Reviewing the 2020 Rookie QB Class (Fantasy Football)

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In the Fantasy Footballers’ 2020 Rookie Review episode, Andy, Mike, and Jason recapped the 2020 season for the group of fresh faces. Before we dive into the discussion, I want to give a few statistical benchmarks to give context for this group. We were a bit spoiled with rookie QBs in 2020.

Over the past six seasons, only four rookie QBs have finished as a Top-15 fantasy QB (or better):

To put this into further perspective: Over the last 20 years, we’ve had only 11 total games where a rookie threw for 300 & two passing TDs and added a rushing TD… SIX of those 11 games occurred in 2020.

Player Tm Opponent Week Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Yards Rush TDs
2011 Cam Newton CAR @ARI 1 422 2 18 1
2012 Andrew Luck IND GB 5 362 2 24 1
2012 Nick Foles PHI @TB 14 381 2 27 1
2013 Geno Smith NYJ BUF 3 331 2 14 1
2019 Daniel Jones NYG @TB 3 336 2 28 2
2020 Justin Herbert LAC JAX 7 347 3 66 1
2020 Joe Burrow CIN CLE 7 406 3 34 1
2020 Tua Tagovailoa MIA KC 14 316 2 24 1
2020 Justin Herbert LAC @LV 15 314 2 14 1
2020 Jalen Hurts PHI @ARI 15 338 3 63 1
2020 Justin Herbert LAC @KC 17 302 3 9 1

It truly was a great year for rookie QBs. We’ve divided up each position into three categories:

Impressive– This is the cream of the crop.

You Have Our Attention– At least they did something in their rookie season.

Better Luck Next Year– Ummmm… so did they really play in 2020?

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Let’s dive into the 2020 Rookie QB class, highlight some of their strengths and weaknesses and speculate where they might be drafted in 2021.

Impressive and We Want More! 

Justin Herbert | Round 1, Overall 6 |  Los Angeles Chargers 

  • QB9 Finish — Consistency Rank 6
  • 15 games — 396/595 for 4336/31/10 — 55/234/5 rushing

Herbert was discussed at length in the QB Truth Part Two episode and it’s hard to narrow down his greatness in just a few words. Herbert was cool under pressure leading the NFL with 15 passing TDs on 3rd down. He also had the most passing yards and completions “under pressure” in the NFL. All of this behind PFF’s 32nd Ranked offensive line. That’s dead last folks. Heck on plays of 3-and-7+ yards, he averaged 8.1 yards per attempt and a QB Rating of 121 on the season. The question is with a new head coach and offensive coordinator will things shift in 2021? Will he be drafted in the top-8 in 2021? After the 7th round? Or will the hype drive him higher?

Joe Burrow | Round 1, Overall 1 | Cincinnati Bengals

  • QB25 Finish — Consistency Rank 20
  • 10 games — 264/404 for 2688/13/5 — 37/142/3 rushing

The No. 1 overall pick put up a respectable rookie year as he was the QB15 from Weeks 1-10 before his torn ACL & MCL in Week 11. He made his mark based on tons of volume. Burrow averaged 40.4 pass attempts per game— that’s the most ever for a rookie QB. But what doomed him for much of the season was his anemic offensive line. Cincinnati, according to Pro Football Focus, had the 30th ranked offensive line and Burrow had to run for his life. During those 11 weeks, he took 32 sacks (tied for 2nd most) & 42 QB hits (tied for 5th most). Many draft experts are tying them to Oregon’s OT Penei Sewell. He also needs to work on his deep ball as he connected on just 9-of-48 “deep targets”, the 3rd lowest adjusted completion percentage on deep passes in the NFL. He’s a potential mid-year pickup in redraft but proved himself capable as a streamer. 

Jalen Hurts | Round 2, Overall 53 | Philadelphia Eagles

  • QB7 from Weeks 14-17 (4 starts) — Consistency Rank 8
  • 15 games (4 starts) — 77/148 for 1061/6/4 — 63/357/3 rushing

In Hurts’ four starts during Weeks 14-17, he averaged 68 rush yards per game. Although it’s a small sample size, it’s the most ever for a rookie with at least four starts in a season. But on the flip side, Hurts posted the worst adjusted completion percentage in the NFL during that time frame.  With Carson Wentz out the door any day now, it looks like Hurts will be given the keys to the offense. He’s a better fantasy asset than a real-life QB at this point given his massive contribution on the ground. Hurts will likely be a popular late-round target for many in 2020.

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

You Have Our Attention

Tua Tagovailoa  | Round 1, Overall 5 | Miami Dolphins

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  • QB20 from Weeks 9-17 (8 starts) — missed Week 12 (thumb)  — Consistency Rank 25
  • 10 games (8 starts) — 186/290 for 1814/11/5 — 36/109/3 rushing

It was near consensus for the Footballers as all three of them classified his rookie season as “disappointing”. The Dolphins went 6-3 in Tua’s starts but you’d think he went 3-6 with the way fantasy managers wanted Ryan Fitzpatrick back at the helm. We saw some of his upside against Kansas City in Week 14 as he threw for 316 yards, two passing TDs, and added another score on the ground en route to being the QB4 on the week. But most of his targets throughout the season were of the low aDOT variety. Since 2000, his 9.75 yards per completion ranks 49th of 51 rookie QBs 8+ starts in a given season. If he’s the starter in 2021 and they add another weapon, will he be streamable?

Better Luck Next Year

There are very few other rookie QBs that made a huge impact in 2020. Here is the full list of 2020 draftees and a couple of notes.

Jordan Love | Round 1, Overall 26 | Packers – Recently told reporters “I’ll be ready if Rodgers leaves” lol

Jacob Eason | Round 4, Overall 122 | Colts – Only QB currently on the Indianapolis roster with Philip Rivers retiring and Jacoby Brissett a free-agent.

James Morgan | Round 4, Overall 125 | Jets

Jake Fromm | Round 5, Overall 167 | Bills

Jake Luton | Round 6, Overall 189 | Jaguars – Made three starts.. Threw 4 INTs in a game… Had a TFFB nickname for a second.

Cole McDonald | Round 7, Overall 224 | Titans

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Ben DiNucci | Round 7, Overall 231 | Cowboys – HEY KIDS REMEMBER THAT ONE TIME I STARTED A GAME IN THE NFL?

Tommy Stevens | Round 7, Overall 240 | Saints

Nate Stanley | Round 7, Overall 244 | Vikings

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