Breaking Down the 2022 Quarterback ADP Tiers
Whether you build your own fantasy football rankings, create fantasy football player projections or just go into fantasy football mock drafts to get a feel for current player ADP there is one thing that generally remains consistent and that is the tiers in which we put players when building out our fantasy football draft strategy.
Understanding the tiers at each position and how you go about placing players in those tiers is completely up to each fantasy manager and how they value players. One of the positions where the player tiers generally have pretty fine lines is the quarterback position. That said, the strategy of when it comes to drafting quarterbacks will certainly differ from manager to manager and will be impacted by how the rest of the positional tiers play out throughout the draft as positional depth gets smaller and smaller.
Andrew Cooper has done a great job breaking down how he goes about looking at the quarterback position in his Dynamic Tier Player Rankings feature and Kevin Tompkins took a look at the QB tiers from a dynasty fantasy football perspective earlier this offseason.
Here is how I go about breaking down the current fantasy football quarterback tiers as I prepare for the upcoming draft season.
The Josh Allen Tier
- Josh Allen, BUF - ADP: 26.5
Yep, he is a man all by himself. Allen possesses the elite passing upside matched by only a few other quarterbacks while offering the elite rushing upside matched by only a few other quarterbacks. He finished 2021 as the top-scoring fantasy football quarterback and averaged 24.6 fantasy points per game. In terms of statistics, Allen threw for 4,407 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while adding a career-high 763 yards rushing and six scores. Few have the potential to match the production Allen can provide on a week-to-week basis and that is the reason he is going nearly two rounds ahead of the next quarterback when it comes to ADP. If you are making this investment in Josh Allen you should consider a stack with one of his top receivers whether it be a first-round selection of Stefon Diggs or a mid-round pick of everyone's favorite breakout receiver Gabriel Davis to maximize the scoring upside of Allen.
The Pocket Passers
It's not totally fair to call these guys JUST pocket passers with Herbert rushing for 302 yards last season and Mahomes going for 381 yards but their primary skill set is to sit in the pocket and throw the football downfield. Herbert had a monster sophomore season, throwing for 5,014 yards with 38 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while completing 65.9% of his passes. Fellow sophomore QB, Joe Burrow, also had a great year, leading the league with a 70.4% completion percentage while throwing for 4,611 yards with 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. On paper, Mahomes was as good as ever, completing 66.3% of his passes for 4,839 yards with 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
As you can see, from a passing standpoint, the numbers are all pretty close. Herbert and Mahomes offer a bit more mobility but both are going almost two rounds ahead of where Burrow is coming off the board. Both Herbert and Burrow have their top two wide receivers ranked among the top 25 receivers in fantasy football with Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams all being elite talents. Mahomes lost Tyreek Hill this past offseason but the Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling while also using a 2nd round pick on Skyy Moore in the NFL Draft.
For me personally, I'd be taking the discount on Burrow. It was widely reported the Bengals were being a bit conservative with Burrow to begin the season and the Bengals actually finished 20th in pass attempts per game last season. With Burrow healthy, the offensive line improved and the team coming off a Super Bowl run, it would seem likely that Burrow is ready to take that next step and think he is just as likely to lead this group in fantasy points this season as any of the other players.
The Mobile Quarterbacks
When we talk about the upside needed to be the overall QB1 in fantasy football you either need to either contend for the league lead in yardage and touchdowns OR you need to be racking up elite rushing totals and that is exactly what this tier of QB offers.
Murray is the more polished passer of the trio, completing 69.2% of his passes last season for 3,787 yards with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over 14 games. Missing three games hurt his overall rushing totals but he was on pace to run for over 500 yards last season and we saw what his rushing ceiling can look like in 2020 when he ran for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Jackson also missed time in 2021, playing just 12 games. He completed 64.4% of his passes for 2,882 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. That said, even with missing five games, he still rushed for 767 yards and two scores. Jackson had consecutive 1,000+ yard rushing seasons over the two years prior heading into 2021 and with better health in 2022 there is a likely shot he rushes for another 1,000 yards.
