Johnny Manziel Is Primed To Become Fantasy Football Star

By Sean Cordy
Johnny Manziel
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Where Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel will land in the draft is still unknown, with little for us to accurately predict. In March, mock drafts had the Texans taking him at the No. 1 selection.  But now, mocks are throwing him across the board.

The Cleveland Browns look like a likely destination for the young quarterback, but many are saying drafting him with the fourth overall pick is too high. On the flip side, their slot at No. 26 is too low, with the likes of the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers showing interest before that.

Even the Dallas Cowboys are reportedly in contention for the polarizing QB. But what is known is that wherever he lands (assuming he’s brought in as a starter), he’ll bring a new dimension to the team, making opposing defenses spread their focus and allow for more offensive success for both him and his team. Hear me out.

Manziel’s last year at A&M, he rushed for over 700 yards and nine touchdowns. Since 2000, only four QBs drafted in the NFL have ran for over 600 yards and eight TDs in their final year of collegiate play. Those players are as follows: Michael VickVince YoungCam Newton and Robert Griffin III.

All of these QBs made the Pro Bowl in their first season as well (note: Vick was limited his rookie year. I am accounting for his second year). But it is not just individual success that ties these players together.

Aside from Newton, this group of agile QBs also have the connection to aid their team’s starting running back’s productivity before the and after the new QB’s arrival as well.  Below is a chart comparing each player.

Rookie Year Primary RB Fantasy Points
Player Year Rushing Yards Rush TDs Before After Net Change
Robert Griffin 2012 815 7 120 241 121
Vince Young 2006 552 7 160 173 13
Michael Vick* 2001 777 8 179 184 5
Cam Newton 2011 706 14 286 191 -95
Johnny Manziel 2014 ? ? ? ? ?

*Second-year stats due to insufficient rookie data

There are two strong anomalies with Griffin and Newton. But when you average the data as a whole, the improvement of each rookie QBs starting running back is eleven fantasy points over the course of the season. 11 points is not all that much of an improvement, but it should be seen that the likelihood of a running back having a lesser season with a QB like Manziel is unlikely (with Newton being an exception.)

Also, each of these players were able to rush for at least 500 yards as well as seven touchdowns, adding at least 92 points to their fantasy production.

To add more data to the picture,  I’ve also averaged the net production change of lesser running first-year QBs into the equation: Ryan TannehillGeno SmithE.J. Manuel, Josh Freeman and Andrew Luck. Including these players lifts the average change in RB fantasy production to 13 points. Implying that having a QB with rushing ability (even if only in red zone situations such as Luck) adds reliability with a running back (or running back committee in Manuel’s case).

Barring Manziel being drafted by the Cowboys, or even the Patriots whom had visited with the A&M standout, expect Manziel to have a positive impact on his team’s running back (or running committee) as well as put up some nice numbers himself. Because remember, numbers never lie.

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