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Fantasy Football QB Exit Interview: Josh Allen reigns supreme in 2023 marred by injuries to the position

In last year's Exit Interview for Fantasy Football Quarterbacks, we talked about a messy season and more misses than hits. It felt like an outlier, but perhaps that's just the new normal in the NFL.

When I start charting a position after the season, I like to use a general but interesting "Green/Yellow/Red" grading system. A green player is a definite hit, someone who positively affected your season. A yellow player was something in the middle, either a player who finished around expectations or someone who presented a mix of good and bad in the season.

The red picks are the regrets, the "Oh man, why did I take him?" players.

It's a back-of-envelope thing, and your grading (and mileage) may vary. Maybe we'll disagree on a few players here and there, but I suspect most of the colors would come out the same.

When I charted last year's top 30 quarterbacks by ADP, it fell as such: eight green, five yellow, 17 red.

This year, I charted the top 32 quarterbacks, by ADP, with a similar distribution: seven green, nine yellow, 16 red. In both seasons, it was close to a 50-50 shot that your quarterback pick would bust.

Perhaps you're not interested in looking so deep. The top-16 quarterbacks this year grade as such: four green (Allen, Hurts, Jackson, Prescott), four yellow (Fields, Tagovailoa, Cousins, Goff) and everything else in red. Yes, that includes Patrick Mahomes.

So the bust rate was static throughout the QB file.

Let's give a comment on every color-graded quarterback to try to figure out what the heck happened. (If you'd like to skip to the conclusions, jump to the Too Long, Didn't Read section at the end.)

Green-Light Quarterbacks Hits

Josh Allen headshot
Josh Allen
QB - BUF - #17
2023 - 2024 season
4,306
Yds
253.3
Y/G
66.5
Comp Pct
29
TD
92.2
QBRat

Josh Allen — Allen showed up on 35.1% of the Yahoo finalist teams, the highest grade at this position. Buffalo's passing wasn't as fun after the coordinator change, but Allen's rushing played all year.

Jalen Hurts headshot
Jalen Hurts
QB - PHI - #1
2023 - 2024 season
3,858
Yds
226.9
Y/G
65.4
Comp Pct
23
TD
89.1
QBRat

Jalen Hurts — Once upon a time, the Eagles were 10-1 and Hurts was the MVP favorite, despite passing stats that didn't match 2022's efficiency. The team crashed after that, and Hurts fell off, though he was still the No. 2 quarterback in Yahoo finalist rostership.

Lamar Jackson headshot
Lamar Jackson
QB - BAL - #8
2023 - 2024 season
3,678
Yds
229.9
Y/G
67.2
Comp Pct
24
TD
102.7
QBRat

Lamar Jackson — Jackson has already won the NFL's MVP, but he was merely the QB3 in points per game. The Ravens didn't use him as much around the goal line. Jackson was somewhere between 1-2 rounds cheaper than the first tier of QBs. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a better fantasy player next year.

Dak Prescott headshot
Dak Prescott
QB - DAL - #4
2023 - 2024 season
4,516
Yds
265.6
Y/G
69.5
Comp Pct
36
TD
105.9
QBRat

Dak Prescott — When you mix return with preseason cost, this was probably the biggest hit. Prescott was drafted as the QB12 and finished as the QB4 in points per game. If you saw the CeeDee Lamb detonation coming, you might have prioritized Prescott in the middle rounds. But what really made things sing was the Tony Pollard slump, which forced the Cowboys to turn their offense over completely to Prescott.

C.J. Stroud headshot
C.J. Stroud
QB - HOU - #7
2023 - 2024 season
4,108
Yds
273.9
Y/G
63.9
Comp Pct
23
TD
100.8
QBRat

C.J. Stroud — One remarkable thing about Stroud is that he succeeded despite a receiver group that's interesting, but certainly not elite. And at several different points during the season Houston was dealing with cluster injuries on the offensive line; Stroud had enough pocket awareness to succeed anyway. There is likely signature significance to Stroud's rookie year; barring injury, it's highly likely he'll become a superstar.

