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The Fantasy Football Impact of Rookie Quarterbacks

Fantasy Football Impact of Rookie Quarterbacks

Every year, fantasy football managers hear that various teams drafted rookie quarterbacks and it’s clearly going to make an impact. But when you break down the numbers, is it really an upgrade? For the purposes of this exercise, I went back through every rookie quarterback to play in seven or more games for more than 50 percent of snaps. Then checked the fantasy points of the WR1, WR2 and TE to see how their fantasy output changed, and if they were a playable asset for managers.

The Fantasy Football Impact of Rookie Quarterbacks

Wide Receiver Ones

Some of the wide receivers these rookie quarterbacks got to play with are truly exceptional. Josh Rosen and Kyler Murray got Larry Fitzgerald. Justin Herbert was lucky enough to play with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. But some of these quarterbacks got the short end of the stick. With that in mind, what was the fantasy football impact of rookie quarterbacks on their top targets?

Through 15 players that had a baseline before their rookie quarterback, they averaged a decrease in total fantasy points of 45 at season’s end. In their baseline season, these receivers averaged 211 total points in PPR, which would have been good enough for WR22 in 2022 according to fantasypros. After the drop off? Right around WR39 in 2022. These numbers are even slightly skewed up with Mac Jones taking over for Cam Newton who couldn’t throw the ball anymore, and Zay Jones exploding (if 160 fantasy points can be called exploding) onto the scene with Josh Allen’s rookie season.

When looking at some of the best seasons by these wide receivers with a rookie quarterback, a couple of pieces need to fall into place. One, the receiver needs to already be hyper talented. Two, the quarterback needs to set the rookie touchdown record. The only receivers to be top 24 were Jarvis Landry, with Baker Mayfield’s record setting season and Keenan Allen, with Herbert topping it.

Actionable Intel

Fade the top wide receiver for a rookie quarterback, unless you can somehow project they’ll break records. Even the best wide receivers can’t overcome the adversity. There is a negative fantasy football impact of rookie quarterbacks on wide receiver ones.

Wide Receiver Twos

While there have been some exceptional wide receivers, the list of wide receiver twos is brutal. Darnell Mooney is the best one on the entire list, and he finished as the WR23. He likely benefited from a checked out or washed up Allen Robinson who imploded in 2021. George Pickens is certainly more talented, but was only a year removed from an ACL tear and a rookie in his own right. There is a reason these teams were picking high enough to take quarterbacks.

The average for the season end finishes of these receivers is a net zero. For the most part, this is due to the low performance of this group ahead of time. Their baseline average was 133 fantasy points, and with a rookie quarterback it was 135. If managers want to chase the extra 0.12 fantasy points per game, go ahead. The year end rankings of these players is absolutely atrocious. Again, Darnell Mooney had the best finish as the WR23. At an average of 135, these players would have been the WR50 in 2022.

Actionable Intel

Drafting to aim for guys that finish in the WR50 range is bad business. Unless there is an outlier type season, the wide receiver two with a rookie quarterback is basically useless for fantasy football.

Tight Ends

For starters, do tight ends other than Travis Kelce really matter that much? That aside, the fantasy impact of rookie tight ends has been overplayed. Often times, analysts will say that rookie quarterbacks lean into their tight ends, looking for a safety blanket. For those tight ends with a baseline ahead of time, they scored an average of 125.5 fantasy points throughout the season. With a rookie quarterback? Only 105.1 at season’s end.

There are three tight ends that were usable for fantasy with a rookie quarterback. David Njoku went into year two, was an elite prospect and was paired with a record setting rookie. Hunter Henry went from Cam Newton with a rental shoulder to Mac Jones with no wide receivers in the offense. Finally, Pat Freiermuth was already solid as a rookie and became a reliable option in the offense. Other than those three, every tight end with a rookie quarterback was outside of the top 12.

Actionable Intel

A top 12 finish for tight ends is a low, low bar. That only three did it out of 17 examined tight ends is a red flag. The fantasy football impact of rookie quarterbacks on tight ends isn’t great, but most tight ends are bad anyway.

Bottom Line on the Fantasy Football Impact of Rookie Quarterbacks

Unfortunately, the fun option is the bad option. It’s cool on draft night to pick Michael Pittman Jr. to pair with Anthony Richardson. But to win leagues, rookie quarterbacks are land mines to avoid. Even the best rookie quarterback seasons this decade didn’t put a wide receiver in the top 12. Draft accordingly.

More Fantasy

Dynasty Quarterback Rankings

Possible Busts

Dynasty Tight End Rankings

Main Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports


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