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Quarterbacks to Avoid (2024 Fantasy Football)

Writing about players to avoid/potential busts is one of my favorite annual topics in fantasy football. It’s far too easy to fall in love with every player, but realistically, you can’t afford to have equal exposure to every player, especially those high up on the draft board. You need to be more critical and sometimes bearish compared to the consensus on certain player average draft positions (ADPs).

Before the 2023 season, I published two pieces addressing this strategy: Fantasy Football Bust Guide: Draft Strategy & Advice (2023) and Players to Avoid (2023 Fantasy Football). These articles significantly helped position me to sidestep potential pitfalls. In this comprehensive piece, we’ll integrate insights from both articles to help you construct your 2024 list of fantasy football fades.

2024 fantasy football draft kit

Fantasy Football Quarterbacks to Avoid

As usual, we’ll start by exploring the general characteristics of what makes a player a bust, review the hits and misses from last season, and then apply those lessons to the upcoming fantasy football year.

Findings Busts

You know the old phrase…” Strangers are the friends you haven’t met yet?” Well, in fantasy football land, I think there’s a similar idiom. Busts are often the breakouts that fail to fire. Before players are labeled as “busts” at the conclusion of the season (or early-to-middle, depending on just how bad the player was) there’s usually a legitimate case as to why they are being drafted so highly. The case for unthinkingly drafting “upside” is often accompanied by a significant amount of risk that some drafters overlook entirely. I tend to also agree with this upside-driven approach – if you ain’t first, you’re last, Ricky Bobby – but it’s still important to recognize the risk and sheer bust potential with certain players heading into the 2024 fantasy football season.

As part two of this “players to avoid” series of articles, I’ll break down what a bust looks like at quarterback while calling out which signal callers come with the most red flags that have me overly concerned about their bust potential in 2024. And although I am not an injury expert, I will be coming to the table with some injury notes on players. Because many busts fail to perform due to injuries, and it’s not something you should just totally ignore. Especially with the increase in data on injuries from several different experts. I’ll also leverage adjusted games lost due to injuries — a metric that measures injury impact in a similar way to DVOA.

Not all QBs I’m shying away from will be busts. Specifically, with certain positions like QB, as I’ll touch on soon, some players may finish exactly where their ADPs are. But that’s not how I am playing the game. I don’t want players to meet expectations, I want them to exceed expectations. At the same time, I want to circumvent the players who may drastically fail to meet their expectations.

These are the fantasy football busts.

Gabe Davis wasn’t a bust in 2022 because he played like trash. He was the WR27. He scored the same points per game as Zay Jones…who many look back on and are fond of from 2022 as a great sleeper pick.

The same can be said for Calvin Ridley. In a vacuum, a 76-1016-8 stat line as the WR17 is good in his first full season after a lengthy layoff from football. But his Round 3 ADP gave him no cushion. As a result, he was a bust compared to a WR like Jakobi Meyers, who scored nearly the same points per game as a 14th-round pick.

Davis and Ridley were busts because the fantasy football drafting complex ballooned their ADPs to a point where there was little chance for them to exceed their price tags. It’s situations like this you need to stay clear of in 2024. Because when it comes to identifying busts in fantasy football, it’s all about the price you pay and the opportunity cost.

Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks are always a position that I struggle to identify busts with because my quarterback rankings tend to line up closely with ECR and ADP. As I have reported on several different mediums, I am not debating about QB1 versus QB2, QB3, etc.

The focus should be more on where these quarterbacks are being drafted in relation to the other skill positions at RB/WR/TE.

Last year, Patrick Mahomes’ ADP was the QB1 right between WR7 and RB6. His overall ECR ranking is between RB12 and WR13.

This year, Josh Allen’s ADP as the QB1 is between WR13 and RB8. His overall ECR ranking is between RB8 and WR13.

