It’s crunch time for fantasy football owners with the NFL season just under a week away, but anyone drafting over the next few days now has all the information needed to draft a relatively injury-free team with no risk of drafting a backup’s backup in the hopes that player will win a starting job.
With five rookie quarterbacks now slated to start Week 1 for their teams, some fantasy owners may have a hard time avoiding adding a rookie signal caller to their roster. None are sure-fire weekly fantasy starters heading into the season, but making the right choice when choosing a rookie quarterback could make a difference when bye weeks become a factor and getting a win those weeks becomes a challenge.
In the interest of relative brevity, I will narrow it down to two rookie quarterbacks that are both on the radar of fantasy owners. Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins and Russell Wilson, the newly annointed starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks . So which one is a better draft day investment for fantasy football owners? I’ll break both guys down, then make my choice.
Robert Griffin III
The Redskins have hitched their future plans on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, as they gave up multiple draft picks to move up to #2 overall in last April’s draft and make Griffin their quarterback of the present and future.
Beyond the numbers he put up during his senior season at Baylor (4,293 passing yards, 37 touchdowns; 699 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns), Griffin’s physical tools are clear as he brings plenty of mobility and arm strength to the table. But it’s easy to overlook his experience while in college, with only a torn ACL during his sophomore season preventing him from being a four-year starter.
Griffin’s strengths should make him an excellent fit for the Redskins’ offensive system, and the team added wide receiver Pierre Garcon in free agency to go along with a capable tight end in Fred Davis. Beyond that the wide receiver group in Washington is not particularly proven beyond Santana Moss, but a deep group of running backs (Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Tim Hightower, Alfred Morris) bodes well for the overall productivity of the Washington offense.
Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll said early on that Wilson had a chance to earn the starting job, and with an excellent preseason he did just that despite the team’s offseason investment in Matt Flynn. Wilson has mobility and athleticism that Flynn doesn’t, so the fact he will start Week 1 is good news for the Seattle offense and any fantasy owner that has a Seahawk on their roster.
Wilson’s intangibles are noteworthy, as he was selected as a captain by his teammates during his lone season at the University of Wisconsin in 2011 after transfering from North Carolina State. He may also have a bit of a chip on his shoulder after falling to the third round in April’s draft due to a perceived lack of ideal NFL size. The fact Wilson has a legit No. 1 wide receiver at his disposal, assuming Sidney Rice is and can stay healthy, is also a major plus.
Griffin III and Wilson are both worth considering as a QB2 in single season fantasy leagues, and both are obviously excellent options in keeper leagues. Both guys should have a long leash this season if they struggle, though it’s fair to mention Flynn and Seattle’s investment in him as opposed to Rex Grossman being Griffin’s primary backup.
This choice comes down to what will be required to get each guy on draft day. Griffin has a better chance to be overdrafted based on the rookie season Cam Newton put together in 2011 and the heightened expectations of entering the league as a Heisman Trophy winner. Playing in a tough NFC East also could hurt Griffin, while Wilson will play in the much weaker NFC West all season if he holds on to the starting job.
So Wilson is my choice, since he can most certainly be had with a late-round draft pick or a final dollar or two at auction. The difference in draft day price compared to Griffin is far more than the difference in upside for this season in my opinion. That said, Griffin is the better option right now if you are in a keeper or dynasty league and is worthy of a significant investment in those formats.