With the 2014 NFL Draft just a few days away, it’s important to look back quickly to examine what the 2013 Fantasy rookie quarterbacks class did for Fantasy Football owners, and how they compared to past first-year players.
This upcoming class is chock full of talent, with players like Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater expected to be drafted in the first couple rounds – among others, like David Carr’s younger brother, Derek Carr.
With that in mind, Fantasy owners have grown to expect a certain amount of success from rookie QBs – especially ones with the ability to run.
Before ranking the 2014 class, it’s important that we go back and look at the 2013 Fantasy Rookie QBs, to see where they ranked against past rookie quarterback classes.
Top 12 NFL Fantasy Rookie Quarterbacks Since 1991
As I go back through all of these stats and discuss the good and the bad over the past 20-plus seasons, know that NFL.com does not list rookies separately from veterans in their stats before 1991. So I’d love to say these are the best scores in history, but we know that Dan Marino would have ranked inside the top 12 from his 1983 rookie season.
Marino started nine games (played in 11) and threw for 2,210 yards and 20 touchdowns, while also (surprisingly) rushing for 45 yards and two touchdowns. That gives him a final Fantasy stat line of 195 Fantasy points, which ranks him above Mike Glennon and tied with Matt Ryan on this list.
(Players in bold indicates that these players are coming off their rookie seasons from 2013. Fantasy scoring is as follows: 1 pt for every 25 passing yards and 10 rushing yards, 4 pts for passing touchdowns, 6 for rushing touchdowns and minus-2 for interceptions.)
2. Robert Griffin III, Washington – 2012 — 321 Fantasy points
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis – 2012 – 286 Fantasy points
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle – 2012 — 281 Fantasy points
5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati — 2011 — 211 Fantasy points
6. Vince Young, Tennessee — 2006 — 207 Fantasy points
7. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis — 1998 – 203 Fantasy points
8. Geno Smith, N.Y. Jets – 2013 – 200 Fantasy points
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta – 2008 — 196 Fantasy points
10. Sam Bradford, St. Louis — 2010 – 194 Fantasy points
11. Ryan Tannehill, Miami — 2012 — 186 Fantasy points
12. Joe Flacco, Baltimore – 2008 — 180 Fantasy points
13. Rick Mirer, Seattle — 1993 — 179 Fantasy points
14. Dan Marino, Miami – 1983 – 172 Fantasy points
15. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh – 2004 – 171 Fantasy points
Top Rookie Quarterbacks by Year Since 1991
1991 – Todd Marinovich (RoboQB) had three touchdown passes, but no rookie QB had more than 56 pass attempts that season!
1992 – Tommy Maddox, the future XFL MVP, led rookie signal-callers with 757 passing yards and five touchdowns. That’s it.
1993 – Finally, some rookie QB Fantasy help. Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer both threw for over 2,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. (I actually drafted Mirer in our Fantasy Rookie Draft that year as a keeper … Not smart with Jerome Bettis available.)
1994 – Future politician Heath Shuler led his rookie class with 1,658 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. (Trent Dilfer was busy throwing six interceptions in 82 attempts for my creamsicle Buccaneers.)
1995 – Kerry Collins burst onto the scene as the Panthers’ first pick (after they traded the top overall pick away to Cincinnati (Ki-Jana Carter). Collins threw for 2,717 yards and 14 touchdowns (19 INTs). Steve McNair threw for just 569 yards in a backup role.
1996 – Tony Banks threw 15 touchdown passes (and 15 interceptions), with 2,544 yards for the Rams in his rookie year. St. Louis had to be much happier with that rookie over rookie RB Lawrence Phillips, who rushed for 632 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie year.
1997 – Jake Plummer led the position among freshmen, with 2,203 yards and 15 touchdowns with the Cardinals.
1998 – Hello, Peyton Manning. He burst onto the scene with 3,739 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes and 28 interceptions. Andrew Luck recently broke his rookie passing yardage mark. Interestingly, Ryan Leaf, the No. 2 overall pick, was third in rookie passing behind Detroit’s Charlie Batch.
1999 – Tim Couch threw for 2,447 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 picks, which is surprising to me. I don’t remember him throwing for that many yards. This was also the year that rookie QBs Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith took over for their teams, as these three QBs went 1-2-3 in the draft. But it was rookie QB Shaun King that got his team to the NFC Championship game against the Rams.
