- Utilizing the “Konami Code”: The top-tier features only the league’s best dual-threat QBs.
- Tier 2 is still elite: Can one of the Tier 2 QBs crack the top three by being either an elite passer or runner at the QB position?
- Utilizing tiers to extract value: As drafts progress beyond the first couple of rounds, using the tier system can allow fantasy managers to pass on options at the top of tiers to address other needs and still come back to get a similar player closer to the bottom of that tier in the next round(s)
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Breaking fantasy football rankings down into tiers helps fantasy managers better understand what separates each group and how to value each player at the position for this coming season.
Be sure to check out the rankings page for updates as the offseason progresses.
Tier 1: High-end passers with high-end rushing ability
To be considered an elite fantasy quarterback in 2023, not only does that player have to possess high-end passing ability, but he needs to be significant rushing upside in addition to that passing threat. Enter the true dual-threat quarterbacks listed above, as all three players ranked among the best in the league in their ability to move the ball through the air and on the ground.
Jalen Hurts leads the bunch due to his ability to add more value with his legs than almost any quarterback in the league, averaging nearly 10 rush attempts per game in 2022 (QB kneels excluded), which led to 13 rushing touchdowns. Hurts also proved that he could hold his own with the best passers in the league, earning an 80.6 passing grade (sixth) while limiting turnovers and maximizing his opportunities. With arguably the best receiving weapons in the league, there should be no concern that Hurts can keep it rolling into 2023 as a top-tier fantasy quarterback.
Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes possess all the same dual-threat ability as Hurts to make this the tightest grouping at the position, and landing either of the three as your QB1 is as good as it gets in 2023. All three players averaged over 24 fantasy points per game, posted passing grades above 80.0, threw over 22 catchable passes per game, rushed for over 350 yards and averaged over 7.5 passing yards per attempt. Every box is checked within this tier, so fantasy managers can organize them however they prefer amongst these three.
Tier 2: Choose your fighter: high-end rusher or high-end passer
Lamar Jackson kicks off this second tier, as he sits right on the fringes of being considered among the high-end passers with top-tier rushing upside. Unfortunately, Jackson’s passing has dipped enough over the past two seasons, which pushed him just outside of that top tier, as he did not cleared 20 catchable passes per game or seven yards per attempt this past season. The Baltimore Ravens may see more of a focus on passing the ball than they have in the past with Todd Monken coming in as offensive coordinator in addition to the receiving weapons that Baltimore has added this offseason in Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers. Added to his elite rushing ability, Jackson should be considered the best bet to move into that top tier in this group.
Joe Burrow’s elite passing ability and receiving weapons allow him to round out the top five. He's the first quarterback without significant rushing upside, although it’s been there at times. Burrow added a little over 250 yards on the ground this past season, which was a career-high for him and led to five rushing touchdowns. While that number may regress slightly closer to his career average, he’s a near lock for over 4,000 yards passing and 30-plus touchdowns, assuming health.
Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert should push for similar passing numbers as Burrow and are strong bets to contend for the passing yards leaders in 2023, which is going to create plenty of fantasy upside. Lawrence has recently shown more of a rushing upside than Herbert, averaging more attempts per game (3.2 versus 2.2) and more yards per carry (4.8 versus 2.7), giving him the slightest edge heading into 2023.
Justin Fields led all quarterbacks in rushing attempts per game (minus QB kneels) in 2022 with 10.0 per game, which led to him posting over 1,100 yards on the ground to go along with eight rushing touchdowns. While his passing ability is still a work in progress, should Fields continue to develop in that regard while maintaining an elite rushing upside, there’s no question that he will be in consideration among the top-tier quarterbacks beyond this season.
Tier 3: Pushing for a high rate of weekly top-12 finishes
It’s been touched on a ton already, but rushing upside continues to be a dominant contributor in quarterback fantasy production, and that remains a factor in most of this tier.
