Baker Mayfield is the most polarizing quarterback in this year’s draft. Critics knock him for his lack of size and perceived character issues. His supporters point to his leadership and playmaking ability, touting him as one of the more NFL ready quarterbacks of this year’s draft. While it is rare for even the best quarterbacks to be viable options in fantasy football as rookies, Mayfield is an intriguing prospect due to his accuracy as a passer, and mobility as a rusher. If he goes to the right team and is given the opportunity, he could be a great option as a waiver pickup, or in deeper leagues.
Best Fantasy Football Fits for Baker Mayfield
Smooth Transition on Both Ends
The best fit for Mayfield from a fantasy perspective would be the Buffalo Bills. This is because Mayfield is a direct upgrade over the skillset of former starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor was a mobile quarterback whose stats didn’t pop on paper. He never threw over 20 touchdowns in a season, but also never had more than six interceptions. Mayfield is also great with taking care of the football, can scramble and make plays, but can make plays down the field much better than Taylor could.
In the fantasy realm, Taylor was mostly a matchup-based streamer in his first and third season as a starter. However, in 2016, he actually had a top 10 finish at the position. He had 3,023 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions. His 580 rushing yards and six touchdowns are what really took him over the top though.
Mayfield should be able to easily top Taylor in the passing game. With the Sooners, Mayfield was incredibly efficient. His pass efficiency ratings as a junior and senior are the top two in college football history. He might not get as many yards rushing as Taylor, but his mobility will always make him a threat to score with his legs when he’s in the red zone.
If Mayfield does go to the Bills, he gets a coaching staff with experience utilizing a mobile quarterback. Should he end up there, he would be a guy to keep an eye on for the waiver wire.
Showcasing His Passing Ability
Another great fit for Mayfield in the fantasy world would be the Denver Broncos. The Broncos would definitely showcase Mayfield’s underrated passing ability, and he would be helped by the presence of veteran receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. With Sanders and Thomas, Mayfield gets the services of two great receivers with different strengths. The two wideouts likely have their fantasy value boosted as well, since they have not had a talent a quarterback like Mayfield since Peyton Manning retired.
Thomas is more of a big-bodied deep threat. He would be an excellent target for Mayfield on plays where he is forced to scramble out of the pocket. Thomas is great at going up and getting jump balls. Defenses will have to respect Mayfield’s ability to scramble and will undoubtedly get caught biting on a potential quarterback run. This will give some potential for huge gains and long touchdowns for Mayfield.
On the other end of the spectrum is Sanders. Sanders is a precise route runner who specializes in intermediate routes. This plays to Mayfield’s strengths as an accurate quarterback, as he completed almost 70 percent of his throws at Oklahoma. He likely becomes Mayfield’s favorite target, especially on third down. Sanders will allow Mayfield to stay on the field and pile on points slowly but surely.
The biggest issue with being drafted by Denver is the fact that the Broncos just signed quarterback Case Keenum, who had an awesome year the Minnesota Vikings. Still, no one believes that Keenum is a long-term answer. If the Broncos took Mayfield, he’d be on the field sooner rather than later. When he does hit the field, he would be set up for success in the Broncos offense.
Highly Unlikely, But Great Fit
A long shot team that could grab him, but would be a great fit would be the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton has been the Bengals starting quarterback since 2011 but has shown largely mixed results. On a fantasy perspective, save for one anomaly season, Dalton has hovered around the middle of the pack for starting quarterbacks, making him fantasy irrelevant. The Bengals had one of the worst offenses in the league last season and might be looking to make a change at quarterback.
Mayfield would be the perfect answer for the offense and would add another element that they have been lacking. Dalton is a prototypical pocket passer. He’s benefitted from having guys like A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert on the field with him but still hasn’t been able to take the team to the next level. With these weapons and a solid run game around him, Mayfield should be much more successful.
The Bengals also have a solid stable of running backs in Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Mixon is more of a straight-ahead runner, while Bernard can run and catch out of the backfield. Pair that with Mayfield’s mobility, and it could allow the Bengals to get into some dual back and pistol formation where defenses wouldn’t know who is keeping the football.
Now, the Bengals are highly unlikely to even have Mayfield fall to them at the number 21 pick, but on draft day, who knows what is going to happen? Even if he is drafted by them, he has an uphill battle to win the starting job his rookie year. If the stars do align this way though, he’s a player to keep an eye on.