My name is Mike Riggall and I am one of the newer fantasy football writers with Major League Fantasy Sports. Over the next few weeks I will be analyzing the NFL’s 2017 rookie class and whether any of these rookies can help you win a fantasy football championship. My next article will be about rookie running backs and will be published on May 19th, but for now, I am here to talk about the top rookie quarterbacks from the 2017 draft and their fantasy outlook.
In fantasy football rookie quarterbacks aren’t usually big time producers. Since 2014, only Dak Prescott has cracked the top 12 in fantasy production in any of the last three years. This means that only 1 out of 36 of all the QB1’s since 2014 has been a rookie. That being said, it is highly unlikely that you will find success with a rookie QB in your starting lineup this year. However, there may be another Dak Prescott in this year’s rookie class, and if there is, I hope to tell you about him.
Top 5 Rookie QBs
1.) Deshaun Watson: Watson was drafted 12th overall by the Houston Texans and may have the most immediate fantasy value out of all the rookie QB’s this year. Bill O’Brien’s offense takes a while to learn and Watson is likely to struggle adjusting early on in his career. But, Watson brings running ability to the table which will give him immediate fantasy value. Although the Texans plan on starting Tom Savage in 2017, does anybody really expect Tom Savage to stay healthy the entire year? Not me.
At the end of the day, Watson is an athlete, a leader, and it has been said many times that he plays the best when the lights are brightest. Watson isn’t built like Cam Newton, standing 6’2″ weighing 220 pounds, but he may be smarter than Cam as he avoided taking square hits for most of his college career. His ability to avoid the big hit will help keep him on the field and out of the training room as a rookie and throughout his career. If Deshaun can adjust to the pro game, improve on making progressions and learn how to take a snap from under center, he may have the highest ceiling (long and short term) of any of the QB’s in the 2017 class. Watson is not expected to light it up through the air this year, but it is not out of the question that he racks up 600-800 yards on the ground, helping his fantasy production.
2.) Nate Peterman: Everybody wants to talk about Mitch “Mr. Biscuit” Trubisky and the controversial move the Bears made trading up to get him. You can talk about Mr. Biscuit all you want, but the rookie QB who may make the biggest splash in the 2017 season is Nate Peterman out of Pitt. Peterman can throw receivers open and is also capable of anticipating throws, hitting windows before the receiver gets there. The last time I checked, NFL throwing windows are much smaller than college throwing windows, and if you can’t throw into tight windows, you won’t make it in the league.
Peterman also played in a pro style offense in college, so he is already acclimated to playing under center. Peterman is an accurate passer and not scared to make a mistake. Some scouts have identified his desire to make “hero” plays as a weakness. I understand how this can be identified as a weakness, but as a coach myself, I understand you can’t make anybody into a hero, but you can try to mold or tame that “hero” mentality.
Tyrod Taylor has missed three games over the last two seasons and the Bills seemed less than thrilled to have Taylor back under center in 2017. The team only agreed to bring Tyrod back because they lacked a better option and Taylor agreed to a pay cut. Taylor’s running ability lends itself to the potential for injury, so we may see Peterman sooner rather than later.
If we see Peterman in 2017, we may not see Taylor play again wearing a Bills uniform. Peterman’s physical attributes may not jump off the page like some of the other QB’s in the 2017 draft, but he has the experience and savvy to make him relevant this season. Will Peterman be fantasy relevant in 2017? Probably not. I can name 24 QB’s off the top of my head I would rather carry on my fantasy roster than Peterman, mainly because he isn’t listed as the starter at this time. Normally when rookie QB’s put up big fantasy numbers it’s because they can get the job done with their legs which compensates for the lack of passing yardage. Peterman isn’t the most mobile QB so he won’t be able to rack up fantasy points with his legs while he gets acclimated to the speed of the pro game. His 2017 fantasy outlook isn’t the greatest, but he may be the first rookie QB to see the field. If Peterman does see the field this year, 200 yards and 1 TD per game would be a fair forecast.
