There is concrete proof that, when Baker Mayfield sets his mind to it, he can quicken the acclimatization process. He came to Los Angeles late on a Tuesday night in early December of last season after being claimed off waivers by the Rams. On Thursday night, less than 48 hours later, starter John Wofford was benched by head coach Sean McVay after just one series against the Las Vegas Raiders. Mayfield led a game-winning drive of 98 yards, threw for 230 yards and a score with no interceptions, and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week as a result.
In contrast, he should have little trouble learning a new offense in the course of five months, given that he has already done so extensively during his first five seasons in the NFL.
“I think fortunately for me, I’ve had to learn a lot of new playbooks so it’s great,” he said. “Any time you get to learn from somebody else that’s had different systems, to me it’s an opportunity to pick successful tips and pointers that they have and you get to also relate it to things that you’ve been through. I’m excited about that. To me, it’s not about leveling the playing field – [it’s about] what can I do best in the system and how can I showcase my talents and leadership skills as well?”
The Buccaneers’ Super Bowl win in 2020, may not have been too long ago, but without Tom Brady, this is a completely different team. While fans are excited about the potential of Baker under center, there’s no guarantee he’s the guy all season. Third-year player and former second-round pick Kyle Trask, who has only played in one regular season game so far, will battle with Mayfield for the starting quarterback position with the Bucs. This is the first genuine competition for the starting quarterback position in Tampa Bay in at least ten years, and it will reach its climax during training camp and the preseason.
“I’m excited for it – to me, competition brings the best out in everybody,” said Mayfield. “I’ve always believed that. That’s true for all sports – it teaches you how to compete, it teaches you how to win and lose the right way, and there’s learning processes along the way. I think Kyle and I are going to push each other no matter what happens and I think we’re going to make the most of it.”
Both QBs will have to master Dave Canales’ system from scratch. Mayfield has just spent a limited amount of time with his new offensive coordinator, but what he has seen has been encouraging. As Canales didn’t join the team until the middle of February, he probably hasn’t finished explaining his offensive scheme to the coaches so that they can prepare to teach the players by the time the offseason workouts start. Mayfield thinks that Canales is the type of coach that will adjust his strategy and play selection based on his players’ strengths.
Baker Mayfield has never had a season better than a fantasy QB2 in any format. The 27-year-old finished as high as QB21 in fantasy points per game in his debut season with the Browns and as low as QB41 in his final season with the Panthers and Rams. Although providing the Rams with a much-needed boost down the stretch, Mayfield finished dead last (QB50) in completion percentage over projected and 43rd in total EPA/play in 2022. He also doesn’t do much in the way of rushing.
While many fantasy managers may have trouble putting their faith in Baker, the superb offensive arsenal he inherits gives him some value in best ball drafts. Mayfield, who is now being taken off draft boards in the late 18th round as QB34, has the potential to contribute as a bye-week fill-in or a spike week or two. Unless we’re streaming the position, which is a wait-and-see scenario, he’s not being discussed in redraft leagues.
Joseph is a long-time sports betting enthusiast based out of New York. He loves the Jets and is happily married with 2 kids.