Fantasy football rookie preview: Quarterbacks

Fantasy football rookie preview: Quarterbacks

Rookie Analysis

Fantasy football rookie preview: Quarterbacks

(Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports)

Now that we have had some time to digest the NFL draft and its aftermath, us fantasy footballers are excitedly waiting to add some of the rookies to our fake teams. Deciding which players have fantasy worth in 2017 comes down to assessing the likelihood of playing time. The following players are ranked in order of anticipated opportunity and corresponding value.

Rookie previews: RB | WR | TE

Deshaun Watson | Houston Texans | 6-2, 221 | Clemson

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2014
CLEM
93
137
67.9
1466
10.7
14
74
2
2015
CLEM
333
491
67.8
4104
8.4
35
67
13
2016
CLEM
388
579
67
4593
7.9
41
65
17

Watson will need to struggle throughout the offseason, training camp and preseason to lose a shot at starting Week 1. Quarterback Tom Savage at least knows the system, but his upside is scant. Furthermore, he wasn’t acquired with the No. 12 pick after a trade. The Texans have little incentive to play Savage considering three straight 9-7 seasons have come with quarterbacks far worse than Watson’s profile. The offensive line is sound, the cast of weapons is far better than average, and Houston boasts a successful running game. Watson’s top weapon, DeAndre Hopkins, is one of the most gifted playmakers at the wide receiver position. There is always some level of a learning curve for a rookie passer in the NFL. Watson having faced SEC competition is a bonus. He has the demeanor and other intangibles to accent his obvious physical traits. Assuming he starts every game in 2017, Watson will flash and post starting-worthy numbers a few times. Primarily due to coming from a spread system, he unlikely to be an every-week
starter, although his athleticism certainly will help keep him afloat. He’s a low-end QB2 this draft season.

Mitchell Trubisky | Chicago Bears | 6-2, 222 | North Carolina

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2014
UNC
42
78
53.8
459
5.9
5
39
4
2015
UNC
40
47
85.1
555
11.8
6
64
0
2016
UNC
304
446
68.2
3748
8.4
30
75
6

In March, Chicago invested a three-year, $45 million contract in the hopes of Mike Glennon being its starter in 2017. The move effectively wiped the position off the list of draft needs, or so it had seemed. The trade up and selection of Trubisky — a 13-game starter at North Carolina — was no doubt surprising but not totally crazy. After 2017, Glennon’s contract offers an out and/or gives Chicago a chance to trade him. The weaponry at his disposal suggests he has an uphill climb. In worst-case scenario, the Bears can move Trubisky into the starting lineup and make Glennon a veteran presence in reserve. Too many variables await Trubisky’s role to clearly identify him as anything other than being undraftable in single-year formats. Provided Glennon is at least competent, the Bears are unlikely to be pushed by the fan base to start the rook. Trubisky displayed quality footwork and accuracy in college. He’s a bright guy, so there is upside for QB1 fantasy value down the line. It will take a few years before
he flirts with such a fantasy status.

DeShone Kizer | Cleveland Browns | 6-4, 233 | Notre Dame

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2015
ND
211
335
63
2884
8.6
21
81
10
2016
ND
212
361
58.7
2925
8.1
26
79
9

Kizer is raw but athletic. There’s a sound argument to be made that he didn’t improve from 2015 to last season at Notre Dame, but he’ll enter a situation with a quality coach. The best thing about Kizer in Cleveland may be the Browns finally have a rookie quarterback with size. The Browns have trotted out several smurphy quarterbacks in recent years. Look at the size of Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger — cold-weather cities generally require big-bodied passers. Kizer will make his case in the summer months, but it appears Cody Kessler is the guy … for now. It all comes down to what Hue Jackson sees in terms of Kizer’s maturation on the field, as well as his dedication to improving. It’s tough to envision Kizer being a fantasy-worthy commodity in his rookie season. He’s a wild flier as a No. 3 in upcoming drafts.

Ranking the top rookies in fantasy

C.J. Beathard | San Francisco 49ers | 6-2, 219 | Iowa

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2013
IOWA
9
27
33.3
179
6.6
1
54
2
2014
IOWA
52
92
56.5
645
7
5
62
2
2015
IOWA
223
362
61.6
2809
7.8
17
85
5
2016
IOWA
170
301
56.5
1929
6.4
17
77
10

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan claims Beathard is the only quarterback from this class he wanted to coach, which is probably a stretch of the truth. At any rate, San Fran added some weaponry at wide receiver in Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. The Niners have a decent stable of running backs to take pressure off the quarterback situation. Brian Hoyer sits atop the depth chart. He knows Shanahan’s system and is a passable starter, when healthy. The latter point is the big sticking point with Hoyer. Beathard — ready or not — could start a few games because of Hoyer’s fragility. The rookie is mobile enough and can fit into the Shanny’s system, although it would be unwise to invest anything into Beathard during draft season.

