We know every rookie quarterback can’t make a fast transition to the NFL and go all Dan Marino or Peyton Manning over the entire league in their first season. No, not every quarterback. But even though the numbers aren’t high, almost every season still offers up a few passers who serve as decent spot-starts in fantasy football.
Sam Bradford was very solid and fairly reliable in 2010, while Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have done well in the past.
So, which rookie quarterbacks have the ability to do some damage in 2011? Take a look at the top options as we tell you who to Start and Sit going into the new season:
Potential Rookie Starters
Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings)
Ponder remains the surest bet to start in his first season, and given his great cerebral approach and solid overall skills, he could actually have a pretty productive first season. If Sidney Rice returns to the Vikings, Ponder will be surrounded by a good offensive cast, and would have the potential to put up Sam Bradford-type numbers, and possibly better.
Keep track of what his weapons will be looking like as the off-season progresses, as Ponder has the potential to be a solid QB2 right away.
Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)
With Carson Palmer upset and still in limbo, Dalton’s fantasy value is also looking stagnant. If Palmer is gone, its a safe bet the smart and accurate Dalton starts from day one, but with Palmer remaining in the fold, its hard to completely gauge his value.
Dalton has solid skills and athleticism to go with his accuracy and great leadership, making him a very solid rookie option, and one that could blossom with good, young talented receivers around him.
Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers)
Kaepernick could be a demon in his first season in 2011, but there’s no denying his hype so far is surviving purely on athleticism and potential. The guy is extremely mobile and has the ability to keep plays alive, as well as make them with his own two feet. Add good arm strength and decision-making to the table, and you just might be looking at the 49ers’ new starting quarterback.
However, the team has been open about wanting to bring back Alex Smith to compete for the job, and Kaep’ is still raw enough to want to wait a year or two before forcing him into action.
Its anyone’s guess what ends up happening with this quarterback competition, but being that it looks to be wide open, you have to imagine Kaepernick has a decent chance to win the job. Track his status throughout the off-season.
Not So Much
Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
Newton has all the potential and ability in the world, but he really is a far way off from being a dominant force in the NFL. He’s not even a sure bet to beat out incumbent starter Jimmy Clausen, as the Carolina brass have stated they won’t start Newton until he’s completely ready.
Even if Newton does start, his best offensive weapon, Steve Smith, is a strong trade candidate, likely leaving Newton without a ton of options in the passing game. In other words, I just don’t see him being a major factor in his first season.
Jake Locker (Tennessee Titans)
Locker is a strong candidate to sit his entire first season in the league, so he’s obviously not a guy you want to think about right now for your fantasy roster. However, I don’t agree with many other experts who say Locker is years away from being a solid pro quarterback. In fact, if he had to be thrown into the fire in his first season, I actually like his chances.
That isn’t likely to happen, however, as the Titans prefer to bring in a veteran to show Locker the ropes, as he grows and can work on his accuracy and ability to read defenses. List him as a “sit” guy for now, but keep an eye on him if he gets to hit the field in 2011.
Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Gabbert is a talented passer that appears to have all the skills necessary to succeed in the NFL, while he is also fairly pro ready as he stands. He may need some time to process the transition, however, and as good as I think he can eventually become, I don’t think he’s better than David Garrard right now. Look for Garrard to keep the job, while Gabbert has probably a 50% chance of taking over near mid-season if Jacksonville gets off to a slow start.