Top 30 Fantasy Football Quarterbacks for 2022

Erik Smith ranks his top quarterbacks for fantasy football drafts ahead of the 2022 season.

These rankings are specifically tailored for one quarterback leagues, where replacement options are freely available on the waiver wire. In a superflex league, safer options like Kirk Cousins and Mac Jones get a boost, while riskier options like Daniel Jones and Zach Wilson take a dive.

Make sure to check out my Ultimate Draft Guide for more of my thoughts on quarterback strategy as a whole, such as — when is too early, when is too late, and who my favorite values are versus ADP.

 

Tier 1

 

1. Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) – Allen was the QB1 in points per game in 2021, and it’s hard to find any holes in his fantasy profile. He carries with him elite rushing production after averaging just over 7 rushing attempts per game last year, only Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts rushed more often. In addition to the rushing upside, Buffalo just attempted the fifth most passes in the league on their way to being the number three scoring offense in the NFL. Allen’s touchdown rates, both through the air (5.6%) and on the ground (4.9%), look sustainable. He’s topped 100 rushing attempts for each of the past three years, and Allen has now produced two consecutive elite-level seasons with more than 23 fantasy points per game.

Ken Dorsey replaces Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator, the one concern. But the offense is loaded, and Allen is just entering the prime of his career. I won’t be drafting Allen in the third round of drafts, that’s just too early for me to take a quarterback. But in superflex leagues he’s my 1.01 overall, and should easily be the first quarterback off the board in nearly every league type.

 

2. Patrick Mahomes II (Kansas City Chiefs) – Outside of a 2019 injury, last year was the first road bump in Mahomes’ NFL regular season career. Opposing defenses “figured him out”, as Mahomes threw a career-high 13 interceptions. It was so bad, he… was the QB5 in fantasy points per game and passing yards per game, threw the fourth most touchdowns in the NFL, attempted the third most passes in the league, and had the sixth most rushing yards for a quarterback with 381.

Mahomes loses his most explosive target this year as Tyreek Hill leaves for Miami, and many analysts are dropping him down in their rankings. But I don’t feel that we should lose sight of the elite talent that Mahomes is, as his 2020 season is the third best of any fantasy quarterback over the past three years, when he produced 25 points per game. That number ranks only behind Lamar’s otherworldly 2019 season and Dak Prescott‘s injury-shortened 2020.

At the end of the day, Mahomes still has Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and intriguing second-round rookie Skyy Moore as a receiving corps with upside. But most importantly, Mahomes is paired with Andy Reid, one of the league’s best and most innovative play-callers. The combination of Reid and Mahomes should not be discounted, even if it is old news at this point. It’s so close between Mahomes and the next player on this list, but I give the nod to Mahomes because I know that he will be in good hands with Reid leading the way. But I wouldn’t fault you for taking the next guy.

 

3. Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers) – Herbert and the Chargers may be the most hyped quarterback/team combo heading into the season, and for good reason. Herbert has blown past all expectations in his first two years in the league, topping 5,000 yards passing last year while chipping in 300 yards rushing. In both of his two seasons in the league, Herbert has topped 22 fantasy points per game, with Josh Allen as the only other quarterback that has matched that the past two years. His touchdown rates haven’t been fluky either; this has been a legit breakout and Herbert is already viewed as a top-five real-life quarterback by most football analysts.

While Herbert was an excellent passer last year, he ranked 8th in yards per attempt and 18th in completion percentage, so he still has room to grow. What set Herbert apart in 2021, from a fantasy perspective, was the third most passing touchdowns in the league and the second most passing attempts per game. With Austin Ekeler still set to be the primary running back and a forward-thinking coaching staff in Los Angeles, we shouldn’t expect the Chargers’ pass-happy ways to change this year.

What sets Herbert just slightly behind Mahomes for me is the play-calling. Joe Lombardi is no Andy Reid, and while this offense looked unstoppable at times last year, there were also frustrating moments (the Baltimore and Texans games come to mind). Herbert suffered the fourth most drops last season, and while I certainly like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Ekeler as a trio, they lack depth after that group. And yet none of this comes anywhere close to outweighing the pure talent and ability of Herbert, and none of us should be surprised if he finishes as the QB1 this year.

 

4. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) – 2021 was a miserable year for Jackson. He missed the last four games of the season with a bone bruise in his ankle, playing in just 12 games overall and posting 16 passing touchdowns versus 13 interceptions.  Jackson scored a rushing touchdown on just 1.5% of his rushes last year, a shockingly disappointing two rushing touchdowns on 133 attempts. For comparison, the previous two years Lamar scored a touchdown on 4.4% and 4% of his rushing attempts. Despite all of the issues, Jackson still scored 20 fantasy points per game, one of just 14 active quarterbacks to have done that over the past three seasons.

