With people naturally drawn to the exciting possibilities of Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and an assortment of other draft-eligible quarterbacks, attention could shift away from second-year quarterbacks like Daniel Jones and Drew Lock in dynasty.
Both players look to have established themselves as the starting QBs of their respective teams, and, at this point, it would be stunning if the New York Giants or Denver Broncos had anybody else under center for week one of the 2020 season.
But if you’re a dynasty owner, who should you value higher – Daniel Jones or Drew Lock?
Daniel Jones took an early lead in this debate. Taken sixth overall by the Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft, many thought Jones would sit behind two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning and learn before ascending to the starting job in 2020. A disappointing start to the season saw that plan expedited, and in week three, Jones became the starter. Things couldn’t have started much better for Jones with two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in that game.
Things have slowed since that point, as we expected, but there are still considerable positives to be taken from his rookie season. He had 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He’s the QB11 in points per game (excluding QBs who have played three or fewer games) since taking over as the starter, outscoring Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, and Matt Ryan for that time. Unfortunately for Jones owners, it’s been a fantasy rollercoaster. He’s exceeded 28 fantasy points in standard-scoring on four different occasions but was held to fewer than 15 points seven times.
Jones has shown the athleticism and mobility that fantasy owners like to see. He’s never going to be confused for Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen, but his 21.5 rushing yards per game put him in the same bracket as Russell Wilson (21.4). The issue with Jones is that he’s rarely benefiting from the extra points due to his terrible ball security. No player has fumbled the ball more times than Jones (18), and the 11 that he’s lost are four more than any other player in the league. With a lost fumble costing two points in standard-scoring leagues, Jones negates his rushing upside without a touchdown on the ground.
The Giants are going to give Jones every opportunity to be successful. They currently have the 8th most salary cap space in the NFL entering 2020. They’ll also have the luxury of a high draft pick with the flexibility to move around the board, knowing that they have their quarterback of the future. They’ll be bringing back an impressive group of playmakers with Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton. The Nate Solder experiment has been a failure, and the Giants will undoubtedly take the opportunity to invest further in their offensive line. If protected and given time in the pocket, Jones should be able to limit some of the mistakes that have plagued his rookie season.
Our very own Benjamin Allbright reported early the 2019 offseason that the Denver Broncos front office had Drew Lock near the top of their draft wish list. After taking Noah Fant and Dalton Risner, it looked as if their chances were fading, but they quickly traded up again in the second round, securing their potential quarterback of the future.
The assumption was that Joe Flacco, acquired for a fourth-round pick in the offseason, would start this season while Lock could sit and learn, refining some of the less-polished aspects of his game. A thumb injury in the preseason saw dynasty players watch Lock begin the season on injured reserve. Frustrating, but it wasn’t until Flacco’s season was ended early by a neck injury that heads turned back toward Lock. His injury meant that Brandon Allen had the first opportunity to start and, although he didn’t kill the offense, the chances of him seeing out the season were always slim. The player who hadn’t recorded a stat in his three years in the league and who had previously been beaten out by Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, and Sean Mannion faltered, and Lock became the starter.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but Lock has shown enough to justify the Broncos’ faith in him with a handful of highlight-reel throws that few in the league can make. The Broncos have a decision to make in the offseason, though. Flacco struggled at the helm but is earning like a starting QB. Will there be a team willing to trade for him? While Flacco is in the building, there will be those who want the perceived safety of a veteran.
The Broncos offense looks to be moving in the right direction. Courtland Sutton has broken out in a way that gives confidence that he could establish himself among the best receivers in the league, and Fant is looking like the mismatch in the passing game that they were hoping for when he joined the team drafted. The concern is that they’re still near the bottom of the league in pass attempts per game and, while he’s not Philip Rivers, Lock hasn’t showcased the rushing upside that other low volume passers like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and even Ryan Tannehill have.
So which player should you want on your team?
At the moment, the safer option is Daniel Jones for dynasty players. Barring an injury, he’s considered the starter in 2020 with Manning’s departure. Drew Lock has shown great flashes, but he was a second-round pick and could find himself in open competition with Joe Flacco, whose contract might prohibit the Broncos from moving on from him. If he does continue starting, then his leash will likely be considerably shorter than Jones’, a massive factor for dynasty players who have Lock.
Both players will be 23 once the season starts and should have long careers. The Giants look as if they’re the team more likely to become an offensive powerhouse, though. The surrounding talent is impressive with exciting young players at every position. The Giants decided to move on from offensive-minded head coach Pat Shurmur, but his scheme hasn’t been the reason for Jones’ early promise. If he’s able to limit his issues with fumbling, then there’s no reason that he couldn’t be a top 10 fantasy QB next season and for the foreseeable future. Lock, on the other hand, has an incredibly high ceiling and impressive arm talent, but the Broncos appear committed to good defense and a strong running game as their blueprint when possible.
If handled well, then both players could be fantasy-relevant for a long time to come. Lock’s inconsistencies have been shown with his PFN Offensive Share Metric (OSM) this year, ranging from QB8 to QB32. Jones, on the other hand, peaked at QB5 and hasn’t fallen lower than QB23. He’s capable of raising his offense and should continue to grow with an upgraded offensive line.
Andy Gallagher is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him @AndySGallagher on Twitter.