A Look Back at Rookie QB Preseason Rankings

Back in August, I wrote a piece looking at what opportunities are likely to present themselves to the rookie QB’s from this year’s draft. Now we are a good way into the season with week five in the books I thought I would look back to that article to see where I went right/wrong. I will also speculate on how they will do for the rest of the season.

Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals

Pre-season prediction: 1st (260 fantasy points)

Actual: 4th (23.64 fantasy points)

Okay, so it took a little longer for Rosen to start than I thought it would. He has now played three games, but we will ignore the first one since he was sent in late in the game and given very little opportunity to do anything. In the two games, he has thrown 52 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, the stats seem underwhelming, but if you watch him play, he looks good. He has composure in the pocket, goes through his reads well and can pick up oncoming rushers comfortably. There are two things currently letting Rosen down. One is poor coaching and the fact that he is in a poor team. The other is drops by his receivers. Even the ever-reliable Larry Fitzgerald dropped several passes in week four against Seattle.

Rosen seems to have built a good rapport with Christian Kirk as shown by his three receptions from four targets that went for 85 yards and a touchdown.

Prediction for the rest of the season:

His stats can only get better at this point. As he gets more comfortable with his receivers and Larry Fitzgerald remembers who he is, his fantasy production should go up. He isn’t going to be a must-start QB1 for the rest of the season but is a good guy to have in 2QB leagues. With games against the Chiefs, Raiders, Falcons, and Packers coming this year he has some good matchups with good opportunities to put up some points. I think Rosen will be looking at about 200 fantasy points come the end of the season.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Pre-season prediction: 2nd (225 fantasy points)

Actual: 3rd (40.62 fantasy points)

Baker Mayfield has so far done everything expected of a first-round quarterback. Since coming off the bench in week three against the Jets to lead Cleveland to their first win since Mount Rushmore was just a piece of rock, Mayfield has looked great. Yes, there were a couple of rookie mistakes when he threw two interceptions against Oakland, but Cleveland still put up 42 points in that game and lost. Apart from this, he has been superb and seems to have made Cleveland into a real football team. He looks like a leader, and despite what Colin Cowherd says, he looks like a great teammate.

He has built a good rapport with his receivers and spreads the ball out well between Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Antonio Callaway, David Njoku, and even Darren Fells. Who needs Josh Gordon hey?

Prediction for the rest of the season:

Every week his stats have improved. Looking at the Browns schedule, I would expect Mayfield to become legitimately viable this season as they have a run of playing the Buccaneers, Steelers, Chiefs and the Falcons – all teams with suspect secondaries. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mayfield finished the season with 270 fantasy points, capping a good rookie season ready to push the Browns into playoff contention over the next couple of years.

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Pre-season prediction: 3rd (205 fantasy points)

Actual: 1st (59.94 fantasy points)

This lead is the equivalent of a Nascar driver being in the lead when everyone else has pitted. It’s fake. Out of all of these quarterbacks, Darnold is the only one that started the season under center. Granted, Darnold played well after his first pass in week one against Detroit, and he played okay against Miami in week two racking up 334 yards and a touchdown. But his interceptions are one thing that scares me. He doesn’t look after the ball at all having thrown seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Darnold also managed a 38.24 QBR in week three against Cleveland.

I get that the Jets offense isn’t the best. But I just don’t think Darnold is the guy to take this franchise forward. He has weapons. Not great ones, but Robby Anderson, Isaiah Crowell, and Quincy Enunwa are all passable so that can’t be used as an excuse.

Prediction for the rest of the season:

He is averaging 11.98 points per game at the moment, even with a three-touchdown game against Denver in the week just gone. The Jets schedule isn’t hugely favorable, so I wouldn’t expect Darnold’s fantasy production to suddenly increase. I can see him ending the season around 175-180 fantasy points. The best option is to just sit him on your taxi squad and hope things improve by next season.

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Pre-season prediction: 4th (200 fantasy points)

Actual: 2nd (57.42 fantasy points)

Like Darnold, this is a fake 2nd place as he has played in every game, albeit only a small percentage of week one. Allen is a strange one as going into the season I was not convinced by him at all. The fact that there were reports of him in a battle to start with Nathan Peterman says it all. Then he played and showed flashes of somebody that could be good, including a 196-yard passing game in week three against Minnesota where he threw for a touchdown and ran two in, finishing with a QBR of 111.17.

He has played in five games so far. If we remove the week three shellacking of Minnesota, he is averaging 7.42 fantasy points per game. I am not convinced it is his fault. Buffalo boasts a receiving core of Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Andre Holmes. Eventually, teams will realise that building a good offensive line and adding a couple of weapons before you pull the trigger on a rookie quarterback is something that you must do.

Prediction for the rest of the season:

This isn’t a reflection of Josh Allen’s ability, more the ability of the rest of his team. But I think he will finish the season with about 170 fantasy points. As I say, I think he has talent, he has shown that in flashes. The rest of his team (despite being 2-3) is letting him down.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Pre-season prediction: 5th (50 fantasy points)

Actual: 5th (8.16 fantasy points)

I was right on one! Jackson has barely seen the field for Baltimore, and it is understandable. Joe Flacco is playing okay, despite a couple of blips against the Bengals and the Browns. All the while Flacco is playing okay (not elite), Jackson is going to see very little in the way of opportunity. Yeah, it’s fun to see Harbaugh trying dumb stuff like lining up two quarterbacks, but give Jackson a bit of credit and don’t use him like a carnival sideshow, use him as a quarterback.

Like I said before the season, Jackson’s opportunities are only likely to go up once Baltimore is either out of playoff contention or in a week 17 matchup if their playoff seeding is already decided.

Prediction for the rest of the season:

I’m sure Baltimore will just continue with what they are doing now, so I am just going to assume Jackson ends the season with around 35-40 fantasy points assuming he starts under center in week 17.

Thanks for reading, feel free to drop me a follow on Twitter @DFF_JamesH.


I work as an In-Play US Sports trader, father to Elijah, Archie and Izzie. Fan of Pittsburgh Steelers. Play the game as DT for Staffordshire Surge (Find them on Twitter @StaffsSurge). FSWA member. Follow me on Twitter @DFF_JamesH

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