Rookie quarterbacks aren’t supposed to succeed their first year in the NFL. There’s a common belief that the NFL game is too fast, the playbook is too complex and the learning curve is too steep. While that may be true in most cases, there are exceptions. This year, that exception will be Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Griffin III will be the Redskins starting quarterback after the team drafted second overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Griffin is supremely gifted and has the athletic ability to make the extraordinary look effortless. While he may not bring the Redskins back to glory in 2012, there are several reasons to like Griffin III’s fantasy football prospects this season.
His running ability
In 41 games at Baylor University, Griffin III scored 33 rushing touchdowns. And don’t worry about the game being too fast for him. RG3 ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Griffin III should be able to escape pressure with his feet and beat defenders with his speed. That combination is what made Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton a colossal success in his rookie season. While I don’t see Newton-type rushing touchdowns (14) from Griffin III, I do predict 500-600 yards rushing and 6-7 rushing touchdowns. Those numbers alone make him an intriguing fantasy prospect.
His passing skills
Last season at Baylor, Griffin was masterful throwing the ball. He threw for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns on his way to a Heisman Trophy. While those certainly are impressive numbers, there are two other stat lines that I found to be even more impressive. RG3’s completion percentage was 72% in 2011 and his yards per attempt average was 10.7. Those numbers indicate to me that Griffin III doesn’t miss many passes and he isn’t afraid to take shots downfield. And when compared to the rookie quarterbacks from last year, Griffin III’s completion percentage during his final collegiate season was much higher than that of Newton (66%), Blaine Gabbert (63%), Christian Ponder (61%) and Andy Dalton (66%). It’s no coincidence that the most accurate NFL quarterbacks are often times the top fantasy quarterbacks as well. I predict 3,300-3,400 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
His supporting cast
Griffin III joins a Redskins offense that has some nice pieces already in place. They have a solid young tight end in Fred Davis, a crafty veteran in Santana Moss, second-year receiver Leonard Hankerson and the speedy Pierre Garcon, whom the Redskins added in free agency. Griffin III will also be helped by running back Roy Helu, who emerged last season as a solid receiver out of the backfield. RG3 will help get Washington’s offense, which was one of the worst in the league last year, moving in the right direction.
After watching Newton dominate the way he did last season as a rookie, I consider Griffin III to be a QB1 in standard, 12-team fantasy leagues this season. His running ability alone makes him a valuable fantasy commodity. If you’re an owner who likes to target your quarterbacks later in the draft, look for RG3 in rounds 7-9.