Jordan Love headshot
Jordan Love
QB - GB - #10
2023 - 2024 season
4,159
Yds
244.6
Y/G
64.2
Comp Pct
32
TD
96.1
QBRat

Jordan Love — Love's finalist tag was good-not-great (15.7%, the No. 13 QB) because his production was so-so for about two months. But he ended on a heater (18 TDs, one pick) and had the QB5 tag when the season ended. Love did all this with the youngest overall receiving group in the league. It's crazy how the Packers keep rolling at football's hardest position.

Brock Purdy headshot
Brock Purdy
QB - SF - #13
2023 - 2024 season
4,280
Yds
267.5
Y/G
69.4
Comp Pct
31
TD
113
QBRat

Brock Purdy — Purdy finished fast last year but it was hard to say what it really meant. Now, of course, we have clarity that he's good, perhaps very good. The setup couldn't be better. Purdy was drafted at QB21 and returned QB7.

Yellow-Light Quarterbacks Take the good with the bad

Justin Fields headshot
Justin Fields
QB - PIT - #2
2023 - 2024 season
2,562
Yds
197.1
Y/G
61.4
Comp Pct
16
TD
86.3
QBRat

Justin Fields — Did he show enough for the Bears to build around him, or will they draft Caleb Williams and move Fields for more help? Fields had plenty of flashy moments and the DJ Moore addition clicked, but a nagging sack problem stands in the way of Fields becoming a true star.

Tua Tagovailoa — Given that Tua stayed healthy and Tyreek Hill was nuclear most of the year, a QB18 per-game ranking leaves me a little cold. Tagovailoa finished QB9 if you work off gross points, which speaks to survivor bias. I'm still not sure how good he really is.

Kirk Cousins — He was the QB6 on a per-game basis and was leading the league in passing yards per game when he got hurt. I can't put Cousins down in the red section; he at least got you halfway there.

Jared Goff — The stats aren't as much fun on the road and outside, and Goff will never be much of a runner. He's a floor play, rarely an upside one. Can he keep it rolling if OC Ben Johnson departs, as expected?

Russell Wilson — He's in here because his per-game rank wasn't that bad (QB15), better than his ADP (QB28). When the Broncos scored, it usually was through the air. Wilson's benching was mostly about future contract liability, not his play. He'll start for someone else next year and could be around league average again. Wilson has become a punchline in his final lap, but he's not a horrible player.

Sam Howell — He was a mediocre real-life QB, but the Commanders had a massive pass-run split and Howell was occasionally a resourceful runner. Oddly, his fantasy utility did not help his receivers much.

Matthew Stafford headshot
Matthew Stafford
QB - LAR - #9
2023 - 2024 season
3,965
Yds
264.3
Y/G
62.6
Comp Pct
24
TD
92.5
QBRat

Matthew Stafford — Sean McVay did a heck of a job coaching up the Rams despite a messy year from Cooper Kupp. Stafford can still sling it.

Kyler Murray — The opposite of Cousins — someone who was credible down the stretch; you just needed to find answers while he rehabbed. Murray finished QB8 on a per-game basis.

Baker Mayfield — If you want to slide him to the green group, OK. Baker was drafted QB31 and returned QB18 on a per-game basis. That's great in Superflex. It doesn't quite play in standard formats.

Red-Light Quarterbacks — The Misses

Patrick Mahomes headshot
Patrick Mahomes
QB - KC - #15
2023 - 2024 season
4,183
Yds
261.4
Y/G
67.2
Comp Pct
27
TD
92.6
QBRat

Patrick Mahomes — Maybe it feels harsh to grade him a miss, but he had a similar ADP to Allen and Hurts, who left him in the dust. Mahomes was merely the QB11 in points per game, and he had just one top-12 game in the last two months. Sure, the fault mostly is the lousy receiver room and the possible decline of Travis Kelce, we get it. But Patrick Mahomes was a wrong answer this year — that's the awful truth.

