Welcome to the very first instalment of the Dynasty Sophomore Scrutiny series! Over the coming weeks, I will be recapping some players’ rookie seasons and what you can expect as they head into year 2 of their NFL career. Let’s dive right in with the most talked-about position in the first round last year: Quarterback (QB).
Trevor Lawrence – DLF ADP: QB9 – My Rank: QB10
Potential Trade Value: 2x random 1st rounders+
Mr 1.01, the prodigal son, a generational talent, these were all the nicknames used in the build-up and after Trevor Lawrence was drafted in the 2021 season. The expectations on his young shoulders, to hit the ground running with the Jags and new coach Urban Meyer, were astronomical. There was little doubt whether he would turn the Jaguars around. But more the question should be how quickly can Trevor Lawrence change the fortunes for Duval?
These incredibly high expectations were always going to be difficult to live up to, especially in his rookie year. The whole situation in Jacksonville, mainly referring to Urban Meyer and the fact the team ended up with the number 1 pick in the draft for 2021, was always going to be a big ask for Lawrence to step into. Although some dynasty owners might feel disappointed with Lawrence’s rookie production, I think it is best to look at his numbers against the other QBs in the NFL to give more context. Lawrence ended as the QB17 in passing yards (3600yds+), QB8 in rushing yards (300yds+) and ended as the QB23 overall, in fantasy, for the 2021 season.
Although Lawrence did not set the world alight, like the generational talent we all expected, he fundamentally laid an impressive foundation to build on going into his sophomore season in 2022. Jacksonville have been busy this 2022 free agency. Importantly, they have upgraded their previously poor offensive line as well as added depth and new faces to their receiving group, giving Lawrence exciting new weapons to target. Some have suggested that the Jags have overspent on some of their new players but it is clear to see the team have every intention to give Lawrence the opportunity to succeed. I do believe Lawrence will reap the benefits of these additions. However, I would still be cautious to expect a huge bump up in his production for 2022. Bearing this all in mind I expect him to be a solid NFL starter for years to come.
Trey Lance – DLF ADP: QB8 – My Rank: QB11
Potential Trade Value: 2x random 1st rounders+
If you drafted Lance in your start-up or rookie fantasy drafts in 2021, I hope you have held onto him. If you haven’t traded for him yet, well you might have missed your chance. Lance had a rookie season that would best be described as the ideal “Taxi Squad” allocation. Lance backed up Jimmy Garoppolo for the San Francisco 49ers throughout the 2021 season, and all of Lance’s dynasty owners are hoping their patience will be rewarded in the long-term.
When the 49ers traded away 3 x 1sts (2021, 2022 and 2023) and their 2021 3rd rounder to move up to 3rd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft they had everyone’s attention. Franchises seldomly invest in trading up that aggressively for no reason. But their reason was to get Lance as their future franchise QB. When the 49ers drafted Lance it was not a surprise, yet there were a few question marks around Lance’s raw talent and slight lack of multiple years of top level college experience. Although the 49ers are in one of the more difficult divisions (NFC West), their squad is considered one of the best in the league with multiple weapons to allow for a big breakout sophomore year for Lance in 2022.
The slight spanner in the works for Lance owners in dynasty is that even though the 49ers have been strongly linked with trading veteran QB Garoppolo away from San Francisco, he is still on their roster. The general consensus still remains that Lance will get the ball under centre for 2022 and have the key to the 49ers kingdom. When analysing and projecting Lance’s future production his athleticism and his full year of being the back-up in San Francisco are two reasons as to why I believe he is destined for a big year. Learning the 49ers scheme over the past year and being tutored by the GOAT’s padawan gives me great confidence in Lance being as well-equipped and prepared as any sophomore QB. The 49ers have one of the best offensive lines in the league, a young explosive receiving group including Samuel, Kittle and Aiyuk as well as the calm head of Kyle Shanahan, Lance is destined to have a big 2022.
Mac Jones – DLF ADP: QB21 – My Rank: QB19
Potential Trade Value: Random 1st + 2nd
The big question I have looming over Mac Jones’ dynasty value is, has he already reached his ceiling?
In the 2021 NFL Draft, there was clear hype surrounding Lawrence, Wilson, Lance, and Fields. But a lot of pundits were sleeping on Jones. His time as a college QB for Alabama was one where he was regarded as a consistent and reliable QB helped by his receivers. Yet the other 4 QB’s I have just mentioned always seemed to have more buzz and upside associated with them.
To me, Bill Belichick and Mac Jones are a perfect match for one another. Belichick made the bold decision to select Jones as the week 1 starter in 2022 to everyone’s surprise, as he let Cam Newton leave the Patriots. A decision I am sure Belichick in hindsight couldn’t be happier with. Jones truly stepped up, and repaid the faith shown in him by Belichick by making the Patriots one of the more competitive teams in the NFL once again. Jones seemed a natural leader and very comfortable under centre for the Patriots in 2021 and one would argue had the best rookie year amongst all the QB’s from the 2021 draft class. Mac Jones has answered every question posed to him from Belichick and the Patriots and, to me, has secured that Franchise QB role for years to come. That is where Mac Jones’ dynasty value will be; he is a starter and most likely will remain one in New England for many years to come.
Although Mac Jones did end up ticking all the boxes for New England there still is some truth and reason as to why the other 4 QBs were taken ahead of him. I feel even playing for the greatest coach of all time, Belichick will focus on his team’s defence and not having to rely too much on Mac Jones to win games himself just yet. I do have concerns with Jones on the Patriots, I feel his rookie year was so impressive but in fantasy context I firmly believe we have seen the best of Mac Jones already.
That concludes this instalment of the series. Who is your favourite sophomore Quarterback going into this season? You can follow Nathan on Twitter @MountainDrew92 to keep up with his work. Keep your eyes peeled for more articles from our great Dynasty team coming soon. Remember to tune into the 5 Yard Dynasty livestream every Tuesday at 8 pm (BST)!