The opportunity cost to draft the QB1 overall tends to be in the middle to back end RB1/WR1, high-end RB2/WR2 range; players that are starters that you draft through Rounds 2 and 3. And as you go down the QB rankings, the better value and opportunity cost you receive on signal-callers.

That’s why my 2024 quarterback draft strategy is the same as 2023: a pseudo-late-round QB approach. I discuss more of this in my Fantasy Football Strategy & Advice: Early Snake Draft Picks (2024) article and in my Quarterback Rankings, Tiers & Notes piece.

The TLDR version: I want an elite fantasy quarterback at the best price. That helps me capture a ton of upside while also limiting bust potential with my selections. And when it comes to identifying QBs with elite ceilings you can quantify it by aiming for QBs that have shown the capability of scoring 20-plus fantasy points per game. My highest-ranked QBs have either consistently averaged north of the 20-point average threshold or achieved it at least once. The top dogs at QB also add a ton of value due to their abilities as rushers. Even in 2024, the mobile QBs reign supreme.

Among the 7 QBs who rushed for at least 30 yards per game in 2022 – Justin Fields, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones, Josh Allen, Marcus Mariota and Kyler Murray – only Murray failed to crack the top 10 in fantasy points per dropback. Five finished inside the top-5 fantasy scoring QBs on a per-dropback basis.

Among the 8 QBs in 2023 that hit 30-plus rushing yards – Jackson, Fields, Hurts, Jones, Richardson, Joshua Dobbs, Allen, Murray – again Murray failed to crack the top 10 in fantasy points per dropback along with Jones/Dobbs. Five finished inside the top-6 fantasy scoring QBs on a per-dropback basis.

I’ve got four quarterbacks in my Tier 1 and just want to draft the QB that goes latest. And that’s usually either Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson. And this means I don’t get Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts.

But just because I avoid them doesn’t mean I recognize them as busts. That’s the key difference I want to make between these quarterbacks and the ones that are recognized as players to avoid at cost.

It’s why Trevor Lawrence wasn’t on the bust list last season. I recognized he was appropriately valued as the QB8 last season – finished 2022 as the QB8– but meeting those expectations or just slightly surpassing them isn’t what I am looking for.

But in hindsight, I was being too kind to Lawrence because he was a full-blown bust in 2023. I also highlighted the fact that the 2022 Jaguars were the second-healthiest team. What killed them in the second half of the 2023 season? Injuries.

Looking back at last year’s fantasy QB busts: Mahomes (QB1), Justin Herbert (QB5), Joe Burrow (QB6), Lawrence (QB8), Tua Tagovailoa (QB9), Deshaun Watson (QB12) and Geno Smith (QB13).

There weren’t as many busts inside the top-15 as last season (10 versus 7), but the QBs going after the top-15 – where players are essentially bust-proof because of low cost in 1QB formats – there were strong values. Again, drafting QBs right after the elite tier did not work. Ergo, stay out of the middle. The QB8 to QB13 range bombed for a second straight season. And it’s this range in the draft where I feel less confident drafting QBs in this year’s draft.

And it’s usually because these QBs are much closer in projection to the guys going AFTER them in the late rounds versus the elite guys going BEFORE them. After the elite QBs, the fantasy production flatlines.

Example? Dak Prescott is QB5 in the FantasyPros consensus projections, but his ahead of the QB11 by just 14 points.

Other things to keep in mind when identifying potential QB busts, beware of TD regression.

In 2022, five of the six highest-drafted QB busts were the passing TD leaders from the previous year. If you just copy-paste the TD passing leaders from 2022 – Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Geno Smith, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert – five of the eight were busts in 2023. In 2021, five of the six were busts.

In 2023 the passing TD leaders were: Dak Prescott, Jordan Love, Brock Purdy, Jared Goff, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr. Note that Kirk Cousins should also be included here given his extremely high TD rate before his injury.