Joe Burrow — A summer injury wrecked his September, and a midseason injury wrecked the rest of his season. It's no fun when the coolest guy in the league gets hurt.

Justin Herbert — Everything fell apart around him, but we're allowed to wonder, just how good is Herbert, really? The Chargers need an overhaul on offense but will be challenged by a bad cap position. The Quentin Johnston pick in the first round might go down as a massive mistake, in a draft loaded with right answers at receiver.

Trevor Lawrence — Maybe he's just a good player and not a generational one?

Deshaun Watson — He played very poorly, and then got hurt. Compared to Watson, Joe Flacco looks like a Manning brother. Kevin Stefanski has performed some Cleveland miracles, but can he fix Watson? Does he want to try?

Daniel Jones — He was in a funk before injury ruined his season. The Giants still need help at receiver, but Brian Daboll protected his reputation down the stretch.

Geno Smith headshot
Geno Smith
QB - SEA - #7
2023 - 2024 season
3,624
Yds
241.6
Y/G
64.7
Comp Pct
20
TD
92.1
QBRat

Geno Smith — I thought Smith could keep most of his 2022 gains, which sounds silly now. If you knew in August to avoid all of the Seahawks, you did well.

Anthony Richardson — Was looking like a hit before the early injury wiped out the season. Shane Steichen knows what he's doing. Richardson will be a fun upside pick next year.

Aaron Rodgers — It was over in 60 seconds, and all of my Garrett Wilson teams weep for that.

Derek Carr — He went off late in the year, when it was too late. Chris Olave managers don't want to talk about it.

Kenny Pickett — A nifty summer, but played like dirt after that. No one in Pittsburgh missed him.

Bryce Young — C.J. Stroud might haunt him forever. Young avoided picks at a decent rate, but every other efficiency stat looks awful.

Jimmy Garoppolo — Lost his way and was benched, with cause.

Desmond Ridder — Wasn't the answer in Atlanta, though Arthur Smith did him no favors.

Mac Jones — When you're benched for Bailey Zappe, you've hit rock bottom.

Ryan Tannehill — Should be a backup for the rest of his career.

Too Long, Didn't Read

  • The hits at quarterback were mostly runners and/or guys surrounded by uber-talented teammates. The two big hits who did it without either of those things were Jordan Love and C.J. Stroud, a very good sign for their futures. It also speaks to how well they were coached and put in positions to succeed.

  • It was a heavy year for quarterback injuries, but good luck trying to call those shots before the year. Plenty of mobile quarterbacks stayed healthy. Plenty of pocket quarterbacks got hurt, even so-called tanks like Rodgers and Cousins.

  • Even in leagues that only require one starter, I'd like to have an interesting backup on most of my teams. The hit rate at this position isn't good enough for me to treat this as a one-and-done spot. Maybe I'd back off that stance if I paid first-tier quarterback prices, though generally, that's not me.

  • What is my go-to QB draft strategy? I'll probably try to find next year's Prescott, the player drafted as a Tier 2 or Tier 3 guy who has a chance to leap. Or maybe someone's ADP will present them like Love and Purdy were presented, talented guys who had their share of skeptics (thus, the cost stays down). The opportunity cost for me is too great when I use a very early pick on a quarterback; I'm still thinking value.

  • To underscore that final point, note that of the top 37 players in Yahoo Finalist Percentage, only two of them (Allen and Hurts) were quarterbacks. Maybe QB isn't the easy solve it used to be, but wait until you see the miss rates at some of the other positions (soon to come).

For end-of-season quarterback rank, I used per-game stats and did not include Week 18. I also did not include Joe Flacco, who played just five games. If Flacco did count, he would chart as the QB3.