Every fantasy football league has that one owner who drafts a rookie quarterback way too early. Rookie quarterbacks historically have it rough their first couple of years in the NFL, so why waste a pick? Sure it may have worked-out for those owners who drafted Andrew Luck or RGIII in 2012, but weren't their rookie years anomalies?
There are two big-name quarterbacks coming out of the NFL draft in 2015, two Heisman Trophy winners at that. Let's compare their potential fantasy value of Jameis Winston vs Marcus Mariota heading into the 2015 fantasy football season.
Jameis Winston - Florida State
Winston's jersey might as well be red, pewter, black, and orange because it's a foregone conclusion that the Bucs will pick him first in the upcoming NFL draft. Tampa head coach Lovie Smith absolutely loves Jameis and despite all of the well-publicized off-the-field issues, he is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft.
Talent-wise, the Bucs are making the right decision by drafting Winston, but many felt the Oakland Raiders also made the right call when they drafted JaMarcus Russell with the first pick back in the 2007 NFL Draft. Russell is now considered one of (if not the) biggest draft bust in NFL history.
Size and Supporting Cast
At 6' 5'' and 235 pounds, Winston looks a lot like Ben Roethlisberger (but then again, that size advantage didn't work to Blake Bortles' advantage in 2014). Winston will also be handed a decent supporting cast in Tampa, with both Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson helping make his NFL transition a bit smoother.
Winston has the arm strength of Joe Flacco with the versatile playing style of former NFL MVP Steve McNair. Buccaneer fans are hoping that Winston can parlay that Air McNair style into victories for their fledgling club in 2015.
Off-Field Issues Could Re-Surface
Even with all of his physical gifts, Winston's extra-curricular issues could be a sign of bad things to come. But assuming for a moment that his off-field issues are completely resolved, Winston will likely be in the best position to succeed of any NFL rookie quarterback. This is assuming, of course, that the Philadelphia Eagles don't mortgage their future and move up to steal Marcus Mariota.
Personally, I wouldn't consider drafting Winston unless he slips into the final few rounds. But if you're feeling froggy and looking to pick-up a backup quarterback earlier than usual in your draft, taking Winston with your 9th or 10th pick may be an acceptable gamble. Just don't do it in a dynasty league.
Marcus Mariota - Oregon Ducks
After winning the Heisman Trophy and coming one game short of the College Football Championship, Mariota decided to forego his senior year and take his talents to the NFL. He's got size, a great arm, and an impressive pair of legs (much better than Winston's, in fact).
The Best Fit for Mariota
The biggest potential problem for Mariota's is that he isn't an ideal fit for most NFL offenses. Being a successful, running quarterback seems to last for a season or two at best in today's NFL. Just ask Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick, quarterbacks who have taken significant steps back after NFL defenses had a chance to study and adjust to their style. Mariota clearly knows how to throw a football, but he will need to get more comfortable in the pocket because his first option won't always be open in the pros.
Right now, Mariota looks like a weaker Colin Kaepernick combined with a slower RGIII. That's not exactly the prototypical skillset for a successful NFL quarterback, rookie or not. Although his passing numbers won't light the world on fire, Mariota will likely compile decent rushing numbers for his first season or two. It is this aspect of his game that will be desirable to potential fantasy owners.
Developing Pocket Presence
Even if Mariota puts up impressive rushing numbers, he can't fall into the same trap that Kaep and RGIII did- failing to develop his passing in the process. Just a year or two ago, being compared to Griffin and Kaepernick would have been a huge compliment, but not anymore.
In the right system, Mariota could work some magic and reward those owners who choose to take a chance on drafting him. Being drafted by the Buc, Jets, Rams, Chiefs, or (especially) the Eagles would bode well for his fantasy prospects. But if the poor kid ends up with the Cleveland Browns (current rumors suggest he won't), everyone would be advised to stay away.
Since we're still waiting on the NFL draft, it's tough to say which rookie quarterback will fare better in 2015. Because it's almost certain that Winston will land in Tampa, he has the early edge in the Winston vs Mariota debate. However, should the Eagles find a way to snag Mariota, that gap will be much closer.
Which of these rookie quarterbacks do you believe will have the best season? Tell us about it in the comments section below.