AFC EAST Player Spotlight: James “Jimmy” Garoppolo

Written by Jacob Dreyer, who goes by @jacob9er on the Fantasy Life App and Twitter as well

When it was announced that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 NFL season, analysts began asking questions:

  • Will the Patriots sign a veteran to start the first four games?
  • Will the Patriots trade for a veteran to start the first four games?
  • Will the Patriots draft a rookie to start the first four games? (NFL Draft was the following day)

The answer: None of the above.

It felt like an episode of Seinfeld.

Jimmy: “Jimmy’s new in town. Jimmy, uh, doesn’t really know anyone.”

Fantasy football owners: “Oh, well…I’d like to get to know him.”

Jimmy: “Jimmy would like to get to know you.”

Enter James “Jimmy” Garoppolo, a third-year player from Eastern Illinois who had only 31 career pass attempts to his name. It was the general consensus that starting Garoppolo would be a better football decision than a fantasy decision. And it all came down to experience.

In the fantasy spotlight for the Patriots, it was predicted that “Garoppolo will be a top-12 QB in Week 2 (vs. Miami), but will fail to crack the top 15 any other week.”

Week 1 statistics: 24/33, 264 yards, TD (4 carries, 16 yards)—QB18—granted, nobody expected him to be without his top weapon in TE Rob Gronkowski.

But who is this guy?

Jimmy Garoppolo was born (Nov. 2, 1991) and raised in Arlington Heights, Ill. He stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs approximately 222 pounds.

Jimmy started eight games as a freshman at Eastern Illinois, passing for 1,639 yards and 14 touchdowns. Following his inaugural season—in which he was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer Team—he started every game in his final three years.

Jimmy led the Panthers to back-to-back conference championships in his junior and senior seasons, including an undefeated record (8-0) in his collegiate finale.

His career stats at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (the artist formerly known as Division I-AA) school:

Jimmy holds individual career records for total offense (13,089), passing yardage (13,156), passes completed (1,047), touchdown passes (118) and touchdowns responsible for (127). The name you will find after his in many categories: Tony Romo. The other name you might find after his: Sean Payton.

Following his senior season, Jimmy received the Walter Payton Award, given to the most outstanding offensive player in FCS. He was also named First Team All-American, OVC Male Athlete of the Year and College Football Performance Quarterback of the Year, among numerous other awards.

Not bad.

Considered one of the best QB prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft, Jimmy was selected by the Patriots in the second round with the 62nd overall pick—New England’s highest-selected QB since Drew Bledsoe was picked first overall in 1993.

And now Jimmy is the starting quarterback for the Patriots.

And he’s 1-0.