There are plenty of reasons for optimism for Jackson in 2022. The Ravens appear headed back to a rush-heavy offense, and they should rebound back to their old efficiency after being decimated by injuries at running back and offensive line. A run-heavy offense is no problem for Jackson, as he doubles as the team’s leading rusher in most games. Lamar averaged over 11 rushing attempts per game last year and has topped 10 rushing attempts per game in each of the past three years, a feat that no other active quarterback has accomplished over that span. And Jackson’s 2019 season is still the gold standard for fantasy quarterbacks, where he put up nearly 28 fantasy points per game.

Jackson’s ADP of 51 on FantasyPros is the first quarterback low enough for me to consider in a one-quarterback league. He’s going off the board in the area of players like Elijah Mitchell and Marquise Brown, a much more palatable cost than say Josh Allen at 25, where you are passing on players like Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans. If you want a quarterback with a realistic shot at QB1 overall, Jackson and the following two players of this tier may be the best bang for your buck.

 

5. Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals) – Murray has been a bit of an enigma during his three seasons in the NFL. He’s yet to hit 30 passing touchdowns in a single season, with a high of 26 in 2020. His completion percentage has increased each season, however, and his 69% completion rate was number two in the league last year. His 7.9 yards per passing attempt ranked fourth overall last year, and his 30 rushing yards per game ranked 6th among quarterbacks. This led to a QB4 finish on a points-per-game basis in 2021, a year after scoring an elite 24 fantasy points per game in 2020. Most 25-year-old dual-threat quarterbacks with this sort of past production would be getting hype as the QB1 overall, yet Murray’s ADP is nearly three full rounds behind Josh Allen at the top of the quarterback ranks.

It’s easy to see the reasons for concern in Arizona. Head Coach and play-caller Kliff Kingsbury has not inspired confidence, often sticking with his static scheme and failing to adjust to opposing defenses as the season has progressed. Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, whose talent allows Kingsbury to line him up in the same spot on the field most snaps, is suspended for the first six games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was brought over in a trade to replace him, but the two receivers are in different tiers as receiving talents. This Cardinals offense also lost Christian Kirk to free agency, leaving Brown, Rondale Moore, A.J. Green, and Zach Ertz to shoulder the load for the first six weeks.

More than the surroundings, however, I think Murray’s ADP is being lowered by his perceived injury risk due to his small frame as an NFL passer. It’s really only been two injuries for Murray, a shoulder sprain in Week 11 of 2020 where he missed no time, and a Week 8 ankle sprain in 2021 where he missed three games. The issue is more his production after suffering these injuries, however. Murray had 7.6 yards per passing attempt or better in all of his first eight games of the season in 2021, but after returning from his ankle injury he topped 7.6 yards per attempt in just two of his final seven weeks including the playoffs. But the bigger issue was missing Hopkins, who played in just two of those final seven games, and unsurprisingly those were the two games where Murray topped 7.6 yards per attempt.

Murray has all of the tools to be the QB1 overall, and I’m not sure his injury issues are as big as the general consensus. The clear worry is at least six games without Hopkins, who also happens to be entering his age 30 season. Murray is a locked-in QB1, but for him to get back to his 2020 level he needs to survive the first six weeks without Hopkins, and then hope that he gets one more elite season from his talented teammate. Despite the reasons for concern, I would rather draft Murray at his ADP than Allen, Mahomes, or Herbert, as Murray’s arm and rushing ability could lead to an elite season if it all comes together.

 

6. Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles) – Hurts was thrown into the starting role in Philadelphia last year in just his second NFL season as a former second-round pick with serious questions about his passing ability and his supporting cast in the receiving corps. All he did was score 20+ fantasy points in each of his first 7 games of the season. Have I told you yet to draft quarterbacks with rushing upside, regardless of their passing ability?

The narrative is that Hurts’ season went downhill after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 12 and missing the following game, but really the minor struggles started before that. The Eagles shifted to a run-heavy offense and started winning games after some early troubles, and more work started to go to the running backs. Hurts was still excellent on the ground but his passing numbers cratered. From Week 8 on, he topped 30 passing attempts just one time (31 attempts in Week 12) and topped 20 fantasy points in just two of eight games, though both of those games were nearly 30-point outbursts. While we certainly want Hurts running the ball, we would like to see the Eagles pass more often even with Hurts, as he obviously scores more points when he drops back to pass than when he hands off to a running back.

Luckily this offseason, the Eagles tipped their hand that, in an ideal world, they will pass the ball more often in 2022. The Eagles traded for an elite young physical receiver in A.J. Brown, who has shown that he can thrive in a lower volume offense with his tackle-breaking ability. He pairs with DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert to form an intriguing receiving corps. The Eagles also did nothing to bolster their running back position, choosing to run it back with Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott, none of which profile as traditional high-volume runners. Coupled with one of the league’s best offensive lines, Hurts is in a position to succeed in 2022.

