4 Must-Have Quarterbacks (2023 Fantasy Football)
There are many ways to win fantasy leagues, whether it be dynasty, redraft or best ball. The task is always simpler when you have a reliable quarterback with a high ceiling. This list is here to make a case for why some quarterbacks are simply ‘must-haves’ and why some might quickly ascend to this level in the near future. There seems little point in mentioning why Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen belong on this list, as their sustained success speaks volumes.
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Rankings using FantasyPros Expert Consensus (ECR)
Quarterbacks to Draft (2023 Fantasy Football)
Joe Burrow (CIN): QB4
Very few quarterbacks can consistently put up enough points to warrant a spot among those who add to their game with rushing production. Joe Burrow rushed for 249 yards in 2022, which was the least of any quarterback inside the top eight scorers in points per game. Burrow finished as the QB4 in 2022 and the QB10 in 2021 in points per game. It’s likely that Burrow fluctuates between those points in the coming years, and if the Bengals are unable to pay all their elite options, maybe things will regress slightly. Still, it seems likely that we can pencil him in for over 4000 yards and 35 or more passing touchdowns per year, particularly if the Bengals can finally put together a solid offensive line. Burrow has thrown for 2 or more touchdowns in 70% of his games over the last two years. That kind of safe floor, along with his high ceiling makes him one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the NFL.
Justin Fields (CHI): QB6
Justin Fields came within 63 yards of breaking the single-season rushing yardage record for a quarterback and the crazy thing is, he was barely rushing for the first five weeks of the season. Through those first five weeks, Fields looked like a complete bust in the NFL. His passing left a lot to be desired, and while the Bears can absolutely be held to account for not building a better offense, Fields was hardly proving he should be their quarterback of the future. Then, after an embarrassing Thursday night defeat to the Commanders, the Bears took advantage of a long week to reevaluate and came away realizing they needed to utilize Fields more like the Ravens did with Lamar Jackson when he was less developed as a passer. The result was an average of 95 rushing yards per game over the rest of the season and seven top-eight fantasy finishes. The Bears now have the 1.01 in this year’s draft and the most amount of cap space in the league. If the Bears are convinced by Fields, then they can build out the offensive line and skill group around him, to let him prove he can do better as a passer. If the Bears aren’t convinced Fields is their guy, it’s hard to imagine him landing in a worse situation than he was in for the 2022 season. He should still be a fantasy star.
Jalen Hurts (PHI): QB3
This might seem obvious, but it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the leap Jalen Hurts made in 2022. He went from a 61% completion rate in 2021 to 67% in 2022, which was the sixth-highest among starters, and made huge leaps in targeting his receivers on the boundaries of the field, an area where he had struggled at times in 2021. Hurts is eligible for a new contract this offseason and unless talks go horribly wrong, it seems likely he’ll be tied into a deal that will keep his fantasy fortunes fastened to AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, who all are under contract for several more years. There is a sense that the Eagles had an easy go of things this season, facing one of the easiest schedules of any team, so perhaps in 2023 when they face a first-placed schedule, we see an Eagles team forced to play even more aggressively. If that happens, it can only mean good things for Jalen Hurts, who has 23 rushing touchdowns in the last two seasons.
Lamar Jackson (BAL): QB5
Fantasy managers might feel a little burned by Lamar Jackson, after two seasons in a row where he picked up injuries down the stretch and left them scrambling on the waiver wire. If we remove the game where Jackson got injured after playing 13% of the snaps, his points per game rise to 21.3 points, putting him as the QB5. Another worthwhile detail is that in the games with Rashod Bateman healthy, Jackson averaged 26.59 points, which was far better than the 17.03 he averaged when Bateman was injured. The simple truth is that the Ravens didn’t build enough around Jackson in the way the Eagles did with Jalen Hurts when they acquired AJ Brown. After the Ravens exited the playoffs, both John Harbaugh and GM Eric DeCosta spoke about rebuilding the receiving room, and judging by the offensive coordinator candidates they’ve interviewed, it seems likely that the Ravens will experience an uptick in passing going forward. Jackson may never again perform as he did for fantasy in 2019, but when healthy he can be a top-five option at the position and deliver winning weeks. If you find yourself in a position to acquire Jackson on the cheap and pass it up, you may regret it.
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