Anthony Richardson is expected to start Week 1 for the Indianapolis Colts after being selected fourth overall in this year’s draft, and while his ability as a passer is still in development, there’s no questioning his athleticism and potential to add value on the ground. Richardson’s pairing with Shane Steichen in Indianapolis will focus heavily on utilizing his strengths and allowing him to develop at a consistent rate. With his strength are primarily in the run game and big plays at the moment, expect Richardson to push for weekly top-12 finishes as a rookie.
Daniel Jones and Geno Smith are perhaps the most under-valued quarterbacks with QB1 potential at this point in the offseason, as there is an expectation that they will regress. Starting with Jones, his rushing upside is, and has been, a significant factor in his fantasy value, recently averaging nearly seven rush attempts per game and over 700 yards on the ground. While he isn’t a big-play threat as a passer, he was still very effective in 2022, earning the highest adjusted completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 20% of their team’s dropbacks (81.1%) and after throwing just 15 touchdowns, figures to see some positive regression in that area, especially with new additions to the receiving room in New York.
Smith is in a similar position, as his receiving weapons only improved through the draft and while he did see some decline in the latter half of the year relative to his hot start in 2022, he still did more than enough to instill confidence as a low-end QB1 option for 2023. Additionally, 74.7% of Smith’s passes were deemed catchable in 2022, which trailed only Daniel Jones (75.6%) and Joe Burrow (75.2%) among quarterbacks ranked ahead of him in these tiers. He also did this with a higher big-time-throw rate (5.56%) and ADoT (8.6 yards) than both in 2022.
Dak Prescott rounds out the top-12 quarterbacks despite a bit of a down year that saw him miss time due to injury. H’s still finished in that top-12 range in five of the past seven seasons and should have an opportunity to bounce back in 2023. Turnover-worthy plays hurt Prescott’s ability to maximize his opportunity after posting a career-high interception total (15) and turnover-worthy-play rate (4.0%). This just hasn’t been typical for his career, nor has his 68.6 passing grade, and for now, it appears to be more of an outlier season than expected.
Kirk Cousins has an argument to work his way into the top-12 as well, mostly due to his effectiveness as a passer, where he earned a top-10 passing grade (76.1) and finished inside the top 10 in catchable passes per game (27.4). For now, limited rushing upside became the tie-breaker between him and Prescott at the end of this tier.
Tier 4: Established fantasy QBs that we can (mostly) rely upon
Tua Tagovailoa made his bones on big plays in 2022, surely a result of having Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle at receiver. Those options together really raised Tagovailoa’s numbers across the board. The former fifth-overall pick saw a significant increase in yards per attempt (6.8 to 8.9), average depth of target (7.4 to 10.1) and big-time-throw rate (2.4% to 4.3%) from 2021 to 2022, adding a ton of value to his dropbacks. While there is some instability in big plays from year to year, or even week to week, having weapons like Hill and Waddle will hopefully help keep those numbers afloat in 2023.
Russell Wilson is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career after going to a new team in 2022 and throwing for just 16 touchdowns and a 64.5 passing grade — both career lows for the 11-year veteran. However, a lot of the underlying metrics that make Wilson a reliable fantasy asset were still present, starting with his 3.2 rush attempts per game for 5.0 yards per carry, which allows for a minor fantasy boost. Wilson was able to maintain his high ADoT (9.5 yards) this year but saw the highest drop rate (8.4%) of his career from his receiving corps while also ceding the highest pressure-to-sack conversion rate of his career (27.0%). As much as taking sacks has long been a fault of Wilson’s, they are still among the more unstable metrics in football, as are drops, so keeping drives alive by seeing a positive shift in these drive-killers should also be taken into account, along with Sean Payton coming to town as head coach.
Deshaun Watson saw one of the bigger drops from these rankings compared to consensus, where he is currently going as QB9 according to Underdog ADP. These rankings are slightly more skeptical. Even in a suspension-shortened season last year, Watson struggled mightily in his six appearances, specifically in terms of stable metrics that focus on performance within structure. He posted just a 57.7 passing grade from a clean pocket (13th percentile), a 52.8 passing grade on standard dropbacks (22nd percentile) and just a 64.6 passing grade on throws at or beyond the sticks (29th percentile). While he offers decent rushing upside, 4.5 attempts per game aren’t going to be enough to move him up into the higher tiers for now.
