A funny thing happened last season after we all targeted the Konami Code QBs in our drafts: Uni-threat quarterbacks actually dominated the fantasy scoring leaderboard. In fact, seven of the top eight scorers at QB finished with fewer than 400 rushing yards and no more than three TDs on the ground. Josh Allen was of course the top-scoring fantasy quarterback, thanks largely to his 763 rushing yards and six TDs. But he was followed by seven guys who collectively averaged 4,747 passing yards, 38 passing TDs and just 167 rushing yards.
Tom Brady was an absolute fantasy monster at age 44, but he only ran for 81 yards and two scores.
So, if you were thinking the days of the pure pocket passer were entirely behind us ... well, nope. It turns out 4,800 yards and 35 touchdowns is still a pretty awesome fantasy season, without a single rushing yard.
Uni-threat quarterbacks aren't done, but you should still go for the dual threats
It should go without saying, however, that the dual-threat quarterbacks still have ceilings worth chasing — upside unmatched at any other position. We're certainly not telling you to avoid them. When they hit — like Lamar Jackson in 2019 — those guys are golden ticket players in our game. Rather, we simply want to remind you that more than one path exists to a stellar fantasy season at QB.
It's honestly tough to mess up at this position in a league with typical settings. Most of us are playing in standard-issue one-QB leagues that don't make use of the full range of scoring options available, so we never really have to sweat stuff like giveaways, sacks and accuracy. Just please know that if you wanted to treat interceptions like the game-altering events they actually are, your commissioner could simply change that one-point penalty to three or four (or more). And if you wanted to punish quarterbacks who completed passes at a miserable rate, the commish could choose to award, say, 0.5 points for a completion and deduct a full point per incompletion.
Ideally, we would never again have a situation like the Blake Bortles 2015 fiasco, when he led the league in INTs, fumbles and sacks while completing 58.6 percent of his throws, yet also finished as the QB4 in fantasy. Bortles was more of a cheat code that year than any Konami QB has ever been; he was verifiably bad, but volume made him a fantasy star.
But enough of my griping about default fantasy scoring. You came here to read about some dudes, so let's discuss players who are well-positioned for big seasons ...
The top-12 fantasy quarterbacks for 2022
1. Josh Allen - An almost perfect dual-threat fantasy quarterback. Allen is an elite passer who also functions as the goal-line back for a dominant offense.
2. Lamar Jackson - He's two years removed from a season in which he won the MVP and broke the per-game fantasy scoring record. Somehow, Jackson is still only 25.
3. Justin Herbert - It doesn't feel as if 2021 will end up being Herbert's only 5,000-yard passing season, does it? There's a rushing element to his game as well, which gives him the slightest fantasy edge over my QB4 below.
4. Joe Burrow - Burrow might have reached the 5,000-yard mark last season, too, if Cincinnati didn't rest him in the final week of the regular season. He led the NFL in completion percentage (70.4) and yards per attempt (8.9) while averaging 288.2 passing yards per week. The team repaired its O-line in the offseason, addressing the lone weakness of an otherwise terrifying offense. Burrow's receiving corps remains completely unfair as well:
5. Patrick Mahomes - He's simply never delivered anything less than an excellent season, finishing among the top four at his position in three of the past four years. Mahomes and Peyton Manning are the only two players in league history to pass for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs in a single season.
6. Jalen Hurts - He just ran for 784 yards and 10 scores in 15 games, plus his team added A.J. Brown to the receiving corps in the offseason. Hurts won't need exceptional passing numbers to challenge for QB1 status.
7. Tom Brady - Ideally, he would actually be in camp, practicing with his team and whatnot. Also, it's a little weird that the healthiest receiver on the Bucs is currently Julio Jones. But hey, Brady is coming off a ludicrous year statistically (5,316 and 43) and he's as good at quarterbacking as anyone has ever been at anything.
8. Trey Lance - Lance has everything to prove, but he's surrounded by upper-tier receiving talent and it's clear the team intends to let him run early and often. He's a gift in fantasy drafts at his current ADP. Lance probably should not be going 40-plus picks later than Hurts.
9. Kyler Murray - Murray has experienced an absolutely wild offseason, but there's no denying his dual-threat ability. He'll be without DeAndre Hopkins, however, for basically the first half of your fantasy league's regular season, which is no small loss.
10. Russell Wilson - The next negative note about Wilson's transition to Denver will be the first. If he absolutely had to leave DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, he landed in a great spot. The one significant fantasy concern with Wilson is that he stopped running last year without notice; his top single-game rushing output was just 32 yards.
11. Kirk Cousins - Look, we've already had the Cousins conversation. He'll be at the controls of a modern passing game under Kevin O'Connell, throwing to an utterly un-coverable receiving threat in Justin Jefferson. A career year could be incoming.
COUSINS ➡️ JEFFERSON 💥
Hit the Griddy!pic.twitter.com/vaUEEeCGvl
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) November 7, 2021
You might reasonably ask, "Where is reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers in these trash ranks?"
That would be a rude way to put it, but it's an otherwise fair question.
For me, Rodgers is actually part of a tier that begins with Wilson and reaches down to QB15. How can we not be a bit concerned about his fantasy potential after losing Davante Adams — arguably Earth's greatest receiver — via trade in the offseason? It's OK to feel optimistic about Allen Lazard and Green Bay's rookie receivers while also acknowledging that Rodgers will be directing Green Bay's offense through a transitional period. Even at his best in the season ahead, the eventual numbers could look quite a bit like his 2018-19 seasons, when he threw a modest 51 TD passes over 32 games.
Trevor Lawrence deserves a mulligan
The Urban Meyer theater of pain is no longer operating in Jacksonville, a clear win for Trevor Lawrence and all other Jaguars. And for the citizens of Duval County generally. And for kickers everywhere.
Doug Pederson's arrival means that an actual grown-up with over a decade of NFL coaching experience is now guiding Lawrence's development. Camp reports have been plenty encouraging, as were the early preseason results:
No one should think any less of Lawrence as a prospect today than they did a year ago. Everything about his situation has improved, including the system and receiving corps. If you were a believer in Lawrence during his Clemson days — when he seemed as close to a can't-miss QB as we'd seen in years — then keep an open mind about his fantasy potential in his second season. He was a sneaky-good rushing threat as a rookie too, gaining 334 yards on 73 attempts.
Justin Fields has a chance to dramatically outproduce his ADP
OK, sure, it would be better for Fields if his offensive line wasn't patched together with castoffs and late-rounders. And, in a perfect world, his team's receiving room wouldn't have quite so many reclamation projects. But it appears he's going to operate within a system that suits his strengths, which is a substantial leap forward from ... um ... well, from whatever Matt Nagy was trying to do last season. We should also note that Fields' best moments last season were as impressive as any produced by a member of the 2021 rookie class. He has a big arm and exceptional rushing ability, which is, again, a classic recipe for fantasy success.
Fields is exactly the sort of fantasy flier you can feel good about taking, because his position offers ridiculous depth in any league with standard settings. Quarterback, more than any other roster spot, is a place to take big swings.