This is the best time of the year for NFL rookies. They finished out their respective seasons and began a journey of workouts, interviews, phone calls, and Pro Days. All of this led up to the 2018 NFL Draft where 256 young men got to hear their name called. Dreams have come true and this is the part of the year where they can bask in the glow of achievement. NFL teams are honeymooning their rookies and all is right in NFL land.
This is also the time of year where many analysts and die-hard enthusiasts emerge from fantasy hibernation and begin to feast on numbers, projections, and stats. They set their table with the major food groups; rookies, trades, and free agency moves.
The 2018 draft saw six quarterbacks get their names called in the first three rounds. In this article, we’re going to analyze and assess the top four picks and their teams and try to extrapolate an idea of who’s going to be fantasy relevant and when.
If you’re here, let’s assume you’re coming out of hibernation as well. Ladies and gentlemen, let us feast.
Fantasy Football Focus – 2018 Rookie Quarterbacks
Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns
It’s no secret that the Browns have whiffed on many of their recent quarterback selections. It’s to the point where when the Browns pick a quarterback in the first round, they’re expected to fail in stunning fashion.
Mayfield has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel with some of his off-field issues and headlines. Honestly, that’s where the comparisons should stop. Mayfield exceeds Manziel in almost every statistical category that quarterbacks are measured by. He amassed 131 passing touchdowns and ran for 21 more in his four years in college. During that time he never finished with below 64.1 completion percentage.
It has already been announced that veteran Tyrod Taylor will be the starter. However, if last season was any indication on how coach Hue Jackson handles his quarterbacks, there’s still some hope for Mayfield fans. Spending a season learning the playbook and personnel would be good for Mayfield. There’s a chance he plays this season but for fantasy purposes, it’s a difficult thing to bet on.
Redraft/Seasonal leagues: Not draftable.
Keeper/Dynasty: Back of middle or early later rounds.
Sam Darnold – New York Jets
Darnold threw for 57 touchdowns in his two seasons at USC. He also threw 21 interceptions and fumbled 20 times.
The Jets are among the worst places a quarterback could be drafted right now. Their offensive line is in shambles. Their best receiver is Robbie Anderson, who may face a league suspension for some off-the-field issues during the off-season.
No one is currently projecting Darnold to start right away. Josh McCown should be the starter with Teddy Bridgewater slotted as his immediate back-up. While Darnold could potentially beat him out for the backup spot, it’s unlikely that he begins the season under center.
Redraft/Seasonal leagues: Not draftable
Keeper/Dynasty: Late round pick
Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills
Let’s begin with the good news. Allen is a monster standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 236 pounds. He’s got a big wingspan without being lanky and has massive hands. He threw for 41 touchdowns and ran for 12 more during his collegiate career.
The downside is that Allen averaged right at 200 passing yards per contest, and only at 56.1 completion percentage. While Allen certainly looks the part, he’s going to require some serious work to be real-football relevant much less for fantasy purposes.
Allen is landing on a team that had no problem trotting out Nathan Peterman over Tyrod Taylor in what turned out to be an absolute disaster. Unless A.J. McCarron comes out strong, it’s not a matter of if Allen sees playing time so much as when he sees it. Either way, it looks like trouble in Buffalo after having lost three significant pieces of their offensive line. This also bumps LeSean McCoy’s value down as he’s almost guaranteed to see stacked boxes early and often.
Redraft/Seasonal Leagues: Not draftable.
Keeper/Dynasty: Later round pick
Josh Rosen – Arizona Cardinals
Rosen averaged over 300 yards per game in his three years at UCLA. He threw for 59 touchdowns and ran for six more while completing an average of 60.6 percent of his passes. Those are the good numbers. He also threw 26 interceptions. Make no mistake, this kid can throw.
He’s got a little bit of an injury history, including a couple of concussions and torn rotator cuff. The injuries were most likely part of the reason he fell to the 10th spot in the draft.
Rosen has NFL-level talent and has landed on a team that may allow some success. The immediate problem is he’s backing up an injury-prone Sam Bradford so he may be forced on the field earlier than what he may need to fully grasp the playbook and speed of the game at the next level. We all know that Mike Glennon is there, but does anyone really expect him to get the nod over Rosen once Bradford’s knee swells up the size of a Harley fuel tank?
Didn’t think so.
There’s also a question of receivers. Larry Fitzgerald is inhuman and will continue to show success despite his age, no matter which quarterback is throwing to him. After that, there’s not much to look for. David Johnson will hopefully be back and he’s got his dual-threat type of running-back role that will help the offense. It’s also worth noting that the offensive line is not great. While it’s not terrible, it has holes and that’s not a good thing for a rookie with injury history or for Bradford.
Rosen certainly has the talent to succeed at the NFL level and for fantasy. He may sparkle a time or two this season, but don’t expect him to shine just yet.
Seasonal/Redraft: Not draftable
Dynasty/Keeper: Mid-to-late round stash