If were leverage FantasyPros’ Touchdown Regression Report we can find that Purdy, Cousins, Allen, Wilson and Goff likely overperformed in passing TDs in 2023.

Simply put, don’t go chasing passing TD efficiency unless we have a large sample size of a player’s career TD rate.

Also, new situations, coaches, receivers, etc., increase the chance that a quarterback fails to live up to expectations.

The uncertainty is often viewed as untapped potential (which can be true), but the risk heightens substantially when it is already baked into an inflated ADP. Something I didn’t look enough into was the pairing between a team’s OC/HC and the QB. Is the pairing primed for sustained success? Or is the team just throwing something at the wall, hoping it sticks?

And I’d like to bring to light that’s it not just about the offensive coordinator. Key offensive coaches such as QB coach/passing game coordinator should also be considered. Remember, before Dave Canales made his magic with the Buccaneers in 2023 as the OC, he was the QB coach for the 2022 Seahawks and a resurgent Geno Smith.

Under-the-radar (in my estimation) offensive coaching personnel that switched teams during the offseason:

  • Chargers QB coach Shane Day (returning to the Chargers after 1-year stint with Texans as senior offensive assistant).
  • Panthers QB coach Will Harriger (spent 2023 with Dallas as offensive assistant/Quality control coach, spent 2022 as USC’s Senior offensive analyst/Assistant quarterbacks).
  • Bills QB coach Ronald Curry (from Saints and Sean Payton coaching tree).
  • Bengals pass-game coordinator Justin Rascati (from the Vikings).
  • Titans QB coach Bo Hardegree (interim OC for the 2023 Raiders).

But by far the biggest mistake that fantasy gamers continue to make is over-evaluating non-elite rushing QBs. If you are aggressively drafting a fantasy QB, there must be an upside case when it comes to their rushing. Without it, their chances of busting increase substantially. This is what got people in trouble with Tom Brady in 2022. They fell in love with the TD efficiency and passing yardage totals from 2021 but overlooked that any step back in efficiency would nuke his fantasy appeal.

Tua Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing yards in 2023. The result? QB18 in points per game. QB8 overall with the Dolphins quarterback production extremely front-loaded. Drafted as the QB11 last season.

I said last year regarding the Dolphins QB, “If everything goes right for Tagovailoa, he’s a small win. That’s not enough for me to be a buyer, given his additional risk.”

Pretty spot on. In my estimation, the Dolphins QB has now been priced adjusted for 2024 as the QB14. And one could argue that may even be too aggressive given his status as QB18 in points per game. Projections have him closer to QB20 across the board.

Fast forward to this year, and the most expensive QB on the board that offers little to no rushing is C.J. Stroud. He’s QB5/6 in ADP after finishing his rookie season with under 19 points per game. Again, we need that 20-point threshold to get a difference-making QB in fantasy.

He was a top-12 finisher in fewer than half of his games (43%). According to FantasyPros consensus projections, Stroud is currently ranked as the QB7, mere points away from Jordan Love, Joe Burrow, Anthony Richardson, Brock Purdy and Kyler Murray. Many of those QBs are drafted after Stroud. And you’ll find many site projections have players such as Prescott, Burrow, Richardson and Murray projected for more raw points in 2024 than Stroud.

Stroud was QB9 in points per game last season, and 15th in expected points per game. To me, Stroud’s second-year projection reminds me so much of the market’s hype on Trevor Lawrence. I pushed back on it last year, and it worked. So, it’s rinse and repeat. I’ll let others draft Stroud closer to the top 50, and I’ll take a more mobile QB later in the draft.

The last major theme with QB busts comes down to injuries. Whether it be to the quarterback or their supporting cast (pass-catchers and OL).

I noted this in the RBs to Avoid article, but the healthiest O-Lines last season were CIN, BUF, DEN, LAR, TB, PIT, ATL, KC and SF. Chances are they won’t be as lucky two years in a row.

