It feels like the 2019 NFL Draft was ages ago, but it was just last off-season. And yet, the picks made that night that filled us with optimism and promise can look different going into year two. But therein lies the advantage for savvy dynasty players and drafters. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at players from the Class of 2019 by position (QB, RB, WR, TE) and considering their rookie year, their current situation, and whether they’re a good bet.
This won’t be a tour of the stars from last year. By now, you should know players like Kyler Murray, Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, Terry McLaurin, A.J. Brown, T.J. Hockenson, and Noah Fant are assets you should jump on. This will be a look at others who may not have performed as expected or yet gotten a chance, that could be a value heading into 2020.
Without further ado, let’s begin our Stock Watch with four second-year quarterbacks.
Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins (Drafted Round One, Pick 15)
Haskins was an interesting pick when he was taken. He went in the middle of the first round, and it was largely believed the pick was the result of pressure from Owner Daniel Snyder that didn’t match the vision of Coach Jay Gruden. That turned out to be apt as Gruden didn’t appear to care for Haskins as a player and was hesitant to play him. By mid-season, Gruden was out as coach, and Haskins was in as the starter. The Ohio State product played in nine games, starting seven games, but didn’t exactly light the world on fire.
Haskins completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,365 yards, with seven TDs and seven INTs. He went just 2-5 as a starter while adding 101 yards on 20 carries and six fumbles. So, there was room for improvement. The offensive line and offense, in general, weren’t great, as Haskins was sacked 29 times. Haskins finished as QB35 in fantasy, though fellow Redskin starter Case Keenum was just QB 31.
The Redskins have a new coach (Ron Rivera), new offensive coordinator (Scott Turner), and a new backup quarterback (Kyle Allen) heading into 2020. Haskins figures to get the first shot at being the starter, but this isn’t the group that was there when he was drafted. Still, it figures that his biggest supporter, Snyder, will still want to see the local kid succeed. And the team added a few weapons (just as rookie running back Antonio Gibson and rookie receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden). At the same time, McLaurin and Derrius Guice are expected to help the offense take a step forward. It’s a young team, and Haskins is a young player who will hopefully be given a chance to grow and justify his draft position. He’s currently going as QB31, near the end of drafts (Pick 256). That makes him a great stash in dynasty, especially Superflex and 2QB leagues, where you don’t have to rely on him to start right away, but you have an option if he takes a step forward.
I’m cautious about Haskins in year two, but he showed great promise in college. At his current price on a team with low expectations, I’m taking Haskins at his ADP or trying to get him cheap to stash if I have starters. I wouldn’t want to have to rely on him to start in 2020.
Drew Lock, Denver Broncos (Drafted Round Two, Pick 42)
Lock was linked to the Broncos nearly all off-season, but when they took Noah Fant in Round One, it seemed like it wasn’t to be. But Lock remained on the board, and the Broncos snagged the quarterback they wanted in the middle of the second round, after grabbing guard Dalton Risner with the prior pick. It seemed like the Broncos had a great young core on offense post-draft, but Lock didn’t flourish out of the gate. He had an uneven preseason, coming away injured and landing on IR to start the season. Finally, in December, Lock was back and got his chance to start. And he didn’t miss his moment.
The Missouri product went 4-1 as a starter, as the Broncos rebounded from a poor start to finish 7-9, second in the AFC West. Lock, meanwhile, completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,020 yards, seven TDs and just three INTs. He also added 72 yards rushing, with three fumbles and five sacks. That finish, including a huge win over the playoff-bound Houston Texans in Houston in Lock’s second start, led to a lot of optimism after his rookie season.
This off-season has done little to dim that optimism. The Broncos appear to have committed to Lock. They added a new offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur and worked to improve the offensive line, signing guard Graham Glasgow and drafting center Lloyd Cushenberry III from LSU. The Broncos also greatly improved the weapons around Lock, drafting receivers Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) and K.J. Hamler (Penn State), while signing free-agent running back Melvin Gordon (Chargers). At the same time, the team moved on from veteran quarterback Joe Flacco and signed journeyman Jeff Driskel as the backup. Lock is the starter and being viewed as the Broncos’ future, and they’ve done everything this off-season to help him succeed. While he finished as just QB36 in limited playing time in 2019, his stock is on the rise. He’s currently going as QB21, meaning he’s being drafted as a solid QB2 in Superflex and 2QB leagues.
