Best Ball Rankings: QBs to Take a Stance On in 2022 (Fantasy Football)
Best Ball season is officially here! All summer long, Kyle and I will be discussing best ball strategy, rankings, and values on the Fantasy Footballers DFS Podcast. A lot of best ball players can have success simply by understanding the market value of players (ADP), optimal roster construction, and avoiding basic mistakes in best-ball drafts. In today’s best ball content world, there’s a ton of emphasis on these concepts, but player takes are still important and can help give us an edge over our opponents.
To kick off this article series, we’re taking a look at the QB position. Below are the quarterbacks that we’re taking a stance on this off-season. Be sure to check out our full Best Ball Rankings in the DFS Pass, exclusively part of the Ultimate Draft Kit+.
Editor’s Note: This article is a preview of the BestBall content found only in the DFS Pass. The subsequent articles that follow will be exclusive to subscribers only.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Underdog ADP: QB4
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB2
Most fantasy drafters will remember Lamar Jackson‘s 2021 season for what happened at the end of the year, not the beginning. Jackson injured his ankle in Week 14 against Cleveland then missed the remainder of the season, but let’s put recency bias aside and recall what Jackson did from Weeks 1-13 prior to his injury. In a season where everything went wrong for the Baltimore Ravens, Jackson still finished as the QB8 in fantasy points per game and that was with scoring just 18 total TDs a year ago. With the expectation that the Ravens will catch the right side of injury luck after the worst injury affected season since 2001, and Lamar’s TD count sure to smash last year’s total, Jackson is on a short list of names with a legitimate shot to lead all QBs in fantasy points in 2022.
Jackson’s 63.9 rushing yards per game led all QBs and was well ahead of the QBs who ranked 2nd (Jalen Hurts – 52.3) and 3rd (Josh Allen – 44.9) in the same statistic. Simply put, Jackson’s rushing upside is unmatched relative to any other QB in football. In fact, over the last three seasons, no QB in football has scored more fantasy points per game with their legs than the Baltimore QB. And now, in 2022, there’s little reason to expect that to change, especially with the expectation that Baltimore will return to their run heavy approach on offense.
Last season, in which Baltimore turned into more of a balanced offense, Jackson still led all the position in rushing yards on designed rushing attempts. Assuming Baltimore’s offense does look a lot more like it did in 2020 and 2019, Jackson is the odds on favorite to yet again lead the league in rushing at the position. He’s a priority target in Round 5 of best ball drafts.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Underdog ADP: QB6
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB5
Say what you want about Jalen Hurts as a real-life NFL passer of the football, but for fantasy, there aren’t many other QBs who offer a safer floor/ceiling combo than the Philly QB. Hurts has started 19 regular-season games as a pro, and in those 19 starts, he’s finished as a weekly top-12 fantasy QB 13 times, including 10 out of 11 games from Weeks 1-11 last season prior to injuring his ankle in Week 12 against the Giants.
A year ago, Hurts was 2nd to only Lamar Jackson in rushing yards per game and total rushing yards on designed rushing plays. A year ago, he averaged 8.43 rushing fantasy points per game in his 15 starts and if you include his four starts from 2020, that number jumps to 8.83. For context, through his 49 career starts, Lamar Jackson‘s mark in this statistic? 8.6. Like Jackson, Hurts is a priority target for what he can do with his legs, but there’s optimism he can set career bests in passing production this season as well.
Hurts took a step forward as a passer last season improving his adjusted completion percentage from 65.1 as a rookie to 73.7% in 2021, and that was with Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins operating as rotational starters for this offense. Now with elite run after the catch specialist A.J. Brown on the roster and DeVonta Smith in his second year as a pro, Hurts looks primed for success in his third year as a pro.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Underdog ADP: QB9
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB7
If you’re not going to run the football, which spoiler alert – Tom Brady won’t, you have to be either an elite passer of the football from an efficiency standpoint to excel as a fantasy QB, you have to play in an offense with an incredible amount of passing volume. Fortunately, the GOAT checks both boxes, even at the ripe young age of 45 years old. In 2020, the Bucs ranked 3rd in neutral situation pass rate, and in 2021, they led all NFL offenses in neutral pass rate. No doubt about it, we can expect Tampa to let Brady run this offense the way he wants to, which includes throwing at one of, if not the, highest rates in the league in 2022.
