40 percent of Yahoo leagues.

All are clearly being slept on by the fantasy community. Quarterbacks who just miss the cut include personal favorites Joe Burrow (ADP 119.8, 72% rostered) and Baker Mayfield (123.7, 78%); please keep the Heisman winners in your draft plans.

Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars

26 percent rostered, ADP 128.2

Let's just set aside the fact that Minshew is a pawn in a transnational corporation's attempt to sabotage thousands of fantasy drafts. If you're taking him at ADP, he will certainly not disappoint.

For one thing, Minshew is the guy who gets to lob passes to D.J. Chark, a dominant receiver with size (6-foot-4) and elite speed (4.3) coming off a breakout season. Jacksonville's receiving corps is plenty interesting behind Chark, too, following the addition of Colorado rookie Laviska Shenault, a second-round pick having a stellar camp. Chris Thompson was a sneaky-good addition to the backfield as well. We can assume the Jaguars will spend a fair percentage of their season playing from behind, which helps for fantasy purposes. Minshew finished with 21 touchdown passes and only six picks last year while quietly ranking fifth among all quarterbacks in rushing yards (344). He also closed the season with a bang, delivering 295 yards and three scores against Indy. He's fully approved for use in deep leagues and superflex formats.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

58 percent rostered, ADP 123.8

Look, I am not the resident Niners apologist around here, but it shouldn't be difficult for anyone to imagine Garoppolo finishing as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. He has a few exceptional weapons at his disposal, including All-Pro George Kittle, Deebo Samuel (returning soon), and first-round rookie Brandon Aiyuk. Garoppolo won't be a high-volume passer in all likelihood, but he's been efficient enough to this point in his career that it isn't going to matter.

Last season he ranked among the top-eight in the NFL in passing TDs (27), rating (102.0), completion percentage (69.1), yards per attempt (8.4) and TD percentage (5.7). He's good. His receiving corps is good. His schedule appears to be full of friendly matchups and potential high-scoring affairs. Garoppolo is a terrific option for those who pass on the early and mid-round QBs.

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

30 percent rostered, ADP 126.1

OK, we're now admittedly into the only-in-superflex quarterback options. Still, Bridgewater landed in a nice spot for fantasy purposes. Carolina's defense is a sketchy group, unlikely to challenge the elite offenses of the NFC South; this team will be chasing points all year. Bridgewater was obviously plenty good last season over five starts in relief of an injured Drew Brees, averaging 241.0 passing yards per game with nine TDs and only two picks, completing 69.7 percent of his throws. He has a pair of elite receiving options in CMC and DJ Moore, plus one of the game's most dangerous deep threats in Robby Anderson. Ian Thomas is a sleeper of interest at tight end, too. If we're correct in our ranks of guys like McCaffrey and Moore, it follows that we should at least be somewhat bullish on Bridgewater. He can reasonably make a run at his first 4,000-yard season.

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

36 percent rostered, ADP 126.9

Lock was better (and more NFL-ready) than advertised as a rookie. We knew about the weapons-grade arm strength, but he impressed last season in terms of his ability to process quickly and avoid disastrous plays. At 23, he went 4-1 as a starter, including a road win at Houston in which he passed for 309 yards and three scores. Whatever you think about his long-term potential, you can't argue that his team hasn't set him up to succeed. Denver's offense is loaded with young receiving talent; Courtland Sutton is a force and Jerry Jeudy is a future star. This is an exciting, ascending offense, full of upside. If the version of Lock we saw last year returns, he can emerge as a fantasy factor.

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts

40 percent rostered, ADP 126.4

We should not need to tell you a single thing about Rivers at this stage of his long, productive, and occasionally tragicomic career. He can certainly direct a high-yield offense. Everyone already knows this. Indianapolis has no shortage of quality receiving options and Rivers will play behind an outstanding O-line. There's a YOLO element to his game that can be problematic in reality, but it's a perfectly fine trait in a fantasy QB. Rivers has chucked his way to top-12 positional finishes in five of the last seven seasons, so it's entirely plausible that he can do it again.

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