Can a Rookie QB Lead Your Fantasy Team?

In the National Football League, quarterback is heralded as the most important position. However, most fantasy players won’t find success building their teams around a quarterback. So, while we’ve seen many NFL franchises bring in young signal-callers in the last couple years, there are questions as to whether or not rookie QBs can have fantasy relevance. To explore this, we’ll look at the top four rookie quarterbacks (all of whom started for their respective teams last week) and analyze what they’ve done so far to determine whether you should start them, stash them, or leave them on the waiver wire. Let’s start with the Arizona Cardinals new signal caller, Josh Rosen:

Josh Rosen: 19/34 (55.9%) 216yds 1TD 1INT Rate: 72.7

Rosen took over for Sam Bradford in week three with just enough time to try to put together a game winning drive. He was unsuccessful, but the offense as a whole has looked somewhat less anemic with Rosen under center. Many analysts believe Rosen to have the best arm in this rookie class, but after his first full NFL game, Rosen is below average in completion percentage (55.9%) and passer rating (72.7). Rosen’s subpar numbers could be the result of not having time to build chemistry with the first team offense, it could also be that Arizona’s receiving corps behind Larry Fitzgerald just isn’t that good. At any rate, at this point I can’t recommend rostering Josh Rosen, let alone starting him. He may be worth stashing in dynasty leagues, if his standalone value proves to outweigh the impending retirement of Larry Fitzgerald.

Josh Allen: 55/103 (53.4%) 666yds 2TD 4INT Rate: 63.8

While Rosen is credited by some to have the best arm in this rookie class, there is no doubt that Josh Allen has the biggest. The biggest knocks against Josh Allen going into this season were that he hadn’t faced top-tier competition in college, and that the Bills’ offense wouldn’t be able to give it’s quarterback much help. The Buffalo Bills have arguable the worst set of pass catchers in the league, which has probably had an adverse effect on Josh Allen’s production. After torching the Minnesota Vikings in every way imaginable, Allen was held to just 151 yards passing last week against the Packers. As Josh Allen develops, I think we’ll see a quality fantasy QB emerge, but the offense in Buffalo is just too limited to justify starting anyone other than Lesean McCoy.

Sam Darnold: 73/127 (57.5%) 868yds 4TD 5INT Rate: 72.6

Sam Darnold has the largest sample size of our four rookies, and there’s really nothing shocking about his production to this point. He looks okay, but he clearly hasn’t done away with the turnover issues he struggled with in college, and his completion percentage (57.5%) has him ranked 32nd in that category. At this point, there are definitely better quarterbacks on the waiver wire of your fantasy league. Darnold just hasn’t looked like the hero we thought he was in the preseason. His play will continue to be sporadic from a fantasy perspective, he will need to show he can protect the ball and produce consistently before he’s worth a permanent roster spot on your fantasy team.

Baker Mayfield: 38/64 (59.4%) 496yds 2TD 2INT Rate: 81.3

Overall, Baker Mayfield has looked just a touch better than his rookie counterparts. Among them, he boasts the highest completion percentage, passer rating, and yards per game. So, as the best rookie QB, let’s see how Mayfield stacks up against the rest of the league. Mayfield is 31st in completion percentage, 20th in yards per game, and 27th in passer rating. Apparently, it doesn’t take much to be the best rookie quarterback this year. Mayfield is definitely worth stashing on your roster, especially in dynasty formats. As he develops chemistry with all of the weapons around him, we should start to see Mayfield emerge into fantasy relevance. It could happen this year, Cleveland has the all of the pieces in place, it’s on Baker to limit rookie mistakes like what we saw against the Raiders in week four. If Baker Mayfield is on the waiver wire in your league, he’s worth watching, though you might wait until he can prove he’s established rapport with Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Antonio Callaway before pulling the trigger.

In summation, rookie quarterbacks probably shouldn’t be atop your fantasy draft board, if on it at all. The learning curve is so steep for quarterbacks, that often a veteran with a high floor is going to serve you better than a rookie, even a Heisman winning rookie. If you are in a dynasty league and need to stash a young gunslinger to replace your aging QB1, I’d suggest stashing a rookie at the end of your bench and hoping for a Jared Goff-like second year in the league. There are always bridge-worthy quarterbacks on the waiver wire that can hold you over until you find your Deshaun Watson or Pat Mahomes.

Author: Shawn LaFever