We can expect a bit of regression on Hurts’ rushing touchdown rate, which was among the highest last year at 7.2%, but otherwise, all signs point to an upper-end QB1 season. Hurts’ 9.3 rushing attempts per game were second to only Lamar Jackson‘s usage, and it’s hard to find too many reasons that Hurts will drop from his 2021 QB7 ranking in fantasy points per game. If he progresses at all as a passer this season, he is certainly going to pay off on his ADP in the sixth round, and he will be my most-drafted quarterback of this top tier thanks to his price.

 

Tier 2

 

7.  Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals) – Joe Burrow is in Tier 2! Coming from a Bengals fan, I know this is blasphemy. And let’s be real, he’s the QB1 in my heart and a Tier 1 real-life quarterback. But his fantasy explosion last year wasn’t as great as you might remember. Coming off of the devastating knee injury from 2020, Burrow started slow, as expected. He put up just five 20+ point fantasy games over the first 14 games, a huge chunk of the season, and his high score was just 27 fantasy points. His second highest game in that stretch was just 23 points. For most of the season, Burrow was not a week-winner.

Then Burrow caught fire down the stretch, but mainly in his final two games. Against Baltimore and Kansas City, Burrow put up a nuclear 38 and 35 points in the fantasy playoffs, carrying thousands (millions?) of fantasy teams to championship payouts. In the NFL playoffs he came down to earth, however, throwing for just five touchdowns in four games in his miraculous Super Bowl run. Don’t get me wrong, Burrow is an excellent quarterback, leading the league with both a 70% completion rate and 8.9 passing yards per attempt. But while Burrow could certainly have more rushing attempts in his second year off of knee surgery, expecting him to rival the names above him on this list in rushing production is unwise. And that missing element is a big deal in fantasy leagues.

Burrow has a great chance to finish in the QB5-7 range with a revamped offensive line and potentially the league’s best one-two combo in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. But we should be drafting for upside at the quarterback position, and Burrow is unlikely to make a push for an all-time elite fantasy season like Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen. I would love to draft Burrow on my fantasy teams this year, but I suspect he will go several rounds earlier than I will be comfortable drafting him.

 

8. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) – It feels like we are grading Prescott on an awfully steep curve in the fantasy community. Dak’s production has been consistently excellent even with a major injury thrown into the mix, finishing as the QB8 with 20 points per game last year in his first season back from the awful ankle fracture. Before the injury in 2020, Prescott was putting up 27 fantasy points per game through five weeks, a number that only Lamar Jackson has topped over the past three years. With three consecutive seasons of 20+ point-per-game production, Prescott is in elite territory as a fantasy passer.

Prescott belongs in the second tier though due to his lack of rushing volume, as his three or more rushing attempts per game are closer to Joe Burrow‘s rushing volume than Kyler Murray‘s. There are also plenty of red flags in his surroundings, as Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson are gone, and Michael Gallup likely will not be back to full speed until several weeks into the season. There are concerns with the offensive line for the first time in years, and Dallas really needs a healthy year from left tackle Tyron Smith. Still, this is a unit that PFF ranks as the sixth-best offensive line in the league, so maybe our concerns are overblown.

We can probably expect the Cowboys’ defense to regress a bit from last year’s insanely good play, leading to a few more shootouts, and I can’t imagine they suddenly decide to lean on the running game more with Ezekiel Elliott losing efficiency as the carriers mount. This looks like a year for Prescott and CeeDee Lamb to finally become an elite combination, which may end up being an upgrade as opposed to spreading the ball around among lesser options. You could easily make the case for the next four to five quarterbacks to be ahead of Dak, this is a really closely clumped part of the tier. Dak goes a little higher than I would like, but if your league doesn’t have a Cowboys fan you may get a nice discount if he gets overlooked.

 

9. Trey Lance (San Franciso 49ers) – You only live once, let’s go for some real upside here! Lance’s only meaningful playing time last year saw him rush seven times for 40 yards on 50% of the snaps against the Seahawks, while his only two games with full snap shares produced 16 carries for 89 yards against the Cardinals and 8 carries for 31 yards against the Texans. Lance scored 20, 15, and 19 fantasy points in those games despite just a 58% completion percentage. A reminder that rushing yardage is a cheat code for quarterbacks in fantasy football.

We really only have one year of college results to judge Lance on, and he played for North Dakota State in the unheralded Missouri Valley Football Conference. But it is impossible to overlook his 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions from 2019, along with his 1,100 yards rushing and 14 rushing touchdowns from what was his sophomore season. We’ve seen Shanahan torch the league with a mobile rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III in the past, and dropping Lance’s elite rushing and huge arm into this excellently schemed offense could be a recipe for fireworks.

