If like me, your draft strategy is about getting the best possible value for your picks and going QB late is the only way to go. Unless I’m playing in a 2 QB or Superflex league, I want to stack skill position talent and depth, knowing that the difference between the QB1 and QB15 is far less than the difference between the equivalent players at both receiver and running back. With that in mind, I’m here to make the case for a pair of second year quarterbacks currently being drafted in round 12 and above, who will not only be serviceable starters, but have the talent to be outright QB1s in 2019.
Making the case for Lamar Jackson
Jackson enters his second year after an electric second half to the 2018 season where after taking over from Joe Flacco in Week 11, he led the Ravens to 6 wins out of 7 and into the playoffs and showcased his athleticism as a runner. Jackson averaged just 160 passing yards per game and 5 passing touchdowns, but added a further 80 rushing yards per game and 4 touchdowns of his own to be the QB8 over those last seven weeks of the season.
In 2019, everything is in place for Jackson to take the next step as a quarterback. Greg Roman was named offensive coordinator in January and he has a strong track record coaching running quarterbacks, having coached both Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor to the best seasons of their careers with the 49ers and Bills respectively. Under Roman, the Ravens will be fully committed to the run, adding Mark Ingram in free agency, drafting Justice Hill and keeping both Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon on the roster. They’ve also drafted a pair of young receivers to grow with Jackson, deep threat Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown and Notre Dame product Miles Boykin.
Though I don’t expect Jackson to run quite as often as he did in year one as he was figuring out the position, Roman’s scheme will see Jackson be a more efficient runner and this sets a high floor as fantasy prospect. Combine this with Jackson making progress as an NFL passer in year two and he will easily outperform his current ADP of 12.06 as the QB19. Jackson is my current QB8 in redraft and any time I can get him around round 9 or 10, I’m hitting draft and not looking back.
Making the case for Josh Allen
There’s a similar case to be made for Josh Allen as his skill set is similar to Lamar Jackson’s, even if their styles and execution differ. Though Allen started sooner for the Bills than Jackson did (he took over in Week 2), it was a very shaky start that ended with an elbow injury in Week 6 that sidelined him for four games. When he returned to the team after the Bills’ Week 11 bye, Allen took off. Having managed just 163 yards per game before the injury (138 passing, 25 rushing) and 10.5 fantasy points per game, Allen broke loose as a runner, totalling 476 yards over the final 6 games (80 per game) at a whopping 8.8 yards per attempt. His passing also improved to 207 yards per game and over the final 6 weeks, Allen averaged 23.9 fantasy points per game, second only to MVP Patrick Mahomes’ 25.2.
Looking ahead to 2019 and the outlook for Allen is again positive. There are worries about the offensive line, but talent wise it’s no worse than it was in 2018 and Allen is working with an increased talent pool around him, with new weapons at both receiver and running back. The Bills added veterans John Brown and Cole Beasley to the receiving corps, joining Zay Jones and Robert Foster on the depth chart and at running back, they added the eternal Frank Gore and TJ Yeldon in free agency and drafted Devin Singletary to join LeSean McCoy in a crowded backfield.
Allen is an exciting, physical runner in the style of Cam Newton and like Jackson, his rushing sets a high floor. Plus, like Cam, Allen’s size and athleticism make him a huge threat in the red zone. It’s easy to see that Allen could match his 10 touchdown rookie season, as well as totalling 750 rushing yards. Add some refinement to his big arm with the additional weapons in the passing game and Allen will smash his current ADP of 14.02 as the QB22. Allen is my 10th ranked QB heading into the new season and like Jackson, is on my roster whenever he is available in the double digit rounds.
A note of caution with running quarterbacks that there is always the inherent risk of injury when you put your body on the line so my advice is to look for a steadier presence to back them up on your roster but the upside is so high, I’m confident both Jackson and Allen will be consistent producers and all round better quarterbacks in their second years.