Best Ball Rankings: QBs to Take a Stance On in 2023 (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 relative to the current ADP landscape. 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 Best Ball content found only in the DFS Pass. The subsequent articles that follow will be exclusive to subscribers only.
Underdog ADP: QB7
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB6
UDK Ranking: QB6
Justin Herbert‘s 2022 season was frustrating for fantasy players for a multitude of reasons. Keenan Allen injured his hamstring in Week 1 then went on to miss basically half the season, Mike Williams was banged up, the offensive line dealt with cluster injuries and Herbert himself dealt with a rib injury that caused his production to take a hit for about a month of the season. For Keenan and Big Mike specifically, only 23% of Herbert’s drop backs came with both his WR1 and WR2 on the field at the same time last year. When he had his guys healthy, his 77% completion rate would have led the NFL.
Herbert’s also a screaming positive regression candidate in the TD department after his TD rate plummeted from 5.7% in 2021 to 3.6% in 2022 despite attempting a whopping 699 passes a year ago, second-most in the league. Assuming that TD number returns to league average or better as it’s been in every pro season for Herbert, Big Herbs and his stacking partners look primed to out-perform their ADP.
From a personnel standpoint, the team went out and brought in two key pieces – offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and first round WR talent, Quentin Johnston. Collectively, these two transactions should mean more down field passing for Herbert, which means more upside and spike weeks.
Dak Prescott’s aDOT by year w/ Kellen Moore
Justin Herbert’s aDOT by year w/ Joe Lombardi
Herbie ready for lift off 🚀🚀
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) May 30, 2023
When Herbert has thrown deep in his career, he’s been nothing short of elite. Per Warren Sharp, when throwing 30+ yards downfield over the last two years, Herbert ranks #1 in accuracy, #2 in EPA per attempt and #3 in both completion rate and TD rate.
One final note on Herbert and the incoming positive regression – 14 QBs logged 50+ rush attempts in 2022. Justin Herbert is the only one who didn’t score a TD with his legs, and 12 of those 14 quarterbacks ran for 3+ scores.
Relative to last season when Herbert was coming off the board as the QB2, there’s never been a better time to be in on the Chargers QB in 2023 with his ADP discount.
Underdog ADP: QB14
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB13
UDK Ranking: QB12
There isn’t a large positional ranking discrepancy between QB13 and QB14, but in terms of overall ADP, Jones is our consensus 99th overall player while he comes off the board at pick 114. Jones took advantage of the Giants’ cake walk 4th place schedule and an obvious upgrade in scheme and coaching in 2022, posting a career high 18.1 fantasy points per game. It turns out when you upgrade from Joe Judge to Brian Daboll good things happen!
Daboll played to Jones’ strengths, unlocking Danny Dimes’ rushing ability, with the former Duke product posting a career best 708 rushing yards on 120 rush attempts. The only QBs to run for more yards in 2022? Justin Fields (1,143), Lamar Jackson (764), Josh Allen (762) and Jalen Hurts (760). In fact, Jones scored the fifth-most rushing points per game (7.4) among QBs a season ago. It’s well documented how valuable rushing ability is for QBs in fantasy land, and you don’t have to spend a top 50 pick on Jones to get a QB with a rushing ceiling.
As for the weapons, it remains to be seen what Darren Waller has left in the tank, but New York did put some resources into upgrading the pass catching core heading into 2023. While the individual pieces may not be much to write home about, the collective upgrade should mean better things for Jones in 2023, specifically his passing TD total. Jones only threw 15 TD passes a year ago, logging a 3.2% TD rate despite a career high in pass attempts. In addition, the moves to upgrade the passing game could signal a more aggressive offensive philosophy in 2023. Over the final eight weeks of the season, New York ranked 15th in pass rate over expectation while they were 29th in PROE in Weeks 1-10. Not surprisingly, Jones posted five of his seven top-12 fantasy weeks in that final stretch of games when the offense was more aggressive.
All in all, Jones looks primed to post back-to-back QB1 fantasy seasons for the first time in his career, and we don’t have to pay a QB1 price to get him on our rosters as our QB2 in best ball.
Underdog ADP: QB15
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB14
UDK Ranking: QB9
Remember when we all made fun of the Seahawks for trading away Russ and rolling with Geno? Man, how times have changed. Smith was awesome in 2022, leading the NFL in completion rate while finishing as the QB5 in fantasy. It’s probably unrealistic to expect Geno to hit that type of outcome again in 2023 relative to his pre-season expectation, but even if you factor in a little bit of regression for the 2022 Comeback Player of the Year, he still seems like a good bet to beat his current QB15 ADP.
