Second Year Studs and Duds – QBs

Nate Hodges evaluates 2013's crop of rookie quarterbacks as they head into their sophomore season.

| 3 years ago

Second Year Studs and Duds – QBs

manuelNFL experts and fantasy owners alike love to discuss and analyze the incoming rookie class all summer long. But many players take a big step forward in their second year.

The ones that don’t, especially if drafted high, are often headed down the path to the dreaded “B” word. In this series I’ll analyze which players will develop and become second year studs, which players may be duds and which ones are already being viewed around the league as potential draft busts.

Up first, the most important position on the football field, quarterback. Last year’s rookie quarterback class was one of the weakest ever, downright dreadful for teams needing a signal caller.

E.J. Manuel, Buffalo

The Buffalo Bills decided they just had to have a quarterback. In fact the Bills organization was so good at playing the smokescreen game that many experts believed they would actually draft Ryan Nassib in the first round. Experts that actually watched film on Nassib should have known better but Buffalo’s new coaching staff was apparently very convincing.

Well the Bills did draft their guy in the first round (pick 16) after trading down once in the process. E.J. Manuel became the face of the franchise under first year head coach Doug Marrone and actually projected fairly well into his run heavy offensive system.

The biggest problem Manuel had in 2013 was health. He was able to beat out the competition almost immediately for the starting job. The competition wasn’t all that stiff, but still, for a raw quarterback leaving school early it was a good sign. However, he missed six games due to injury. With the abundance of quarterbacks putting up big fantasy football numbers carrying one on your roster who is banged up is trouble. Even in dynasty leagues it’s hard to imagine Manuel as a top quarterback option at any point in his career.

Manuel has other red flags as well. His grades were very poor last season. He also doesn’t have a playmaking tight end on the roster and the scheme isn’t built for big time fantasy football success from the quarterback position unless he adds solid rushing production. Of course that risk more injuries. A complete circle of issues.

My evaluation of Manuel really hasn’t changed much from when he was a rookie. Based on his film he was and probably still is the quarterback with the most upside from the 2013 class. Unfortunately not much about his situation suggest that he will ever be a top level fantasy football player. Despite his youth and the addition of Sammy Watkins this season it’s hard to envision Manuel ever leading your squad to a championship especially not in year two of his career where he’ll surely be a dud.

Geno Smith, New York Jets

It’s been recently reported by multiple sources and the backup quarterbacks themselves that Geno Smith is the Jet’s starter as the team prepares for the 2014 season. That’s the good news if you own Smith in a dynasty league.

I really liked Smith coming out of West Virginia last offseason. He was very polished as a passer, knew where to go with the football and delivered it accurately for the most part especially from clean pockets. Smith graded out as the most pro ready prospect in my analysis.

Then he was drafted by the Jets. In college Smith played in an Air Raid offense, an updated version of the scheme that Mike Leach and others have made so prevalent in both the college and high school game. The Jets’ offense is about as far away from Air Raid football as you can get in the NFL. Throw in the fact that the receiving corps is extremely weak and you can see why Smith struggled making the transition to the league.

For what it’s worth Smith did grade out better than Manuel last season. And actually came through with high positive overall numbers in week 16 and 17.

This offseason New York has added wide receiver Eric Decker and tight end Jace Amaro. I don’t think it’s enough. The scheme is just no good for fantasy football.

Pretend for a second that the Jets have a very good season as a team. What would that even look like? The defense, particularly the front, would have played out of it’s mind and the secondary would have taken huge strides forward.

Chris Johnson finds a “turn back the clock” potion and Chris Ivory somehow stays healthy all year. Even in that scenario Geno Smith isn’t putting up big statistics. He’s managing the running game and playing well sure.

But statistics score fantasy points. Smith may have a bit more long term dynasty potential than Manuel but this season he’ll just be another second year dud.

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay

Mike Glennon is a player I was happy to snag in the later rounds of dynasty drafts last season. He projected as one of those players who could grow into a fantasy football starter with upside to be more.

Last season was kind of a roller coaster year as Glennon showed promise at times and looked like a failure at others. I did think it was enough to be the starter even under a new coach in 2014.

Maybe I was wrong. The Bucs have brought in Josh McCown but that doesn’t mean you should give up on Glennon just yet in dynasty leagues.

If Tampa Bay knew he wasn’t their guy I think you would have already seen a trade. Another positive is that the pass catchers in Tampa are like a basketball team. This year’s draft saw the Bucs take skywalker Mike Evans and the monsterous tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to pair with the physically impressive Vincent Jackson.

