The Super Bowl is officially behind us, which means it is now the offseason in both the football and fantasy football worlds … just kidding. Football never sleeps. It has become a year-round sport and in recent years, so has fantasy football. I know many of you are already starting to think about 2022 fantasy football and prepping early can't hurt your chances of winning a fantasy title.
Each week I will reveal my early top-12 players at each of the four key fantasy positions, starting this week with the QBs.
Early Top 12 QBs Heading Into 2022
1) Josh Allen is easily the QB1 heading into 2022 fantasy football. Allen finished as the QB1 in fantasy PPG and total points and neither was particularly close. He averaged 23.68 fantasy PPG, which was over a full point more than any other QB. His 402.58 total points was over 20 more than any other QB and there were only three QBs within 65 fantasy points of him. He was the first QB to finish as the QB1 in fantasy in consecutive seasons since Daunte Culpepper did so in 2003 and 2004. Allen is the ultimate combination of the dual threat QBs – he is a better passer than QBs who can match his rushing numbers, and a better runner than the QBs that can match his passing numbers. It's tough to finish as the QB1 in three consecutive seasons, but it's not like you have to pick Allen versus the field. Allen has the best odds of finishing as the QB1 and is the safest bet at finishing inside the top three or five at the position. Do not get too cute and go in another direction.
2) Justin Herbert finished as the QB2 in fantasy PPG and total fantasy points. His resume through two years in the NFL is so impressive. Through the first two years of a career, no quarterback has thrown for more yards or scored more fantasy points than Herbert. He has been a top-10 fantasy QB in each of those seasons. In 2021, he threw for over 5,000 yards and his 38 passing TDs was the third-most in the NFL and the most in Chargers history. Plus, his 5.7 TD percent has room to grow. For fantasy, he finished as a top-12 QB in 12 games, the most of all QBs. The Chargers ran a pass heavy offense, throwing the fourth-most in the NFL, meaning we can expect large volume from Herbert once again. Additionally, he began running more as the season went on, which only adds to his fantasy value. He is Allen's biggest competition to overtake the seat as top scoring fantasy QB.
3) Patrick Mahomes finished as the top scoring fantasy QB in his first year as a starter, but has not finished higher than fourth since – so why is he ranked third? Because he remains such a safe bet to finish inside the top four and we all know he possesses the upside to outscore everyone else at the position. He has finished inside the top two in fantasy PPG twice and has never finished worse than sixth. He is one of just three QBs to average over 20 fantasy PPG in four straight seasons – showing just how consistent he has been. He has topped 4,000 passing yards in each of those seasons and his 151 passing TDs in that span leads the NFL. Plus, he showed us he can run when he needs. His 381 rushing yards this past season were a career high. Plus, he will have the same play-caller with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce still catching passes from him. The saying is, "If it ain't broke don't fix it." Well, it certainly hasn't been broke when it comes to drafting Mahomes, so why change anything?
4) Kyler Murray finished as the QB10 in total points, but that was only because he missed time due to injury. He was the QB4 in fantasy PPG at 21.5 – it was his second straight season finishing inside the top five. Murray made strides as a passer, throwing for 270.5 yards per game – by far the most of his career. His 1.7 passing TDs per game were also a career high. Murray ran for just 30.2 yards per game, the lowest of his career, but he still has over 400 rushing yards in all three of his NFL seasons and has 16 rushing TDs in the past two years combined. He has yet to hit the ceiling many envisioned when he entered the league, but he has consistently put up top-five seasons, meaning he brings a very safe floor. And there is still some untapped upside there – easily enough to warrant taking him as the fourth QB off the board.
5) Joe Burrow finished as the overall QB8 and QB10 in fantasy PPG in his first season back from a torn ACL. He was third in the NFL with 288.2 passing yards per game and threw 34 touchdowns. He also showed off his downfield prowess – throwing 18 touchdown passes of 20-plus yards – the most by any QB since 2015. He also led the NFL in yards per attempt (8.9) and completion percentage (70.4). He also showed us he can run a bit late in the season and the playoffs. He will never give you great rushing numbers, but he can be more mobile like he was in the playoffs, because early on he was still recovering from the knee surgery. Burrow has great playmakers around him and will be valued by many as a top-five fantasy QB. There is a tier break at the position after the first four, but Burrow has the upside to enter that tier. Due to the upside he possesses, he is worthy of taking fifth at the position.
