The 2016 NFL Draft is behind us, and now we find ourselves instantly looking over the results to see which rookie Fantasy quarterbacks are winners and losers, in order to help our Fantasy Football teams become winners – not losers!
But my assignment, looking at which rookie Fantasy quarterbacks are in a great/horrible situations is not quite as exciting as looking at the rookie tailbacks or, nowadays, the rookie wide receivers. (Mark Strausberg covered the Wide Receiver Winners & Losers, and John La Presto did the Running Backs Winners & Losers.)
Look over the past 25 years or so, we know that rookie Fantasy quarterbacks generally aren’t a big help for Fantasy Football owners in one-QB leagues.
I wrote an article a few years ago detailing the most notable rookie Fantasy QBs since 1991, as Robert Griffin III was closing in on one of the all-time best rookie seasons ever.
Dating back to the ‘80s, there were only seven rookie QBs to score 200 Fantasy points, landing them among the top-12 at their position in their rookie year: Peyton Manning (203 Fantasy points), Vince Young (207), Andy Dalton (211), Russell Wilson (322), Andrew Luck (348), Robert Griffin III (360) and Cam Newton (366).
What that means is that there are very, very few rookie quarterbacks that finish the season with starting Fantasy QB numbers. They might be able to help you as part-time players, or as bye-week replacements with great matchups, but you shouldn’t be looking to this 2016 NFL Draft set of quarterbacks – either the winners or the losers – for Fantasy help this season.
There really wasn’t an Andrew Luck or a Peyton Manning in this year’s draft, or even a Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. Time could prove that to be a different story, but the two quarterbacks that were drafted at the top, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, were not considered the best players in this draft. But since the Rams and Eagles were desperate for a quarterback, those two guys went first.
It’s interesting if you look at the past few years – young guns are starting to make their mark on this game, as aging veterans are in their sunset years. Guys like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers are 35 or older, with double-digit years of experience. (And that’s not even mentioning the recently retired Peyton Manning.)
Behind that group, young players are climbing the Fantasy rankings, with guys like Newton, Wilson, Blake Bortles, Winston, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater all scoring top-25 Fantasy scores last year (among QBs).
2016 NFL Draft: Rookie Fantasy Quarterbacks – Winners
With rookie Fantasy QBs, it doesn’t matter what the scoring system is, PPR or not, if they don’t get a ton of playing time, get the ball into the end zone, or have a good supporting cast, they’re not even going to be Fantasy backup worthy.
Paxton Lynch, Denver (Round 1)
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 3, 2016
I saw Lynch beat my USF Bulls in person this season, and there’s no doubt, he is a physical beast, standing at 6-foot-7, with mobile feet. He steps into a Broncos locker room that is not only missing their Super Bowl winning quarterback (Manning retired), but they even lost their young stud that was going to replace him to free agency (Brock Osweiler to Houston). Lynch sits behind Mark Sanchez on the depth chart (noice!) and he has two top-20 wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Even so, it’s tough to consider Lynch as a Fantasy starter outside of a couple games this year – even if he gets some NFL starts. RotoExperts.com’s Jake Ciely ranks Lynch as the 24th-best rookie for this coming season. He’s a Fantasy winner in our book, but that’s all relative!
Jared Goff, L.A. Rams (Round 1)
Crazy Stat of Day: Jared Goff was 14-23 as a starter in college, worst win % by QB taken No. 1 in Common Draft Era. pic.twitter.com/mb4kMas2wu
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 29, 2016
Unlike Lynch, the Rams aren’t trying to repeat as Super Bowl champs, so getting Goff into the starting lineup is probably a bigger possibility for a team with a great defense and running back. But that running back is why Goff is probably going to get a lot of snaps – but not many pass attempts. This is going to be a run-first team, rightfully so with Todd Gurley toting the rock, so Goff is a better option for 2QB leagues because he’ll see starts.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (Round 1)
He hasn't taken a snap yet, but a Philadelphia Eagles fan already booed new draft pick Carson Wentz. https://t.co/fNRturjXfL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 1, 2016
Wentz dodged a “brown” bullet when the Eagles traded up with Cleveland to take the stud out of North Dakota State, but in the first few years, we could be thinking the Browns dodged that bullet. Wentz is going to need some time to develop, and while Doug Pederson is certain to be helpful as his new head coach, the jump from FCS to the NFL is a much larger gap than at any other position.
