YOUNG GUNS II
Just before the start of this season I wrote an article, Young Guns, in which I examined the 5 rookie quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, RG III, Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill) and made my predictions on how their rookie seasons would end up. I can honestly say that I was very impressed at this group as a whole, but the talent at the top really made an impact on Fantasy and the NFL this season.
All 5 of the rookie quarterbacks have started all 13 games for their respective teams this season, with differing results. In this article I am going share my preseason prediction and then my revelations from 13 games from each of these guys. Let’s get right into these Young Guns.
Prediction - Andrew Luck – Luck has been called the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, and interestingly enough he will be replacing Manning in Indianapolis this season. The normal pressure that would come replacing Manning has been diminished a bit since they suffered through horrible quarterback play last season. Luck knew he was going to be the starter as soon as he signed his contract. Luck is going to be plagued by inconsistent play in his first season. He does not have a lot of help at the running back position with Donald Brown and will need to throw the ball a lot this season as the Colts figure to be behind in most of their games, especially against NFC North who they match up with this season. Luck will have veteran help in the form of Reggie Wayne, but other than that he has 2 rookie tight ends and a concussed Austin Collie. Luck is going to have some bright moments this season, but it will be a learning process. Expect Luck to be more of the traditional rookie quarterback who will throw about the same amount of interceptions as touchdowns. In keeper formats he is a must have at the quarterback position.
Revelation – Luck has done a marvelous job in leading his Colts to an impressive 9-4 record. As I predicted, Luck has been inconsistent on the season with 18 TD to 18 INT, although he has added 5 rushing TD. Luck has shown his ability to be a dominant quarterback with six 300-yard passing games on the season, including a rookie record 433-yard performance in week 9 against Miami. Luck has had some issues on the road this season throwing 8 TD to 13 INT in 6 road games so far this season. That compares to the 10 TD and 5 INT he has thrown at home, although Luck has averaged 306 yards passing per game on the road, compared to 279 yards passing per game at home. Luck has taken a young team and is going to lead them into the NFL playoffs in his first season, another first for a first overall quarterback draft pick. Luck has taken a bunch of young wide receivers, and Reggie Wayne, and formed them into a formidable receiving corps. Luck has a veteran’s ability to have poise in the pocket and has led his team back in the 4th quarter more than once this season. The Fantasy production we saw out of Luck was impressive and inconsistent, but for where he was drafted he made an impact this season. Going forward Luck is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Prediction - RG III – RG III is the sexy pick this season to be this year’s Cam Newton. He has an amazing arm and has the ability to run as well, which has everyone in fantasy ready to crown him as the next big thing. RG III has the benefit of going to a team that does have more weapons than Luck has in Indy. Garcon was a great addition through free agency and RG III should lean on him as well as Fred Davis. There is a running game for RG III, but no one, not even those on the Redskins, knows who it will be from week to week. RG III can run which is going to be his best asset in fantasy this season. If you are in a league that does not have bonuses for 300-yard games, then RG III and his ability to run for 50 yards and score a TD will increase his fantasy value. I don’t expect him to dominate the league with his arm as a pocket passer, but of all the rookies he has the best chance to make an impact due to his ability to run and should get at least 5 rushing TD this season.
Revelation – I can say that I was right that he had the best chance to make an impact this season, but I was way off on just how impactful he would be. Like Andrew Luck, RG III has thrown for 18 TD on the season and rushed for 6 more, although unlike Luck, RG III has only thrown 4 INT on the season. The ability for such a dynamic player to be able to secure the ball for his team is why his Redskins are still making a playoff push. RG III is the dual threat as he has only thrown for 2,902 yards and has only had three 300-yard passing games, but has rushed for 748 yards on the season. The 24 TD to 4 INT is a rate that would make any Fantasy owner happy and then you think about all the big scoring plays he has made on the season and if you didn’t draft him, you wish you did. RG III has had the biggest impact of any of this year’s rookie quarterbacks. He has led countless Fantasy teams to the playoffs, but is now dealing with Grade 1 MCL sprain. That is always the risk from a running quarterback, but RG III can also throw and throw accurately. Next season this guy will be gone by the 2nd round in every draft.
Prediction - Brandon Weeden – Weeden earned his job by being someone not named Colt McCoy. Weeden was taken in the first round by the Browns and is being given the keys to the car, which appears to be a 1982 Buick LeSabre station wagon. Weeden’s best weapon on the team is fellow rookie Trent Richardson, who is dealing with a knee issue after off-season surgery and a subsequent clean out. The fact is that Weeden is in a tough division and does not have the weapons in the receiving game that give him a lot of hope for fantasy this season. Greg Little is the number 1 one option at receiver and they will be relying on second year tight end Jordan Cameron who had all of 6 catches his rookie season. Weeden is destined to have the typical rookie season and I expect more interceptions than touchdowns and in my mind is a rookie to avoid this season.
