The NFL season is still a couple months away, but Best Ball Leagues are in full swing. Now is the time where you can try to find an edge on various situations, based on your opinion. There is some risk with drafting this early, but if you make the right predictions you can have a real advantage. This will be a look at where some key NFL Quarterback situations stand at the start of June, and how you should handle them.
The biggest quarterback issue facing fantasy owners this season, is what is the status of Deshaun Watson. Watson who sat out all of 2021 as he faced over 20 counts of criminal charges. Now the criminal cases have been dismissed, but the civil cases remain. It’s very unclear what or when the NFL will make it’s decision regarding Watson. He could see anywhere from a light suspension of just a few games or a more severe one of more than half the season. This has his fantasy stock very much up in the air. Now the length of his suspension should be determined some time later this summer, for current Best Ball leagues you have to draft a bit blind. Watson is currently the 15th QB being taken, which represents a big value on a per game basis. He should produce multiple top half QB1 weeks, and you are getting that at a serious discount.
From a value standpoint landing Watson at his current ADP in the low 100’s, is pretty good option. Now given the suspension you will need two other good QB options, but this could be a way to allow you to focus on skill positions early.
Last year Lance was a popular Best Ball QB option, because the expectation was that the 49ers would turn the keys over to him early in the season. His potential as a big arm, mobile QB with a couple top skill players, meant that even if he struggled in real life, he probably would have multiple big fantasy games. Jimmy Garoppolo instead lead the 49ers to the NFC Championship game, and Lance only played to fill in a couple times due to injury.
This offseason though it appeared that fantasy owners would get their wish as Garoppolo was considered likely to be traded leaving the door wide open for Lance. At the very least a starting role should give Lance the chance for multiple spike weeks, and a real chance of finishing as a top-half QB 1. Given that his current ADP is 14th that makes him a very interesting investment in Best Ball leagues. Unfortunately the Garoppolo issue still remains, as due to offseason surgery the 49ers haven’t been able to trade him yet.
Most coach-speak and speculation still believes that the plan is to move Garoppolo during camp, but this could linger into the season. That would definitely represent a real risk to Lance’s upside. If Garoppolo stays on the roster, it could be tough to keep him off the field if Lance struggles as he develops. This 49ers team is built to compete now, and they aren’t going to have as much patience for growing pains for a young QB.
Despite all of that risk concern, the upside here is worth it. Lance’s current ADP is 104 according to Fantasy Pros and given his upside that is a steal in that area. Given the extra risk I’d look to pair him with two other stable Best Ball quaterbacks, but if Lance hits you could be looking at a massive value.
All signs point to the Steelers giving free agent signing Mitch Trubisky first crack at the starting job over 1st round rookie Kenny Pickett. This isn’t surprising since Pittsburgh did make signing Trubisky a priority, but there is a question how long of a leash will they give the former 2nd overall pick. Pickett was considered the most NFL ready quarterback from the class, and he is Pittsburgh’s future. NFL teams have been quick to pull stop gap options in recent years after 2-8 weeks, so it’s likely at some point Pickett takes over. On the other hand Trubisky isn’t a typical stopgap QB as he’s a former top pick with a decent skill set, and he’s had some success in the NFL. If Pittsburgh’s winning it will be tough to make the change.
Why does this matter for fantasy? Well Pittsburgh has perhaps the most well-rounded skill position depth chart in the league. With a stud running back in Najee Harris, a young TE in Pat Freiermuth, and a pair of established young receivers in Dionte Johnson and Chase Claypool. Add in a pair of promising rookies in George Pickens and Calvin Austin, and this is an offense that can produce big numbers at times this season. Overall the QB situation isn’t as appealing as a Season long starter, but there will be times this year that they end up the top streaming option or DFS play. The question is are they worth investing in Best Ball?
If you believe that Trubisky will get 10+ games this season, then maybe you can consider him as a 3rd QB (assuming you have two stable options ahead of him), otherwise this feels like a situation to pass on. A Pittsburgh QB will likely have multiple QB1 weeks during the year, but it could end up split between two guys. Without the ability to replace him during the season, you are taking too much of a risk here to rely on them as a best ball quarterback.
Each of the past few years we’ve seen some young quarterbacks ascend in their 2nd or 3rd year in the league to become a top fantasy producer. The question is what quarterbacks can become a major fantasy option this season. While many will point to either Trey Lance (see above) or Justin Fields as the top options, two other names seem to be flying under the radar.
Trevor Lawrence had a season to forget for a number 1 overall pick, and has already some people using the “bust” label to describe him. Year two could be a different story for the Jags quarterback, as a lot of positive changes have been made. Doug Pederson takes over as Head Coach, replacing Urban Meyer who was clearly in over his head. Last year’s Jaguars were completely dysfunctional and Meyer’s leadership was likely the biggest factor. Pederson should give a major upgrade to the team in general, and Lawrence’s development going forward.
In addition the Jaguars added Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram to their pass catching group, to go along with holdovers like Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault. Also former college teammate RB Travis Etienne missed his entire rookie year with injury. He should be the top option in the backfield, giving them another playmaker. Jacksonville also upgraded their offensive line with the signing of guard Brandon Scherff and the drafting of center Luke Fortner in the 3rd round. With all these additions Jacksonville has a pretty good skill group and a decent offensive line. Lawrence will have the supporting cast he deserves.
The other young QB who could rise this year is Tua Tagovailoa. It’s been a rough first two years for the former Alabama QB, but he had a lot working against him. Former head coach Brian Flores didn’t support Tua, and looked to replace him. New head coach Mike McDaniel comes from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree and is viewed as a great offensive mind. The Dolphins also signed a pair of major offensive line additions in Terron Armstead and Connor Williams. This gives the Dolphins the veteran experience to pair with some of their recent draftees.
What might be most appealing about Tagovailoa is his supporting cast. Jaylen Waddle was a good rookie weapon a year ago and he should continue to develop into a playmaker. Mike Gesicki had over 70 catches and nearly 800 receiving yards, and is athletically gifted to cause serious problems for opposing defenses. Joining Waddle and Gesicki, the Dolphins added Chase Edmonds, a top receiving back; Cedrick Wilson, a young WR who has played well when given chances; and Tyreek Hill, one of the top 5 receivers in the league. This skill group has so much speed and big play ability, that even if McDaniel’s offense is more run heavy, Tua can still produce in limited attempts.
Neither one of these QBs will likely finish as a QB 1 on the year, but they are currently being drafted as QB 18 (Tua) and QB 19 (Lawrence). There is room for them to move up and both have the chance and tools around them to have multiple spike weeks. Making them good back-up best ball quarterback options.
Wilson was consistently a top 10 Fantasy QB prior to last season’s injury filled year. He was able to maintain his high fantasy production due to his efficiency, as Seattle rarely threw enough. Wilson is in a new pass focused offense, surrounded by a talented group of skill players. He also still adds a solid rushing floor, as he produced over 500 rushing yards and 2 TDs in 2020.
Wilson is currently being drafted 10th overall among QBs in Best Ball drafts, but that seems low given his track record. Add in the potential upside of the change of scenery, and you have a QB who very well could end up a top 5 scorer. If you can land him at his current ADP of 81st overall you are getting a potential steal.