• Become the smartest player in your fantasy draft with the PFF+ Fantasy Draft Guide.
One of my favorite sayings in fantasy football is “Don’t hate the player, hate the ADP (average draft position).” Even the worst player to ever grace an NFL field was paid to play a game, so floating negative vibes toward any professional footballer is not cool and should be avoided on social media.
Of course, fantasy football is a game built around scoring as many points as possible, so we need to take stands on players in order to fulfill the goal of taking home first place. What follows are 10 players who I have ranked higher than consensus ahead of 2022.
All scoring referenced is full point-per-reception (PPR) unless otherwise noted.
QB Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers: (Ian’s QB7, FantasyPros consensus ADP QB13)
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan still might not be able to confirm whether any of us will be alive this time next week, but he was at least willing to cement rising second-year quarterback Trey Lance as his team’s starting quarterback earlier this offseason. Specifically, Shanahan noted the following about long-time starter Jimmy Garoppolo:
“We have moved on to Trey Lance. … This is Trey’s team. … We think Jimmy would have been traded if not for the surgery.”
It’s tough to not be excited about what Lance can bring to the table as a fantasy quarterback with his rushing upside. We got a taste of that when he racked up 31 carries in three extended appearances last season. Even a more conservative estimate of eight carries per game would lead to 136 rush attempts across a 17-game season. PFF projects him for 134 rushing attempts in 2022.
Historically, quarterbacks with this sort of fantasy-friendly workload don’t bust: 11 of 12 signal-callers who received at least 125 carries in a season went on to post top-12 fantasy production on a per-game basis. Cam Newton in 2020 (QB17) was the only exception, which is truly remarkable considering this is going off per-game numbers, as quarterbacks aren’t simply being rewarded for staying healthy. The upside is truly immense, with seven of the 12 qualifiers finishing as a top-five signal-caller.
Yes, Lance has a ways to go as a passer. Also yes, he ranked fourth in the NFL by averaging 8.5 yards per attempt last season, finishing just 0.1 yards behind Garoppolo himself. Obviously, Lance was working with a small sample size that included some blown-coverage-induced big plays, but that’s also life in an offense featuring playmakers all over the place in Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk. Only the Los Angeles Rams (6.6) have averaged more yards per attempt on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage than the 49ers (6.3) since Shanahan took over in 2017. Nobody has been better since Deebo got to town in 2019.
I’m happy to be ahead of the curve here and have had Lance ranked as my QB7 for the last few weeks. Lance, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson are simply playing a different game thanks to their robust rushing workloads, as their multiple means of production help them achieve fantasy dominance in a similar manner as pass-catching running backs or even the rare rushing wide receiver.
Don’t be afraid to be ahead of the curve on the position’s next great dual-threat talent — especially given the robust array of talented skill-position players within one of the NFL’s most uniquely run offenses.
RB Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (Ian’s RB7, ADP RB14)
Fournette ranked behind only Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor and Austin Ekeler in PPR points per game last season. It wasn’t a fluke, as only Henry, Najee Harris and Alvin Kamara earned more expected fantasy points per game.