Prior to last season, the perception of rookie quarterbacks was largely negative. The majority of fantasy players believed what Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Vince Young and Ben Roethlisberger accomplished in their inaugural campaigns was extremely rare.
For years scouts, general managers and coaches stated and restated the position's harsh demands combined with the increased speed of the NFL game virtually guaranteed growing pains. Patience needed to be a virtue. Carson Palmer, Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford all paid off long-term. Conversely, a certain buffet-crushing former No. 1 pick with an affinity for the "Purple Drank" never did. All rookies are risky.
But what Cam Newton and, to a lesser extent, what Andy Dalton achieved in Year 1 challenged traditional views. The former's record-shattering 2011 smashed the "Thou should never draft a rookie QB" commandment, ushering in a new age in fantasy football. Anyone who continues to cling to the outdated axiom probably also believes Talkies are cutting edge. Nowadays, a rookie QB can be trusted.
Robert Griffin III is Exhibit A.
To naysayers, issuing a favorable projection for a player with a nonexistent track-record is reckless. No matter how glowing the accolades earned at the collegiate level, last year's Heisman winner, after all, has never thrown a pro pass.
But don't fear the unknown.
The NFL has entered uncharted waters. It's a pass-heavy league that's stylistically different than what it was even five years ago. Many "new" permutations installed by offensive coordinators were borrowed from the college game, easing the transition for inexperienced, but talented quarterbacks. As Cam and Dalton proved, the past doesn't apply. It's a unique era.
Many early drafters have expressed trepidation over RGIII, but mark the Noise's words he will make a significant impact in his first year. Here's why:
. To be clear, Griffin is no Cam. Any such comparison is blatant laziness (An unrefined Steve Young is more applicable). He's a polished pocket passer (72.4 CMP% in '11 with Baylor) who happens to run. He's smarter, more accurate and faster than Newton was when he entered the league. Most importantly in this post-lockout age, he'll be better prepared.
Griffin possesses terrific all-around skills. Though he won't run as much as Michael Vick did early in his career, his ability to accumulate points in variable ways is very attractive. On a bland passing day, he could still deliver a QB1 line in deeper leagues. Remember, simply rushing for 50 yards and a TD cashes 11 big ones. Even Joe Webb, though often horrendous through the air, was more than fantasy useful as a starter.
Smarts. Intelligence at the quarterback position is critical. Dolts simply don't last. If you can't read coverages or fail miserably at in-game adjustments, you're doomed. Just look at the careers of Ryan Leaf, Vince and JaMarcus Russell.
Not only do you want Griffin under center, he is someone you would want captaining your Quiz Bowl team. He's not only brainy but highly adaptable. His ability to make heady decisions on the fly enhances his lethalness.
Earlier this summer, normally reserved Mike Shanahan gushed about the quick study's mental and physical tools. Midway through training camp Griffin should know the 'Skins playbook forwards and backwards, if he doesn't already. That information retention should pay-off handsomely once the regular season gets underway.
System. Historically, Shanahan has done an excellent job developing young QB talent. Remember, Jay Cutler excelled during his heyday in Denver throwing for over 4,500 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2008. In order to maximize his pupil's unique set of talents, Lucifer plans to install a rollout-heavy offense. Griffin, as seen during his Baylor days, thrives when flushed out of the pocket. His strong, accurate arm, shifty feet and plus wheels make him a nightmare for defenders to wrangle when contain is broken. Through play-calling, expect Shany to place his signal caller in many of those exploitable scenarios.
Arsenal. They would pale in comparison to weapons in New England, Green Bay and New Orleans, but Washington's stable of receivers (Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan), though lambasted by some, is very serviceable. Roy Helu is arguably one of the top-5 receiving backs currently in the game. And monster-in-the-making Fred Davis, provided he dodges the cannabis, is on the brink of becoming a Pro Bowler. The environment is riper than you think.
At his current price point in average Yahoo! drafts (79.6, QB11), RGIII is an absolute steal. Though occasional turbulence in entirely possible, he's in a prime position to compile one of the greatest rookie campaigns in NFL history. Many won't select him as their QB1 this August, but come Week 5, he'll likely be a staple in many starting lineups. Whether owners choose to stand by him as their main man or use him as a trade chip doesn't matter. Pick him up in the middle rounds and chances are you will be spoiled with riches. It would be no shock if he finished inside the QB top-10 in per game average and ahead of ballyhooed veterans like Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan and Tony Romo.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 226.7 passing yards per game, 23 passing touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 37.3 rushing yards per game, 5 rushing touchdowns
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise and be sure to check him along with Andy Behrens, Brandon Funston and Scott Pianowski on The Fantasy Freak Show (Now on iTunes) every Friday at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on Yahoo! Sports Radio
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