Dynasty League Football


Final Dynasty Rookie Report Card: Quarterbacks

How did the rookie quarterbacks perform this year and what’s next?

Kenny Pickett

Throughout the season, the Rookie Report Card has covered some of the biggest rookies and not only looked at their performance to date – but also their long-term upside. Now that the regular season has wrapped up and dynasty managers are looking towards the future, we have an opportunity to take one last look at the 2022 season and assess the rookies. A final report card if you will.

We covered 38 rookies throughout the season, including four quarterbacks. Let’s put a bow on the season by taking one more look at those signal-callers’ first shots under center on Sundays, as well as a quick glimpse into their futures.

Sam Howell, QB WAS

2022 Stats: 11/19 passing, 169 yards, one touchdown, one interception, five carries, 35 rushing yards, one touchdown
Regular Season Rookie Report Card:
Week 18

I wrote in depth about Howell a week ago and usually wouldn’t have much to add considering the Commanders’ season is over but the rookie got headlines over Wild Card weekend so here goes.

It was reported on Saturday that Washington is letting potential offensive coordinators know they plan on Howell entering 2023 as their starter after just one start as a rookie.

The fifth-round pick was impressive in limited playing time but this announcement reeks of off-season coach speak. While the team is sure to move on from former starters Carson Wentz and Taylor Heineke, dynasty owners shouldn’t expect Howell to be handed the job that easily. Washington is sure to bring in stiff competition so nobody should be counting on the former Tar Heel to be anything more than a developmental QB just yet.

Howell has upside to put up QB2 numbers if he gets in an offense that plays to his strengths as a downfield thrower and allows him to use his athleticism to make plays outside the structure of the offense. Let’s just watch how the off-season plays out before committing to him as anything more than a QB3/4 on dynasty depth charts though.

Kenny Pickett, QB PIT

2022 Stats: 245/389 passing, 2,409 yards, seven touchdowns, nine interceptions, 55 carries, 237 yards, three rushing touchdowns
Regular Season Rookie Report Card: None

I wrote about all these rookies throughout the season and never got around to Pickett despite him being the cream of the crop among signal callers in this class and making 13 appearances as a rookie. I was always looking for that signature performance from the Steelers rookie and it never really came.

Pickett only had one QB1 finish as a rookie and that was a QB12 performance in week ten against the Saints. Of his 12 other games played, he was a QB2 eight times, so most would argue his rookie season was a solid start to his career but lacked enough eye-popping plays or performances to be convinced he’s destined for dynasty greatness.

Throwing more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (seven) and struggling at times to “let it rip,” Pickett struggled with consistency when it came to reading defenses quickly as well as delivering the ball with anticipation which he excelled at in his final year at Pitt. He was timid at times and appeared to be restrained by the coaching staff from pushing the ball down the field.

Nevertheless, Pickett did show leadership, arm strength and the ability to make progressions and good decisions with the football.

This off-season will be crucial to Pickett’s development. He needs the quick release and anticipation that he showed in college to translate to the next level in order to realize his QB1 upside sooner rather than later.

Right now, Pickett is seen by most as a fringe top-15 quarterback in dynasty which is fair considering his potential and the solid group around him in Pittsburgh. But if he struggles early in 2023, dynasty managers might become impatient.

Personally, I have no problem buying into Pickett at his current value. I love the talent, the coaching staff, and the group of skill players around him which makes me think he’s about to make a big step forward in 2023. He was difficult to start as a QB2 as a rookie but I have a hard time believing that will be the case next season.

Brock Purdy, QB SF

2022 Stats: 114/170 passing, 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns, four interceptions, one rushing touchdown
Regular Season Rookie Report Card:
Week 13

When I wrote about Purdy back in week 13, I concluded that it would be surprising if he developed into anything more than a quality NFL backup. That probably appears to be a pretty bad take to some but honestly, I stand by it.

Despite a 67% completion percentage and 13-to-4 touchdown to interception ratio in the regular season along with a monster performance in the Wild Card round against the Seahawks where he threw for 332 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, I still see reasons to believe he’s not a top-25 quarterback in the league long-term.

Purdy’s limited arm strength has been masked by Kyle Shanahan’s creative offense for the most part but has been on display on many occasions. Although his excellent decision-making has been evident, the 49ers’ coaching staff has done a masterful job putting him in position to be successful with quick throws to wide open receivers and by scheming open receivers on the second level using a dominant play-action game as well as imaginative route combinations and quarterback roll-outs.

Many question what San Francisco will do next year with Trey Lance returning from injury but there isn’t much doubt in my mind. Lance is a dynamic playmaker with his arm and legs and has the upside to be an elite quarterback in the league. Purdy’s ultimate upside is to be the next Jimmy Garoppolo, who is a quality NFL starting quarterback – just not more than a fantasy QB2 with some weekly upside if he’s in ideal conditions – like he is in this impressive run.

