5 Quarterback Battles That Could Make or Break Best Ball Drafts in 2024

Only a couple more weeks stand between us and NFL training camp — just enough time to freely speculate news and position battles to give ourselves a leg up in our Best Ball drafts. Luckily, Stokastic’s FREE Best Ball Rankings are LIVE, and we update them regularly to ensure your Underdog Best Ball rankings are adjusting to the news. Today we’re looking at the five quarterback battles that may have tremendous impact on Best Ball seasons, either for themselves (like Russell Wilson vs. Justin Fields) or the players to whom they will be slinging the pigskin (like Aidan O’Connell vs. Gardner Minshew). Let’s dive into some QB Best Ball rankings for Underdog Fantasy.

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Underdog Best Ball Quarterback Rankings: Position Battles

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Broncos Best Ball Rankings: Bo Nix vs. Jarrett Stidham

Bo Nix: QB27, No. 190 Overall, ADP 206.6

Jarrett Stidham: Not in Top 250, ADP Not in Top 250

We’ll start with the situation that our rankings are by far the most certain about. Nix was drafted last of the six first-round quarterbacks this year, but he has probably the third-easiest path to starting — after Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels. Broncos coach Sean Payton said during OTAs that Nix is “farther along than most would be,” which makes sense given that Nix is an older rookie at 24 years old with over 60 college starts under his belt. We actually view him as one of the better quarterback values in Best Ball, ranking 190th overall on Underdog against an ADP or 206.6 — though he is still fourth among rookie quarterbacks.

There is also the matter of Nix probably having the weakest quarterback competition of this group: Stidham and Zach Wilson. Both rank well outside the top 250 players both in our rankings and in ADP, so the consensus is that Nix is pretty locked and loaded as the Broncos starter. That said, Stidham is listed first on the depth chart at the moment, and Denver probably won’t commit to naming its QB1 until a good ways into training camp.

Patriots Best Ball Rankings: Drake Maye vs. Jacoby Brissett

Drake Maye: QB30, No. 232 Overall, ADP 193.3

Jacoby Brissett: QB35, Not in Top 250, ADP 216.0

This is another situation where the veteran is currently listed as the starter. The difference between this situation for Maye and Nix’s is Brissett is actually proven as a capable starter.

There is also the matter of the Patriots pass-catching corps being one of the worst in the NFL, while Nix has at least a legitimate WR1 in Courtland Sutton. Maye’s/Brissett’s top options are Kendrick Bourne, Demario Douglas and rookie Ja’Lynn Polk. New England might want to slow walk Maye’s transition since he probably won’t have a ton of help to start out.

That said, we still favor Maye as a fantasy asset because he will almost certainly start more games than Brissett this year. Yes, Brissett took more first-team reps in the spring, but Maye is the future and teams don’t do full red-shirt years with their quarterbacks much anymore. Neither is much of a Best Ball value, though, since we rank both quarterbacks well below their ADP.

Raiders Best Ball Rankings: Gardner Minshew vs. Aidan O’Connell

Gardner Minshew: QB32, Not in Top 250, ADP 215.0

Aidan O’Connell: QB33, Not in Top 250, ADP 215.6

As far as those players around them, this has the potential to be the most consequential of the training camp quarterback battles. Well, it’s the most consequential in terms of one player especially: Davante Adams.

You would be hard-pressed to find a self-respecting pundit who doesn’t think Adams is on the short list of most talented receivers in the NFL. But we rank him 15th at the position, and ADP is in pretty much exact agreement — he is also consensus No. 19 overall. The reason far less proven receivers have usurped is the quarterback situation; Nico Collins has C.J. Stroud. Adams has the thin optimism of Minshew expanding on his year as the Colts injury replacement or O’Connell developing in his second season.

Heading into training camp, reports are that O’Connell has a “slight edge” over Minshew in the battle. And based on our rankings “slight” is a great word to describe any prospective edge either quarterback may have. We favor Minshew by a tiny bit, but it’s so tiny as to essentially be negligible: Minshew has an ADP 0.6 spots higher and projects for 0.34 more fantasy points. Neither is in our top 250 and thus doesn’t really impact the quarterback draft at this point, but one of them stepping up could help or hurt projections for Adam, Jakobi Meyers and other Raiders skill players.

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Steelers Best Ball Rankings: Russell Wilson vs. Justin Fields

Russell Wilson: QB31, No. 240 Overall, ADP 208.7

Justin Fields: QB34, Not in Top 250, ADP 211.3

This is basically the polar opposite of the Raiders quarterback battle because, in a world where things are allowed to be fun, one of Fields or Wilson has the potential to be a legitimate fantasy option. The thing keeping their fantasy rankings in check is largely the fact that they are in a battle.

To be clear, Wilson is probably going to start the season as the starter because the Steelers are not in a rebuild and Wilson almost certainly gives them a better chance to win. Also, he is the better stacking quarterback since, even in his down days with Seattle and Denver, he was a more competent passer than Fields ever was with the Bears.

But Fields brings elite rushing upside, so if something crazy goes on in training camp — a Wilson injury on the field, Wilson getting kneecapped by a teammate for saying “let’s steel” or something stupid like that, Field magically becoming more composed — he could genuinely get into winning Best Ball lineups during the season.

Yes, we favor Wilson by a decent amount, and when he is officially named starter, his projections will improve. We’re still keeping the door slightly ajar for Fields, though.

Vikings Best Ball Rankings: J.J. McCarthy vs. Sam Darnold

J.J. McCarthy: QB26, No. 189 Overall, ADP 206.2

Sam Darnold: QB36, Not in Top 250, ADP 215.1

This one is a bit on the wild side. We and the public both disagree pretty strongly with what the circumstances have dictated so far. Darnold got the first-team reps in OTAs, and at this time the Vikings seem pretty adamant that the job is Darnold’s to lose. Plus, McCarthy is one of the less experienced quarterbacks in terms of college tenure — he won a lot, but he also was never a high-volume guy. It’s safe to say he is a bit more of a project at this time.

That’s all fine and good, but this assumption that McCarthy will be the backup for most of the year is also ignoring the whole “Sam Darnold” thing. This will be Darnold’s fourth chance to earn and keep a starting job in the NFL; the first three all failed miserably. Why is this one different?

Justin Jefferson? T.J. Hockenson? They’re great to be sure, but they didn’t bring starter-level play out of any of the revolving door of quarterbacks last year.

The point is that McCarthy is going to start at some point, probably pretty early in the season. And as much as the public favors McCarthy over Darnold, our gap is even bigger, as McCarthy is our 189th-ranked player, whereas Darnold is not in the top 250.

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Author
Sam Smith is a writer and editor with Stokastic and OddsShopper. He has been immersed in the world of professional sports data since 2015, while also writing extensively on the NFL for a multitude of blogs and websites. With Stokastic, Sam looks to blend his sports and editorial expertise with Stokastic's data to bring you the best fantasy information possible.

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