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Faceoff: Rookie Quarterbacks

June 20th

Clayton Gray: There were several teams that took quarterbacks early in the 2011 NFL draft. Will any be worth drafting in a normal, 12-team re-draft league?

Matt Waldman: No, considering there are maybe 14 quarterbacks in the past 40 years who have produced fantasy numbers that make them worth drafting. However, rookie quarterbacks are worth taking off the waiver wire if you need a quarterback as the year progresses. I think Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Andy Dalton will have the weapons to consider them. Cam Newton could join that list of Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams stick around. However, you won't see me drafting one of these guys unless something extraordinary happens in training camp or half of the veteran quarterbacks in the league decide they'd rather participate in a reality show than play football.

Jeff Pasquino: While in principle I agree with Matt, I would like to make the case that one rookie might have a little value. A few of the rookies will have a shot right away (Dalton, Ponder and Newton), so if you factor in if they can run (Newton) and if they will have decent targets (Newton if Steve Smith stays and Ponder if Sidney Rice stays), then I would dare say that in bigger leagues (and especially in start 2-QB leagues) there is a chance that Newton will provide some fantasy value. Carolina will struggle all year, but if Steve Smith does not get traded from the Panthers then Newton might have a few productive games when you combine the stats of a rusher and a passer.

Overall this year, especially with reduced practice and training, I do agree that very few rookies will produce enough fantasy points each week for any consideration in most leagues. Minnesota is going to run first with Adrian Peterson, and then if Rice is gone then Ponder has little value at all. Andy Dalton will have to learn on the job along with fellow rookie AJ Green, which works out great for Dynasty or Keeper purposes but not so much in redraft leagues.

Jason Wood: My highest rated rookie QB, Cam Newton, currently stands at QB25. So in essence, I agree with Matt that you shouldn't target a rookie QB this year in standard redraft leagues, assuming that most are no larger than 12-teams and most owners will draft two quarterbacks. As my colleagues have already noted, rookie QBs -- even the impressive ones -- are usually not fantasy commodities. In fact, over the last 20 years, only 10 rookie QBs amassed more than 200 fantasy points:

  • Peyton Manning (1998) -- 269.2 FPTs -- QB9
  • Sam Bradford (2010) -- 244.9 FPTs -- QB20
  • Vince Young (2006) -- 242.2 FPTs -- QB12
  • Matt Ryan (2008) -- 241.4 FPTs -- QB15
  • Joe Flacco (2008) -- 226.9 FPTs -- QB19
  • Rick Mirer (1993) -- 225.0 FPTs -- QB12
  • Chris Weinke (2001) -- 220.4 FPTs -- QB20
  • Ben Roethlisberger (2004) -- 208.5 FPTs -- QB20
  • Byron Leftwich (2003) -- 203.8 FPTs -- QB18
  • Tim Couch (1999) -- 203.2 FPTs -- QB17

Now the counterpoint to this argument is in the year-end QB rankings of these 10 QBs. Each of them finished no worse than QB20, which would've made them viable options in 10- and 12-team redraft leagues. A few of them were even borderline QB1s. So this gets back to case-by-case. I personally don't think much of this rookie draft class, and feel like a lot of teams reached for guys out of desperation. The one thing these aforementioned rookie QBs have in common was playing time, and so you have to think that Cam Newton and Andy Dalton stand punchers chances of having relevance. Neither team has given any indication it intends to add a veteran into the mix, and both rookies have already been tabbed as the likely Week One starters.

Mark Wimer: First off, I need to make a disclaimer - I was born and raised in Nebraska, and I'm a die-hard Cornhusker fan. So I've witnessed the absolutely abysmal depths to which Jake Locker can descend as a passer - even in the second game, a Washington win over Nebraska last year, Locker was unimpressive as a passer. I won't be considering him in any league, redraft or dynasty.

Of the remaining guys drafted into the NFL, I think that Blaine Gabbert may be worth a look off the waiver wire late in the season as Matt suggests - Marcedes Lewis looks a great security blanket for a young QB, Maurice Jones-Drew is a solid receiver out of the backfield (assuming he can play a 16-game slate), and none of the team's final three opponents fielded a top-ten pass D last year (Atlanta, Tennessee, Indianapolis).

I won't be drafting any of the 2011 rookie QBs in a redraft league. I did pick up Gabbert to back up David Garrard in one of my dynasty leagues, and he may see the field for that squad late in the year.

Sigmund Bloom: I won't be drafting Cam Newton, but I am open to the idea that he'll have fantasy relevance this year. Newton will be one of the best running threats at QB this side of Michael Vick. Vince Young was also considered raw from the perspective of reading and defeating NFL pass defenses when he came into the league in 2006, but by the time the fantasy playoffs rolled around, he was one of the hottest QBs in the league. Young only fell below 15 fantasy points in standard scoring systems once in the second half of the season, and posted scores over 30 twice, including the fantasy championship week 16. Tim Tebow sat on the bench for most of last season, only to put up strong fantasy numbers in the final three games of the season. I won't be drafting Newton or any other rookie QB, but I won't feel free to ignore them all season, either.