Rushing production has been the backbone of quarterback fantasy football breakouts for years. Yardage accumulated on the ground is a cheat code for quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson is the obvious example, becoming the greatest fantasy quarterback while breaking every rushing record for a passer last year. However, players like Josh Allen and Daniel Jones are on the fantasy radar solely based on rushing as well. Last year, Allen was a QB1 despite finishing outside the top 20 passers in yards and touchdowns. Here are three passers with that kind of upside this year. Let’s get into some fantasy football breakouts.
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Fantasy Football Breakouts: Top Three QBs with Rushing Upside
3. Tyrod Taylor
How Long Can He Last?
Before Taylor becomes a worthwhile flier at the end of fantasy drafts, it’s important to determine some expectation of the number of games he’ll play this year. The Chargers drafted Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick, but it appears all but certain that Taylor will start the team’s Week 1 opener.
There have been seven quarterbacks taken with picks 6-10 in the past decade. They have started, on average, 9.6 games in their rookie seasons. This is largely brought down by two quarterbacks combining for one start, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just increases the upside that Taylor gets a full season of starts. The floor of having to turn to streaming quarterbacks off the waiver wire remains the same. In best ball, Taylor should be paired with two other quarterbacks because of this risk.
Elite Weekly Upside
During whatever games Taylor starts, he’s going to put up fantasy numbers because of his legs. Through three seasons with Buffalo and two games in Cleveland (removing the three games he did not finish), Taylor posted 6.6 carries for 36.8 yards and 0.34 scores per game. That’s already the equivalent of a passing touchdown and 43 yards-worth of fantasy points through the air. Add in some modest passing output and Taylor has averaged 20.5 fantasy points per game on his career in games he finished.
That would make him a high-end QB1 for as long as he holds down the starting gig in Los Angeles for the cost of the time it takes you to add him via free agency and a roster spot. Taylor doesn’t have to start the whole season to be a valuable add or final draft pick. Even a few games of high-end fantasy production make him one of the better values at quarterback right now.
2. Joe Burrow
Burrow is getting a lot of hype as the best passer to enter the league in recent years, but his rushing production is going under the radar.
Joe Burrow "rushed" for 24.5 yards at LSU last year, but that includes the negative sack yardage. If we remove LSU's sack yardage, Burrow actually rushed for 39 yards per game.
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— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) August 11, 2020
Burrow rushed for 783 yards and 12 scores through two seasons at LSU without removing sack yardage. Despite his passing production, Burrow was still posting big numbers as a rusher, and although he didn’t opt to run at the combine, it’s fair to assume he’s an above-average athlete.
Fantasy football breakouts are easy to engineer with some extra rushing production, and Awesemo’s rankings like Burrow to keep that up in Cincinnati. He’s projected to be No. 6 in carries and yards per game this year.
The G.O.A.T College Passer
It should go without saying that Burrow has the resume of an elite passer. He owns the best college season by passing touchdowns (60) and the third-best season by yards (5,671). He wasn’t just accumulating yardage based on throwing the ball 50 times per game either. Burrow’s 12.5 adjusted yards per attempt are top five all-time as well, and he earned that mark while facing SEC defenses every week.
Burrow enters the league on a team that is going to be able to support his transition to the pros. The LSU offense was 23rd out of 130 team in passing percentage last year, and he joins a Bengals offense that was fifth of 32 in the NFL. He’ll also have a slew of weapons to target, including seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd in the slot, John Ross (the fastest straight-line speedster ever) and second-round rookie Tee Higgins. Burrow is going to step into the Cincinnati offense and find success almost immediately. His passing output combined with a healthy rushing floor could make him a QB1 in his rookie season.
Underrated as a Passer
Minshew has some serious fantasy potential as a rusher, but he still has to be an effective thrower to last in the NFL. As a sixth-round rookie who worked with the backups all summer, Minshew came into the starting lineup with the odds stacked against him. However, he still managed to finish top 10 all-time in passing yards per game (233.6) and passing touchdowns (21) for a rookie.
Minshew put up similar numbers to Dak Prescott’s rookie year behind a worse offensive line with worse weapons surrounding him. Prescott was more efficient in a better situation, but Minshew can make up for that with his legs.
Getting it Done on the Ground
In his rookie season, Minshew showed a propensity to break the pocket and take off. He finished top five in carries per game (4.8) and yards per game (24.6). This includes two games that he came in after the start as a backup.
Minshew has some sneaky passing upside and an obvious rushing floor. The Jaguars added Tyler Eifert via free agency and then drafted Laviska Shenault in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. They also gave him a better pass-catching back in Chris Thompson. Jacksonville is setting up Minshew for success, and his rushing production gives him a weekly floor of a high QB2. He’s an easy draft in the final rounds of fantasy drafts.
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