2015 Fantasy Football: Rookie Quarterbacks
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2015 NFL season less than 3 months away, it’s time to start doing prep work for your fantasy football draft. Over the next few weeks I will be breaking down every position with a primer, rankings, sleepers, busts, and rookies.
There are a few positions in the NFL that rookies can produce at right off the bat, like running back, defensive end, and recently wide receiver, but quarterback historically has not been one of the them. Even Hall-of-Famers like Peyton Manning, John Elway, and Troy Aikman struggled in their first season taking NFL snaps. The recent success of rookies like Russell Wilson. RG3, and Andrew Luck may tempt you into thinking someone from this year’s rookie class is worth drafting, and they may be, but just know that the vast majority of rookie QBs fail to be relevant in fantasy.
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Below I will break down the fantasy prospects of the rookie QBs who may get enough snaps to make an impact in fantasy football this season. I wouldn’t recommend any of these rookies as your starter in Week 1, but stashing one of them on your bench as your QB2 might turn out to have some value later in the season.
Jameis Winston, Bucs – If I had to bet on one rookie QB making an impact in fantasy football this year it would be Winston. He played in a pro-style offense at Florida St, showed a surprisingly mature understanding of defensive schemes during the draft process, and is surrounded by a lot of weapons in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Doug Martin, and Charles Sims. If the Bucs can get decent play out of their O-line (questionable), Winston could have a top 15 fantasy season.
It will take a lot of things going right for Winston to be a top 15 QB, but he has the talent and the talent around him for it to happen. He’s a gutsy passer which will result in more turnovers than ideal, but also plenty of big plays. I actually expect Winston’s final stat line to resemble a typical Jay Cutler season with 25-28 TDs & 20-23 turnovers. A useful fantasy line, but better off from a backup than your starting QB.Jim Brown
-USA TODAY Sports
Marcus Mariota, Titans – I think Mariota will eventually be the best fantasy QB from the 2015 draft class, but I wouldn’t expect much during his rookie season. Not only does Mariota have to beat out the incumbent start Zach Mettenberger, but he will also be transitioning from a spread offense to an NFL scheme, from shotgun to under center, and from having an edge in the surrounding talent to playing for one of the least talented offenses in the NFL.
It’s not going to be an easy transition for Mariota and it may take him a season or two before his natural talent translates into fantasy success. Once it does, Mariota is going to be the player fantasy fans hoped Colin Kaepernick would be the last few years. He has the speed to rush for 500+ yards per season, the arm to throw 30+ TDs and the accuracy and awareness to keep his interceptions low. Mariota would be my first choice in keeper leagues, but for the 2015 season Winston has a clear edge.