Fantasy Football 2014: Rookie Preview; Quarterbacks
Just when you thought the quarterback position couldn’t get any deeper…
In 2012, 21 signal callers eclipsed 200 standard ESPN fantasy points, the most ever. The arrival of rookie quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III added so much depth to the position, and now, it’s only going to get worse.
Or better, depending on how you look at it.
The 2014 draft class offers a handful of high-upside quarterbacks that can really, really be relevant in fantasy football. And because the position is filled with value, it’s easier to work around in terms of fantasy, seeing as you don’t at all need an elite signal caller. That’s why previewing these quarterbacks is so interesting for fantasy. Because not only are these guys going to be fantasy relevant, but odds are, they’ll be starting for you quite often.
The most polarizing player in college football, Johnny Manziel is going to be the best fantasy rookie.
It’s just going to happen.
If college football had seasonal fantasy leagues, Manziel would have been the equivalent to Peyton Manning in the NFL. An absolute no-brainer that not only had a massive ceiling, but a massive floor, too. During his two seasons at Texas A&M, Manziel rushed for nearly 2,200 yards and became just one of four quarterbacks to post 20/20 numbers in both rushing and passing touchdowns, joining the likes of Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. He provides that dual-threat ability that makes fantasy owners salivate. But he’s more than just a mobile quarterback. He improved as a passer during his tenure, finishing with the best accuracy among college quarterbacks on 3rd-down and on passes traveling 15 yards or more. Manziel draws comparisons to Russell Wilson in both play style and size, and Wilson clearly proved that smaller quarterbacks can not only play in the NFL, but thrive.
Height- 6’1″ Height- 5’11″
Weight- 210 lbs. Weight- 206 lbs.
40-time- 4.68. 40-time- 4.55
20-yard shuffle- 4.03 20-yard shuffle- 4.09
Some may think that talented wideout Mike Evans may have inflated his stats, but Rich Hribar mentions otherwise. Last year, Evans accounted for 22 percent of Manziel’s completions, 33 percent of his passing yards and 32 percent of his touchdowns, as Hribar states. Manziel did much more than just chuck it up to Evans and reap the benefits. And when you consider that Manziel could very well be playing for the Cleveland Browns next season, fantasy owners shouldn’t care about no longer having Evans to throw to, seeing as Josh Gordon will be on the outside. I’d love his fantasy prospects if he were to land in Cleveland. The Browns very quietly led the league in pass attempts per game last year (42.6) and Pro Football Focus ranks Cleveland’s offensive line as a top-12 unit. Also, new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be implementing an outside-zone rushing attack, which forces lineman to move laterally. Manziel, a mobile athlete who can get to the outside, would fit perfectly in this style of offense.
If Manziel is 1A, Bridgewater has to be 1B.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report stated that behind Andrew Luck, Bridgewater is the best quarterback he has ever scouted. Ever. Now I’m no draft expert by any means, but that’s a lot of quarterbacks he has Bridgewater ahead of, folks. Interestingly enough, the guy went from being a potential top-five draft pick to a late-first, all because he didn’t have the greatest Pro Day in the history of pro days. I’m not at all a believer in negative Pro Days telling us exactly who a guy is. Remember, JaMarcus Russell had an incredible Pro Day and, well, he’s still trying to get back into the league.
And don’t worry. Bridgewater is no JaMarcus Russell.
As you see, the guy improved in literally every single statistic in each of his three seasons at Louisville. And while Manziel is certainly the most exciting quarterback in this year’s class, Bridgewater may very well be the best.
- Patient, poised passer in the pocket. Alliteration.
- Accurate, possesses good mechanics.
- Has very good football I.Q.
- Great size for a quarterback.
- Tough, elusive runner with the ball.
- Has plenty of heart. Played broken wrist and sprained ankle in game vs Rutgers in 2012.
Bridgewater could very well find himself in Cleveland if the Browns go elsewhere with their first pick. They pick fourth and 26th overall, and for some odd reason, his draft stock seems to be falling. Bridgewater appears to be the most NFL-ready passer in this year’s class, and with his mechanics, as well as mobility, he’ll be a very fantasy relevant quarterback for years to come.
He may not be as exciting as Manziel or Bridgewater, but Blake Bortles is no slouch either. Fitting the mold of more of the traditional passer, Bortles has great size (6’5″, 230 lbs), but also has some very underrated mobility. Drawing comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger, Bortles has very strong improvisation skills to keep plays alive, while possessing terrific on-the-run accuracy. And it’s that size that allows him to withstand bigger hits and fight for extra yards.
Watch for the Minnesota Vikings to select him at some point in Thursday’s draft. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was high on him after his Pro Day and he’d be a solid fit for a team that really needs a quarterback. They could continue to rely on Adrian Peterson, while slowly developing Bortles into a potential franchise signal caller.