The quarterback position is the most important in the NFL by a mile. However, in fantasy football, the quarterback position might be the least important.
Given the depth at the position, many fantasy experts recommend waiting to select a quarterback until the later rounds unless there is some crazy scoring system or a two quarterback/superflex league.
There were five rookie quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.
While every fan base has high expectations for their new quarterback, the reality is they almost always struggle to produce fantasy points, especially when their team lacks overall talent.
Before trying to project the rookie quarterback’s fantasy stats, let’s take a look at what the past three draft’s first round rookies have done.
Fantasy scoring is based on four point passing touchdowns, minus two points for interceptions.
2017 Rookie Quarterbacks
12 games played, 196/330 59%, 2,193 passing yards, 7 TDs, 7 INTs, 41 rush attempts, 248 yards, 2 TDs, 11.2 FPPG, finished as the QB28.
1 game played, 22/35 65%, 284 passing yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 7 rush attempts, 10 yards, 0 TDs, 10.4 FPPG, finished as the QB52.
7 games played, 126/204 62%, 1,699 passing yards, 19 TDs, 8 INTs, 36 rush attempts, 269 yards, 2 TDs, 24.1 FPPG, finished as the QB26.
2016 Rookie Quarterbacks
7 games played, 112/205 55%, 1,089 passing yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs, 8 rush attempts, 16 yards, 1 TDs, 7.6 FPPG, finished as the QB37.
16 games played, 379/607 62%, 3,782 passing yards, 16 TDs, 14 INTs, 46 rush attempts, 150 yards, 2 TDs, 13.4 FPPG, finished as the QB24.
3 games played, 49/83 59%, 497 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INTs, 11 rush attempts, 25 yards, 0 TDs, 9.5 FPPG, finished as the QB43.
2015 Rookie Quarterbacks
16 games played, 312/535 58%, 4,042 passing yards, 22 TDs, 15 INTs, 54 rush attempts, 213 yards, 6 TDs, 17.2 FPPG, finished as the QB13.
12 games played, 230/370 62%, 2,818 passing yards, 19 TDs, 10 INTs, 34 rush attempts, 252 yards, 2 TDs, 17.6 FPPG, finished as the QB22.
Of the last eight first round rookie quarterbacks, none of them finished their rookie season as a QB1. Winston did come close finishing as the QB13 that year and had Watson stayed healthy, he likely would have finished the year easily as a QB1; maybe in the top three overall. However, that is clearly an outlier verse the norm. Furthermore, Watson had a good pair of wide receivers to throw to and a weak defense he had to make up for, Winston had a similar situation in 2015.
The five teams that selected first round quarterbacks this year were the Browns, Jets, Bills, Cardinals and Ravens. Comparing what those five teams’ quarterbacks did last season to past first round rookie quarterbacks, I came up with my 2018 rookie quarterback projections below.
DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan, Cody Kessler:
16 games played, 312/574 54%, 3,534 passing yards, 15 TDs, 28 INTs, 88 rush attempts, 489 yards, 5 TDs, 13.3 FPPG.
8 games played, 154/248 62%, 1,912 passing yards, 10 TDs, 8 INTs, 26 rush attempts, 114 yards, 2 TDs, 15.5 FPPG.
The Browns had the worst set of quarterbacks in the league last year and it showed in the team’s 0-16 record. Clearly Tyrod Taylor and Mayfield are upgrades over anyone who took a snap for the Browns last season. The team spent a lot of money and draft capital this offseason to improve the offense around the quarterback position. From Jarvis Landry to locking Duke Johnson up long term to drafting Nick Chubb to hopefully having Josh Gordon for 16 games, the Browns offense is one of the best in the league on paper. Unfortunately for Mayfield, the Browns are in no rush to get him on the field after trading a third round pick for Taylor. Because of the proven and coach backed starter in front of him, I project Mayfield to play in just eight games this season. While he will play well and gives Browns fans hope, he isn’t fantasy relevant for 2018 unless he starts more than eight games.
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 18, 2018
New York Jets
Josh McCown, Bryce Petty:
16 games played, 322/509 63%, 3,470 passing yards, 19 TDs, 12 INTs, 44 rush attempts, 179 yards, 5 TDs, 14.4 FPPG.
6 games played, 103/175 59%, 1,224 passing yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs, 15 rush attempts, 51 yards, 2 TDs, 13.3 FPPG.
Despite a supporting cast of misfits and castoffs, Josh McCown finished the season as the QB16 on a FPPG basis and had five weeks finishing as a QB1. While McCown is back for another season, the team did bring in Teddy Bridgewater and reportedly he has looked good during the offseason programming. Darnold enters training camp clearly as the number three quarterback on the depth chart but he will have a chance to win the starting job. However, I believe the team plays the two veterans until the season is officially a lost cause before turning to Darnold. With a limited supporting cast, Darnold should struggle and not be fantasy relevant for 2018.
