Quarterback Hit Rates 2020-2023

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 rosters and address areas of need.

Dynasty fantasy football leagues operate similarly. In this fantasy football format, the rookie draft can be a key component of building out your roster. League participants manage their rosters year-round and keep all of their players from one season to the next. This setup allows for long-term team building and player development strategies.

There is a phenomenon in Dynasty leagues I like to refer to as Rookie Fever. “Rookie Fever” is the overvaluing of rookie picks, thus driving up their perceived value. Dynasty managers should have a more realistic expectation of what value their rookie picks hold, but as a rule, we overvalue youth and we like shiny new toys.

Some rookies will make an immediate impact, some take time to develop and some may never reach the fantasy value we had planned for them when we added them to our rosters. This article defines 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 twenty-four seasons to identify trends and help set a level of expectation for this upcoming rookie class. 

I began this process in 2018 and I have compiled the results of every skill player drafted since 2000. With a large number of players drafted in the early years of my data collection no longer playing, and the game changing over the past 24 years, I have reduced the data measured to the last four draft classes. The 2000-2009 data as well as the 2010-2019 data is referenced to give a larger sample of 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 hit season as any season in which a QB has delivered a top-12 campaign at any point in their career. In addition, I have crunched the data to determine which QBs accomplished the feat on more than one occasion, and which QBs did it in their rookie season.  

Since the 2020 NFL draft, there have been 46 quarterbacks selected. Of those 46 QBs – 13 were selected in Round One, 3 in the second, 6 in the third, 7 in the fourth, and a total of 17 were selected in rounds five through seven. What shouldn’t come as a surprise is that 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.

Rounds 5-7

Quarterback Hit Rates 2020-2023
Quarterback Hit Rates 2020-2023 2

What should come as no surprise is, that quarterbacks selected in rounds five through seven have been for the most part irrelevant in the NFL and as a result Fantasy Football. Entering the 2023 season this collection of quarterbacks had delivered a total of zero-hit seasons dating back to 2020. This changed last season when Mr. Irrelevant himself, Brock Purdy delivered a hit season with his QB6 finish.

The best result before Purdy’s hit season was his QB33 rookie season and Sam Ehlinger’s QB49 season in which he posted 38.6 fantasy points.

Of the 17 drafted in these rounds five have either finished their careers without appearing in a game or have yet to take a snap. In addition, nine of the eleven measured failed to appear after their rookie season. This is not the range to target your next fantasy QB. Sleepers at the QB position drafted in rounds five through seven rarely exist. 

Round five thru seven saw 65 quarterbacks selected from 2000-2009, and an additional 52 drafted from 2010-2019. These quarterbacks combined to deliver 26 hit seasons in a combined 290 seasons of play. If I were to remove one QB from this database, the total hit seasons dating back to 2000 would drop to 10. Sixth-round selection Tom Brady totaled 16 QB1 seasons in his 23-year career. The remaining 10 hit seasons came from six quarterbacks in a combined 59 seasons of play.

From 2020-2023 the hit rate to date is 5.89%. 2000-2009 delivered at a rate of 9.23, and 2010-2019 came in at 1.92%. In total 134 quarterbacks have heard their name called in rounds 5-7 of the NFL draft. Eight of those QBs brought their fantasy manager a top-12 season at one point in their careers, (5.97%). None of the 134 did it as a rookie, and four, Marc Buldger, Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brady accomplished it on more than one occasion.

Round 4

Moving into Round Four, not much has changed in our pursuit of hit seasons. The 2020-2023 group has seven QBs that have yet to produce a hit season. These seven QBs have totaled seven seasons with Jacob Eason and Bailey Zappe combining for five of them. The best result we have to date from this septet is Aidan O’Connell‘s 132.8-point QB28 finish in 2023.

Quarterback PickSeasonsQB1QB2QB1%QB2%
Jacob Eason 1223000%0%
James Morgan 1250000%0%
Ian Book1331000%0%
Bailey Zappe1372000%0%
Jake Haener1270000%0%
Stetson Bennett1280000%0%
Aidan O’Connell1351000%0%
Quarterback Hit Rates 2020-2023

The Round Four group from 2000-2009 comprised of thirteen quarterbacks that combined to appear in 64 total seasons. This group produced one hit season and 8 QB2 seasons. The lone hit season and three of the eight QB2 seasons belong to former Jacksonville Jaguar David Garrard. Garrard finished as QB10 in 2008.

