Fantasy News & Analysis

McFarland: 2022 Fantasy Football Best Ball Quarterback Tiers

Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking players by position is an integral part of fantasy football preparation, but grouping them into tiers is crucial to identifying the value you might be leaving in the draft room. For example, if you're on the clock and looking at several quarterbacks in the same tier, it could make sense to wait until the next round — someone equally as worthy will probably be available with your next pick.


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Tiers can also help group players with similar expectations based on upside and floor. Most importantly, we don't want to pay more than the next drafter for a similar player.

2022 Fantasy Football Best Ball Quarterback Tiers
Tier Rank Name Team
1A 1 Josh Allen Bills
1A 2 Kyler Murray Cardinals
1B 3 Lamar Jackson Ravens
1B 4 Justin Herbert Chargers
1B 5 Patrick Mahomes Chiefs
1C 6 Tom Brady Buccaneers
1C 7 Joe Burrow Bengals
1C 8 Dak Prescott Cowboys
1D 9 Russell Wilson Broncos
1D 10 Jalen Hurts Eagles
1E 11 Matthew Stafford Rams
1E 12 Aaron Rodgers Packers
2A 13 Deshaun Watson Browns
2A 14 Trey Lance 49ers
2A 15 Justin Fields Bears
2B 16 Kirk Cousins Vikings
2B 17 Derek Carr Raiders
2B 18 Ryan Tannehill Titans
2C 19 Trevor Lawrence Jaguars
2C 20 Tua Tagovailoa Dolphins
2C 21 Mac Jones Patriots
2C 22 Malik Willis NFL Draft (11)
2C 23 Zach Wilson Jets
3A 24 Mitchell Trubisky Steelers
3A 25 Daniel Jones Giants
3A 26 Marcus Mariota Falcons
3B 27 Matt Ryan Colts
3B 28 Jameis Winston Saints
3B 29 Carson Wentz Commanders
3B 30 Jared Goff Lions
3B 31 Davis Mills Texans
4A 32 Kenny Pickett NFL Draft (13)
4A 33 Matt Corral NFL Draft (25)
4A 34 Sam Howell NFL Draft (38)
4A 35 Desmond Ridder NFL Draft (30)
4B 36 Drew Lock Seahawks
4B 37 Sam Darnold Panthers
4C 38 Carson Strong NFL Draft (89)
4C 39 Jimmy Garoppolo 49ers
4C 40 Baker Mayfield Browns
4C 41 Cam Newton Free Agent
4C 42 Tyrod Taylor Giants
4C 43 Teddy Bridgewater Dolphins
4C 44 Jacoby Brisset Browns

TIER 1A – GREAT PASSING/GREAT RUSHING OPTIONS

This tier represents the two players with 4,500 yards passing and 750 yards rushing reasonably within their range of outcomes.

Josh Allen is the reigning back-to-back fantasy football QB1. He is one of only two signal-callers with the upside for over 4,500 yards passing and 750 yards rushing. In addition, the Bills love to throw the ball well above league average in all game scripts, which insulates the fifth-year starter's production profile in a way that only a few other quarterbacks experience.

  • Trailing by four or more points: 4th
  • Within three points: 1st
  • Leading by four or more points: 4th

If the Bills add another receiver in the first two rounds, it would be an additional lift for the offense. Stefon Diggs is a great receiver, but Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox and Jamison Crowder all have question marks. Despite Davis' flash in the playoffs, his underlying utilization metrics don't scream breakout-season.

Kyler Murray‘s passing production is on an upward trajectory.

2019 2020 2021
Passing yards per game 232 248 271
PFF passing grade 61.1 77.2 88.1
Adjusted completion % 74% 77% 78%
Yards per attempt 6.9 7.1 7.9
Touchdowns per attempt 3.7% 4.7% 5.0%

The former No. 1 selection is one of only a handful of quarterbacks with the upside to take on 20 to 25% of his team's rushing volume. Murray already has an 822-yard rushing season (2020) — meaning a 4,500-yard passing and 750-yard rushing season is in his range of outcomes.