Considering strictly just pass-catchers here’s the top-10: ATL, CLE, WAS, CHI, MIA, SEA, LV, BUF, SF and NYJ.

Keep these teams in mind when you are looking for sleepers in the late rounds of your drafts. Very possible the depth of these gets tested across WR and TE based on injury regression.

And when you average AGL in combination with OL, WR and TE here are the top-10: ATL, BUF, CIN, LAR, LV, SF, PIT, KC, WAS, DAL.

Predicting injuries is easier said than done. But if you want to avoid drafting QB busts, it needs to be part of your drafting equation. 2023 was bad for QB injuries, but it was the quarterbacks nobody thought would be injured.

The injury QBs to “fear” were Tua Tagovailoa and Lamar Jackson. They played the entire 2023 season. Go figure. Matthew Stafford only missed one game. Kyler Murray played 8 games and was QB1 in half of them.  12th in points per game despite coming off a torn ACL. He played better than anybody fully expected, especially as a rusher just 11 months removed from the injury.

When it comes to injuries, I think we – as in the royal we – believe more than we know. So instead of following the herd, be advantageous and embrace the injury discount for players coming off injuries. Note that this is different than players who get hurt during the preseason/training camp. A la, Joe Burrow from 2023.

Simply put, be greedy while others are fearful of projecting QB injuries.

The most popular “injury-prone” QBs headlining this year are Anthony Richardson, Joe Burrow and Jayden Daniels. Then Kirk Cousins/Aaron Rodgers to a lesser extent with both older QBs coming off torn Achilles injuries.

Be overweight. Because chances are it will be a completely different crop of QBs that do get hurt instead of the ones the market deems the most concerned about.

But be mindful of actual data that suggests injury that the market isn’t considering enough. Zig while others zag.

This is where the adjusted games lost come into play. And it’s not about just citing the players/teams that were injured last year. It’s about citing the teams that weren’t given that positive injury luck tends to regress annually. Remember as part of the analysis last year in fading Lawrence stemmed from this, “They had the second-fewest adjusted games lost due to injury in 2022.”

And in retrospect, you’ll also find that two other marquee QBs that fizzled out in 2023 played on teams that were very healthy in 2022: The Eagles/Chiefs. The Steelers were the other (Kenny Pickett, woof) and the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams lost their star QB and WR for a major surplus of games. Seems like some decent correlation to me that is worth taking into account.

The major highlights from the articles written by FTN’s Aaron Schatz.

  • The Falcons had the healthiest offense.
    • 7th-healthiest OL
    • One of the Healthiest RB rooms as neither of their RBs missed time with injuries.
    • Fewest games missed by TEs and WRs
  • The 49ers had the second healthiest offense.
    • 9th-healthiest OL
    • Second-healthiest tight end room
    • The 49ers were the fourth-healthiest overall team
    • For the first time in 10 seasons, they ranked above 20th in AGL.
    • Christian McCaffrey is coming off leading the NFL in touches. This can’t end well.
  • The Rams had the 4th-healthiest offense.
    • 4th-healthiest OL
    • No.1 overall in overall total team health
  • Dallas had the 6th-healthiest offense.
    • One of the Healthiest RB rooms
    • The second-healthiest WR room
  • The Bills had the 9th-healthiest offense.
    • Second-healthiest OL
    • One of the Healthiest RB rooms
    • The healthiest WR room

As a final note, I will say that Houston was decimated by injuries last year, which works more in Stroud’s favor to return on his QB5/6 price tag. That at least gives me confidence that the offense will cook, so I will try to get exposure to the Texans through their trio of top pass-catchers and RB Joe Mixon. Especially considering the Texans had the No.1-most injured OL last season.

Call it my “soft fade” on Stroud. Although I compared him to Lawrence heading into last season, I’ll admit Stroud showed more in his rookie year than Lawrence has done at any point during his NFL career. Not a knock-on Lawrence, but rather just high overall praise for Stroud who was thrown into an objectively bad spot as a rookie.

