Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: 3 must-draft rookie quarterbacks

2X3B7E4 North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye poses after being chosen by the New England Patriots with the third overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft on Thursday, April 25, 2024 in Detroit. (Adam Hunger/AP Images for the NFL)

• Rushing is required: All three rookie quarterbacks to make the must-draft list are efficient ball carriers.

• QB Caleb Williams, Chicago Bears: Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams has a star-studded pass-catching corps at his disposal in year one. His 90.4 PFF offense grade ranks 10th among 31 Power Five quarterbacks with at least 700 offensive snaps. 

• QB Jayden Daniels, Washington Commanders: Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels possesses best-in-class rushing traits and an extremely accurate arm. His 94.7 PFF offense grade ranks first among qualifying quarterbacks.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

NFL quarterbacks must possess and utilize a dual-threat skillset to routinely produce elite QB1 fantasy point sums on a weekly basis. Fortunately for 2024 fantasy managers, the incoming class features three players with excellent passing ability and specialized rushing abilities. The article below explains how the rookie quarterbacks profile for the 2024 fantasy football season.

QB Caleb Williams, Chicago Bears 

The Chicago Bears featured prominently in last week’s “Best quarterback landing spots in the 2024 NFL Draft piece, highlighting Chicago’s stable blindside pass protection and elite pass-catching corps. The front office selected former Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze with the ninth overall pick and the team now makes a strong case for the league’s best three-wide receiver set. Chicago’s No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Caleb Williams is startable in Week 1 as a mid-tier fantasy football QB1 thanks to his dual-threat talents and excellent pass-catching corps. Williams’ 84.6 PFF passing grade and 6.2% big-time-throw rate both rank top 12 among 37 Power Five quarterbacks with at least 350 passing attempts in 2023. 

Among 33 NFL wide receivers with at least 105 targets in 2023, Chicago’s Nos. 1 and 2 wide receivers, D.J. Moore (89.5 PFF receiving grade and 2.31 yards per route run [YPRR]) and Keenan Allen (87.4 PFF receiving grade and 2.36 YPRR, then with the Los Angeles Chargers) rank top 12 in both PFF receiving grade and YPRR. Odunze (89.5 PFF receiving grade and 2.93 YPRR) correspondingly produced top-eight finishes among 36 Power Five wide receivers with at least 90 targets. 

As detailed in “Best rushers in the 2024 NFL Draft, four quarterbacks scored at least 21.0 fantasy points per game in each of the last two seasons. Five of the eight total quarterbacks averaged at least 6.0 rushing attempts per game and seven averaged 3.6 or more. 

Williams’ is the class’ most talented passer and possesses the requisite rushing skills to produce elite QB1 results. He averaged 6.2-to-6.9 rushing attempts and 2.0-to-2.6 scrambles per game in his 35 college starts while twice averaging 6.6-plus yards and 0.35-plus missed tackles forced per rushing attempt. 

Head coach Matt Eberflus is unlikely to employ the Philadelphia Eagles’ brotherly-shove rushing tactics in the green zone consistently. Williams notably converted green zone rushing attempts for first downs and/or touchdowns at an 80.0%-plus rate in each of the last two seasons though, scoring 17 touchdowns in the process. Chicago second-year running back Roschon Johnson’s 42.9% 2023 rate leads the current backfield, likely ensuring at least a part-time green zone rushing role for Williams.

Williams is perfectly capable of converting green zone passing attempts as well. Among 147 Power Five quarterbacks seasons with at least 12 green zone passing attempts from 2021-to-2023, Williams’ 92.6 PFF green zone passing grade in 2021 and 84.2 PFF green zone passing grade in 2022 rank Nos. 1 and 6, respectively.

Williams is a ready-made fantasy football QB1.