3.) Deshone Kizer: Even if Deshone Kizer could have benefited from another year at Notre Dame. But, getting drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL draft indicates that the Browns think he has what it takes to be a difference maker…eventually. Kizer is the prototypical NFL passer standing 6’4″ and weighing in at 233 pounds. Kizer has a cannon for an arm and can make all the throws. His big arm makes him a good fit for Hue Jackson’s offense and dealing with the elements in Cleveland.
Kizer can also get it done with his legs, running for 18 touchdowns over 23 starts for Notre Dame and has the frame to withstand punishment from
NFL defenders. The knock on Kizer is that he doesn’t anticipate well and isn’t always the best decision maker, holding on to the ball much too long. He shouldn’t play in Cleveland this year, but Cody Kessler also isn’t the answer. Kessler doesn’t have the ideal arm strength to run a Hue Jackson offense and hasn’t shown he can stay healthy, suffering multiple concussions in 2016. If Kessler goes down, or the Browns start out the season winless over the first 4 or 5 games (Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Bengals and Jets), Kizer will be thrust into action sooner rather than later, and we will find out what he’s made of.
The 2018 QB draft class looks to be bright, and the Browns will need to make a decision whether to explore an option in the 2018 draft or live with Kizer. Based on his college output, if Kizer plays in 2017 he could be a valuable fantasy asset because of his legs as he learns to improve his accuracy and anticipation. Kizer remains an intriguing dynasty league pick with big potential, especially with weapons like Duke Johnson, David Njoku, Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt. If you are forced to use Kizer in your starting lineup this year, then your team is most likely stacked at other positions because you failed to draft a single QB to your roster or your team is really bad because your QB was hurt and you had no other option. Kizer’s big arm and running ability lends him to boom or bust production in 2017. Drafting Kizer in re-draft leagues is not recommended.
4.) Patrick Mahomes: He was drafted 10th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. When I read scouts’ initial reports on Mahomes, I thought I was reading about Brett Favre. Alex Smith will only be 33 years old when the 2017 season starts (Smith’s 13th NFL season), but he is what he is, a game manager. The most touchdowns Smith has ever thrown in a season is 23 and he lacks the ability to be a true difference maker on the field. The Chiefs have a potential difference maker in Mahomes. It is unlikely Mahomes plays this year as the Chiefs are a “win now” team, and the Chiefs have proven to be successful behind Smith. However, if Mahomes is called into duty in 2017, the Chiefs have a decent offensive line to protect him, and a decent supporting cast of weapons for him with Macline, Hill and Kelce.
But, it is unlikely Mahomes plays this year as the Chiefs may look to tame his “gunslinger” mentality, and acclimate him to Reid’s west coast system. This will render him undraftable in
most re-draft leagues. However, Mahomes may be a great stash in dynasty league formats who may start to pay dividends 2 years down the road. Mahomes has the potential to be the best QB from this draft, but he needs to develop into Brett Favre, not Kyle Boller.
5.) Mitch Trubisky: He was nicknamed “Mr. Biscuit” at UNC because one of the coaches’ wives thought his name sounded like the word biscuit and it stuck. The Chicago Bears have replaced “Smokin’ Jay” with “Mr. Biscuit”. Trubisky may have a big arm, but he lacks accuracy and was rarely under center at UNC. The most glaring trait that stuck out about Trubisky during the pre-draft process was his lack of leadership at UNC. Poor leadership was one of the problems with Jay Cutler in Chicago. Replacing poor leadership with poor leadership doesn’t sound like a solid idea to me. Similar to Cutler, Trubisky has a cannon that isn’t too accurate. Did the Bears just mortgage future draft picks for a younger version of Smokin’ Jay?
