Now that the 2022 NFL season is over and we’re well into the playoffs, I figured it was time to analyze some NFL rookies. I’m ranking the quarterbacks who just completed their rookie season. I’ll look at how they did, what to expect in the future, and how I’d rank them after the 2022 season. This can help in many ways, like giving you names to buy low on potentially or guys you should sell now. These dynasty rankings are meant to help you figure out what to do with these rookie quarterbacks.
Rookie quarterbacks are expected to perform usually first-year in. When one doesn’t play at all, that decreases their value greatly. When one over-performs, their value can skyrocket. However, there’s always a prime opportunity to get in on a quarterback that does just enough in their rookie year to showcase their potential. I’ll look at the wide receiver and running back positions in future articles. So, let’s start by analyzing how to value these rookie quarterbacks properly and what the crystal ball tells us for their future. Some potential future studs listed below can be had extremely cheap right now. Be sure to take advantage of the price discount! All scoring will be based on Superflex PPR, 6-point touchdown leagues.
Stats come from Fantasy Data and Pro Football Reference. There are a lot of surprises. Be sure to comment on Twitter, and I’ll answer any questions! I can’t wait to see how these quarterbacks look a year from now. Make sure to check out my prior rookie tight end dynasty rankings.
1. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
The only quarterback taken in the first round last year had the best season and the best future for the 2022 rookie quarterbacks. Pickett didn’t have to sit long before taking over for Mitchell Trubisky as the Steelers’ starting quarterback. Over 13 games and 12 starts, Pickett had four game-winning drives, 2,404 yards, nine interceptions, 237 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, and four fumbles. Each of those numbers led all rookie quarterbacks. There’s good in there, but also bad, considering Pickett was surrounded by weapons yet could only complete 63% of his passes and throw for a meager seven touchdowns in 13 games.
Many of the issues came from poor play-calling and a woeful offensive line. Pickett was responsible for many of his 27 sacks, but not all of them were on him. That many sacks are far too many in such a short time frame. A plus is that Pickett was on target 72.1% of the time and had a healthy 7.5 Air Yards per attempt. The deeper that he can throw the ball, the more beneficial for fantasy, and it shows that he has a big arm.
Pickett’s a young quarterback set up to be the starter for the Steelers for the foreseeable future. He’s got a solid supporting cast with Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, and others. I foresee his future being similar to Derek Carr’s. A solid QB2 with a few huge seasons. That’s plenty valuable in dynasty, and thanks to his “okay” rookie year, you can likely trade for Pickett way cheaper than if you drafted him. I’d buy for a late 2024 first or multiple 2023 seconds if you need a young quarterback. Just prepare for another season of Matt Canada calling more awful plays.
2. Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
This guy was the toughest to decide where to put in the rookie dynasty rankings. Mr. Irrelevant became extremely relevant to now having a murky, mysterious future ahead of him. Purdy set all kinds of records after he took over for injured quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Purdy proceeded to go on a masterclass of quarterbacking where he limited turnovers, moved the ball, and kept his team in front until they ran into the buzz-saw Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. He won eight games in a row at one point, largely off of the 49ers’ defense, but Purdy helped.
Over his six main games and five starts, Purdy threw for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns, only four interceptions, an 8.1 YPA, 67.1% completion rate, and rushed for a touchdown with 13 yards. Purdy was masterful in performing Coach Shanahan’s play-action plan. He consistently placed the ball in the perfect spot with an On-Target rate of 77% and rarely had a bad throw, with a rate far below all other rookies at 12.1%. Both those numbers compare favorably to other elite NFL passers. To confuse us even more, on tape, it would appear that Shanahan was elite at getting his wide receivers wide open for Purdy. Yet, Jimmy G had a target separation of 2.11, while Purdy’s target separation was at 2.03.
There were indeed many times that Purdy looked like a rookie like against the Cowboys. Or when he was under pressure and only completed 50% of his passes. However, he did not turn the ball over hardly at all. His QBR was the highest among all rookie quarterbacks at 107.3 (ESPN’s is 65.5). So, he should be the 49ers’ starter next year? This means his dynasty value must be elite since he’s an elite fantasy team quarterback. Hold your horses.
Purdy suffered a horrific elbow injury in the opening plays of the game against the Eagles that will require surgery. The best-case scenario is that he misses only six months, but it could be much longer. Meanwhile, the team’s former first-round pick Trey Lance will likely be healthy for Training Camp, and the team did spend three firsts to get him. Lance is approaching nearly three full seasons of lost play, including college. Or the 49ers bring in another starter. That mysterious future leaves Purdy ranked second since he could be sold high or bought low. He’s worth a second-round pick, but only time will tell if he’s a legit starting quarterback. I sure hope so, though, because the story is pretty amazing.
3. Sam Howell, Washington Commanders
My number three spot in my rookie dynasty rankings feels like a 1A/1B situation. Howell and Desmond Ridder are both projected to be the starting quarterback for their respective teams next year. Ridder played much more than Howell but is in a far more conservative offense than Howell. Their weapons lean towards Ridder, but again, the system leans too far toward Howell.
