Before we get into our 2018 Rookie Quarterback Rankings, we want to look back at the best Fantasy Football rookie quarterbacks ever, just to give the new first-year phenoms something to be measured against.
It’s interesting to me what first-year players can do in their first years at different positions in the NFL, which makes me track them from year to year.
The 2018 rookie quarterback crop broke records at the 2018 NFL Draft, but they’re all in precarious positions that might not make them feasible from a Fantasy Football perspective for another year or so.
Then again, we have had a rookie quarterback among the top-13 Fantasy quarterbacks in five of the past seven seasons — and we’ve had top-20 quarterbacks that were rookies in each of the past eight years!
This article helps compare rookie quarterbacks against each other, even though, some years are more QB-friendly than other years. I looked at the best Fantasy Football rookie quarterbacks ever (or really, just dating back a few decades), to see if last season’s rookie QBs make the leaders list, and project to see if this year’s crop will have any candidates.
We start off this series with a look at the best signal-callers in their rookie years, and then we compare the most recent crop for Fantasy Football owners before looking at this year’s shiny new arrivals.
Best Fantasy Football Rookie Quarterbacks EverFantasy Football point totals were taken from Pro-Football-Reference.com.
|Rank||Year||Rookie Quarterbacks||Fan.Pts||QB Rank|
|1||2011||Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers||375||4|
|2||2012||Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins||318||7|
|3||2016||Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys||293||6|
|4||2015||Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers||279||13|
|5||2012||Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks||278||11|
|6||2012||Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts||276||10|
|7||2016||Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles||217||24|
|8||2011||Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals||213||16|
|9||1998||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts||210||8|
|10||2006||Vince Young, Tennessee Titans||209||12|
|11||2008||Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons||198||15|
|12||2010||Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams||195||20|
|13||2013||Geno Smith, N.Y. Jets||194||20|
|14||2014||Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders||192||20|
|15||2008||Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens||187||19|
|16||2012||Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins||183||24|
|17||2014||Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings||180||22|
|18||2017||DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns||176||24|
|19||2014||Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars||174||24|
|20||2017||Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans||173||27|
|21||1983||Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins||173||14|
|22||2004||Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers||171||21|
|23||2012||Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns||166||25|
|24||2013||Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers||158||15|
|25||1998||Charlie Batch, Detroit Lions||148||21|
Newton blew the doors off the rookie room, changing how rookie quarterbacks would be compared for the next decade. He was the first rookie quarterback to throw and run for 10 touchdowns in one season. He also had the most total touchdowns by a rookie NFL player (35). He is the king of all rookie Fantasy quarterbacks, and it’s going to be tough for someone to pass him.
Although, RGIII was not too far off from catching Newton, just one year later! That 2012 rookie season in Washington was magical (remember Thanksgiving Day against the Cowboys!?!), and he completely overshadowed what Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson did. For a while, we thought Griffin might have a chance at catching Newton.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott took over the “most unexpected to be on the top rookie QBs list” title from Russell Wilson.
Of course, Luck followed up a great rookie season with a stellar sophomore and junior season, pushing him to the top of Fantasy quarterback rankings for several years — until his recent shoulder issues.
In our Fantasy Football reality, Winston wasn’t even worth starting regularly in Fantasy play in 2015, but the NFL passing game is so out of control now, his fourth-best rookie totals ranked just 13th among all QBs in ’15.
Can you believe that Griffin, Luck and Wilson were among the sixth-best Fantasy Football rookie quarterbacks all from the same year? Take that, NFL QB Draft Class of 1983! Wilson posted the fifth-best Fantasy rookie season by a QB ever – yet he was still just third-best in his 2012 class!
It’s crazy to think Peyton Manning and Charlie Batch were NFL rookie QBs in the same year, and Batch even had a decent first season with Detroit, finishing 21st among the best rookie quarterbacks in history.
Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, The Red Rifle, was second to Cam Newton that 2011 season, so it’s kind of understandable that his rookie season is often forgotten.
For Marino, it’s tough to imagine one of the greatest seasons by a rookie quarterback now ranks 21st in Fantasy Football history. Literally, all rookie quarterbacks for the next 30 seasons were compared to what Marino did in 1983. And he still ranks as the best sophomore quarterback for his 48-touchdown season, so there’s that!
Obviously, the increase in the passing game over the past decade or so has led to way too many over-appreciated rookie quarterbacks, who quickly fall off. (How are Ryan Tannehill and Geno Smith on this list above Marino!?!)