Business picks up marginally from 2010-2019. This era of the draft saw fifteen QBs selected in Round Four and this group has produced twelve hit seasons to date. Two quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott are responsible for all of them with 6 a piece. The other thirteen in a combined 27 seasons have delivered a total of one QB2 season, (Joshua Dobbs).

In total, since the 2000 NFL Draft, we have had 35 quarterbacks drafted in Round Four. Three of them, (8.57%), in a total of 118 seasons have produced 13 QB1 campaigns. Dak Prescott is the only one to do it in his rookie season and Prescott and Cousins are the only multiple QB1 producers.

Round 3

The sample size generated by the third-round QBs drafted since 2000 is a small and lackluster one. Six have been selected to date, and they have combined for seven total seasons. It would be a reasonable assumption that players selected in the top 100 picks in the draft should deliver their teams some productivity right? Well, you know what they say but assuming.

The best we have seen from this sextet is the QB21 finish delivered by Davis Mills in 2022, and a QB22 season in 2023 from Desmond Ridder. Mills lost his starting role in 2023 and Atlanta Falcon fans are hoping Ridder loses his entering 2024.

Kellen Mond661000%0%
Davis Mills673010%33%
Desmond Ridder 742010%50%
Malik Willis862000%0%
Matt Coral940000%0%
Hendon Hooker680000%0%
Quarterback Hit Rates 2020-2023

Looking back at the round-three selections from 2000-2009, we find a group of thirteen quarterbacks. This group appeared in a total of 72 seasons and we had one QB, Matt Schaub produced a hit season. Schaub did it twice, in 2009 and 2010. He added four QB2 seasons as well. The other twelve combined to give us two, QB2 seasons.

The 2010-2019 group didn’t fare much better than their 2000-2009 peers with one glaring exception. Russell Wilson leads this group of twelve with nine hit seasons and another three QB2 years, in his 12 seasons to date. Nick Foles chips in his lone hit season in 2013. In total, the 2010-2019 third-round QB class has produced ten hit seasons and four QB2 seasons. Removing Wilson from this group leaves us with one hit season and one QB2 season out of a total combined 53 seasons played.

Since the 2000 NFL Draft, there have been a total of 30 quarterbacks selected in Round Three, and three of them, or 10% have delivered a top-12 season. Wilson and Schaub are the only multi-hit season QBs and Wilson was the lone QB to give us a hit rookie season.

Round 2

The sample size of Round Two QBs drafted since 2020, is the smallest one measured yet. There have been a total of three selected, Jalen Hurts, Kyle Trask, and Will Levis. Like Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the other, and that would be the Philadelphia Eagles QB. In his four seasons, Hurts has delivered three hit seasons finishing as the QB9, QB3, and QB2. Trask has attempted a total of 10 passes since entering the league in 2021 and Levis finished an abbreviated rookie season as QB33 in 2023.

Jalen Hurts5343075%0%
Kyle Trask642000%0%
Will Levis851000%0%
Quarterback Hit Rates 2020-2023

The Round Two group from 2010-2019 has proven to be significantly better than the trio mentioned above. This group of twelve has delivered 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 13-year. In total this group has produced 6 hit seasons and an additional 25 QB2 finishes in a combined 76 seasons played.

There were eleven QBs to hear their name called in Round Two from 2000-2009. These eleven quarterbacks combined for 83 total seasons, 15 hit seasons, and 7 QB2 finishes. We have Drew Brees to thank for those results. The Chargers and Saints QB is responsible for all 15 hit seasons and three of the QB2 finishes.

In total, since 2000 there have been 26 drafted in Round Two. Six of the 26, (23.07%), have delivered a top-12 season at some point in their career, three, have done it on multiple occasions and none of them achieved a hit season as a rookie. 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.

Round 1

This is the point of our journey where we start to find what we are looking for. Since 2020, there have been 46 quarterbacks selected and the 13 drafted in Round One is nearly double the amount seen in any other round.

Six of the thirteen, (46.15%), have combined to deliver nine hit seasons. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are multi-hit QBs, and Herbert and C.J. Stroud achieved a hot season as a rookie. In addition to the hit seasons from this group, the 13 have combined to deliver an additional 9 QB2 seasons.

