We are five weeks into the season, so why not take a look at the fresh faces of the NFL quarterback fraternity? The 2018 NFL draft saw the second most signal callers ever selected in the first round. As the most belongs to the legendary 1983 class, a lot of eyes are this class because of the company they share.
The five players of course are Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson. Some of these guys have been starting since day one, some have just started getting their time to shine, and one has been used all over the field for his team in a way that many expected. Since each player is being used in his own unique way that means each will have their own grading scale based on situation, so let's break out the red pen and start breaking these field leaders down.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Stats: 63/107, 58.9% completion percentage, 838 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
Despite me being a diehard Browns fan, I still must be critical of Baker Mayfield. Mayfield’s decision making - for the most part - has been phenomenal, but something every rookie quarterback since the beginning of time, for the most part, has struggled with is turning the ball over. Mayfield has thrown three interceptions so far this season, which isn’t horrible when considering only one of the three should be placed on him. His main problem is how he carries the ball in the pocket. He has fumbled three times, suggesting he needs to treat that ball like a newborn instead of a toddler on the teacup ride at Disney World. Once he takes better care of the ball he will earn a better grade, but he is winning since taking over the helm of the ghost ship that is the Browns franchise. Most importantly for fantasy owners he is utilizing all the weapons they are surrounding him with, as shown this past weekend against Baltimore.
Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Stats: 83/149, 55.7% completion percentage, 1,066 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
Darnold at this point has been the most inconsistent fantasy player of the bunch thus far due in part to his fluctuation in scoring (scored as little as 2 points and as much as 18 points). Darnold has had the full support of the franchise, taking over the job all the way back in the preseason. The front office has all its chips in on Darnold and they are starting to give him better assets to score with emerging - yet also inconsistent - wideouts in Robbie Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. He will continue to learn and adapt to the pro game and as he does lookout. He can become a star in New York and more importantly this league. As he succeeds the more the team will continue to build and give him more pieces to capitalize with. This, in turn, will result in better fantasy assets coming to him and the team drafting them to help him produce more consistent scoring.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Passing Stats: 65/122, 53.3% comp. percentage, 748 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
Rushing Stats: 31 attempts, 135 yards, 3 touchdowns
A problem I came across when grading Allen was that his team, due to its lack of talent, is holding him back. Allen is getting this years yearly treatment of baptism by fire on rookie quarterbacks, having a bad team throw him in and hope for the best. That being said, he has certainly had some big moments and shown the flashes which caught many scouts eyes when he was at Wyoming. His highlight of the season has to be when he led an upset in Minnesota, the Minneapolis Miracle V.2.0. He showed the athleticism and arm talent that made him the seventh overall pick in the draft. Much like Mayfield, he has had a hard time keeping possession of the ball with five interceptions and four fumbles. He must get that under control in order for him to potentially develop into any form of a fantasy starter. At this point he is worth a stash on a taxi squad, but it’s yet to be seen if he will continue to develop and turn into the diamond from the piece of coal that Buffalo picked from the cold elevation of Wyoming.
Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals
Stats: 29/59 49.2% completion percentage, 386 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
Rosen has only played in two full games this year, but in doing so he has helped a clueless coaching staff seem a little smarter after giving him the reigns. Since he has come in, both Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson have seen a boost in fantasy scoring, while he has also shown a connection with fellow rookie Christian Kirk. The more reps he gets the more comfortable he will become, and the more the coaching staff will allow him to open the playbook. He has shown that he can support other fantasy players he just has to support himself. I do see that eventually happening, just not this year. I had Rosen as the best passer coming out of this past draft and Arizona traded up for him which again, just like with Buffalo, Cleveland, and New York, they are all in on Rosen. I think that you as a fantasy owner should be all in as well. Get him while he is cheap because I think he could end up being a star in this league with Mayfield.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Passing Stats: 1/5, 20% comp. percentage, 24 yards, no touchdown or interceptions
Rushing Stats: 16 rushes, 72 yards, no touchdowns one fumble
Grade: Incomplete Assignment
I decided to give Jackson the unique grade of incomplete assignment. The reason I gave him this grade is because Baltimore hasn’t decided what the hell they want to do with him. Flacco has somehow found enough of his Super Bowl self which has put a damper on his chances at taking over the starting job. In the meantime, they have had him running the ball a lot and even giving him some reps at wide receiver, which tells me they know they have a playmaker they just are going to ease him into the role of quarterback. Bob Miller of Dynasty Happy Hour gave the prediction this past week on the Backrow Fantasy Show that he fully expects them to give him the reigns as soon as next season, which will give him the chance to join Mayfield as the future of the AFC North. Until he gets a chance to show his passing skills, it's only fair to hold off on giving him a letter grade.