A lot of fantasy players have a good grasp on when to draft players, but rookies present a tough challenge. Their situations, draft status and a lot of other things make their placement hard to predict, even if that player is the first overall pick. So when is Joe Burrow worth selecting in fantasy football?
Burrow started out his college career as a three-star recruit at Ohio State. After sitting on the bench for a few years, he transferred to LSU, where he would be able to play his redshirt junior and senior seasons with the team. With the Tigers he went from their starter to having one of the best seasons in college football history.
In his first year as the starting quarterback, Burrow passed for 2,894 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions on 57.8 percent completion. It was a solid first season as a starter, but wouldn’t even come close to his senior season.
As a senior, Burrow had 5,671 passing yards, 60 touchdowns and six interceptions on 76.3 percent completion. His play ended up winning him the Heisman Trophy and the Tigers won the National Championship. Putting all of his individual accomplishments, stats and team success together it was a season unmatched by many others.
Because of his successful season, Burrow was drafted first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals won two games during the 2019 season, which earned them the right to draft first. While there is some talent on the roster, they have a long way to go before they can be successful.
The Bengals will have decent weapons on the offensive side of the ball in running back Joe Mixon and wide receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. The problems the offense will have are making sure Green stays healthy and the offensive line, which has not been good in a few years. Burrow may need to rely on shorter passes that get out of his hand quickly due to the offensive line struggles. The defense was one of the worst in the league last season, so Burrow will likely have to throw to keep Cincinnati in games, even with all of their offseason additions.
Zac Taylor has already been implementing plays from LSU’s playbook into his own. This bodes well for Burrow. What also bodes well for Burrow is that the coaches have reiterated how far ahead he is on understanding the playbook. It doesn’t seem the language or the studying side of professional football will give him much trouble.
Fantasy Drafts Outlook
It is a little bit of a risk to take an unproven quarterback with one of an owner’s 16 roster spots. Only two rookie quarterbacks since 2016 have ranked in the top 10 for fantasy quarterbacks: Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray. Both of these quarterbacks had the benefit of using their legs. While Burrow can move, he isn’t as mobile as those two quarterbacks and it isn’t a huge part of his game. He is however coming off of that great college season, so the risk may be worth the reward.
ESPN’s standard scoring cheat-sheet has Burrow ranked as the 21st quarterback heading into the season. That makes Burrow the highest-rated rookie quarterback, but not worthy of drafting in most redraft fantasy football leagues. In dynasty leagues or in very deep leagues he is likely going to be taken late in drafts.
For standard-scoring, redraft leagues, Burrow will not be a QB1. He may be able to play his way up to that point by the end of the season. The safest bet for fantasy owners is to take him in one of the last few rounds and stash him on the bench until fans get to see him in a real NFL game. If a fantasy owner doesn’t get one of the top few quarterbacks, drafting a player like Burrow could give them a weapon to start if he exceeds expectations.
Make sure to check out our fantasy football page for more updates and rankings.