The term “unique” is thrown around often in prospect evaluation. It’s predominantly used to describe a player’s talent rather than their personality, but it’s also used enough that it tends to lose some meaning. I’m not against treating every NFL draftee as an individual – each player is, indeed, different. However, “unique” implies one of a kind and something remarkable and a little special.
Josh Rosen is unique. He fascinates me. He has enough talent to be in consideration for the number one overall draft pick. His charisma and outspoken personality is polarizing – some NFL decision-makers will love it, while some simply want to hire robots and will hate the idea of a free-thinking human invading their ranks.
Rivals labeled him the top overall player in the nation coming out of high school. At UCLA, he suffered a major injury, led a 34-point comeback, and owned a hot tub in his dormitory. Rosen is intelligent and articulate, but his former coach Jim Mora said he “needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored”. He’s an enigma.
With all of that said, let’s get to the most important question: What can he do for your fantasy football teams?
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
The numbers are good. Realistically, most players regarded this highly will have solid statistics – we just look for outliers. While his totals aren’t astronomical, by his final year he showed improvement across the board. If completion percentage means a lot to you, know that Rosen was closer to Josh Allen than Baker Mayfield in that regard.
What you don’t see here are his rushing numbers (or lack thereof). Through three seasons, Rosen ended up with minus 154 yards. This a stark contrast from the rest of the QBs at the top of the class – Allen (767 yards in three years), Sam Darnold (332 in two), and Mayfield (1,083 in four) at least offer some form of threat in this part of the game. (Also, it wouldn’t be fair to leave out Lamar Jackson‘s 4,132 rushing yards in three seasons. He’s an unbelievable rushing threat – but we already know that.)
What does this mean for NFL teams and fantasy owners? Quite simply, don’t expect any added production in the ground game. In the past, I’d also say don’t expect Rosen to be part of a non-traditional offense – but with the rising prevalence of ‘college plays’ and run/pass options, his decision-making skills make him capable of running any attack. I actually liken him to Eli Manning, and I think he’d be a great fit in New York. Here are Manning’s college numbers for comparison’s sake:
Add in Manning’s minus 135 rushing yards, and you have similar players.
If you have ten minutes to spare, a good way to get a picture of Rosen’s game is “the comeback” versus Texas A&M in 2017’s season opener.
In the first half of the game (and the video), we see Rosen’s question marks. When he’s outside the pocket, he looks uncomfortable. He misfires on a few occasions when his feet aren’t set, and things aren’t working if there isn’t ‘structure’ in a play.
However, down 34 points and approaching the end of the third quarter, he starts to heat up. Firstly, I won’t deny Rosen has his fair share of luck during the comeback – with interceptable balls and mistakes that should have been punished – but in order to overcome that deficit, you need some good fortune. What we do see is him playing with rhythm and timing. He steps back, steps up, and releases the ball. When things are going well, that’s the process – and he’s able to put the ball on the money. Even Rosen’s final throw of the game – the winning fake spike – was drawn up this way.
Assuming his new team and coaching staff ensure his offense is kept quick and simple, he’s capable of thriving. On the flip side, if asked to move, be creative, or play outside of ‘structure’, he will struggle.
While the Scouting Combine doesn’t help too much when assessing quarterbacks, the numbers do provide us insight into some similar type of players (physically). Here’s how Rosen measures up (via Mock Draftable):
What do you know? Eli Manning is a physical match for Rosen, too. His spider graph is not ‘eliminating’, but it’s underwhelming. Nothing stands out as particularly good or bad but he seems a capable athlete at the position. And these kinds of numbers may explain why Josh Allen is leaping to the top of the class in NFL eyes. Rosen’s physical body – and body – of work is not mouth-watering. Darnold’s spider graph is not pretty, and Jackson and Mayfield are smaller players. Rosen doesn’t have a trump card, while Allen does. That said, these measurables don’t worry me.
You can find a ton of player information at their DLF player page.
While he’s the top-ranked quarterback in our dynasty rookie rankings, Rosen actually comes in at third in the April startup ADP behind Jackson and Mayfield. In that ADP, he’s 28th among rookies – making him a mid third rounder. Among all dynasty QBs, he comes in at 23rd – behind Drew Brees and Philip Rivers but ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, and Blake Bortles.
I really like the value of the quarterbacks this year in rookie drafts. Let’s be brutally honest – most second and third round rookie picks don’t pan out. And when we’re comparing the Bo Scarbroughs and Auden Tates of the world to quarterbacks who could go top ten in the NFL draft (in a highly-regarded class), I’d lean towards making an investment there. Specifically, in 2QB/superflex leagues, this is a great year to add a solid talent to your rosters.
In my mind, Josh Rosen is the best pure passer in this year’s draft class. That by no means guarantees him success at the next level, but simply being a great football player should go some way towards it. Similarly, draft capital will tell us that he’ll have a chance to be a starter for at least a couple of years – and that in itself is more than can be said for most third round picks.
At his current value – first round in superflex leagues, third round in standard leagues, and in the mid-20s of all dynasty QBs – I’m more than happy to make the investment. When we look back on this class a couple of years from now, it’ll prove to have been a solid decision.
James can be found on Twitter at @JS_Football