Before I dive into the quarterbacks with the highest chance of busting in 2024, I just want to quickly recap the QBs from last year. Where I was right and where I was wrong. It’s June after all, so we’ve got time.

Fantasy Football Quarterbacks to Avoid: 2023 Recap

The coverboy on last year’s article was Dak Prescott. Yikes. Felt good through the start of the season, but then got smoked after Dallas fixed their offense post-bye week.

I was convinced losing Kellen Moore would mark the end of Prescott coming off a poor year. But intuitively I should acknowledge that Moore might have been more of the cause of Prescott’s disappointing 2022 season. I was bearish on Prescott’s TD rate even though I was in line with his 2021 campaign. I was also bearish on Dallas’ No.1-ranked red-zone offense. And I was somewhat right, with it falling to 12th. But that just negatively impacted Tony Pollard, not Prescott.

That’s something to keep in mind when we consider how TDs will be distributed from last year’s top red-zone offenses between the 49ers, Lions, Dolphins, and Bills. Probably a smart bet to make that we could see different TD scorers on these high-powered offenses. David Montgomery (13), Christian McCaffrey (21), Raheem Mostert (21) and Josh Allen (15) might lead their teams in TDs in 2024, but they might not by such a wide margin. Among the top-8 TD scorers in 2022, only two players cracked the 13-plus TDs in 2023 (CMC/Jalen Hurts). It was the same amount of players from 2021 to the 2022 season as well (Austin Ekeler, Ezekiel Elliott).

I also cited Prescott’s lack of rushing, which did come to fruition. He’s not as mobile as he once was. He HAS to get it done as a pocket passer.

Also noteworthy is that Prescott played all 17 games – for just the second time in the last four years.

Given that Prescott was only the QB10 in 2023, the price really shouldn’t have deterred me away from him, given my main argument was him “losing” Moore (after he was bad with Moore). Again, coaching staffs are looking to improve every offseason.

The closest offensive coordinator change I can find that resembles the Cowboys’ situation last year – where a new OC is looked like a major detriment even after the quarterback disappointed – is ironically Moore’s old team, the Los Angeles Chargers with the hiring of Greg Roman. Justin Herbert has been left for dead with everybody projecting LA to lead the NFL in rushing. But there’s a chance the take has gone a step too far. Roman’s offenses have been super-run-heavy do in part because he has always had rushing QBs. Herbert can scoot akin to Mahomes, but I’d hardly label him as a rushing QB.

And to a lesser extent, Geno Smith probably isn’t getting enough love after the team hired Ryan Grubb to replace Shane Waldron. Seattle also brought in Jake Peetz who spent 2022-2023 with the Rams as offensive assistant/pass game specialist.

Could also make lesser arguments with Derek Carr and Baker Mayfield landing Klint Kubiak/Liam Coen respectively as new OCs. Although I very much prefer the latter with Mayfield than Carr. I just can’t do Carr guys. Carr has only finished inside the top-10 fantasy QBs ONCE during his ten-year career, his mediocrity is not worth paying any sort of premium for in the Superflex format. The Saints QB has three top-5 weekly finishes since 2019. Two came in three of his last games played at the end of the 2023 season. Turning a new leaf? Not likely.

Because all of these QBs carry more “risk” given the changes at OC. The teams likely view each as upgrades, but that may not reality. Especially in the case of Mayfield losing Dave Canales to the Carolina Panthers. We saw firsthand how his loss was felt by the Seahawks in 2023. Wouldn’t be too shocking to see the Buccaneers’ offense regress without Canales, even though I am hopeful for Coen.

This could be a potential blind spot for me, but I think the Buccaneers brought in the best staff they could post-Canales. Josh Grizzard is the new pass-game coordinator, after spending time as the Dolphins as offensive quality control coach the last 2 seasons.