TIER 1B – ELITE PASSING/ABOVE-AVERAGE OR ELITE RUSHING OPTIONS

Lamar Jackson leads all qualifying quarterbacks in fantasy points per dropback over the last three years (.75) — and it isn't close. For example, Josh Allen is at .58. No other quarterback is more involved in their team's rushing attack. He has averaged 29% of Baltimore's rushing attempts over the last three years for 71 yards rushing per game. If the fifth-year playmaker is healthy for an entire season, a 1,000-yard rushing campaign is near-inevitable.

The former first-round selection averaged a career-high 240 yards per game via the air in 2021, with the Ravens leaning more heavily into their passing attack. However, Jackson hit three-year lows in PFF passing grade (65.9) and touchdowns per attempt (4.2%).

The Ravens have surrounded Jackson with a formidable group of receiving options in Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman. Because of this, we could still see Jackson easily eclipse 3,500 yards through the air — even if Baltimore returns to a more run-heavy attack with a healthy backfield in 2022.

Dec 12, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws against the New York Giants during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Herbert averaged .52 fantasy points per dropback and 22.7 points per game in each of his first two seasons. How about that for consistency?

The Chargers are returning their primary passing game weapons in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler, and we can expect them to continue in their pass-heavy ways. Last season they dropped back to pass well above league averages in all game scripts.

  • Trailing by four or more points: 1st
  • Within three points: 9th
  • Leading by four or more points: 3rd

The only potential hiccup would be a big step forward by Brandon Staley's defense — which made quite a splash by adding cornerback J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Khalil Mack. The Chargers currently rank seventh in Kevin Cole's offseason improvement index.

Despite the additions on defense, Herbert is one of the few quarterbacks who carry elite passing upside (5,000-plus yards) and above-average production on the ground. He averaged 268 yards and four rushing touchdowns over his first two seasons.

Patrick Mahomes remains a threat to eclipse the 5,000-yard mark, but the loss of Tyreek Hill could sting in the big-play department. However, the Chiefs have a history of pass-happy play-calling with Mahomes, which likely won't change much. In addition, Kansas City added Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster via free agency, and they have two late-first-round selections in the draft.

The sixth-year veteran has eclipsed 300 yards rushing each of the last two seasons, which provides him an advantage over pure pocket passing options in the next tier.

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TIER 1C – ELITE PASSING OPTIONS

This group doesn't possess the same rushing upside as their peers in the tiers above, but all have a shot at elite passing yardage and touchdowns.

Tom Brady operates in a pass-heavy attack in Tampa Bay with a solid supporting cast in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage. Rob Gronkowski should also return, meaning another 5,000-yard season is within reach. With a similar supporting cast, Brady averaged 22.0 and 23.1 points per game in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Joe Burrow upped his fantasy points per dropback from .41 to .56 in his second season. He arguably has the best receiving weapons in the NFL with Ja'Marr Chasee, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The Bengals dropped back to pass more as 2021 wore on, and I am projecting them as a pass-balanced team for 2022. However, they have upgraded their offensive line, which could open the door for a pass-heavy attack, which would give Burrow top-five upside despite his rushing limitations.

Dak Prescott reached the 21 point per game threshold for the third consecutive season in 2021 despite a significant dip in rushing production. Another year removed from ankle surgery, we could see something closer to 250 yards on the ground in 2022.

He won't have Amari Cooper in the passing game, but CeeDee Lamb is entering Year 3, and Dalton Schultz is back under the franchise tag. So expect the Cowboys to continue to deploy a pass-balanced offense where the seventh-year starter will have another shot at 5,000 yards.

If Prescott regains his rushing form, he could provide value similar to Herbert and Mahomes at a two-round discount with an ADP of 73 in FFPC best-ball leagues.

TIER 1D – HIGH-END ARBITRAGE PLAYS

These two players profile similarly to Tier 1A and 1B options at a discount.

Russell Wilson has two top-five finishes in the last three seasons — including a 23.7 point per game campaign in 2020. He should see an immediate bump in passing attempts per game after escaping the NFL's worst regulation play per game offense in 20201 in Seattle (55.6).

Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Albert Okwuegbunam, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler provide the veteran signal-caller with a bevy of options in the receiving game, and Wilson rushed for over 500 yards as recently as 2020.

The new Denver Bronco still has top-five potential and going off the board in the seventh round of FFPC best ball drafts.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) in the first half. The Giants defeat the Eagles, 13-7, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in East Rutherford.

No other fantasy quarterback with at least 250 dropbacks averaged more points per dropback than Jalen Hurts in 2021 (.63), yet his current FFPC best ball ADP is 90. The Eagles moved toward a run-heavy attack in the second half of the season — similar to what we have seen from the Ravens in recent years.

Philadelphia has three picks in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft, and there is a chance they will take a quarterback, but the class isn't strong. Of course, they could also add another weapon for Hurts, who improved in multiple key passing metrics.

2020 2021
PFF passing grade 56.2 80.8
Adjusted completion % 65% 74%
Yards per attempt 7.2 7.3
Touchdowns per attempt 4.1% 3.7%

If Hurts gets another season as the starting quarterback, it will be tough to miss out on a top-10 finish, given his 52.3 rushing yards per game. Consider him as an arbitrage play on Lamar Jackson.

TIER 1E – GREAT PASSING OPTIONS

Matthew Stafford had his best fantasy performance since 2011 with a 347-point outing in 2021. It was only the fourth time the 13-year veteran reached .50 fantasy points per dropback (.54). He was a borderline call for Tier 1C, but Brady's offense throws more, Prescott has more rushing upside, and Burrow has a better overall receiving corps.

Aaron Rodgers takes a dip in the rankings with Allen Lazard currently set to lead the Packers receiving corps. Rodgers has overcome games without Adams recently, but not for an entire season. Green Bay has two picks in the late-first round of the NFL draft, which could easily improve the passing weapons.

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TIER 2A – SWING FOR THE FENCES

Deshaun Watson's legal status remains unclear, making him a risky selection in fantasy drafts. On the other hand, he would rank inside the top-six quarterbacks if available for the entire year. Watson has finishes of QB4, QB5 and QB4 from 2018 to 2020.

Trey Lance didn't play enough in 2021 (86 dropbacks) to come to many concrete conclusions about his ability, but his .75 fantasy points per dropback are worth noting. The 49ers have three good options in the passing game and could lean into Lance's skillset with a run-heavy attack. If he is the starter, he will be a top-10 performer with the upside to push inside the top six.

Nov 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws a fourth quarter pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Fields posted QB3, QB9, QB8 and QB10 finishes in his last four healthy starts of 2021 after a rough start to the season. We could easily see the second-year quarterback handle 20-25% of the team rushing attempts in a balanced attack. Fields demonstrated an ability to make big-time throws (8.4%) in college, but Chicago isn't plush with receivers like Ohio State.

TIER 2B – HIGH-FLOOR WITH SNEAKY UPSIDE

Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr and Ryan Tannehill offer proven production that can be had later in drafts — making them great to pair with Tier 2A.

Cousins and Carr are near locks for 4,500 yards through the air but carry additional upside thanks to offensive additions and the potential for more pass-centric play calling.

Tannehill is an underrated point-per-dropback guy (0.61) but remains tethered to a run-heavy attack in Tennessee.

TIER 2C – SO YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE

This tier offers exposure to young quarterbacks who could develop into more fantasy commodities in 2022. Tua Tagovailoa likely won't play in a pass-heavy offense under Mike McDaniel, but he is surrounded by a top-notch group of weapons.


2022 NFL Draft position rankings:
Top 10 players at every position

QB | RB | WR | TE | iOL | OT | DI | EDGE | LB | CB | S


TIER 3A – RUSHING UPSIDE

This tier offers affordable access to quarterbacks who could rush for 300 to 500 yards. Mitchell Trubisky will play with three solid weapons in the passing game.

TIER 3B – LOW-END STARTERS

TIER 4A – ROOKIES

TIER 4B – LAST REMAINING STARTERS (FOR NOW)

TIER 4C – SECOND-STRING

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