Howell performed well in his lone start last year in Week 18. He had good zip on his throws and completed 11 of 19 for 169 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He showed that he could rush with 35 yards on five rushes and a touchdown. That’s good enough for 20.3 points which are plenty good for a QB2 in dynasty. There are rumors that the Commanders are telling teams that Howell will be their QB1 next year, which bodes well for the QB1’s dynasty value. With potentially elite weapons like Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, Howell is set up well. I’d buy him for a late second-round pick or perhaps a 2024 second. He’s likely to pay off as a startable back-end QB2 which is essential to have in a Superflex dynasty league. He’s the best buy-low rookie quarterback right now.
4. Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons
I don’t understand how Arthur Smith forgets he has two elite weapons in Drake London and Kyle Pitts. The Falcons will be a run-heavy team, first and foremost, for as long as Arthur Smith is the head coach. This severely limits the upside on Ridder, but he’ll still be an upside QB2. Ridder’s a mobile quarterback with a relatively accurate and strong arm. Ridder had 16 rushes for 64 yards but can get out of the pocket better than most quarterbacks.
However, as a rookie does, he held onto the ball too long many times. He took nine sacks. He was pressured a high amount of times. Yet, he stood tall and still had a 60% completion rate against pressure. Desmond was accurate at a great rate, with a 75.2% on-target rate and a decent 18.2% Bad Throw rate. Over his four starts, he led a game-winning drive and had 708 yards with two touchdowns and, most importantly, zero interceptions. He completed 63.5% of his passes for 6.2 YPA. I’d buy Ridder for a second-round pick, considering he’s likely got at least a year as the Falcons’ starter.
He will put up near QB2 numbers and be a valuable depth option/injury insurance. Depth can win championships just as much as stars can. Besides, name another starting quarterback with the weapons Ridder has that you could get for a mid-second-round rookie pick. This is the tier drop-off in my rookie dynasty rankings.
5. Bailey Zappe, New England Patriots
I loved Zappe in college and expected him to do well enough in the NFL to become a long-term backup quarterback. It looks like that is what will happen. While he did grow a lot of supporters during his hot streak as the starter this year, I’m not sure he’ll develop enough to be a QB1. It was fun while the ride lasted, and the conversations took place over Mac Jones or Zappe.
Jones is the better quarterback, but Zappe performed well in his four games. He was third among rookies in air yards with 411 at 6.3 per attempt. He threw for 781 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions, and took only six sacks. The best part of his game was his accuracy, something that many worried about him before the season. He led all rookies with an on-target rate of 78.4% with a second-lowest Bad Throw rate of 12.5%. He has zero rushing upside, as I think Matthew Stafford was more mobile than him.
If you have a deep league, I’d hold onto Zappe. He’s a worthy backup in Superflex leagues, as he’s one Jones injury from being another version of Purdy. With Bill O’Brien taking over the offense, we might see Zappe take more steps forward this year to help his value.
6. Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans
Willis had one saving grace this season, and it was his rushing. Otherwise, this was a miserable season for the Willis believers and his dynasty stock. When you’re benched for Josh Dobbs, then you have officially face-planted. Let’s dive into the stats of the once-mocked QB1 for 2022 rookie drafts.
Willis had a 50.8% completion rate, way worse than other similarly flawed passers like Thompson or Howell. Over 31 completions, he managed a meager 276 yards and a 4.5 YPA. Plus, he took ten sacks due to refusing to throw the ball or escaping toward the sidelines. He was on target with his passes 66.7% of the time with a rookie-high 22.2% bad throw rate. He had zero touchdowns but three interceptions. Willis led the rookies in rushing with 123 yards on 27 attempts which is good. However, he fumbled four times to limit that upside.
No wonder the Titans switched him out for Dobbs. Willis’ dynasty value a year ago was extremely high, especially in devy leagues. Now, it’s at an all-time low. I’d be surprised if you could sell him for a third, but he’s valuable enough to stay on your roster. The Titans’ quarterback situation is murky for next year, so perhaps an off-season of work and a new offensive coordinator can change the future for Willis. Drop him if he’s the backup or, worse, entering the season.
7. Skylar Thompson, Miami Dolphins
This year, Thompson was put in a rough position, being tapped multiple times to be the QB1 after Tua and Teddy suffered injuries. Despite being extremely over-matched, Thompson performed admirably, leading the Dolphins to the playoffs by going on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter of Week 18. Then, he had his best game of the year in the playoffs against the Bills. Regardless, Thompson has zero value in dynasty. That’s unless he gets bumped up to QB2 on the Dolphins. Tua should be back next year. Unless something crazy happens, they’ll have another veteran backup for a win-now team made for the playoffs.
Thompson finished the year with 534 yards, a touchdown, three interceptions, and a 62.2 QBR. The only reason he’s not higher is his lack of upside toward being a long-term QB1 or rushing upside. He is best left on the waivers. Thompson’s dynasty rankings upside is non-existent right now.
8. Matt Corral, Carolina Panthers
Matt Corral couldn’t be ranked any higher in these rookie quarterback dynasty rankings. This is because he didn’t play a single snap. He got injured in the preseason with a foot injury. That injury caused him to be placed on injured reserve. Because there’s a new coaching staff in Carolina, Corral will likely never compete to be the starter. It sounds like the Panthers want to trade up or draft a quarterback in the first round this year. Combine that with the rumors that they re-sign Sam Darnold, and Corral is looking at being the third-string quarterback this next year. His dynasty value is non-existent.
Let me know your thoughts on my rookie quarterback dynasty rankings! Be sure to check my upcoming rookie running back dynasty rankings! Check out my prior rookie tight end dynasty rankings too.
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As always, May the Force be with You…