Maybe it was LeBron James exploiting his power to NBA owners. Or Brett Favre forcing bigwigs to move on from a franchise quarterback. Or Peyton Manning’s neck injury demanding a front-office wager like none other. Or perhaps it was Tom Brady deciding he just wanted to play somewhere else.
Whatever the catalyst, quarterback movement in the NFL feels more robust than ever. But those undergoing a relocation aren’t the only new QB starters fantasy managers have to consider this season. There are a few different categories of new QBs.
On the move
The big headlines went to Aaron Rodgers, for good reason. His move from Green Bay to the Jets mirrors Favre’s similar journey in 2008. From the Packers to the Jets, both in twilight of their careers, both ushered out in order to usher in a new QB for the Lambeau Field crowd.
Granted, it does feel as if Rodgers has more left than Favre did then. But that could be recency bias. Yet, there is little doubt these Jets have better weapons than the 2008 squad.
Thomas Jones and Leon Washington weren’t terrible running backs on those 2008 Jets, but they weren’t Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall. Laveranues Coles was a fine receiver, and Jerricho Cotchery wasn’t bad, but neither could hold a candle to Garrett Wilson.
And it is no surprise the team seems to be making every effort to make Rodgers happy. If you watch “Hard Knocks,” he appears to be the puppeteer directing the coaching staff. If that is true, sign us up. The Madman is all for an Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
But there are others who are familiar, but will be wearing unfamiliar uniforms. Derek Carr is taking his mediocrity from Las Vegas to New Orleans. That is going to be terrible, right? Well … Davante Adams relocated from Green Bay (with Rodgers as his QB) to Las Vegas last season (receiving passes from Carr), and his fantasy production went up.
That isn’t so much an endorsement of Carr as your fantasy QB, but more an alert that you shouldn’t be worried if one of your fantasy receivers is Chris Olave. Carr can deliver.
Speaking of Adams, his new QB is Jimmy Garoppolo. The same Jimmy G. who helped Deebo Samuel become the No. 2 fantasy receiver in 2021. Now, sure, Samuel had some ground game fantasy gains that Adams won’t enjoy. But no reason to panic. Adams should get plenty of looks, particularly in the red zone.
Does Baker Mayfield count? He is in a battle with Kyle Trask for the Buccaneers’ starting spot. Truthfully, we don’t care who wins this. Until one or the other proves to us they can deliver fantasy results, we are fading the Tampa Bay passing game — this means no Chris Godwin or Mike Evans.
Look, there is no Steve Young behind Joe Montana, no Rodgers behind Favre, no Danny White behind Roger Staubach (Wait, why is that last one there?). At least not that we know of. So the new starters who have been elevated from bench roles don’t inspire a lot of fantasy optimism.
If you are going to pick one who might have a surprisingly good season, it would be the Packers’ Jordan Love. He has a decent cast surrounding him. He showed something good enough for the team to part ways with an all-time great in Rodgers.
Now, we might be known as the Madman, but that doesn’t mean we are so delusional as to draft the Falcons’ Desmond Ridder as our fantasy QB. But he could be important in how you plan to address receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts in the draft.
Pitts didn’t play with Ridder last season, but London’s numbers were … different. In four games with Ridder, he averaged 6.3 catches and 83.3 yards compared to 3.6 and 41.0 in the 13 games prior. The difference: four touchdowns before Ridder, zero TDs with Ridder.
The lesson: TDs are somewhat random. In the 10 previous games, he had just two TDs, including a streak of six straight games without one. So the four-game skid with Ridder wasn’t even London’s worst TD drought of the season. Expect better from London, even if you don’t bump Pitts and leave Ridder completely off your fantasy radar.
The Commanders’ Sam Howell is practically a rookie, at least in terms of fantasy data. He played one game last season. Sure, he got to observe and stuff.
Question: In the computer age, how easy it is to watch someone blow through a procedure while sharing their screen and learning how to do it yourself? Yeah, not easy. So we really don’t know jack about Howell.
Also, it isn’t as if we’re flocking to the Washington roster for fantasy answers. Other than the tandem of Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr. as late-round depth at running back, the only other significant Commanders player is Terry McLaurin.
Apologies to Jahan Dotson. He may be a great receiver, but we may never know considering his surrounding talent. McLaurin seems like a bargain in the fifth round, but we would rather draft D.J. Moore or Chris Godwin or Brandon Aiyuk or Mike Evans; and we would rather have George Pickens or Jordan Addison or Brandin Cooks than Dotson. Just avoid.
Year 1 wonders?
If you’re planning to try to win your league this year — not planning for the future in a keeper league, or fortifying future success in a dynasty league — then you shouldn’t use rookie QBs on your fantasy teams.
Sure, there are a few who have succeeded, but they are truly few — 2011 Cam Newton, 2020 Justin Herbert and 2012 Robert Griffin III are the only ones to top the 300-point barrier. So there is no reason to reach for a rookie QB in a redraft league, or even a keeper league if you are shooting for a title this season.
But if you are in a long-standing dynasty league, a two-QB or Superflex league, or some other format that has special circumstances for QBs, then the rookie you should target — at least for immediate returns — is Anthony Richardson.
He is on a Colts offense with a top-tier running back, an above-average offensive line and at least one strong target (WR Michael Pittman Jr.). That’s more that Bryce Young can claim with the Panthers, or C.J. Stroud with the Texans. Is it worth discussing the Titans’ Will Levis, or do we all just know he won’t be a 2023 fantasy factor?