Minshew Mania, or mediocrity?

Let me tell you the story of a little known Quarterback who was taken in the sixth round of the NFL Draft and took the league by storm. No, not that one. I am, of course talking about Gardner Minshew II. 

Gardner Minshew II was not a name that many had heard prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. Selected in Round 6 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, many expected him to battle for the QB2 spot behind newly recruited, former Superbowl winner and MVP Nick Foles.

Injuries to Foles and some impressive performances from the rookie saw Minshew cement his place as the Jaguars QB1 last year. In 13 starts, he managed 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions, a feat that very few people expected. He had a better introduction to the NFL than Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, Derek Carr and Andy Dalton had in their rookie years.

Minshew Mania gripped the nation. The hair, moustache and fashion sense, coupled with his leadership skills and moxy, had fantasy players scrambling to pick him up from the waiver wire.

Value this year?

Minshew’s current ADP in redraft leagues is 193, naturally boosted in superflex leagues to 89.6. In a dynasty set-up, Minshew’s value falls back to 146.

The data suggests that you stay away from Minshew until at least the 10th round in a 1QB league, and the 8th round in a superflex league. He amassed an average of 282 fantasy points in 2019, 21st in the NFL. Though impressive for a sixth round pick, it’s not the sort of return you want to build a team around.

It appears as though Minshew is being slept on by some. Minshew was 5th in the NFL for total rushing yards in 2019. That’s not to say that he’s in the same conversation as Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray. It does mean that Minshew’s tendency to scramble adds value to his selection.

I have seen Minshew go at 19.14 in one dynasty startup draft, sandwiched between Ryan Tannehill and Dwayne Haskins. All three face uncertain futures. Minshew was close to competing with free agent Andy Dalton for the QB1 spot in Jacksonville this year. But Dalton chose Dallas instead. Tannehill signed a huge 4 year, $118m contract in the summer, but the Titans have a get out after year two. Haskins is under immediate pressure to improve, or else face competition from Kyle Allen. Minshew is certainly the starter in 2020 but he faces competition further down the line. Had the Jaguars succeeded in persuading Andy Dalton to come to Florida, it would have hampered Minshew’s draft stock even further.

In another league, I took Minshew when he was still on the board at pick 12.01. In a dynasty set-up with rookies and veterans drafted together, Minshew fell further than anticipated. With Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa as QBs 1 and 2. I’m happy for Minshew to come in to the superflex position should Tua start the season on the bench, or Minshew come up against a favourable defence.

Taking in the wider context

The Jaguars are 22nd in terms of strength of schedule this season. Minshew has a good relationship with DJ Chark, and Doug Marrone will be hoping that continues into 2020. Laviska Shenault Jnr adds another dimension to the passing game. Marrone, whose position is under some scrutiny also, needs his QB to perform just as much as Minshew does.

Expect Minshew’s role to increase further if Leonard Fournette gets what he wants in the form of a trade. In this case, expect Marrone to be forced to go pass-heavy on offence. Behind Fournette, the Jaguars depth chart at running back is thin. Minshew may be called upon to shoulder the burden of responsibility under centre.

The key concern in a dynasty side is that the Jaguars are almost certainly going to be in the hunt for a quarterback in the 2021 Draft. As a result, I would recommend that Minshew fills in as a QB2 in standard format, and QB3 in a superflex roster. Any more, and you’re taking on a lot of risk with your pick. If Minshew continues to develop in his second year, it is a gamble that could pay off. If he takes a step back, don’t expect to win your league’s championship this year.

-Tom Scott @downthemannyrd

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