The first two weeks of the season have seen an enormous amount of injuries already. However, it is arguably the most position of all, the QB position, that has really seen a lot of change. So far this season, due to injury or poor performance, 6 of the 2019 Starters as of the 1st week of Preseason, will not see the field in Week 3. They are, Andrew Luck, Nick Foles, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Sam Darnold and Eli Manning. That’s almost 19% of the starting QBs that we thought would be playing this week, that are not.
Why does that matter?
So, due to this pivot, we thought it would be a good idea to break down the 6 men who will be filling in their shoes. So you can make an informed decision from a fantasy football perspective, as to who to play, and who not. Now, in a 1QB league, you might choose none of these players. And that might be a fine idea. But it is always good to understand who is out there from a talent perspective. Especially at the rate in which we are losing QBs. Because next week, it could be your QB that goes down injured and will miss significant time.
However, if you play in a 2QB league, you might be required to roster one of these. You might even need to play one of these guys. And so, with this in mind, we have decided to put together this profile of Quarterbacks and put them “Under the Microscope”.
When Andrew Luck retired from the NFL, it shook the whole league. Most of us in the UK were asleep when it happened. But we happened to be awake (the joy of being a new parent). And the reaction on twitter was one of shock and despair.
Andrew Luck was one of the best to play the game this decade. He is the reigning Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL. However, his injures clearly affected his enjoyment for the game. So, for this season, we will see Jacoby Brissett under centre for the Indianapolis Colts. Brissett was drafted out of NC State, where he transferred from the University of Florida in 2013, in the 3rd round of the 2016 Draft by the New England Patriots. He’s the only player in the 2016 Draft to be drafted, and to not have an agent.
In the 2016 season (the one where Tom Brady was suspended for the 1st four games due to deflate-gate), Brissett had is number called as early as Week 2. This was due to an injury to starter Jimmy Garoppolo. He finished that game and started the next 2 before Brady came back to take the team to glory in SuperBowl 51 over the Atlanta Falcons. Brissett was inactive for the remainder of the season.
Colts So Far
In September 2017, days before the start of the season, Brissett was traded to the Colts in exchange for WR Phillip Dorsett. Eight days after the trade, Brissett relieved starter Scott Tolzien in Week 1. Andrew Luck was ruled out for the season early summer. The Colts lost 46-9 to the Rams. The season didn’t get much better, as the Colts ended 4-12 and Brissett finished with3,098 passing yards, 13 passing TDs, seven INTs, 260 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.
2018 saw Brissett throw only 4 passes, completing 2 of them for 2 yards. He was brought in mostly for Hail Mary’s early on in the season. Mostly while Andrew Luck was still getting up to full speed with his shoulder.
Pros and Cons
Many people judge Brissett on his 2017 season, which is incredibly unfair. He was thrown into a terrible situation, and had not time to develop chemistry with his receivers. He also had no pre-season and needed to get up to speed with the playbook. Also, the O-Line was pretty terrible that season.
Through 2 games this season, Brissett already as 5 passing TDs and a near 70% completion percentage. He knows the system, knows the book, and knows the receivers. He also had a full preseason to prepare.
Brissett is a big QB, in the mould of Cam Newton, who has a big arm and can shake off tackles. He is an accurate thrower who excels with the intermediate throws, and can throw into tight windows also. However he isn’t the most mobile, and can fumble the ball due to his carrying style.
However, Brissett is a solid QB. He is probably around the QB 16-20 range for fantasy purposes. So if you lost Big Ben or Drew Brees, then Brissett is a guy to pickup and will provide reliable, but maybe unspectacular production for you.
This was supposed to be it for Nick Foles. He signed a massive contract in the summer to be the bone fide starting Quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. And, he is reunited with his old Offensive Coordinator, John Difilippo. However, in just under 1 quarter of play, whilst throwing a bomb to D.J. Chark against the Kansas City Chiefs, Foles was tackled and broke his clavicle. This was not supposed to happen to the man who was previously the most productive backup of recent times.
In steps Garner Minshew II for his shot at the big time. Minshew completed 22-25 for 275 Yards, 2TDs and an INT in the loss to Kansas City. And with that, a new NFL star was born. Foles knows better than anyone that the media and the fans love an underdog. They love a man who can come from the bench and shine like a star. Yes the Jags lost the game. But the way Gardner Minshew II took the game to the Chiefs was revered by fans of the league everywhere.
Not your Typical Backup
Minshew isn’t your typical backup. He is a 6th round draft pick out of this years NFL Draft, drafted out of Washington State. When his former teammates heard he was in the game, they all lobbied together to huddle around the nearest TV and watch their old QB take it to the pros and arguably the best team in the AFC. That speaks volumes for the sort of man he is.