QB Jayden Daniels, Washington Commanders

The Washington Commanders’ first-round rookie quarterback Jayden Daniels possesses elite rushing ability and capable downfield-passing accuracy and has the luxury of playing under mobile-quarterback-guru, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. Daniels can immediately be treated as a top-12 quarterback in re-draft formats. 

As detailed in “Best rushers in the 2024 NFL Draft,” Daniels makes a strong case as the 2024 draft class’ best pure rusher, averaging No. 1 rates in yards per rushing attempt (10.4), missed tackles forced per rushing attempt (0.39) and first-down and/or touchdown conversion rate (43.5%), ranked among 73 Power Five quarterbacks and running backs who totaled 120-plus rushing attempts. 

His eagerness to run the ball led to a 9.2 per-game rushing attempt average, well past the ideal 6.0. Kingsbury is the perfect coach to harness Daniels’ exceptional rushing abilities after guiding the Arizona Cardinals’ 2019-rookie quarterback Kyler Murray to a 5.9 attempt per-game average. Murray ranked top four in both yards per rushing attempt (5.8) and total explosive rushing plays (18). 

Daniels' 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame unlocks a different aspect of Kingsbury’s playbook though, as the 5-foot-10, 207-pound Murray struggles to throw over the middle of the field. Among 37 Power Five quarterbacks with at least 45 targets thrown at least 10 yards downfield, between the painted numbers, Daniels ranks top two in yards per passing attempt (18.9), completion rate (67.4%) and adjusted completion rate (78.3%). His 95.4 PFF passing grade and 17.6% big-time-throw rate on qualifying throws both rank top four.

Seam-stretching second-round draft pick, tight end Ben Sinnott pairs top-five marks in deep-target rate (16.4%) and explosive pass plays (15), ranked among 21 tight ends with at least 50 targets, giving Daniels an immediate-impact playmaker in this area of the field.

Washington's No. 1 wide receiver Terry McLaurin should handle a significant chunk of Daniels’ passing attempts. His 90.8% catchable-pass catch rate ranks sixth among 33 NFL wide receivers with at least 105 targets. 

Daniels is a fantasy football QB1.

QB Drake Maye, New England Patriots 

The New England Patriots front office drafted a talented pass-catching trio to support first-round quarterback Drake Maye in Year 1. Maye blends aggressive downfield throwing with efficient scrambling tactics, making him immediately startable in single-quarterback re-draft leagues. Maye’s 90.9 PFF offense grade ties for seventh among 31 Power Five quarterbacks with at least 700 offensive snaps. 

As detailed in “Best wide receiver landing spots in the 2024 NFL Draft,” New England offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and senior offensive assistant Ben McAdoo will utilize three-wide receiver sets as their featured personnel grouping. General manager Eliot Wolf improved the unit by drafting downfield wide receivers, Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk (second round) and UCF’s Javon Baker (fourth round). Among 62 Power Five wide receivers with at least 55 targets earned when lined up on the perimeter pre-snap, Polk (19.1) and Baker (20.3) rank second and third, respectively, in yards per reception. The duo also ranks 16th or better in deep-target rate (27.9% and 33.9%, respectively).

Maye impressively pairs the second-deepest aDot (11.0) with the 12th-best adjusted completion rate (75.3%) and should gel well with both players among 37 Power Five quarterbacks with at least 350 passing attempts in 2023. His 89.8 PFF passing grade ranks fifth.

The front office also added former FSU tight end Jaheim Bell in the seventh round, whose 8.1 yards after the catch per reception rank third among 21 Power Five tight ends with at least 50 targets. 

Maye’s scrambling data is broken down in-depth in the aforementioned rushing article, with his second-ranked (among 32 Power Five quarterbacks with at least 25 scrambles) 52.9% first-down and or touchdown conversion rate leading the charge. Maye’s ability to move the chains on his own is particularly helpful early in the season when his young wide receivers are adjusting to the NFL, thus keeping his QB1-viability intact. 

Maye is a mid-to-low QB1 with a high-end QB1 upside.


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