NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

In yesterday's Fantasy Football Today Newsletter, I gave you the 30,000-foot view of the QB position, with my thoughts on the state of the position and some of the biggest questions entering the season. It was a lot of good generalized strategy talk, and if you missed it, you should definitely check it out right here.

But I know, more than anything, you want to be told who to draft and who not to draft, and that's what today's edition is all about. I've got sleepers, breakouts, and bust calls from myself as well as Jamey Eisenberg and Heath Cummings – if you want to know who Dave Richard thinks you should draft and when, his QB tiers and strategies will give you all the help you need. I won't end up with every sleeper or breakout candidate on every one of my teams, and I'll probably have a few of my busts on at least a few of my teams, too – hey, when you draft 25-plus times, it happens. But, if you want to know who we're targeting this season, keep on reading.

Of course, you could just ask us yourself who you should draft. You've got the opportunity to do that right now as part of our Fantasy Football Today Draft-A-Thon. We're raising money all month long for our friends at St. Jude, and you can head to our EBay page here to bid on a pre-draft call with me or a bunch of our friends from around the Fantasy industry. You can even have Adam Aizer announce the first round of your draft!

I'll have more details pm the Draft-A-Thon and other auctions over the course of the next two weeks as we ramp up to the live stream, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to ask your questions right up to the start of the season. 

For now, here are our QB targets as well as the latest injuries, news, and notes you need to know about, including some very noteworthy injury items on Cam Akers, Ken Walker, and more at the bottom of the newsletter. 

QB Sleepers, Breakouts, & Busts

New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 25: Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field on October 25, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. / Getty Images


My pick no. 1:

Jameis Winston – For all the grief Winston has received about turnovers in his career, he's actually been a pretty efficient passer for the most part. He's averaged 7.7 yards per attempt with a 5.0% touchdown rate overall, and he remained quite efficient last season despite having some pretty awful weapons around him. I think the improved weapons this season will lend to a more aggressive offensive approach in New Orleans overall, and that should lead to bigger numbers for Winston, who could very easily wind up a top-12 QB in a best-case scenario.

My pick no. 2:

Marcus Mariota – Did you know Mariota has a top-10 finish in his career? Back in 2016, he finished as QB10 in total scoring in six-point-per-pass-TD scoring, with numbers that don't seem that unattainable: 228 passing yards per game, 23 rushing yards per game, and 28 total touchdowns in 15 games. Mariota is an underrated rusher in an offense that will probably need him to make some plays with his legs, especially near the goal line. He's been a better-than-you-think passer in his career, with his 7.5 career yards per attempt ranking 16th among 45 players with at least 1,000 attempts since he entered the league; his 4.3% touchdown rate ranks a more pedestrian 29th, though even that isn't awful, given his rushing skills. He probably won't matter as much more than a streamer or injury replacement in one-QB leagues, but Mariota could absolutely be a starter in two-QB formats. 

  • Jamey's pick No. 1: Justin Fields – "The Bears didn't do Fields any favors this offseason with only a limited investment in their receiving corps. It's hard to expect guys like Byron Pringle, N'Keal Harry and Velus Jones Jr. to make Fields dramatically better as enhancements to Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and David Montgomery. But Fields is the type of quarterback Fantasy managers should love, especially at his cost (FantasyPros ADP of 121 overall as QB17), because of his running potential. He averaged 56.3 rushing yards per game over his final six healthy outings, and that would put him on pace for 957.7 rushing yards for the season over 17 games. If he can pass for over 4,000 yards -- he averaged 221.2 passing yards per game in that same six-game sample size, a pace of 3,776.8 yards for 17 games -- then we have a potential superstar. I'm excited to see what Fields can do, and he's a No. 2 quarterback to target in all leagues."
  • Jamey's pick No. 2: Trevor Lawrence – "Unlike Fields, the Jaguars made sure to help Lawrence this offseason with new weapons in Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram. Along with Travis Etienne (foot) back healthy -- and swapping out Urban Meyer for Doug Pederson -- there's a lot to like about Lawrence this year. He should start to look like the No. 1 overall pick from 2021, and Fantasy managers should benefit. Lawrence only had three games last year with at least 21 Fantasy points, but hopefully, that becomes the norm with a fresh start. Lawrence isn't going to be a dynamic rushing quarterback, but he did have 73 attempts for 334 yards and two touchdowns last year. And at Clemson, he ran for 766 yards and 17 touchdowns over his final two seasons in 25 games. Like Fields, Lawrence is a good No. 2 quarterback to target at his price (FantasyPros ADP of 132 overall as QB18)."
  • Heath's pick No. 1: Justin Fields – "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."
  • Heath's pick No. 2: Carson Wentz – "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."