Then you have the moustache, and the outfits. This man looks more like a 70s adult entertainment star than a QB in the NFL. So much so, just this week, an adult entertainment company have offered Minshew a $1 million endorsement contract.
Pros and Cons
But it is more than the outfit and personality that makes Minshew an exciting prospect. However, the reason for him being selected in the sixth round is due more to his erratic throwing style and decision making. Minshew, in college, was a QB that made big throws with a big arm, but struggled with consistency and game management. However, he is known for making big plays and is not afraid to sling the rock.
2 weeks into the season, he has shown exactly that. Having spent some time looking at him and reviewing his college tape since he has become a starter, we would say he is a cross of Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick. This doesn’t mean Minshew doesn’t have fantasy relevance in the next few weeks. Far from it. Both of those QB’s have made careers out of being productive and efficient/flashy for short periods of time. And that is all Minshew will be required to do. Foles should be back and starting by Week 11.
So if you are looking at Minshew, his plus points is his lack of fear and his mobility, which will give him a nice floor. However, he sometimes lets his heart take over his head. And although we haven’t seen many turnovers yet from him (Just 1 in 2 games), we would expect this to increase once he starts to face top 15 defenses. All in all, Minshew will have nice weeks, and also some low weeks. Start if you need to, but if not, just enjoy watching him. Because it won’t be boring.
We now move from one Washington State QB to another in Luke Falk. Luke Falk was the starter at Washington State from 2015-2017, with Minshew transferring in to take the job in 2018 after Falk left for the NFL. Falk is now the starter for the foreseeable future at the Meadowlands due to Sam Darnold contracting Mono (known as Glandular Fever over here in the UK). The Jets are confident that Darnold will be back in Week 5, but let’s wait and see on that.
This past Monday saw Trevor Siemian start for the Jets. However, after going over on his ankle, he was placed on IR for the remainder of the season, and Falk was thrust into the limelight.
College and NFL Career to Date
As mentioned, Falk was a 3 year starter at Washington State who was drafted in the 6th Round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. What potentially affected his draft stock was the fact he missed the Senior Bowl to attend the funeral of a teammate, who committed suicide after the season. He also wears a signature wristband in every game to salute his favourite youth basketball coach who died unexpectedly. This speaks volumes about the man who is expected to start the next few games for the Jets.
Tennessee cut Falk in 2018 and he was picked up by the Dolphins. However, a wrist injury meant he was placed on IR, and later cut by the Dolphins.
The Jets claimed Falk off of waivers the very next day. He signed onto the practice squad after being cut by the Jets at the end of August. Falk was promoted to the active roster when Darnold was diagnosed with Mono. And when Siemian left the game, Falk finished the game with 20 completions from 25 attempts with 198 yards and a quarterback rating of 99.7. Sadly there was no offense as the Browns ran out easy winners.
Pros and Cons
Falk is tall, and throws a pretty ball. He has a nice quick release and is fairly accurate. Also he is very good and throwing catchable balls to receivers in stride. However, he does hold onto the ball too long, and was sacked 125 times in college. He also doesn’t have great mobility and really struggles against zone defense. He is also a check down specialist, with 3/4s of his throws in college being under 10 yards.
Although there isn’t much to judge on Falk’s Monday night performance, he has a history of offensive production in college. Falk holds Pac-12 Football records for career passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Therefore, if you are stuck at QB and want to chase some real upside in a QB and take a gamble, then Falk could meet your criteria. The only worry is how long he gets to keep the starting job, as it could be as little as 2 games. Falk is a wildcard, but will be a really interesting watch over the coming weeks.
Of all the QBs we are writing about in this “Under the Microscope” column, the most well known is Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is starting this week after an unfortunate thumb ligament injury to Drew Brees after a clash with Aaron Donald in Sunday night’s loss to the LA Rams.
Bridgewater is the highest paid backup in the NFL currently. Drafted with the last pick of the first round by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Vikings traded their second round and fourth round picks to the Seattle Seahawks to move up and select Bridgewater.
NFL Career to Date
The 2014 Draft class was a mixed bag for QBs with Bridgewater becoming the 3rd QB selected off the board, behind Blake Bortles who was selected 3rd overall, and Johnny Manziel who was selected 22nd overall.
His Rookie and Sophomore years saw Bridgewater play 29 games (starting 28 times), throwing for 6,150 yards and 28TDs with an average completion rate of just under 65% and 21 INTs (Though this went down from 12 in 2014, to 9 in 2015). He also accumulated 401 yards rushing and 4 TDs on the ground in those first 2 years. Bridgewater was named the 2014 Rookie of the Year and was also named to the 2015 Pro Bowl. He also made his first and only postseason appearance in 2015, losing 10-9 to the Seahawks in the Wild Card round.
Bridgewater also holds the following NFL records:
Highest completion percentage in a single game by a rookie QB with at least 40 attempts: 75.6%
First rookie QB to complete over 70% of his passes in four straight games.
