What do Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Deshaun Watson all have in common? They are the only quarterbacks who, in 2019, had more rushing yards than the man, the myth, the legend: Gardner Minshew. Minshew was a rock star who captivated the nation as a rookie for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the world wants to know if he has any magic left in that mustache for a follow up in his sophomore season.
Gardner Minshew Fantasy Football Preview for 2020
A Look Back at 2019
Gardner Minshew was selected with the 178th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft out of Washington State University. He was an unheralded player, drafted to be the backup to newly signed Nick Foles.
Opportunity came sooner than expected for Minshew when he was thrust into action in the opening week after Foles went down with a broken collarbone. Gardner finished his debut 22/25 for 275 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick. From that point, over his next four starts, he compiled 1,004 yards, seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, and another 118 yards on the ground. “Minshew Mania” was now in full swing.
It’s @Jaguars GAMEDAY!!
— MINSHEW 2020 (@AussieJag) December 8, 2019
Minshew continued his rookie season with some very good play. Besides his noted style and becoming a meme sensation, Gardner was able to dazzle fans with his on-field play. One of his biggest strengths was his improvisation. His ability to evade defenders, break contain, and create a play out of nothing wowed fans.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 29, 2019
With plays like this combined with very good play, Jacksonville now had a quarterback controversy on their hands when Foles inevitably returned from injury. Do they play the rookie sensation or do they hand the starting gig back over to their prized off-season acquisition? The Jaguars decided to start Foles but that was extremely short-lived, as keeping Minshew on the bench after flashing the way he did just wasn’t in the cards.
All in all, Minshew had a great rookie year. He was the QB18 in terms of points per game with 16.37. Compared to all the rookies in NFL history, Gardner’s 16.37 points per game ranked 13th all-time among all quarterbacks that played in at least 12 games their rookie season. PFF even graded Minshew as the top rookie quarterback, ahead of rookie of the year Kyler Murray.
Which 2019 QB would you choose to build a franchise around? pic.twitter.com/O2ew2bo7w6
— PFF (@PFF) June 10, 2020
Looking towards 2020, Minshew will be looking to build upon his rookie season success. Gardner’s decision-making ability was far better than perceived, despite his relatively lower completion percentage (60.6 percent).
Gardner Minshew threw only 16 passes that should have been intercepted last year, 3.4% of his throws.
That's better than QBs such as Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins. pic.twitter.com/jq3DMiDPsl
— QB Data Mine (@QBDataMine) March 26, 2020
Minshew only threw six interceptions in his rookie season. That being said, increasing his completion percentage will be an area that he will look to improve in 2020. Looking deeper into the numbers, Minshew can be one of the more accurate passers in 2020.
Highest Comp Pct
Passes 20+ Yards Downfield
Jimmy Garoppolo 58% (18/31)
Gardner Minshew 48%
Drew Brees 46%
Patrick Mahomes 44%
Dak Prescott 44%
Kyle Allen 22%
Mason Rudolph 25%
Josh Allen 26%
— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) December 24, 2019
Like Daniel Jones, Minshew also had a bit of a fumbling issue with 13 fumbles in 2019, seven of which resulted in turnovers. With fumbles being a less sticky stat year over year, I’m confident he’ll be able to minimize this issue.
The biggest draw to Minshew from a fantasy perspective is his scrambling ability. As mentioned before, he has an uncanny ability to sense pressure, evade sacks, and extend plays. Sometimes that leads to a throw to his best weapon, D.J. Chark, but a lot of time it leads to a run for himself.
Highest scramble rates in 2019:
1. Gardner Minshew – 8.9%
2. Lamar Jackson – 8.8%
3. Josh Allen – 8.4%
4. Deshaun Watson – 8.1% pic.twitter.com/KD8f8l32Pp
— PFF (@PFF) July 17, 2020
In addition to his scrambling ability, Minshew also has the benefit of being on one of the worst teams in the NFL with one of the worst defenses as well. This may not seem like a great thing at first, but with the Jaguars’ high probability of playing from behind more often than not, it will allow Minshew to get into garbage time more often which is where he can shine from a fantasy perspective.
Gardner Minshew ADP
Minshew is currently going as the 201st player overall off the board as the QB26 according to Fantasypros. That’s the same range as guys like Matt Gay, Adrian Peterson, Dan Bailey, and Rashaad Penny. Some quarterbacks going around that point are Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr.
Minshew’s current ADP is frankly way too low, criminal even. The fact that there are 13 kickers and 15 defenses/special teams with a higher ADP is ridiculous, even accounting for very shallow leagues. I am very bullish on Minshew and his combination of talent and situation. He’s the QB16 on my board and I see no reason to take low ceiling options like Jimmy Garoppolo and Philip Rivers above him, among others.
With a great schedule to start the year, Minshew is my favorite late-round quarterback target in single quarterback leagues and a favorite in best ball drafts as well. Wait on a quarterback, select Gardner Minshew, and enjoy the ride because it’s going to be a fun one.