Editor's note: This article was written before Cam Newton reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots on Sunday, June 28. Check out Newton's updated fantasy outlook as a member of the Patriots here.
Fair or not, expectations are high for Jarrett Stidham entering the 2020 NFL season.
Tom Brady left the franchise in free agency after winning six Super Bowl titles during a marvelous 20-year run with the New England Patriots. The team will have a quarterback competition for the first time in nearly 20 years, and Stidham is the favorite to win the job.
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It's possible Stidham doesn't start the season, as veteran Brian Hoyer has a lot more experience. That said, the Patriots didn't select a QB in the 2020 NFL Draft and they haven't signed a notable veteran in free agency. So, it would appear they are confident in Stidham's chances of being a competent player this year.
There's no question Stidham is a wild card entering this year's fantasy football drafts. He's unlikely to be a fantasy QB1 who starts each week, but there's certainly a chance he's a good backup to use in bye week situations.
ESPN recently unveiled fantasy football projections for the 2020 season, and it doesn't rate Stidham very well. He's ranked No. 26 among quarterbacks. Here is ESPN's stat projections and analysis for the Patriots quarterback using its standard scoring format:
3,569 passing yards, 19 passing TD, 12 interceptions, 193 rushing yards, two rushing TD, 218.65 fantasy points
Tom Brady is out and Stidham is in as the Patriots' quarterback. The 2019 fourth-round pick attempted only four passes during his rookie season, though he did impress during the preseason by completing 61 of 91 attempts (67%) for 731 yards (8.0 YPA), four TDs and one INT, as well as 88 rushing yards. The 23-year-old was very conservative (7.7 aDOT) and protected the ball well (36 TD, 11 INT) during 27 starts at Auburn, which fits the mold of what Brady brought to the table in 2019. Stidham is obviously a huge unknown, and his supporting cast is average at best, so he's best viewed as a dynasty hold and lottery-ticket flier in 2QB season-long leagues.
We did not rank Stidham in our own 2020 fantasy football quarterback rankings (top 20 players) earlier this month.
One factor working in Stidham's favor is the improved health of the Patriots offensive line. This unit was battered by injuries last season, but it should be healthier and deeper in 2020. Veteran center David Andrews has been cleared to return after missing all of 2019 due to blood clots. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn also is ready to go after missing eight games last year. New England also selected three offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft.
If the Patriots are able to protect Stidham and give him a chance to make multiple reads, he should be able to post stats that make him fantasy relevant. His arm strength and poise are impressive, and we know he'll be well coached with Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels working with him.