If you paid attention to NFL free agency this year, you no doubt heard about the trade which rocked the fantasy football community to its core. While fantasy football players around the world were patiently waiting to hear which new franchise would recruit the services of Le'Veon Bell, it broke the New York Giants were trading Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns for safety Jabrill Peppers and a first and third round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. This news proceeded to turn the fantasy football world on its head. While this trade will likely have a great deal of impact for at least two NFL franchises and several players it is possible that no one will see their individual stock climb more over the next few months than Baker Mayfield. While many people will be quick to tell you to pump the brakes on Mayfield, you should be all in. With the new setup of the Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield is in store for a monster season, in line with what we saw from reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. At the close of the 2019 NFL season, it is entirely possible Baker Mayfield is the dynasty QB2.
Inside the Statistics
Baker Mayfield didn't waste any time busting on to the scene. In 2018, he threw a grand total of 27 touchdowns, setting the NFL record for touchdowns thrown by a rookie, previously held by Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning. Keep in mind that this was accomplished with a receiving corp which consisted of Rashard Higgins, Breshad Perriman, Antonio Callaway, and a skilled but underperforming Jarvis Landry. Going into 2019, Mayfield is going to have some new weapons to play with in Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt. With the addition of Beckham, the Browns will be able to keep Callaway on the outside and move Jarvis Landry back to the slot where he will no doubt be more effective. With an offense that will consist of Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and David Njoku it is not a stretch to say that Baker Mayfield could exceed 40 touchdowns, a mark which would have been second in the league in 2018.
In 2018, Baker Mayfield finished his rookie season with 310 completions on 486 attempts for 3,725 passing yards, good for a completion percentage of 63.8% and a passer rating of 93.7. Baker Mayfield did not lead the NFL in any of these categories, however a closer look paints a different picture. In fact, Baker Mayfield put up better statistics in his rookie season than Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman, John Elway, Warren Moon, Steve Young, and Jim Kelly. He even put together a better rookie season than future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. According to Pro Football Focus, Mayfield received second highest rookie quarterback grade they have ever assigned.
One of the things that makes Mayfield so special is his unreal accuracy in the pocket. In fact, Mayfield’s 63.8% completion percentage finished higher than any other rookie quarterback. Mayfield was more accurate in his rookie season than Andrew Luck, who only had a 54.1% completion percentage. Time and again Mayfield hit big-time throws where most rookie quarterbacks would normally consider throwing a check-down. From Week 9 to Week 15, Mayfield actually led the NFL in deep ball completions and completion percentage. According to Pro Football Focus, Mayfield finished the 2018 season with 39 big-time throws, which was third most in the NFL. To end the season, Mayfield ranked second in deep ball passing behind only Drew Brees. Take a look at this clip below showcasing not only Mayfield's ability to throw the deep ball, but do it insanely accurately.
Mayfield wasn't just an effective long passer, he also excelled within the redzone. According to Pro Football Reference, he was tied for fourth in completion percentage within the 20-yard line for players with at least 50 attempts. He also threw for 20 redzone touchdowns without throwing a single interception. Per NFL Research: Through Week 15, Baker had the second highest passer rating while in the redzone.
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 16, 2018
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 16, 2018
When diving into the statistics it is easy to see how Mayfield could be in for a huge sophomore season. Throughout the 2018 season, Mayfield was efficient at all levels of the football field. For the latter half of the season, Baker led the NFL in deep ball completions, while also boasting nearly a 64% completion percentage for the season. Time and again Mayfield made throws that a rookie quarterback doesn't normally attempt, all without a bonafide lead receiver. This past season, Mayfield had one of the best rookie seasons at quarterback we have seen. His situation has improved dramatically with the new signings in free agency, and come 2020 we could be talking about Mayfield as the NFL's second-best quarterback.