2018 Rookie Quarterback Fantasy Football Rankings
This coming 2018 Fantasy Football season has good rookie quarterbacks, but they each have issues that might impede them for most of the season. Amazingly, four of the top 10 picks were quarterbacks for the first time since 1949! In last year’s draft, three of the top 12 picks were quarterbacks! Who will have the best Best Fantasy Football Rookie Quarterbacks in 2018?
- Baker Mayfield, Cleveland: Despite not being a fan of his, I have to rank him first because he has a much greater chance of starting the season as the top QB, and he has skills running the ball if the play breaks down. Plus, he has — by far — the best supporting cast around him, with Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry and David Njoku. Will he be one of the best rookie quarterbacks in history?… No.
- Josh Allen, Bufffalo: He has a big arm, but not much accuracy, but again, he should have an easier opportunity to start over some of the other freshman QBs. No one’s going to be drafting any rookie not named Mayfield, so the rest of these guys are a mish-mash of possible waiver-wire pickups in larger leagues.
- Sam Darnold, N.Y. Jets: To me, this guy has the look of a franchise quarterback more than any of the other quarterbacks. He had some issues with turnovers, and that can’t happen with this Jets team, or this offense will be stifled from the get-go. He also has to overcome both Josh McCown and a revitalized Teddy Bridgewater. I see Darnold as a midseason Jets starter, but a 2019 Fantasy option as a backup Fantasy QB.
- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore: If you missed out on Deshaun Watson off the waiver wire last season, there’s no doubt you’ll be chomping at the bit to get Jackson the minute the Ravens give him a shot. He could be a top-15 Fantasy QB if he gets the nod.
- Josh Rosen, Arizona: I’m as surprised as you to see Rosen this far down, but he’s behind Sam Bradford. Much like Jackson, he’ll need something to happen to the starter before he can overcome him, unlike the other quarterbacks, who can just overtake their starter. Unlike Jackson, Rosen can’t score many Fantasy points with his legs.
- Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh: Sure, he could absolutely be Fantasy viable if Big Ben goes down. Heck, he’ll have the best receiver in the game and arguably one of the best pass-catching running backs at his disposal.
- Mike White, Dallas
- Luke Falk, Tennessee
- Kyle Lauletta, N.Y. Giants
Looking Back at Our Final 2017 Rookie QB Fantasy Rankings
The 2017 rookie quarterbacks essentially went how we expected — as far as the order of their finish (Beathard was a bit better, though). With that said, no one was expecting Deshaun Watson to be the best Fantasy quarterback by Week 8 — just before a knee injury ended his season early.
- Deshaun Watson, Houston (finished 2nd)
- Deshone Kizer, Cleveland Browns (1st)
- Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears (3rd)
- Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (6th)
- Davis Webb, N.Y. Giants
- C.J. Beathard, San Francisco (4th)
- Joshua Dobbs, Pittsburgh
- Nathan Peterman, Buffalo (5th)
Looking Back at Our Final 2016 Rookie QB Fantasy Rankings
The 2016 rookie quarterbacks weren’t expected to much, and outside of Prescott, they certainly proved us right. I would like someone to note that we did have Prescott rated fourth-best in June — and he ended up as one of the best rookie quarterbacks in history! That’s well before he had the starting job, obviously. Cody Kessler actually ended up with the third-best rookie QB Fantasy season after Prescott and Wentz!
- Jared Goff, L.A. Rams
- Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
- Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos
- Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
- Christian Hackenburg, N.Y. Jets
- Cardale Jones, Buffalo
- Cody Kessler, Cleveland
Looking Back at Our Final 2015 Rookie QB Fantasy Rankings
But really, after looking at the rookie quarterback crop that came in 2015, it’s tough to think that more than three or four of these 2017 QBs will do much from a Fantasy perspective. Here are the final Fantasy numbers off the 2015 Rookie Quarterbacks. (Fantasy Football points are from standard non-PPR leagues.)
- Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay: 332 Fantasy points (ranked 13th among QBs)
- Marcus Mariota ,Tennessee: 254 pts (ranked 22nd)
- Sean Mannion, St. Louis: 1.55 pts (ranked 66th)
Opportunity often covers over talent in the Fantasy Football world, so many of the best Fantasy Football rookie quarterbacks ever are just proof that some of these guys were just given opportunities before other excellent quarterbacks. We’ll update this list every year, so bookmark it and come back again!
- Best Fantasy Rookie Running Backs Ever
- Best Fantasy Rookie Wide Receivers Ever
- Best Fantasy Rookie Tight Ends Ever
The best Fantasy Football rookie quarterbacks ever is bound to be a list that is ever-changing, with a lot of movement every single season. Is it possible Mayfield, Darnold and Co. can breach the top 10? Probably not, but recent history has shown us, we’ll likely see at least one of these guys in the top 20 next season. Photo Credit: NFLFan18
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.