Modern problems require modern solutions. In our world, there was a problem where quarterbacks were completely undervalued in fantasy football rankings despite it being a high scoring position in everyone’s fantasy football projections. And you’d see that issue reflected in our fantasy football ADP, where you can simply wait on the position and still get a stud. I mean, why draft Lamar Jackson at QB2 last year if you could just wait and take Justin Fields at QB20, right? So we needed a solution to this problem. And that came in the form of creative new formats like Superflex, Two QB, or Best Ball where teams are now forced to draft two or possibly even three quarterbacks if they want to compete. Where you can’t just wait and add the hot sleepers off the waiver wire. So sorry, JJ Zachariason, but we’ve finally found a way to combat your famous late-round QB strategy.
Or not. Single quarterback leagues are still the most popular format. That’s why we have our fantasy football rankings setup in our 2023 NFL Draft Guide to help with ALL formats. I personally offer both linear rankings AND my Dynamic Rankings which attempt to weigh upside vs floor. Regardless of the format you play in, there have been guys like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson to come out of the QB2 range to flat out win leagues. So today we are going to talk about my favorite quarterbacks being drafted outside of the top 12 and why we’re taking stabs on them in all formats!
Daniel Jones - QB13, ADP 105
Look, it’s no secret that I haven’t been a huge fan of Daniel Jones from a real-life football standpoint. I personally felt that throwing 11, 10, and 15 touchdown passes over the last three years wasn’t necessarily worth the commitment he got with that contract. But I’m willing to admit a few things here. One, is that he hasn’t really gotten a fair shake with the coaching and the weapons over the last couple of years. Two, is that I’m not in those meetings or practices seeing what the front office sees when they make the decision to turn down his fifth year option OR to extend him. And three, we don’t care about “real life football” because we are talking about fantasy football. And the quarterback in Brian Daboll’s system is in a good spot for fantasy football.
We talk ad nauseam about the ceiling of rushing upside but what we really should discuss more, especially in two quarterback formats, is the floor it offers. Daniel Jones quietly averaged 44.3 rushing yards per game which was top five amongst QBs - that’s nearly five points right there without even throwing a pass. That’s how Daniel Jones can finish as the QB8 in points per game despite only throwing 15 TD passes (I’m not counting the one game Davis Webb and Sam Howell played in terms of PPG). The Giants added a high end option with big red zone upside in Darren Waller, they added a speedster on the outside in Jalin Hyatt, and they are loaded with competition in the slot between Wan’Dale Robinson, Parris Campbell, Jamison Crowder, and Sterling Shepard. Someone will emerge from that competition so they just need to convince Saquon Barkley to play and Daniel Jones at QB13 is virtually a lock to return QB1 value. At pick 105 based on our composite ADP, you can draft your entire starting lineup in a single QB league before snagging him. And he should easily be an every week starter in your dynasty superflex leagues.
Anthony Richardson QB16, ADP 111
If Daniel Jones is the ultimate “safety” play, Anthony Richardson is the ultimate upside play. We’ve quite literally never seen a more athletic performance at the NFL combine from a QB. Running a 4.43 forty is not only 99th percentile for the position but he did it at 6’4” 244 pounds. The tight end analyst in me has me a bit jealous that this guy is a QB instead of lining up as a “big slot”.
For those worried about his passing, Justin Fields last year proved why that doesn’t really matter. The Chicago Bears threw the fewest passes per game of any team we’ve seen in two decades and Justin Fields still finished as QB6 in fantasy football. And that was despite missing two games. The RPO between Richardson and Jonathan Taylor is going to wreak havoc on opposing defenses and that could open things up for Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, and Josh Downs as well. Right now composite ADP has Richardson going off the board as QB16 around pick 111 but you really should not wait that long as sharp fantasy gamers understand the upside a guy like this presents. We are already talking about the range of draft picks when starting lineups are full so floor simply does not matter. I’ve already seen him go towards the backend of the QB1 range in some expert drafts this summer so be ready to pull that trigger if you want him. And, in dynasty leagues, some will say he's actually overpriced but think back to what you could have gotten guys like Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts for early on - if Richardson is QB9 on a site like KeepTradeCut and he has the upside of those guys, IS he overpriced? Some might say that while others might call it a discount.
