Four sleeper QBs to target in 2022
By: Calvin K (Twitter: @calvin_sgf)
The late-round quarterback approach has become progressively more popular in fantasy leagues in recent years, and nowadays, it’s widely accepted as the best way to play in redraft single-QB leagues. Because of this, there is always massive speculation surrounding who could be the next “late-round breakout.”
Oftentimes, quarterbacks with rushing ability are the ones exceeding expectations due to the heavy emphasis that fantasy scoring places on rushing yards and touchdowns. All four of the quarterbacks in this article have at least some rushing ability, a fact that gives them massive fantasy upside. All four also come with risk, but at their current draft prices, they’re well worth a draft pick. Here are four late-round QBs to target next year in redraft.
1. Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers)
Lance is perhaps the most obvious breakout candidate at the position for next year, so his draft position should rise from its current QB12 spot on FantasyPros. However, it’s likely not to move too far past back-end-QB1 range, making him likely available in the mid-to-late rounds of fantasy drafts.
Lance’s dual-threat play style and massive raw talent eerily resembles many recent breakout QBs, and guys like Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and others have been great late-round picks in recent years, led primarily by their rushing abilities. Lance is also great on the ground, and he has a solid arm as well, so he has the potential to be a star in the NFL. Lance’s supporting cast is also good, with a solid young RB in Elijah Mitchell as well as jack-of-all-trades WR Deebo Samuel and athletic TE George Kittle running routes for San Francisco. The main concern for him is the fact that he’s been mostly untested in NFL action so far. However, if his draft position stays near where it is, that’s risk that fantasy managers certainly should be willing to accept given his upside.
2. Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Lawrence was relatively disappointing in his rookie year, throwing 17 interceptions with a sub-60% completion percentage. However, it’s safe to assume that Urban Meyer’s incompetence as HC was a major limiting factor in Lawrence’s development. The Jaguars have hired Doug Pederson as their new head coach, and it’s fair to question Pederson’s coaching abilities, but what’s undeniable is Pederson’s experience and credibility, and it’s not often that a Super-Bowl-winning head coach is available for hire. However Pederson does, one thing is certain: he’s an obvious upgrade over Meyer.
Lawrence was the obvious #1 pick in the 2021 draft, and like Lance, he does have rushing upside (although not to the same degree). However, Lawrence is definitely more polished as a passer, and he’s a more consistent all-around prospect than Lance. That’s not saying that Lance will certainly be worse than Trevor, and in fact, I’d say it’s extremely likely that he’s better in fantasy due to the major rushing bonuses he should accumulate. Lawrence, however, should provide a safe passing floor, and with weapons such as Marvin Jones, D.J. Chark, and Laviska Shenault, he has potential to put up solid numbers next year. He also ran for 334 yards last year, a very solid boost to his fantasy value. Overall, my take on Lawrence is that he was the #1 pick for a reason, and now that the Meyer dumpster fire is behind the Jaguars, he should see marked improvement in year two.
3. Malik Willis (ROOKIE, Liberty University)
Yes, Willis is an extremely raw prospect from a small school. This article is NOT meant to say that he’s any sort of guarantee to break out, especially in year one. However, it can’t be denied that he has incredible rushing ability, and that alone should put him in late-round consideration if he gets a starting opportunity. There will definitely be a massive learning curve as Willis transitions to the NFL, but his big arm and speed/elusiveness are reasons to be excited.
Willis has over 2,000 career college rushing yards with 29 touchdowns, an impressive total regardless of where he played. Overall, he’s probably an early-second/late-first round draft prospect, but a quarterback-needy team could easily be tempted to take him earlier. That might not be a bad thing for Willis as long as the team has reasonable weapons, and his supporting cast will certainly be another thing to monitor after the draft. However, regardless of where he lands, Willis has the potential to become a fantasy star, and with his massive rushing ability, he doesn’t necessarily have to be an elite and polished passer to do so.
4. Daniel Jones (New York Giants)
Jones never really got going this year, but despite the risk he carries, there are still reasons to be excited about him in 2022. Jones has always had a good arm, and the addition of Brian Daboll as HC could be immensely helpful for Jones’s development. Daboll was instrumental in unlocking Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs in Buffalo, and if he could do something similar for Jones and Kenny Golladay, that would do wonders for Jones’s fantasy value.
Obviously one coach turning things around is not a guarantee, but Daboll is clearly an upgrade over Joe Judge, who got increasingly mocked for his offensive strategies near the end of his tenure. Golladay, who makes $18 million a year, should be far more involved in the offense in 2022, and Jones, as his quarterback, will be the beneficiary.
Jones has (exactly!) 1,000 career rushing yards in three seasons, so he definitely has some upside on the ground. If he can improve as a passer in year four, that would be a major boost to his fantasy value, elevating him from being a random streaming option into (potentially) a late-round star.