Will Any Rookie Quarterbacks Be Reliable Fantasy Football Players This Season?

Chet GreshamFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2012

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson, Seattle SeahawksOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Before we get into five rookie quarterbacks in the NFL with a chance for immediate success, let's take a look at what the rookies of the past have done statistically, shall we?

So I took every rookie quarterback who threw 15 or more touchdowns and put them in this handy dandy chart. (All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference)

As you can see, Jim Plunkett, even though he had about two billion less points than Cam Newton, is actually the best rookie fantasy quarterback since the merger when adjusted to season he played.

There have only been four rookie quarterbacks to finish in the top 10 at their position. They are the aforementioned Jim Plunkett, Cam Newton, Jim Kelly (who had already been playing in the USFL) and Peyton Manning.

If there were a Jim in this rookie class he'd have a 50 percent chance of finishing top 10! But alas, there is not. Andrew, Robert, Ryan, Brandon and Russell will have to step it up to get their names into the annals of the rookie elite.

But what are the odds that they will be able to put up fantasy numbers? As you can see, they aren't great, but there is some real talent in this group, so let's take a look.


Russell Wilson

After the Seahawks got Matt Flynn via free agency and paid him a good lump sum of money, it is now Russell Wilson in the driver's seat. He gained that edge after going 22-of-33 for 279 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the first two preseason games.

Much will depend on this third preseason game in which he gets the start and will be going against the Chiefs' first-string defense. Wilson has shown throughout his college career that he has the ability to be a starting NFL quarterback, but his height kept many a scout to not be able to see the forest for the trees.

The Seahawks offense is led by Marshawn Lynch and the receiving group has yet to really step forward. If Wilson wins the job, his upside will be limited by the lack of talent surrounding him, but his ability is there if all the chips fall his way.

Brandon Weeden

If you are a Browns fan, you have to be somewhat heartened with the play of Weeden this preseason. He hasn't blown the doors off the competition, but he looks like he has more upside than Colt McCoy, which, yes, isn't saying that much, but it's saying something.

Weeden, like Wilson, is on a team with a strong running back and poor receivers. He should help the passing game improve, but it will be a lot to ask for any fantasy relevance this season, even in two-quarterback leagues.

Ryan Tannehill

If preseason means anything, Tannehill has the ability to do well in this league. He has looked poised and in control and has yet to throw an interception. He's even made the Dolphins receivers look better than they are.

If you can name the starting wide receivers for Miami, you are most likely a fan. The Dolphins have one of the poorer receiving corps in the league, with Legedu Naanee, Davone Bess and Roberto Wallace currently leading the way.

Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller will be able to help him with some high percentage throws and some easy yards after the catch, but Tannehill will have a tall order to become a fantasy quarterback this season.

I am a little higher on him than most it seems (grabbed him in my dynasty draft early), and I think he could even put together some good fantasy games this season, but he will be too inconsistent to rely on this year.

Andrew Luck

His mechanics are nearly perfect. He is mobile. He can throw accurately on the run. He has the pocket presence of Buddha. Really, you can't ask for more than what we've seen out of Luck in his first two preseason tilts.

Luck will have a learning curve, just like any rookie quarterback, but we know he isn't going to lose his job, and we also know the Colts are going to have to throw the ball a ton this season due to a poor defense getting its offense behind.

In two preseason games, Luck is 26-for-41, for 363 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and one rushing touchdown. And I'm not being hyperbolic in anyway when I say that is a line he should be able to put up during the season.

His upside in fantasy is high, and there's no reason not to reach for him as your backup this season.

Robert Griffin III

I am a big supporter of RGIII in fantasy football. I think he'll be a top-five quarterback at some point. But he is not Andrew Luck. He doesn't have the pocket presence and can't read defenses as well. But he makes up for it with an amazing set of physical skills.

In fantasy football, you don't have to win real football games. In many cases, it's better for a quarterback to be losing so he is forced to throw the ball more. Robert Griffin, like Andrew Luck, will be losing, a lot. And he will be throwing AND running.

He's not going to score like Cam Newton; he's not the goal-line back. But he will have plenty of designed roll outs with the option to run. And 10 yards rushing is worth more than 10 yards passing.

Fantasy football often gives running quarterbacks a leg up, so to speak. Yes, he will be exposed to injury, but he also has one of the cleanest injury records of any player out there. I believe that Luck and RGIII are neck and neck in the rookie fantasy quarterback race, with Griffin leading slightly.