Baker Mayfield may not be the top-rated quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, but he has the potential to be the most productive from a fantasy standpoint.
At 6-foot-1, Mayfield may lack the prototypical size that NFL’s decision makers want, but the reigning Heisman Trophy winner brings four key traits to the party; competitiveness, production, accuracy and confidence. His competitiveness has crossed the line on occasion, but he backs it up with stellar play and can be dismissed as youthful exuberance and a will to win. Lazy comparisons to Johnny Manziel don’t do Mayfield justice as his production and consistency at the college level are off the charts compared to his infamous predecessor. One of Mayfield’s main strengths is his confidence in throwing the ball downfield and his big play percentage and deep ball accuracy led the nation in 2017, a great nod to future fantasy production.
A three-year starter at Oklahoma, Mayfield’s play improved every year and finished with a 2017 campaign where he was the most productive quarterback in the nation. He threw for over 4,600 yards with a completion percentage of over 70% and a 43/6 touchdown to interception ratio as he led the Sooners to a 12-2 record and into the College Football playoffs where they lost a heartbreaker to Georgia in the Rose Bowl.
The main concerns on Mayfield, apart from his size, are his tendency to hold onto the ball too long. Like many young quarterbacks, this translates into arm arrogance and at the next level, Mayfield will need to throw with more anticipation, which he has the accuracy to do.
Like the majority of first round prospects, Mayfield could benefit from sitting and learning the ways of the NFL quarterback behind an established veteran, but his character will mean he’ll be pushing to play at the earliest opportunity.
Mayfield’s College Stats
Best Fantasy Fits
- New York Jets: The first team likely to consider Mayfield in the draft is his best fantasy fit. Josh McCown is the current de facto starter, but at age 38, this is likely to be the season he becomes the true bridge, with whoever they draft 3rd overall likely to start at some point in 2018. Character wise, the New York market seems perfect for Mayfield and from a pure fantasy standpoint, there is a sneaky deep receiving core, plus some options at running back in the pass game. Robby Anderson had a top-15 season in 2017, ably backed up Jermaine Kearse, plus the Jets have added Terrelle Pryor and have Quincy Enunwa returning after missing the whole of 2017 through injury. They have lost Matt Forte’s pass-catching from the running back position, but that means Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire will likely see more than the 23 and 17 catches they caught in 2017. The offensive line is a work in progress, but if they can keep Mayfield upright, the weapons are there to allow him to flourish as a rookie fantasy prospect.
- Buffalo Bills: Buffalo is the place Mayfield would be most likely to be the Week 1 starter, with only AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman (he of the famous five first half interceptions debut) as competition. The receiving weapons aren’t of the same caliber as the Jets, but a running game based around LeSean McCoy means he’d likely see softer coverages to throw in. Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay provide the big bodies, with second year receiver Zay Jones needing to step on after a quiet rookie season. McCoy is also a weapon in the passing game, good for around 50 catches a year, with Chris Ivory also having shown he can contribute in the passing game, with 71 catches over the last three seasons.
- Cleveland Browns: Probably the least likely location that Mayfield will land based on current projections, but if Cleveland go with Saquon Barkley with the first pick, they could circle back and pick him up with pick number 4. In Cleveland, there is an exciting receiving corp, with Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman, with one of the league’s top pairs of receiving backs in Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde. Add in a pair of young tight ends in David Njoku and Seth DeValve, and the number of targets for a young quarterback has to throw at rivals any in the league.