Three Excellent Late Round QB Targets for 2022 (Fantasy Football)
The Late Round Quarterback strategy used to be one of the biggest advantages you could produce for yourself in a less experienced fantasy draft room. Unfortunately for some of us, the average fantasy manager has become much sharper, and the ADP positioning of high-upside quarterbacks has crept higher and higher. In order to spot a true sleeper, you need to go out on a bit of a limb and hope things break the right way. Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, Carson Wentz, and Joe Burrow all outperformed their ADP in 2021, and they did it in slightly different ways. There isn’t a perfect mold for a late-round quarterback target, but there are a few things we can look for.
The first obvious trait is talent, which is usually accompanied by draft position. A player who was taken with a high pick often has a longer leash and should possess the type of talent you need for a fantasy star. The second popular trait amongst surprise breakout quarterbacks is rushing upside. Simply put: running quarterbacks score fantasy points. The third trait that is a bit more overlooked is a change in situation. The NFL moves very quickly, which often means that last year’s trash can potentially be treasured, or taken out and tossed into a dumpster. Change can be a great thing for fantasy quarterbacks if they still have their jobs in Week 1, especially if that change involves a coaching staff that was limiting the passing game in some way.
All of the traits I discussed will hopefully build the limb that I plan to go out on in order to identify three potential late-round targets.
ADP: QB15 (Pick 117)
Another year, another discussion about whether or not Kirk Cousins is good. The simple answer is: yes, he is good. The more complex answer lies in his primetime games, of course. If you don’t know what I mean, just Google search “primetime Cousins” and you will see all the wonderfully bizarre stats about his performances in the spotlight. Despite finishing as a top 12 fantasy quarterback in back-to-back seasons, there never seems to be any desire to draft him once the new year comes around. He’s throwing passes to Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Irv Smith, and handing the ball off to Dalvin Cook. The Vikings offense is good, and their inability to ever hold a lead is actually a big boost for the fantasy potential of the passing game.
The prime reason I’m finally boarding the Viking Enterprise piloted by Captain Kirk in 2022 is the projected boost to their passing game volume. According to the guys over at Establish The Run, the Vikings ranked 22nd overall in Passing Rate Over Expectation, which measures the frequency of passing plays against the expected rate for their offense going into the year. This means that Minnesota threw the ball a lot less than they were expected to, yet somehow Cousins still produced a QB1 fantasy season.
Why is this information useful? For two reasons. The first is fairly straightforward, and that’s regression. The Vikings are very likely to regress back towards the expectation and simply throw the ball more, based on probability. The second reason is the hiring of Kevin O’Connell, who just finished his stint as the Offensive Coordinator for the Super Bowl Champion LA Rams. O’Connell absolutely loves to lean on the passing game and utilize play action. Cousins isn’t Matthew Stafford of course, but his overall skill set is similar, and he’s more accurate than people give him credit for. I’m willing to all but guarantee that the Vikings throw the ball significantly more than they did in 2021, and Cousins’ career history suggests that there is only upward movement available from his QB11 finish last year. It probably will be boring, but a top ten season for Cousins is incredibly likely. His ADP basically demands that you draft him if you decide to wait for the biggest names to fall off of the board.
ADP: QB16 (Pick 124.6)
Nothing about the Chicago Bears offense seems exciting on paper, but any time you have a quarterback with elite talent paired with a new coaching staff and a full rookie season under his belt, it’s still important to take notice (reference: Justin Herbert). Oh, and they’re both named Justin, so like, analytics! Did I do that right?
The truth is that Fields was not a particularly impressive rookie quarterback, but he was also in a situation that was essentially hopeless, and a lot has changed from one year to the next. He’s always been an accurate passer, but more importantly – an exceptional athlete and playmaker. The Bears coaching staff seemed to ignore everything that made Justin Fields a top-ten pick last offseason and instead chose to limit his mobility and keep him in the pocket as much as possible behind a poor offensive line. There’s no guarantee that the new staff unleashes him fully, but the upside he possesses on the ground is nearly unmatched outside of Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. An argument could be made that Fields is a better pure thrower of the football than both of those guys, and the offensive weapons around him are adequate enough to help him shine. Taking Fields with a late pick is a pure upside move since his draft capital is minimal. His situation mirrors Lamar Jackson’s before he broke out in a number of ways, we just have to hope the new coaching staff is competent enough to let him cook.
ADP: QB17 (Pick 131)
Obviously, there is a theme here with underperforming quarterbacks in new situations, but that’s because a lot of breakout quarterbacks come from this same type of mold. Tua was more impressive than people give him credit for, but he also was a shell of what his talent projects that he could be. The word mediocre is the perfect way to describe his 2021 season, and an offseason full of speculation about Deshaun Watson and tanking didn’t help things for him. Thankfully the Dolphins avoided the Watson situation, and completely revamped just about everything about their offense. They shocked the football world when they traded for the all-world speedster Tyreek Hill, and they signed a truly elite tackle in Terron Armstead that should help keep Tua upright. In addition to the big-time upgrades at two crucial positions, they also brought in a new head coach who landed the job primarily because of his offensive expertise.
Tua is now in command of an offense that consists of Tyreek Hill, a second-year stud in Jaylen Waddle, an underrated Cedrick Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and roughly seventeen running backs who all have experience in pass protection and route running. Everything is set up for Tua to smash his ADP, and his current draft price reflects someone the industry is already bored of. I’m old enough to remember when he torched Georgia’s secondary on live television to win the national championship, and I’m willing to bet on a bounce-back year that could lead to season-long fantasy production similar to 1 pm Network Cable Kirk Cousins, or peak Matt Ryan in the Falcons dome.
Yes, those are both compliments.