This tells you that he is a high performing Quarterback.
In 2016, Bridgewater suffered a non contact leg injury, that resulted in an ACL tear, and other structural damage to his knee. He also dislocated his knee joint. This injury kept him out of the game for 19 months. He did come back in Week 15 in 2017 to a standing ovation late in the fourth quarter. However, he threw an interception with one of his 2 passing attempts, which was his last throw in a Vikings jersey.
Post Vikings to Now
The Vikings declined his 5th year rookie option and he signed for the Jets in Free Agency as a backup to whoever they would draft as their new QB in the 2018 NFL Draft (this later turned out to be Sam Darnold). However, before the season started, they traded Bridgewater for a 3rd round pick in 2019, to become Drew Brees’ backup.
Bridgewater did start Week 17 vs the Panthers as the Saints had already locked up the Number 1 seed in the NFC for the playoffs. He had a pretty rough day. Only completing 14 of 22 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown, and an interception as the Saints lost 33–14. There was also 12 yards rushing.
Pros and Cons
Bridgewater is a quality pocket passer who is highly accurate. However, he isn’t the best athlete and isn’t very mobile, or is likely to scramble. He also throws with a slight side-arm. This can lead to balls being tipped or batted down by big, aggressive pass blocking Defensive Lines.
As someone who already has an NFL profile, albeit very little to showcase and highlight in the last 4 years, you can feel confident he can play in the NFL. However, in today’s high volume, high quality NFL, Bridgewater is someone who is more likely to fall in the 22-28 range of fantasy Quarterbacks, than someone who is going to soar to the heights of a top 12 QB. We also expect Brees to be back in Week 10.
Future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger was also injured on Sunday. He has injured his elbow and will require “Tommy John” surgery, which ends his season. Apparently, this injury was known about prior to Sunday’s game vs the Seahawks. However, it seems the injury became worse during the game, and ended his season.
College and NFL Draft Prospects
Coming into the game was 2018 3rd round pick Mason Rudolph. Rudolph was drafted out of Oklahoma State, where he started for 3 years. He had a very productive college career, averaging over 4,000 yards passing with a completion percentage of 63%. His senior year was by far his most productive however, finishing with 4,553 yards on 12 starts, 35 Touchdowns and just 9 INTs. He also ran in an incredible 10 Touchdowns that year, despite only rushing for 56 times all year for 32 yards. It was this performance, that led to Rudolph be awarded the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award. This award is given annually to the country’s outstanding senior college quarterback.
Heading into the draft, Rudolph was seen as the 6th best QB prospect, in what was a stacked class for talent. in 2018, 4 QBs went in the top 10 (Baker Mayfield 1 overall, Sam Darnold 3rd overall, Josh Allen 7th overall and Josh Rosen 10th overall), with Lamar Jackson also going in the 1st round with the 32nd overall pick. Rudolph was projected to be taken in the second round. However, when he hadn’t been selected by pick 75 (in the 3rd round), the Steelers traded their third-round (79th overall) and seventh-round (220th overall) picks to the Seahawks in order to move up those three spots and select Rudolph with the 76th overall pick.
NFL Career to Date
Rudolph had to compete with Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs to earn his place on the roster. This was something he achieved, winning the 3rd QB job and leaving Landry Jones to exit the NFL and head to the XFL a year later.
Despite no playing time in 2018, Rudolph showed great promise. And after a very productive preseason, Rudolph won the backup job from Josh Dobbs before the start of the season. This led to Dobbs being traded to Jacksonville for a 5th round pick after Nick Foles was injured in Week 1.
Rudolph had a baptism of fire, coming in in the second half, with the Steelers trailing to the Seahawks. However, Rudolph showed poise and ended the day 12 of 19 for 112 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. The interception is unfortunate, as he threw the ball right at Donte Moncrief, who, for the 5th time already this season, bobbled the ball. However instead of dropping it to the ground, he pushed it up in the air and it was intercepted. Rudolph had immediate chemistry with Vance McDonald, much to the delight of McDonald owners across the fantasy land. After being irrelevant for 6 quarters, those 2 TDs have given McDonald’s outlook the world of good. It’s also provided a much needed shot in the arm to those who took Vance McDonald rather high in fantasy drafts.
Rudolph’s Outlook and Who Benefits
The other person likely to benefit from Rudolph’s rise to the starter’s role is James Washington. They played together at Oklahoma State, as well as also hooking up in practice and the preseason. They are already on the same page, and it should be just want Washington needs, as he looks to make his mark in the NFL.
Rudolph commands the offense and is really good in the pocket. He glides around the pocket really well, and excels at the deep ball. He gets a good amount of air under the ball, meaning his receivers have every chance of completing a play. This is backed up by the fact that 10% of his drop backs in college resulted in 25 yard + completions. Also, that ability to get goal-line Touchdowns is key and rare of college prospects.
