Top 12 rookie fantasy QB seasons since the merger

Mike Castiglione looks at the top numbers by rookie QBs, including a lot of recent names.

| 2 months ago
(Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

(Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Top 12 rookie fantasy QB seasons since the merger

As the NFL offseason ramps up toward next month’s draft, we are taking a look back at the top rookie fantasy seasons. Last week, I compiled the top rookie running backs and the previous week it was the top rookie wide receivers of the PFF era, which spans the last decade.

Today we’re revealing the top fantasy seasons by a rookie quarterback during the Super Bowl era. With a shallower player pool compared to RBs and WRs, I thought it made sense to expand the parameters further back for QBs. Not that it really matters with how the NFL has evolved into a passing league in recent seasons. As you’ll see below, all but two of the top-12 rookie QB seasons occurred during the past decade anyway.

Here is a quick refresher of the unique PFF terms and acronyms found below.

Season Rank: where each player ranked among all QBs in fantasy scoring during his rookie season
Draft: where each player was selected. Ex. Sterling Shepard: 2.40 = Round 2, Overall pick 40
FPPG: fantasy scoring per-game average
PPDB: fantasy points per dropback
ACC %: completions + drops per aimed throw i.e. adjusted completion percentage
Deep Rating: QB rating on pass attempts targeted 20 yards or more downfield
Pressure Rating: QB rating when under pressure

12. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (2015)

230-of-370 (62%), 2,818 yards, 19 TD, 10 INT / 34 rush, 252 yards, 2 TD

Season Rank Draft G GS Fantasy Points FPPG PPDB ACC % Deep Rating Pressure Rating
22 1.2 12 12 206 17.17 0.49 71.5% 32.80 82.00

On a points-per-game basis, Mariota actually owns the No. 7 fantasy season by a rookie QB on this list. The knock on Mariota coming out of Oregon was that he’d need time to grasp a pro-style offense and things like huddling up, taking snaps from under center, dropping back, calling audibles and setting protections. While he ultimately proved a quick study, his rookie season was not without its blemishes. No rookie on this list had a worse QB rating on deep passes (32.8) than Mariota, whose adjusted completion percentage on such throws (20.4 percent) ranked dead-last out of 24 qualified passers during the 2015 season. But he did show dramatic improvement in that area in Year Two, more than doubling his adjusted completion percentage to 41.9 to go with a 101.2 QB rating on deep passes. However, his accuracy under pressure dipped from 68.5 percent down to 55.1 percent, and his rushing production to date (22.3 YPG) hardly reflects what was unleashed in Eugene (54.6 YPG).

11. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (1998)

326-of-575 (57%), 3,739 yards, 26 TD, 28 INT / 15 rush, 62 yards, 0 TD

Season Rank Draft G GS Fantasy Points FPPG PPDB ACC % Deep Rating Pressure Rating
9 1.1 16 16 207 12.94 n/a n/a n/a n/a

Manning was a QB1 right out of the gate, although it’s worth noting that his per-game fantasy production (12.94) ranked last on this list and would not even stand among the QB2s in today’s NFL. If anything, Manning certainly wasn’t gun shy in that debut season. He attempted a league-high 575 passes and set a rookie record with 28 interceptions for the 3-13 Colts. By his second season, Manning made a 10-percent jump in completion rate and led Indianapolis to a 13-3 season while earning the first of many Pro Bowl nods. Between 1999 and 2014, he averaged 4,400 yards through the air, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. During that span, he was first-team All-Pro seven times and never missed a game, with the exception of the 2011 season that was wiped out due to neck surgery.

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Mike is a member of the FSWA and a staff writer for PFF Fantasy who focuses on both redraft and dynasty content, having spent several years covering FBS for a number of publications.

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