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Fantasy Football: What To Expect From Sophomore Quarterbacks

Watson-Aaron Doster USA Today

Three second-year signal callers were among the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks last season; can we expect more of the same this year?

Heading into the 2017 NFL season, there were three sophomore signal callers locked into starting roles with their respective teams. Each had a drastically different rookie year, and each entered their second go-round with varying expectations. 

This time last year, we took a look at Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and Jared Goff, examining their fantasy value as trendy bust and breakout picks. But football is football, so of course, all three diverted from preseason expectations.  

A year removed from Rookie of the Year honors, Prescott took a step back during his encore performance, but still provided serviceable numbers for a fantasy QB1. Many foresaw a coming out party for Wentz, but few outside of Philadelphia predicted he’d emerge as an MVP candidate before a season-ending injury. Goff was a similar story; he was expected by many to at least make marginal improvements, but his emergence as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league was one of the bigger surprises of the year. 

With the 2018 season set to kick off in just a few weeks, there are once again three sophomore quarterbacks who have definitively been handed the reigns of an NFL offense. One set the league on fire in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury, one had a mixed bag of results after assuming the starting role, and the other hardly played at all. Here’s a look at that trio and their fantasy outlook for the upcoming season.

Deshaun Watson

 
Whether or not Deshaun Watson is a disappointment this season all depends on your expectations. If he’s able to play a full 16, the Clemson product should be able to put up top-10 numbers at the position, with the potential to reach top-five. But if you expect Watson to maintain the blistering pace he set when he was healthy last season (1,699 passing yards, 21 total touchdowns in seven games), you may be disappointed.  

The Houston signal caller has as high of a ceiling as anyone not named Rodgers or Brady, but it is more likely than not that there will be occasional sophomore struggles. Based on ESPN’s ADP, he is currently being taken before known commodities such as Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. Watson is still a fantasy starter, but going with a proven veteran makes more sense.  

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes  


Patrick Mahomes stands out from last year’s crop of sophomores in that he was never given an extended run as a starter during his rookie season. The gunslinger instead spent his first year holding a clipboard, aside from a Week 17 matchup in which Kansas City rested their starters. 

The Chiefs’ willingness to trade Alex Smith this offseason shows their faith in Mahomes, but that doesn’t mean you should look at him as a fantasy starter just yet. The Texas Tech product is essentially a redshirt rookie, so there will surely be an adjustment period, as well as a fair share of turnovers. Look at James Winston’s rookie season (4,042 passing yards, 28 total touchdowns, 15 interceptions) for a realistic ceiling for Mahomes this year, a stat line that ranked 13th among quarterbacks in standard scoring. The upside for more is worth taking a chance on in your draft, but make sure he’s paired with a dependable option, such as Philip Rivers

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Mitchell Trubisky 


We’ve all heard the Goff comparisons by now, and while they’re a bit lazy, there is no denying there are some clear parallels between the two. Just like Goff, Mitchell Trubisky was the first quarterback selected in his draft class, had a less-than-inspiring rookie season, and now enters his second campaign with a new, young, offensive-minded head coach and an improved supporting cast.  

Expecting Trubisky to put up Goff-esque numbers this season may be asking a bit much, however. The Chicago QB will almost certainly improve upon his pedestrian 2017 numbers (2,193 passing yards, nine total touchdowns, seven interceptions in 12 games), but the Bears don’t have the auxiliary pieces to make the same meteoric leap the Rams made. Trubisky is currently the QB23 based on ESPN’s ADP, which seems about right. While he certainly has the potential to outplay that draft slot, it’s unlikely he emerges as a fantasy starter. 

Edited by Jeremy Losak.

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