2000 – The rookie QB boon didn’t last into the new millennium, as Falcons rookie QB Doug Johnson led the position with just 67 attempts for 406 yards and two touchdown passes.
2001 – Even in 2001, it took a 29-year-old rookie QB to lead the group, as Chris Weinke threw for 2,931 yards, 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also rushed for six touchdowns! Michael Vick threw for 785 yards and rushed for another 289 yards.
2002 – For the fourth time in five years, the No. 1 overall draft pick was a quarterback. But David Carr would prove to be more like Tim Couch than Peyton Manning.
2003 – Byron Leftwitch led all rookie QBs by far that season. He threw for 2,819 yards, 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Kyle Boller and Rex Grossman weren’t much competition.
2004 – This was a great rookie QB year – not just because it gave us Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, but because it gave us 11 rookie quarterbacks that threw at least five passes that year. That’s a lot.
2005 – Kyle Orton took over under center for the Bears, throwing for 1,869 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions as the leading rookie. (Alex Smith threw for 875 yards as the No. 1 overall pick, and Aaron Rodgers got just 16 pass attempts behind Brett Favre.)
2006 – Matt Leinart andVince Young led this rookie class, both throwing for over 2,100 yards and 11 touchdowns. Young also rushed for over 550 yards, with seven touchdown runs. Jay Cutler, the class of this group eventually, threw for 1,001 yards and nine touchdowns.
2007 – Trent Edwardsled this lackluster class with 1,630 yards and seven touchdown passes. But even worse was No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell’s 373 yards on 66 attempts. Also interesting, rookie Kevin Kolb didn’t get one pass attempt that season.
2008 – This was a big year for two rookie quarterbacks, with Matt Ryan andJoe Flacco throwing over 425 passes each. Ryan finished with 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while Flacco was a not-too-shabby 2,971 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 picks.
2009 – Three other quarterbacks burst onto the scene in 2009, as Mark Sanchez led the group with 2,444 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions (a harbinger of things to come?). Matthew Stafford, however, threw for 2,267 yards, with 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in just 10 games. And Josh Freeman threw for 1,855 yards, 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
2010 – Sam Bradford was the cream of this rookie crop, throwing for 3,512 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Fellow rookie QBs Colt McCoy,Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow didn’t eclipse 1,600 passing yards, or six TD passes. (Although, Tebow did rush for six touchdowns in Denver.) Personally, I don’t think Bradford gets much credit for this rookie performance. Granted, he threw the ball 590 times, but he also completed 60 percent of his passes. John Skelton was the fifth-best Fantasy rookie QB in 2010.
2011 – Cam Newton set the new standard for rookie Fantasy quarterbacks, throwing for 4,051 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed for 706 yards and an amazing 14 touchdowns. Hidden by Newton’s big year is Andy Dalton, who threw for 3,398 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder also threw for over 1,800 yards and 12 touchdowns to round out one of the most productive Fantasy rookie passing groups ever.
2012 – After 15 games, Luck has already broken Manning’s record for passing yards by a rookie, but even more amazing is how Russell Wilson has played in Seattle. He leads all rookies with 25 passing touchdowns. RG3 has been amazing, and he’s officially in on the discussion for Best Fantasy Rookie QB Ever, but let’s not forget what Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill have done for their teams, throwing for over 3,000 yards themselves.
2013 — Even though Geno Smith had some decent running yardage, he was still just a top-20 Fantasy Quarterback. He nearly scored as many Fantasy points in his rookie season (200) as Peyton Manning did in 1998 (203). As a matter of fact, only seven other rookie quarterbacks scored more fantasy points in their first year than Smith. Unfortunately, everyone is scoring more, so Smith still finished the season ranked just 20th among all QBs. There was one long stretch toward the end of the Fantasy regular season, where Smith completed fewer than 10 passes in four consecutive games from Week 9-13. Mike Glennon and E.J. Manuel were the other notable rookie QBs this season, but the former didn’t start games until a few weeks into teh season, and the latter missed some time with injuries. Manuel was the only one expected to keep a starting job entering 2014.
As you can see, the 2013 class of quarterbacks was less than stellar, especially when compared to the previous two seasons. When you look at Fantasy rookie quarterbacks through recent history, you realize, the NFL is handing the keys to the youngsters more and more. Keep that in mind for 2014!
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.