Fantasy football rookie preview: Quarterbacks

Fantasy football rookie preview: Quarterbacks

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Fantasy football rookie preview: Quarterbacks

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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 2020 comes down to assessing the likelihood of meaningful playing time. The following players are ranked in order of anticipated opportunity and corresponding value.

Most immediate impact

(Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Joe Burrow | Cincinnati Bengals | 6-4, 216 | LSU

Year
Team
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
Avg
TD
INT
Long
Att
Yds
TD
2016
OSU
22
28
78.6
226
8.1
2
0
36
12
58
1
2017
OSU
7
11
63.6
61
5.5
0
0
16
3
-5
0
2018
LSU
219
379
57.8
2,894
7.6
16
5
71
128
399
7
2019
LSU
402
527
76.3
5,671
10.8
60
6
78
115
368
5

The release of Andy Dalton is good and bad for Burrow. No veteran presence is a setback more than ever. Not having anyone over his shoulder when times inevitably get tough has its perks, though. Also favorable is the LSU star’s reported commitment to studying the offense well before the Bengals even drafted him. Burrow’s game went to the next level in 2020 after the offensive system changed to incorporate five-wide passing — and it didn’t hurt the that the talent around him was otherworldly. There will be hiccups in Burrow’s NFL Year 1, largely because of the positional demands. These bumps will be accentuated by a lack of an organized, on-field offseason.

The talent around Burrow in Cincinnati will be more than adequate, and he’s in an offense that won’t be afraid to open it up. A stable backfield tandem and an offensive line headed in the right direction are also positives for the rookie. Given the state of the world, provided football returns on time for actual games and the teams get some semblance of a training camp, Burrow is a QB3 in traditional leagues. Since most formats don’t typically warrant rostering three quarterbacks, Burrow’s best utility should be DFS action.

Tua Tagovailoa | Miami Dolphins | 6-1, 218 | Alabama

Year
Team
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
Avg
TD
INT
Long
Att
Yds
TD
2017
ALA
49
77
63.6
636
8.3
11
2
60
27
133
2
2018
ALA
245
355
69
3,966
11.2
43
6
81
57
190
5
2019
ALA
180
252
71.4
2,840
11.3
33
3
85
23
17
2

On one hand, the Dolphins have Ryan Fitzpatrick as a proven option to steady the ship as the offense finds its way in Year 2 of the Brian Flores regime — this time with a new (old) OC in Chan Gailey. This approach would grant the team all the time it needs to get Tua up to speed in a summer that may have no more than a sneeze of an offseason program. It also provides a plan to rest his hip, if any lingering concerns exist. Tua’s doctors say to the contrary.

On the other side of the coin, the Dolphins spent the No. 5 overall pick on Tagovailoa, and Fitz isn’t the future … he’s barely the present. The expectations for this entire offense remain low, which works in Flores’ favor by starting the rookie. Throwing Tua into the fire — healthy, that is — probably wouldn’t be held against Flores if Miami struggled. Gailey’s system in college was spread, and it could be close to second nature for the Alabama stud. Fantasy expectations should be no better than a high-end backup whose legs will make all the difference between boom or bust most weeks.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

(Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

Justin Herbert  | Los Angeles Chargers | 6-6, 227 | Oregon

Year
Team
Comp
Att
%
Yds
Avg
TD
INT
ATT
YDS
TD
2016
Oregon
162
255
63.5
1,936
7.6
19
4
58
161
2
2017
Oregon
139
206
67.5
1,983
9.6
15
5
44
183
5
2018
Oregon
240
404
59.4
3,151
7.8
29
8
71
166
2
2019
Oregon
286
428
66.8
3,471
8.1
32
6
58
50
4

Much like with the Tagovailoa situation, Herbert enters an offense with a capable incumbent starting quarterback. The Chargers are much closer to “win now” mode than the Dolphins, and this alone could lead to Herbert riding the pine as a rookie. Veteran QB Tyrod Taylor has shown to be a stabilizing force for Anthony Lynn in the past when the duo were united with the Buffalo Bills. Herbert is not as close to being NFL ready when compared to Tua or Burrow, and the lack of an organized offseason will be overly important for the big-armed rookie seeing the field in Week 1.

Does that mean Herbert won’t play any meaningful games in 2020? Of course not. Taylor has enough injury history to suggest he is an elevated risk, and there certainly could come a point in which the Bolts just aren’t playing all that well, putting pressure on Lynn to see what his Howitzer of a rookie can do with this talented receiving corps. Should we see Herbert start enough games to matter, he offers more worth as a matchup play in daily contests than as a flier in any conventional setting. The lineup is deep enough with talent that he belongs on a traditional roster whenever the day comes he enters.

