AUTHOR / EDITOR
The offseason is always a period of hope for 32 franchises. No more hope is based on anyone than rookie quarterbacks. The football community perennially talks themselves into every first-year signal caller, assuming they will step right in and post huge numbers. However, is a rare occurrence.
The 2017 NFL season has prepared a murderer’s row of talented fresh-faced passers to be evaluated. The task for fantasy football owners remains identifying the Dak Prescotts from the Jared Goffs.
Hitting on a big-time rookie QB can be the key to success in your league. While other owners may spend high draft picks on more established players, the low draft capital often needed to pick up a solid rookie quarterback is only an advantage.
With that in mind, let’s look ahead and evaluate the fantasy potential of 2017’s rookie QB class.
Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans
While questions remain about when he will start due to the presence of Tom Savage, it is widely accepted that Watson is more probable than not to earn the starting role in Houston. When this occurs, Watson will have the keys to one of the most talented rosters in the league.
With a killer defense providing him more scoring opportunities, and sitting behind one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL, Watson will have all day to choose a receiving option in this pick-your-poison offense. You’d be hard pressed to find a rookie quarterback with more toys than Watson with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller both providing excellent receiving threats, as well as a safety net in solid tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman will relieve pressure from Watson in the running game, opening up downfield for Watson to dissect.
While many thought the same success would befall now Browns QB, Brock Osweiler, Watson is a completely different player and has the most potential of any of the rookie quarterbacks to succeed this year in fantasy. With an ADP of 14.02, Watson is a steal and provides far more upside than Joe Flacco or Sam Bradfordd players whose ADP are also in the 14th round.
Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes is the cause of much debate in the fantasy community, the football community, and no doubt the Chiefs front office. His raw talent may rival any quarterback drafted in the last decade, yet it is the ‘rawness’ of his talent that holds him back.
Mahomes’ reliance on his pure arm strength and neglect of his mechanics will more than likely lead to mistakes, preventing him from taking the field early in his career. Poor quarterback mechanics have plagued Blake Bortles’ young NFL career and should be used as a model applicable to Mahomes.
While superstars Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce remain as stud fantasy options for Mahomes, the Chiefs have just released their no. 1 WR in Jeremy Maclin. After Hill and Kelce, the receiving depth chart in Kansas City is bare. While this remains an issue, the biggest tasks preventing Mahomes’ success on the field are his mechanics and his teammate, Alex Smith.
Smith’s consistent play and success will keep him above Mahomes in the depth chart for now, while Mahomes fixes his mechanics. The day for passing the torch is not too far down the line, however. Due to this, Mahomes will lack any fantasy value this season unless Smith suffers an injury. If this happens, then Patrick Mahomes is a must-play in best-ball leagues due to the big play nature of his gun-slinging style.
Deshone Kizer – Cleveland Browns
Much akin to the other players already discussed above, Kizer’s seasonal fantasy value will depend on how Cleveland’s depth chart shapes up. New trade acquisition, Brock Osweiler, seems determined to land the starting role in Cleveland. However, so does solid stop-gap QB Cody Kessler; a player who showed promise during a tough 2016 season. This turmoil and competition will likely lead to an array of starters this season for Cleveland. However, Kizer’s talent is significantly higher than his two counterparts.
Accuracy issues plagued Kizer during his time at Notre Dame, but many experts believed he was the best QB in the 2017 draft class. The Browns have recently upgraded their entire roster, especially on the offensive line, so Kizer now has a few more toys to play with. Improved protection upfront should help Kizer be more likely to stay healthy when he’s put into the starting role.
If Kizer can clean up his completion percentage, he should win, and hold on to, the starting role in Cleveland. While he shouldn’t be drafted right now, he could potentially develop into a solid fantasy quarterback and become a perfect second QB in two quarterback leagues.
Mitch Trubisky – Chicago Bears
Although many scoffed at the Bears trading up to select Trubisky with the second overall pick in April, his flawless footwork positions him as the most pro-ready passer of the 2017 quarterback class—despite his limited starts.
With the contract Mike Glennon has, Trubisky (like Kizer) is not likely to see the field early in his rookie season. However, his steady play could see him become a viable QB2 in two QB leagues, and he may even present value in some spot starts.
Trubisky however should not be drafted or viewed as a useful fantasy asset. While he may be consistent, his actual potential is considerably higher than his fantasy potential. He is unlikely to light up the scoreboard and is surrounded by a mish-mash of talent and stop-gap players.