Can you trust a rookie QB?

Jack Bailoor (@jackbailoor)

They may not be your most obvious fantasy picks, but there’s no doubting the value of a well-judged early rookie pick in the mould of Ezekiel Elliot, or the well-timed sleeper pick that may just end up breaking out (see Jordan Howard). Over the next few articles, I’ll be looking at ten rookies in each fantasy position and whether they can be the guys who will fire you to fantasy success, or the ones who could leave you burnt.

We start with the fulcrum of any offense, the quarterback. Ten quarterbacks were drafted this year, but will any match the success of Dak Prescott last year?


Mitchell Trubisky – Chicago Bears

The Bears gave up a lot to move up the one draft spot that allowed them to take Trubisky at #2 in the draft, but with the organisation under a cloud, he doesn’t find himself in the easiest situation.

Head Coach John Fox wasn’t involved in, nor even notified of, the discussions that led to the trade, which to some suggests that Fox may not be part of the franchise’s immediate future. All this means Trubisky may be learning a completely new playbook in the not-so- distant future.

Throw in (if you’ll excuse the pun) that Trubisky didn’t start a single game until his junior year (he played backup to Marquise Williams at North Carolina, and gave up his senior year to become eligible for the draft); his relative inexperience combined with an uncertain franchise future makes him a fantasy risk despite being the #1 quarterback in the draft.

That said, 30 touchdowns in 13 starts in his junior year, throwing for 3,748 yards is nothing to be sniffed at. With rival Bears quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez having spent recent seasons as backups at other franchise, a tough start to the season for Chicago could lead to Trubisky being given opportunity as a starter late in the season. Trubisky finds himself in a similar quarterback issue to the one Jared Goff found himself in last season.

Jack’s draft recommendation: Undrafted in all but largest leagues. Potential to be a sleeper depending on how Mike Glennon performs, but will most likely sit this season as he learns the ropes.

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Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs

Another QB who a franchise gave up a lot for was Mahomes. The Chiefs traded up to 10 to grab the Texas Tech student, who rose to prominence with his canon arm throwing for 734 yards in a single game vs Oklahoma in October 2016.

No doubt that his potential for the big play makes him an exciting talent, but this also arguably is his biggest weakness, if he continues to search for that big player too regularly.

Fantasy-wise, Mahomes again will likely sit the year as he adjusts from Texas Tech’s spread system to the NFL game, especially as the Chiefs have the experienced head of Alex Smith as their number one quarterback currently.

With Kansas having lost Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin this close- season, suggestions are that the Chiefs are looking to adjust their game in the coming years, which may lead to Mahomes getting his chance sooner than first thought.

Jack’s draft recommendation: One to watch. If it emerges from the Chiefs camp that Alex Smith isn’t certain to start, Mahomes becomes an option as a late round pick for your QB2.

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Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans

At one point, Watson was a consensus #1 QB pick. The ex-Clemson quarterback was eventually picked a #12, and of all the quartbacks, finds himself most likely to be a starter after the Texans quickly moved on from Brock Osweiler.

The two-time Heisman award runner-up starred at College, and under Bill O’Brien, arguably has one of the best head coaches a young quarterback could play under. With Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden as rival quarterbacks, Watson could very well be a day one starter, as Carson Wentz was last year.

It’s also worth noting the weapons available to Watson. DeAndre Hopkins on his day is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, while Will Fuller V showed big play abilities last year. With C. J. Fiedorowicz proving to be an option down the middle last season, Watson will have the targets, but will need the offensive line to step up and protect him, as well as allowing Lamar Miller establish a running game that will take the pressure of the rookie QB. If this doesn’t happen, Watson will find himself mirroring Carson Wentz’s situation last year.

Jack’s draft recommendation: Though a likely starter, Watson should be no more than a sleeper pick at quarterback. If you feel you want to pick a rookie as your QB2, Watson is your guy.

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DeShone Kizer – Cleveland Browns

The Browns have got a bad rap in recent years for panic drafting in early draft rounds, but came out of this year’s draft with plaudits after using their numerous picks sensibly.

As a second round pick, many perceive Kizer to have one of the highest ceilings of the quarterbacks in the draft, but the Browns’ quarterback situation (Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler are hardly the strongest options) may lead to Kizer being thrown in earlier than perhaps is ideal for the ex-Notre Dame man.

Jack’s draft recommendation: If you’re in a larger league, Kizer may become a waiver pickup later in the season if you find one of your quarterback’s injured and a small available pool of replacements.

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Davis Webb – New York Giants

Webb found himself behind Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech in his junior year, but flourished upon transferring to California for his senior year. He’ll find himself behind Eli Manning this year, but with the 36 year old coming off a disappointing season, suggestions are that the Giants will eventually move on from the two time Super Bowl winner.

This year will likely be a redshirt year for Webb, but also presents him an opportunity on the training field to be Manning’s successor and a fantasy option in future years.


CJ Beathard (San Francisco 49ers), Joshua Dobbs (Pittsburgh Steelers), Nathan Peterman (Buffalo Bills) & Brad Kaaya (Detroit Lions)

Of these four late round picks, Brad Kaaya is probably the man most disappointed to find himself picked later in the draft. Seen as a top 3 candidate at one point, he gradually slipped down the board.

All four find themselves unlikely to feature this season, with their franchises’ quarterback situations seemingly sturdy (perhaps Beathard may see late season opportunity) and should be avoided on your draft day.


Chad Kelly – Denver Broncos

This year’s Mr Irrelevant may actually have more of a chance of starting games this year than most of the quarterbacks taken before him.

Kelly’s big play talent is undeniable, but a history of injuries, and a slightly wild side led to him being a late round pick by the Broncos.

With Denver’s quarterback situation up for grabs, Kelly may be a mid-season waiver-wire pickup should Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch fail to step up. That said, as he is still recovering from wrist surgery, he’d be no more than a deep, deep waiver wire dive.

CONCLUSION

So there you have it, perhaps not the strongest quarterback draft class in recent years, and Watson aside, I’d expect none of them to start more than half of a season’s worth of games. Unless you find yourself in a dynasty fantasy league (to be discussed in a future podcast), I’d be focusing on the more experienced heads of the quarterback world in fantasy this year.

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