He does struggle when he has to roll out of the pocket and make throws on the run. This is where he tends to turn the ball over. He also has some issues with ball security and has been known to fumble the ball on several occasions.
However, with the situation he is in, with that Steelers O-Line, as well as the weapons to throw to, he does have the greatest opportunity to succeed. He also as a lot of the skill-set and tools that Roethlisberger has, so the offense and the playbook doesn’t need to be altered that much either. As a result, Rudolph’s range of outcomes are quite wide. Expect him to be around QB16/QB17 for this year in fantasy (in 14 games). However, don’t be shocked if he sneaks into the top 12 either. That is certainly in his range of outcomes.
Just when we thought we had had all the QB changes for Week 3, Pat Shurmer and the Giants decide to make a change. Eli Manning, the man with 2 SuperBowl rings in a 15 year career, has been benched. And in comes Daniel Jones. Jones was drafted at 6 overall by the Giants, out of Duke.
College Career and Draft Prospects
Jones was the second QB off the board, which was seen as a huge surprise to most at the 2019 NFL Draft. Kyler Murray went number 1 overall. He has never produced to an elite level, and his CV doesn’t read with any real conviction that he will deliver for a long time in the NFL. However there are some highlights. Jones was named the MVP of the Senior Bowl in his outing there. He was also named MVP of the Independence Bowl in his Senior year, going 30/41 with 423 passing yards and five touchdowns.
However, unlike anyone else we have talked about so far, he does not have any college honours. No awards, no conference teams or All-American teams made, and no other honours to mention. He also never threw for 3,000 yards in college. Averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt in college. And although he had 22 passing Touchdowns in his senior year, he only had 30 in his previous 2 years combined. Jones also averaged 10 interceptions a year.
Whilst the ACC is a power 5 conference, it is his physical attributes and the lack of playmakers that have led to Jones being drafted as high as he has. In fact, it is his coach David Cutcliffe that has as much of a reason to do with Jones being drafted than anyone. For those of you who don’t know, Cutcliffe was the man who coached Peyton and Eli Manning prior to them being in the NFL.
Pros and Cons
Jones has excellent footwork and has been exceptionally well coach in his mechanics. There is an argument that his completion percentage was hindered due to a high drop rate from his college receivers. This is because his tape shows very accurate throwing. Hence why he has been given the nickname “Danny Dimes”. He is also a decent scrambler.
However, he has an annoying habit of over patting the ball as he goes through progressions. It is rather infuriating to watch. He also isn’t the quickest releaser of the ball and sometimes tries to throw balls into impossible spots. He also has a lot passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. 12 times in 2018 this happened. He also has a tendency to fumble the ball. Lastly, he sometimes is too confident of a runner. He took hits when he could have slid or got out of bounds. In the NFL, those mistakes lead to injuries.
Plenty of Appeal?
There is no doubt that Jones has a lot of appeal. He obviously responds really well to coaching. He is also very intelligent, which means these errors can get corrected if he continues to develop and listen. But with that O-Line continuing to struggle, and with the lack of weapons again to target this year, what is Jones’ range of outcomes?
Well, I think he is someone who will have a decent career in the NFL, if he continues to develop. However, for this year, I cannot see how he breaks into the top 20 QBs for fantasy. It won’t all be entirely his fault either. He has very little to work with on the perimeter. He also doesn’t have all the time he will need to release the ball. It will be a steep learning curve. Jones might have benefited from having more time to develop before being dropped into the deep end.
So What’s Next?
If you have already picked up these guys, then we hope this guide has helped you understand more what you have in these players. And if you have not needed to pick one of them up yet, then we hope this guide gives you some context and act as a guide as to what you will be picking up.
It looks likely that more QBs will be injured before we get into the second half of the season. We really hope that does not happen. However, it is always good to be prepared. As for potential “next man up guys” there isn’t a lot more depth out there. Ryan Tannihill, Kyle Allen, Josh Rosen and Taysom Hill hold the most interest, whilst there is also RGIII, Tyrod Taylor and Blake Bortles out there. However, outside of these options, there isn’t much worth discussing.
That isn’t a sign of disrespect to those guys. However, the NFL and its teams do not tend to overly invest in backup QBs. Teams tend to lose their franchise QB and then tend to throw in the towel for the season. That is why the Nick Foles story was so compelling. Because not only has that never happened before, but it might never happen again. That is, until NFL teams invest more in backup QBs.
Gaining an Advantage
However, for fantasy, it is important to know who is out there. Fantasy football is all about gaining an advantage. And we hope that by reading this, you are able to get ahead of the competition, and select the right fantasy QB option for you, when you need to rely on them.
Remember, you can always reach out to us should you need anything. But until next time Rush Nation, Keep Rushing!