I was correct on fading Aaron Rodgers, although we never really got the chance to see it play out in full because of injury. My Jets under 9.5 wins ticket was the least fun sweat I had in my 2023 NFL betting portfolio.

But he showed plenty of signs of decline at an older age to be pessimistic. And it was a brand-new situation which can oftentimes not immediately pan out.

This year we don’t have any older QBs going high enough to be potential busts, although Cousins has some red flags on his profile playing on a new team (more to come). Matthew Stafford is older, but he is coming off a year where he posted a career-high PFF passing grade. If Stafford is playing and healthy, he’s going to ball. Entirely possible that Stafford won’t be kept upright for 17 games, but that’s why the Rams wisely invested in Jimmy Garoppolo, who can easily keep the ship afloat for a few weeks.

Russell Wilson is the other “old” QB at 35 years old and has shown obvious flags of decline since his last season in Seattle. Three years we have gotten a bad Wilson. QB16, 18 and 13. Hasn’t sniffed 18 points per game in any of the last 3 seasons. Career-low yards per attempt (6.9, 21st same as Justin Fields) in 2023. Passing success rate ranked 23rd. Passing yards per game was his lowest (204.7) since his rookie season.

And he’s a top candidate to suffer TD regression in 2024.

I also labeled Carr (33 years old) as a bust in Superflex formats, and I felt justified. He posted two top-12 finishes despite tying for the NFL lead in 300-yard passing games. I’m not sure there’s another Carr in this year’s draft although Rodgers going as the QB20 raises serious eyebrows. Tom Strachan agrees with me as he wrote in his Superflex analysis.

Don’t overpay for QB2 mediocrity in Superflex formats. Especially in PPR formats. Keep in mind that a 17-19-point average is essentially the top scorers at RB/WR in half-PPR. But in PPR – the MAJOR difference here – all top-12 WRs traditionally fall into this range. For RBs, it’s closer to the top eight at the position. Keep in mind in all Superflex drafts that RB/WRs are much more desirable in PPR formats than in half-PPR where drafting QBs becomes even more integral.

Speaking of which…Anthony Richardson was the ultimate upside selection last year. The on-field production was elite (1st in fantasy points per dropback) but the injuries knocked him out for the majority of the season. He also plays in a Shane Steichen offense that saw Jalen Hurts finish first and fourth in fantasy points per dropback respectively from 2021-2022.

The Colts QB was priced in the QB10-12 range in 2023, and based on the track record of mobile QBs, I felt his value was sound. Caleb Williams is priced as the QB12 which is a bit pricy given his rushing is not nearly as advertised as Jayden Daniels (QB13). The Bears’ rookie QB also gets drafted nearly two full rounds in Superflex before Daniels.

As I noted on Richardson’s price check in the article last season, at any price outside the top-15 QBs, Daniels projects as a no-brainer selection in 1QB and Superflex formats.

So, without further ado, here are the quarterbacks to avoid and the QBs with the highest chance of busting in 2024.

Buyer Beware: Quarterbacks

Josh Allen (QB – BUF)

Do we love Josh Allen losing his top two WRs from last season? How much should we expect from a group consisting of Curtis Samuel, Keon Coleman, Khalil Shakir, Mack Hollins and Marquez Valdes-Scantling?

Or the fact that Buffalo was one of the healthiest offenses last season? We saw Mahomes struggle immensely in 2023 with a new cast of WRs to work with. Obviously if Allen continues to score rushing TDs at a high rate – 51 total TDs scored last season – he can and will be back in the conversation as the fantasy QB1. But to be so bullish on him to draft him as the first QB off the board with other elite QBs going one round or two rounds later? That’s what makes me hesitant to pull the trigger.

It’s also worth noting that when Joe Brady took over the offense last season, they featured running back James Cook much more and focused on the running game. Went from +4% pass rate over expectation to -3%. Allen posted his lowest passing TD rate (5%) and passing yards per game (253.3) since 2019 as a result.

