by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know that a healthy Deshaun Watson will sit atop any sophomore quarterback rankings as we head into 2018. While many of the rookies who saw time last season aren’t expected to make much of an impact this year (like DeShone Kizer and C.J. Beathard), there are two intriguing names who could make a significant impact:
- Mitchell Trubisky – Chicago Bears
- Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs
Who represents the better buying option for fantasy owners? Let’s take a look:
The Bears traded up to acquire him in ’17, and when they gave him an opportunity to play they tried to protect him as much as possible (at least early on). The team started to take the handcuffs off as the season progressed, including attempting 30+ passes in seven of his final nine games. He threw for under 200 yards in the bulk of them (he had three games of 200+, and they were all at least 270) and that will cause many to doubt about his potential.
Then again, look at the “weapons” that he had at his disposal on the outside:
- Kendall Wright – 59 receptions for 614 yards
- Joshua Bellamy – 24 receptions for 376 yards
- Dontrelle Inman – 23 receptions for 334 yards
- Zach Miller – 20 receptions for 236 yards
The Bears addressed that this offseason, signing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in free agency while using a second round pick on Memphis’ Anthony Miller (as well as drafting a center in the second round, to help solidify the protection).
The Bears are also bringing back their one-two punch of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, which will help keep defenses honest. With a better array of weapons and ample experience, it’s easy to imagine Trubisky taking a significant step forward in his development.
The Chiefs traded Alex Smith in the offseason, clearing the path for Mahomes to claim the starting job. They also acquired Sammy Watkins, giving Mahomes a potential top wide receiver (though one who has consistently underperformed and hasn’t played a full season since 2014) to go along with the dynamic Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The question is, will Mahomes go through the same growing pains that Trubisky did a year ago?
Mahomes has played just one game in the NFL, and while it was impressive (22-35 for 284 yards) it’s not a lot to draw from. The Chiefs could easily take a run heavy approach, leaning on Kareem Hunt and company while limiting the attempts for their sophomore quarterback. He also could go through a normal learning curve, as quarterbacks generally need experience to thrive.
Is that to say that Mahomes is going to be a bust? Absolutely not, but we’d expect him to make a bigger impact in the second half, as opposed to early on.
By year’s end we’d expect Mahomes to be the better option, though that’s hardly a guarantee. Trubisky should benefit greatly from his experience in 2017 and an improved supporting cast, making him more likely to get off to a strong start. There also is a reason why he was the first quarterback off the board in 2017, and while that doesn’t make him a lock to be the better option he’s the “gamble” we’d rather take heading into 2018.
Sources – NFL.com, ESPN