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NFL Draft

Fantasy Football Rookie QBs To Draft, Avoid

  • The Draft Network
  • August 6, 2021
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Fantasy Football Rookie QBs to Draft and Avoid

The NFL’s preseason schedule is officially underway, which means fantasy draft season is about to reach a fever pitch. It’s the most thrilling time of year as everyone is in contention and everyone is seeking out nuggets of information to gain some sort of advantage over their leaguemates ahead of the most exciting day of the year: draft day.

One particular group of players that always has a ton of buzz each season are the incoming rookies. These stars dazzled in college and now enter the NFL with a whole host of possibilities ahead of them. Sometimes the hype is warranted, sometimes it’s not. How do you know what’s reasonable and what’s a trap? It starts with the price you have to pay to roster them.

Let’s take a look at rookie quarterbacks that I would absolutely draft and avoid at their current ADP.

DRAFT

Zach Wilson

ADP: QB27

TDN Rank: QB19

Unlike most of the other first-round quarterbacks from the 2021 NFL Draft, there appears to be a lot of apprehension from the fantasy community when it comes to drafting the New York Jets’ starting quarterback. It’s a bit odd because no quarterback had more hype leading up to the draft than Wilson and his destination has been pretty much known since February. Yet, he’s coming off the board behind players like Daniel Jones and Taysom Hill in ADP. What gives?

While the Jets were dead last in the NFL in total offense last season, it’s reasonable to expect that the addition of Wilson, fellow rookies Elijah Moore and Michael Carter, and veteran Corey Davis should result in significant improvement. New York has a ways to go before they’re even league average, but they should be closer to that mark this season than they were in 2020 with Mike LaFleur calling plays.

Over the last 4 years in San Francisco, when LaFleur was either the passing game coordinator or passing game specialist, the 49ers averaged about 34.17 pass attempts per game. If the Jets are somewhere near that mark in 2021, that works out to roughly 581 pass attempts over a 17-game season. Why does this matter? Well, Wilson has an advantage over other rookies like Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones because he’s guaranteed to start Week 1—an even bigger plus in superflex or two-QB leagues.

Should Wilson match the yards-per-attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage averages of ​​the top 15 rookie quarterbacks over the last five years (with a minimum of five starts) with the aforementioned workload, he should finish with around 4,100 passing yards, 27-28 passing touchdowns, and 13-14 interceptions—plus another 200-300 rushing yards with a few touchdowns on the ground. That should be enough to have him cross the 300-fantasy-point threshold this season, challenging for a top-20 finish among quarterbacks.

Trevor Lawrence

ADP: QB14

TDN Rank: QB14

Unlike Wilson, Lawrence’s ADP overall and among quarterbacks is very similar to where I have him ranked—I’m willing to draft the former Clemson star about a half-round ahead of his No. 100 overall ADP. What has me so excited about Lawrence this season is volume.

Breaking news: The Jaguars are not very good. Once you collect yourself from that stunning revelation, you’ll realize that’s a great thing for fantasy managers. Lawrence should be north of 600 pass attempts this season—looking at how Darrell Bevell and Brian Schottenheimer have operated their offenses in recent years, 35.75 pass attempts per game is a reasonable guess. If Lawrence can match the yards-per-attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage averages of ​​the top 10 rookie quarterbacks over the last five years (with a minimum of five starts), he’s looking at a 4,400-yard, 31-touchdown, 15-interception season (plus whatever he adds on the ground).

With plenty of quality pass-catching weapons, a defense that will likely keep the Jaguars throwing into the latter stages of every game, and the guarantee that he’s “the guy” for the foreseeable future, Lawrence is a solid investment as a top-15 quarterback in fantasy drafts.

AVOID

NONE

Before you groan and roll your eyes, let me explain.

First, I don’t want to write anything I don’t truly believe. I won’t force players into predetermined categories just because it fits an article theme. While there are plenty of rookie names that will land in this section in the running back and wide receiver version of this article series (check those out!), there really isn’t a player that fits among the quarterbacks.

Fields is currently being drafted as the QB19 in ADP and is the QB20 in my rankings. I expect him to be a popular play during bye weeks once he’s given the starting job, but since Andy Dalton is currently the Chicago Bears’ starter, we don’t truly know when Fields’ first start will come. I believe he’ll be a top-15 fantasy quarterback once he’s given the opportunity.

Lance, like Fields, isn’t guaranteed to start Week 1 but should be in contention to be a weekly starter in fantasy once he gets the nod. He’s currently going as the QB20 in ADP and comes in at QB22 in my rankings. I expect Lance to be a top-20 fantasy quarterback when he takes over for Jimmy Garoppolo, so I can’t knock where he’s currently going in fantasy drafts.

Lastly, the fantasy community isn’t investing much in Jones right now. He’s going as the QB33 in ADP (he’s QB34 in my rankings) and it’s largely because of two factors. 1) We have no idea when he’s going to start, and 2) New England’s weapons are poor. Even if he were named the Week 1 starter for the Patriots, he’s likely only relevant in superflex and two-QB leagues.

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