There was a time when it seemed like every elite quarterback in the league was on the wrong side of 30. It typically took time for a young QB to develop and become a star. It would appear that has changed, as well as the reputation at first-round QBs being a 50-50 proposition.
As we sit here nearing the midway point of the 2020 season, more than half the league has starting quarterbacks that have been in the league less than five years and there have been many more hits than misses.
Here is recap of the last five drafts and the quarterbacks that have been selected:
- 2016 – Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott
- 2017 – Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes
- 2018 – Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson
- 2019 – Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, Gardner Minshew
- 2020 – Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert (Jordan Love)
It has been far from an exact science because each draft has produced a first-round bust, including Paxton Lynch (2016), Mitchell Trubisky (2017), Josh Rosen (2018) and Dwayne Haskins (2019). But, when you look at the landscape of the NFL, these guys aren’t the NFL’s future, they’re the NFL’s present. The jury is still out on Love, because Aaron Rodgers looks to have a lot of football left in him, but, for the rest of the league that doesn’t have a young quarterback who is being viewed as a star, you can bet they’re going to jump on the bandwagon because this looks like a trend that shows no signs of slowing up. Every year, the college game is going to produce two or three (or more) stars that are going to become the faces of their respective franchises and, if recent history tells us anything, more of them are going to have long careers in front of them, as the days of swinging and missing at quarterback become fewer all the time.
Here is the Week 8 Fantasy Football Market Report:
Fantasy Football Risers
Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals
At most drafts/auctions, the only place Burrow was viewed as a fast-track player was in dynasty leagues where you can hold on to a guy for two or more years. Burrow is making it hard to keep him on a fantasy owner’s bench. Over his last six games, he has thrown for 300 or more yards in five of them, has nine TD passes and two TD runs. He is showing improvement as he goes along and could make the Bengals a contender sooner than later – even in the tough AFC North.
Travis Fulgham, WR, Eagles
He was cut three times in less than a month this summer by Detroit, Green Bay and Philadelphia and the only reason the Eagles picked him up was they were desperate due to injuries. Pulled up from the practice squad in Week 4, he has scored three touchdowns in four games and, over the last three games, has been targeted 34 times, catching 21 passes for 310 yards and two TDs. The Eagles have invested heavily in receiver the last two offseasons, but it looks their shining star may be a guy they pulled off the scrap heap.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals
There was a lot of pressure on Murray to be a star in this league and his numbers didn’t show that as a rookie last year. But, with the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins, he has become a fantasy MVP candidate. Over the last five games, he has thrown for more than 360 yards twice and has 11 touchdown passes. He is on pace to rush for 1,000 yards and has seven rushing touchdowns in seven games. There are those who wonder how long he can hold up at his size, but he has taken the league by storm this year and is capable of huge games at any time.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Buccaneers
For the first month of the season, it looked as though Gronk was a bum signing. Not only was he not catching passes, Tom Brady was making a living from the 1- and 2-yard line throwing touchdowns to everyone but Gronk. However, in the last three weeks, glimpses of the old Gronk has returned and, in the last two, he has been targeted 16 times (tied for the team lead), catching 10 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. It may not be permanent, but he and Tom seem to have sparked some of that old magic.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
It seemed as though fantasy owners had given up on Rodgers to start the season. He was ranked around 15 with some analysts having him behind Daniel Jones. In 2019, he only had three games with more than two touchdown passes. Six games into the 2020 season, he has three or more touchdown passes in four games, including three games with four TDs. He has 17 touchdown passes, just two interceptions and a passer rating of 113.4. Don’t count the old man out just yet. Jordan Love may have to keep sitting and watching just like Rodgers did with Brett Favre.
Fantasy Football Fallers
Cam Newton, QB, Patriots
In the first two weeks, fans were saying, “Tom Who?” as Newton did most of his damage with his legs, running for four touchdowns. However, in five games, he has thrown just two TDs and has 162 passing yards or less in four of them. With two touchdowns and seven interceptions, he’s still the starter in New England, but not for fantasy owners anymore.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
Elliott hasn’t been awful, but you have to remember that he was one of the top three or four running backs taken in every league. He came at a steep price and expectations. He has six touchdowns in seven games, but, when Dak Prescott went down two weeks ago, the expectation was the offense was going to saddle up Elliott. It hasn’t happened. He has had 14 or fewer carries four times in the last five games and, in the two without Prescott, he has carried just 24 times for 94 yards and no touchdowns – a minimal expectation for one game, not two.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Given the weapons at his disposal, the average estimate for Ryan – win or lose – was in the neighborhood of 300 yards and two touchdowns at a minimum. In his last five games, he has thrown one or no touchdowns in four of the games and, unlike other quarterbacks who can pile up points with their legs running the ball, Ryan is a glacier who needs his arm to put up points. He hasn’t been putting up nearly enough of them to be a starter in most leagues.
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers
Henry was drafted to be a starting tight end week after week and, considering the kind of numbers Justin Herbert has been putting up, it’s been hard to bench him. But, over the last four games, he has caught just 14 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown – not the kind of numbers that keep fantasy owners calling your number every week.
David Johnson, RB, Texans
There aren’t many running backs that have the carry-share that Johnson has. The Texans other running backs combined have just 19 carries. Johnson has 101. Yet, in his last six games, he has rushed 90 times for just 315 yards and two touchdowns. In that same span, he has caught more than two passes in a game just twice. In deeper leagues, owners usually don’t have an option but to play him, but he has been costing fantasy owners dearly for much of the season with pedestrian numbers despite getting his opportunities.