The more I come to learn about Trubisky, the more I start to think the Bears traded in Cutler for a younger version and paid a lot to get it. If Trubisky is thrust into action this year, the Bears have a solid interior offensive line which should keep him upright, and he has some big wide receivers on the outside (Kevin White 6’3″ and Cameron Meredith 6’3″) who should help with his accuracy issues. In 2005, the New York Giants signed Plaxico Burress to help Eli Manning with his accuracy issues and that seemed to be effective. The Bears also have a solid run game to support a rookie QB. However, it is unlikely Trubisky sees the field in 2017 because they brought in Mike Glennon.
For all intents and purposes, Mike Glennon is in a contract year even though he signed a three-year deal in Chicago. Even if he’s cut after the 2017 season, the Bears would only have to eat the remainder of his $3M signing bonus. Almost all of the $18M in guarantees due to Glennon will come in year one, meaning it will be easy for the Bears to cut him in 2018 or 2019. Glennon isn’t playing for the Bears this year, he’s playing for his next contract. So 2017 is an audition for his next team. If Glennon lights it up looking to earn big money in his next contract, it is unlikely Trubisky sees the field this year, which really limits his fantasy value. At this time, Trubisky isn’t draftable in re-draft leagues but is an intriguing pick in dynasty formats, but you need to be willing to carry a 2nd or 3rd QB on your roster to do so.
Chad Kelly: Kelly isn’t even a lock to make the Broncos’ final roster. If he does, they have shown the willingness to start 7th round draft picks in the past, as they did in 2016 opting to start Trevor Siemian over Paxton Lynch, a 1st round pick. Chad Kelly has incredible arm talent and is an extreme competitor. But he has proven to be extremely immature both on and off the field. Kelly can anticipate throws which is a necessary trait at the NFL level, but he doesn’t always see through his progressions. The bottom line is that Chad Kelly has adequate arm talent to be successful in the NFL, and if he is given or forced into the opportunity this year, he may prove to be a gamer. One glaring flaw that scouts pointed out in the pre-draft process is that he under throws balls to the left side of the field and his deep ball is horribly inaccurate to the left. In the NFL, if a team identifies that weakness in a quarterback, they will split the field in half, take away the right, and make him beat the defense to the left. If Kelly is unable to improve on throws to the left side of the field, he may never get an opportunity, or he will fail once given one. Kelly is completely off the draft radar unless Siemian or Lynch go down during training camp. This is simply a name to file away come draft time.
The Big Rigg Wrap Up
When it comes down to it, Deshaun Watson may be the only rookie quarterback worth drafting in re-draft leagues at this moment. Watson is the only QB who is likely to be starting within the first few weeks of the season as Tom Savage isn’t likely to make it through the preseason let alone the first four games of the regular season. Once Watson takes over the starting job, he has the mobility necessary to get you 4 to 6 fantasy points a game with his legs, potentially 12 points a week if he can find the endzone. Six fantasy points on the ground is the equivalent of 150 yards passing, so his rushing yards will make up for the lumps he takes throwing the ball as a rookie. All of the other quarterbacks on this list should play only if each team’s respective starter suffers an injury or their team is not successful early on.
Patrick Mahomes is the most intriguing dynasty or keeper league pick out of all these quarterbacks. Mahomes has a cannon for an arm and we may be witnessing the next coming of Brett Favre. If you are able to snag Mahomes with one of your last picks in a keeper league, you may strike fantasy gold in 2018 or 2019 once Alex Smith formally moves on.
Nate Peterman should go undrafted in almost all formats. But if he is forced into action, his anticipation and ability to hit wide receivers in windows before they are open will help him thrive. Even if Peterman were to start all 16 games in 2017, he would not be projected as a QB1 or a QB2. But, because of his savvy, Peterman may be a useful bye week filler for you if he has the right matchup. Remember, Peterman has weapons like Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy at his disposal, so he will be able to put points on the board in the right matchup. At this time, though, he is somebody you should look for on waivers if Tyrod Taylor gets hurt or benched.
Trubisky and Kizer are worth a late round flier in dynasty or keeper formats. Both should go undrafted in re-draft leagues but may be worth a waiver wire add after the season starts if either are thrust into action and have a favorable matchup.
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