I may have been wrong in saying he’s a career backup, but I’m still not convinced Purdy is a difference-making quarterback for dynasty managers in the long run. He’s all but assured himself a shot at a starting job somewhere down the line, but I hesitate to believe his upside is any higher than the mid-QB2 performances he’s put up in San Francisco with one of the best offenses in the league.

Desmond Ridder, QB ATL

2022 Stats: 73/115 passing, 708 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, 16 carries, 64 rushing yards
Regular Season Rookie Report Card: None

Much like Pickett, Ridder never had the breakout game that got him featured in the Rookie Report Card, although week 18 against the Buccaneers got him close when he finished as the QB11, throwing two touchdowns in the Falcons’ season finale. While that game was a nice showing, his three other starts all resulted in fantasy finishes that failed to break the top 25 for the week.

Ridder had his moments in his month as Atlanta’s starter. He was especially impressive moving outside the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. In fact, he made multiple off-platform throws while on the move in the Buccaneers game alone which should give dynasty managers hope that he could develop into a long-term starting quarterback and potential fringe QB1 in dynasty.

There were also some growing pains, however. Ridder didn’t appear to be as calm in the pocket or have the same kind of rapid progression of what the defense is doing that he did in college. Again, there were signs of what we saw of him coming out of Cincinnati, like the seam throw to Mycole Pruitt in week 18 despite getting drilled, but there were also antsy feet in the pocket under pressure and forced throws at times.

Nonetheless, it’s common for a rookie quarterback to take some time for the game to slow down and Ridder is a rookie with four games of NFL experience when he made his first impression on dynasty managers so we should all practice some patience.

This off-season will be telling for Ridder and the Falcons. Atlanta has the eighth pick in the draft and a laundry list of needs so it’ll be interesting to see if they go into 2023 with him penciled in as the starter. With third-round draft capital, the team is likely to at least bring in a veteran to compete with him so he remains a developmental QB3 on dynasty depth charts.

Malik Willis, QB TEN

2022 Stats: 31/61 passing, 276 yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions, 27 carries, 123 yards, one rushing touchdown
Regular Season Rookie Report Card:
Week 16

It’s difficult to imagine a worse rookie season for Willis. A completion percentage of just 51%, three interceptions to zero touchdowns, and looking completely overmatched facing NFL defenses led to the rookie being benched for journeyman Joshua Dobbs when the Titans were in playoff contention late in the season.

Although his physical gifts were evident at times, it’s clear Willis got on the field way too early as he struggled to stand in the pocket without looking down at the rush, left the pocket too early with regularity, and wasn’t as dynamic running the ball as he was in college (3.6 yards per carry).

Despite the awful start to his career on the field, Willis has rare traits so he’ll hold his QB1 upside for dynasty managers. Unfortunately, that potential appears to need years of grooming from the sideline to realize.

I caught some backlash for giving Willis an “A” for his long-term potential and suggesting a Justin Fields resurgence could be possible back in week 16, but I stand by it. He might have to be a QB4 on your dynasty depth chart, but giving up on him now isn’t the move.

Bailey Zappe, QB NE

2022 Stats: 65/92 passing, 781 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions
Regular Season Rookie Report Card:
Week 6

Zappe went on a nice run under center for the Patriots early this season and looked like a capable backup quarterback. He was confident in the pocket, scanned the defense – making multiple progressions – and delivered the ball with anticipation.

Zappe posted a top-12 quarterback finish in week six against the Browns but sandwiched that performance with a pair of QB25 efforts and overall, appears to be, at the very least, a player the Patriots will develop under Mac Jones.

Although he was solid as an NFL quarterback, his lack of arm strength on perimeter throws down the field or power throws up the seam likely cap his upside for dynasty managers. Zappe should be seen as a depth quarterback in super-flex and 2QB leagues but isn’t worth a roster spot in single quarterback setups that aren’t especially deep.

Final Dynasty Rookie Report Card: Quarterbacks
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Henry Dematteis
2 months ago

Dear lord.
Were you grading on a massive curve? This QB class was god awful, yet the long term upside of Pickett was an A? Willis an A? Ridder a B+? Pickett might top out at Kirk Cousins. That’s an A? Willis was benched for Dobbs. A is out the window. Ridder MIGHT be a decent back up a La Mike Glennon. That’s a B+?? Sweet baby Jesus… you don’t know ball.

Henry Dematteis
2 months ago

My point is your scale is wrong. If Willis/Pickett have a long term upside grade of A… what does Trevor Lawrence have? A+? A+++? What would I need to add in a trade to you in our 12 team league to get Lawrence for Willis? How about Dorial Green Beckham? He also has excellent traits.

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