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Targeting Rookies in Redraft Leagues: Quarterback Edition

SHOULD REDRAFT PLAYERS TARGET ROOKIES? IN THIS SERIES, DAVE CABAN REVIEWS ROOKIE DATA FROM THE PAST TEN YEARS TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION.

 

In part 1 of this series, we concluded that rookies drafted outside of Round 3 of the NFL draft have very low odds of being “usable” in redraft leagues. As a reminder, a usable player is one who scored 160 or more PPR points over the course of their rookie season.

Even those drafted in the high-leverage rounds have trouble surpassing this threshold. Between 2008 and 2018, 302 players at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions were drafted prior to pick 97 of the NFL Draft. Of these 302 players, only 71 mustered 160 points. As you might expect, QBs accounted for the largest percentage of these 71 players.

Rookie QB Success Rates

 
Draft Picks Total Players Above 160 Threshold %
1 – 32 32 19 59%
33 – 64 11 4 36%
65 – 96 8 2 25%
97 – 128 5 0 0%
129 -161 4 1 25%
162 – 193 6 0 0%
194 + 22 0 0%
Total 88 26 30%

Round 1 QBs are the most successful of all rookies. This is intuitive. If they see playing time, accruing 10 points per game (PPG) is a highly achievable task and quarterbacks drafted in Round 1 commonly go to teams in dire need of a passer. In general, QBs score more fantasy points than any other position. This renders our cutoff of 10 PPG less meaningful when considering QB than at other positions. Let’s increase our cutoff to 240 points which equates to 15 PPG in a 16 game season.

 
Draft Picks Total Players Above 160 Threshold %
1 – 32 32 7 22%
33 – 64 11 1 9%
65 – 96 8 1 13%
97 – 128 5 0 0%
129 -161 4 1 25%
162 – 193 6 0 0%
194 + 22 0 0%
Total 88 10 11%

This change in methodology creates a significantly different picture. The hit rate for Round 1 passers falls 37 percent under these conditions as less than a fourth of Round 1 rookie QBs have managed to reach the 240 points. This is likely because few players are thrust into the starter role in Week 1. As mentioned in the introduction to this series, that’s not to say that all players not identified as hits were never usable. Rather, they likely weren’t usable for the entire season. As such, they probably don’t represent the best use of a draft pick in seasonal leagues.

Since 2018, only four rookie QBs have scored more than 320 points — Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Dak Prescott, and Andrew Luck.1 When using calculated PPG, this total increases to six with the additions of DeShaun Watson and Marcus Mariota who surpassed a weekly average of 20 points.

Over the last 10 seasons, the QB12 has averaged 17 PPG. Of the 51 passers drafted before pick 97 within this timeframe, only nine (18 percent) scored 17 or more points PPG.

2019 Implications

As I discussed on RotoViz Radio, Kyler Murray is a fantastic prospect and I do expect him to be an instant fantasy contributor. Since 2008, 15 passers were drafted in the first five picks of the NFL draft. Seven of these players scored 240 or more points and four averaged more than 20 PPG. All four of these players, Newton, Griffen III, Luck and, Mariota possessed rushing ability. Given these rates, Arizona’s anticipated focus on the passing game, and Murray’s upside as a rusher, I will be targeting him in 2019 redraft leagues.

While I like Dwayne Haskins, given his situation in Washington and the hit rates of rookie QBs, I won’t be considering him during 2019 drafts. The only other QB prospect in the 2019 class that I found intriguing was Will Grier. Despite concerns surrounding Netwon’s shoulder, Grier is not a viable option this season. As a result, Murray is the only rookie QB that will be suiting up for me this fall.

Player by Player Results

PLAYERPOSSEASDRAFT PICKGAMESPPR
Cam NewtonQB2011116410.9
Robert GriffinQB2012215365
Dak PrescottQB201613516331
Andrew LuckQB2012116330.2
Jameis WinstonQB2015116317.7
Russell WilsonQB20127516312.5
Baker MayfieldQB2018114279.4
Carson WentzQB2016216253.8
Marcus MariotaQB2015212245.2
Andy DaltonQB20113516245.1
Matt RyanQB2008316236.5
Geno SmithQB20133916233.2
Derek CarrQB20143616231.7
Josh AllenQB2018712230.8
Sam BradfordQB2010116229.5
Ryan TannehillQB2012816219.8
DeShone KizerQB20175215216.6
Joe FlaccoQB20081816209.9
Teddy BridgewaterQB20143213208.9
Brandon WeedenQB20122215201.9
Sam DarnoldQB2018313201.1
Blake BortlesQB2014314197
Mike GlennonQB20137313192.5
Deshaun WatsonQB2017127183.9
Lamar JacksonQB20183216177.8
Mitchell TrubiskyQB2017212160.3
Mark SanchezQB2009515157.5
E.J. ManuelQB20131610155.2
Matthew StaffordQB2009110148.2
Blaine GabbertQB20111015146.2
Josh RosenQB20181014143.7
Christian PonderQB20111211140.6
Josh FreemanQB20091710112.9
Nick FolesQB2012887109
C.J. BeathardQB20171046107.1
Colt McCoyQB2010858106.7
Tim TebowQB2010257105.4
Matt McGloinQB2013329795
Cody KesslerQB201693990.8
Zach MettenbergerQB2014178789
Jimmy ClausenQB2010481377.5
Jared GoffQB20161768.1
T.J. YatesQB2011329659.4
Jake LockerQB20118554.7
John SkeltonQB2010329546
Joe WebbQB2010329441.9
Kirk CousinsQB2012102335.5
Jacoby BrissettQB201691334.3
Paxton LynchQB201626333.4
Kyle AllenQB2018329229.2
Stephen McGeeQB2010329227.3
Ryan LindleyQB2012185624.3
Keith NullQB2009196422.9
Kevin HoganQB2016162317.7
Brian HoyerQB2009329415.6
Jeff TuelQB2013329215.2
Jimmy GaroppoloQB201462514
Johnny ManzielQB201422413.7
Patrick MahomesQB201710113.2
Nathan PetermanQB2017171412.9
Max HallQB2010329610
Connor CookQB201610019.5
Trevone BoykinQB201632949.1
Pat WhiteQB200944108.1
Connor ShawQB201432917.8
Matt BarkleyQB20139836.8
Richard BartelQB201032915.5
Tom SavageQB201413523.8
Chad HenneQB20085713.4
Brian BrohmQB20095623
Cardale JonesQB201613912.7
Tony PikeQB201020412.4
Tyler PalkoQB201032922.3
Rusty SmithQB201017622
Sean MannionQB20158911.6
Colin KaepernickQB20113621.6
Cooper RushQB201732921.4
Tyrod TaylorQB201118021.1
Matt FlynnQB200820940.7
Kevin O'ConnellQB20089420.6
Curtis PainterQB200920120.6
Tom BrandstaterQB201132910
Trevor SiemianQB20152501-0.1
Dennis DixonQB20081561-0.2
Brock OsweilerQB2012575-0.7
Levi BrownQB20103291-0.8
Caleb HanieQB20093292-1.5
Kyle LaulettaQB20181081-2.2
Image Credit: Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Kyler Murray.

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  1. 20 PPG if playing a full season.  (back)

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