There’s a chance that Lance is a bust. We are never as good at evaluating quarterbacks as we think we are, especially quarterbacks as raw as Lance. But guess what you get to do if he stinks? Go to the waiver wire! Some quarterbacks that may go undrafted in your league include Carson Wentz, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, and Jimmy Garoppolo, players that can give you a floor while you scoop up underperforming quarterbacks from lower on this list as they hit waivers. You could even pair Lance with someone like Mac Jones at the end of your draft if you want a little stability. Don’t let the floor scare you off of Lance; we’ve seen rushing quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson get thrown into a starting role as raw passers, and both managed to put up excellent fantasy production from the very start.

 

10. Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos) – Let’s take stock of what Wilson is at this stage of his career. First of all, he’s a deep-ball thrower. Wilson lead the league in the percentage of passing attempts over 20 yards in 2021 with 19% of his passes going deep. Second in the league was Justin Fields at 17%, and third place Kyler Murray was down at 15%. This tracks with what we know about Wilson, who as a shorter quarterback has not thrived throwing over the middle of the field; he tends to throw to the sidelines and deep. Wilson’s rushing fell off a cliff last year, dropping from 4.7 rushing attempts per game in 2019 and 5.2 rushing attempts per game in 2020 to 3.1 attempts per game in 2021. After rushing for 513 yards in 2020, Wilson rushed for just 183 yards across 14 games.

Of course, we can’t tell the story of Wilson’s 2021 without mentioning his injury, as he fractured his finger in Week 5, missed three games, and returned to the lineup looking like a player that wasn’t healthy. The first game back saw Wilson go 20 of 40 for just 161 yards and two interceptions in a shutout loss to the Packers. Wilson would not crack 300 yards for the rest of the year, and even seemed to take a backseat to Rashaad Penny and the rushing game down the stretch. Wilson saw his fantasy production drop to 17.3 points per game, good for QB13 on the year.

Wilson left Seattle and joined Denver over the offseason, and finds himself in an equally advantageous spot for a quarterback with a nice collection of pass catchers and six games against the AFC West that sure look to be games you’ll want to bet the over on. And if Wilson can regain his health and his rushing ability, that gives him a slight edge over the quarterbacks that will come after him. Wilson has a lot to prove in 2021, and the Broncos look set to turn the keys over to Wilson and let him run the show.

 

11. Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Last year, in his age 44 season, Brady set career highs and led the league in passing yards (5,316), completions (485), and attempts (719), while also leading the league with 43 touchdowns (his second-straight 40 TD season) and racking up a 13-4 record. And for some reason, after briefly retiring this offseason, Brady decided he needed to return for yet another year. Brady hadn’t thrown for over 40 touchdowns since 2007 before his last two years, so he’s clearly unlocked a new level to his game with the weapons around him and the downfield passing attack in Tampa Bay.

2021’s QB3 in fantasy points per game, Brady is as safe of an option as there is at the position, though it is tough to see him improve on last year’s 22 fantasy points per game. Nine other quarterbacks have had at least one season better than that over the past three years, and the yearly QB1 is generally closer to 25 points per game. For a moment it looked like Brady would be dealing with inferior weaponry in the passing game as Rob Gronkowski retired, Chris Godwin rehabbed from a torn ACL, and Antonio Brown stormed off the field never to be seen again down the stretch of the 2021 season. But suddenly the Bucs have added Russell Gage, Julio Jones, and rookie running back Rachaad White to the offense, and Godwin avoided the PUP list and may fight to return to the field earlier than expected. Once Godwin is back in the fold with Mike Evans, this looks like an explosive passing attack.

Brady is the first of four quarterbacks in what I would consider the “late round quarterback” tier; they all can be had in the eighth round or later, but I would ideally make sure I got my QB1 by the end of this upcoming tier break. Brady may be boring at this point, and he offers no rushing upside, but we should have learned a full decade ago to never doubt Brady’s abilities on the football field, no matter his age.

 

12. Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams) – Last year was Stafford’s 13th year in the NFL, and it was just his second 300+ fantasy point season, his first since his third year in the league in 2011. Some might see that as fluky, but I see that as he’s one for one in 300-point fantasy seasons while playing for the Rams. He’s never had the infrastructure offensively that Sean McVay’s play-calling provides, and he immediately formed a special connection with Cooper Kupp that isn’t going anywhere. The hype out of camp has been huge for Allen Robinson, and if he looks anything like his former self this will be among the best passing games in the entire league.

The real question with Stafford is, is there another gear? Stafford put up 19.4 fantasy points per game last year, and he just hasn’t shown much of a ceiling over 20 fantasy points per game. He’s a true zero on the ground, having reached 200 rushing yards just once in his 13-year career. He rushed for just 43 yards in 17 games last year and hasn’t rushed for a single regular season touchdown since 2016. Stafford will also throw interceptions which tick off a few points in most league types, as he lead the league with 17 last year. Stafford is an excellent quarterback set to have another really good season. He’s a great target later, but don’t reach expecting another level of production.