For years, we begged Pete Carroll and his white Nike Air Monarchs to let Russ cook. Ironically, the moment Russ was out the door, Pete did indeed #LetGenoCook. The Seahawks ranked 7th in neutral pass rate a year ago after ranking 21st in the same metric in 2021. They were also a top-10 team in PROE, and the addition of first round WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba tells us that’s likely to continue in 2023. It could also potentially signal more 3WR sets assuming Geno’s big three of Metcalf, Lockett and JSN can stay healthy.
All three of Geno’s primary pass catchers go in the first six rounds, making him a relatively easy target as your QB2 in best ball after pick 100 as a back door stacking partner.
Underdog ADP: QB22
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB24
UDK Ranking: QB21
The idea of grabbing Murray late in your draft as your second best ball QB sounds fun. It sounds exciting, but the thing is, he’s not exactly free. Murray is currently coming off the board 168th overall at the Round 13/14 turn. Sure, it’s not that expensive, so I understand some people wanting to take the shot, but it’s still an important pick and one that seems unlikely to be a massive hit.
The obvious concern for Murray is his recovery from a torn ACL, which took place in December. Because of that late season injury, Kyler didn’t actually undergo surgery until January, so he’s got an uphill battle to not only be ready for Week 1, but to be 100% early in the year. If Kyler can’t get back to his elite rushing upside (and there’s data to say he probably won’t), it’s tough to see him being the difference maker you need at a onesie position.
In my research, going back to 2012, every QB except one who tore their ACL saw a decline in their rushing efficiency (yards per carry) in their first season after the injury. Throw in the fact that Kyler’s surgery didn’t take place until January, and it’s unlikely we see that rushing efficiency return until late in the year or worse, in 2024.
Beyond the injury, the Cardinals currently have a bottom-10 WR room after the departure of DeAndre Hopkins, an offensive line that projects to be middle of the road at best and a new coaching staff with an offensive coordinator who’s never called plays. Sure, Kliff’s scheme was frustrating, be he at least pushed the pace while Drew Petzing, the new OC, was on Cleveland’s staff from 2020 to 2022 when they ranked in the bottom third of the league in neutral pace in three straight years.
If you’re wondering what the betting market thinks of this Arizona team, they’re currently the odds on favorite to be the NFL’s lowest scoring team and have the fewest wins. With two projected top-10 (top five?) NFL Draft picks in 2024, this team is incentivized to tank, adding a ton of systemic risk to the Cardinals as a whole, including Kyler Murray.
Underdog ADP: QB16
Consensus Best Ball Ranking: QB16
UDK Ranking: QB15
We’re sort of right in line with market on Rodgers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be the key to winning best ball leagues in 2023. Rodgers is going in the tier of QBs from picks 100 to 120 that includes Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Daniel Jones, and Geno Smith. As I mentioned above, I’m in on Geno and Dimes and I’d certainly take Cousins and Dak over Rodgers as well. At this spot in the draft, I’m generally fading Rodgers as a QB2 and either taking another signal caller or grabbing a WR or RB.
Rodgers was excellent in 2020 and 2021 when he won the MVP in back-to-back years, but 2022 wasn’t pretty. Are we just going to ignore potential warning signs that the 39 year old isn’t necessarily a great fantasy option any more? Rodgers’ season long numbers look okay on the surface, but he didn’t show any ceiling whatsoever a year ago, failing to post 20+ fantasy points in any game in 2022. And as we know, he’ll provide a zero in the rushing department.
Rodgers also posted his lowest yards per attempt (6.8) since 2015 and his lowest TD total (26) since 2017. He also threw 12 INTs, his highest mark in that category since 2010. Now entering his age 40 season, Rodgers is changing teams for the first time in his career and goes to a Jets team that projects to have one of the league’s best defenses. Because of that’s, it’s possible the Jets offense isn’t forced to rip off a ton of plays, and if history tells us anything, it’s very possible (maybe even likely?) that the Jets will rank among the slowest offenses in the NFL this year. Since 2018, no offense has been slower in neutral situations than Green Bay with Rodgers.
Let’s also not ignore the fact that Nathaniel Hackett absolutely fell on his face a year ago in Denver. He’s in charge of this offense, and sure, Rodgers and Hackett had some incredible years together in Green Bay, but Matt Lafleur was calling the plays, not Hackett, who was basically just along for the ride. At his QB16 ADP, there isn’t much room to out-perform his ADP by a wide margin, making him a low upside selection in Round 10.