Each member of the tier 1 quarterback group possesses a combination of passing and rushing metrics which registers as elite. Overall QB1 Buffalo Bills’ QB Josh Allen has terrific metrics on both fronts, as he threw for 36 TDs and more than 4,400 yards, while rushing for 763 yards and 6 TDs as well. Baltimore Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson’s calling card comes in the rushing game, with 1,000 yard rushing seasons in both 2019 and 2020, falling short in 2021 primarily due to injury. There appears to be a bit of fantasy fatigue on Jackson, but don’t make that mistake. Both Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert run passing offenses that make opponents drool, while also contributing to the rushing game in a meaningful manner (think 300+ rushing yards and 2-3 TDs). The tier 1 QB group should be selected starting towards the back half of round 3, and continuing through round 5.
Tier 2 presents strong fantasy QB options as well, albeit without the same gusto in the passing-rushing combo of the tier 1 options. One can argue that Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray belongs in the first tier, but injuries and fading statistics in the back of NFL seasons keeps him a not below the top quartet. Jalen Hurts has work to do on his passing game, but 784 rushing yards and 10 TDs from the QB spot (per his 2021 numbers) places him high in the rankings. His rushing game should continue to be strong in 2022, with some gains to be expected on the passing side due to another year of experience and the Eagles’ addition of star WR AJ Brown. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow stuffs the stat sheet primarily through the passing game, as evidenced by his 4,600 passing yards and 34 TDs last season. Burrow’s rushed for under 150 yards in each of his two seasons, and you shouldn’t expect a big change there. Rounds 6-7 make sense for the tier 2 trio.
Tier 3 houses my first bold prediction of the season, as I expect 49ers’ QB Trey Lance to become a fantasy darling this season. I didn’t quite have the nerve to place him at the top of this tier, but sliding just behind the GOAT still rings loud. While the QBs in tier 3 come with more concerns than the preceding tiers, you can comfortably proceed with a starting QB from this group. While Brady has yet to show signs of slowdown through 22 NFL seasons, he’ll play the 2022 season at age 45. At some point, the wheels will fall off! Not predicting it’ll be this year, but there’s still some risk there. Both Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers have lost key wide receivers, so their passing numbers could point downward from last season. Broncos’ QB Russell Wilson (will take some getting used to) joins a new franchise, with a new offense and new skill players, so he may need some time to adjust to the completely new settings. Super Bowl winner Matthew Stafford comes with the least risk from this group, he also likely possesses the least upside here. We circle back to second year QB Trey Lance, who has the arm, accuracy and rushing ability to vault into a top 5 fantasy QB as early as this season. But yes, having not yet performed at that level, Lance comes with the most risk here as well. The recommendation here is to target a starting QB from this tier and above.
The QB position continues to be historically deep, with perhaps the league’s most underrated QB leading the tier 4 quintet. There’s nothing sexy about Derek Carr’s game, but historically he’s been good for ~ 25 TD tosses a season. Now reunited with his former college teammate - stud WR Davante Adams, Carr has the right skill players around him to leap closer to the 28-30 TD mark. What would you think of a QB who averaged 4,243 passing yards and 34 TDs a season? Those are Kirk Cousins’ numbers over the past two years, which happen to coincide with superstar WR Justin Jefferson’s tenure with the Vikings. Expect more of the same production from Cousins, with the Vikings’ offense a sleeper to vault near the top of the NFL. With everyone’s favorite lap dance seeking head coach no longer running the ship in Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence should rebound in year 2. The Jags’ skill position core still lacks the high end talent needed for Lawrence to bump up into the next tier, but he’ll look much better in 2022. Speaking of skill position deficiency, the Bears’ strategy for supporting QB Justin Fields remains a mystery. Fields resides in the same tier as Lawrence primarily because of his expecting work in the rushing game. We end tier 4 with Tua Tagovailoa, who now has WR Tyreek Hill to throw to, along with second year WR Jaylen Waddle and incumbent TE Mike Gesicki. In other words, Tua’s out of excuses if he doesn’t perform in 2022. While Tua doesn’t possess a cannon for an arm, his accuracy provides hope for a solid, fantasy relevant 2022 campaign. Unless you’re in a deep league (meaning 14+ teams) I would suggest avoiding the tier 4 group as a weekly starter, as there are better options available. But matchup / spot starts are fine with this group.
The tier 5 residents possess a varied background, from a former league MVP (Matt Ryan), to a QB likely to face a lengthy suspension (Deshaun Watson), along with upside second year players (Mac Jones, Zach Wilson and Davis Mills), to veterans trying to prove that they belong as starting QBs (Daniel Jones, Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Ryan Tannehill and Baker Mayfield). This group should only be used as backups or spot starters, with the exception being Deshaun Watson in the event that he plays in 2022. If aiming for upside among this group, I would suggest focusing on the first three names.
The strategy at QB in fantasy leagues has remained static for the last few years. Most fantasy leagues have 10 or 12 teams, and there are comfortably 13 viable weekly starters this season. Doing the math, unless you’re in a league with 14+ teams, we’ve got more starting caliber QBs than teams in your league. As we go through the RB and WR positions, you’ll see that the math gets a lot tougher. As a result, you should focus on fortifying your RB, WR and TE positions, knowing that there are several starting QB options you can snag in the mid to later rounds. In case you crave a tier 1 starter, at least ensure that you’re not overpaying with your draft capital.
If your lead QB happens to fall outside of the top three tiers, make sure that he’s no lower than tier 4, and at least pair up that QB with a second tier 4 option so that you can play weekly matchups.
*** The exception to the wait-for-QBs rule applies for leagues that require you to start two QBs. In two QB leagues, you should aim to grab your first QB from tier 2 or better, with your second QB coming from no further down than tier 4. In such a league, it’s appropriate to draft your first QB within the first two rounds. Scarcity flips strategy, so just be mindful of the stark difference in strategy for two QB leagues.
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