Revelation – Weeden, like Luck, was surrounded by a lot of rookies on the offense, which did not help him early on, but as the season moved on we learned that he had a real deep threat in rookie Josh Gordon. Weeden did prove me right as he has 13 TD to 15 INT on the season thus far. Weeden was not able to throw for more than 2 TD in any game, and threw for 2 TD five times on the season. Weeden threw for three 300-yard games, but was held under 250 yards 8 times on the season. Weeden had a good run in weeks 2-7 where he threw for an average of 277.5 yards per game and threw 9 TD to 6 INT. After that, Weeden was not much of a factor, but he did show that he is a much more capable quarterback than Colt McCoy. Going into next season Weeden should not be viewed as a top 12 quarterback, but if they give him some more weapons in the offseason, he could be a sleeper candidate for next year.
Prediction - Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill seems destined to the same fate as Weeden. He does not have any help at the wide receiver position as all of his receivers are going undrafted in 10 team and in most 12 team drafts. That is very bad sign. His running game is not proven with Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush. Thomas dealt with injuries last season and has not looked good this preseason. Bush is still a risk for injury himself, but seems like he will be the biggest benefactor to Tannehill starting, with his ability to make catches out of the backfield. This is a real tough situation for Tannehill to step into and he was not supposed to be in this position as he was supposed to back up David Garrard until he suffered an injury in the preseason. Tannehill needs some help at the skill positions and will not be viable until he gets some.
Revelation – Tannehill had the most disappointing season of all the rookies, but he was not even supposed to be the starter. Tannehill has only managed to throw 8 TD on the season compared to 12 INT. Tannehill did and does not have much help around him on offense and it showed with Tannehill only throwing for one 300-yard game on the year. It is hard to get excited about his season with his lack of weapons at the wide receiver, when you consider all of his wide receivers went undrafted in most Fantasy leagues this season. Tannehill needs to get some help for him to have a positive outlook for next season, but he seems to be the quarterback in the worst situation. Tannehill threw for under 250 yards 10 times on the season to this point. With no playmakers theFantasy present and future does not look good for Tannehill.
Prediction - Russell Wilson – Wilson is the least likely rookie quarterback to be starting this season. Wilson was a third round draft pick and seemed to be well behind Matt Flynn who was brought in as a free agent. Then training camp and the preseason started and Seattle realized that Flynn was smoke and mirrors, while Wilson was proving himself. Wilson was a winner in college and looks to bring that confidence to the NFL. He is another quarterback who runs the ball if necessary and likely will get many opportunities this season. Wilson has a chance to be the third best option of the rookie quarterbacks this season and could push Andrew Luck for second if he runs the ball as much as I think he will. Wilson does not have very good receivers, but he is an accurate passer and will stick with the shorter passing game this season. In my opinion, Wilson will not have a 300 yard passing game this season, but the running potential makes him a nice deep flyer this year.
Revelation – The start of the season was a shaky one for Wilson as he was averaging 163 yards passing over his first 5 games and had 5 TD to 6 INT. Then as I predicted his winner mentality and leadership took over as he gained confidence being the starter. Over his last 8 games Wilson has averaged 209 yards passing a game, but has thrown 15 TD to only 3 INT. Like RG III, Wilson has shown an amazing ability to not turn the ball over. Although unlike RG III, Wilson has not rushed for a TD on the season and did not run as much as I expected him to at the outset of the season. All of these stats indicate a quarterback with potential to be something as he develops. As far as Fantasy this season Wilson started to become more consistent down the stretch, but the lack of yardage is a killer in a league that has become pass happy. Wilson still needs more weapons in the passing game, but looking to next season with an offseason to develop more he could move up those charts next season.
Overall this has been an amazing season for these Young Guns, and their successes should make other NFL teams feel more comfortable handing over the keys to a rookie going forward. The thing that sticks out to me more than anything is the real success these players had in the NFL this year. There is a possibility that Luck, RG III and Russell Wilson are all playing in the playoffs this season, which would be unheard of. The experience that would give those players would benefit them greatly next season. I think it is also safe to say that we are going to have to wait a long time to see another group of Young Guns like this posse.
BY HOUDINI (email me)