Every year a few teams hand over the keys of their franchise to a rookie quarterback in hopes of changing the future for years to come. Typically, these rookies do take their lumps in their first season, which could impact the rest of the team. Granted for most NFL teams, they can justify a dip in production from their skill position players to solidify their quarterback spot. However, for us redraft fantasy football managers, any dip in production could impact our ability to win our fantasy leagues. That’s why we are here to help answer the question, “Do rookie quarterbacks have a negative impact on running backs for fantasy football”?

We reviewed the last five years and found there were 16 rookie quarterbacks who attempted at least 250 passes in their rookie season. We then reviewed the production of the running backs with rookie quarterbacks to see how many top six, 12, 24 and 36 PPR PPG fantasy seasons they produced. Finally, we will touch on where the running backs are going in ADP for the three teams (Colts, Panthers, and Texans) expected to start a rookie in 2023.  


PPR PPG Finish Total %
Top 6 0 0%
Top 12 6 38%
Top 24 10 63%
Top 36 14 88%

*Chart above is based on 16 rookie quarterbacks

Not surprisingly, the running back position was the group that was least affected by a rookie quarterback. However, we still saw an impact when it came to their ceilings. None of the 16 rookie quarterbacks in our sample produced a top-six running back in PPR PPG. Running backs still had very strong outcomes, with 38% of the rookie quarterbacks producing a top-12 running back. This is identical to teams who started a quarterback with two years or more of experience.

When looking at top 24 or 36 running back finishes, we did see a slight dip in how many produced these types of seasons vs. veteran quarterbacks. The probability of a rookie quarterback producing an RB2/3 is less likely, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a reason to fade a top 24 – 36 running back in your drafts. It is best to use this as a tiebreaker if you are stuck between two running backs in that range. 

Buy = Solid pick at ADP
Sell = Pass on that player at their current cost
Must-Have = Steal at current cost, and could be selected higher if needed

Team: Indianapolis Colts
Player: Jonathan Taylor
Current Positional ADP: RB4
Draft Recommendation: Sell

The reason why Jonathan Taylor is a fade is simple. No team with a rookie quarterback that has attempted at least 250 passes in a season has produced a top-six running back in PPR PPG since 2018. This is probably the case with the Colts using a top-four pick on Anthony Richardson. Based on this data Jonathan Taylor is going way too high at his current RB4 ADP. If you want to go running back in the first round, players like Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry make more sense.

Team: Houston Texans/Carolina Panthers
Player: Dameon Pierce/Miles Sanders
Current Positional ADP: RB20/RB21
Draft Recommendation: BUY

Dameon Pierce and Miles Sanders are going 20th and 21st in ADP. Based on historical production, they have a much better chance of returning value than Jonathan Taylor does at his RB4 ADP. Along with the new rookie quarterbacks, both the Texans and Panthers will have new offensive coordinators in 2023. Sanders has less competition for touches as the Texans did sign reliable veteran Devin Singletary this off-season. Neither player is a must-have, but they are solid selections at their current ADP.

Sources: Razzball.com, PFF.com, FFToday, Pro Football Reference, Ourlads, and Spotrac