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Breaking Down the New Crop of Young Quarterbacks


We're entering the third week of the 2019 regular season. Heck, teams are just one-eighth through their seasons. But we've already seen--or will see--as many as eight new players unexpectedly taking on starting quarterback duties! All of them came into 2019 with a backup role attached to their name.

Be it because of injury (Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger,...), precaution (Cam Newton), retirement (Andrew Luck), or just plain bad performance (Eli Manning), there are a handful of replacement quarterbacks primed to make a statement during the remaining 15 weeks of the season. And the mixture of profiles can't be more diverse, believe me.

Ranging from unproven rookies to long-time veteran backups, there is a lot to study from Week 3 going forward. We have already seen some of these new quarterbacks in action, while others have yet to make their official debuts. Let's take a look at their individual situations and fantasy values to see if you should consider rostering any of them.

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Jacoby Brissett, IND (Andrew Luck's post-retirement heir)

And with a snap of the finger, Andrew Luck's career is done. Who would have predicted this less than a month ago? After taking quite a beating during his six-year playing career (174 times sacked on 86 games; career 2.0 sacks per game), Luck waved goodbye to football and left the NFL for good. That left former third-round pick of the Patriots, Jacoby Brissett, in charge of the offense rather than the clipboard.

Fortunately for Indianapolis, they had traded for Jacoby Brissett back in 2017 when Luck missed that season due to injury. Brissett played 16 games and started 15 in 2017, completing 58.8% of his passes (276-of-469) for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. He finished the season with 242.9 PPR points good for QB21 that year, and even had one 30-plus PPR performance.

So far in 2019, with much more time under the Colts system and not stepping into the attack's leading role without notice, Brissett has looked good. He's already amassed 37.3 PPR points (virtually similar games of 18.4 and 18.9 PPR respectively), completed 38 of 56 attempts for 318 yards on a 68 completion rate, thrown five touchdowns and limited his interceptions to only one. He has also added 34 yards through the ground on 10 rushing attempts. Brissett has a QBR of 104.6, 10th-best among QB.

Fantasy Value: Brissett is a known name around these places. While he's not a league winner, he is part of a team that was treated like a Super Bowl contender prior to Luck's retirement. The players surrounding him are the same they were before that news hit, so Brissett has enough tools to produce weekly. While he doesn't cut it as a QB1 for fantasy purposes, he could very well end the season as a high-end QB2 and be more than a viable option in deep or 2QB leagues. Keep an eye on him once the bye weeks start rolling as a very good pickup through the waiver wire.

 

Gardner Minshew, JAX (Nick Foles' temporary replacement)

Nick Foles has been in the NFL since 2010(!). You know him as the guy who backed up Wentz in Philadelphia and led the Eagles to a championship. And that is why Jacksonville brought him to the team this season to take on the starter role. Foles' best days came all the way back to 2012, and up to 2015, a span in which he started 35 games for Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Even knowing injuries are a prominent part of the NFL, Foles' luck couldn't be worse. After just eight pass attempts, and during one that actually went for a touchdown, Foles injured his collarbone and was put on IR by the Jaguars. He could potentially return by Week 11, but he will miss ample time.

His backup, Gardner Minshew, is a rookie who was taken in the sixth round but was already backing up Foles in Week 1. He took over and finished his first game with 22 of 25 passes completed for 275 yards and two touchdowns with an interception (22.4 PPR). Then, he went to Houston for Week 2 and pretty much reached those standards again with 23-of-33 passes completed, 213 yards and another score of 20.3 PPR.

Fantasy Value: Until Foles is cleared to come back by Week 11 or later, Minshew will feature as the clear QB1 in Jacksonville. The Jaguars traded for Joshua Dobbs as a safety replacement in case Minshew also goes down, but the former Steeler doesn't look like a threat to snatch the leading role from Minshew. A lot of owners are buying into Minshew's hype, although it probably has to do with his off-field persona than his on-field production. Don't get caught in the hipster wave and avoid him at all costs - this offense wants to run the ball first and let their defense do the hard work.

 

Teddy Bridgewater, NO (Drew Brees' temporary replacement)

The New Orleans Saints made Bridgewater the highest-paid backup QB of the NFL recently. They trust him going forward, and he will need to seize this opportunity to show he would be capable to take on QB1 duties once Brees retires for good. In the short time he saw the field replacing Brees against the Rams in Week 2, Bridgewater didn't look that bad. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards (57% ratio), but couldn't score through the air. Actually, he relied on mid-short passes more than anything in his short outing (only eight attempts of 10+ yards, to 22 attempts of 1-to-10 yards downfield).

As a starter for Minnesota in 2014 and 2015, Bridgewater played 29 games. His 15.5 PPR/Game, although not bad, ranked him last among the 20 quarterbacks to start at least 25 games between those two seasons. He also had the lowest amount of passing yards and his TD/Int ratio was a worrying 1.33 (28-to-21 overall).

Fantasy Value: Bridgewater will have at least six weeks to prove his value until Brees return from his injury. He isn't someone you should consider as your weekly starter at the quarterback position. If you happened to have Brees (or any other injured/underperforming quarterback in your fantasy team), or are following a streaming strategy, Bridgewater could be a nice option depending on the week's matchup. He doesn't offer much upside in the passing game, but he has a good group of offensive players around him that could boost his production and has shown prowess scrambling.

 

Mason Rudolph, PIT (Ben Roethlisberger's season-long replacement)

Just one week after trading Josh Dobbs away to Jacksonville, Roethlisberger went down injured. Luckily for the Steelers, they still had a viable option on their roster in Mason Rudolph, who supposedly they valued more than Dobbs as they opted to keep the former Oklahoma State star and 2018 draftee.