Russell Wilson QB18, ADP 124
The bet you are making here is honestly fairly simple - fantasy football doesn’t always have to be hard. We watched Urban Meyer absolutely crash and burn as the “head ball coach” in Jacksonville in 2021. Trevor Lawrence played all 17 games and finished as the QB23 in fantasy. In 2022 Doug Pederson came in, turned things around fairly quickly, and Lawrence finished as the QB7. We’re betting that Sean Payton and Joe Lombardi climb up to the Mile High City and deliver similar results.
And, if you really think about it, all the pieces are in place. We’ve seen Russell Wilson both lead this league in touchdown passes and win Super Bowl MVP. We’ve seen Joe Lombardi’s offense last year in Los Angeles finish with the 3rd most passing yards of any team. We’ve obviously seen what Sean Payton did with Drew Brees. The Broncos have Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Marvin Mims, Greg Dulcich, Samaje Perine, and hopefully, sooner rather than later, they’ll have Javonte Williams. And here’s the craziest part. Last year, despite how horrible the Broncos were, Russell Wilson finished as the QB15. Based on current ADP, he’s going off the board as QB18. He could literally be as bad as he was last year and return value on ADP. But we expect him to be better.
Derek Carr QB19, ADP 137
This is where we have to go back to the coaching narrative. In 2020, under head coach John Gruden, Derek Carr threw for 4,804 yards which was the fifth most in the league. His completion percentage was 68.4% - in the four years from 2018 to 2021, his completion percentage was impressively steady between 67.3% and 70.4%. Then, last year, his percentage plummeted to 60.8% and he threw for only 3,522 yards. We have to ask ourselves what changes might have caused this issue and for me that’s pretty obvious - Josh McDaniels took over.
The Raiders for years tried and failed to get Derek Carr some high-level help between trading for Antonio Brown, drafting Henry Ruggs in the first, drafting Bryan Edwards in the second etc. Up until this past year with Davante Adams, his best weapons were his tight end and a fifth round slot guy. This organization really didn’t put Carr in a position to succeed yet for multiple years in a row he consistently threw for over 4,000 yards with a great completion percentage and few turnovers. Now he gets a change of scenery to throw to Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Juwan Johnson, and Rashid Shaheed. If you don’t want to spend up on Kirk Cousins in the backend QB1 range, there is a world where Derek Carr surprises some folks and offers similar production at a steep discount. And in dynasty you can never have too many viable QBs with decent floors - especially once the bye weeks roll around and the mobile QBs start dropping like flies.
Kenny Pickett QB22, ADP 158
There’s another type of bet we like to make in fantasy. And that involves identifying inconsistency in ADP. A great example was the Miami Dolphins offense last year. Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Mike Gesicki were all being drafted in fantasy leagues, oftentimes at fairly high prices. Yet Tua Tagovailoa wasn’t going off the board until QB16 which was outside of the top 120. It was pretty obvious that either the pass catchers were being overdrafted or the quarterback was being underdrafted. When healthy, Tua was a top 10 QB in points per game so it turned out that the big discrepancy was that Tua was going too late. This year based on the composite ADP, Najee Harris is being drafted in the backend RB1 range and Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Pat Freiermuth are all being drafted at levels where we expect them to start for our fantasy teams. Yet Kenny Pickett doesn’t come off the board until QB22 at pick 158. Something has to give. Seattle, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay all had two WRs in the top 20 and their QBs were all top 12 in passing yards - even with Tua playing only 13 games. We either need to start fading guys like Pickens or Muth, or we need to consider the possibility that Kenny Pickett takes a big step forward in 2023. And I say big step because he only threw seven TD passes last year and couldn’t find Diontae Johnson for a single one. But we’ve seen guys make that second year leap before so it’s entirely within the realm of possibilities. And you can get ahead of that in dynasty.