Most fantasy leagues have quarterbacks as the highest-scoring players, but the reality is that most of the “good” ones turn in similar annual fantasy points. So naturally, they last until the middle of the drafts despite being one of your best weekly contributors. But – they do get hurt. They can fail to meet expectations for a myriad of reasons. And so, your second quarterback could matter – a lot.
Taking a second quarterback early is a very sound practice. At worst, it gives you two valid weekly options to build your team’s score. At best, you latch onto one of the surprises in the back half of the draft that delivers far in over expectations, if not better than the first quarterback you drafted. Taking both quarterbacks after the first dozen are gone can also work but requires careful mixing and matching at least until one proves superior.
The first dozen quarterbacks selected in a fantasy draft tend to be: Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers. All proven veterans with previous seasons as elite fantasy options. Can you cobble together two quarterbacks that can deliver like one of those initial picks? Absolutely.
Kirk Cousins (Vikings) – Cousins rarely runs, and that lowers his fantasy scores, but he was a lock for 4,000 yards and 30+ TDs for the last few years and the Vikings intend to throw the ball more often. New HC Kevin O’Connell brings over a Rams-style passing attack to an offense stocked with receiving talent. Cousins ranked No. 9 and No. 11 the last two years and could be even better.
Trey Lance (49ers) – Likely the most exciting pick you could make because, hey, who knows what to expect? The 49ers have a solid offensive line, the No. 8 passing schedule, and plenty of talented weapons. Lance could be very raw since his last (only) season as a starter at North Dakota State was in 2019. But he passed for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns and ran for 1,100 yards and 14 more scores. He was best served mostly watching last year. If there is one quarterback that could shatter expectations, Lance is it. But – risk is there too.
Derek Carr (Raiders) – Carr has been like Cousins. He’s been good without ever being great and ranked the last two years a respectable No. 12 and No. 13 as a fantasy quarterback. His schedule is much rougher than last year, but everything went wrong in Las Vegas. Adding Davante Adams should be the tide that lifts all ships, and improve this passing offense. Despite the turmoil of 2021, Carr still passed for a career-best 4,804 yards.
Trevor Lawrence (JAC) – The first pick of the 2021 draft could not have ended up on a more dysfunctional, talent-challenged team. Aside from the distraction of Urban Meyer, Lawrence lost his best two running backs and top wideout. It was always a mess. And yet he still tossed two 300-yard games and totaled 3,641 passing yards. Just a dozen touchdowns though. But Travis Etienne is ready, and the Jags added Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. The passing schedule ranks No. 5, and the offensive line is up to being average. If Lawrence can meet the sky-high expectations of a 1.01 pick, it starts this year.
Matt Ryan (IND) – After years of Top-10 performances, Ryan dropped to only No. 17 last year in Atlanta after Calvin Ridley made a surprise exit, and the offense lacked playmakers other than the rookie Kyle Pitts. Now Ryan has moved on to the Colts, who spin through fading quarterbacks each year. But – Ryan could surprise. Even Carson Wentz was the No. 14 quarterback there last year. Their passing schedule drops from No. 29 down to only No. 6 this season. Michael Pittman broke out last year. The Colts will run first, but Ryan may not be quite done yet.
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) – Another quarterback in a much better situation for 2022 is Tagovailoa. The Dolphins’ passing offense was little more than the rookie Jaylen Waddle (104-1015-6) last year, but the Fins spent big on acquiring Tyreek Hill for a formidable pair of wideouts. The gaggle of running backs is more talented as well, even if the backfield will likely change every week. The Dolphin’s passing game should be significantly improved for this season.