Over the last couple seasons, we have seen a major rise in production and playing time for rookie quarterbacks as teams try to accelerate their development. As the start of the 2018 NFL season approaches, now is the time to try and find which of these players can potentially be the sneaky pick to win your fantasy league and might be a potential keeper selection.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
With the Browns seemingly endless run of disappointment, the first overall pick in this years draft appears to have a tough task ahead of him in reversing the fortunes of a team coming off of a winless season. This is not quite the same team though, as Josh Gordon’s return to the league and the acquisitions of Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde have made this offense suddenly capable of some big production on a weekly basis. One roadblock to the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner getting on the field is former Pro Bowler Tyrod Taylor, who the Browns traded a third round pick for this offseason. With him being an unrestricted free agent after next season though, it may not take long for the Dawg Pound Browns fans to start pleading for Baker Mayfield to get on the field.
Fantasy Impact: In selecting Oklahoma product Baker Mayfield, you are getting a very explosive playmaker. He would be a smart selection as you get to the later rounds of your draft as the weapons this team now has sets up Mayfield for success, but Tyrod Taylor and his consistent play style may not be that easy to beat especially if the team starts off the season with some wins.
ADP: 194, #24 QB
Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals
Rosen’s career to this point has been surrounded with controversy, whether it be the reputation his father has, rumors of a divide between him and his teammates, or the hot tub incident from his days at UCLA. With three quarterbacks being selected before him, Rosen is coming in with a chip on his shoulder. Also, with the Cardinals signing Sam Bradford for 20 million this year, they certainly are going to be tentative to turn to Rosen too quickly. Bradford has had many injuries in his career so far, so that could open the window for Rosen to step into the starting role.
Fantasy Impact: With stud running back David Johnson and the always stable Larry Fitzgerald, Rosen has the chance for some major production if (more so when) Sam Bradford gets injured. He has been splitting reps with the first team offense, so he should be more than prepared when his number gets called.
ADP: 208, #30 QB
Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Darnold arguably has some veteran QB talent holding him back from taking over immediately, but he is obviously the future at the games most important position for the Jets. The 6’3 former USC Trojan certainly has the physical traits to succeed in the NFL with his arm strength and quick release. It may seem risky to play Darnold as the starter from the get-go, but his confidence and overall collected personality sets him up to possibly bounce back from any potential challenges that may arise early in the season.
Fantasy Impact: Many scouts had Darnold as the top QB in this years rookie class, and with him constantly described as a pro-ready prospect he may be able to prevail over Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown in their upcoming training camp battle.
ADP: 272, #36 QB
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
While the other rookie quarterbacks have competition in front of them, Josh Allen has very little blocking his path in his path to taking over as the Bills starter. He has natural abilities that can’t really be taught with his solid mobility and great arm strength. However, with his poor accuracy even versus the competition he faced when at Wyoming, he may need some time to sit and learn before becoming the starter, even if it is behind two relatively unexperienced players.
Fantasy Impact: With little receiver talent around him, Allen may struggle even if given the starting role. He has an explosive arm, but it seems more like he’s in need of some development rather than ready to come out and dominate his rookie season.
ADP: 208, #34 QB
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Of all the first round quarterback selections, Lamar Jackson is certainly the most unique. An all-around athlete who’s speed is reminding fans of a young Michael Vick, Jackson broke many records in his time at Louisville with his special abilities running the ball from the quarterback position. He has an issue unlike the others highlighted in this article in that his competition, Joe Flacco, has had an accomplished career for the team he’s currently representing the Ravens, highlighted by his 2013 Super Bowl victory in which he was also the games MVP. The Ravens acquired some talent at receiver this offseason with players like Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead, likely setting up to give Joe Flacco one final season to prove himself with his huge contract finally coming to an end.
Fantasy Impact: This season, Lamar Jackson will likely not be the guy to do too much damage as the Ravens are paying Joe Flacco a lot of money, enough that it would be tough to justify benching him. The NFL is a crazy league though, and if Lamar Jackson were to get on the field this season, he seems to be a safe bet to put up instant production.
ADP: 197, #30 QB
*all ADP info can be found on fantasypros