Brady has already spoken on how this will be Allen’s offense, with Stefon Diggs completely out of the picture. But how much he can shoulder during a 17-game stretch – specifically coming off his highest rushing TD output of his career – creates some doubt with the amount of projection we have for the 2024 Bills.

C.J. Stroud (QB – HOU)

Laid out the case for Stroud as a QB to avoid during the introduction, headlined by the lack of rushing he has to offer combined with his price as super-hyped second-year QB.

I just see so many other QBs with similar fantasy football potential that go much later. Even considering Stroud led the NFL in passing yards per game and TD-to-interception ratio. Mahomes led the NFL in passing yards per game in 2022. Daniel Jones led in the TD-to-interception ratio. Both were busts last season.

Drafting Stroud as a fringe top-5 fantasy QB based on TD passing efficiency – typically something that isn’t super sticky year over year. – isn’t full proof. Again, despite his amazing accolades in Year 1, he was still UNDER 19 points per game. Stroud had 2 top-6 finishes last season (also happened to be top-3). Burrow also had 2 top-6 finishes despite 6 fewer games played.

Now I will preface this by reiterating that I still want exposure to the Texans offense. The fact that they should be much healthier, they added WR Stefon Diggs and kept their OC Bobby Slowik suggesting this offense shouldn’t take any step back. But they might not take a huge step forward.

Still, Stroud could just be that good. Therefore, I can’t with good conscience encourage avoiding the Texans offense entirely.

Although they may have lost a key offensive contributor in Shane Day this offseason. Wrote about it above how Day served as a senior offensive assistant for the Texans in Stroud’s first season.

I also have some concerns with the Texans going from being on the hunt, to becoming the hunted. The Houston Texans have the 7th-most difficult schedule in 2024 after facing the 6th-easiest schedule in 2023. No team has a harder schedule compared to last season than the Houston Texans.

Again, who is the best real-life QB on the planet? Patrick Mahomes. And who was a bust in fantasy football last season? Patrick Mahomes.

Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)

Is 2023 probably the best we will see from Prescott? It’s possible. Although according to expected fantasy points, he still left A LOT on the table. 1st in expected points per game. 4th in points per game overall.

As I have already come to grips with during the intro, Prescott was a QB I was vehemently “fading” last season, and I was flat-out wrong. But he’s done this act before.

In 2021, Prescott averaged 21.1 points per game. 4,700 yards and 38 TDs. In 2022, Prescott was horrible and was barely a fantasy QB1. QB13 in points per game. But then he bounced back BIG in 2023: 21.3 points per game in 2023. 4,922 yards and 39 TDs.

2023 was the perfect storm. The defense underwhelmed versus expectation and Prescott greatly benefitted from Tony Pollard’s inability to score rushing TDs. He led the NFL in passing TDs in 2023. Can be a fantasy QB1 again? Sure. But for him to be at the very top again, I am very skeptical. Betting on Mike McCarthy doing the right thing is something that doesn’t work in my opinion in the long run.

And there’s no denying that he must be elite from a passing perspective again, without any rushing to fall back on. Keep in mind that Dallas likely won’t be as fortunate from an injury perspective. Should anything happen to CeeDee Lamb, Prescott would be in big trouble. There’s a severe lack of WR depth behind Lamb on the roster. Brandin Cooks is getting older, and the Cowboys are just hoping Jalen Tolbert can ascend to the No. 3 role.

Keep in mind that Dallas had one of the healthiest WR rooms last season.

But I’ll admit the price to draft Prescott isn’t bad. At the start of the offseason, I expected Prescott to be drafted much higher than his current QB7-9 ADP range. Still, I am not sold that he is so much better of an option than several other QBs going after him.

Brock Purdy (QB – SF)

I think my initial post-season analysis of Brock Purdy summarizes him perfectly.

