The 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone. We are one week removed from the draft and we are thankful that we were able to have some semblance of sports in the world.
Unfortunately, with all that is going on in the world with the COVID-19 pandemic, sports have been forced to rethink their seasons. Luckily, through the use of modern technology, we were able to experience the first-ever virtual NFL Draft. It was fun to see players react at home with limited family and friends and get a live look into the homes of NFL general managers and head coaches. Great fun and something the NFL should look into for next year as well, regardless of whether we can hold a live draft again or not.
Anyway, here is a look at some rookie quarterbacks and how they relate to fantasy football. These quarterbacks are relevant to redraft leagues and some to dynasty leagues. Either way, these quarterbacks are worth taking note of as you put together your fantasy football strategies during the next few months.
The Newest Crop Of Fantasy Football Rookie QBs
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
There was little mystery when it came to the first pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Burrow, who completed one of the most successful seasons a college quarterback can have, is now tasked with bringing some respectability back to the Cincinnati Bengals. He will look to replace the inconsistent and aging quarterback Andy Dalton, who was recently released in favor of the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner.
There’s a reason that the Bengals were able to secure the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The offense was not the greatest in the league and that’s putting it nicely. The Bengals finished third-worst in scoring, had a -14 turnover differential, and were tied for ninth in sacks allowed.
Burrow is coming off a stellar season at LSU, winning the BCS National Championship. His team led the FBS in scoring, had a turnover margin of 10, and allowed only 35 sacks in 15 games. So while not all of this can’t be attributed to Burrow, the team was great and this allowed Burrow to learn what it takes to build a good offense.
Coming into Cincinnati, he will have a flurry of offensive weapons at his disposal. A.J. Green should be coming back onto the field, after missing all of his 2019 season. This opened the door up for Tyler Boyd to become a legitimate weapon and John Ross showed some flashes as well to be a great deep threat option. If that wasn’t enough, Burrow is going to be joined by fellow rookie Tee Higgins, who was selected at the top of the second round. Higgins will compete for his share of touches and this passing offense should see better days now with a more stable quarterback under center.
The running game in Cincinnati is going to be a bit of a question mark. While Joe Mixon is a very-capable option out of the backfield, rumors have been circling that he may hold out unless his financial demands are met, in the terms of a new contract. If he does hold out, Giovani Bernard and Trayveon Williams will be asked to carry the load. While they are both capable, they lack the sort of dynamic playmaking ability that Mixon has. So it may become a situation where Burrow may be asked to throw the ball more than hand it off. This is a situation to monitor to see what Mixon decides to do if not met with a new deal.
So overall, Burrow is going to be put in a situation to succeed. His fantasy value is good, but it really depends on what happens with Mixon and if this offensive line can protect him. At LSU, he had the luxury to take his time and really find the open receivers to dissect the opposing defenses, on route to 60 passing touchdowns, and a 76% completion rate.
Playing for Cincinnati now, Burrow will need to think quicker and hope that his offensive line doesn’t allow too much pressure to force Burrow into bad passes and making poor decisions.
Realistically, Burrow is going to be no more than a streaming option. Once the bye weeks start rolling in, Burrow could be a waiver-wire addition that could help you get by for a couple of weeks. If things work in his favor though, Burrow has a good shot of finishing in the top-15 of fantasy quarterbacks. A solid back-up quarterback for your bench or as mentioned, a worthy candidate to be streamed on a week-to-week basis and for bye weeks.
Projected Stat-line: 381-589/3,824/25-10 (Completions-Attempts, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns-Interceptions)
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have succeeded in their attempt to Tank for Tua. While they may not have ended up with the number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, they wound up with their man anyways. Tagovailoa is coming off a serious hip injury, which led to him sliding in the draft instead of being debated as going first with Burrow. While offseason videos and combine testing have shown him to be healthy, in the wake of things going on in the world it’s hard for training staff across the league to go through a full evaluation and physical to be sure. Miami was convinced and they ultimately don’t plan to use him this year anyway.
