Searching for the Next Year-Two QB Breakout (Fantasy Football)
Year-Two QBs have taken over the league for three straight seasons. Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP, Patrick Mahomes won the MVP award in 2018, and Carson Wentz was well on his way to winning the MVP award in 2017 before a late-season knee injury. Let’s take a look at those incredible sophomore seasons:[lptw_table id=”163834″ style=”default”]
So can this trend continue in 2020? Let’s take a look at the 2019 rookie QB’s per-game numbers and then evaluate them individually:[lptw_table id=”163835″ style=”default”]
Jones was drafted sixth-overall to be the successor to Eli Manning in New York. It didn’t take long as Jones replaced Manning in Week 3 and never looked back. Despite having to play at different times without Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley, Jones still finished with 3,027 passing yards, 24 pass TDs, 279 rushing yards, and two rushing TDs.
Since we’re searching for upside, it’s promising Jones already proved he offers this last season. On four separate occasions, Jones totaled 4+ pass/rush TDs. Jones now enters year two as the clear-cut starter and all of his weapons returning, hopefully with better injury luck this season than last. The only change is Jones now has a new Head Coach, Joe Judge, and Offensive Coordinator, Jason Garrett.
Over the past two weeks, Jones’ ADP in FFPC Classic Best Ball Drafts is QB14 and in the tenth-round (115.7). Jones’ combination of upside and affordability makes him a great target, especially since he offers upside on the ground as well just like Wentz, Mahomes, and Jackson before him.
Murray was the first overall pick by Arizona after throwing for 4,361 yards and 42 TDs while adding 1,001 rushing yards and 12 TDs on the ground in his only season as the full-time starter at Oklahoma. He kept things going right out of the gate in the NFL, throwing for 3,722 passing yards and 20 pass TDs while adding 544 rushing yards and four rush TDs on the ground.
Unlike Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray has coaching staff stability as he enters year two with Head Coach and play-caller Kliff Kingsbury. And with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins to an already solid pass-catching corps of Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, 2019 second-round pick Andy Isabella, and 2019 fourth-round pick Hakeem Butler, Murray has a great environment around him for success.
A sophomore leap is not only possible, but it should be expected, especially with the dual-threat skillset Kyler brings to the table. Kyler shows just how sharp the fantasy football community has gotten because everyone basically else believes this as well. Over the past two weeks, Kyler’s ADP in FFPC Classic Best Ball Drafts is QB3 and in the early sixth-round (60.9).
Whereas Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray were both top six overall NFL Draft Picks, Minshew was a sixth-rounder despite throwing for 4,779 yards and 38 TDs in 2018 at Washington State. Minshew shared a bit of time with Nick Foles, but ultimately ended up starting 12 games and playing in 14, throwing for 3,271 yards and 21 pass TDs while adding 344 rushing yards on the ground.
Minshew has no long-term job security as Jacksonville projects to be one of the worst teams in the league in 2020, likely putting them in prime position to bring in a first-round QB in 2021. However, there’s no reason to believe Minshew won’t be the full-time starter this season, especially after proving it on the field as a rookie. And that’s pretty exciting.
New Offensive Coordinator, Jay Gruden, has a great track record of passing success in the NFL and brings an exciting new dynamic to the table. Additionally, second-round pick Laviska Shenault and fifth-round pick Collin Johnson were brought in to upgrade an already solid WR corps of D.J Chark, Dede Westbrook, and Chris Conley. Minshew offers a dual-threat skillset and can be had as QB24 in the 13th-round (147.8).
Lock was drafted in the second round after a collegiate career as a four-year starter at Mizzou where he amassed 12,193 passing yards and 99 pass TDs. Lock likely would’ve started more than five games last season but he suffered a sprained thumb on his throwing hand and was placed on injured reserve.
Once cleared to return, Lock threw for 1,020 passing yards and seven TDs and helped a struggling Broncos’ team finish the season with a 4-1 record. Lock enters 2020 with new Offensive Coordinator, Pat Shurmur, who played a role in Daniel Jones’ success as Head Coach of the Giants in 2019.
He also has a plethora of weapons in Courtland Sutton, first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, second-round pick KJ Hamler, Noah Fant, and fourth-round pick Albert Okwuegbunam. Lock has proven college production and a favorable environment around him. Last year’s small sample size could be a sign of things to come and he can be had right now as QB21 in the 12th-round (141).
Haskins was drafted 15th overall in the first round after throwing for 4,831 passing yards and 50 pass TDs as a redshirt sophomore at Ohio State in 2018. Despite the tremendous college production, Haskins struggled as a rookie, throwing for only 151.7 passing yards per game and throwing the same amount of TDs as INTs: seven.
Yet it’s important to remember Haskins was operating in the worst situation out of all of these five rookie QBs, Gardner Minshew included. Washington’s second-leading receiver in terms of total receiving yards last season was Chris Thompson, a RB no longer on the team who had 378 receiving yards.
Entering 2020 as the unquestioned starter, Haskins should improve in year two, especially with upgraded weapons. Third-round pick Antonio Gibson and fourth-round pick Antonio Gandy-Golden were brought in as upgrades to pair with Terry McLaurin and other second-year WRs, Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon. Haskins can be had as QB29 and in the 16th-round (181.4).
Carson Wentz, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson were all dual-threats drafted into great organizations and situations that allowed their talents to shine early in their careers. For the most part, Kyler Murray checks these same boxes as I’m bullish on Kliff Kingsbury and believe he has the Cardinals headed in the right direction. He’s the smart bet if any of these QBs are going to keep this trend going but as I alluded to earlier, the fantasy industry agrees as Murray’s ADP is currently the QB3 in both redraft and dynasty.
The valuable aspect to Wentz, Mahomes, and Jackson’s breakouts was the fantasy industry as a whole didn’t see them coming, which kept their costs affordable. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Wentz’s ADP was QB17 in 2017, Mahomes’ ADP was QB15 in 2018, and Jackson’s ADP was QB11 in 2019. Value and affordability during draft season play huge roles in determining league-winning players in fantasy.
Adding in this vital component to the equation, Daniel Jones and Drew Lock are the affordable QBs that offer the highest chances of blowing up in year-two thanks to their elite weapons and environments around them. But only one of these two players also adds the dual-threat capability Wentz, Mahomes, and Jackson brought to the table. That’s Daniel Jones. Odds are this small sample size of a three-year trend doesn’t continue but Jones’ QB14 ADP makes him a worthwhile investment to find out.