Getting quarterback right is one of the most important things you need to do to build a winning Fantasy Football roster in today's game. For a long time, Fantasy analysts told you you could just punt on the position, wait until the later rounds, and still end up with a good option, but the past few years have changed that.
I'll have more to say on that topic later this offseason, but for now, just know this: The gap between Jalen Hurts, the No. 3 QB and the No. 12 QB in per-game scoring was 7.9 points per game – equivalent to the gap between RB3, Josh Jacobs, and RB27, Jerick McKinnon, or WR3, Ja'Marr Chase, and WR32. Getting one of those elite quarterbacks is really, really important.
Of course, you don't necessarily need to draft a quarterback early to end up with one – Hurts ended up QB7 in ADP at NFC last season with a sixth-round price, after all. But the days of being able to punt the position entirely and still end up with a viable starter are seemingly over.
Over the next week or so, I'm going to be taking a look at the post-NFL Draft rankings updates from the Fantasy Football Today crew, and we're starting with quarterback today, where you can see a bit of a shift in how we're valuing the position.
Here's where things stand at QB:
QB rankings update
Let's start with how Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings are ranking the position:
There's consensus at the top, as there should be. Patrick Mahomes was the top QB last season despite concerns about how he might play after the loss of Tyreek Hill, and though he lost JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason, the Chiefs have Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, and Rashee Rice who all have first- or second-round draft capital over the past couple of seasons. This receiving corps is unproven beyond Travis Kelce, but there's a ton of upside here.
Josh Allen might actually have more upside than Mahomes thanks to his rushing ability, though he scuffled as a passer mid-way through last season thanks to an elbow injury, and I have questions about the playmaking the Bills have surrounded him with. Still, he's averaged nearly 28 points per game three straight seasons, so if you wanted to rank him No. 1, I wouldn't argue.
Jalen Hurts is the No. 3 option for Jamey and Heath, and the gap in Dave's rankings is basically non-existent – he has Mahomes, Hurts, and Allen ranked 26th, 27th, and 28th in his overall top 200. That's the clear top tier this year, and you can see it reflected in where the quarterbacks rank in the overall consensus:
- Patrick Mahomes, KC -- OVR: 26
- Josh Allen, BUF -- OVR: 27
- Jalen Hurts, PHI -- OVR: 28
- Lamar Jackson, BAL -- OVR: 38
- Justin Fields, CHI -- OVR: 39
- Joe Burrow, CIN -- OVR: 40
There are two mini tiers there, with those three at the top and then Jackson back at the top of the next one. Some of you might sneer at that, as Jackson hasn't really played at an elite level since his 2019 MVP season. Of course, the fact that he's still averaged 22-plus points per game the past two seasons with middling (at best) supporting casts and while dealing with injuries is a pretty good argument in his favor. The Ravens re-signed Jackson and added Odell Beckham and first-round WR Zay Flowers this offseason, so betting on a bounceback from a guy who has arguably shown a higher ceiling than any other QB makes sense.
Fields and Burrow are kind of on opposite ends of the spectrum, with Fields as hopefully the next iteration of the Jackson/Allen/Hurts archetype while Burrow is more of the classic high-volume, high-efficiency pocket passer. To get to that 28-PPG range, Burrow probably needs to push 40-plus passing touchdowns and 5,000 passing yards, which is asking a lot but isn't necessarily impossible.
But I think the path for Fields to get there is a bit more clear. I don't think he's going to repeat last year's 1,143 rushing yards in 15 games, but it seems pretty reasonable to assume he can get to 1,000 yards again – he's averaged 61.2 rushing yards per game in 25 career starts, which would get him to 1,000. Let's get him another eight touchdowns, and he needs to average around 19 points per game as a passer. Give him 1.75 passing touchdowns per game and he would need to get to 4,000 yards passing to get there.
That's asking an awfully lot from a guy who had just 2,242 in 15 games last season. It might be asking too much, frankly – 28 PPG is asking a lot from anyone. But if Fields takes a step forward as a passer with the addition of D.J. Moore and full seasons from Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney, it's not impossible. And it becomes easier with each rushing yard and touchdown he adds.
After that, you have Justin Herbert as the No. 7 QB, with a consensus overall ranking of 54, and then a big drop off to Trevor Lawrence at 84th. So, let's take Herbert first. Last season, he was drafted as the No. 2 QB on average, ahead of Mahomes, and that was a pretty obvious mistake even at the time. Herbert is a terrific talent, but he took a step back as a passer and doesn't provide enough as a runner to make up for that.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that Herbert suffered a pretty serious rib injury early in the season that he played through, and he was also dealing with a pretty banged up receiving corps. The Chargers brought in rookie WR Quentin Johnston with a first-round pick and picked up Kellen Moore as the offensive coordinator – Moore was, of course, in charge of the Cowboys offense when Dak Prescott had his best seasons. The hope here is that Moore installs a more aggressive, fast-paced offense that unlocks Herbert's upside, and I don't mind targeting him if you want a less expensive version of Burrow.
