There are very few quarterbacks who have more theoretical upside than Trey Lance. And now that Jimmy Garoppolo has and agreed to stay in San Francisco, there aren't any top-12 options with more downside either. How you feel about that combination of upside and downside can alter how you view the quarterback position entirely.
The upside in Lance is shown in what Jalen Hurts did last year, or what Lance did in two and a half games, himself. Lance had 31 rush attempts in 10 quarters of football in 2021. That would put him on pace for 210 over a full season, which would have been 70 more than Hurts had last year. There were only four quarterbacks who had more than 75 rush attempts last year and they all averaged at least 22.3 Fantasy points per game. In 2020, Cam Newton was the only quarterback with more than 75 attempts to average below 25 Fantasy points per game.
Lance also joins an offense with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk. It's a pass offense that was one of the most efficient in football last year and which thrives on yards after the catch, which should in theory make Lance's job even easier. So what's the downside?
The downside is that the guy who managed that efficient offense just restructured his contract and will be staying in San Francisco. To be clear, I believe the 49ers want to hand the reins to Lance and never look back. I don't believe Garoppolo is an actual threat to Lance if Lance plays close to his potential. But we are talking about a quarterback who has only thrown 101 passes in real games since the 2019 season. And we're talking about a 49ers roster that is built to win now. If Lance struggles as a passer and the 49ers lose more than we expect early, there's certainly more risk to Lance with Garoppolo on the bench than there is if Garoppolo had been cut or traded.
Lance currently has an ADP around pick 100, just ahead of Kirk Cousins. That's a little too expensive for me, but I'm fine with it as long as you pair Lance with someone like Cousins or Derek Carr. Lance's upside is far more important than his downside, but we shouldn't draft like the downside doesn't exist.
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Quarterback draft strategy
In past years this has been a shorter section. Simply wait, and then wait some more. But it's become difficult to stream your way to a championship simply because of how good the elite have been. So I'm changing my strategy a bit as well.
I would be happy to draft any of Allen, Herbert, Mahomes, or Jackson in Round 4. To some of you, it still sounds like I'm waiting because that's impossible in your league. I get it. If you miss out on the big four, I'd look for Jalen Hurts in Round 6 or Tom Brady in Round 7. Miss them as well? Now we're back to waiting, and you'll need two of them to get the upside and floor you need.
Forgetting rounds for a moment, if I miss on the top eight or nine quarterbacks, I want one of Lance or Justin Fields, and Fields is usually quite a bit cheaper. I also want one of Kirk Cousins or Matthew Stafford. If I miss both, I'll have to settle for Derek Carr or Jameis Winston at their dirt-cheap cost.
Now let's take a look at the breakouts, sleepers and busts. As a reminder, sleepers and busts are heavily influenced by ADP, and for this version, we're using CBS ADP:
Jalen Hurts QB
PHI Philadelphia • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Outside of the quarterbacks in Tier 1, no one has more upside this year than Jalen Hurts. He's one of the best running quarterbacks in football and his team traded for A.J. Brown in the offseason. We saw what a difference a true No. 1 receiver made for Josh Allen and Kyler Murray, and a similar leap from Hurts isn't off the table.
Trey Lance QB
SF San Francisco • #5
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Kyle Shanahan has made Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens efficient passers of the football. If he can do the same for Lance, then Lance could be a top-five quarterback as early as this season. But Lance doesn't have near the floor Hurts does, and that's even more true with Garoppolo remaining on the roster.
CHI Chicago • #1
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
The only thing separating Lance and Fields for me is the fact that Lance gets to play with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. In fact, I think we have more evidence to suggest that Fields is an accurate passer. But those weapons do matter, and Shanahan is far more proven than Luke Getsy, Fields' new offensive coordinator. The nice thing is that Fields is being drafted three rounds later than Lance, so that is all priced in.
Carson Wentz QB
WAS Washington • #11
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Wentz was a high-end QB2 for the Colts last year and may throw 100 more passes for Washington in 2022. He may also have the best receiving corps he's ever played with in Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson. I don't imagine that will be enough to convince you to draft Wentz in a one-quarterback league (his early schedule might though) but he's my favorite sleeper in two-QB leagues. Wentz isn't even being drafted in enough CBS leagues to have an ADP.
Josh Allen QB
BUF Buffalo • #17
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
This is nothing against Josh Allen, he's still my QB1, but it's a four-man tier in Tier 1, with little separating Allen, Herbert, Mahomes, and Jackson. Even with QBs being elevated in ADP, Jackson is still available in Round 3 which is a much better deal than Allen in Round 1. How could things actually go wrong for Allen? Sean McDermott could insist they run the ball more, with their running backs, and Allen's passing efficiency could remain where it's been three of his four years in the league, below average.
GB Green Bay • #12
Age: 38 • Experience: 18 yrs.
I'm sure it sounds hilarious once again listing the reigning MVP as a bust. I just don't buy that Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkings, Romeo Doubs, or Christian Watson will be able to replace Davante Adams. I expect the Packers to lean more on their running backs and great defense, which isn't a recipe for Fantasy success for Rodgers. He'll still likely be efficient and they'll still likely win a bunch of games, but I wouldn't draft Rodgers as a top-12 quarterback.
Numbers to know
- 6.3 -- Yards per carry for Josh Allen last year. That's almost 2 full yards higher than his 2019 and 2020 production.
- 51 -- Joe Burrow was sacked 51 times last season. The Bengals went to great lengths to make sure that doesn't happen again.
- 1 -- Dak Prescott only scored one rushing touchdown last year. He averaged six per 17 games in the first five years of his career. Expect him to score more this year.
- 494 -- Pass attempts for the Eagles last year, the lowest in the league. Expect Jalen Hurts to soar past that number in 2022 now that they've added A.J. Brown.
- 27.3 -- Patrick Mahomes leads all quarterbacks in Fantasy points per game over the past three seasons. Notably, that does not include his best season in 2018.
- 51.6 -- Justin Fields averaged 51.6 rushing yards per game in his final seven starts. He could be Fantasy relevant even without a big leap as a passer.
- 304 -- Lamar Jackson averaged 304 yards from scrimmage per game in 2021. That was a career-high.
- 50% -- Tua Tagovailoa led the NFL with a 50% completion percentage on throws of more than 20 yards last year. That could pair very well with Tyreek Hill.
- 43 -- No one had more passes dropped in 2021 than Trevor Lawrence. Christian Kirk should help that. Evan Engram may not.
Draft to stream
With Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry, Winston has one of the best collections of weapons in the league and faces a porous Falcons defense in Week 1 followed by a revenge game against his former team in Week 2. There's like a 30% chance that Winston produces like a starting Fantasy QB all year.
I'm a little concerned about the pass volume in Indianapolis, but Frank Reich is doing his best to assuage those feelings. Regardless, Ryan shouldn't need more than 30 passes against the Texans and Jaguars to put up top-12 numbers,
As I wrote in the sleeper section, I believe Wentz is underrated and may have the best receiving corps of his career. More importantly, he faces a pair of bad defenses the first two weeks of the season that shouldn't put much pressure on him at all.
Better in leagues that reward four points per pass TD: Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields, Trey Lance