When to Take Chargers QB Justin Herbert In Rookie Dynasty Drafts

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Herbert

  • Fantasy football analyst Matthew Freedman breaks down when to take Justin Herbert in dynasty rookie drafts.
  • Herbert has vaulted up draft boards after a Senior Bowl MVP performance and excellent combine, which prompted comparisons to Josh Allen.

Justin Herbert Dynasty Rookie Analysis

  • Position: QB | School: Oregon
  • Height: 6’6” | Weight: 236 pounds
  • 40-yard dash: 4.68 seconds
  • 2020 Age: 22 | Class: Senior
  • Recruitment Stars: 3
  • Draft Position: 1.06 (Chargers)

Justin Herbert’s Fantasy Fit with Chargers

It’s hard to know what Herbert’s role will be with the Chargers in 2020. I expect that he will open the season as the backup behind journeyman Tyrod Taylor but will eventually “pull a Baker Mayfield” and send Taylor to the sideline.

But whether that happens in Week 2 or Week 12 is anyone’s guess, so it’s best to stay away from Herbert in 2020 re-draft leagues, especially since the coronavirus seems likely to interfere with his ability to have a normal training camp.

Justin Herbert: Dynasty Analysis

Right after the 2019 season, Herbert was a tier below quarterbacks Joe Burrow (LSU) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) in draftnik conversations, but after Herbert’s Senior Bowl MVP performance and combine workout, he was locked in as a top-three quarterback and top-six pick.

[Easy Money! Get 2-1 Odds on Joe Burrow to Go No. 1 … (Yes, We’re Serious)]

Although Herbert is generally thought of as a strong-armed pocket passer — and that’s true — that’s not all he is. At the combine he had impressive top-three positional marks with a 4.68-second 40-yard dash, 35.5-inch vertical jump, 123-inch broad jump and 7.06-second three-cone drill.

The dude is an actual athlete: He might be a version of Josh Allen who is more of a thrower and less of a runner.

That said … now that I’ve done more research, I’m not sure how much I want to play up the running angle. Herbert averaged 2.4 yards per carry in college (including sacks), and that’s respectable, but last year he had -4.2 expected points added as a rusher (per the 2020 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook). He has the raw tools to be a competent runner in the NFL, but it’s troubling that he cost his team points when he left the pocket.

Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Herbert

And it’s also less than ideal that he failed to develop as a passer at Oregon. Based on the raw numbers (completion rate, yards passing and touchdown-to-interception ratio), Herbert ended his four-year college career with his best season.

  • 2016 (eight games): 63.5% | 1,936 yards | 19-4 TD:INT
  • 2017 (eight games): 67.5% | 1,983 yards | 15-5 TD:INT
  • 2018 (13 games): 59.4% | 3,151 yards | 29-8 TD:INT
  • 2019 (14 games): 66.8% | 3,471 yards | 32-6 TD:INT

In a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with what Herbert did last year. And he did finish with a career-high 55.7 expected points added as a passer. But his 2019 efficiency — his adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A and expected points added per dropback (per SIS) — was unremarkable.

  • 2016 (eight games): 8.4 AY/A | 0.11 EPA
  • 2017 (eight games): 10.0 AY/A | 0.18 EPA
  • 2018 (13 games): 8.3 AY/A | 0.11 EPA
  • 2019 (14 games): 9.0 AY/A | 0.13 EPA

Herbert simply failed to mature as a passer in college. He entered 2018 as a strong candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, but he regressed, and so he returned for his senior season, in which he rebounded ever so slightly but clearly failed to reach the heights of his sophomore campaign.

With his size, arm strength and pocket-focused playing style, Herbert looks like an NFL quarterback. But he makes questionable decisions, progresses slowly through his reads and loses his technique when pressured. He’s more of a thrower than a passer — and that’s not what you’d hope for from a four-year Power Five starter — and over the past two years, he has “developed his reputation for coming up small in big games” (per Pro Football Focus).

Just last week, I said this about Herbert: “He has plenty to recommend him to the NFL, and if not for Burrow and Tagovailoa, he would be a fine candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick.”

Now, I’m not so sure.

Because quarterbacks are so important, I think Herbert deserved to go in the top 10 of the NFL draft. I am, however, rather skeptical about his future.

He should go in Round 3 of rookie dynasty drafts, but he has a very Josh Rosen-esque feel to him. Even late in Round 3, I’m not at all desirous to take him.

NFL Prospect Comp: Jared Goff with more size and college experience


Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, part of The Action Network.

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