2018 Rookie Landing Spots: QB

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Editor’s Note: Check out all Rookie Landing Spot articles as they become available.

The draft finally ended months of speculation and rumors about trades, landing spots, and best fits. This QB class is loaded with top-end talent that will be a turning point for a few franchises. I’m equally confident a few franchises invested significant draft capital into players that will prove to be busts. The tricky part is projecting who the busts and who the stars will be at this point. Either way, even poor QBs can be fantasy stars as they rack up garbage time yards and TDs. Here’s a look at your 2018 QB class:

Baker Mayfield to Cleveland Browns

Round 1, Pick 1 (1st overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Tyrod Taylor
2) Drew Stanton

Analysis:
A lot has been written about Tyrod Taylor-some people love him and some people hate him. The truth is, he’s a solid starting NFL QB. He is incapable of putting a team on his shoulders and consistently pulling out victories, but he’s tremendously good at protecting the ball and managing the game in the second half. Hue Jackson has already made it clear Taylor will be the starter for Week 1 and I think Taylor is plenty good enough to hold Mayfield off during the preseason.

The thing to keep in mind isn’t really the talent of Taylor or Mayfield. Hue Jackson has a 1-31 record over the past two years. That he has a job is, frankly, amazing as it is. To say he’ll be on a short leash would be an understatement. This team needs to take a quantum leap for him to keep his job, which means the first few weeks are critical where Jackson might feel pressured to start the rookie sooner than later if the team struggles.

This situation is almost identical to what happened last year with the Chicago Bears and a coach on the hot seat with a rookie QB. Although Trubisky was taken second overall, the Bears traded away three other draft picks to move up one spot to grab him. Trubisky overtook Mike Glennon by Week 5 after the Bears started 1-3. Taylor is far superior to Mike Glennon who was the Bears Week 1, but Cleveland’s schedule is pretty tough to start the year:

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Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
vs PIT @ NO vs NYJ @ OAK vs BAL vs LAC @ TB @ PIT vs KC vs ATL Bye @ CIN

We’ll see how Cleveland performs, but I’m thinking they start 1-5 or 2-4 and go to their 1st overall pick for the Tampa Bay game. I don’t see Taylor being the starter after the bye unless they’re firmly in the playoff hunt.

For fantasy purposes, I’m not touching Mayfield in redraft leagues until week 3-4 where I can get him on the waiver wire. I actually think Taylor will be an absolute bargain in redraft. You just have to have a plan B for the second half of the season. Mayfield’s athleticism and off-the-charts production throughout his college career combined with the fact that Cleveland is loaded with receiving talent in Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Duke Johnson make him the QB to draft in dynasty leagues even if he doesn’t start the season. You can argue all day long about which quarterback is more talented, but you will not find a QB drafted in the 1st round surrounded by more talented receiving threats. Draft Mayfield at will in dynasty.

Sam Darnold to New York Jets

Round 1, Pick 3 (3rd overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Josh McCown
2) Teddy Bridgewater
3) Bryce Petty

Analysis:
The Jets moved up to third in the draft to get their franchise quarterback. Until a couple days before the draft, it looked like they would land Baker Mayfield until Cleveland had a change of heart or the media had it wrong the entire time. Sam Darnold, who many had going first overall leading up to the draft, landed into the Jets lap with the third pick.

Like Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold will likely sit behind a vet in Josh McCown. The problem isn’t so much McCown who has an extensive injury history and will be 39 by the time Week 1 rolls around, but Teddy Bridgewater who signed with the Jets in March. Bridgewater’s health is a big question mark after a horrific knee injury kept him out of the 2016 and most of 2017 season, but he was an up-and-coming QB following a solid rookie season and improved for his second season in 2015. There’s no doubt about which QB will become the face of the franchise, but if McCown goes down early, Bridgewater could easily slide into the veteran placeholder role ahead of Darnold.  I wouldn’t be surprised if each QB had at least four starts during the 2018 season.

Between the questions about the veteran quarterbacks ahead of Darnold and the lack of talented receiving options, Darnold and the rest of the QBs on the New York Jets are a hard pass in redraft leagues. Darnold is still talented enough to be taken highly among the QBs in dynasty leagues, but should trail Mayfield by a significant margin.

Josh Allen to Buffalo Bills

Round 1, Pick 7 (7th overall)
College Production:

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2018 Competition:
1) A.J. McCarron
2) Nathan Peterman

Analysis:
Of the first round quarterbacks, Allen may be the most controversial from a projection standpoint. Allen is massive at 6’5″ and 237 pounds, but can still move well. The first thing that pops out when watching Allen is his incredible arm. It’s not just a cannon. His throw velocity scores in the 100th percentile among QBs per playerprofiler.com. The problem is that while all the physical tools are there, you can see his underwhelming stats while playing for Wyoming against poor competition in the Mountain West Conference. He looked like he was playing with his hair on fire in the pocket most of the time due to a porous offensive line and it won’t take you long to watching game film before one of his receivers drops an easy pass. That being said, he also tended to hold the ball too long, telegraph throws, and struggle with accuracy. He’s either going to be an absolute stud or another Brock Osweiler. There’s just no way to tell right now.