6) Lamar Jackson was the QB16 in 2021 because of missed time, but he was the QB9 in fantasy PPG averaging exactly 20 per game – his third straight year averaging at least that number. He once again averaged over 60 rushing yards per game -- his third straight year of doing so. But he only rushed for two touchdowns, while he had at least seven in the two prior seasons. That is a spot where he could improve in 2022 to get back inside the top five. Additionally, he made positive strides as a passer. He averaged a career-high 240.2 passing yards per game. He has good pieces around him in the passing game and should be getting his running backs back healthy this year. The Ravens were very banged up in 2021. A healthy cast should have Jackson returning to form, which is enough to consider taking him as early as fifth among the position.
7) Aaron Rodgers was the QB5 in total points and QB6 in PPG in 2021. Rodgers has been a great fantasy option for a very long time now, but the reason he is just outside the top five is because he is a bit TD reliant. He has thrown for fewer than 280 passing yards per game in eight straight seasons and only ran for 101 yards last season. He continues to produce at a high fantasy level because he threw 48 and 37 touchdowns the past two seasons, respectively. He is very capable of throwing a bunch of touchdowns again, which is why he is ranked highly, but he has posted the highest and third-highest TD percent of his career those seasons. If we were to see that number decrease a bit, his fantasy value takes a hit. Where Rodgers is playing next season will also greatly impact his fantasy ranking.
8) Trey Lance at eight may seem wild to some, but his upside is sky high. Some will note that he has not started much and has some deficiencies as a passer. It will be all the same things that were said about Jalen Hurts last year – who proved to be a great fantasy asset because of what he can do with his legs. Lance has similar rushing potential, but he is attached to an even better offense with great playmakers like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Elijah Mitchell. The Niners passing attack is also one that is built on getting the ball quickly to the playmakers and allowing them to run after the catch. Every year Jimmy Garoppolo would rank toward the top of the league in passing yards picked up after the catch. Lance should not be asked to do too much as a thrower. But he also has a stronger arm than Garoppolo, so we could see more deep shots. The upside makes him worth taking a shot on here.
9) Dak Prescott finished as the QB7 in total points and the QB8 in fantasy PPG. He did so while throwing a career-high 37 touchdown passes. He also topped 25 fantasy points seven times, the second-most among any QB, showing that he brings high weekly upside. He is surrounded with great playmakers, which should only help him continue to rack up numbers in the passing game. On the ground is where he can improve though. Last year, his 9.1 rushing yards per game were a career low and he only ran for one touchdown after running for 24 in his first five seasons. It's no surprise after he suffered a sever leg injury the season before. If Prescott was once again to start running more, he has the upside to finish as a top-five fantasy QB.
10) Jalen Hurts finished as the QB9 overall and the QB7 in fantasy PPG. He did so because he led all QBs in rushing yards (784) and touchdowns (10). The joke around Hurts last season was all he does is score 20 fantasy points because he did it so many times. He did so while only averaged 210 passing yards per game, but he was able to overcome it due to his rushing abilities. The Eagles have a lot of resources and should look to add some playmakers around Hurts. The passing could get better, but the rushing alone is enough to keep him inside the top 10.
11) Matthew Stafford finished as the QB6 overall, but was the QB11 in fantasy PPG. He did so while throwing for 41 touchdowns, tying his career high. That came on a career high 6.8% TD rate. That number could be sustainable as the Rams are a better offense than the Lions, but Stafford does not give any value with his legs, so he needs it to remain high in order to finish ahead of the QBs who add points with their legs. Stafford can be considered after the secondary tier of Burrow, Jackson and Rodgers, but the lack of running leads me to put him 11th.
12) Russell Wilson is coming off arguably his worst season as a pro. He missed time due to injury for the first time in his career, which forced him to finish 15th overall at the QB position. He also finished 13th in fantasy PPG, his worst finish since 2016. Wilson only topped 300 passing yards once, which is surprising since he led the NFL in air yards per attempt (9.9). He had been a top-10 fantasy QB in the previous eight seasons, though. But there were positives for Wilson this year, as well. He had a TD rate of 6.3%, his fifth straight season over six percent. He is a reliable source of passing touchdowns, which keeps him inside the top 12, but the biggest concern is not the worst fantasy PPG or career low in passing yards. It's the fact that he was running less than ever. His 3.1 rush attempts per game and 13.1 rushing yards per game were career lows. He can easily salvage his fantasy value if he runs again, but if not, seeing him reach his old heights would be tough.
If Deshaun Watson plays in 2022, he would rank inside the top 12 – at eighth in this current list.
Just Missed: Justin Fields