Then there's a big dropoff in the overall rankings that looks like this:
- Trevor Lawrence, JAC -- OVR: 84
- Anthony Richardson, IND -- OVR: 98
- Dak Prescott, DAL -- OVR: 100
- Deshaun Watson, CLE -- OVR: 109
- Tua Tagovailoa, MIA -- OVR: 110
Richardson's presence there is the most interesting. He's the No. 9 QB in the consensus rankings, which is a bet on his incredible physical gifts more than the production he actually showed off in college. Richardson had one of the best combine performances of all time for a QB, running a 4.43 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds. He was a productive rusher in college, and that's where the appeal comes from – as Fields showed last season, even if you're a mediocre-to-bad passer, you can be a very good Fantasy QB if you're a dominant runner.
And for what it's worth, while Richardson wasn't on the level of a Kyler Murray or Hurts in terms of productivity as a runner in college, he was better than Fields – he rushed for 1,055 yards in 19 games over his final two seasons, compared to 867 over his final 22. Fields was a solid bet to produce as a runner in the NFL thanks to his elite athleticism, and Richardson has him beat. Expecting 1,000 yards is asking a lot, but we've seen teams be more willing to let their QBs take on that kind of role in the running game, and Richardson has the upside for it. In the same way Herbert is a cheaper bet than Burrow with a similar skill set, Richardson is the budget version of Fields. We included Richardson and Murray among the players we have the most trouble ranking on the FFT podcast here.
Lawrence is another bet on an elite prospect, because so far he hasn't actually played anywhere near well enough to justify this kind of price. He had just seven games with more than 25 Fantasy points last season, the same amount as he had games with fewer than 16 points. The addition of Calvin Ridley should help, but I'm not particularly enthusiastic about drafting Lawrence; I have him ranked as QB8, but I'm probably just skipping the middle class at the position this season.
Dak Prescott is a high-floor option, though I think the move from Kellen Moore to Mike McCarthy calling plays has the potential to hurt his production; as Hayden Winks pointed out on Twitter a few weeks ago, the Cowboys have been top two in offensive pace over the past three seasons, while McCarthy's Packers teams were 20th, 25th, and 19th in his final three seasons as head coach. That's not a great sign.
Watson is kind of a wild card, given how dreadful he was a year ago. Sure, that came after not playing for a season and a half, but there's not necessarily any guarantee he'll regain his prior level of play; if he does, he's a top-five QB. It's a decent dice roll if you don't want to pay up, and I'd rather take that bet than one on Lawrence.
After that group, there's another tier drop to the No. 2 quarterbacks:
Rodgers, Jones, Smith, Goff, and Carr are probably your high-floor options if you want to pair one of them with Richardson. If you're looking for upside, you'll find it in Murray (coming off a torn ACL and questionable for the start of the season) and perhaps Russell Wilson and Jordan Love. Wilson could take a big step forward under new coach Sean Payton, but it's hard to have much faith in that after how bad he was last season; Love is stepping into Rodgers' shoes in Green Bay and has an interesting (though still incomplete) collection of skill players to grow with. If he's the next Packers franchise QB, he could certainly emerge as a must-start Fantasy QB.
But if you really want a high-upside dart throw, Trey Lance is right there. All indications are the 49ers view Brock Purdy as their starter for 2023, and if Purdy is not ready from elbow surgery, it's not even clear Lance is likelier to start than Sam Darnold. But he still has that massive rushing upside in an offense designed to make the QBs life as easy as possible. If he gets a chance to start – either in Week 1 if Purdy isn't ready or if something happens to Purdy beyond his elbow – I still think there's a fairly obvious path to top-12 upside. He just needs a chance – I'd love to see a trade, frankly, though that doesn't seem likely until Purdy gets the all-clear, at least.
There's your consensus top-24 QB rankings in the aftermath of free agency and the NFL Draft, from Dave, Jamey, and Heath. Below, you'll find my full updated rankings for the position:
Chris' QB Rankings
- Patrick Mahomes, KC
- Josh Allen, BUF
- Jalen Hurts, PHI
- Joe Burrow, CIN
- Justin Fields, CHI
- Lamar Jackson, BAL
- Justin Herbert, LAC
- Trevor Lawrence, JAX
- Tua Tagovailoa, MIA
- Dak Prescott, DAL
- Anthony Richardson, IND
- Deshaun Watson, CLE
- Geno Smith, SEA
- Daniel Jones, NYG
- Kirk Cousins, MIN
- Aaron Rodgers, NYJ
- Matthew Stafford, LAR
- Kyler Murray, ARI
- Jared Goff, DET
- Russell Wilson, DEN
- Derek Carr, NO
- Jordan Love, GB
- Jimmy Garoppolo, LV
- Brock Purdy, SF
- Kenny Pickett, PIT
- Baker Mayfield, TB
- Ryan Tannehill, TEN
- Sam Howell, WAS
- Mac Jones, NE
- Desmond RIdder, ATL
- C.J. Stroud, HOU
- Bryce Young, CAR