 

13. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) – Small Sample Size Alert. Davante Adams missed Weeks 5-8 in 2019, and the Packers went 4-0 and Rodgers had 2 of his best fantasy games in what was otherwise a down year for Rodgers. Rodgers then put up 25 and 30 fantasy points when Adams missed two weeks in 2020, and the Packers went 2-0. Last season, Adams missed one game, and Rodgers produced 16 points and a win. That’s 7-0 without Adams over the past 3 years. I wouldn’t expect this Packers team to suddenly become a bad team after losing Adams to the Raiders, and I wouldn’t expect Rodgers to suddenly become a mediocre quarterback. With six games against the Lions, Bears, and to a lesser extent the Vikings, the Packers’ overall roster talent looks set to make the playoffs yet again.

This all could actually work against Rodgers from a fantasy perspective, however. Without his favorite target, Rodgers doesn’t have a ton of exciting options in 2022. They drafted Christian Watson in the second round of the draft, but he wasn’t seen as the most pro-ready prospect. Sammy Watkins was brought on board, because, of course he was. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb look set lead the team in targets, while much of there’s of the offense gets funneled through running backs. If the Packers find themselves playing with a lead, and the passing game does sputter a bit, it would make a ton of sense to ease the 38-year-old four-time MVP through the regular season with a solid rushing attack.

Rodgers scored 24 fantasy points per game in 2020 on the back of a sky-high 9.1% touchdown rate, and 20.8 points per game last year on a still high 7% rate. With Adams being such a huge part of the touchdown scoring, especially in close when they could have chosen to run the ball, Rodgers could be looking at a season more like 2109 where he scored just 17.4 fantasy points per game with a 4.8% touchdown rate. Rodgers is still a top-five real-life quarterback, but his ceiling isn’t there for fantasy unless Watson has an incredible rookie year. Rodgers is worth scooping at the end of this tier at a discount, and he will be an ultra-reliable player on a weekly basis because of his talent. But don’t draft Rodgers expecting the days of old.

 

14. Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) – It sure wasn’t pretty for Fields and the Bears in year one, but we need to focus on the fantasy football aspects of this situation and not let that cloud our judgment. The 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft averaged 6 carries for 35 yards rushing during his rookie year, but that usage number was up to 7.4 attempts per game over his final 7 starts. During that stretch where Fields was beginning to look like an exciting fantasy quarterback, he suffered multiple cracked ribs during Week 11 which forced him out of the lineup for two weeks, then returned for two weeks before injuring his ankle, causing him to miss the final three weeks in an already lost season.

The rushing upside is there for a breakout, but the real question is, how will the new coaching staff use Fields? If they turn him loose and let him throw often and design runs for him, Fields has huge upside as Jalen Hurts showed last season. If new play play-caller Luke Getsy decides to try to protect him in a run-heavy, ball-control offense, then the results could be very disappointing. Fields showed a big arm last year, attempting 47 passes traveling over 20 yards in the air across his 12 games. But his overall statistics do not look pretty, as he ranked 22 in yards per attempt, second to last among qualified passers in completion percentage at 59%, and his 2.59% touchdown rate leaves a ton to be desired.

The price is great on Fields, and he is our lone true late-round quarterback target in 2022 fantasy drafts. With an ADP right at the end of the 10th round, you get a quarterback with a real shot at a fantasy breakout season. But the floor is low on Fields, which puts him significantly below the other rushing options.

 

Tier 3

 

15. Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings) – Cousins really deserves to be alone in his own tier. He might actually to be in the tier above, and in a super flex league his value is much higher than this would demonstrate due to his dependability. And it isn’t just dependability, Cousins is actually a good fantasy quarterback! He was the QB12 last year (exactly as you would expect) with 18.8 fantasy points per game, and in 2020 he was the QB13 with 19.1 fantasy points per game. Cousins has thrown for 25 or more touchdowns in each of the past 7 seasons and even topped 30 each of the past two seasons. He actually ranked seventh overall in air yards per game, was eighth in yards per attempt, and had a solid 66% completion percentage. He’s as steady as they get, but that steadiness comes with the lack of a ceiling.

Kevin O’Connell takes over as the play-caller, and there is a chance that he injects more of a modern approach into this offense after being overseen by the Mike Zimmer coaching staff for years. But things aren’t always smooth from the jump with a new offense, and Cousins is never going to give us game-breaking plays with his athleticism. His steady QB12 production is fine, but we should be shooting for better at quarterback, which is why I would risk it on players like Trey Lance and Justin Fields long before falling back on Cousins. If you’ve reached this part of the rankings, hopefully, you’re in a super flex league.

 

16. Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders) – Many may think this ranking of Carr is harsh, but the past production just hasn’t been there for the 31-year-old former second-round pick. Carr hasn’t thrown 30 TDs since his second season in 2015 when he had his career-high touchdown rate of just 5.6%. His career 4.3% touchdown rate is lower than what Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Wentz, Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield, and Jameis Winston have posted in their careers, among others. Carr has ranged between 15 and 17 fantasy points per game over the past three years, and was the QB19 last year on a per-game basis as the Raiders fought their way to a playoff berth. We just haven’t seen Carr’s game translate to fantasy excellence.

