The Los Angeles Chargers moved on from franchise QB Philip Rivers this offseason and drafted their QB of the future in Oregon’s Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Rookies, particularly non-running backs, typically struggle to make an immediate fantasy impact. Quarterbacks are especially hard to gauge because, unless you play in a two-QB/Superflex league, there’s only a small chance a rookie will crack the Top 12 at the position.
That being said, last year’s No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray managed QB1 status. Can Herbert do the same?
To start, we must look at sportsbooks odds as a point of reference. BetOnline lists Herbert’s passing yards over/under at 3,400 with juice on the under. BetOnline has his passing touchdown total set at 21 and his interception total set at 17.5.
History reveals that while 21 rookie quarterbacks have eclipsed 3,000 passing yards in a season, a mere 10 have surpassed the 3,500-yard mark. Only three have thrown for 4,000-plus yards, with the NFL rookie record held by Andrew Luck, who posted 4,374 passing yards in 2012. Fellow Heisman Trophy winners Cam Newton threw for 4,051 yards in 2011 for Carolina while Jameis Winston had 4,042 in 2015 while a member of Tampa Bay.
So let’s take a look into those passing numbers and add 100 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns to the mix (he averaged 8 rushing yards and .22 rushing touchdowns per game in his final two seasons in college). A 3,400-yard, 21-touchdown, 17-interception season with those rushing stats is worth 208 fantasy points. That would’ve been good for QB27 in total points last season, just ahead of Sam Darnold (13 games) and just behind Mitchell Trubisky (15 games).
His ranking also depends on how many starts he makes. For this exercise I’m assuming 12 starts. In that case, 17.33 FPPG would’ve ranked as the QB16 last season between Daniel Jones (17.46) and Tom Brady (16.98).
Tyrod Taylor will likely open the season as the Chargers’ starter, but once Herbert gets the job he’ll be a borderline Top 15 fantasy QB with plenty of weapons to work with (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler, etc.). He’ll be a very solid No. 2 option or bye-week fill in and an elite QB2 in two-QB/Superflex leagues.
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