This is Part 1 of a three part series that will analyze the fantasy football impact of the 2009 rookie class. Over the next three weeks, we’re going to examine the significant rookies at each skill position (QB, RB, WR/TE). To get things started let’s take a look at the freshman QUARTERBACKS.
Matthew Stafford - 1st Round, No.1 Overall - Detroit Lions
Scouting Report: One would think being drafted by a winless team would be a nightmare, but believe it or not, Stafford has actually found himself in a pretty decent situation.
The Lions have improved in nearly every element of the game this off-season and although they are a couple seasons away from a playoff run, they should at least return to respectability this season.
Make no mistake, Stafford will be front and center in that transformation. A three year starter in a pro system at Georgia, Stafford has a strong arm and appears confident and composed in the pocket.
Though his mobility is below average, Stafford possesses nearly every other tool to be successful in the NFL. It is unclear whether Stafford will start this season, but when that time comes, he will have some talented weapons to help him in Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson.
The Lions offensive line certainly leaves a lot to be desired, but Stafford wasn’t blessed with a great o-line in college either.
Stafford will benefit and learn from Daunte Culpepper, who will more than likely be the starter in Detroit this season. Scouts rave about Stafford’s intangibles and constant comparisons to Matt Ryan appear warranted.
2009 Fantasy Outlook: Stafford’s fantasy value in 2009 is, quite frankly, up in the air. The Lions say they are going to give Stafford the opportunity to win the starting job, but one would think they’d want some experience under center coming off a winless season.
You also don’t want your franchise quarterback running for his life all season. Then again, this is the Lions we’re talking about. If Stafford wins the starting job, however, one could argue that he was more talent to work with than Matt Ryan had in Atlanta last season.
That being said, Stafford has fantasy football value this season as a backup QB in deep fantasy leagues (14 or 16 teams) and a third QB in the average league (10 or 12 teams).
Keeper League Outlook: Of the 2009 QB class, Stafford is the most talented all around. He’s not the most physically gifted and he’s not the best leader and decision maker, but Stafford has no glaring weaknesses.
That’s why the Lions took him No.1 overall. In going to a team mired in the NFL’s cellar, Stafford’s long term prospects hinge on the ability of the Detroit Lions franchise to give him the tools and help he needs to succeed.
Playing in the ultra-competitive NFC North is far from ideal. In a few seasons, I expect Stafford to be a top 10 or top 15 QB, but I don’t think he has the potential or the situation to be a top 5 or an elite QB.
Mark Sanchez - 1st Round, 5th Overall - New York Jets
Scouting Report: The Jets traded up in the draft to land Sanchez after he impressed them at the NFL Combine and in private workouts. It’s quite difficult to analyze and judge a player who was a college starter for just one season.
We’ve also seen that dominance in Pete Carroll’s pro style playground in Southern California doesn’t necessarily translate to NFL success and stardom. Sanchez was incredible in his first and only season as a starter last year at USC.
Though he doesn’t possess the arm strength that Stafford and Josh Freeman have, his decision making skills and leadership abilities are clearly the best of this QB class. Sanchez also has quick feet and shows great poise in the pocket.
Sanchez will also benefit by going to a team coming off a winning season. The Jets have a solid running game and a great offensive line. The receiving corps is mediocre at best, but Jerricho Cotchery has shown flashes of big time playmaking ability.
Like Stafford, there is a possibility that Sanchez may be under center in Week 1. It will, however, be interesting to see how a QB used to playing in sunny California adjusts to playing in New York, New England, and Buffalo in November, December, and January.
2009 Fantasy Outlook: Right now, Sanchez and career backup Kellen Clemens are deadlocked in a battle to be the Week 1 starter in New York. Fortunately for Sanchez, the Jets talented offensive line will ease any concerns about their franchise QB running for his life should he win the starting job.
In my opinion, Sanchez is the most likely QB from this draft class to be under center in Week 1. That being said, I don’t think Sanchez has the upside that Stafford has simply because the Jets don’t have much of an aerial attack.
