Narrative Street: Should you avoid rookie QBs in fantasy?

Rookies have a fickle reputation, but with recent successes from first-year QBs, Tyler Loechner checks whether they are underrated.

| 3 months ago
Eagles QB Carson Wentz

(Rob Leiter via Getty Images)

Narrative Street: Should you avoid rookie QBs in fantasy?

Last year’s crop of rookie quarterbacks started the year hot. Carson Wentz was the next best thing, and Dak Prescott was a fantasy starter just one quarter of the way through the season. As the year progressed, Wentz cooled off, Prescott got better, and Jared Goff fell on his face.

But if nothing else, last year’s hot start brought rookie quarterbacks to the forefront of the discussion in fantasy.

The narrative: You should avoid taking a rookie quarterback in fantasy football.

Typically, this ends up being a fairly short discussion. The narrative is that you shouldn’t take a rookie quarterback in fantasy. Over the past five years, guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and others have been playing at or near their best. With fantasy leagues typically featuring just 12 quarterback starters each week, the already-crowded room makes it difficult for rookies to break through.

That’s the narrative, at least. And with the NFL draft coming up, with Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson (at least) looking like potential starters if they land in the right situation, it’s worth asking: Is it true?

The findings

To keep things relatively recent while still providing an ample sample size, I examined all quarterback data from the past five seasons. Note that this excludes Cam Newton’s big rookie season in 2011, but it includes Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson in 2012.

I compared rookies to second-year players, third-year players, etc., in terms of yards, touchdowns, interceptions, fantasy points, weekly fantasy finishes, and more.

To put it simply: Rookie quarterbacks trailed their veteran counterparts in every category. Here’s the yards-per-game chart as an example:

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Tyler Loechner is a lead writer at PFF Fantasy. He has played fantasy football since 1999 and has been a part of the PFF Fantasy staff since 2010. Tyler was also previously a fantasy football featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

  • Frank Wees

    I don’t think that the author really tackled the narrative. Instead of comparing average rookies to average veterans, the article should have focused on the ADP of rookie quarterbacks and then compared them to veteran counterparts. In recent memory, guys like Mariota, Winston, Goff, and Wentz all had much higher fantasy ADP their rookie seasons than they were worth. However, what if you take a guy like Dak, who was not even drafted in most leagues, and look at how that turned out? That’s where I’d like to see this article go next.