Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan are the uncommon exception, drafting rookie quarterbacks on to your fantasy roster doesn't usually pay off.
Even Ryan's 2008 season, while fantastic compared to most rookie quarterbacks, wasn't a top-10 fantasy performance last year. Therefore at best, Ryan was a backup quarterback on your roster good for spotting against a few weak opponents.
When we look at this year's crop of quarterbacks, the question for all fantasy owners is: Are they another Manning and Ryan or Ryan Leaf?
There were just three quarterbacks taken early enough to be thought of by fantasy owners - Matthew Stafford of Georgia, Southern California's Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman of Kansas State.
Of these guys, Stafford and Sanchez will probably get the opportunity to win the starting job right away, while Freeman is likely a "project" and a couple of years away from starting for Tampa Bay.
Stafford was the top draft choice in this year's draft, meaning he is headed to the 0-16 Detroit Lions, but at least he has a star receiver (Calvin Johnson) and solid second-year running back (Kevin Smith) for weapons. On the other hand, the Lions were 30th in scoring at 16.8 ppg and their conglomerate of five quarterbacks (Dan Orlovsky, Jon Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton and Drew Henson) were sacked 52 times.
The 2009 Lions draft selections also included a tight end (Brandon Pettigrew), running back (Aaron Brown) and wide receiver (Derrick Williams) to help Stafford's cause. But expecting Stafford to be a serious fantasy factor in year No.1 is too much to ask.
In New York, the Jets traded up to select Sanchez and the former USC Trojan comes to a program with many more pieces to the puzzle already in place than Stafford has in Detroit. They have a solid offensive line and two running backs in Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. Although they lost wide receiver Laveranues Coles to Cincinnati, they still have Jerricho Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller.
But Sanchez has much less "game experience" than Stafford who started 34 games at Georgia (he was 27-7). Sanchez started only 16 games at Southern Cal. Playing in the tough AFC East Division, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Sanchez can be a top-10 quarterback in his first season.
My conclusion for the 2009-10 season is that none of this year's crop of rookie quarterbacks will make big contributions to your fantasy lineup.
Rookie Quarterback First-Year Statistics
| Joe Montana||1979||SF||1||23||13||96||1||0|
| Brett Favre||1991||ATL||0||4||0||0||0||2|
| Ryan Leaf||1998||SD||9||245||111||1289||2||15|
| Akili Smith||1999||CIN||4||153||80||805||2||6|
| Brady Quinn||2007||CLE||0||8||3||45||0||0|
| Joe Flacco||2008||BAL||16||428||257||2971||14||12|