Joe Burrow142050%0%
Tua Tagovailoa541125%25%
Justin Herbert643175%25%
Jordan Love2631033%0%
Trevor Lawrence 13030%100%
Zach Wilson23000%0%
Trey Lance32000%0%
Justin Fields1131133%33%
Mac Jones 153020%66.7%
Kenny Pickett202000%0%
Bryce Young11010%100%
C.J. Stroud2110100%0%
Anthony Richardson41000%0%
Quarterback Hit Rates 2020-2023

The Round One group from 2010-2019 comprises thirty quarterbacks. Sixteen, (53.33%) of the thirty have recorded at least one hit season in their career to date. Eleven, (36.67%), have recorded more than one hit season, led by Cam Newton, and Patrick Mahomes with six each. Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffen III, and Kyler Murray, achieved hit status in their rookie season.

The Round One group from 2000-2009 saw 26 QBs drafted in Round One. Fourteen, (53.84%) recorded at least one hit season in their career to date. Nine, (34. 62%), have recorded more than one hit season, led by Aaron Rodgers (12), and Philip Rivers, (10). Vince Young was the only one to have a hit season as a rookie. Interestingly enough it was the lone hit season in Young’s six seasons.

We expect Round One drafted QBs to be successful. After all, they are supposed to be the best of the best and these are the players we are using first and second-round rookie picks on. We are counting on these QBs getting a chance to play and produce. Fantasy managers know the teams that selected these QBs are typically not very good. We often see these young franchise quarterbacks get the opportunity to show us what they can do early and often in their careers, and that is what makes them so attractive to our dynasty rosters.

The reality is these elite prospects are not a sure thing for their NFL club or your dynasty squad. Since 2000, we have had a total of 69 quarterbacks drafted in the opening round, and more than half of them, (52.17%) have failed to record a single top-12 season. Of those that have delivered a hit season, only 31.88% have done it on multiple occasions. For every Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert, there is Paxton Lynch, Johnny Manziel, and Christian Ponder.

Round One – Deep Dive

The 2024 quarterback class appears to best one we have seen since the 2020 class of Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love. It’s also important to note that the 2021 class led by Trevor Lawrence was also expected to be strong and as of now has been anything but.

This 2024 group projects to have as many as six quarterbacks coming off the board in Round One. In a year where we find many QB-needy organizations in advantageous draft positions, we also have a solid QB draft class. History would indicate that if there are six selected, three will deliver a hit season during their career, with two of them doing it on multiple occasions. Depending on where you look, the six quarterbacks projected to be day-one selections are Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix Jr.

This annual exercise highlights the importance of draft capital. We see the difference in QBs selected in the first two rounds versus the last two rounds. We see separation within the first round as well. Where you get selected in the NFL draft matters. Round One QBs deliver a higher likelihood of hoit seasons than others selected in the later rounds. Where you get selected in Round One matters as well.

PickDraftedSeasonsHit Seasons% Hit Seasons% That Hit% of Multiple HitsRookie %
Round One Hit Rates 2000-2023

The first overall drafted quarterback is likely the safest pick you can make in your Rookie Draft. Of the seventeen selected at 1.01 since 2000, only five have failed to produce at least one hit season – David Carr, JaMarcus Russell, Sam Bradford, Trevor Lawrence, and Bryce Young. There is still time for Lawrence and Young to remove themselves from this list as Baker Mayfield did in 2023. JaMarcus Russell is the only first overall selection to fail to produce a top-12 or top-24 season in their career.

The seventeen selected with picks two through five are wildly inconsistent. There are 28 hit seasons in 109 attempts from this group and 18 of them come from Philip Rivers, (10), and Matt Ryan,(8). The only other multiple-hit season QBs here are Carson Wentz and Balke Bortles. Seven of the seventeen have not produced a hit season, and four have not given you a top-12 or top-24 campaign.

The group added with picks six through ten are propped up by Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen’s combined 11 hit seasons. Ben Roethlisberger is responsible for 41% of the hit seasons from the 11-20s and Aaron Rodgers is responsible for 75% of the hit seasons from the 21s-32s.

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 if you are planning to draft a QB, you avoid quarterbacks selected outside the first two rounds of the NFL draft. Simply put don’t draft any QB picked in rounds three through seven. The odds are you wasting that pick, let the other managers in your league clog their rosters with assets that will almost certainly never produce.

This article also intends to highlight how valuable the ‘Hit QBs” you currently roster are, especially ones that have done it multiple times. If you play in a Super-flex or Two Quarterback league, the Multi-Hit QB should be treated like fantasy gold. Remember 69 quarterbacks have been drafted in Round One since 2000, and only 22 have produced more than one hit season. You can not afford regardless of your roster to move off the multiple hit QB in a Super-flex without a high percentage prospect or pick coming back to you. Failure to do so will extend the rebuild indefinelty.

Thank you for reading the 2020-2023 Quarterback Hit Rates

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