Daniel Jones is Michael Fabiano's Top Fantasy Football Sleeper for 2020
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SLEEPER: QB Daniel Jones, New York Giants
It's officially fantasy football draft season! So, now's the time to get ready with rankings, and of course, sleepers, busts, breakouts, etc. If you listen to my show (Fantasy Dirt on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio), you know that I have maybe what could be considered an unhealthy fantasy man-crush on Giants' second-year quarterback Daniel Jones.
This dude has fantasy sleeper written all over him!
Jones wasn't the most consistent signal-caller in the league as a rookie, scoring fewer than 15 fantasy points in eight of his 12 starts. But when he was good, he was spectacular. Danny Dimes scored 28-plus fantasy points in his other four games, including three games with over 30 points. The only other rookie quarterbacks to score 28-plus fantasy points in NFL history are Cam Newton (2011) and Robert Griffin III (2012).
Jones's 24 touchdown passes against just 12 interceptions were solid for a rookie field general, but he faltered most in protecting the football. Jones fumbled 18 times (the fifth-highest total in NFL history) and averaged one fumble for every 45.3 snaps. The good news is that Jones has been working with his former college coach from Duke, David Cutcliffe, during the offseason to cut down on his fumblitis. Fumbling has been a problem for plenty of NFL players in the past, but it's certainly a correctable issue.
Another positive for Jones is the fact that while he had his ups and downs as a rookie (most first-year players do), he gained valuable experience in his 12 NFL starts. That experience will no doubt help him take his game to the next level as a sophomore.
The Giants offense also offers plenty of weapons for Jones to utilize, maybe none more than running back Saquon Barkley. His skills as a receiver (143 catches in 29 games) will certainly add yards and fantasy points to Jones' bottom line. His core of receivers is a good one, with Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton combining for a nice one-two-three punch on the depth chart. Slayton, who scored a very quiet eight touchdowns a season ago as a rookie, could be huge in Jones' development.
Big Blue will also get Evan Engram back in the mix, which just adds to the number of weapons Jones will have in his arsenal. The hope is that with a full cast of receivers, Jones will have more confidence to take chances downfield. In 2019, he ranked first among quarterbacks with 400-plus attempts in terms of the fewest attempts of 0-9 air yards (53.6 percent). New offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, during his time as the main play-caller in Dallas, dialed up the deep ball around 17.1 percent of the time.
The G-Men should also have a better offensive line protecting Jones this season. While the team did lose Nate Solder (opt-out), his play hadn't been all that great last season. PFF reports that Solder and Mike Remmers combined to surrender the most quarterback pressures (97) among tackle duos in 2019. The additions of Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, and Shane Lemieux in the NFL draft will undoubtedly help Jones' cause, and incumbents like Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez remain quality options.
Game script could also be in Jones' favor, as the Giants defense is considered one of the worst in the NFL. In 2019, their defense surrendered the eighth-most total yards (6,037), including the fifth-most passing yards (4,225), and the third-most points (28.2 PPG). Heading into 2020, PFF ranked the Giants defensive line 26th in the league. If things don't improve, Jones figures to be throwing the football quite a bit in high-scoring games. When he isn't throwing the rock, Jones can be productive as a runner, too.
In 12 starts last season, the Duke product rushed for 274 yards and two touchdowns. Projected over a full 16 games, Jones would have been good for an impressive 365 yards on the ground. That's an additional 36.5 fantasy points without counting the two to three scores he could compile with his legs. That's a promising skill set for fantasy fans.
Since the quarterback position is super deep, the cost for Jones in drafts isn't going to be all that steep, either. The latest data compiled from our Advanced ADP tool has him coming off the board at pick 148 as a borderline QB1/QB2. Simply put, Jones has everything you want in a sleeper quarterback: a year of experience under his belt, rushing skills, upside as a passer with solid targets, a good offensive line in front of him, and a bad defense giving up points to the opposition.
I'm not saying Jones will be this year's version of Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson because their totals the past two years were historic. But in terms of a late-round field general who far exceeds his draft position, Jones is definitely that player for me in 2020.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest fantasy football news and analysis!
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