The 2016 NFL rookie class saw a handful of rookie quarterbacks make their debut under center with the likes of Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz finding success and starting the majority of their teams contests. Others such as Jared Goff, Cody Kessler, Paxton Lynch and Jacoby Brissett also started games for their respective organizations but with varying level of success. The question now is whether or not these players will be taking steps forward in year two and find fantasy value or suffer the dreaded sophomore slump.
Dak Prescott (DAL)
Starting right off the bat with the biggest surprise of the 2016 NFL season in Dak Prescott. Prescott took over for an injured Tony Romo during the preseason and just never looked back as he finished the year throwing for 3,667 with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. Prescott also added 282 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as he was a complete threat for opposing defenses. Prescott found all this success while also missing top target Dez Bryant for the majority of the season as he himself was dealing with various injuries. We now turn the page to the 2017 season where the Cowboys still figure to feature a run heavy offense behind Ezekiel Elliott which will likely limit the overall upside of Prescott but if he can continue to be an efficient game manager while taking more shots down field, with a currently healthy Dez Bryant starting on the outside, fantasy owners could see a bump in both passing yards and touchdowns. Prescott is currently being taken as the ninth quarterback off the board with an ADP of 66 marking him as a fifth-to-sixth round pick in most standard league formats which at least to me seems a little bit high.
Carson Wentz (PHI)
The Eagles, at least after year one, have to be thrilled to have seen Carson Wentz fall to No.2 overall after the Rams decided on Jared Goff as the No.1 overall pick. Wentz appeared in all 16 games for the Eagles last year, throwing for 3,782 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Wentz also ran for 150 yards and added two scores on the ground. Unfortunately for fantasy owners Wentz turned out to be a bit better as a real life QB than a fantasy QB as a rookie. Not all of that was his fault however as the Eagles offense struggled with consistent play from their skill position players at both running back and wide receiver. The Eagles did not boast a receiver with more than 820 yards with both Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz finishing the year with 804 and 816 yards respectively. The team’s third leading receiver was running back Darren Sproles who found himself part of a tumultuous running back rotation that featured Ryan Matthews and Wendall Smallwood as well. Things however could be on the up for Wentz in 2017 as the Eagles signed receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to join Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz as the top receiving targets. Jeffery has a few thousand yard receiving seasons under his belt and at 27 years old is still one of the leagues better threats down field. The prospects off added weapons should bode well for the Eagles passing attack this season and the fantasy value for Wentz who is currently being taken as the 18th QB off the board and 136th overall.
Jared Goff (LAR)
The Rams invested the No.1 overall pick in Jared Goff but a poor preseason and the presence of Case Keenum saw Goff begin the year on the bench. Goff finally got his first NFL start in Week 11 against the Dolphins and finished out the season under center for the Rams. The team went 0-7 with Goff as the starter and he finished the year throwing for 1.089 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Goff attempted a measly 5.3 yards per pass while completing just 54.6-percent of his throws. The Rams lost their leading receiver from 2016 in Kenny Britt to free-agency but did their best to get Goff some targets in the draft as they used their 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks on pass catchers. Goff is currently going undrafted in nearly all formats as he profiles as the 34th QB drafted with an ADP of 262.
Cody Kessler (CLE)
The plan for the Browns was never for Cody Kessler to start the majority of the teams games but injuries to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown led to Kessler, the Browns 3rd round pick, appearing in nine games in 2016. Kessler finished the season completing 65.6-percent of his passes for 1,380 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He is currently listed as the teams starting QB on the depth chart but the Browns also went and traded for Brock Osweiler this offseason after his miserable year in Houston and he too will be competing during training camp for the starting gig. The Browns lost their leading receiver in Terrell Pryor to the Redskins in free agency but signed Kenny Britt who managed to catch 68 passes for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns as part of the leagues worst passing attack with the Rams last year. Kessler is not being drafted in most standard leagues as he is the 33rd QB being taken off the board with an ADP of 276.
Paxton Lynch (DEN)
The Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch with the 26th overall pick in 2016 draft knowing that he has the raw talent but was still a year or so away from being the teams starting quarterback. Unfortuantely for Denver they did not have much in the way of depth at the position with just 2nd year player Trevor Seimein slated to be the team’s starting QB following the Peyton Manning retirement and departure of Brock Osweiler to Houston. Siemian held his own and is slated to be the Broncos starter heading into 2017 but there is little doubt who the Broncos organization is hoping will be able to overtake that job in training camp and that is Lynch. Lynch did find his way into three games as a rookie which saw him complete 59-percent of his passes for 497 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Lynch has a big but inaccurate arm so it will be interesting to see what strides he made this offseason as Denver still has plenty of playmakers at wide receiver, headlined by Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Lynch is currently being drafted as the 28th QB off the board with an ADP of 255 but if he is named the starter after a good preseason that could rise and see him as a QB2 in two-QB formats.
Down the Depth Chart
Jacoby Brissett (NE)
The Patriots surprised many by taking Jacoby Brissett in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft with the team seemingly secure with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart but the draft pick seemingly paid off as Brissett found himself playing in three of the four games Tom Brady was suspended for to start the season. Brissett made his NFL debut in the second half of the team’s second game of the season after Garoppolo went down with an injury. In that game Brissett completed 6-of-9 passes for 92 yards. Overall, Brissett finished the season completing 61.8-percent of his passes for 400 yards. He added 83 yards and a touchdown on the ground. There is no fantasy value with Brissett for this season as Tom Brady is healthy and ready to start the season and baring an injury Jimmy Garoppolo is also ahead of him on the New England depth chart.