In his first professional game backing up Roethlisberger against Seattle, he completed 12-of-19 passes for 112 yards, with two touchdowns (both to TE Vance McDonald) and one interception (on a pass intended for Donte Moncrief, who dropped a ball that ricocheted off his helmet and ended in a Seattle defender's hands). That wasn't the best but neither the worst performance ever, on limited playing time. The peripherals Rudolph brings from college make him a somewhat interesting prospect for the future. Big Ben has already talked about his potential retirement in the past, so dynasty owners should keep an eye on how this story develops. If Rudolph shows enough, Pittsburgh might be in a tough position deciding who they want to go with next season.

Fantasy Value: Pittsburgh's third-string QB is now Devlin Hodges. He wasn't even part of the Steelers 53-man roster, so he is no threat at all for Rudolph's playing time this season. Rudolph wasn't an option even in 2QB or deep leagues, but now he's the QB1 of Pittsburgh and a decent streaming option at the position on weeks where the matchup calls for it. Other than JuJu Smith-Schuster--and perhaps Vance McDonald--there is not a lot to like on the Steelers receiving corps, and James Conner is nothing close to an elite runner (plus he could be injured and not at 100%), so Rudolph won't get a lot of help there.

 

Daniel Jones, NYG (Eli Manning's inevitable replacement)

Before the season started we all knew New York could be entering the season in which they finally moved on from Eli Manning in favor of a new starter at QB. I still can't believe Eli only lasted two weeks, although I think this decision can only mean good things--or at least not worse things--for the Giants present and future. After starting the year 0-2 and facing serious chances of battling with Miami for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, New York took the step and announced Daniel Jones as the starting quarterback for the Week 3 game against Tampa Bay.

Jones doesn't look like anything out of this world, truth be told. The pick was criticized back in the draft night and although he put up a good preseason string of performances, it was just that, the preseason. There is a chance he lays an egg and makes way for Manning to make a comeback, but I'd be willing to bet things would have to get absolutely horrid before New York backs down and puts Eli back at the helm again.

Fantasy Value: You may have noticed I've added a table with every offensive player (not a quarterback) of the Giants above. What I wanted to show is that while the team lacks quality all over the field, it has two key players in RB Saquon Barkley and TE Evan Engram. Barkley won't help Jones much directly, but is the best player on the team and will keep defenses on alert and attract all of their attention.

Engram, on the other hand, happens to be a tight end and will more than probably turn into Jones' top passing option. Until I see what he is capable of and how he connects with his teammates, I would automatically skip rostering Jones. That means at least two weeks of playing time and testing before getting to any meaningful conclusion of his upside. For the time being, don't even consider him.

 

Luke Falk, NYJ (Sam Darnold's temporary replacement)

First of all, apologies to Trevor Siemian. He should have been part of this list but until playing a few snaps as Darnold's backup in Week 2 he also fell injured making way for Luke Falk to replace both Siemian (ankle) and Darnold (illness) at once. Cold world, Trevor.

It is expected that second-year QB Sam Darnold remains sidelined at least until Week 5 with New York having its bye week in Week 4, although the absence period could be larger. Falk is the only quarterback in the Jets roster as of today, and they're already looking for extra options to bring to the team. Luckily for them, Darnold won't be out for long.

In the meantime, Falk (a 2018 sixth-round pick) will take the team's reigns. In his first professional game backing up Siemian, he completed 20 of 25 attempts for 198 yards and no touchdowns nor interceptions. His 80% completion was good enough for a rookie on his first appearance, and he already averaged more Yards per Attempt (7.9) than Darnold did in both his rookie and 2019 seasons (6.9 and 4.3 respectively.)

Fantasy Value: Falk is just a stopgap in an offense already led by a young quarterback in Sam Darnold. Darnold's "injury" news came out of nowhere, and Siemian looked like a legit backup to the starter, but Myles Garrett ended his season with a hit in Week 2. I can't say much about Falk other than advice you to skip him all the way. Don't even check his numbers. He won't take Darnold's spot long-time, nor be valuable during the few weeks he'll be starting. At the end of the season, you'll probably have forgotten he even played.

 

Kyle Allen, CAR (Cam Newton's precautionary replacement)

Back on Tuesday NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Cam Newton had aggravated a left foot injury in Week 2 playing against Tampa Bay. It is still to be known if he will see the field on Sunday, but things don't look good as teammate Eric Reid revealed he was wearing a boot around the team's facilities.

If things go south and Newton misses this week's game, it will be Kyle Allen who steps into the QB1 role for the Panthers. Allen beat Will Grier for the second-string quarterback role this preseason.

The second-year quarterback has already two professional games in his belt. In that super small sample, Allen completed 20 of 31 attempts for 266 yards at the end of the 2018 season, throwing for two touchdowns and no interceptions. He averaged 8.6 YPA and his fantasy performances gave him 1.9  (Week 16, only four pass attempts) and 27.3 (7th-best quarterback performance of Week 17) PPR points.

Fantasy Value: Zero. None. Nil. If Falk profiles as a stopgap for the Jets, Allen is a one-hit-wonder in the making, only without the wonder part to it. Carolina's best player so far in PPR points is Christian McCaffrey, who happens to be the No. 1 option on offense and plays the RB position. He has racked up 25.1 in two weeks. He's followed, by far, by D.J. Moore (15.4), and Greg Olsen (12.3). There is a parallel universe in which Allen starts the game for Carolina and throws no passes, letting CMC carry the ball 75 times for 364 yards and four touchdowns. It is not this one, but I don't think we're too far from it.

No comment on Allen's fantasy value for now. Maybe, just maybe, if Newton misses more time, we could assess his impact for the rest of the season.

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