Of course, in comes Davante Adams, giving Carr a loaded trio with Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller to catch passes. Will Adams be enough to get Carr over the hump? I tend to be skeptical. Carr did post a very good 7.7 yards per attempt last season, good for sixth in the league, but he took a step back in the interception department, throwing the sixth most in the league with 14. He will need to become comfortable with new play-caller and coach Josh McDaniels, and we’ve seen quarterbacks struggle the first year in a new system.

Even if Carr clicks with Adams and McDaniels from the very first snap, we probably aren’t looking at a ceiling much higher than Stafford at QB12. Carr rushed for just 108 yards last year so provides nothing on the ground, and he will need to spike an extremely high touchdown rate this year to break out, something he has never done in his eight-year career. His value is much higher in a super flex league, but he’s just too replaceable in single quarterback leagues.

 

17. Ryan Tannehill (Tennesee Titans) – Tannehill had been extraordinarily efficient before last year, posting touchdown rates of 7% or higher in two straight years. He lead all quarterbacks with 9.6 yards per attempt in his break-out 2019 season and followed it up with the fourth-best rate in 2020 at 8.7 yards per attempt. But last year it came crashing down, as play-caller Arthur Smith left for Atlanta and all three of A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and Derrick Henry missed time with injury. Tannehill was throwing to a skeleton crew of weapons at various points of the season, and his fantasy production slipped to under 16 points per game, good for QB15.

With Brown gone and the offensive line slipping, it’s hard to project much of a bounceback for Tannehill, but I’m not all the way out yet. Treylon Burks has looked good in camp after some early asthma concerns, and Tannehill is sneakily a decent rushing quarterback, always a welcome sight for fantasy managers. While Tannehill isn’t necessarily a huge volume rusher with just over three carries per game last year, he has a knack for finding the end zone. Tannehill has now rushed for a whopping seven touchdowns over each of the past two seasons and has 25 career rushing touchdowns. While most managers have given up on this Titans offense, Tannehill should be a dependable QB2 in superflex leagues and streamer in the right matchups for single quarterback leagues.

 

18. Daniel Jones (New York Giants) – Thankfully, Jones gets a new coach and offensive coordinator this year, as Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka come in to fill those roles and provide a bit of hope. Jones’ rushing ability makes him an intriguing late-round quarterback option, as Jones ran more than ever last year with 5.6 rushing attempts per game. But Jones often seems to lack awareness while running, leading to some big hits and missed games. He’s missed a combined eight games over the past two years, and he will obviously need to stay on the field to have a chance at saving his career.

Jones was the QB16 on per game basis last year with a miserable supporting cast, so there is hope for his best season yet in 2022. And his 2.8% touchdown rate from last year certainly has room for positive regression. But with a career 63% completion percentage and 6.6 yards per attempt, Jones has a ways to go to become a solid NFL quarterback, and Jones should go undrafted in one quarterback leagues.

 

19. Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) – It’s hard to state how bad Lawence’s statistics were in his rookie season. Tua Tagovailoa and Drew Lock had better stats as rookies as Lawrence played all 17 games and averaged a miserable 11.7 fantasy points per game. His 1.99% touchdown rate is historically bad and was the worst among last year’s rookie quarterbacks. The list of names under a 3% touchdown rate in any of the past three years is frightening, and Lawrence struggled to reach 2%. He also ranked 32nd out of 33 quarterbacks in yards per attempt, was at the bottom of the league in completion percentage, and failed to produce yardage on the ground.

Of course, the Urban Meyer experience last season was among the worst coaching situations that we’ve seen in recent history, and in comes Doug Peterson who should be able to provide some stability and competence. I was high on Lawrence last year because of the tools and polish coming out of Clemson, and I thought worst case we would get some nice volume on a poor team with some rushing touchdowns tacked on. I’m hesitant to get back on board this year, however, because of how far Lawrence has to improve just to approach the David Carr/Kirk Cousins level of fantasy production. The receiving corps was miserable last year, and while Christian Kirk and Travis Etienne Jr. provide a clear upgrade, I still wouldn’t call this an above-average pass-catching group. Lawrence has upside this year, but I wouldn’t be trusting him with a Week 1 start, leaving him primarily rosterable in super flex leagues.

 

20. Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins) – Tua doesn’t give you much rushing upside, topping out around 10 rushing yards per game so far in his career, so he will need to air the ball out in 2022 to be a breakout candidate. With new offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel likely to bring over the 49ers’ rushing offense, passing volume may be set to decline this year for Tua. Miami was middle of the pack in passing attempts last season as Tagovailoa finished as the QB21 on a points-per-game basis, so he has some strides to make to register as a fantasy-difference maker.

