2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Quarterbacks: Is Trey Lance a Post-Hype Sleeper Candidate?
Published: May 22, 2023
Updated: May 22, 2023
Who doesn’t love the post-post hype sleepers in fantasy football? With the 2023 NFL season upon up and fantasy football best ball drafts all over the twitter timelines we often find ourselves stumbling across the fantasy football ADPs and positional rankings of certain players that make you pause and think to yourself, “what if?” and that’s what I’ve found myself doing lately when it comes to a certain San Francisco 49ers “backup” QB.
San Francisco 49ers QB Competition
Let’s take a look at the current QB depth chart for the 49ers shall we?
We aren’t exactly looking at a depth chart of sure fire plays here. Purdy was impressive as a rookie, no question about that, completing 67% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his nine game sample size. He then injured his throwing elbow, completely tearing his UCL and required offseason surgery. Expectations are that Purdy will be fully recovered prior to the start of the 2023 season but what exactly will that look like? He was a 7th round pick that had an elite team around him and was the perfect game manager for the Kyle Shanahan offense. BUT are we to say that he has a lock on the starting job? Sam Darnold is still seeing ghosts and Brandon Allen likely doesn't make the roster.
Enter Trey Lance.
What If Trey Lance Breaks Out?
Two seasons ago the 49ers made waves when they traded up in the first round and drafted the dynamic Lance with the third overall pick. Lance was considered a project at the time of the selection given his inexperience at the position, having played just one full year of college football back in 2019 and did so at the FCS level of college football but he dominated, throwing 28 touchdowns with zero interceptions while rushing for 1,000 yards.
The athletic profile of Lance draws comparisons to the other mobile QB’s we see in the league like Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson. QB’s who were considered raw QB talents when it came to throwing the football but the mobility and athleticism made them dynamic prospects and exactly what we are looking for when it comes to fantasy football and best ball rosters.
The rushing upside of Lance is the appeal here. Last season we saw Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Justin Fields, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones finish among the top 10 QB's in fantasy points per game. We know that Allen and Hurts had good years throwing the football but Fields, Jackson, Jones and Murray finished 1st, 2nd, 5th and 7th in rushing yards for QB's last season with Murray only playing 11 games and Jackson only playing 12. Even Marcus Mariota, who appeared in 13 games for the Falcons, put forth a handful of QB1 weeks finished 6th in rushing yards for QBs.
If Lance can win this QB job, he has the profile to run for 500-700+ yards. In 2021, Jalen Hurts finished as QB9 and we saw a rookie Kyler Murray finish as QB7 with mediocre passing stats but strong rushing numbers to help boost their profiles. In 2022 Daniel Jones finished as QB9 while throwing for just 3100 yards and 15 touchdowns but he rushed for 708 yards and 7 touchdowns. These are all comparable for what could be a full season of Trey Lance under center for the 49ers..
That said, Lance has eight career games with four starts. In those four starts he has completed 55.4% of his passes for 635 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing 40 times for 187 yards. Not overly impressive numbers, I know. But he also hasn’t really been given the chance to show us what he can do. In his rookie season he played sporadically behind Jimmy Garoppolo but did have a good showing in Week 17 against the Texans. He then entered the 2023 season as the starter and was forced to play in a game environment with crazy high wind gusts. In his second game of the 2023 season he broke his ankle and that was it for Trey Lance.
Lance enters the 2024 season seemingly behind Brock Purdy on the depth chart and surrounded by rumors that the 49ers were looking to trade him, something that could still happen at some point, but why can’t he still be that top QB prospect? The offensive talent on the 49ers roster is still elite with Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle still cemented on the roster and I don’t doubt anyone would argue that Lance’s profile offers greater potential than that of Purdy.
Trey Lance Makes Offseason Improvements
Early reports have been good for Lance. The Athletic reported that Trey Lance has been working out with Patrick Mahomes and QB coach Jeff Christenson and that echo's comments made by 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that the team was pleased with his improved throwing mechanics.
Right now over on Underdog Fantasy, Trey Lance has an ADP of 173.7 which would make him a borderline QB3 but he is also being drafted ahead of Brock Purdy who has an ADP of 197.4. His ADP also makes it pretty easy to stack with his top receiving talent with Deebo Samuel having an ADP of 33.9, George Kittle’s ADP of 54.5 and Brandon Aiyuk’s ADP of 63.1 all allowing you to draft the skill position players well before you need to take Lance in your drafts.
When it comes to dart throw QB’s with upside, Lance fits the profile of a mobile QB on an offense with elite talent that could make him one of the better sleeper picks in drafts this season.