ADP: 70, Auction: $13, Team: TBD, Bye: TBD
2019-2020 College Stats: 5,671 PASS YDS, 60 PASS TDs, 6 INT, 76.3% COMP %, 384 RUSH YDS, 5 RUSH TDs
Overall Stats: 8,852 PASS YDS, 78 TDs, 11 INT, 68.8% COMP %, 836 RUSH YDS, 13 TDs
Even though Joe Burrow has never played in an NFL game, fantasy analysts are already clamoring over his fantasy projections, and for a good reason. For starters, Joe Burrow set FBS records with 6,040 yards from scrimmage, a 202.2 passer rating, and 60 passing touchdowns. In terms of awards and accolades, Burrow was also a unanimous All-American, SEC player of the year, and won the 2019 Manning Award. Moreover, he won both the prestigious Heisman award and a National Championship. Although most importantly, Burrow was able to exhibit the best and most accurate season for a collegiate quarterback in the Pro Football Focus era.
One aspect of Burrow’s game that has been overlooked is how well he performed against the toughest teams. As the LSU Tigers’ signal-caller, Burrow defeated seven top-ten teams on route to a perfect 15-0 record. During those seven games, he shredded defenses for nearly 400 yards and four TDs per game, while only tossing two interceptions. This is important because it suggests that Burrow should not have difficulty transitioning to the next level against tougher defenses.
What to like:
Right now, Joe Burrow holds significant leverage concerning which team he plays for next season. While the Cincinnati Bengals are clear front runners to draft Burrow, Joe has acknowledged that he can demand a trade if he doesn’t believe that Cincinnati is committed to winning. This does wonders for his fantasy value because he is one of a handful of quarterbacks with the chance to successfully maneuver his way to a productive organization.
Although, even if Burrow is drafted by the Bengals, he could be very successful in Zack Taylor’s system. First off, Taylor’s system is oriented around running the football, which should help take some pressure off of Burrow’s shoulders early on. Plus, a successful running game from Bengals RB, Joe Mixon, should give Burrow great opportunities to be a productive rusher on read-option plays. Furthermore, a quality ground game will open up the play-action game, which is an area where Joe excelled last season at LSU. Considering that he has a history of creating many big plays on play-action plays, Burrow to the Bengals wouldn’t be the worst scenario in the world.
What not to like:
This is probably obvious, but the Cincinnati Bengals are one of the NFL’s worst organizations. During the last four seasons, the Bengals have been a complete dumpster fire with Andy Dalton, failing to stay above .500 or finish above 3rd place in the AFC North. While part of their mediocrity stems from Marvin Lewis’ lackluster offenses, his successor Zac Taylor has also experienced difficulty revitalizing the Bengals offense.
While Burrow is a good fit for Taylor’s scheme, they will each need to see an improved rushing attack. Last season, the Bengals ranked 22nd concerning rushing efficiency, along with the seventh-worst running blocking unit, according to Football Outsiders. The good news is that Cincinnati is likely to have an improved offensive line once players like Jonah Williams and Michael Jordan recover from injuries. Nevertheless, it will take time before it’s clear that the running game will assist Burrow.
If Burrow immediately becomes the Bengals’ starter, he will enjoy throwing to Tyler Boyd, who is emerging as one of the league’s best young wideouts. Besides Boyd, Burrow would work with Auden Tate, John Ross, and Alex Erickson, who have all shown flashes of success. Joe Burrow can also look forward to having AJ Green as a go-to receiver after the former Georgia Bulldog was franchise tagged in the off-season. While AJ Green has only played four full seasons in his nine years as a Cincinnati Bengal, Green still has enough in the tank for next season.
As it pertains to his offensive line, they will undoubtedly need to do a better job protecting their QB. Last season, the Bengals allowed 48 sacks, which ranked in the bottom ten of the NFL. Although the injuries mentioned above played a considerable role in their porous pass blocking. If Burrow can stay relatively clean in the pocket and maximize the upside for both Boyd and Green, he could definitely be a QB3, at least. Even more promising, Burrow could excel for at least 4,000 yards if Ross, Tate, or Erickson show at least some consistent production. Therefore, Burrow looks to enter the league as a possible QB2 option with considerable upside.
Even before Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley were Bengals’ quarterbacks, Cincinnati had been notorious for internal turmoil. Cincy is so dysfunctional that former Bengals’ QBs such as Steve Bartkowski and Carson Palmer, discouraged Burrow from joining the Bengals. In fact, Palmer was so adamant against Burrow playing in Cincy that he claimed that they are not committed to winning.
Aside from the Bengals’ front office, the players on the roster could also be harmful to Joe Burrow’s fantasy production. For instance, AJ Green has failed to play a full season in five of the nine years he’s been with Cincinnati. It will be troubling if Green continues to miss significant playing time next season because Burrow would lack a substantial deep-threat. Even though Tyler Boyd is a great possession receiver, he is more of a run-after-the-catch guy than a consistent deep-threat. Additionally, John Ross, like the rest of the Bengals WRs, has shown potential flashes of upside, but have failed to show consistency. If this trend continues, Burrow’s fantasy floor could be as low as a borderline QB3/4. However, the recent success of no. 1 picks like Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray indicates that Burrow has a good chance to perform closer to his ceilings.
True Value/What to Expect:
Right now, Burrow has been slotted as the 16th ranked QB in fantasy football. Lineups.com has him projected to throw for 3518 yards, 22 TDs while having approximately 10 TOs. While he doesn’t look to generate elite rushing production at the next level, he will probably have a modest upside as a rusher. Fantasy owners should refrain from drafting him in the first seven rounds of the draft, but he could be a draft steal in later rounds. Furthermore, he should be stored as a reserve on fantasy benches until he shows consistent production.
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