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Path To QB1: Justin Herbert's Fantasy Football Outlook for 2022

Justin Herbert - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Justin Herbert has become one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL since entering the league in 2020. The strong-armed quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers is entering his third season and he's already shown that he is a viable source of production in fantasy football.

In his first two seasons with the Chargers, Herbert has finished as QB9 and QB2 in fantasy football. As of this moment, Herbert is the second quarterback to be selected — on average — in fantasy football drafts with an ADP of 45.91, according to RotoBaller's FFPC ADP.

Seeing that Herbert is one of the first quarterbacks off of the board, it's clear that quite a few people believe there's a chance for him to finish the 2022 season as QB1. What will it take for Herbert to outscore guys like Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Kyler Murray? First, we'll need to take a look at recent quarterbacks that have been the highest scorer at the position.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


What Does it Take to Finish as QB1 in Fantasy Football?

Quarterbacks that can produce through the air and on the ground have become the preferred targets in fantasy football. Just a season ago, Allen was the top performer at quarterback with 417.58 fantasy points, with an average of 24.56 fantasy points per week in 17 games. Herbert finished right behind Allen with 395.76 fantasy points and 23.28 fantasy points per week in 17 games.

Over the past three seasons, Allen and Jackson (the two quarterbacks who have been QB1 in that span) have been able to supply worthwhile production with their legs, along with fantastic passing numbers. Back in 2019, Jackson threw for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns to average a whopping 28.11 fantasy points per game.

Meanwhile, in the two years Allen has been QB1 in 2020 and 2021, he's posted over 4,400 passing yards and 36 or more passing touchdowns in each season. He's also provided 1,184 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns combined in the previous two seasons to average 25.32 and 24.56 fantasy points per game in those two years, respectively.

So for Herbert to overtake Allen and the other notable signal-callers as QB1, he'll likely need to notch at least 26 fantasy points per game this year.


Does Herbert Have What it Takes?

Once again, Herbert was close to being the top performer at quarterback in fantasy football last season, finishing only 21.82 fantasy points behind Allen. That being said, does he have the ability to produce enough with his arm and legs to score the needed points to be QB1?

For starters, Herbert was part of history in 2021, even though it was the first year in the NFL where they had 18 weeks in the regular season. Nevertheless, it was still impressive to see Herbert cement himself as the first quarterback in league history to eclipse 5,000 passing yards and 300 rushing yards in the same season.

The good news for Herbert is that there's unquestionably room for growth moving forward, especially in the rushing department. While we shouldn't expect 1,000 rushing yards like we've gotten from Jackson multiple times, we could see Herbert record career-best marks in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2022.

In the first nine weeks of last season, Herbert rushed for only 95 yards and two touchdowns on 28 attempts. However, in the final nine weeks of the season, the former first-round pick scampered for 207 yards and a touchdown on 35 attempts.

Some might say that 90 of his 207 rushing yards in the second half of the season came in one game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers to try and diminish the overall point, but it should be viewed as a positive. Seeing that 90 rushing yards in a game are within the range of outcomes for Herbert in a single contest should give us hope that the Chargers let him loose even more this year.

One way for Herbert to close the gap between himself and the other top performers at quarterback in fantasy football is to increase his output in the rushing statistics.


How Herbert's Situation Should Aid Him

We've seen quarterbacks finish as the QB1 in fantasy football before despite not having the best supporting cast. For instance, when Jackson was QB1 in 2019, none of his top three receiving targets finished with 1,000 receiving yards, and his third leading pass-catcher was Hayden Hurst with 349 receiving yards.

Another positive for Herbert is that the Chargers have done a splendid job at surrounding him with a variety of weapons. Keenan Allen remains one of the most surefire wide receivers in the NFL, Mike Williams is a lethal vertical threat, Joshua Palmer has shown flashes of potential, and Austin Ekeler is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league.

Not to mention, the Chargers went out and signed Gerald Everett this offseason to upgrade at the tight end position. Also, Los Angeles took Isaiah Spiller in the 2022 NFL draft, giving them a talented running back to pair with Ekeler.

Above all, with Herbert being the franchise quarterback, the Chargers have prioritized the offensive line. Even though Bryan Bulaga is no longer on the team, Los Angeles has drafted Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson, and Trey Pipkins in the past few drafts, while also having solid veterans in Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler in the interior.

Given the consistent production he possesses in the aerial attack, the upside he has in the running game, and the arsenal of weapons he has around him, it is well within the realm of possibility that Herbert is QB in fantasy football when the 2022 season comes to a close.

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