Common knowledge used to dictate that you avoided rookie quarterbacks like the plague in fantasy football. But after Cam Newton exploded in his rookie season last year—and with all of the hype surrounding Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck—rookie signal-callers suddenly look more appealing.
So it's no shock that RG3 has generated a ton of buzz this summer, or that fantasy-football players are snatching up the Washington Redskins' quarterback, hoping to land this year's version of Newton.
But can RG3 duplicate the incredible year Newton had as a rookie last season for the Carolina Panthers? Or would you be better off drafting a different QB2 for your team and waiting until after his rookie season before considering RG3 for your fantasy squad?
Let's cut through the hype and take an objective look at RG3. To the projections!
The Redskins have pretty solid weapons for RG3, though no superstars. Fred Davis and Chris Cooley should be reliable weapons at the tight end position, while Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon should give him dangerous deep threats.
Second-year receiver Leonard Hankerson has looked solid this summer as well.
In the running game, there are plenty of bodies capable of earning touches to take pressure off RG3. Tim Hightower and Roy Helu should see the majority of the touches, while rookie Alfred Morris has impressed.
Plus, RG3 is his own weapon. His ability to scramble gives him dual value as a fantasy option, and he should steal some points in rushing yards and possibly even rushing touchdowns.
The Redskins won't be a top-five offense nor will RG3 be a top-five quarterback, but there is plenty of potential for each. RG3 won't be working without some help in Washington, and that bodes well for his fantasy prospects.
Fantasy Red Flags
The most obvious red flag for RG3 is simple—he's a rookie!
Cam Newton may have blown up as a rookie signal-caller, but he's the exception, not the rule. Peyton Manning turned the ball over 31 times as a rookie. In 12 games during his rookie season, Donovan McNabb—who in my opinion is the best comparison as a player to RG3—had a 49.1 completion percentage and turned the ball over 15 times compared to scoring just seven touchdowns.
Remember, Newton broke the rookie quarterback passing record last season and became the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in a single season. His season was historically good and, generally speaking, rookie quarterbacks aren't effective fantasy options.
The offensive line will also be an issue. Kory Lichtensteiger and Jammal Brown are returning from injuries and have banged up throughout camp, as has guard Chris Chester. And it's not as though the Redskins offensive line was excellent to be begin with—they gave up 41 sacks and 108 quarterback hits.
Stay mobile, RG3—your life may depend on it.
There is no questioning his electrifying talent. But will it translate to big fantasy numbers in his rookie season?
Draft Day Value
In ESPN snake drafts, RG3 has an average draft position of 81.3 (12th overall amongst quarterbacks), meaning he's being selected higher than Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco.
There are likely two factors for his draft slot—Newton's rookie year and the fact that Griffin is really, really fast.
But he's not as big as Newton, and I doubt he can take the sort of punishment as a constant rushing threat that Newton's large frame can withstand. RG3's game in the NFL should be as a pocket quarterback who can kill teams when he does decide to scramble, akin to McNabb during his prime years.
If you are in a keeper league, Griffin has immense value. And if you are drafting him so you can stash him on the bench as your QB2 to see if he blows up like Newton after already drafting an elite quarterback, he's not a terrible play.
But if you are counting on him having a huge fantasy impact like Newton, you're throwing down way too many chips on a bad bet. Griffin is being overvalued on draft day.
Tweet That Says It All
ESPN's Dan Graziano keeps things in perspective:
Robert Griffin III also looking like what he is -- a talented rookie quarterback. Some good, some not so.— Dan Graziano (@espn_nfceast) August 19, 2012
RG3 won't rush for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns like Newton did, and thus, he won't have nearly the same fantasy impact in his rookie season. Yes, Newton threw for over 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, but he was such a fantasy stud because of how he ran the ball.
That's not going to be RG3's game at the next level. He'll scramble, yes, but he will want to be a pocket passer first. Where Newton might simply take off, I think Griffin will try to extend plays and keep his eyes downfield.
To me, RG3's upside in his rookie year is 3,500 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, 500 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns and 15 turnovers. That's a best possible scenario in my opinion, and I think more modest numbers should be expected.
I know RG3 is a sexy name this season, but there are going to be smarter QB2 options available. If you're expecting Cam Newton 2.0, you're barking up the wrong tree.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are cracking like a Ronda Rousey armbar.