Luckily for Tua, the offense was upgraded this offseason, as Tyreek Hill joined the team and signed an extension to boost this passing attack. Without Hill, Tagovailoa averaged the 19th most air yards per attempt, was 30th in the number of deep passing attempts, and finished 25th in the league in yards per attempt. Tua isn’t without strengths, as his 68% completion percentage was 7th in the league, and I do like his ability to play point guard and distribute the ball to his receivers for yards after the catch opportunities. Maybe Tagovailoa makes a leap with Hill, standout second-year player Jaylen Waddle, and a new offensive scheme. But we are working off of a baseline of 14 fantasy points per game the last two seasons from Tua, meaning we probably need a 30% increase in fantasy production just to get him into the QB12 range. I’ll go for the higher upside options if I still need a quarterback this late.

 

21. Matt Ryan (Indianapolis Colts) – I like the potential of what Ryan can do for the Colts offense, but the upside is lacking for fantasy football purposes. Ryan has been sacked 40 or more times in each of the past four years, and at age 37 any semblance of mobility has dried up. He should fit well with this Colts offense that features the 10th ranked offensive line according to PFF and a strong run game with Jonathan Taylor, as Ryan managed a 66% completion percentage on play-action passes last year. Former Colts QB Carson Wentz had a 56% completion percentage off of play fakes.

On a run-heavy team with a good defense, Ryan will have to throw touchdowns at a high rate to make much of a difference in fantasy, and he never managed a 5,000-yard passing season or a 40-touchdown season in Atlanta with Julio Jones and some poor defenses forcing him into shootouts. Ryan will be a nice safe QB2 in superflex leagues, and there’s some nice value to be had in that respect. But don’t waste a spot as your QB2 in single quarterback home leagues, the upside just isn’t there.

 

22. Mac Jones (New England Patriots) – While most of the rookie quarterbacks flamed out last year, Jones held his own and managed to help his team to a playoff berth. Jones had a solid enough 4.2% touchdown rate, ranked 14th in yards per attempt, and finished an impressive 8th in completion percentage. He clearly has a strong handle on his offense and is an accurate passer. There are tons of reasons to love Jones as a real-life quarterback.

For fantasy purposes, however, I don’t see the upside. The Patriots’ big move to bolster their offense was acquiring 29-year-old DeVante Parker, who has one 1,000-yard receiving season in seven years and has struggled to stay on the field at times. They also drafted Tyquan Thornton in the second round, who certainly has deep speed, but wasn’t exactly viewed as a day one difference maker coming out of the draft. This is still a team that will commit to the run and try to play solid defense, and I’m not sure that there are many scenarios where Jones is cracking the top 12 quarterbacks due to his passing volume. Another dependable QB2 at a nice discount, I’m not looking his way in single-quarterback leagues.

 

Tier 4

 

23. Davis Mills (Houston Texans) – Mills was a solid quarterback last year when compared to the rest of the rookie quarterback class. In five of 11 games he scored 18+ fantasy points. That’s compared to the more talented Zach Wilson, who topped that in only four of 13. Mills was better statistically than both Wilson and Trevor Lawrence as well, with a 4% touchdown rate, 24th overall ranking in yards per attempt, and a completion percentage that ranked 15th in the NFL. He avoided the clunker that his counterparts endured, and the Texans were actually competitive at times despite an atrocious roster overall, knocking off the Chargers late in the season.

New play-caller Pep Hamilton is in, but Houston did very little to bolster the wide receiver corps beyond Brandin Cooks. The Texans have given us zero reasons to think that Mills is seen as anything other than their QB of the future, so I would draft him with confidence as a floor option in superflex leagues. There’s probably zero upside here unless he was just grossly underrated as a prospect coming out of college, but Mills will give you playable weeks in good matchups if he carries over what he showed in 2021.

 

24. Zach Wilson (New York Jets) – It’s really hard for me to get past Wilson’s stats from last year. Nine touchdowns and 11 touchdowns in 13 games, a 2.35% touchdown rate, the second to worst yards per attempt among qualified passers, and among the worst completion percentages in the league. Sure, the Jets have upgraded the offense with rookie receiver Garrett Wilson and rookie running back Breece Hall, but I wasn’t under the impression that Wilson had an awful supporting cast last year. Sure, their receiving corp battled injuries, but the players at the top of the targets list for the Jets were Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, Corey Davis, and Michael Carter. I’ve seen worse groups than that.

While I’m willing to give Trevor Lawrence a little more benefit of the doubt as an elite prospect escaping a disastrous coaching situation last year, Wilson was not seen as a slam dunk prospect coming out of college, so a bad rookie year puts him on my stay-away list for now. If you believe in the talent and the weapons then by all means, draft him in redraft or acquire him in dynasty. But it’s hard to get past the image of him getting outplayed by Joe Flacco and Mike White last year in New York, and Wilson seemingly relied too much on the out-of-script big plays as opposed to running the actual offense. I’m avoiding him until I see a change first.

