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Must-Have Quarterbacks for 2022 Fantasy Football Drafts

justin fields fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

It wasn’t long ago since fantasy analysts were telling everyone to wait on the quarterback position. There are so many of them, just wait. Over the past few years with the explosion of passing offenses and rise in rushing quarterbacks, the strategy and how we approach this position is changing. That’s a great thing because it should be changing. The top-tier guys, the elite five or six guys at the top, provide week-winning upside that cannot be ignored.

It isn’t just their upside either that’s grown, their sheer weekly average has increased as well. Last year, Josh Allen averaged 24.56 points per game last year and had 30 or more points in four games. In 2012, Drew Brees averaged 21.60 points per game and didn’t record a single game over 30. The idea of streaming your quarterbacks 10 years ago wasn’t so intimidating. The difference between Brees and Eli Manning (QB15) in 2012 was 7.04 points, but that has ballooned up to 8.8 in 2021. The bigger problem isn’t the difference in weekly averages but the difference in their projectable range of outcomes.

The difference between the elite tier guys and the streamers in 2021, in regards to their ceiling and floor vs the difference between the elite tier and streamers in 2012 is astronomical. With these changing scoring outcomes, fantasy managers need to adjust their approach to the quarterback position. Here we’ll be looking at a few quarterbacks every fantasy manager must-have for the 2022 NFL Season.

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Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

We all know how amazing and valuable guys like Josh Allen and Justin Herbert are, but you’ll have to pay up to get them. That’s not a bad idea if you’re able to scoop them up at the back of round four or into round five, but if you don’t want to be the person who breaks the seal on quarterback, Hurts is an absolute must-have quarterback this fantasy football season.

It’s no mystery he struggled throwing the football last year. Years ago, that would’ve been a death sentence, but not anymore. He attempted just 432 passes in 2021 with the Eagles ranking 32nd in total team pass attempts.

He completed just 265 passes for a 61.3% completion percentage and 3,144 measly yards. When the 2021 NFL season finally closed its books, Hurts had racked up a paltry 16 passing touchdowns. Certainly doesn’t sound like a “must have” quarterback, am I right? Here’s the thing though, none of it mattered.

Despite those pathetically low passing numbers, Hurts still averaged 21.41 points per game, which ranked 7th, ahead of Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Matthew Stafford, and Dak Prescott.

At this stage, how he did that is well known. He ended with 139 rush attempts and racked up 784 rushing yards, and 10 rushing touchdowns. He finished the year with the 22nd most rushing yards, just 15 yards shy of Aaron Jones. His 10 rushing touchdowns were tied for 6th with Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry. Rushing quarterbacks are cheat codes.

There’s good reason to believe he won’t rush for 10 touchdowns again in 2022, but as far as his overall rushing numbers with regard to his attempts and yards, we shouldn’t be expecting a major decrease.

His rushing attempts weren’t something he did on the fly – get it? Eagles, fly? – anyways, this wasn’t something Hurts did on his own. This was incorporated into their offense via designed QB runs.

There’s no reason to expect that aspect of their offense to go away considering how incredibly effective it was last year. Among quarterbacks, there’s no reason to think he won’t be one of the top-5 rushers in the league, and that gives him significant upside.

With regard to his passing stats last year, fantasy managers would be wise to take them with a grain of salt. For starters, his No. 1 receiver was a rookie. His No. 2 receiver was Jalen Reagor, who has been a colossal bust thus far. The entire offense was also learning a brand-new system with head coach, Nick Sirianni in his first season. There were plenty of very reasonable reasons to expect some growing pains.

However, Hurts, along with the entire offense now finds themselves in Sirianni’s second season, which will help everyone’s effectiveness and comfort in the system. Not only that, but you might have heard they also traded for A.J. Brown, who represents quite an upgrade from Reagor.

You may still be concerned about the limited passing volume with the Eagles finishing dead last in that category last season, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, through the first seven weeks of the season last year, Hurts ranked ninth in total pass attempts with 242, an average of 34.5 per game. Over the final eight games he appeared in, Hurts threw the ball just 190 times or just 23.7 per game.

The Eagles finish the season averaging 29 passes per game. Had they averaged 34.5 passes per game as they did in the first seven weeks, they would’ve finished 19th, just behind the Green Bay Packers. Philadelphia is still going to be a run-first ball club – it’s how they’re built. They have a running quarterback and a top-five offensive line, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect the passing volume to increase.

Assuming the Eagles finish the 2022 season around 20-22 in total pass attempts – a marginal increase – we would expect them to have around 546-564 pass attempts. The increased passing volume with the expecting increase in passing efficiency will more than help compensate for any decrease he experiences in rushing touchdowns.

In fact, Hurts’ range of outcomes includes being the QB1 in 2022. While that may not be likely, his rushing floor gives him that possibility. If he’s able to take the next step as a passer with the increased efficiency from having DeVonta Smith in his second year and AJ Brown instead of Jalen Reagor, the ceiling really is being the best fantasy quarterback in the league.