Ryan Fitzpatrick brought some of that “Fitzmagic” to South Beach and really gave Dolphins fans something to root for. While many were hoping for the number one pick, it was nice to see Miami stay competitive and try their best to let the chips fall as they may. The team’s front office has mentioned that they would love for Fitzpatrick to act as a mentor and bridge quarterback until they can be sure that Tagovailoa is healthy enough to take the reins of the offense. It’s a smart move as you don’t want to jeopardize the future of the franchise just to get butts in the seats. We’ll see what happens when and if training camps open this year.
If Tagovailoa ends up playing this year, best guess would be that he plays half the season. Flores will hedge his bets and confirm the health of Tagovailoa before making the switch roughly halfway through the season. Once inserted into the starting lineup, Tagovailoa should be a very good mid-season addition to your roster if you’re looking for a points boost. He is a quick-thinking quarterback with the ability to get outside the pocket to make plays with his arm or his legs. Also, he is surrounded by an abundance of weapons to help ease him into the NFL.
The Dolphins signed Jordan Howard in the offseason and then traded for Matt Breida during the NFL Draft. Both of these guys provided a great running game as Howard will be the plodder and bruiser for the run game. Breida will then come in as a change-of-pace back and also be valuable in the passing game with his great hands and electric speed.
Speaking of the passing game, DeVante Parker finally emerged as a productive receiver and will look to continue that success in 2020. Pair him with Preston Williams and Albert Wilson and you have a varied receiver group that can move the chains through the air. Also, Mike Gesicki has emerged in the tight end group, which will provide Tagovailoa a great option in the middle of the field and also as a safety net.
Tagovailoa may or may not play in the NFL in 2020. Hell, who knows if there’s going to be a season to begin with? If he does suit up and play for the Dolphins this year, his fantasy value is going to be good, at some point. Surrounded by a healthy amount of weapons in the passing game and a balanced running attack, he should find success in the league early.
Tagovailoa should be drafted with a last round pick, as a bench quarterback or added to your roster mid-season once we find out his status for 2020. If the Dolphins are smart, they stick with Fitzpatrick who holds good value as well with the revamped offense and make sure Tagovailoa is poised to lead this team in 2021 and beyond.
Obviously Tua is a much higher valued Dynasty draft pick.
Projected Stat-line: 231-369/2,764/20-7 (Completions-Attempts, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns-Interceptions)
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
This situation is similar to Miami. The Chargers decided to move on from the long-time starting quarterback, Philip Rivers. They were going to take a quarterback in the NFL Draft and ended up selecting Herbert with the sixth overall pick.
Before Herbert was taken, Tyrod Taylor was set to take the starting role and lead the Chargers offense. Head coach Anthony Lynn has said that Taylor is the starting quarterback heading into the season, but the competition is open. Herbert has a good shot at becoming the starter, but they may decide to let Taylor take the job for the time being.
With all that’s going on in the world with COVID-19, there is no telling whether Herbert can get up to speed quick enough to become the starting quarterback from day one. He has the talent to usurp the role during the season, but the chances of him being the day one starter are a little slim right now.
Herbert has a cannon for an arm but needs to work on his touch passes, as well as work on timing and accuracy. These are things that will come with time and repetitions with his teammates. As mentioned earlier, during the quarantine everything will be virtual. Can’t practice throwing and catching when everyone is in their respective homes.
Taylor has the clear advantage right now, having practiced with the Charger receivers already and knowing the speed of them and the proper timing to put them in position to make plays. Once players are allowed to get back into the team facility, Herbert won’t take long to get things going and should supplant Taylor within the first quarter of the season.
