Breakdown of the history of Rookie Quarterbacks in Fantasy

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Part 1 – Rookie QB Data 2011-2022

Part 2 – Analyzing the Rookie QB Data 2011-2022

Part 3 – Conclusions on Rookie QBs in best ball


With the hype of the NFL draft and rookie landing spots, I looked at the history of rookie QBs in fantasy football last week. I went through every rookie QB who was either a 1st round pick or had a reasonable shot for a starting role prior to the season. I approached it this way to try to simulate what best ball drafters would have been looking at the time of their drafts in those respective seasons.

Going back 12 years to be as fair as possible for the sample size, this left us with a fair amount of data to consider. Below will be a breakdown of that data and what conclusions we can take from it to help us in drafting this season.


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*Remember all data used in this article is from weeks 1-16 prior to 2021 and 1-17 in 2021 and 2022, rankings courtesy of Fantasy Pros.



Total number of Rookie Quarterbacks, Games, and Starts 2011-2022:

Total Quarterbacks: 49 | 1st Rounders: 38  (77.6%)


Total Possible Games/Starts: 744 | 1st Rounders: 576  (77.4%)

  • This is simply the total possible games/starts that these 49 QBs could have played during the sample to give us a baseline. 1st rounders make up 77.4% of the model. Even if every QB was winning the job week 1, injuries would have played a factor and eliminated a segment of these games.


Total Games in sample: 564 | 1st Rounders: 436  (77.3%)


Total Starts in sample: 506 | 1st Rounders: 385  (76.1%)

  • While games are important (and there were some usable fantasy games from non-starts), what we care the most about is if a QB is starting or not. Among these 49 options, they started roughly 68% of the games looked at. That is just over 10.2 starts per QB. Now if we eliminate the starts and potential starts from the 9 QBs who didn’t qualify for PPG rankings (more on that below) it does change things slightly. Of the 40 remaining QBs, they started 80.1% of the games and averaged 12.25 starts. Of course, the problem with Best ball is we wouldn’t have necessarily known who was going to start or how many games.


Number of Starts missed by 1st rounders (not counting injuries): 155

  • There was a difference of 191 fewer starts out of a possible 576 for the 1st rounders.  I focused on just the 1st rounders here as these are the players who would have been drafted the most throughout the entire best ball offseason. Rookies like Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson weren’t going to be taken in many drafts going on in the May-July window.
  • Of those missed starts,155 were not injury related. For some it was just a game or two before they became the starter, others it was 3-7 games, and for some it ended up being the entire season.  While some of the rookies who sat all year, were more obvious (Jordan Love, Patrick Mahomes), others weren’t so much (Trey Lance). But clearly, the vast majority of the starts missed by 1st round rookies (nearly 27% of their potential starts), were simply because the team didn’t feel they were ready or the circumstances just weren’t right.


1st rounders who started week 1: 15

  • Just 15 of 38 1st rounders started week 1 for their teams, and two others came in week 1 (Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen) due to injury/ineffectiveness. When projecting out the rookies, it is worth factoring in that they might miss a couple of games.


Spike Weeks Stats 2011-2022:

Total Number of 20-24.9 point games:  64 | 1st Rounders: 43  (67%)


Total Number of 25-29.9 point games:  30  | 1st Rounders: 25  (83.3%)

  • Only 94 times did a rookie QB have a good-to-very good game in the 20-29.9 point range. Out of the 564 games, that is just 16.7% managed 20-29.9 fantasy points, and 1st rounders were slightly worse with just 15.6%. Looking at just the starts it would go to 18.2% and 17.1% respectively.


Total Number of 30-34.9 point games: 11 | 1st Rounders: 11  (100%)


Total Number of 35+ point games: 7 | 1st Rounders: 6 (85.7%)

  • Just 18 games went for 30+ points in this sample, that is just 3.2% of all the games and 3.6% of starts. First-rounders are a bit better bets here, as they hit the mark 3.9% of games and 4.4% of starts. You should not be counting on any rookie to crack this mark.


Total Percentage of games played over 20 Fantasy Points: 19.9% | 1st rounders percentage of 20+ FPPG: 19.5%



Qualified Rookie QBs PPG numbers 2011-2022:

Number of qualified PPG QBs: 40


How they finished:

Top 6: 3

Top 12: 5

Top 24: 8

Top 32: 14

33rd or worse: 10

  • Just 8 of the 40 QBs to qualify finished as QB1s in points per game, that is just 20% of the field. Another 8 (20%) finished as QB2s, meaning 60% are QB3s or essentially unplayable. That’s only counting the ones who actually significantly played in at least 5 games.


Check out Part 3 of this series for conclusions on drafting rookie QBs in best ball!



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