Marcus Mariota has looked good in both of his preseason appearances. I’m starting to think it’s time to consider whether he might be surprisingly decent as a second quarterback (in a typical 12-team fantasy league).

Mariota at Detroit completed both of his passes while also showing a willingness to take off and gain yards with his legs – 3 carries for 23 yards. Rushing production, of course, tends to be richly rewarded in most fantasy formats.

And Mariota was good again last year against the Jets, leading scoring drives on two of his three possessions. He threw a 52-yard completion to Kyle Pitts, and he zipped in a nice touchdown throw against tight coverage to Olamide Zaccheaus.

For the preseason, Mariota has completed 8 of 12 passes for 168 yards, with a touchdown and no turnovers. While that’s a small sample size or work against mostly backups, it generates a passer rating of 137.5.

I’m not saying Mariota is going to be a surprise top-15 quarterback. The Falcons might be the worst team in the league. But I think it’s fair to wonder if Mariota can outproduce some of the other quarterbacks typically being drafted as lesser second quarterbacks – Tua Tagovailoa, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, Justin Fields and the like.

Just for fun, I pulled up the passing stats for the last five preseasons. There have been 47 other quarterbacks (10 att min) who’ve finished with passer ratings over 100 and then gone on to start at least half the season. The preseason production hasn’t tended to point towards regular season success.

Of those other 47, 17 finished with top-10 per game numbers (standard scoring), but 15 finished in the bottom 10. The other 15 finished in the middle.

On the chart below, players in bold are those with a decent chance of starting over half of this season.

Mariota himself has put up good preseason numbers in the past. He was a middle-of-the-pack quarterback in 2016, but he struggled mightily in 2018.

GOOD IN THE PRESEASON (regular-season numbers)
2021• Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.158.316233.8.31.4417.623
2017Philip Rivers, LAC155.216282.2-.11.7521.19
2018• Joe Flacco, Balt.141.49273.95.01.3319.523
2022Kenny Pickett, Pitt.138.6??????
2017Dak Prescott, Dall.138.416207.822.31.7520.412
2016Dak Prescott, Dall.137.816229.217.61.8121.217
2021• Zach Wilson, NYJ137.713179.514.21.0015.231
2022Marcus Mariota, Atl.137.5??????
2019Daniel Jones, NYG137.312250.822.82.1724.28
2017Josh McCown, NYJ137.213225.19.51.7720.114
2016Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.136.414272.81.02.1422.97
2022Patrick Mahomes, K.C.133.8??????
2021• Baker Mayfield, Cle.132.514215.09.61.2917.028
2022Drew Lock, Sea.131.1??????
2018Andy Dalton, Cin.130.911233.39.01.9120.221
2017Russell Wilson, Sea.130.816248.936.62.3126.01
2021• Teddy Bridgewater, Den.130.014218.07.61.4317.724
2017Derek Carr, Oak.128.815233.14.41.4718.220
2017Tom Brady, N.E.128.616286.11.82.0022.75
2018Dak Prescott, Dall.128.216242.819.11.7522.016
2021Tom Brady, T.B.127.917312.74.82.6526.93
2018Jameis Winston, T.B.126.99294.228.71.8925.44
2019Patrick Mahomes, K.C.125.514287.915.62.0024.47
2017Carson Wentz, Phil.125.213253.523.02.5425.72
2021Josh Allen, Buff.122.917259.244.92.4728.31
2019Dak Prescott, Dall.122.916306.417.32.0625.86
2019• Sam Darnold, NYJ120.613232.64.81.6219.326
2019Ryan Tannehill, Ten.119.710259.818.12.6026.23
2021Sam Darnold, Car.116.011212.519.21.2718.518
2019• Jacoby Brissett, Ind.113.515196.115.21.4717.928
2019• Mason Rudolph, Pitt.113.38190.54.41.2515.030
2017• Jay Cutler, Mia.111.914190.42.31.3615.227
2016• Case Keenum, L.A.111.19241.05.71.1117.328
2016Blake Bortles, Jac.110.216244.122.41.6921.99
2017Marcus Mariota, Ten.110.015215.520.81.2018.319
2016Jameis Winston, T.B.108.516255.610.31.8121.612
2022Mitchell Trubisky, Pitt.108.5??????
2016Andy Dalton, Cin.107.516262.911.51.3820.320
2016Kirk Cousins, Was.107.316307.36.01.8123.76
2021• Trevor Lawrence, Jac.106.517214.219.6.8216.229
2016Tyrod Taylor, Buff.106.215201.538.71.5321.118
2017• Mitchell Trubisky, Chi.106.212182.820.7.7514.729
2019Lamar Jackson, Balt.105.515208.580.42.8730.91
2018• Marcus Mariota, Ten.105.113186.823.51.0016.031
2016Marcus Mariota, Ten.104.115228.423.31.8721.514
2018Patrick Mahomes, K.C.103.516318.617.03.2531.01
2017Matthew Stafford, Det.103.316277.96.11.8122.08
2017• Jacoby Brissett, Ind.103.215203.117.31.1317.025
2016• Sam Bradford, Min.102.615258.53.51.3318.625
2019Matthew Stafford, Det.102.38312.48.32.3825.94
2017Case Keenum, Min.101.914243.49.91.5719.716
2018Tom Brady, N.E.101.916272.22.21.9421.819

—Ian Allan