Going Crazy; Drafting A QB At #1 In Dynasty Rookie Draft

I have first pick in my dynasty league this year and I am thinking of doing something crazy. I am going to use that pick to take a quarterback.  Right now all of you dynasty players are thinking I am nuts. Most dynasty league rookie drafts have the first QB going around pick 15 and would never think of passing up on your RB or WR preference at the first overall pick.

Now this particular league has some quirks that increase QB value; you can read about the league setup here.

The league has 12 teams and we get to freeze 15 players every year This year a total of 27 quarterbacks were kept. Slim pickings in the draft, so in order to get a difference maker you have to take a chance on a rookie and hope he hits. So now are you starting to see why taking a QB at #1 overall isn’t such a farfetched idea?

Here is a list of the QB’s that led the last five league champions:

  • 2013 – Peyton Manning ($54)
  • 2012 – Tom Brady ($102)
  • 2011 – Drew Brees ($24)
  • 2010 – Drew Brees ($14)
  • 2009 – Drew Brees ($14)

You don’t see any mediocre guys on that list. As you can see having a marquee QB is essential to winning the title in this league. All the better if you can get one at a cheap salary so you can spend your cap space on studs elsewhere. The average price for the top five QB salaries is $56 out of a $250 cap. The salary of a first round pick is only $10. What a bargain if you can find the next stud.

So now the question becomes, which QB is the right one to take with this #1 overall pick? Obviously there are three choices:

  • Blake Bortles
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Teddy Bridgewater

Blake Bortles:

Bortles was the first QB drafted in the NFL draft. From all accounts he has the size (6 foot 5, 232 lbs) and tools to be a solid NFL quarterback.  He played at a smaller college and put up good stats:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 UCF 10 0 110 75 67.8 958 6 3 21 4 1
2012 UCF 14 14 399 251 62.9 3,059 25 7 87 285 8
2013 UCF 14 13 382 259 67.8 3,581 25 9 87 272 6
Totals 36 27 891 585 66.2 7,598 56 19 195 561 15

The knocks on him are that he didn’t play against top competition and when he did he struggled a bit. The offense they ran at UCF was also a quick-hitting one that didn’t require him to run through a progression. This can be worrisome at the pro-level.

Through two preseason games he has looked outstanding. He has gone through his progressions and made the proper reads and looks like he belongs in the NFL. He is passing the eye test but all of his work has come against 2nd and 3rd teamers so the hype should be tempered a bit. So far though (albeit in a small sample size) he looks like he belongs and with a two game total of 18-28, 277 yards (without throwing a pick or a TD) he has impressed.

The initial word out of Jaguars camp was that they were going to bring Bortles along slowly and start Chad Henne (who has also looked good thus far) so he can learn at the NFL level. Right now it appears he is ready and will probably get a shot at some point this season. The ceiling I see for Bortles is Roethlisberger. He is big and strong and can move well in the pocket. He can scramble when he needs to and has a strong enough arm to make all the throws, even while on the run.

Teddy Bridgewater:

Bridgewater was everyone’s first pick overall prior to the 2013 college season. He had received a lot of praise and was poised to be the first QB taken in the draft. Then the season and his pro-day happened and he fell in the draft. His career at Louisville was outstanding as you can see from his career stats:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 LOU 13 10 296 191 64.5 2,129 14 12 89 66 4
2012 LOU 13 12 419 287 68.5 3,718 27 8 74 26 1
2013 LOU 13 13 427 303 71.0 3,970 31 4 63 78 1
Totals 39 35 1,142 781 68.4 9,817 72 24 226 170 6

The major factor to his drop in the draft was a poor workout day where he was missing throws. However, the tape shows him make throws in games and he could very well end up being the best of this crop of QB’s due to his football intelligence and competitiveness. He landed in a great spot with Norv Turner molding him and getting him NFL ready. As a Viking fan I was extremely happy the they got Bridgewater as I see him as  a solid NFL QB that will make the right decisions and lead the team. I believe he will be a better NFL QB than fantasy QB. I think he has the highest floor but lowest ceiling of these three first round QB’s which generally doesn’t equate to a difference maker for your fantasy football team.