Herbert is surrounded by a good number of talented players to help him flourish at the professional level. Although Melvin Gordon has moved on to their divisional rival Denver Broncos, Austin Ekeler will fill the starting role quite nicely. He enjoyed a breakout season and is a threat in both passing and running plays. Pair him with Justin Jackson and the rookie, Joshua Kelley, and this is a good trio of running backs to complement the passing game.
Speaking of, an offense that features Keenan Allen will surely help a quarterback adjust to the NFL game. Also, Mike Williams on the other side posted his first 1,000-yard receiving season, last year. The return of Hunter Henry also gives Herbert a threat at the tight end position and if he stays healthy, has a good shot at making the Pro Bowl in this offense.
The weapons are there, the spot is his to win, and it’s just a matter of if he can get enough practice in, to claim that job from day one. Taylor is in a position to take the role to begin with, but Herbert was not drafted with the sixth overall pick to ride the pine. Herbert’s fantasy value is low because of the uncertainty with how soon he’ll see the field. Is he worth drafting? Maybe with your last possible pick and purely as a bench quarterback. If you don’t want to waste a bench spot, just add him to your watch list and as soon as he is inserted into the lineup, he becomes an excellent streaming option and bye-week replacement. The thing to watch for is how comfortable he gets in the offense and that’ll determine if he can be a weekly starter or only week-to-week.
Again, first-round value in dynasty drafts.
Projected Stat-line: 294-487/3,198/23-12 (Completions-Attempts, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns-Interceptions)
Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers
There were some head-scratching picks during the first day of the NFL Draft, but this one might take the cake. While the aspect of drafting a quarterback was not surprising for the Packers, the idea that they needed to trade up to select Love left a lot of people with questions. Are we coming close to the end of the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay?
This decision is clearly made with the future in mind but Rodgers is still the starting quarterback for the Packers. Love will sit behind Rodgers in a similar fashion to when Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre many years ago. There are a lot of rumblings happening now that maybe head coach Matt LaFleur is not interested in keeping Rodgers as his starting quarterback.
The selection of Love is certainly a sign that this offense may be shifting to a new leader and that Rodgers may finish his career somewhere else, also similar to Favre. You can also look at their second-round selection of AJ Dillon and see that maybe LaFleur wants to replicate what he had in Tennessee with a power running attack and Los Angeles with Todd Gurley winning the Offensive Player of the Year back in 2017.
Love holds absolute zero fantasy value this year. While he is a great addition for those of you that play in dynasty leagues, his redraft fantasy value is not going to kick in till next year at the earliest, but most likely 2022 is when he becomes worthy of discussion for fantasy purposes. Now there is the outside chance that Rodgers was irked by the selection of Love and will be asked to be traded, but that doesn’t seem like a move the Packers organization would make during the middle of the season.
Also with the tenuous hold the NFL has on the 2020 season beginning on time, hanging onto Rodgers for the entire season would be smarter if Green Bay wants to be competitive. So Rodgers is still the quarterback to own in fantasy redraft leagues and Love will only hold value once the front office decides to part ways with Rodgers.
Projected Stat-line: 0-0/0/0-0 (Completions-Attempts, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns-Interceptions)
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
If the selection of Love on day one of the NFL Draft left people wondering what the Packers are doing, the selection of Hurts on day two made everyone wonder what the Eagles are doing. Hurts is a talented quarterback who had a successful college career with two great schools in Alabama and Oklahoma. So there is no doubt that he should have been a day two selection and some might have argued he should have gone day one. The real puzzling thing here is that the Eagles are drafting this guy to ride the bench behind Carson Wentz. When there are other needs for your team, drafting a back-up quarterback this high was a peculiar move.
While Wentz is talented and the franchise quarterback, he has been prone to injuries. He finally was able to play a full 16-game season last year, after having injury-ridden seasons in 2016 and 2017. While he still was able to manage and play double-digit games in both those seasons, fans began to question his durability issues. With all that said, bringing Hurts in is still a strange move because the Eagles just awarded Wentz with a four-year, $128 million dollar contract. That just cemented that they are committed to Wentz and he should not have to worry about looking over his shoulder for someone looking to take his job.