Wentz will have to beat out Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel to make some Fantasy noise, and I don’t see that happening in Year 1. Injuries, however, could move him into action, however, and the passing weapons are there, with Darren Sproles, Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz.
Other Veteran Winners
Honestly, I don’t think were any huge players that dodged great big bullets, other than maybe Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco (who knows what happens with him, though) and Robert Griffin III in Cleveland. But to call either of them Fantasy winners just makes me feel dirty.
2016 NFL Draft: Rookie Fantasy Quarterbacks – Losers
The three quarterbacks mentioned above are loosely considered Fantasy winners, just as the ones below are loosely considered losers. Three of the next five all have a chance to see action in their rookie season, but we just don’t have confidence in their ability in Year 1.
Cody Kessler, Cleveland (Round 3)
Browns declare open competition for starting quarterback, with rookie Cody Kessler a candidate https://t.co/dBgoHdh8NZ
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 1, 2016
The former USC quarterback joins the Browns, who only have brittle (mentally/physically) RGIII and future QB coach Josh McCown ahead of Kessler. But Kessler didn’t have the huge season many had expected out of him, so it’s tough to imagine him being useful on this roster. I really wanted to call him a Fantasy winner here because he might have the easiest route to playing time, but it’s like saying he’s the smartest dummy.
Christian Hackenburg, N.Y. Jets (Round 2)
Again, Hackenburg steps into a pretty good situation, with good wide receivers and a quality offensive-minded head coach, but he’s a project that could be a nice sleeper in 2017. This year, the Jets are tied to Geno Smith (as long as he doesn’t piss off any more teammates) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (if he re-signs with them).
Connor Cook, Oakland (Round 2)
— NFL Now (@NFLNow) April 30, 2016
Had Cook landed in Denver, I think he’d be my top rookie QB, and if he went to the Browns or Jets, I would have ranked him pretty close to Goff at No. 3. But in Oakland, the best-case scenario for his Fantasy owners is that Derek Carr gets injured.
Remember that last fall, Cook was thought to be the No. 1 overall pick in this draft by Kiper and Co., so his talent is prodigious. His situation, however, is unfortunate behind one of the top young quarterbacks in the game.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Round 4)
Dak Prescott: The 1st Mississippi State QB drafted since 1979. pic.twitter.com/srYVGo8dk4
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 30, 2016
Prescott was impressive with Mississippi State the past couple seasons, but he’ll need an injury to Tony Romo before they even consider putting him on the field. It’s not ideal, but Prescott could see more action than Cook, despite not being as talented. Fantasy owners will love his legs, too, as he has 37 rushing touchdowns and 94 rushes of 10 yards or more in his past three seasons. (But then again, the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott, so we don’t expect Prescott to touch paint too much.)
Jacoby Brissett, New England (Round 3)
With Brady suspended for four games (for now, do we really think that’s staying that way?), Brissett has a chance to back up Jimmy Garoppolo. Unfortunately, that chance has a four-game window that starts at the beginning of the season.
Other Veteran Fantasy Losers
My votes go to Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez as the biggest Fantasy losers among the non-rookies because they are looking at up-and-comers behind them on the depth chart, with a fanbase eager to see what the rookies have to offer.
Whether these rookie Fantasy quarterbacks are winners or losers coming out of the 2016 NFL Draft, we really won’t know until around New Year’s. But when they do blow up, it’s doubtful anyone will have them on their rosters anyway. And don’t forget to check out Mark Strausberg’s look at the Wide Receiver Winners & Losers, and John La Presto’s Running Backs Winners & Losers
- 2018 Rookie WR Rankings For Fantasy Football: Fantasy Flyers? - July 7, 2018
- 2018 Rookie RB Rankings For Fantasy Football: Top 10 Tailbacks - June 18, 2018
- 2018 Fantasy Rookie Quarterbacks Rankings: Who Will Step Up? - June 12, 2018