Ranking the 2019 Rookie QBs

By Kyle Dvorchak
Kyle Dvorchak

Quarterback is easily the most difficult position to rank because talent is such a massive factor in their prognosis. Compare that to the running back position where volume is the biggest input for fantasy production. Quarterback talent is difficult to measure as well. Wide receivers have some great stats that predict future success like breakout age and college dominator. They aren't the end of analysis but they are the closest stat we have to a skeleton. Evaluations of passers are much more nebulous but when all else fails, fall back to pure accuracy and decision making.

Air raid pioneer, Gardner Minshew college coach, and current Mississippi State head coach on inaccurate passers, "The thing that's amazing to me, is that after all of high school he's not accurate, and now all of a sudden you're special and you're going to make him accurate? And then after college he's not accurate, and you're special and you're going to make him accurate? I just haven't seen that happen."

1. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals,1st NFL Draft Pick

3,722 yards, 20 TD, 64.4% completions, 6.9 Y/A
Kyler Murray was seemingly set up to fail in his rookie campaign. Due to injuries and poor play from the rookie duo of Hakeem Butler and Andy Isabella, Murray was left throwing to second-year receiver Christian Kirk and the corpse of Larry Fitzgerald. Kirk flashed some playmaking upside but was moved around frequently and couldn't consistently make an impact. Fitzgerald gets slower and more pedestrian every year he guts out a losing season in Arizona.

Muray also played behind an offensive line that PFF ranked 22nd-best at the end of 2019.

Despite being dealt a far less than ideal hand heading into his first pro season, Murray put together a solid season as a passer and a great season for fantasy purposes. He completed a high percentage of his passes but did only manage 6.9 yards per attempt. This fueled by Kliff Kingsbury's conservative air raid scheme that saw Murray throw 7.3 yards downfield on average.

When he did throw deep, Murray was on point. He averaged over 12 adjusted yards per attempt on passes with a 15 or greater aDOT. As first-year coach Kinsbury and Murray get more time to flesh out the NFL's first air raid offense, expect it to lean into Murray's skill set even more.

The fantasy goodness particularly came on the ground for Murray. He carried the ball 93 times for 544 yards while punching four into the end zone. His yardage total was second only to Lamar Jackson.

Murray is a plus passer with room to grow and one of the best rushers in the league. At 22 years old, he should be one of the five most coveted passers in every format.

2. Daniel Jones, New York Giants, 6th

3,027 yards, 24 TD, 61.9% completions, 6.6 Y/A
This ranking is based on fantasy potential and Daniel Jones oozes that. As a passer, he was great at times but also made questionable decisions and lacked ball security often. Jones' 2.6% interception rate was 11th in the NFL, frankly, still fine for a rookie passer. The problem lies in his ball-handling. Jones led the league in lost fumbles at 11 and he only started a quarter of the season.

Jones' mistake-heavy rookie campaign isn't surprising when comparing it to his college resume. His 6.8 yards per attempt at Duke are at the 9th percentile for college passers and his 72 QBR is below average as well. The prior was that Jones was inaccurate and his rookie season didn't move the needle.

Part of the reason for Jones' interceptions was that he was reckless with the deep ball. This might be bad for real football but if Jameis Winston taught us anything, it's that real football failure does not equate to fantasy football failure. Jones was also an above-average rusher, going for 279 yards on 45 carries. He was a top-10 in rushing yards while playing in a fraction f the games that other passers did.

The Giants franchise passer has an incredibly high ceiling because of his aggressive passing and rushing potential. His floor doesn't matter because, in fantasy, a quarterbacks floor is streaming, which works just fine.

3. Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars, 178th

3,271 yards, 21 TD, 60.6% completions, 7 Y/A
Gardner Minshew was a middling passer in his first season with Jacksonville but the hype was often more than he was worth as a fantasy player. He posted three top-10 weekly fantasy performances in 14 games. At the combine, Minshews barely beat 5.0 on the Forty-yard Dash so rushing will never be in his repertoire. Plus, he hardly ever threw deep: 15.5% of his passes went at least 15 yards downfield. Even Murray was pushing the ball downfield more often.

On an offense that is centered around bell-cow back Leonard Fournette, Minshew is destined to be a streaming option and not a drafted quarterback in single-passer fantasy leagues.

4. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos, 42nd

1,020 yards, 7 TD, 64.1% completions, 6.6 Y/A
Drew Lock is in a similar situation to Minshew as he somehow threw deep less often than Minshew and similar didn't do much with his legs. Lock started five games and went over 15 rushing yards once. He did run an impressive 4.69 at the combine so there may be more rushing production to come as Lock gets comfortable with the NFL game.

The biggest indictment of Lock during his rookie season was Denver's insistence on playing Joe Flacco over him. It was only once Facco suffered a season-ending neck injury that Lock took the field. Flacco's 6 AY/A was 26th among passers and he still played over Lock. Denver could be in the market for a new passer depending on how the draft falls for them.

5. Dwayne Haskins Jr., Washington Redskins, 15th

1,365 yards, 7 TD, 58.6% completions, 6.8 Y/A
Dwayne Haskins threw more interceptions than Gardner Minshew on 267 fewer pass attempts. His 3.4% interception rate was third-worst in the NFL. Not to be outdone by his bad throws, Haskins' non-throws were even worse as he recorded the highest sack rate, 12.5%, as well.

The Washington rookie's 2019 ended on a minor upswing as he was only sacked three times and did not get picked off once in his final two games. He threw for 261 yards in his penultimate game of the year, a season-high for the Ohio State product.

Washington should be eying Tua Tagoivala with the second pick based on Haskin's rookie outing. He's not worth the roster sot he costs even in season-long Superflex leagues.