My pick No. 1:

Russell Wilson – I want to be clear – I think Jalen Hurts is the best breakout pick among quarterbacks this season. He's a free spot on the BINGO card. They're also Jamey and Heath's picks, and I don't want to repeat them, so I'll throw out a few other options. Wilson is, obviously, one of the most well-established star QBs in the league, but I think there's a pretty good chance he has the best statistical season of his career. Nathaniel Hackett, the new Broncos head coach, was part of the offensive staff that helped re-ignite Aaron Rodgers' MVP form in recent seasons, and I think he could do something similar for Wilson, mostly by just putting him in a position to have more opportunities for points. Expect to see a lot of RPO concepts and a higher pass rate than Wilson has had in recent years, and if Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Albert Okwuegbunam can take the step forward we're all hoping for, this could be an excellent situation for Wilson. 600 pass attempts, 5,000 yards, and 40 touchdowns aren't off the table for Wilson, who could be this year's Matthew Stafford.

My pick No. 2:

Kirk Cousins – Or, maybe Cousins could be this year's Stafford. Like Wilson, he's got terrific weapons in the passing game and a new head coach in Kevin O'Connell (previously of the Rams) who should put him in a position for the best numbers of his career. Cousins has his flaws when plays break down and he has to create for himself, but when things are going well, he's more than solid – he's put up 7.9 yards per attempt and a 6.2% touchdown rate over the past three seasons, elite efficiency numbers. Those impressive round numbers I cited as a possibility for Wilson? They're within Cousins' range of outcomes too. 

  • Jamey's pick: Jalen Hurts – "Hurts has the potential to be the No. 1 overall quarterback this season with his upgraded receiving corps, as well as his rushing prowess. If he can put it all together we could have a season similar to Lamar Jackson in 2019. Those are lofty expectations since Jackson averaged 32.5 Fantasy points per game that season, but Hurts has that type of upside based on what he did at times in 2021, as well as the addition of A.J. Brown. In the first seven games last season, Hurts averaged 34.5 pass attempts per game, and he averaged 26.4 Fantasy points per game over that span. The Eagles then became more reliant on their ground game and Hurts averaged just 23.8 pass attempts and 18.1 Fantasy points per game over his final eight outings. With the Eagles trading for Brown, they should allow Hurts to throw more, including an improved DeVonta Smith in Year 2 and a standout tight end in Dallas Goedert. And if Hurts continues to rush for around 52.3 yards per game -- his average from 2021 -- he could approach 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. Hurts is worth drafting as a top-five quarterback, and he could challenge to be the No. 1 quarterback this year."
  • Heath's pick No. 1: Jalen Hurts - "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."
  • Heath's pick No. 2: Trey Lance – "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 if Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the roster Week 1."


My pick: 

Trey Lance – I'm excited about Lance like everyone else because his skill set should be very appealing from a Fantasy perspective. But we should acknowledge that there's a chance this ends up being a bumpier ride than we think. Sure, he's in an excellent offense, in terms of both the weapons and scheme around him, which should make the degree of difficulty significantly lower than it was for his 2021 rookie peers. However, reports out of camp have been a bit up and down at times, with Lance's accuracy especially leaving a lot to be desired. Lance figures to make up for whatever he might lack as a passer with rushing production, but he's being drafted as a top-12 option without really having proven much, and I could see a scenario where he looks a lot like pre-breakout Josh Allen – some really impressive Fantasy performances, but with the potential for some really ugly weeks, too. I'm fine drafting Lance, and I have him ranked right around his ADP, but someone has gotta mention the risk, right? 