That brings us back to Hurts. The idea the Eagles are going with is that Hurts will be brought in special packages as both a quarterback, but also a running back/receiver. Not sure if this is what Hurts had in mind when he was drafted, but he sure will take what he can get.
General manager, Howie Roseman, has stated that he wants to run a quarterback factory and that he doesn’t want any regrets missing out on Hurts like they missed out on Russell Wilson. While it’s great that the Eagles want to ensure Wentz is playing at his highest level, you don’t need to run a quarterback factory in the NFL. The quarterback should be able to play at least 10 to 12 years without having to worry about some guy taking his job. This also isn’t college football where your players are leaving after three to five years to make the jump to the NFL. So when you have a chance to fill other holes on your team, it’s a questionable move to draft a quarterback in the second round.
Hurts has very-limited value for fantasy purposes. Philadelphia is going to find creative ways to get him on the field, possibly use him similar to how New Orleans uses Taysom Hill. Hurts doesn’t have the same level of speed as Hill, but he does possess that sort of playmaker ability to be able to contribute to the offense in more ways than just as a quarterback.
We’ll see how the Eagles go about doing this but even if he can find the field, the fantasy value for redraft leagues is not high. Looking at the numbers Hill produced last year for the Saints, he put up 390 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns. This resulted in a little over 100 fantasy points using ESPN standard scoring rules. So Hurts may get that much, but chances are it will be less. The selection of Hurts may end up being a great pick and will have the Eagles competing for the next decade. For now, the question mark is there and we just won’t know what value Hurts has until we see how Philadelphia decides to use him in conjunction with Wentz.
Projected Stat-line: 31-54/376/2-0 (Completions-Attempts, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns-Interceptions) plus 187 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
Jake Luton, Jacksonville Jaguars
Nick Foles has been traded to the Chicago Bears and that means Gardner Minshew is the starting quarterback for the Jaguars. Minshew Mania took over Jacksonville last season and his energy and play allowed the Jaguars to stay competitive in games. This also allowed the Jaguars front office to save some cap space by moving Foles and his big contract. So the former sixth-round rookie from 2019 is now entrenched as the starter right? Well, that could be the case or he could be replaced the same way he replaced Foles.
Luton was also selected in the sixth round, just 11 picks after the spot where Minshew was taken in 2019. Now Luton is a physical specimen, coming in a 6’6 and 229 pounds which made him one of the biggest quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft. One thing that Luton was gifted at back in college was limiting the turnovers. During his three seasons at Oregon State, Luton put together a total touchdown to interception ratio of 42 to 11 which included his senior season where he threw 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Now Oregon State was not the same Mike Leach system where you’re running the Air Raid offense, so Luton’s numbers might not compare to what Minshew did in college. The thing to note is the lack of turnovers and he also comes from a Pro-Style offense, which should ease his transition to the NFL.
If Minshew starts to struggle as a full-time starter, it’s not ridiculous to think that Luton will step in and do a more than serviceable job as the Jaguars quarterback. Jacksonville did end up trading for Joshua Dobbs from the Pittsburgh Steelers and he has a leg up on the Jaguars system compared to Luton, but never say never.
If Luton does get his chance at being the starting quarterback, his fantasy value will be very match-up driven. Also, while he keeps the turnovers down, this means that he’s not the gunslinger and will rely on what the defense gives him. This means fewer opportunities for the home run play or large chunk gains. Luton should go undrafted in all types of leagues, but if Minshew can’t handle the starting job then definitely dive into the waiver pool and scoop up Luton. This is just a hypothetical thought and it may not come to fruition, but imagine the thought if Minshew Mania runs its course and Duval County starts chanting for Shootin’ Luton.
Projected Stat-line: 0-0/0/0-0 (Completions-Attempts, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns-Interceptions)