Hurts is the new guy to this group. He completed 61.3% of his passes for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 784 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground while appearing in 15 games.
The trend above, outside of the elite rushing talent is the missed games. Running quarterbacks are at a higher risk of injury than non-mobile quarterbacks given the hits they tend to take when on the run. That said, all three finished among the top seven quarterbacks in fantasy points per game.
For 2022, I've been very bullish on Jalen Hurts given the ADP discount and the improvements the Eagles have made on offense. The offensive line is already great and if healthy can be one of the best units in football. The team also traded for A.J. Brown to bring a legitimate top wide receiver for Hurts to throw the football to and gives him a top receiving unit of Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert.
Kyler Murray is going to be without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six weeks of the season due to his suspension but the Cardinals went and traded for Marquise Brown to add another deep outside threat for this offense. The Cardinals also still have Zach Ertz who was the TE4 overall in PPR scoring following his trade to the team.
Jackson lost Marquise Brown but tight end Mark Andrews led all tight ends in receiving yards and big things are expected from Rashod Bateman in year two. The Ravens are also expected to be healthier in their backfield this season with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, both of whom were lost to injury last season and could take some pressure off of Jackson.
If drafting this group, I take the discount on Hurts over the other two with Murray and then Jackson being the order of which I would approach taking them.
The Safe Approach
- Tom Brady, TB - ADP: 79.97
- Dak Prescott, DAL - ADP: 82.71
- Russell Wilson, DEN - ADP: 83.71
- Matthew Stafford, LAR - ADP: 89.99
If you are choosing to wait on a quarterback this is likely the first tier you hit where taking a quarterback becomes a viable option. These QB's have a great fantasy floor with the upside of being one of the top-scoring fantasy quarterbacks this season.
Brady will be 45 years old when the 2022 season starts but don't let that deter you from drafting the greatest to ever do it after he led the NFL in yards (5,316), touchdowns (43), pass attempts (719) and pass completions (485). Brady briefly retired this offseason but came out of retirement shortly thereafter. The Buccaneer's offense will be a bit different this year with Rob Gronkowski retired and Chris Godwin potentially missing the first part of the year as he works his way back from a torn-ACL but we know this offense revolves around the passing game and until we finally see a decline, it is difficult to say Brady won't be putting up Brady-esk production again this season.
Prescott is an interesting case as the Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper this offseason and may not have Michael Gallup ready for Week 1 as he works his way back from injury. The team drafted Jalen Tolbert and signed James Washington in free agency but CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz are the only reliable targets for Prescott to likely start the year. That said, Prescott has always been among the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks and he is coming off a year where he completed 68.8% of his passes for 4,449 yards with 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Wilson always had the weapons in Seattle with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett but the play calling became an issue over the past two years along with the ability to protect Wilson as well. This offseason the Seahawks traded Wilson to the Broncos where he will have a much better offensive line and a receiving group that is also quite talented with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick at his disposal. Many are looking to snag Wilson this season in this tier with most projecting him to flirt with top-five fantasy production.
Stafford was the fantasy darling last season, much in the way Russell Wilson is viewed this season. Stafford was traded from the Lions to the Rams and wasted little time putting up one of his all-time best season, completing 67.2% of his passes for 4,886 yards with 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Stafford had the benefit of having Cooper Kupp turn in the best season ever for a wide receiver and this offseason the team went and signed Allen Robinson as well. Health could be a concern with Stafford already having some injections in his throwing arm but there is no other reason to worry about his value this season.
The Safe Approach Part Deux
This is a pretty interesting group. Derek Carr now has Josh McDaniels as his head coach and a shiny new toy in Davante Adams to catch the football. On the flip-side, Aaron Rodgers lost Davante Adams and the the Packers opted to replace him with a second-round pick in Christian Watson and a free agent signing of Sammy Watkins. Cousins will give you weeks of top 10 fantasy production but likely settles into that QB12-to-QB14 range this season while having the privilege of throwing the football to one of the league's best wide receivers in Justin Jefferson.
