Quarterback Hit Rates 2017-2022
Each season, the National Football League (NFL) holds its annual entry draft. The NFL draft is an event in which teams select eligible college football players to add to their rosters. The purpose of the draft is to acquire new players, intending to strengthen their rosters and address areas of need.
Dynasty fantasy football leagues typically operate similarly. The purpose of a rookie draft in dynasty fantasy football is to give owners an opportunity to acquire incoming NFL rookies and add them to their roster. The question is, what should dynasty managers expect to get out of their draft selections?
There is a phenomenon in Dynasty leagues known as Rookie Fever. We tend to overvalue rookie picks this time of year, driving up their perceived value. The reality is managers should have a more realistic expectation of what value their rookie picks hold.
Some rookies will make an immediate impact, some take time to develop and some may never reach the significant fantasy value we had planned for them when we added them to our rosters. I refer to the level of success a player may or may not achieve during their career as their Hit Rate.
Since joining RotoHeat, I have utilized historical data on an annual basis to attempt to determine the expected hit rates of drafted prospects. In this 4-part series, I dive into the drafts over the past six seasons to identify trends and help set a level of expectation for this upcoming rookie class.
This process began back in 2018 and has compiled the results of every skill player drafted since 2010. With a large number of players drafted in the early years of my data collection no longer playing, I have reduced the data used to the previous six seasons. The 2010-2016 data is referenced to give a larger sample of the historical data.
The series kicks off with a review of the Quarterback position. When reviewing hit rates, it’s important to define what a hit is. I define quarterback “Hits” as any QB that has delivered a top-12 season at any point in their career. In addition, I have crunched the data and determined which QBs accomplished the feat as a rookie, and how many have done it on more than one occasion.
Since the 2017 NFL draft, there have been 66 quarterbacks selected. Of those 66 QBs – twenty were first-round selections, four in the second, nine in the third, eight in the fourth, and a total of 25 were selected in rounds five through seven. What shouldn’t come as a surprise, the data shows us that the draft capital of the player is king. It’s king at all of the skill positions, but nowhere is it more impactful than at the QB position.
5. Rounds 5-7
What should come as no surprise is, quarterbacks selected in rounds five through seven have delivered a total of zero hit seasons from 2017-2022. Of the 25 selected in this range, the closest to achieving a hit season was Gardner Minshew in 2019 when he finished as QB20. Minshew’s QB2 season in 2019, is the only QB2 season this group has produced to date. Brock Purdy was the best of the 2022 class finishing as QB33 playing in parts of nine games.
Ten of the 25 drafted in these rounds have either finished their careers without appearing in a game or have yet to take a snap. If it is not already clear, this is not the range to target your next fantasy QB. Sleepers at the QB position drafted in rounds five thru seven don’t exist.
In the previous seven seasons, (2010-2016), there were an additional 34 selected in Round five through, that combined for a total of 1 hit season. The only QB to deliver a hit season was Tyrod Taylor in 2016. Taylor for good measure also posted QB2 seasons in 2015 and 2017, the only QB in this group in addition to Minshew to post a QB2 season.
Dating back to the 2010 NFL draft there have been a total of 60 quarterbacks selected from rounds five through seven. One of them, (1.67%) has delivered a top-12 season.
4. Round 4
Round four doesn’t move the needle when searching for hit seasons. Between the 2017 and 2022 NFL drafts, we have seen a total of eight QBs selected. This “not-so-great-eight”, has totaled zero hit seasons. The best result from a round-four QB to date comes from Bailey Zappe and his QB46 finish in 2022. Round four is another round to avoid when targeting your next great fantasy QB.
The Round four group from 2010-2016 was not a lot better with the exception of two quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins, and Dak Prescott. Dak accomplished a hit season as a rookie and has delivered a total of five hit seasons in his seven seasons played. Cousins has delivered a hit in six of his eleven seasons played.
Dating back to the 2010 NFL draft there have been a total of 19 quarterbacks selected in Round 4, and two of them, or 10.5% have delivered a top-12 season. One (5.26%) accomplished the feat as a rookie, and that same duo has delivered a hit season on more than one occasion.
