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There Are Some New Starting Quarterbacks. Does It Matter?


This was supposed to be the year of the quarterback. The position was deeper than it had arguably ever been, and fantasy owners who usually waited to take a quarterback were extremely excited that they could get the caliber of quarterback late in drafts that were available.

But football isn't played on paper and injuries, retirements, and inefficiency have essentially ruined the position. Players who were expected to have strong years just aren't for various reasons. Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Mitch Trubisky are all averaging under 15 fantasy points per game. Cam Newton's on IR. Matt Schaub is starting games.

But the last couple of weeks have seen the introduction of some new names into the starting lineups across the league. Will any of those guys matter from a fantasy perspective?

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Brandon Allen - Denver Broncos

Brandon Allen has already had one start for the Broncos and he looked serviceable in that start, going 12-for-20 for 193 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Denver beat the Cleveland Browns.

Okay! Those are definitely fine numbers if you're looking for someone to help your real-life NFL team manage games, but is there fantasy value in Allen?

With no NFL track record and a college career that we're pretty far removed from, it's hard to get a read on Allen's upside. But we can get really #SmallSampleSize here and look at his Week 9 numbers and how they stack up against the rest of the NFL.

Allen had the eighth-fewest passing yards of the week. He had the fifth-lowest completion percentage.

But his average intended air yards were fourth among quarterbacks. Before diving into the numbers, I assumed that wouldn't be the case, especially when a lot of his actual yards on the day came via some Noah Fant YAC.

And yet, even knowing that Allen might have some interest in targeting players down the field doesn't really make me feel super good about him. I don't love the weapons around him, which consist of Courtland Sutton, rookie tight end Noah Fant, and then some other guys. I don't love that the Broncos have two solid running backs who can help them operate a run-first scheme that limits how much Allen has to throw. And I don't like that Allen isn't in the team's long term plans (unless you think that they're already going to admit they were wrong on Drew Lock), so they have no real reason to let him loose offensively.

Does Brandon Allen matter for fantasy purposes? Nah.

 

Ryan Finley - Cincinnati Bengals

In the great tradition of NC State quarterbacks in the NFL -- Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Jacoby Brissett -- comes Ryan Finley.

Finley's an interesting player. If we look at his college production versus the other rookie quarterbacks, we see that Finley had:

Stats aren't everything, but Finley's college career did suggest that he had the upside to be a solid quarterback in the right spot.

But is Cincinnati that right spot?

Under first-year head coach Zac Taylor, the Bengals are 11th in the NFL in passing yards per game with 257.8. They've also allowed the seventh-most sacks in the league. Veteran passer Andy Dalton performed decently from a fantasy perspective, ranking just inside the top-20 in fantasy scoring, which made him a playable option in two-quarterback leagues.

But should we expect Finley to perform at Dalton's level? Ehh, maybe.

The Bengals have the league's worst run-blocking offensive line per Football Outsiders' adjusted line yards stat, which means that Finley shouldn't expect to be able to rely on the run game to help him out. He'll be forced to throw more than you're comfortable asking a rookie to throw.

He'll be helped out by something Dalton didn't have, though, which is the return of wide receiver A.J. Green, which should be coming at some point this season. A healthy Green (probably?) ranks among the NFL's best receivers and offers Finley a really good target to utilize. Tyler Boyd returns to a secondary role and should be a good safety valve. This team has some good skill position players who can make life easier on Finley.

But does it matter? In a one-QB league, it doesn't matter. Even if Finley is technically better than Andy Dalton, he's not going to end up as a starting option unless he really exceeds expectations. I guess he might technically have more upside than a lot of guys based on Zac Taylor's offense, which is why he definitely should be roster in two-QB or superflex leagues, but I'm not ready to say anything else about him.

 

Nick Foles - Jacksonville Jaguars

Nick Foles returns from his collarbone injury after Jacksonville's Week 10 bye and has already been announced as the team's starting quarterback.

As a Foles owner in a superflex league, Foles' return is the most exciting change at the position right now. But, does it matter?

Nick Foles was thought to be somewhere around the 20th-best fantasy quarterback heading into this season. With Foles out, Gardner Minshew performed as the QB17 on a week-to-week basis (minimum seven games played).

QB17 is pretty much in line with what I thought Foles could do this season, but when projecting that I wasn't projecting D.J. Chark to become a viable end zone weapon for the Jaguars. Foles rejoins a team that's actually in a good position for him to put up numbers around the QB15 range for the rest of the season. Leonard Fournette's been running the ball well, which should result in more defenders crowding the line of scrimmage, which opens up space for Foles to throw. In fact, Fournette is actually second among running backs in stacked front carry rate, facing stacked boxes on 36.2 percent of his throws. Let Foles get some play-action going in these conditions and he should be able to exploit defenses better than Minshew was.

Does Nick Foles being a starting quarterback again matter? I think so. He's a viable backup in one-QB leagues and likely worth a start in two-QB leagues.

 

Dwayne Haskins - Washington Redskins

While I was fairly high on Dwayne Haskins heading into the NFL Draft -- at least in the "I'd go Haskins over Daniel Jones" sense -- his brief time in the NFL has not looked great.

Haskins came in in relief in Week 4, throwing three interceptions. Through two relief appearances and one start, Haskins has still failed to throw a touchdown and in a 24-9 loss to Buffalo, Haskins was 15-for-22 for 144 yards. He didn't throw a pick, but he also didn't do a single thing that really made me think he was going to be anything but a non-entity as a rookie.

Haskins is expected to start after Washington's Week 10 bye, but man...I don't think I need to use many words to say that Haskins isn't worth a fantasy roster spot. This is a team that's got so little talent on offense right now and Haskins has looked lost as a passer based on what we've seen. If he remains the starter all year, he'll likely have a game or two where he shows some of that potential that got him drafted so highly, but you shouldn't be betting your fantasy season on your ability to predict when those two games are going to happen.

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