In the same vein as Russell Wilson, many are buying into Derek Carr this year and the reasons are obvious. Davante Adams is in the conversation as the best pure wide receiver in football and we know that Josh McDaniels has a history of coaching up some high-powered offenses when he has the talent to do so at his disposal. All the talk of Davante Adams is not to overshadow the fact that Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are still in Las Vegas as viable second and third options for Carr. In 2021, Carr completed 68.4% of his passes for a career-best 4,804 yards with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The presence of Adams and the hope of a more competent offense should bolster the touchdown numbers for Carr this season and it would not shock me to see him once again approach career highs in passing yards, attempts and maybe even touchdowns as well.
Cousins really is incredibly steady. He is going to throw for 4,200+ yards with 30+ touchdowns while completing around 65+% of his throws. He doesn't run, he isn't going to throw for 5,000 yards but he does limit turnovers and has Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen at his disposal to catch the football. Cousins is fantastic mix-and-match QB for those waiting on the position.
Saving Rodgers for last year. What exactly are we supposed to do here? He no longer has Davante Adams and I don't really even know how invested he is in playing football anymore. The team drafted a physical specimen at wide receiver in Christian Watson who stands at 6-foot-5 and ran and a 4.36 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. The Packers still have Allen Lazard who is being drafted as the top Packers receiver in fantasy football drafts as well as Sammy Watkins and Randal Cobb. Robert Tonyan is expected back this season as well for the Packers who was favorite red zone target for Rodgers two seasons ago. There is also strong belief that Aaron Jones could see career-high totals when it comes to receiving this year as well. Rodgers is also one of the best QB's in football and could easily still “get his” and be a great fantasy asset this year despite the perceived lack of talent around him.
The Risk/Reward Balance
- Trey Lance, SF - ADP: 98.35
- Justin Fields, CHI - ADP: 131.40
- Tua Tagovailoa, MIA - ADP: 134.58
- Trevor Lawrence, JAX - ADP: 143.50
Now, there is an obvious ADP gap to address here with Trey Lance currently going three-to-four rounds ahead of the quarterbacks in this tier but I don't quite understand the reason for that. All off these QB's have reasons why they can succeed this season and if they succeed they have the ability to easily outperform their ADP but there is also plenty of risk where all four of these QB's could be nothing more than backup/bench plays for your fantasy roster.
Trey Lance is expected to start for the 49ers this season with Jimmy Garoppolo working his way back from arm surgery and constantly having his name on the trade block. We saw glimpses of what Lance could do last season when given the opportunity to play quarterback and in those three appearances he put forth fantasy outings of 20.4, 15.6 and 20.1 fantasy points. Lance is a mobile quarterback with his legs being his best skill set and something that can help keep a solid fantasy floor. Passing the football is where he is a possible project as he completed just 57.7% of his throws for 603 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. This will be Lance's first full year as a QB in the NFL and he didn't have a ton of experience playing in college either due to the pandemic. If you are draft Lance, or any QB in this tier, you should make sure to pair him up with a safer floor QB like those in the tiers above.
Justin Fields is one of my favorite picks in this range of fantasy football drafts. Fields got a lot more experience under center last season and though the numbers were not great, I have more confidence in him coming into year two. As a rookie Fields completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also added 420 yards rushing. Fields started just 10 games last season but found himself on pace to rush for over 650 yards. With a new head coach and new offensive coordinator now in Chicago, we are looking for Fields to take that next step in this offense.