Whoever is starting in Tampa Bay will have a shot to produce some fantasy points even though the offense projects to be a bit run heavy. Glennon still won’t have much value in redraft leagues until he can win back the starting gig. However, I think he may have the most upside out of this group despite most likely also being a second year dud.

Running backs are coming up next where there will be some studs in the bunch.


Nate Hodges is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and radio host for Tennessee Sports Radio (Saturdays at noon eastern). Listen at His work can also be found at You can follow him on Twitter – @NateNFL

  • Icey Vick

    Manuel went into camp last season as the 2nd string QB and “shared” snaps all off season into the preseason. He missed the last 2 preseason games and came back early help the team so he was never truly healthy. It doesn’t help that they marched him out behind the likes of Eric Pears, Colin Brown and Dough Legursky. It clearly isn’t a recipe for success. People wonder why they dialed up short routes all season and it was because they couldn’t block defenders long enough for guys like Steve Johnson, Scott Chandler and rookie Robert Woods to actually get in and out their routes. Now sit back and actually think about the changes this season.
    1.) Manuel is getting 1st team reps immediately which will help him progress faster. He’s 100% healthy. He’s spent a half a month with QB guru and owner of Armed and Dangerous football Steve Calhoun so his footwork and accuracy will have improved. Despite knocking his accuracy, he still completed nearly 59% of his passes last season.
    2.) They actually have a big-play receiver in Sammy Watkins. Woods and Goodwin are a year older and they actually have offensive coaching help for the piteous Hackett to further develop their abilities. When Manuel had time to throw last year, the film clearly shows he was quite accurate delivering the ball to receivers coming out of their breaks.
    3.) They addressed the offensive line in the free agency and in the draft to bolster the offensive line’s talent pool. The 3 guys they drafted have their issues but they all would have had 1st or 2nd round grades aside those problems.
    4.) The offense as a whole has a full year in Hackett’s system under their belts and one of the youngest teams in the NFL is a bit older, a bit wiser and a bit better.
    5.) The defense should have improved with the free agency acquisitions and the draft so they shouldn’t be in the hole as early and as often.
    The Bills staff has done an excellent job putting talent in problems areas this off season and should immediately make a positive impact for EJ Manuel and company going forward. Will he be a stud? Perhaps not. Will he be a dud? While it may be for you guys “to envision Manuel ever leading your squad to a championship especially not in year two of his career,” he will most certainly not be a “dud.” I guess it’s as hard for you to envision that as it was for me to envision Alex Carrington having a breakout year in 2013 behind all of that DT depth or Nigel Bradham having a breakout year this season behind all of the linebacker depth. We’ll agree to disagree on this one.

    • LIMetfan22

      1) 100% healthy = QB leap? lol. Also 59% in only 10 games. Probably would have been much lower if he played the other 6. And he played horrible without any pressure which doesn’t bode well for his future accuracy.

      2) “When Manuel had time to throw last year, the film clearly shows he was quite accurate delivering the ball to receivers coming out of their breaks.”

      Pff_Neil disagrees. This was a direct quote from him a few weeks ago on Bills depth chart:

      “There were very few redeeming features in Manuel’s performances. Unlike Geno Smith, THERE WAS NO PROGRESSION, he showed the worst thing I think you can see in a rookie, a poor short game and even graded negatively when not under pressure.Now does this mean he can’t improve? Of course not but you have to be an optimist to predict better than this on anything other than faith.”

      but keep reaching.
      3) Bills OL in best case scenario will be tediously average. and saying that the OLmen the Bills drafted would have been 1st or 2nd round picks without their faults can literally be said about ANY draft pick. Ever.
      4) This can be said about literally any team also.
      5) The Bills defense is actually quite underrated and was good last year. However, you guys lost Mike Pettine to the Browns and he was basically the only reason your defense was any good. You’ve had talent on that side of the ball for awhile but have always been laughably below average. It will most likely be that case again under Schwartz.

      EJ was simply a gigantic reach and will most likely turn out to be a bust. Will he be a stud? it’s a longshot. Will he be a dud? Most likely. Kind of scary considering the Bills have no 1st rounder next year due to the trade for Sammy.

      Glennon and Geno have much better outlooks. Particularly Geno, who actually showed progression as PFF has stated many times. If any of these QB’s has the best shot to make The Leap it’s easily, and most likely will be, Geno.