Last night started with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield going first to the Browns, and it ended after ultra-dynamic 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson had to wait as long as possible to get his name called by the Ravens. But all five of the quarterbacks expected to go in the first round did, and each of the five franchises that selected them will have big expectations for their guys. While it’s possible none of the signal-callers get significant playing time as rookies, we’re going to take a look at the 2018 fantasy outlook for each of the big five.
5. Josh Rosen, Cardinals
Rosen is seen by many as the most pro-ready passer in the draft, but he might have the longest path to playing time in Arizona. The Cardinals already brought in Sam Bradford to be the team’s starter, and they have said they really like Mike Glennon, who they also brought in during free agency, as the backup. It’s possible Rosen is only third on the depth chart this season, so he might not even see the field as a rookie. Of course, there is the injury history with Bradford to consider, but even if Rosen hits the field he doesn’t have the rushing upside that the other four quarterbacks have.
4. Sam Darnold, Jets
Like his Los Angeles counterpart Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold has a couple of veteran quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart and might not play as a rookie. However, there is talk that Teddy Bridgewater might not be a lock to make the Jets roster, in which case it would be down to Darnold and Josh McCown. If Darnold does end up as the team’s Week 1 starter, or if he takes over at some point during the season, he would have some scoring potential because he isn’t afraid to make throws. McCown was a fantasy option at times last season, so the younger Darnold also might be if he’s the one under center for the Jets.
3. Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Joe Flacco is clearly going to be the Ravens’ starting quarterback this season, but of all these guys Lamar Jackson has the best chance to get on the field in some capacity. The former Louisville star has unique ability with the football in his hands, and Baltimore might use him in a Wildcat package or for some trick plays. They might even hand the ball off to him or have him return some punts or kicks given his explosiveness. And all Jackson needs is one touch to make an impact in the box score, so he could be a usable fantasy option as a rookie even if he isn’t a starting quarterback.
2. Baker Mayfield, Browns
The Browns have said Tyrod Taylor will be the team’s starter all this season, in which case Baker Mayfield would be last on this list. Mayfield was taken number one because Cleveland loves him, though, so they aren’t just going to keep him off the field if they think he’s their best option at quarterback. We’ve seen too many times rookie quarterbacks that are supposedly not going to play find a way onto the field, and the same could happen for Baker. After the huge numbers he put up at Oklahoma, Mayfield could do some serious damage with the Browns’ stacked offense as a rookie.
1. Josh Allen, Bills
Allen might not be the most polished of these quarterbacks, but he appears to have the quickest path to playing time of the five that were selected last night. So clearly, he is the most likely player to have solid fantasy production in 2018. It wasn’t too long ago that Cam Newton entered the league and started in Week 1. There were a ton of questions about Newton’s accuracy and his readiness for the next level, but he burst onto the scene with a record 422 passing yards in his NFL debut. Expecting that from Allen, especially on a team that’s probably weaker at receiver than the Panthers were back in 2011, is asking for a lot. But Allen silencing the doubters and putting up big numbers in 2018 is certainly a possibility.