Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23): Week Three brought us the debut of rookie QBs Baker Mayfield of the Browns and Arizona’s Josh Rosen with differing levels of success. We also saw rookie QB Josh Allen engineer one of the greatest upsets of our generation, based on the Vegas spread, as Buffalo took out the Vikings in Minnesota. After Rosen and Mayfield were officially named the starters of their respective teams, we now have four rookie signal callers starting, including Jets QB Sam Darnold.
Which of these four do you feel most comfortable with as a fantasy option for the rest of the season? Can we make a case for anyone other than Cleveland’s Mayfield?
Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): First off, a shout-out to Hue Jackson for getting it right. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when Jackson said he’d “look at the tape” from last week’s game, my antenna was up waiting for him to do the wrong thing. For fantasy purposes, I agree that Baker is the one you should target. The reigning Heisman winner was as good as advertised in Week 3, competing fearlessly while flashing his trademark accuracy by completing 17-of-23 passes in relief of Tyrod Taylor. Even with Josh Gordon now in Foxboro, the Browns have strong weapons for Mayfield including Jarvis Landry (who showed he can play quarterback in a pinch) and impressive rookie Antonio Callaway. Critics (looking at you, Colin Cowherd) have been quick to point out that Mayfield benefited from a favorable matchup in Week 3 (you know, because leading a second-half comeback after you’ve had no first-team reps all season is such an easy thing to do). You can do it if you want, but after seeing him leap every hurdle on his way to the NFL, I’m done doubting Baker.
Josh Allen has impressed with 71 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns the past two games but given Buffalo’s dearth of receiving weapons (Chris Ivory led the team in receiving yards last week at Minnesota), I don’t see him becoming a weekly fantasy fixture. As you’d expect from the youngest starting quarterback in NFL history, Sam Darnold is going through growing pains. Turnovers have been a problem for him and I’d like to see him make better use of deep threat Robby Anderson instead of always checking down to Quincy Enunwa. Sam Bradford’s benching in Arizona was long overdue, but I’m not holding out much hope for Rosen this year. The Cardinals have been poorly coached (their handling of David Johnson has been an absolute debacle) and Rosen didn’t look especially ready in last week’s debut, struggling in limited action against the Bears.
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): I don't know much "credit" we can give to Hue because I think Tyrod would still be starting this week without that injury a week ago, but there's no doubt the answer is Mayfield. He has the best supporting cast of the group offensively and can win as a passer while adding rushing value. If we're moving down the line, the latter point there is what makes Josh Allen a better fantasy asset than either Darnold or Rosen. Allen already has 26, 32 and 39 rushing yards in his three games, giving you a proxy of passing touchdown for fantasy football from his legs. His passing floor is going to have a ton of variance, but his mobility plays a large part in believing that he can be a usable starting option in 2-QB leagues much more than Darnold or Rosen can be.
Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin): On Allen, the rushing point is important, especially since we already saw a similar script play out last season. DeShone Kizer had better weapons around him, but he put up a few respectable to even good fantasy games last season because of his ability on the ground, scoring five touchdowns and rushing for 419 yards. I would not be surprised if Allen did similar things this season, which could make him an option in two-quarterback formats in good matchups. Outside of that, however, Baker is the only one in whom I am seriously interested.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): I am all in on Mayfield. He was as advertised and then some against the Jets. That's just one (surprise) appearance against an uneven team, but my goodness. The decisiveness, the zip. The command of the huddle. And, of course, the swag. I thought Mayfield was born for this. His debut did nothing to dissuade me of that notion.
Allen could be a deluxe Tim Tebow. Not as bad as Tebow in real life, maybe a little bit better than Tebow was in fantasy (which was good).
John Daigle (@notJDaigle): Just to be clear, Mayfield is the answer. However, I still don’t think we’re giving Rosen enough credit. Reebs mentioned Mayfield has the best surrounding cast, but you don’t have to squint to see parallels in both. If this were a "Bizarro Jerry” episode, and both sets of receivers called out to their top-10 quarterback on the sidewalk, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, and David Johnson would approach Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and Carlos Hyde with a slow and menacing stare. And Jermaine Gresham would show up from across the hall later in the episode.
Social media has killed our attention spans, so we’re now basically trained to grasp onto headlines or moments and run with that as our information. I’m not concerned about Rosen’s “moment” in the final minutes against the Bears, though, when coach Steve Wilks inexplicably held his feet to the fire and forced him to lead a game-winning drive. (Narrator voice: he didn’t.) Rosen still completed 60.9% of his passes at UCLA and, more importantly, ran a pro-style offense where he was forced to read and anticipate rather than simply react. He’s advanced schematically and conceptually. And against a hapless Hawks secondary that’s only faced Case Keenum (at home), Mitch Trubisky, and Dak Prescott thus far, it would not be shocking to see the No. 10 overall pick immediately make noise.
Just make sure Gresham stays across the hall so Ricky Seals-Jones can continue driving his mail van unfazed.