They pound the football and play tough defense. So while he will probably start, Sanchez has limited fantasy football value. He can be drafted as a third QB in most leagues.
Keeper League Outlook: Sanchez will only be as successful as the Jets allow him to be. Sanchez can throw the ball downfield, but he needs better receivers and a more aggressive offense.
I’m going against the hype because I don’t see Sanchez becoming an elite QB in the NFL. He will probably be a solid, average NFL QB. He’s not going to be a fantasy football powerhouse and will probably be a fantasy backup for his career.
Josh Freeman - 1st Round, 17th Overall - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scouting Report: Like the Jets did with Sanchez, Tampa Bay liked Freeman enough to trade up a couple spots in the draft to land him. What did they get? By all accounts, a project.
Freeman is that cliché QB present in every draft. He’s the guy labeled the most physically gifted, tremendous tools, and limitless potential. Needless to say, it is quite rare that the aforementioned cliché QB lives up to expectations.
Unfortunately, I’m not certain that Freeman will buck that trend. Freeman is big and might have the strongest arm of this draft class, but he’s got a laundry list of things he needs to improve on before he becomes a solid NFL signal caller.
Though he has a graceful throwing motion, his passes come out awkwardly. His anticipation, timing, and decision making skills all need work as well.
Freeman does, however, find himself in a decent situation in Tampa Bay. He has weapons to work with in Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow. The Bucs also have a solid offensive line and a good running game.
Freeman is the ultimate boom or bust QB in this draft. He’s very raw, but with the right coaching and handling, he could be special.
2009 Fantasy Outlook: Freeman has very little fantasy football value this season and Tampa Bay would be foolish to let their franchise QB learn on the job. I don’t see Freeman starting this year or even getting much playing time at all.
Even if Freeman is the starter, you really don’t know what you’re going to get with him. I don’t think he’s worth a fantasy football spot in most leagues this year. In very deep leagues, he could be a very late round flier as a third QB.
Keeper League Outlook: This is where it gets tricky. If Freeman is able to reach his potential, you will want him on your fantasy football team. That being said, unless you’re in a dynasty league, you can probably wait until next season (when he’s more likely to start and contribute) to draft him for keeper purposes.
Pat White - 2nd Round, 44th Overall - Miami Dolphins
Scouting Report: The Dolphins surprised absolutely no one in taking White, whose skills and talents seem to be the perfect fit for Miami’s Wildcat offense. White actually threw the ball quite well at the NFL Combine, but his future might be brighter as a wide receiver.
White has great speed and possesses tremendous physical gifts, but doesn’t project to be a traditional NFL QB. As a matter of fact, White may single-handedly cause a redefining of traditional fantasy football positional requirements.
2009 Fantasy Outlook: Barring a slew of unfortunate injuries, White will be the third string QB in Miami only seeing the field in the Wildcat formation and other gimmick plays.
However, it is conceivable that White could score 5-7 TDs while on the field in those situations.
That means that White is worth a roster spot in most leagues, but it will take some time to see just how many snaps he’s going to get each game. The bigger question may be where he fits in fantasy football lineups from a position perspective.
Keeper League Outlook: Chad Pennington is the starter in Miami for the foreseeable future and Chad Henne was drafted in the second round last season to be his eventual successor.
White wasn’t drafted to play QB; he was drafted to be a unique weapon in creative formations and plays. He has absolutely no keeper or dynasty league value.
Stephen McGee - 4th Round, 101st Overall - Dallas Cowboys
Scouting Report: McGee, a second day pick by the Cowboys, is big and athletic. He has a strong arm, but is quite raw. He will have the opportunity to study and learn as a third string QB behind Tony Romo and Jon Kitna. McGee is even more of a project than Josh Freeman with nowhere near the upside.
2009 Fantasy Outlook: Unless the Cowboys are served two decades of karma this season, McGee won’t take a single snap all year.
Keeper League Outlook: Dallas has a franchise QB in Romo signed to a long term deal. With the right coaching, however, McGee could develop into a serviceable NFL QB. He’ll likely be a career backup with little or no fantasy football value.
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::The above article was written by Matt Kamke::