Rookie QB's in fantasy football are all the rage with the incoming class and with the 2023 fantasy football season here it continues to be a topic of debate on where they should sit when it comes to fantasy football player rankings.. Hopefully you've already been doing some fantasy football mock drafts and you've checked out the fantasy football draft guide so you can start building some strategies around how to approach the rookies in this year's draft.
But even with all of that research, you are probably still staring at certain players, wondering if drafting them at their current fantasy football ADP is, not just giving you the proper value, but if they are even right for you or your team. Is the juice worth the squeeze?
This is where we come in with our all-new Fantasy Football Player Debate series where two analysts go head-to-head and give you the pros and cons to help with your decisions.
Why You Should Draft Anthony Richardson in Fantasy Football
By Colby Conway
Anthony Richardson set the fantasy football world ablaze with the display he put on at the NFL combine. The former Florida Gator showed big time arm strength, elite athleticism, overall and for the position, and of course, how can we not mention that 4.43 40-yard dash? Richardson is a physical specimen dripping with raw talent, and he has many things that can’t be coached. However, at the NFL level, you need to be more than just an athlete to be successful at the game’s most important position, and I’m here to tell you that Richardson can do that.
Richardson’s receiving crew last year at Florida was far from the cream of the crop, and there were a ton of drops that killed his numbers. Overall, per Pro Football Focus, he had an adjusted completion percentage of 64.3 percent, and a turnover worthy play rate of 3.3 percent. Albeit comparing apples to oranges here, the adjusted completion rate doesn’t rank favorably amongst NFL quarterbacks last season, and while his turnover worthy play rate would be one of the higher marks in the league, it closely compares to Jared Goff (3.6%) and Derek Carr (3.3%), while being lower than Josh Allen (4.2%) and Tua Tagovailoa (4.2%).
Shane Steichen is the new coach, and he’s an offensive minded guy, coaching on the offensive side of the ball dating back to 2013. He was Justin Herbert’s offensive coordinator in 2020, and then went over to Philadelphia to serve as the OC for the last two years, playing a massive role in Jalen Hurts’ development and fantasy emergence. Jim Bob Cooter is the Offensive Coordinator, but Steichen should have his hands all over this offense, but it should be a nice blend between Steichen ole’ Jim Bob Cooter. These two will formulate a plan to maximize Richardson’s strengths, which are most certainly his athleticism, mobility, and big arm for those vertical concepts. He will push the ball downfield, and dating back to 2020, I will note that Steichen has a good track record of being fantasy friendly for quarterbacks on the ground,
- Under Steichen in 2020, Herbert logged a career high 5 rushing TDs
- In 2021 under Steichen, Hurts had 10 rushing TDs
- In 2022 under Steichen, Hurts had 13 rushing TDs
Dating back to June 1, Richardson is the 15th quarterback off the board in NFC data, effectively making him a higher-end QB2. For the potential game-breaking ability that he has in fantasy formats, why not take the chance here, especially when compared to some of the non-mobile veterans going around him? There were five quarterbacks last year who logged at least 700 yards on the ground, and of those five, four (Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields) were top six quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points per game. The other was Daniel Jones, who just snuck inside the top-10.
Richardson can be a discount Justin Fields this year, and while Richardson’s mobility will shine, he should get more pass attempts than Fields this season, which should help his overall fantasy output. He’s an athletic freak who is going to start for this team Week 1, and while there are plenty of questions surrounding Jonathan Taylor, Richardson is simply being drafted too low, and his raw upside is higher than anyone else being drafted around him.
Why You Should Not Draft Anthony Richardson in Fantasy Football
By Dan Malin
With the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected Anthony Richardson out of the University of Florida. By all accounts, he’s an athletic freak. He stands at 6’4” and is built like a tight end. Seriously, he's basically the same height and weight as Greg Dulcich of the Denver Broncos. But Richardson is quite the polarizing player as we dig into our fantasy football draft preparations. High ceiling? Sure. Tremendous risk utilizing him as your QB1? Absolutely.
The biggest knock on Richardson, even dating back to his time at Florida, is his accuracy. In 12 games as a starter last year he was limited to 327 pass attempts and completed only 176 for a 53.8% completion rate. Even Jalen Hurts at least completed 60% of his passes in each of his four seasons as a starter in college between Alabama and Oklahoma.
Richardson returned to training camp on Tuesday after having a minor procedure on his nose to improve his breathing. But it wasn’t a banner day…
He’s still working on developing chemistry with his wide receivers. That’s to be expected for a rookie quarterback so we won’t hold that against him in early August.
If you’re drafting Anthony Richardson you’re banking on the rushing prowess. And yes, he can easily get it done with his legs. He rushed for nine touchdowns last year in college, but three of those came in the Gators’ first game against Utah where Richardson also ran for 106 yards. He also had five fumbles as well. But heading into his rookie season for the Colts, I’m less confident in the Colts offensive line than in previous seasons. Quenton Nelson, when healthy, is one of the best interior linemen in the league. But the Colts allowed 60 sacks in 2022. If the pocket collapses as much as it did last year for Indianapolis, Richardson will be forced to improvise. NFL defenders are bigger and faster, and he’ll be hit hard if he decides to run.
That’s not to say he still can’t put up numbers on the ground. But in general he’s made some poor choices in training camp with the ball in his hands. And because of that, he’s made Gardner Minshew look better by comparison. The Colts don’t need to start Richardson right away. Minshew has much more experience and has helped teams win games in the past. Nobody should be surprised if Minshew starts in the season opener.
Some fantasy football outlets have Richardson going inside the top 14 quarterbacks being taken off the board. That’s just insane at this point in the year where he may not even start Week 1. By all means, if you’re drafting Anthony Richardson you should be looking for another more stable quarterback like Jared Goff or Derek Carr. You draft them for their floor and Richardson for the ceiling. But at this point in the preseason, I can’t sign off on drafting Anthony Richardson as your QB1.