Jacob Eason | Indianapolis Colts | 6-6, 227 | Washington

Year
Team
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
Avg
TD
INT
Long
Att
Yds
TD
2016
UGA
204
370
55.1
2,430
6.6
16
8
77
33
-45
1
2017
UGA
4
7
57.1
28
4.0
0
0
10
3
-12
0
2019
WASH
260
405
64.2
3,132
7.7
23
8
57
46
-69
1

Another strong-armed rookie passer, Eason is in a little different situation. He’s not expected to be “the guy” and doesn’t come with the billing of the sixth pick in the draft. Philip Rivers is on a one-year deal. As long as all is well in the world, he’s a fairly sound bet to be re-signed for 2021. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, since so much can and will change over the next few months. For this season, Rivers will start every game as long as he is healthy and playing at even a reasonably high level. Eason enters as the third QB, in all likelihood, and has no draftable worth this season.

Jordan Love | Green Bay Packers | 6-4, 225 pounds | Utah State

Year
Team
Comp
Att
Comp%
Yds
Avg
TD
INT
Long
Att
Yds
TD
2017
Utah State
129
235
54.9
1,631
6.9
8
6
77
46
165
2
2018
Utah State
267
417
64
3,567
8.6
32
6
88
43
63
7
2019
Utah State
293
473
61.9
3,402
7.2
20
17
80
81
175
0

Quite possibly the most curious of the 2020 draft picks, especially in Round 1, Love is likely two years away from seeing the field as a starter in Green Bay. That said, all bets are off if Aaron Rodgers has another pedestrian season or forces his way out next spring. The star passer has missed a few games to injuries in recent years, which gives Love a slightly increased chance of seeing the field as a rookie. No one banks on such a thing. He’s extremely raw and likely will be asked to hand it off time after time in the event Rodgers goes down this season. Love is not draftable in any single-year format.

Jalen Hurts | Philadelphia Eagles | 6-1, 218 | Oklahoma

We’ll see Hurts on the field as a rookie, albeit in a gadget-play role. The creativity of Doug Pederson will get the Oklahoma standout’s athleticism to work in Philly’s advantage one way or another. Of course, there’s always the seemingly inevitable Carson Wentz injury. Hurts still would have to learn a tremendous amount without a full offseason, and while he’s absolutely capable of it, the inability to build chemistry is what gamers would have to be worried about holding him back. Think DFS-only action for now.

Cole McDonald | Tennessee Titans | 6-4, 220 | Hawaii

McDonald will battle the great Logan Woodside to back up Ryan Tannehill in 2020 — the same Tannehill who has lost significant time to injury in three of his last four seasons. The former Rainbow Warrior has a diverse skill set and could do some work with his legs, if called upon. However, all of the problems a coveted rookie quarterback faces during these trying times only figures to be compounded for a fringe prospect like McDonald. It’s really hard to imagine a team with Super Bowl aspirations would turn it all over to a rookie rather than find a veteran presence.

Roster fodder?

(Derick E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports)

James Morgan | New York Jets | 6-4, 213 | FIU

David Fales and Mike White are the two quarterbacks between Morgan and Sam Darnold … not exactly elite competition. However, both have spent time in the pros, and in today’s COVID-19 climate, it matters more than ever. Morgan has no immediate fantasy worth.

Nate Stanley | Minnesota Vikings | 6-4, 243 | Iowa

Stanley has a future in the NFL, and it very well could be as the replacement for Kirk Cousins — in time. The veteran signed an extension recently and is entrenched as the starter for the immediate future. Sean Mannion is a mostly unknown career backup who spent last year watching Cousins from the sidelines. His role should not change. Stanley isn’t a fantasy football option in 2020.

Jake Fromm | Buffalo Bills | 6-2, 220 | Georgia

Barring a catastrophic injury to Josh Allen, there’s pretty much no viable way we see Fromm in 2020. Furthermore, even if we do, there’s that whole pandemic thing working against him, along with having a flimsy arm in a city that all but demands quarterback have a little mustard.

Tommy Stevens | New Orleans Saints | 6-5, 235 | Mississippi State

New Orleans liked him enough to trade back into the draft after being out of picks, but Stevens will be no better than QB4 entering his rookie season. This one is merely a Sean Payton grooming pick, and Stevens’ skills translate well into the Taysom Hill role. Stevens could become a name to watch if we’re already drafting for 2023 leagues.

Jake Luton | Jacksonville Jaguars | 6-7, 229 | Oregon State

Joshua Dobbs is penciled in to open the year as the No. 2 behind Gardner Minshew (update: Mike Glennon was added for competition). The towering Luton remains far from fantasy utility, but I wrote similar sentiments last year about Minshew. In that setting, Nick Foles was fresh off of a huge contract that proved to be an utter waste of money. Expect Minshew to get every chance to succeed.

Ben DiNucci | Dallas Cowboys | 6-3, 209 | James Madison

While DiNucci could earn himself a role in the long run, it requires Dallas to either not be able to reach a long-term deal with Dak Prescott, or the starter gets hurt for an extended period of time and Andy Dalton doesn’t get the job done — neither of those scenarios puts DiNucci in the fantasy spotlight for 2020 leagues.

Malcolm Perry | Miami Dolphins | 5-9, 190 | Navy

Perry was listed as a quarterback across many draft-tracking platforms during the draft, but he’ll be given a shot at converting to a wide receiver and/or running back in the NFL. Look for his analysis in the WR positional grouping upon its release.

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