When it comes to fantasy football quarterbacks, for years it seemed like you saw the same names of veteran quarterbacks at the top of draft boards. Heading into 2022, two young names have emerged as the top candidates based on dominating the fantasy world over the last couple of seasons – Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Who is your best bet if you taking the No. 1 guy on the board? A pretty persuasive case can be made for both.
The case for and against Josh Allen
- Over the last two seasons he has thrown two or more touchdown passes in 26 of 33 games and, in the seven games he didn’t, had at least one rushing touchdown.
- In his career (61 games, 60 starts), he rushed for 2,325 yards – an average of 38 yards a game – and has scored 31 ground touchdowns.
- Allen’s most prolific rushing season came last year when he set career highs with 122 carries for 763 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns.
- He has scored eight or more rushing touchdowns in three of four seasons – a number many fantasy owners would be satisfied with from a running back.
- The Bills offense has come to depend on him more each year since his rookie season. Allen’s pass attempts and completions have gone up in each of the past three years, topping out by finishing 2021 with 646 attempts, 409 completions, 4,407 passing yards and 36 touchdowns.
- Over the past two seasons, he has thrown for 8,951 yards and 73 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,184 yards and 14 touchdowns.
- In 33 games over the last two seasons, he has amassed 280 or more passing yards in 16 of them.
- Buffalo’s pedestrian run game helps Allen from the fantasy perspective. Since Allen has been with the Bills, there hasn’t been a running back rush for more than 870 yards.
- In 2021, Buffalo ran 1,143 offensive plays. Just 415 of those (36.3 percent) were run plays and 102 of those (24.6 percent) were runs by Allen, leaving just 268 carries (23.4 percent of all offensive plays) as rushes by Devin Singletary and Zack Moss.
- Buffalo changed offensive coordinators heading into this offseason, going from the stability of Brian Daboll to first-time play-caller Ken Dorsey. Granted, the latter learned under the former and not much is expected to change, but there’s no way to account for how Dorsey will respond to in-game management. Calling plays has some art to it, even from the same playbook.
- The Bills drafted running back James Cook while losing wide receivers Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason. Allen will need to establish chemistry with Jamison Crowder, and third-year wideout Gabriel Davis must step up his game.
- While the starting right guard and tackle spots are not entirely settled, Buffalo has plenty of depth, and veteran left guard Rodger Saffold came over from Tennessee to anchor that side. He’s better at run blocking than pass pro but is coming off a Pro Bowl selection and remains one of the top interior veterans at his position.
The case for and against Justin Herbert
- Herbert has thrown for 9,350 yards and 69 touchdowns in 32 career games, the most prolific start to a career in NFL history. Dan Marino threw 68 TDs over five fewer starts.
- He has been a yardage monster, averaging 292.2 passing yards a game in his career – 289.1 yards as a rookie and 294.9 yards last season. Herbert’s yards-per-game average is No. 1 and clear ahead of second place by 36.1 (Andrew Luck).
- He has displayed accuracy that is rare for a young QB transitioning to the NFL. He completed 66.2 percent of his career passes.
- In 2021, he became just the ninth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 or more yards in a season, joining Dan Marino, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Mahomes and Jameis Winston.
- While Herbert doesn’t run as often as Allen, he has scored eight rushing touchdowns in two years.
- The Chargers accounted for 1,128 offensive plays last season, and just 423 of them (37.5 percent) were running plays. When you take Herbert out of the equation for scrambles, it drops to just 360 rushes (31.9).
- Los Angeles plays in division where everyone has loaded up on offensive talent, which lends itself to shootout games.
- Herbert finds a way to keep all his receivers happy and engaged. In 2021, the Chargers had eight players who caught 20 or more passes, six who caught 30 or more, and three (Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler) who caught 70 or more passes.
- In the last 15 games of the 2021 season, Los Angeles scored 27 or more points in 11 of them, including each of the last six. In that same span, the Chargers gave up 27 or more points in nine of them, putting undo pressure on the offense to keep scoring.
- LA added veteran tight end Gerald Everett to replace the well-aged Jared Cook. Every other key component of the offense returns intact, and LA upgraded its offensive line with first-round rookie Zion Johnson.
Fantasy football outlook
Herbert has made a strong case in two seasons for a Chargers team that seemingly needs to keep throwing to win games or come from behind to try to win, but Josh Allen is the pick here for those erring on the side of caution.
Los Angeles upgraded the defensive in the offseason and may not need to rely as much on Herbert’s arm. It’s not as big of a gap as some may think, and it wouldn’t be too brazen to draft Herbert ahead of Allen if an owner wanted to take a calculated risk.
While not exactly the Jim Kelly-led K-Gun offense that dominated the AFC 30 years ago, Allen’s ability to throw touchdowns as well as being the most dangerous runner for the Bills near the goal line gives him the razor-thin edge to be the first quarterback to come off the board in fantasy drafts this year.