I don't want to overreact here, but Teddy Bridgewater looks GREAT. Solid pocket presence. Making good decisions in 11on11 drills. It's early, but he's been impressive every time I've seen him. #Jets
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) June 12, 2018
Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman:
16 games played, 287/469 62%, 3,051 passing yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs, 91 rush attempts, 450 yards, 4 TDs, 14.6 FPPG.
10 games played, 185/328 56%, 1,950 passing yards, 10 TDs, 12 INTs, 31 rush attempts, 104 yards, 2 TDs, 11.6 FPPG.
Where to even begin on this one. The Bills are a mess right now, plain and simple. They have lost four of their five starters on the offensive line from last season, LeSean McCoy turns 30 years old in a few weeks, while Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay are the top receiving options for whoever plays quarterback; this offense screams bad. Reportedly Nathan Peterman (yes, the guy who threw five interceptions in one half) has a real shot to win the starting spot. Yikes! Allen has a chance to start early on given his competition and when he does he will seriously struggle. Of course any rookie quarterback would struggle given what Allen has to work with. The Bills season will head downhill sooner than later and Allen will be forced to start sooner than he is ready to. The 2018 season will be very ugly for both Bills fans and Allen’s fantasy production.
Nathan Peterman–yes, Mr. Five Interceptions in His First NFL Start–is a legit starting option for the Buffalo Bills this fall. https://t.co/Ilbaq78aIQ
— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) June 20, 2018
Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton:
16 games played, 338/597 57%, 3,958 passing yards, 21 TDs, 18 INTs, 45 rush attempts, 101 yards, 0 TDs, 13.4 FPPG.
12 games played, 249/413 60%, 3,103 passing yards, 16 TDs, 13 INTs, 29 rush attempts, 64 yards, 1 TDs, 14.5 FPPG.
Don’t be fooled by the bad quarterback numbers from last season, Palmer had a good year when healthy and the team didn’t have David Johnson for 15 games. None of the quarterbacks from last season are still on the roster, while Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon join Rosen in Arizona. Of all the rookie quarterbacks, Rosen has the best chance to start week one and be fantasy relevant this season. Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are the best running back/wide receiver combo any rookie quarterback has by far. While Bradford is currently ahead of Rosen on the depth chart entering training camp, Rosen could easily beat him out to start week one. However, I went conservative on this projection, guessing that Bradford would make through a couple of games before getting hurt and handing over the starting job to Rosen. Unless Johnson and Fitzgerald have monster seasons, Rosen isn’t likely to have much fantasy value in 2018.
— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) May 16, 2018
Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett:
16 games played, 361/565 64%, 3,197 passing yards, 20 TDs, 13 INTs, 29 rush attempts, 51 yards, 1 TDs, 12.2 FPPG.
16 games played, 52/89 58%, 510 passing yards, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 78 rush attempts, 507 yards, 7 TDs, 7.1 FPPG.
14 games as a package player: 16/28 57%, 126 passing yards, 1 TDs, 2 INTs, 56 rush attempts, 364 yards, 4 TDs, 4.7 FPPG.
2 games as the starter: 36/61 59%, 384 passing yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 22 rush attempts, 143 yards, 3 TDs, 23.8 FPPG.
Many people are jumping on the Jackson hype train for 2018 after the reports about him during mini camp. However, everyone needs to slow down, Jackson’s time will come eventually. The Ravens have too much money committed to Flacco to toss him aside week one. I expect, as reported, that the Ravens will use Jackson in special designed packages to get him on the field every week. The Ravens have finished around .500 the last two seasons, I expect the same to happen again this season. However, the Ravens will be out of the playoff picture with two games left in the season and with nothing to lose, they will turn over the starting job to Jackson. In the end, Jackson has no fantasy value in 2018 until he earns the starting job. However, once Jackson is named the starter, he should be picked up in every league as I believe he could have serious fantasy value to close out the season.
Ravens Using Two QBs 👀: Harbaugh lining up Lamar Jackson all over the field to see what 'options' it creates https://t.co/QFUjh6yFlc
— Dancing Dude (@dancing_dude) June 12, 2018
Rarely do rookie quarterbacks make a fantasy impact right away and when they do it is usually with their legs. That is why Jackson has a real shot to have fantasy value once he takes over as the starter. While these projections are only for their rookie season, check out my expectations for first round rookies where I provide some insight on how I view them for dynasty team owners. As always happy hunting fantasy friends!