 

25. Jamies Winston (New Orleans Saints) – I’m staying away from Winston in 2022, as I don’t see him as the quarterback that was bombs away for all of those years in Tampa Bay. To start, his unsustainable 8.7% touchdown rate from last year is going to regress. Only Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson have topped that within the past three years. Winston played six full games last year and averaged just 25 attempts per game, 186 passing yards, and was actually chipping in rushing yardage to help his fantasy production. Now he’s coming off of an ACL injury, and as a Bengals fan who has watched Joe Burrow and Carson Palmer recover from ACL tears, I can tell you that it takes time for quarterbacks to get back to airing the ball out.

Winston also has a new play-caller in Pete Carmichael as Sean Payton has retired, and it’s hard for me to imagine this not affecting the offense. Couple all of this with a strong defense and a team that seems content to try to grind their way to a playoff birth in any way necessary, and the upside is hard for me to see. Maybe Winston recovers quickly, Alvin Kamara avoids suspension, Michael Thomas is healthy, Chris Olave excels as a rookie, and Trevor Penning replaces Terron Armstead competently. But that’s a lot that needs to go right just to get Jameis up to what, QB14? I’ll let others draft Winston thinking this is the 30 touchdown/30 interception player from years past.

 

26. Carson Wentz (Washington Commanders) – Wentz has steadily trended downward in fantasy scoring, from just over 17 points per game in 2019 to just over 15 points per game last year. I’m not sure the change from Indianapolis to Washington is really all that big of a downgrade for Wentz, who now has Terry McLaurin and 16th overall pick Jahan Dotson to throw to, and the Commanders’ offensive line is graded as about middle of the pack. He was the QB17 last year and probably finishes somewhere close to that this year, but I would rather take my shots on some unproven players with upside as opposed to Wentz. Last year Wentz was 27th in completion percentage, 22nd in yards per attempt, and failed to reach even 3,600 yards passing in 17 games. That’s not good enough for a look in fantasy leagues.

 

27. Jared Goff (Detroit Lions) – We all know what we are getting from Goff at this point after Matthew Stafford replaced him in Los Angeles last year and promptly won a Super Bowl and took Cooper Kupp to new levels. Goff was a 15 or 16-points-per-game quarterback his final two seasons in L.A., and outside of the Sean McVay offense, he dropped to just under 14 fantasy points per game. Sure, the Lions have a good offensive line and added some weapons to the offense. But Goff isn’t breaking out in Detroit after failing for the Rams. He’s going to start all the games, and he will keep the offense moving while playing from behind. He’s a low-end, safe QB2 in super flex.

 

Tier 5

 

28. Baker Mayfield (Carolina Panthers) – Maybe this is too low on Baker, but he’s a one-year rental for the Panthers and is already 27 years old, so if he flounders at the start recovering from a lost season due to injury, how long of a leash does he really have? The Panthers have options on the roster in fellow contract-year player Sam Darnold, as well as 3rd round rookie Matt Corral. Maybe Baker is good and pays off as a solid QB2 and a streamer option in single quarterback leagues. Or maybe the Panthers start slow and Mayfield lacks some of the strength he had pre-injury and by Week 12, Corral is getting looks in games. It’s hard for me to count him among the safe, 17-game starters for superflex leagues, so he’s low in my ranks and not a target in most leagues.

 

29. Marcus Mariota (Atlanta Falcons) – Mariota is slightly intriguing due to his rushing ability, as the last time we saw him play significant snaps in 2020 he rushed for 88 yards on nine carries. He’s had a hard time staying healthy even in a backup role, however, and also has third-round rookie Desmond Ridder looking over his shoulder. He might squeak out some fantasy relevance early on for as long as he stays healthy, so he has some value as a late option in super deep superflex redraft and dynasty leagues. But if this Falcons team is as bad as they could be, Ridder may be seeing playing time down the back half of the season, as the Falcons try to determine if they should draft a quarterback with an early first-round pick.

 

30. Deshaun Watson (Cleveland Browns) – You know the deal with Watson. He’s suspended for at least six games and the NFL has appealed his suspension, looking for a full year. There’s probably value in taking him as high as QB17 if you’re really looking for an edge, as we know he is a talented player. But I already don’t like drafting players with suspensions hanging over their heads, and I have no interest in stashing a quarterback for six or more weeks in a single quarterback league. But most of all, while we all want to win in fantasy football, I simply will not enjoy drafting Watson, rostering Watson, watching Watson, or winning with Watson. There are other ways to build a team, and I’ve yet to use a single draft pick on him over all of my drafts this summer. I suspect that you can find other ways to win your fantasy league as well, so I suggest that you let someone else draft Watson and avoid the whole situation around him entirely.

 

 

Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

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