Dynasty Watch: The QB Youth Movement

Dynasty rankings are in constant flux and staying informed is the key to making roster decisions for your fantasy football team. The Dynasty Watch series highlights some key takeaways from each week’s games.

With how easily the quarterback position can be streamed in redraft leagues, it’s easy to overlook the position in dynasty. With deeper rosters and a wider variety of exotic formats, many dynasty leagues have waiver wires devoid of useful QBs. In Superflex and 2QB leagues, locking up two elite options at QB can give you an advantage over your leaguemates for years as you can focus roster space and draft capital on other positions while they chase marginal starters and churn through the Nathan Peterman’s of the world.

Despite QB being the position that elite players can play the longest, lasting late into their 30s or early 40s, football is still a young man’s game, and the bulk of scoring at the position comes from players on their rookie deals.

QBPPRPCT

Though scoring for players in their first five seasons has ebbed over the past two years, the scoring for players in their first two seasons is exploding. The effect of weak draft classes from 2013 through 2015 is evident here.

  • There isn’t a single starter that came out of the 2013 class.
  • 2018 began with three starters from the 2014 class, but Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, and the injured Jimmy Garrapollo are probably on waivers right now in most shallow leagues.
  • The 2015 class had the fewest QBs drafted in 20 years. The two starters from the class are off to rocky starts, as Jameis Winston began the year suspended and Marcus Mariota owners would have been better off if he had been suspended too.

The last three draft classes on the other hand have started paying immediate dividends. With Sam Darnold the only rookie QB to start Week 1, it’s likely that by the end of the season we’ll be looking at the best year for QBs in their first two seasons since at least 2014.

There’s one common thread with the top QBs in the recent classes: They’re tied to aggressive offensive coaches.

What would Jared Goff be without Sean McVay? If Patrick Mahomes had been drafted by the 2017 John Fox Bears, would you have been able to pick him up off the waiver wire last year? That’s what happened with Mitchell Trubisky, who is currently the QB9 in points per game despite beating only Jay Cutler and Brett Hundley in that category last season.1

With that in mind, here are two young QBs with a chance to see their dynasty value bounce back if their situation improves.

Dak Prescott

DakPrescottSeasons

Was Dak Prescott’s strong rookie year fool’s gold for the Cowboys, with a dominant offensive line tricking them into believing they had found their next star at QB? That’s certainly a possibility. The Cowboys have ranked 23rd, 26th, and 29th in passing yards with Prescott at the helm, and while much of that can be attributed to a change in offensive philosophy with Ezekiel Elliot on the team, it’s still a sharp decline from when Jason Garrett was coaching a healthy Tony Romo.

Prescott is the lowest QB draft pick to be a long-term starter since Tyrod Taylor was a sixth-round pick in 2011, and Taylor is now on the bench and may spend the rest of his career as a backup. Like Taylor, Prescott has never been a high-volume passer and has sustained his fantasy value through strong rushing production.TyrodTaylorSeasonsPrescott’s success has come at the beginning of his career though, whereas Tyrod was already in his fifth year before he became a starter. What’s clear though is that for both QBs their rushing floors ensure they don’t have to be great passers to make them solid plays in fantasy as long as they’re starters.

So is Prescott a victim of a bad offensive scheme with a group of wide receivers and tight ends that would barely see the field for many teams? Or is he a mediocre QB propped up by an outlier rookie year?

I think it could be a little bit of both, but what interests me the most is how cheap it is to gamble on the problem being the offense more than Prescott himself. I’ve seen Prescott dropped in shallow leagues and traded for a bag of balls in others.

The wild card here is what the Cowboys will do with Jason Garrett. 2019 will be the final year of his current contract, and there have been recent talks about an extension that Jerry Jones sort-of, kind-of, maybe shot down. Even if Garrett returns, the Cowboys could move on from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who would also be entering a lame-duck year in 2019.

Ultimately, Prescott is currently in one of the worst situations in the league. There’s no guarantee it will improve soon, but his value could rebound quickly if it does. Buy now while the chance to find out is dirt cheap.

Josh Rosen

While the time to buy him was technically before Mike McCoy was fired, the beating Josh Rosen took on Thursday night – with multiple turnovers in a nationally televised game – probably keeps the buy window open a bit longer. Rosen hasn’t set the world on fire thus far, but he also hadn’t truly struggled until running into a rejuvenated Denver defense on a short week.

JoshRosenWk3-7

With just four starts so far, there’s not a whole lot we can say definitively about how good Rosen can be as an NFL QB, however he was an excellent prospect and could have been the first QB drafted if he weren’t part of a draft class that had more first round picks than any class since 1999. Rosen is also among the youngest rookie QBs since the year 2000, joining a group of only eight other QBs to start as 21-year-olds.