Unlike Mayfield and Darnold, there is no clear Week 1 starter in Buffalo. The Nathan Peterman experiment is over, which just leaves A.J. McCarron to beat out. Keep in mind Buffalo is basically Carolina North. They’ve been usurping players/coaches/staff from Carolina for the past couple of years. They now have a QB whose physical profile comes close to Cam Newton. Allen is less athletic but has a stronger arm. Like Newton, Allen will have to run to keep that offense moving and, like Newton, Allen will probably never have a completion percentage above 62% especially with the weak receiving corps in Buffalo.

What does this all mean? Although I’m not a fan of this pick this early in this draft, I think Allen actually has a better shot at ending the year as a fantasy QB1 than any of the other rookie QBs. I would not be surprised if he put up stats similar to what Newton did in his rookie and sophomore seasons boosted by rushing scores even if(when) the Buffalo offense struggles. Dynasty is a much tougher projection, but I’m cautiously optimistic he’ll be a strong fantasy QB even if he’s not a great franchise QB. I still think Mayfield is clearly the best dynasty option, but I wouldn’t snicker at someone who took a risk on Allen ahead of Darnold and our next QB Josh Rosen.

Josh Rosen to Arizona Cardinals

Round 1, Pick 10 (10th overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Sam Bradford
2) Mike Glennon

Analysis:
Josh Rosen’s stock took off the week leading up to the draft when he slammed everyone who had ever doubted him after high school, in college, and during the draft process. He was projected to be a first round pick, but Arizona made him a top-10 pick after trading up from their 15th spot. Rosen has solid mechanics and generally makes good decisions(with the occasional overly-aggressive throw). Where Allen’s ceiling is off the charts, Rosen’s floor is as safe as it comes with the QBs in this draft class.

There are certain players who might not be the most gifted/talented athletes, but solid fundamentals and their ability to understand the game gives them an edge. Rosen has the potential to be one of those QBs that are just two steps ahead of the defense. I’m not going anywhere near the ‘Rosen is like a young Rodgers’ narrative, but watching them interact is bizarre. It’s like watching two people talk who get each other who understand each other so well that they don’t even need to complete full sentences to communicate.

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The problem with Rosen for this year is the depth chart. Sam Bradford is a good QB (when healthy) and will likely start the season. Mike Glennon isn’t nearly as effective as Bradford, but he’s a solid veteran QB. Arizona may let Bradford/Glennon play out the year and just let Rosen soak it all in. Dynasty is a different animal. Rosen has drawn comparisons to Eli Manning. How would you have felt drafting Eli Manning in dynasty leagues when he was a rookie? If you would have liked Eli Manning, you can safely take Rosen.

Lamar Jackson to Baltimore Ravens

Round 1, Pick 32 (32nd overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Joe Flacco
2) Robert Griffin III

Analysis:
Lamar Jackson just squeaked into the first round. There simply hasn’t been a player like this since Michael Vick. It’s weird to see a QB who won the Heisman and nearly followed it up with another Heisman, create such little stir leading up to the draft. However, he cannot fit into any offensive system; the offensive system will need to be adapted to him. Rumors that Baltimore were interested in the exceptionally athletic Jackson, especially after signing RGIII, proved true with their 32nd pick in the draft.

Flacco is as close to a dedicated curse word as the fantasy community has, but Joe Flacco is going to be the guy in 2018 barring injury. Jackson has the athleticism to make some of the fastest/strongest people on the planet look silly capable of creating a highlight reel moment at any point during the game. I’d love to see him get a shot, but it probably won’t happen this year. Jackson’s ability to run will make him a must stream if he earns the start, but his redraft value is almost nil with Flacco in the picture. He’s a very intriguing dynasty stash especially in two-QB leagues.

Other QBs Drafted:

Mason Rudolph to Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 3, Pick 12 (76th overall)

Kyle Lauletta to New York Giants
Round 4, Pick 8 (108th overall)

Mike White to Dallas Cowboys
Round 5, Pick 34 (171st overall)

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Luke Falk to Tennessee Titans
Round 6, Pick 25 (199th overall)

Tanner Lee to Jacksonville Jaguars
Round 6, Pick 29 (203rd overall)

Danny Etling to New England Patriots
Round 7, Pick 1 (219th overall)

Alex Mcgough to Seattle Seahawks
Round 7, Pick 2 (220th overall)

Logan Woodside to Cincinnati Bengals
Round 7, Pick 31 (249th overall)

Editor’s Note: Check out all Rookie Landing Spot articles as they become available.