He’s an easy buy right now because of his incredibly safe and yet high floor because of his rushing and the ceiling, which includes being the best fantasy quarterback in the league. He’s a must-have because you can often draft him after the top-five quarterbacks, which is excellent value. You’re getting the same floor and ceiling at a cheaper price. If you’re looking to spend up on an elite quarterback, Hurts is a great target.

 

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Notice a trend? You must have rushing quarterbacks. For a stationary passing quarterback to make it to the top, they need to be otherworldly. Tom Brady threw for over 5,100 yards and 43 touchdowns and he finished as the QB3.

Which hey, QB3 is amazing, but how likely is it that someone throws for 5,100 yards and 43 touchdowns? In 2020, Aaron Rodgers also finished as the QB3 despite throwing for 4,300 yards, 48 touchdowns, and just five interceptions.

If those passing stat lines don’t include being the QB1, it’s simply just not realistic for a stationary quarterback to reach those heights and the margin for error becomes much smaller because they aren’t any extra points boosting them up. It’s why we need to have someone who can run. Enter Justin Fields.

This is what we’re talking about. Fields is an absolute dynamite option if you’re choosing to wait on the quarterback position a bit. Pairing him with someone like Derek Carr or Kirk Cousins, who you can also get after the top-12 quarterbacks, is an excellent option. Carr and Cousins will provide you safe, weekly options, while Fields gives you the upside and ceiling play we should constantly be chasing.

Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten Hurts’ stat line from 2021 already, but he passed for just 3,150 yards and 16 touchdowns, but he did have 784 rushing yards. In Fields’ first three starts, he rushed the ball over three times each game.

As you can see from the tweet above, something changed over his final seven starts. He went from a three-rush attempt per game average to 7.5. Over those seven starts, Fields averaged 51.5 yards per game. What can that kind of rushing utilization do for his fantasy stats?

Fields doesn't need to be a great passer to be a top-12 passer in 2022. He doesn’t even need to be a good passer. All fantasy managers need Fields to do is be an average passer. By almost any measure, Hurts was a bad passer last season. His completion percentage was 28th, his yards per game was 29th, and his touchdowns per game were 28th.

If Fields can essentially be Taylor Heinicke passing the football, that’s all fantasy managers need. That would be 3,419 yards and 20 touchdowns. If you combine those numbers with 700 rushing yards (which is 177 yards below his last seven starts pace) and throw in five rushing touchdowns, you have 306 points.

We’re in the backend QB1 range right now already. But what if he’s maybe a slightly better passer than Heinicke? Or maybe those 700 rushing yards we have projected, which are 177 behind his last seven-game average are low? You can see how it wouldn’t take all that much to get him into the top 12.

If you’re looking to wait on quarterback, Fields is an absolute must-have. Since we’ve already talked about Hurts and so many are making a big deal about the lack of pass-catchers in Chicago, ask yourself this… is third year Darnell Mooney, Bryon Pringle Cole Kmet, and David Montgomery really any different than rookie Devonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders?

The answer is no and Hurts was just the QB7 on a PPG basis largely off of what he did with his legs. Sound familiar? Don’t sleep on Justin Fields.

 

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Sometimes fantasy football really doesn’t need to be difficult. Trey Lance can run and he’s in one of the most-friendly fantasy football environments in the NFL. What do I mean by that?

Never mind the Miami Dolphins – look at those numbers above. Those are just free points for Lance. Absolutely free points. In 2021, the 49ers had 343 completions and averaged 6.6 yards after the catch (YAC) per reception. That equals 2,264 yards. That’s 90.5 free fantasy points. In 2020, they had 371 completions and averaged 6.2 YAC per reception which equals 92 free fantasy points. 87 free points in 2019 and 93 in 2018.

Now, let’s give Lance a fairly pedestrian 600 rushing yards and five touchdowns. That’s an extra 90 points and we’re at 180 fantasy points already. With no air yards and no passing touchdowns. Just simply YAC yards and rushing points. To put that into perspective, Tua Tagovailoa was at 190 points last year.

It’s an incredibly small sample size, but in his two starts and a third where he played over half the game, he racked up 161 rushing yards. Even if we take that by three, which is slightly unfair since he didn’t get to play the full game on one of those appearances, we’re talking about a 53.6 rushing yards per game average, which equates to 912 over 17-games. Is 900 rushing yards in his range of outcomes? Possibly, but it just goes to show that 600 most definitely is.

Lance could not be walking into a better situation. He’s got one of the best trios of pass-catchers in the NFL. Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle will make his job a lot easier, not only in terms of YAC which we’ve already discussed but by creating separation and giving him easy throwing lanes.

Not only that, but if Lance does have a few off-target throws, there aren’t very many pass-catching groups in the NFL that are better than the 49ers in terms of going up to get it. Samuel is a top-10 receiver and Kittle is a top-5 tight end. That makes the quarterback’s job a lot easier.

If that wasn’t enough, the 49ers also employ one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. Trent Williams, his blind side tackle, is arguably the best left tackler in the league. All of this is just setting up a scenario where Lance can absolutely smash.

Fantasy managers can draft Lance in the back-end QB1 range, but he absolutely comes with top-five potential. His rushing prowess and offensive weaponry are some of the best in the league. It won’t take much for Lance to become a league winner. You’re not going to want to miss out.



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