Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones and Zach Wilson are slated to make their pro debuts this week. Is there any wisdom in immediately tossing them into a fantasy lineup? Or is the smarter play to use defenses playing against quarterbacks with no pro experience?
With this kind of deal, it’s always fun to roll out the numbers of similar players who’ve been in the same kind of situation in the past. Every situation is different and must be considered on its own merits, but it provides a general lay of the land.
In the last 10 years, 31 quarterbacks selected with first-round picks have made their debuts, and they’ve gone 10-20-1 in those games. On average, they’ve completed 18 of 31 passes for 220 yards, with an additional 22 rushing yards. In those 31 starts, I’m seeing 34 TD passes and 7 TD runs.
Seven of those 31 quarterbacks, including half of the last six, have thrown for over 300 yards. Another three have gone over 270, which is also healthy total. Marcus Mariota tossed 4 TDs in his first game, while 10 others have thrown 2 TDs.
Probably the two most notably debuts (for fantasy purposes) would be Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III in 2011 and 2012. With both of those of those guys, it was clear from the first game that they were going to be factors – that they should have been picked earlier in fantasy drafts, and that the NFL landscape had shifted.
There have been a couple of notable debuts the last two years, with Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert.
These 31 rookie quarterbacks haven’t made quite as many mistakes as you might think, with a combined 78 sacks, 33 interceptions and 23 fumbles (8 of which were recovered by the other team). If you had production over 16 games (an NFL season up until now) it would be 40 sacks, 16 interceptions and 4 lost fumbles – below-average, but something short of a gold mine.
For these 2021 quarterbacks (and it’s looking like Trey Lance and Justin Fields will need to wait) Lawrence to me looks like the one most likely to maybe surprisingly put up top-10 numbers right out of the box. He is also (I think) more likely than Jones or Wilson to maybe serve up a healthy portion of sacks and turnovers.
|FIRST-ROUND QUARTERBACKS, FIRST STARTS|
|2011||Cam Newton, Car.||at Ariz.||L 21-28||422||2||1||0-0||4||18||1|
|2011||Christian Ponder, Minn.||G.B.||L 27-33||219||2||2||0-0||2||31||0|
|2011||Jake Locker, Tenn.||N.E.||L 14-34||229||1||1||1-1||2||11||0|
|2011||Blaine Gabbert, Jac.||at Car.||L 10-16||139||1||1||3-0||2||2||0|
|2012||Robert Griffin III, Wash.||at N.O.||W 40-32||320||2||0||1-0||2||42||0|
|2012||Andrew Luck, Ind.||at Chi.||L 21-41||309||1||3||1-1||3||9||0|
|2012||Ryan Tannehill, Mia.||at Hou.||L 10-30||219||0||3||1-0||2||-4||0|
|2012||Brandon Weeden, Clev.||Phil.||L 16-17||118||0||4||2-0||2||25||0|
|2013||EJ Manuel, Buff.||N.E.||L 21-23||150||2||0||0-0||0||23||0|
|2014||Blake Bortles, Jac.||at S.D.||L 14-33||254||1||2||0-0||3||24||0|
|2014||Teddy Bridgewater, Minn.||Atl.||W 41-28||317||0||0||0-0||0||27||1|
|2014||Johnny Manziel, Clev.||Cin.||L 0-30||80||0||2||0-0||3||13||0|
|2015||Marcus Mariota, Tenn.||at T.B.||W 42-14||209||4||0||0-0||2||6||0|
|2015||Jameis Winston, T.B.||Tenn.||L 14-42||210||2||2||2-0||4||18||0|
|2016||Carson Wentz, Phil.||Clev.||W 29-10||278||2||0||2-0||2||1||0|
|2016||Paxton Lynch, Den.||Atl.||L 16-23||223||1||1||2-0||6||18||0|
|2016||Jared Goff, LAR||Mia.||L 10-14||134||0||0||0-0||1||11||0|
|2017||Mitchell Trubisky, Chi.||Min.||L 17-20||128||1||1||1-1||1||22||0|
|2017||Patrick Mahomes, K.C.||at Den.||W 27-24||284||0||1||0-0||2||10||0|
|2017||Deshaun Watson, Hou.||at Cin.||W 13-9||125||0||0||0-0||3||67||1|
|2018||Baker Mayfield, Clev.||at Oak.||L 42-45||295||2||2||2-2||2||10||0|
|2018||Sam Darnold, NYJ||at Det.||W 48-17||198||2||1||0-0||2||-1||0|
|2018||Josh Allen, Buff.||LAC||L 20-31||245||1||2||0-0||5||32||0|
|2018||Josh Rosen, Ariz.||Sea.||L 17-20||180||1||0||0-0||1||13||0|
|2018||Lamar Jackson, Balt.||Cin.||W 24-21||150||0||1||1-0||3||119||0|
|2019||Daniel Jones, NYG||at T.B.||W 32-31||336||2||0||2-2||5||28||2|
|2019||Kyler Murray, Ariz.||Det.||T 27-27||308||2||1||0-0||5||13||0|
|2019||Dwayne Haskins, Was.||at Buff.||L 9-24||144||0||0||0-0||3||14||0|
|2020||Justin Herbert, LAC||K.C.||L 20-23||311||1||1||0-0||2||18||1|
|2020||Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.||LAR||W 28-17||93||1||0||1-1||1||0||0|
|2020||Joe Burrow, Cin.||LAC||L 13-16||193||0||1||1-0||3||46||1|
|2021||Trevor Lawrence, Jac.||at Hou.||?||?||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|2021||Zach Wilson, NYJ||at Car.||?||?||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|2021||Mac Jones, N.E.||Mia.||?||?||?||?||?||?||?||?|