Tua is the fantasy football darling of this tier. The Dolphins went and traded for Tyreek Hill and already have Jaylen Waddle on the roster who had a great rookie year. The team also has a head coach, an improved offensive line and better weapons in the backfield. Tua is certainly set up for success and set up to be a steal at his ADP as long as he can actually play. In his two seasons under center for the Dolphins, he hasn't been much more than average, being more of a game manager than someone who can be counted on to put up big fantasy production. In 13 games last season he completed 67.8% of his passes for 2,653 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. If the Dolphins are willing to let Tua run the show then he could be the bargain of the fantasy football season.
To some, I'm sure Trevor Lawrence being in this tier may be a bit confusing. The Jaguars were a train wreck last year and the number one pick was rather ordinary, completing 59.6% of his passes for 3,641 yards with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. The appeal for me here is the rushing upside. Lawrence ran for 334 yards last season and showed a willingness to run the football as well. If he has a ceiling of 500 or so rushing yards that can help increase his fantasy floor. The Jaguars also hired a coach in Doug Pederson with a decent track record and they made investments in their passing offense, signing Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. Lawrence should also benefit from having a healthy Travis Etienne as part of the offense this season as well. We know Lawrence has the talent, can we get the talent to shine through in year two with better coaching.
- Jameis Winston, NO - ADP: 173.63
- Mac Jones, NE - ADP: 196:43
- Zach Wilson, NYJ - ADP: 204.51
- Matt Ryan, IND - ADP: 160.20
- Davis Mills, HOU - ADP: 215.70
None of the QBs above are being taken with the intention of being a starting QB1 on a fantasy roster. In fact, there is a good chance that two or more of these QBs don't get drafted at all in the standard home leagues that only require you to start one QB. That said, I think all of the quarterbacks listed above have the potential to post a top 12 fantasy season or at the very least, become a viable streaming option for those who look to mix-and-match their QBs throughout the year.
Of any of the quarterbacks listed above I think we can agree that Winston has the most potential. The Saints have the strongest receiving core of the group, assuming Michael Thomas is healthy, with Thomas, Jarvis Landry and rookie first-rounder Chris Olave in the mix. Back in 2019 we all remember the 5,100-yard, 33 touchdown season from Winston when he was with the Buccaneers. That season Winston even threw 30 interceptions but finished as the QB3 overall. In seven games last season, before tearing his ACL, Winston had thrown for 1,170 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions and again, that was without Michael Thomas in the lineup. Reports have been mixed when it comes to Winston's recovery but the most recent updates are that he was looking good and ready to contribute as the Saints starting QB this season.
Of all rookie QBs taken in the 2021 draft, most will tell you Mac Jones had the best year. The Patriots' QB completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He famously threw just three passes during the “wind game” against the Bills late in the season which hurt some of his per-game ratios but overall the numbers were good for Jones. The Patriots made some changes this offseason with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now the head coach in Las Vegas which has left some worried about the Patriots offense. That aside, New England made some moves to help Jones this season. First, they traded for DeVante Parker who immediately becomes their most talented wide receiver and then they used a second-round pick on burner Tyquan Thornton in the NFL Draft. Jones was one of the more accurate passers last season, Parker was among the league leaders in contested catch rate and Thornton ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. There also may be a change in offensive philosophy coming as the current Patriots depth chart does not list a fullback and Jakob Johnson, who had been the fullback for the past few seasons, is no longer on the roster. New England could be posed to but the offense on the shoulder of Mac Jones in year two.
Sticking in the AFC East, it is hard not to love how the Jets have been rebuilding their team since the hiring of Robert Saleh. Last season there was certainly a learning curve for both the rookie head coach and his rookie QB but the team is slowly becoming loaded with talent. Wilson did not look great in his rookie season. completing just 55.6% of his passes for 2,334 yards with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions over 13 games played. He was without fellow rookie Elijah Moore whom many expected to be the team's leading receiver for most of the year as well which did not help his cause. The team's offensive line also suffered numerous injuries which included their top offensive linemen in Mekhi Becton in Week 1. This offseason the Jets added pro bowler Laken Tomlinson in free agency along with tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. In the draft they used a first-round pick on receiver Garrett Wilson and a second-round pick on running back Breece Hall. If the Jets offense is able to stay healthy and protect Zach Wilson this season there is more than enough talent for him to put up some QB1 type of weeks.
