Gardner Minshew: Let the Mustache Mania Continue

Embed from Getty Images

Gardner Minshew shocked the fantasy world last fall, but what does the future hold for 2019’s surprise phenom?

A year ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed Nick Foles (insert eggplant emoji) to quarterback them for what they believed would be the long term. Unfortunately, Foles was injured in his black and teal debut. This resulted in former-Washington State Cougar, Gardner Minshew being thrown to the wolves after entering the league as just a 6th round draft choice. Surprisingly, Minshew performed relatively well. This leads to many questioning whether or not Foles would regain his starting spot. Regrettably, as the QB controversy began, Minshew began performing worse. This culminated in a 0 touchdown, 2 interception performance against Houston. Nick Foles was able to return and regained his starting role. At least for 3 games. Foles had his own struggles, and Minshew regained and retained his starting role in Jacksonville’s 12th game.

DFD April ADP: 263 QB:18

Dynasty Football Digest April ADP

2019 Stats

Games played: 14 (12 starts)

Completions/Attempts: 285/470 (60.6%)

Yards: 3271 (233.6 per game)

Touchdowns: 21

Interceptions: 6

Yards per Attempt: 7.0

Carries: 67

Yards: 344

PFF grade: 70.3

DVOA; -2.1% (22nd)

QBR: 42.6 (29th)

Those numbers are something of a mixed bag. At the same time, any sophomore QB should be expected to improve. Any improvement will put Minshew into the realm of serviceable QBs. Does the question become how much starting time does serviceable buy for a 6th round draft pick?

Gardner Minshew is Vulnerable

Ideally, NFL teams would not fall to the sunk cost fallacy, but we all know they do. If Minshew had performed like this as a 1st round draft pick he’d be guaranteed at least a rookie contract worth of starts. The fact that he was a 6th rounder means Jacksonville won’t hesitate to move on. In fact, they already have moved on. Granted, they came back to Minshew, but his benching for Foles shows the Jaguars were willing to discard Minshew.

Minshew is currently going as QB18 in dynasty leagues. There are a number of reasons that could be a reach: Jacksonville could sign Cam Newton tomorrow, they could take Justin Herbert or Jordan Love in the first round, or he could be benched after a multiple turnover game. None of those situations are likely, but they’re possible. Obviously, if any of those situations occur, QB18 will be a reach for the ‘Stache. More likely, the Jaguars leave Minshew as their 2020 starter but take a QB early in the loaded 2021 QB class. In that case, QB18 is still kind of a reach. That said, if Minshew can survive the next two years and become the long term starter in Jacksonville, he will be a screaming value.

Gardner Minshew and the Konami Code

In only 14 games, Gardner Minshew led the league in QB scrambles (plays designed as passes where the QB ran.) The Konami code is a well-known fantasy phenomenon. Luckily, Minshew is a beneficiary. Prorated, Minshew would have run for 393.1 yards and should be in for positive TD regression after scoring 0 rushing TDs in 2019. The Jaguars also ran very few designed runs for Minshew a year ago. With a new offensive coordinator and a year of evaluation, it’s entirely possible the Jaguars scheme up more runs for Minshew.

Jay Gruden

While John DeFilippo was willing to let Gardner Minshew air it out, he also didn’t necessarily play to Minshew’s strengths. Minshew averaged 12.1 YPA (yards per attempt) on RPOs (run/pass option) and 9.4 YPA on play-action attempts. Conversely, Minshew averaged just 6.3 YPA on standard dropbacks. Despite his success, only 18.3% of Minshew’s attempts were play-action or RPOs. Among passers with 200 attempts, only Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, and Drew Brees had RPOs and play-action attempts count as a lower share of their overall attempts.

Luckily, Jay Gruden runs a West Coast offense, which emphasizes play-action. Jay Gruden hasn’t historically been as play-action happy as a guy like his protegee, Sean McVay, but has had a year to innovate and still runs more play-action than DeFilippo did last year. Look for Minshew’s efficiency to increase for this reason alone.

The Ultimate Boom or Bust

With a range of outcomes running the gambit from being benched to being a perennial top 10 QB option, Gardner Minshew redefines the term boom or bust. In this sense, you must proceed with caution, but he shouldn’t be avoided entirely. He’s a poor man’s, Kyler Murray. He offers rushing, some passing efficiency, volume, and the potential for a sophomore breakout. He’s not cheap, but also not expensive. For this reason, you should target Garnder Minshew, but also have a backup plan, because Minshew may well end up a backup.

Please follow me on twitter @CodyJParker and check out my other articles here.