It’s wild to even wrap your head around it, but Brady has been playing some of the best football of his career over the last two seasons in Tampa. His 83 passing TDs since joining the Bucs in 2020 ranks 2nd among all passers to only Aaron Rodgers, and no QB in football attempted more deep passes in the NFL than the Plant Man a year ago. TB12 also led all passers in passing attempts from inside the 10-yard line, giving Brady access to plenty of spiked weeks that we’re looking for in best-ball formats.
While Chris Godwin‘s recovery from a late-season ACL injury does add some early-season uncertainty to this offense, the team brought in Russell Gage to help man the slot, and Brady’s connection with Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski in the red zone is among the best in football. Sign us up for Brady’s “Last Dance” in Tampa where he should once again post MVP-type numbers.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
Underdog ADP: QB11
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB11
Let’s not sugar coat it – the Trey Lance experience wasn’t great last year. His ADP got steamed up into the top 10 rounds on the promise of what could be, and Jimmy Garoppolo held onto the starting job all season, making him in hindsight, one of the worst picks in all of fantasy a year ago. But, with the public commitment from the 49ers to move on from Jimmy G, Lance should operate as San Fran’s QB1 right out of the gate this year.
It was a small sample size a year ago, as Lance started just two games all year, but in those starts, we got a glimpse of Lance’s elite ceiling potential. Among all QBs who registered at least one start for their team last year, Lance’s 0.75 fantasy points per dropback was the best of any QB in all of fantasy. Now again, it’s a small sample, so we want to be careful with extrapolating that data across an entire season, but it at least speaks to the spike weeks Lance can inject into our best ball rosters.
Like Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson, we love Lance for his rushing potential. In his two starts, Lance registered 8 and 16 rushing attempts for a combined 120 yards on the ground. Over the last decade, QBs that average 8+ rushing attempts per game have finished on average inside the top 10 at the position. In other words, if we get that type of rushing volume from Lance, he’s essentially being drafted at his floor based on historical data.
With playmakers like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle at his disposal and a creative offensive-minded head coach in Kyle Shanahan, Lance is the ultimate ceiling pick for best ball leagues in 2022, and oftentimes, you can get him as your QB2. Sign us up.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Underdog ADP: QB15
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB15
We know based on historical data that advance rates in best ball tend to drop off if you’re waiting until after Round 10 to draft your QB1 in best ball, so we’re not advocating for Captain Kirk as your first QB off the board, but as a QB2, we love Kirk Cousins stacks this season. Before we even dive into the analysis for 2022, we can start by establishing the fact that Cousins has now banked back-to-back QB11 finishes in fantasy land in 2020 and 2021. Simply put, he’s outperformed his ADP before, and we think he can do it again in 2022 at his QB15 price tag.
Mike Zimmer is no longer in town as the HC for the Vikings, which should lead to a spike in passing volume for the Minnesota offense as a whole. Kevin O’Connell comes over from Los Angeles under Sean McVay where he was the OC in 2020 and 2021. Last season, the Rams were 4th in neutral pace and 7th in neutral pass rate. If O’Connell brings over a similar philosophy on offense, it’s possible we see Cousins have a Matthew Stafford-type season from last year.
With Justin Jefferson on a short list of players who could lead the league in targets and receiving yards this year and Adam Thielen back healthy, Cousins looks like an awesome QB2 for best-ball rosters, and don’t get it twisted – the dude can still post spike weeks. Cousins’ 6.2% TD rate over the last three years is the 5th best in football.