Oh boy, I know everyone is excited about Matt Ryan with the Colts. I get it, he was unusable with the Falcons over the past few seasons and now he goes to a team with a great offensive line and an elite running back that defenses need to focus on stopping. This should allow Ryan the time needed to pick apart defenses with one-on-one coverage. My lone concern here is really just the game plan. How are we so sure that Matt Ryan isn't just going to be another Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz in this Colts offense? He could very well be just a better game manager. The Colts only really have one legit receiving threat in Michael Pittman to write home about. I think Ryan is safe, but he's nothing special In my eyes.
The last QB here is the 2021 rookie QB who had the second-best season and some would argue that it was actually he and not Mac Jones that put forth the top rookie season. Mills stepped in for TyRod Taylor last season and completed 66.8% of his passes for 2,664 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over 13 games, 11 starts. The Texans once again figure to be very bad but Mills showed the competence to put up some very strong fantasy numbers. Brandin Cooks is a very reliable threat in this offense at wide receiver and many are high on Nico Collins this year as well. Rookie WR John Metchie is coming off a torn ACL but could be a second-half add to this offense and Brevin Jordan showed some flashes at tight end last year as well. If nothing else, Mills could be a nice matchup based bye-week replacement if he gets off to a good start.
Deshaun Watson Tier
- Deshaun Watson, CLE - ADP: 190.72
Whelp, as of writing this we still do not know if Watson is even going to play football this season. There has been plenty of speculation that he could miss anywhere from 4-to-8 games if not the entire year. The last time we saw Watson playing football was 2019 and he finished the season as the QB5 overall in fantasy football as he completed 70.2% of his passes for 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 413 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Watson was traded to Cleveland this offseason and so was Amari Cooper who would be his top receiving option. The team also gave a contract extension to David Njoku who will compete for number two targets with the likes of Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie David Bell. There is a real unknown here but this offense is set up for Watson to succeed should he take the field and if he is the Watson of old then one fantasy manger may have the steal of the draft in the second half of the season.
- Daniel Jones, NYG - ADP: 185.49 - Maybe Brian Daboll can finally turn the Giants around and get the most of this young QB who has really never had a chance to get his footing in this league given all the organizational changes around him.
- Carson Wentz, WAS - ADP: 209.40 - His last shot could be right here with Washington. Wentz is on his third team in three years. He has some nice talent around him, headlined by Terry McLaurin and first-round pick Jahan Dotson at wide receiver.
- Baker Mayfield, CAR - ADP: 223.15 - My feelings on Baker are well known. I don't think he is a very good QB. Most of the statistics say he is not a very good QB. People like his energy and therefore they think he is capable of turning it around. If you are one of those people then you have to love him going to an offense with Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Robby Anderson to catch the football.
- Ryan Tannehill, TEN - ADP: 195.58 - It's honestly possible that the WR tandem of Robert Woods and Treylon Burks is the best he has had since joining the Titans. This is still a run-first offense though behind Derrick Henry.
- Mitch Trubisky, PIT - ADP: 231.63 - I feel like I may be the only one willing to say he isn't a total bust quite yet. His overall numbers in Chicago were not awful and we know how bad the coaching staff, especially the offense was under Matt Nagy. He has now had a year to sit behind Josh Allen and Briand Daboll in Buffalo and lands in a legacy spot in Pittsburgh with a strong coaching foundation and successful offensive philosophy with some nice talent around him as well in Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Charles Claypool, George Pickens and tight end Pat Friermuth.
Related Fantasy Football Links
- Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts
- Top 10 Fantasy Football Sleepers
- Top 10 Fantasy Football Rookies
- Fantasy Football Player Rankings
- Fantasy Football Bold Predictions