So far his NFL preseason results have been a mixed bag. His first game was average but the word out of camp is that he has struggled a bit with interceptions. This bit of adversity could be a blessing in disguise. It’s a good opportunity to see how much confidence he has and if he can turn things around. At the moment, Matt Cassel is in the driver’s seat for the starting job to begin the season but we all know what Cassel is about. This is Bridgewater’s job to take, now he just has to perform.

My comparison for Bridgewater is Russell Wilson. They are both very smart with the football can move in the pocket and make every throw while not having the cannon of an arm.

Johnny Manziel:

Johnny Football is the most polarizing player of these three.  People are either all in or all out.  There is no in between.  The detractors will point to him being undersized (6’-0”/210 lbs) and that he parties too much off the field.  His backers will say he is a fierce competitor and a winner on the field.  He is a mainstay of Sportscenter for all of his antics and off the field persona.  He is sensational in every aspect.  The question is whether or not that will translate on the field at the NFL level.

His college stats were the best of these three QB’s while he played against the toughest competition in the SEC:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 Manziel redshirted his freshman year and Texas A&M and did not play
2012 A&M 434 295 68.0 3,706 26 9 201 1410 21
2013 A&M 429 300 69.9 4,114 37 13 144 759 9
Totals 863 595 68.9 7820 63 12 345 2169 30

The biggest negatives on Manziel are his size and his dedication due to his off-field transgressions. His personality is not for the faint of heart and because people either love him or hate him there are a lot of people looking to bring him down with pictures or videos of his off the field exploits.

Make no mistake, when he is on the field he is electric. He can make people miss and extend plays. He has a strong enough arm to make all the throws. He is fearless and isn’t afraid of contact. There are some players that just suck you in when they are playing and he has this quality. You just have to see what happens – whether it’s good or bad – you have to watch.

Many have likened him to Brett Favre and I agree completely. I see a player that is a competitor willing his team to wins. I see him making electrifying scrambles to extend plays and incredible passes right on the money for game winning scores. I also see stupid forced throws into coverage for interceptions trying to make things happen. He will lose games and win games while running all over the field with an enthusiasm similar to Brett Favre.

My only concern is this competitiveness getting him in situations where he takes unnecessary hits and his body can’t withstand the punishment. If he learns to not take extra hits (like he did in the first preseason game with the slide after picking up a first down on a scramble) I believe he will reach his potential.

johnny_manziel_browns_jersey_switch_by_bucksfan5-d713ht3Who to take?

This is fantasy football. It’s supposed to be fun. Part of the fun is rooting and watching your players so that is a factor in this decision.  Another big factor is that I already have two quality QB so if this pick flops it won’t kill me but if it pans out I can trade one of those two expensive QB’s for other assets to help my team while I have a stud QB locked in at a low contract value.

For me, I am really choosing between Bridgewater and Johnny Football. I am removing Bortles from my decision because although he has the prototypical body and has shown well after two games in the NFL I just don’t think his upside is a difference maker. He has the potential to be a solid NFL quarterback and a 10-15th ranked fantasy QB; solid but obtainable almost every year.

So now do I go with the QB of the future of my favorite NFL team or the exciting Brett Favre clone to be?

I am a believer, I’m going Johnny Manziel. He’s exciting and dynamic. He could throw for 300+ yards or rush for 100 yards and 2 TD. He is a difference maker on the field.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of risk that his off the field personality prohibits his on the field competitor from fulfilling his promise.  There is also a chance his body won’t be able to withstand the punishment his all-out style of play will take.

I choose to look to the positive. Fantasy football is a gamble. I am a gambler. I am all in on Johnny Football.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/QW6FgG

Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor for The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

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