PLAYERSEASATTSYDSTDSAYAPPR
Jameis Winston20155354047227.1317.65
DeShone Kizer20174762894114.5216.6
Matthew Stafford20093772267134.3148.15
Josh Freeman20092901856104.3112.9
Sam Darnold2018179134696.891.4
Alex Smith200516984612.234.6
Mike Vick200111378526.176.15
Josh Rosen20189062626.437.5
Lamar Jackson201852404.810.6

What makes Rosen so attractive is that we already know his situation has a chance to improve, as Mike McCoy won’t be there to destroy the souls of Arizona fans or fantasy owners any longer.2

As Hasan Rahim pointed out, McCoy wasn’t even a hire by Steve Wilks. He was brought in by the general manager and ownership group,3 so there’s nothing to suggest Wilks has any desire to maintain any part of the offensive philosophy McCoy brought to the team.

If someone tells you they know how good Byron Leftwich will be as an offensive coordinator, they’re lying to you. But what we do know is that he played in Bruce Arians’ system, was hand-picked by Arians and learned under him for two years, and has made a speedy ascent to his current position. Arians ran a fantasy-friendly offense when he wasn’t forced to start third-string QBs, so there’s hope that if Leftwich merely follows in his footsteps, he can revive the offense to some degree.

Leftwich doesn’t need to be great to do better than McCoy though. Entering the Week 7 game against the Broncos, the Cardinals were dead last in several offensive categories. There’s nowhere to go but up.

CardinalsOffenseWeek6

There are problems beyond coaching to be fixed. The offensive line needs work. Larry Fitzgerald may retire at any time, and outside of David Johnson and rookie Christian Kirk, the pass-catchers on the team are nothing to get excited about. Rosen is still a young rookie who will likely take time to adjust.

But the reality is that Rosen may never get any cheaper than he is right now. Send out an offer to his owner now, or try during his Week 9 bye if an owner in a 2QB league doesn’t have another viable starter to plug in.

Bonus: Lamar Jackson

There’s a good chance the Lamar Jackson owner drafted him with the knowledge he’d likely have to sit on him for a year before he got his shot, so they may not be looking to sell. Joe Flacco has played reasonably well this season though after a disastrous 2017, and Jackson’s preseason wasn’t as electric as some had hoped. His rushing upside is enormous if he ever takes over as the starter. If his owner is in need of immediate help and you can afford to stash a player, he’s an option you should explore.

Sleeper of the Week

Each week I’ll use this space to highlight a player for deep dynasty leagues where every player already getting significant touches is already owned.

The Jets are scraping the bottom of the barrel at WR. Quincy Enunwa is out this week and Terrelle Pryor is doubtful. That means behind Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, the Jets will be forced to turn to veteran Andre Roberts or a third-year player with little on his resume, Charone Peake. Rather than looking at Peake, I think this is a good opportunity to remember that Chris Herndon is one of the best young weapon the Jets have on their roster.

Anderson and Enunwa are entering their third and fourth years respectively. Other than drafting Sam Darnold third overall in 2018,4 the Jets have focused on defense in the early rounds of the draft for years now. With Ardarius Stewart and Chad Hansen both released, Herndon is now the highest drafted TE/RB/WR on the Jets roster.5

With their WR depth hurting, the Jets could turn more to their TEs. While they have used multiple TEs throughout the year, Herndon has had the most opportunity of the group.

JetsOffenseWeek6

 

Herndon caught his first TD of the season last week, and his average depth of target (aDOT) shows that he is being used in a different fashion than the other TEs on the roster thus far. It’s not fair to expect much out of any rookie TE, and with snaps being split up, Herndon likely won’t be startable this season outside of extremely deep leagues. However as the season goes on he will have a chance to cement himself atop the depth chart at the position.

In most formats, you probably don’t need to worry about stashing a deep TE like Herndon. However with the TE apocalypse currently making the position a barren hellscape, Herndon is a guy that should be on your radar. The TE model liked his well-rounded profile, and if Darnold emerges, Herndon could develop alongside him as a trusted weapon in the passing game.

2018 TE log odds3

 

 

  1. Among QBs with 10 or more starts  (back)
  2. Let’s just say I’ve been a wee bit upset about David Johnson’s usage thus far.  (back)
  3. Editor’s Note: A general manager who should also be feeling some serious heat.  (back)
  4. And the disastrous Christian Hackenberg in the second round of 2016.  (back)
  5. We’ll ignore 30-year-old Roberts who is a return man at this point in his career, and Pryor was drafted as a QB in the supplemental draft, so he desn’t count either. Just roll with it here guys.  (back)