Rise Of The NFL Rookie Quarterback

By Jan Hubbard

It’s pretty obvious that only in fantasy football could a team end up with Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck on the same team. That’s what happened in our league, but it’s the story of how they got there that is radically different from, I bet, all of you out there in fantasy leagues.

The 23rd anniversary of our league passed with little fanfare this year. Although our 10 teams – not all of them original franchises – are competitive, we venture into geekdom only rarely. If there is such a thing as the right approach to fantasy football, I think we have it. No one seems to obsess about it – at least not in public.

As we know, the NFL has changed significantly the last few years. Our league was always different from others because we devised a scoring system that included a number of performance bonuses and they made our draft more like a true draft would be. All those years the so-called fantasy experts were telling players to take two running backs in the first two rounds were ignored by us. Backs were important, but there was also a premium on quarterbacks and usually three or four would be drafted in the first round.

That’s what the game is about, isn’t it? If all NFL players were declared free agents and a 10-team league was formed, you think GMs would take running backs in the first two rounds? Drew Brees would go in the third round? Some of you may have enjoyed that sort of scoring system, but not us. We found it stupid and boring.

This year, however, we also decided the draft was boring. With all the information available, which has led to so-called fantasy experts making an insane amount of money for being a so-called fantasy expert, the draft had become predictable. There were minimal surprises. A player expected to go in the fourth round might have gone in the second. A first-rounder may have gone two or three picks before you expected. But there was nothing shocking.

So we threw it out. Instead, our draft was a blind auction. Each team had a $1,000 salary cap and had to blindly bid on 17 players. There were a minimum and maximum number of players you could bid on at each position, but you could bid on any player. You had to submit the bid without knowing what any other team was doing.

And that was great. In all leagues that draft, there is little chance you can have access to Brees and Tony Romo, but that not only happened in our league, that team also got Larry Fitzgerald, Rob Gronkowski, Ryan Mathews and Adrian Peterson, who still is going in the fourth round on average despite coming back from injury.

But the big story and the point of this column is that one team kept getting beat on bids for established quarterbacks but won bids for Luck and Griffin. And you know the big thing.

He wasn’t even upset.

In a regular draft, it’s unlikely that would have happened. The rookies would have been backups on different teams. The team did manage to get Josh Freeman in a later bid and he will start early in the season, but it is likely that when the rookies start asserting themselves, they will be finding playing time.

And that is even more impressive in a 10-team fantasy league because Luck and Griffin are two of 32 starters in the NFL. And this year, they are joined by three other rookie starters – first-rounders Ryan Tannehill in Miami and Brandon Weeden in Cleveland and third-round pick Russell Wilson in Seattle. Wilson was the eighth quarterback picked in the draft. That’s pretty amazing.

It seems safe to say that as we enter season, it’s the year of the rookie quarterback. No telling if it will be by the end of the year. But if we can enter the realm of geekdom for a second, it seems that rookies have already had an impact in the fantasy world. At least that’s true in our league.