Chad Kelly | Denver Broncos | 6-2, 224 | Mississippi

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2013
CLEM
10
17
58.8
58
3.4
0
17
0
2015
MISS
298
458
65.1
4042
8.8
31
73
13
2016
MISS
205
328
62.5
2758
8.4
19
63
8

It seems like a major reach, but Kelly could start at some point in 2017. It would require the combination of Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian to stink so much Denver’s coaching staff felt it had no other choice but to turn to Jim Kelly’s nephew. In any practical situation, Kelly won’t see the field this year. He has the skill set to be a capable starter and possibly even better fantasy choice if the Broncos can coach him up from the mental side of the game.

Patrick Mahomes II | Kansas City Chiefs | 6-2, 225 | Texas Tech

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2014
TTU
105
185
56.8
1547
8.4
16
82
4
2015
TTU
364
573
63.5
4653
8.1
36
90
15
2016
TTU
388
591
65.7
5052
8.5
41
81
10

Mahomes, a two-sport talent, has a cannon of an arm but is coming from a spread system to back up one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Alex Smith is likely done in KC after this season, counting $20.6 million against the 2018 salary cap. Unless the Chiefs are out of the hunt late in the year, don’t count on Andy Reid turning to Mahomes in 2017. The two quarterbacks couldn’t be more different. Smith, the consummate game manager, will eventually be replaced by a youngster who most closely resembles Brett Favre in his wildest days. At least Reid is familiar with the risks and rewards of both types of quarterbacks. Mahomes is a high-risk, high-reward gamble whenever he takes over for Smith.

Nathan Peterman | Buffalo Bills | 6-2, 226 | Pittsburgh

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2013
TENN
10
23
43.5
45
2
0
15
2
2014
TENN
10
20
50
49
2.5
0
14
0
2015
PITT
193
314
61.5
2287
7.3
20
51
8
2016
PITT
185
306
60.5
2855
9.3
27
79
7

Peterman has the physical traits to develop into a fantasy starter. He could be the most NFL-ready quarterback of this class. Unfortunately for Peterman, he has Tyrod Taylor standing in his way. After restructuring his deal in the winter, Taylor’s contract gives Buffalo an out before the 2018 season. The Bills have latitude with how the situation is handled, and until Peterman is atop the depth chart, he is a fantasy afterthought.

Davis Webb | New York Giants | 6-5, 229 | California

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2013
TTU
226
361
62.6
2718
7.5
20
51
9
2014
TTU
211
345
61.2
2539
7.4
24
76
13
2015
TTU
22
41
53.7
300
7.3
2
51
0
2016
CAL
382
620
61.6
4295
6.9
37
74
12

As long as Eli Manning is alive and well, the big-armed rookie won’t see meaningful action. In time, Webb could develop into a fine fantasy option. Manning, although 36, is a hero in New York and won’t be cast aside tomorrow. He hasn’t missed a start since taking over for Kurt Warner in 2004, and Eli has been sacked more than 30 times in a season just once. Webb has no value in 2017 fantasy drafts but should be the heir apparent whenever Manning walks away.

Joshua Dobbs | Pittsburgh Steelers | 6-3, 216 | Tennessee

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2013
TENN
72
121
59.5
695
5.7
2
43
6
2014
TENN
112
177
63.3
1206
6.8
9
52
6
2015
TENN
205
344
59.6
2291
6.7
15
75
5
2016
TENN
225
357
63
2946
8.3
27
67
12

Dobbs is poised to eventually replace Ben Roethlisberger, which could come any year given the veteran’s offseason comments about pondering retirement. At 35 years old, Big Ben has several quality years remaining if his body holds up and he wants to play. Dobbs has no fantasy value until he is given an opportunity, even if Roethlisberger misses time via injury, and that is assuming the rookie can earn the No. 2 job.

Brad Kaaya | Detroit Lions | 6-4, 214 | Miami (Fla.)

YEAR
TEAM
CMP
ATT
PCT
YDS
AVG
TD
LNG
INT
2014
MIAMI
221
378
58.5
3198
8.5
26
79
12
2015
MIAMI
238
389
61.2
3238
8.3
16
67
5
2016
MIAMI
261
421
62
3532
8.4
27
77
7

While Matthew Stafford is entering a contract year, it is expected the Lions will reach a long-term deal with the 29-year-old. Kaaya is a prototypical pocket passer with a fair chance at success in the NFL, but it is hard to imagine that coming in Detroit. Stafford is still so young and could play well beyond the expiration of Kaaya’s rookie pact.

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