Tier 5: High-end question mark QBs
Bryce Young has avoided most of the high expectations, at least for fantasy purposes, that have been thrust upon Anthony Richardson as a rookie, giving him a chance to ease into the good graces of fantasy managers in Year 1. The No. 1 overall pick in the draft doesn’t necessarily have elite receiving weapons in Carolina, which plays into his expectations, but he was arguably the most accurate quarterback and best decision-maker in this class, even earning a 90.8 passing grade in 2022. While he didn’t rush or scramble a ton in 2022 (2.9 per game), it’s something he was very effective at, averaging 9.3 yards per carry so there’s room for him to add bonus production on the ground as a rookie.
Kenny Pickett should be in line to take a positive step forward in his progression as a fantasy-relevant quarterback in 2023 after seemingly getting more comfortable in the NFL during the back half of his rookie season. Pickett earned the highest passing grade in the league from Weeks 12-18 (88.9) due to ranking second in big-time-throw rate (6.9%) and limiting his turnover-worthy-play rate to just 1.1% (first) during that span. With just four passing touchdowns in that same span (tied for 23rd), there is room for positive regression in that area if he can continue to play as he did and things even out for him. Because of the low and unstable touchdown numbers, Pickett is arguably one of the most overlooked QB2s heading into 2023.
If not for the ambiguity of the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback situation, Trey Lance could potentially be higher in these rankings if he was named the Week 1 starter. However, that is not a guarantee with Brock Purdy potentially getting healthy in time for the start of the year and Sam Darnold apparently being in the mix as well. Lance is the favorite for the purposes of these rankings after flashing some of the abilities that would make him an ideal fantasy option in just a game and a half last season. Lance averaged eight rushes per game and showed off a decent arm with a 6.3% big-time-throw rate, although there were also enough of the concerns in there as well to not get too excited about. For now, Lance is a low-end QB2 with significant potential to jump up the ranks if given the reigns to start again in 2023.
Tier 6: An injured Kyler Murray and low-floor QBs
One quarterback who could potentially be mislabeled amongst this tier is Sam Howell, but he also needs to win the starting job first, as he enters a camp battle with Jacoby Brissett. Howell flashed big-time rushing upside during his final year at North Carolina, averaging 12 rushing attempts per game (which includes scrambles but excludes QB kneels), going for over 1,000 rushing yards and averaging 8.4 yards per attempt. In just one game as an NFL rookie, Howell showed off his legs on four attempts, totaling 35 yards and a rushing touchdown, so he should present more upside than those behind him in this tier, and perhaps even those in higher tiers if he can continue to develop as a passer.
Tier 7: So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The quarterbacks in this final tier are not currently slated to start the year but instead work as a list to get to know the backup quarterbacks of the league and a little bit about how to value them.
Clayton Tune is perhaps the one name worth mentioning here in more detail as a relatively unknown fifth-round pick. He is a personal favorite to be this year’s Brock Purdy, if there’s going to be one. Tune dominated the two-year stable metrics for quarterbacks in this year’s rookie class coming out of Houston and should be considered a real threat to start the year with Kyler Murray sidelined and still recovering from a torn ACL. Tune will face off against Colt McCoy, Jeff Driskel and David Blough in training camp, and considering his overwhelmingly positive metrics within structure in college, along with over 3,000 offensive snaps worth of experience, he has as good a shot as any to emerge. Not only did Tune earn back-to-back years with a passing grade above 91.0 while throwing 33 catchable passes per game in 2022, but he showed off his excellent athleticism last year as well, averaging 6.2 yards per carry on 8.5 rushing attempts per game, totaling over 600 yards. Superflex leagues, specifically, will be wise to add Tune late in drafts this offseason, but even as a one-QB league starter in place of Murray, Tune intrigues as a fantasy asset.