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Must-Have Quarterback and Tight End (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Jun 25, 2022
Trey Lance

Trey Lance teased his potential in his limited opportunities as a rookie.

No player is a must-have option at the wrong average draft position (ADP). However, the following quarterback and tight end are must-have picks near their ADP in point-per-reception (PPR) formats. The common thread for both players is upside for outproducing their draft slot as backups at their respective positions.

Must-Have Quarterback

Trey Lance (QB – SF): 110.8 ADP, QB14

Gamers who don’t take the plunge on an elite quarterback have options, especially if the top signal-callers are over-drafted. First, they’re encouraged to embrace Tom Brady‘s value at his ADP. However, Lance is an excellent option to pair with Brady. Lance is also a superb pick if someone reaches on Brady, eliminating the value he offers at his present ADP.

Unfortunately, Lance spent most of the 2021 season behind Jimmy Garoppolo. Still, the dual-threat quarterback teased his potential in his limited opportunities as a rookie. In Week 4, in only the second half, he was the QB14. Lance was also San Francisco’s starter in Week 5 and Week 17, and he was QB20 and QB10.

The young quarterback is a legitimate weapon on the ground, rushing for 120 yards on 24 attempts in his two starts, adding seven rushes for 41 yards in his relief appearance. Unfortunately, his passing left a lot to be desired. Maybe he deserves a pass — bad pun intended — for his struggles, though. Lance hurt his finger in the preseason finale, and the injury was reportedly more serious than reported and nagged him all year, impacting his throwing. If nothing else, it’s a reasonable narrative to buy into, partially excusing his inconsistency as a passer.

Nonetheless, Lance doesn’t need to be a monster as a downfield passer, as evidenced by Garoppolo’s success with yards-after-the-catch (YAC) monsters, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. According to Pro-Football-Reference, Garoppolo was sixth among qualified passers in 2021 in Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt (7.38 ANY/A). He was largely reliant on YAC. According to Sports Info Solutions (SIS), Jimmy G had the ninth-most YAC (2,032) and seventh-fewest Intended Air Yards (3,169) among signal-callers with at least 300 pass attempts.

Presumably, head coach Kyle Shanahan can lean on Lance similarly, asking Samuel, Aiyuk and Kittle to do the heavy lifting. However, Lance bolsters his fantasy ceiling with elite rushing ability and a rocket arm capable of chucking it deep.

Obviously, it would be silly to compare Lance to Matthew Stafford. Still, there’s a potential parallel for opening up San Francisco’s offense with a more gifted player similar to Sean McVay’s offense erupting after upgrading from Jared Goff to Stafford last year. As a result, Lance is the prototype upside quarterback to take a swing on after pick 100.

Must-Have Tight Ends

Irv Smith (TE – MIN): 140.0 ADP, *TE15

*Smith doesn’t have an ADP at FFC. He’s the TE15 using his ADP at the other platforms.

Unfortunately, Smith missed the entire 2021 season after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus. Thankfully, he’s already participated in OTAs, eliminating concerns about his availability to start the season.

Smith made strides from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign before missing last year. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he improved his receiving grade and Yards per Route Run (Y/RR). In 2021, out of 45 tight ends with at least 30 targets, Smith was 14th in PFF receiving grade. Further, he surged from 1.02 Y/RR to 1.30 Y/RR. The young tight end also jumped from 6.6 yards per target (Y/Tgt) to 8.5 Y/Tgt.

Smith’s upward trajectory is intriguing, and the change in head coach is encouraging. The Vikings are moving on from defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer to former offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. Minnesota’s new head coach was the offensive coordinator in Washington in 2019 and for the Rams in 2020-2021. During that same three-year stretch, Zimmer was the head coach in Minnesota. The following table shows the situation neutral pace ranks, according to Football Outsiders, and passing rates in neutral game scripts, per Sharp Football Stats, during those three years.

If O'Connell uses an offense similar to the one the Rams utilized in 2020 and 2021, the environment will be more fantasy-friendly for all of Minnesota's pass-catching options, including Smith. The arrow is pointing directly up for Smith. As a result, he's a breakout candidate at tight end who's a must-have option at his ADP.


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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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