I am a big Broncos fan, so I’m not the most objective, but I liked what I saw from Lock in 2019. I also liked what the Broncos have done this off-season to build around him. Denver is desperate to find a franchise quarterback, something they haven’t had since Peyton Manning retired following the 2015 season. It’s a steep price to pay, but I think Lock has the tools to be a high-end QB2, or possibly a QB1. I’m buying him for 2020.
Jarrett Stidham, New England Patriots (Drafted Round Four, Pick 133)
And here we come to the most interesting player on this list. Stidham was taken in the fourth round and sat behind Tom Brady all of the 2019 season. So, we don’t really know what to expect. As a rookie, Stidham appeared in just three games, throwing four passes, completing two for 14 yards and an INT. Stidham played for Baylor for one season and Auburn for two seasons in college, throwing for 7,217 yards and 48 TDs. That performance was strong enough for the Patriots to take a chance on him, and his work in the pre-season was enough for the team to feel comfortable with him being the primary backup in 2019. And for most of the off-season, it seemed the Patriots were going to take a chance on him replacing Brady.
Then, on June 28, the Patriots signed Cam Newton…
In 2019 rookie drafts, Stidham seemed like little more than a deep stash. But throughout the off-season, he seemed like the starter, albeit one folks were cautious in approaching. He was going as QB32, right after Haskins. And with Newton now signed, I’d expect to see that ADP drop off the shelf quickly.
Still, the Patriots felt good enough about Stidham to leave him as the backup to Brady in 2019, so it makes sense he would hold the same position behind Newton. Some are suggesting he could beat Newton out as a starter, but that feels unlikely to me. The Patriots also have veteran Brian Hoyer on the roster, so they may keep three. The value here might come from the fact that Newton missed the end of the 2018 season and barely made it through two games in 2019. He’s supposed to be healthy now, but the one-year, incentive-laden deal suggests that the Patriots are cautiously approaching the situation. Like Kyle Allen in 2019, Stidham could find himself in the starting lineup at some point during the season.
Opportunity is key in Fantasy Football, so Stidham has value. But how much value? I wasn’t a fan when he was going as the assumed Patriots starter, but now he should be cheap to acquire and could end up in the Allen-type situation. If I can get him for a low draft pick, especially in Superflex or 2QB leagues, I’m intrigued. And if you drafted him, I think he’s worth a hold. Newton signed only a one-year deal, so it’s entirely possible Stidham will eventually turn into a starter. After all, Brady got his start replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe, and that worked out OK.
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars (Drafted Round Six, Pick 178)
Of all the quarterbacks on this list, Minshew was probably the furthest down the draft board in rookie drafts in 2019 and yet had the best season. Expensive veteran Nick Foles was injured Week 1, and Minshew vaulted into the starting role. With him came Minshew Mania. That faded mid-season and Foles returned to the starting lineup. When Foles faltered, Minshew was back, this time to stay. He played in 14 games, starting 12, and went 6-6 as a starter. He also put up some pretty decent numbers.
Minshew completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,271 yards, 21 TDs and just six INTs. He was sacked 33 times and rushed for 344 yards, but did have 13 fumbles. Still, he managed to finish as QB19 in fantasy, just ahead of Baker Mayfield, Drew Brees, and Ryan Tannehill. And this off-season the Jaguars sent Foles to Chicago, seemingly turning over the 2020 starting position to Minshew.
So, a guy that started 12 games, looked good, finished as a Top 20 Fantasy Quarterback and has the starting job locked up must be a solid bet, right? Well, his ADP is currently QB27, which suggests some hesitation. Despite what we saw last year, folks aren’t sold on Minshew being the answer at quarterback. The Jaguars appear to be a struggling franchise, with head coach Doug Marrone entering the season on the hot seat. While Minshew appears to have been anointed the starter, it’s fair to wonder for how long. Should the Jaguars struggle again in 2020 and end up at the top of the draft heap, it wouldn’t be a leap to seem them use that high pick to nab a franchise quarterback. This puts Minshew in a make or break spot to prove he can be the Jaguars’ starter.
Minshew as fun to watch at times in 2019, but I don’t know that I believe in him as the long-term starter or the Jaguars as a good team in 2020. They could well be headed toward a re-build, and figure to still lean heavily on the running game and Leonard Fournette. If I can get Minshew in the QB3 range, it’s worth the gamble. But I wouldn’t trade high picks or solid assets to grab him unless I was desperate at QB.
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