3. Round 3
Nine quarterbacks have been drafted in Round three since 2017. This is where business starts to pick up in terms of hit seasons right? Sadly the answer is no, no it is not. These nine have combined to total zero hit seasons thus far. The best we have seen from a round-three drafted QB is a QB21 finish delivered by Davis Mills in 2022. If you are keeping score at home, Round three is yet another round of the NFL draft fantasy managers should be avoiding.
The Round three group from 2010-2106 wasn’t great, but it did produce hit seasons from Russell Wilson and Nick Foles. Wilson started delivering hit campaigns in his 2012 rookie season and continued every year until an injury-shortened 2021 campaign. Foles hit the mark once, back in 2013 finishing the season as QB11.
Since the 2010 NFL draft, there have been a total of 16 quarterbacks selected in Round 3, and two of them, or 12.5% have delivered a top-12 season. One, or 6.25% accomplished the feat as a rookie, and the same has delivered a hit season on more than one occasion.
2. Round 2
The sample size of Round two QBs drafted since 2017, is a small one. There have been a total of four; DeShone Kizer, Drew Lock, Jalen Hurts, and Kyle Trask. Like Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the other, and that would be Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. He has delivered hit seasons the past two years, finishing as QB9 and QB3.
Kizer, Luck, and Trask have combined for six seasons played and the best we have seen here is the QB23 season from Drew Lock in 2020.
The Round two group from 2010-2016 was significantly better than the four mentioned above. We have hit seasons from Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Derek Carr, and Geno Smith. Dalton is the lone multiple-hit producer hitting the mark three times in his 12-year career to date. None of them however had a hit season as a rookie.
Since the 2010 NFL draft, there have been 14 quarterbacks selected in Round 2, five of them, or 35.7% have delivered a top-12 season, and one, or 7.14% has done it multiple times.
Round two drafted QBs is where you can start to look for your next fantasy QB, especially in Super-Flex or two QB leagues where you will start more than one weekly.
1. Round 1
Hopefully, you are still with me. This is where this journey gets a lot less depressing. Since 2017, there have been more quarterbacks selected in Round one of the draft than any other round of the draft.
Twenty have been selected between 2017-2022 with nine of them, (45%), having recorded at least one hit season to date. Of those nine to record a hit, only Justin Fields, and Daniel Jones have failed to do it on multiple occasions. Two of the twenty had hit seasons as a rookie, Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert, and Herbert is the only member of this group to have recorded a hit in every season he has played.
Each draft class from 2017-2022 has produced multiple hit QBs with the exception of 2021 and 2022. 2022 is the only season since 2013 to not produce a top-24 QB in their rookie season. Kenny Pickett finished his rookie season as QB28.
The Round one group from 2010-2016 saw 19 QBs drafted in Round one. Eight of them recorded a hit season, six on multiple occasions, and three of them in their rookie season.
Round-one drafted QBs being a success in fantasy football is what we expect. These are the best of the best in their draft class. Round-one QBs typically get a chance to play, and the teams that selected them are typically not very good. Trailing teams tend to throw more, so we often see these young franchise quarterbacks get the opportunity to show us what they can do early and often in thier career.
These elite prospects however are hardly a sure thing. Since 2010, we have had a total of 39 quarterbacks drafted in the opening round, and more than half of them, (53.85%) have failed to record a top-12 season. For every Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert, there is a Paxton Lynch, Johnny Manziel, abd Christian Ponder.
As of today, there are 4 rookie quarterbacks that are projected to be selected in the first round Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson. The data from 2017-2022 would suggest that of the four, two will deliver a hit season in their career and one will do it on multiple occasions. The odds show us that it’s unlikely any do it as a rookie.
The intent of this article is not to deter you from selecting a quarterback in your upcoming rookie drafts. The intent is to highlight the importance of draft capital and to suggest that you avoid quarterbacks selected outside the first two rounds of the NFL draft. It should also be noted that this article highlights how valuable a multiple-hit season QB are. If you roster a mutiple hit QB, you should be looking for a massive return if considering trading them, especially in a Super-Flex or Two QB league format.
Thank you for reading 2017-2022 Quarterback Hit Rates
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