  • Jamey's pick: Joe Burrow – "I love Burrow this season, and he's someone I plan to target in all leagues. But only at the right price, and the ADP for him in July is too high on FantasyPros as the No. 6 quarterback at No. 54 overall. I have him ranked No. 10, and I'm only drafting him in that range with a mid-round pick. The receiving corps in Cincinnati is amazing with Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, and the offensive line upgrades for the Bengals should be great for Burrow. They added La'el Collins (right tackle), Ted Karras (center) and Alex Cappa (right guard), and the guys protecting Burrow should help him connect with his elite weapons. But keep in mind he averaged 23.8 Fantasy points per game last season, which was No. 9, and the top four quarterbacks were all over 25.5 points per game. Could Burrow get to that level? Of course. But you're paying a steep price for him to get there, and I'm not willing to reach for Burrow when there are other quarterbacks with just as much upside at a much lower ADP."
  • Heath's pick No. 1: Joe Burrow – "This is nothing against Burrow; he's a remarkable talent. But he finished last year as QB9 per game and his efficiency stats, particularly his 8.9 yards per attempt, suggest serious regression. I estimate that Burrow needs three more pass attempts per game just to match last year's Fantasy production. He'll need a lot more than that to justify this ADP."
  • Heath's pick No. 2: Aaron Rodgers – "I'm sure Packers fans are getting a kick out of this by now, but yes, I'm calling Rodgers a bust again. I just do not believe a pocket passer can be a top-12 quarterback when his top wide receivers are Allen Lazard, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. Maybe he'll prove me wrong again, but I would much rather bet on Stafford or Cousins."

Injuries, News, and Notes


The Rams backfield has the potential to be one of the most valuable in the league for Fantasy Football, as we've seen from Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson when they've been healthy over the past few seasons. However, Akers and Henderson are both dealing with injuries in training camp, with coach Sean McVay vaguely (ominously?) terming their current issues "soft-tissue stuff" at camp Monday. 

"They're not full-speed," he added, per The Athletic." Until they're full-speed, we're not going to have them practice."

It's worth noting that the Rams famously ask very little of their starters in the preseason, so they'll probably continue to be very cautious with these kinds of situations. Having them available for Week 1 and beyond is the most important thing.

However, it's also worth noting the injury history for each. Akers came back from a ruptured Achilles last season and looked like he was a step slow during the playoffs, while Henderson has been injured about as often as he has been available throughout his NFL career. Henderson dealt with a knee injury that landed him toward the end of last season, and he ultimately missed five games during the regular season, though he did play well as the lead back in Akers' absence before injuries derailed him.

Jake Funk and Kyren Williams have been taking first-team reps in Henderson and Akers' absence, though it might be fair to assume the Rams would be aggressive in finding another option in the event Akers and/or Henderson were expected to miss some time in the regular season – remember, they traded for Sony Michel late last August to fill out their RB depth chart. Funk and Williams are names to watch for the later rounds of drafts, but as of now, assume Akers and Henderson will be back for Week 1. 

One thing that is interesting to note is that, while we've been assuming Akers would be the clear lead option, The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue notes that the two have split first-team reps "pretty evenly" during camp. McVay has also said he views both as starters, though that's probably more coach-speak than anything. Still, it's worth considering the possibility that Akers may not dominate work the way we're hoping to see in Los Angeles, and a training camp injury certainly wouldn't help his chances if it were to linger. 

I'm still treating Akers like the lead back, but he'll need to prove healthy and perform better than he did last postseason when he rushed for just 172 yards on 67 carries (2.6 yards per attempt) with eight catches in four games. Akers has upside, to be sure, but there's also a chance he just isn't a particularly good running back after the injury and isn't worth an every-down role. He's currently RB15 with a 32.5 ADP since Aug. 1 in NFC leagues, and that price is a bit rich for my taste. 

Ken Walker III missed practice Tuesday

Walker is dealing with what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll termed "a little hernia issue." From having done this job for more than a decade now, Carroll is routinely the most optimistic coach in the league when it comes to how he talks about injuries, so my knee-jerk reaction is to assume this is more than just a minor issue for Walker. Rather ominously, Carroll added, "We've just got to make sure that he's OK by the opener is what we're shooting for." Run it through the Carroll sunshine-and-roses translator and that sounds like there's at least a chance Walker won't be ready for the opener. This is definitely something to keep an eye on in the coming days, because if Walker has to miss time into the regular season, Penny's path to 15-plus touches every week is even more clear, and he'll definitely be in the RB2 discussion. 

Zach Wilson should be back in 4-6 weeks

Wilson underwent surgery on his injured right knee, ultimately having his meniscus shaved down, the best-case scenario of the possible outcomes, per reports. That puts Wilson potentially in line to be ready for Week 1, though it's probably safer to assume he'll miss some time as the Jets are likely to take a cautious approach. Joe Flacco will fill in for whatever time Wilson misses, and, in all honesty, he might not even be a downgrade for the Jets playmakers – Wilson actually had the worst touchdown rate and yards per attempt of any of the four Jets QBs who played significant snaps last season. Flacco isn't a world beater, but at the very least, there's no reason to view him as a downgrade for however long Wilson is out. If anything, he might target the likes of Breece Hall and Michael Carter a bit more than Wilson would. 

