No doubt about it—Robert Griffin III started his career with a bang on Sunday, with 320 yards, 2 TD passes with no interceptions, and 10 rushes for 48 yards (the gaudy fantasy stats), not to mention a 73% completion percentage, a 139.9 QB rating and most importantly, a win.
The start (and the hype) remind me of a quarterback that I doubted coming into the league last year, and whom RG3 has oft been compared to this year, for right or wrong—Cam Newton. There were some differences, of course—Newton threw for over 100 more yards in his first game, and threw a pick, and ran one in—but his rating was lower (110.4), his completion percentage was lower (65%), and he only put up 18 yards rushing. Of course, his team also lost to an average opponent, rather than beating a potential division winning team.
Even with all that, if I had him in any fantasy football leagues, I would start looking for the best way to sell high—possibly as early as between Week 2-3, but almost definitely after Week 6.
The hype surrounding RG3’s performance yesterday is astounding—but let’s not forget what happened to Newton after he broke out huge to start 2011:
- Yes, Newton ended up throwing for 4,051 yards, but nearly 60% of those yards came in the first 8 games of the season, and almost 35% came in the first month of the season, compared to 19% in the more important final four games of the season
- He threw for 21 touchdowns, which in today’s NFL is an extremely pedestrian number, especially with 17 picks; they were distributed fairly evenly throughout the year, at least
- While Newton ran for an incredible 14 touchdowns, which catapulted him into many top 5 QB lists for 2011, he only ran for one touchdown in the final four weeks of the season, and half of his TD’s came in 3 individual games
- Using a fairly standard scoring system, while Newton put up about 365 points in 2011, only 22% came in the final four weeks of the season, and less than half came in the second half of the year
So how does Newton’s performance lead to a sell high conclusion on Griffin? Even if you don’t think they are similar quarterbacks, most likely, if Griffin continues strong in his first few games, he will face exactly what Newton did–teams starting to scheme for specifically for Newton’s strengths, which forced him to change his game. Not to say he didn’t make some adjustments—his 3 passing TD/1 rushing TD performance in Week 16 presumably won a lot of teams their league’s title last year—if they survived Week 14 & 15, and if they made it to the playoffs at all.
It adds up to perfect scenario for RG3 owners to sell high early in the season, especially as he starts to face defenses tougher than the Saints.
- He has nice match-ups in Week 2 (although the Rams do have improved corner play) and Week 6 (Minnesota)
- Possibly nice match-ups against the Buccaneers (Week 4, the team that Newton shredded in Week 16 last year) and Atlanta in Week 5.
- By Week 7, though, division games start for the Redskins—and the Giants in particular have a long history of making MVP quarterbacks look average.
- Add in a fantasy playoff schedule that features the Ravens in Week 14 (possibly with Terrell Suggs back) and Eagles in Week 16 (with possible playoff implications on the line),
The more I look at it, the more the prospect of upgrading potentially a couple of spots by trading high on RG3 makes sense. What do some RG3 fantasy owners think about it?