Michael Thomas will be "ready to go" for Week 1, per coach Dennis Allen

Thomas is still working his way back to full participation, and we don't expect to see him in the preseason, but it's good to hear the coach confirm that the team plans to have him available for Week 1 against the Falcons. We really haven't seen Thomas healthy since 2019, as he suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 of 2020 and missed all of last season as a result of that injury. Of course, the last time we saw him he put up a historic season, setting the single-season record for catches while putting up 149-1,725-9. If he has any semblance of that upside left after the injuries, he's going to be one of the steals in drafts, but I'll admit I have a hard time pulling the trigger on his current 61.5 ADP in NFC drafts since Aug. 1. He's one of the biggest boom-or-bust players in the league right now. 

Melvin Gordon was back to a full participant in practice Monday

Don't go firing off that Javonte Williams ADP rocket just yet. It's possible Gordon's injury re-occurs and lingers to the point where it makes sense to adjust Williams' value, but at this point, we have every reason to believe Gordon is going to be just fine for the start of the season. And, while it's possible Gordon's role is decreased in favor of Williams, reports out of training camp don't exactly suggest that has been the case so far. Williams has significant upside in what should be a very good offense, but he's more like a high-end RB2 as long as Gordon is healthy. Gordon is more like a flex option, though ideally, you'd have him on your bench just in case something happens with Williams that causes Gordon to step into a significant role – he has similar upside to Williams as a lead back. 

  • Chris Godwin continues to see more activity in practice – Godwin was spotted working in 7-on-7 situations Monday and Tuesday after being limited to individual drills prior to that. He's still a ways away from being cleared for contact and everything that entails as he continues to work his way back from a torn ACL, which means he's still in question for Week 1, but any forward momentum is a good sign. He remains worth targeting around the fifth or sixth round, but you'll probably have to be patient early on as he works his way back to full speed. 
  • Miles Sanders is dealing with a hamstring injury – It's not clear when Sanders suffered the injury, as he played in the team's preseason opener Friday, but this isn't a great sign given Sanders' injury history. Hamstring injuries can be tricky, especially at this time of year, so don't be surprised if he sits out this weekend's preseason game against the Browns, but hopefully, it won't impact his availability for Week 1. Sanders still looks like the Eagles RB1, but his grip on the job may not be a firm one, so hopefully, this isn't a serious issue. 
  • Kenny Pickett was upgraded to the second team in practice – And he even took some first-team reps during Tuesday's practice. Mitchell Trubisky has taken nearly all of the first-team reps going back to offseason programs, so this could be a sign that Pickett is pushing. Pickett was impressive in the preseason opener, as The Athletic's Ted Nguyen noted in his film breakdown column Tuesday. This has looked like a competition in name only for most of camp, but this may be a sign that Pickett is starting to push for an opportunity. Ideally, one of these quarterbacks will actively win the job, rather than just taking it by default, because the Steelers weapons remain quite impressive. 
  • Rachaad White is returning kickoffs for the Buccaneers – This doesn't directly matter for Fantasy unless you play in leagues that reward return yards. However, it's actually a pretty good sign for White's chances of being active on game days – which obviously increases his chances of having a role from Week 1. He's a little down on the depth chart right now, but it wouldn't be a surprise at all if White pushed Giovani Bernard to be the backup, and White's pass-catching skills could make him a very valuable Fantasy option if he's playing regularly. He's worth a late-round flier in Fantasy. 
  • Kenyan Drake's spot on the Raiders may be in doubt – The fact that Ameer Abdullah was inactive along with Josh Jacobs in the second preseason indicates his job as the primary pass-catching back may be safe. That left Drake competing with rookie Zamir White to be the No. 3 back and Jacobs' direct backup. White remains one of my favorite deep sleepers. 
  • Zack Moss "has only strengthened his case to be a game-day active" – This could all just be camp talk, but the buzz around Moss has been consistent from Day One, and he's been getting first-team reps. If Moss plays even a small role on game days, that would make it very hard for either Devin Singletary or James Cook to be Fantasy viable, because this hasn't been a particularly good offense for RB production – in fact, over the three years Josh Allen has been the starter, it has been the worst in the NFL. A three-way split would render all three unusable.