“Back-to-back seasons where Purdy has posted a passing TD rate at 7% or higher. Most fantasy points scored ABOVE expectation in 2023. Nearly an average of 5 points or more scored over expectation. Tossed nearly 10 more TDS over expectation. QB33 in expected points per game. But with all that factored in. Still under 20 points per game at 19.2 (QB8). If you don’t draft Purdy, I don’t think it will kill your fantasy team. Everything has to remain perfect around him for him to be a top-8 fantasy QB, let alone top-5.”

We saw last season when Purdy lost a weapon or key offensive linemen, it was not a fun ride. Given that the 49ers are primed to experience a Super Bowl hangover – No.1 red-zone offense and No.2 healthiest offense – things might not be as smooth sailing for the third-year quarterback if the situation around him weakens.

Again, Purdy doesn’t offer the requisite rushing ability to mitigate any potential in passing TD efficiency.

I also don’t love the 49ers’ opening schedule. Home versus the Jets and then on the road versus the Vikings. New York still has one of the best defenses in the NFL. And the Vikings gave Purdy fits last season, holding him to under 13 fantasy points.

Kirk Cousins (QB – ATL)

Given the hype train surrounding the Atlanta Falcons, I expect Cousins’ ranking and average draft position (ADP) to rise. Especially given he has already been participating in the Falcons OTAs.

But I am not exactly sure that Atlanta is that much better for Cousins’ standalone fantasy value. Sure, the situation looks great… but we don’t have to imagine the impossible to see how this doesn’t pan out.

The elephant in the room revolves around Cousins’ injury and how the Achilles will impact his play in 2024. The main narrative around this is he will be fine and there’s nothing to worry about. Ok. Maybe there is nothing to worry about. Again, he’s already practicing at OTAs.

But if everybody is not considering there’s no chance his Achilles injury hinders him in production… well, it’s more advantageous to factor that into the equation and be lower on Cousins than consensus.

Second, is the brand-new situation. Zac Robinson’s system should be familiar for Cousins (stemming from the Sean McVay tree) but he is a first-time OC and play-caller. Even as great as Bobby Slowik was for Houston as a first-time OC and play-caller…he had his lumps. The Texans had the 7th-lowest early down pass play rate.

Slowik also had a historically great rookie QB that likely masked parts of the offense.

Third is chasing last year’s touchdown numbers. Cousins led the NFL in TD passes (18) before his injury. He was the fantasy QB6 overall, averaging just under 20 points per game. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing as we project into next season. As I have reviewed quarterbacks that bust are often the passers who experience TD regression the following season.

And we can’t fail to mention the selection of first-round pick, Michael Penix Jr., perhaps a slight jab at the ex-Vikings QB to put up or shut up.

The injury, a brand-new situation, zero rushing upside, a high TD rate from 2023 and selection of Penix as a top-10 pick are all red flags indicating Cousins will likely be more fantasy bust than fantasy stud in 2024. Injuries, new coaches/receivers, lack of rushing upside, TD regression, etc.

He’s also no longer throwing to Justin Jefferson, the best WR in the NFL. We can also expect the Falcons to get hit with more injuries to both their OL and top pass-catchers given how healthy they were in 2023 (No.1 between OL, WR and TE).

And the fact that Cousins was still under 20 points per game even after leading the league in TD passes in 2023, suggests his production can be found elsewhere at a fraction of the cost.

Honorable Mentions

Caleb Williams (QB – CHI)

I like Caleb Williams as a late-round QB. Here’s what I wrote about him after he was drafted by the Chicago Bears.

“It’s hard to argue against Caleb Williams’ great landing spot in Chicago with the veteran weapons he has at his disposal, including D.J. Moore, D’Andre Swift, Keenan Allen, and Cole Kmet. The Bears were not finished improving Williams’ first-year potential with the selection of Washington WR Rome Odunze as the ninth overall selection.

The USC product’s off-script playmaking ability is apparent, and that makes him deadly when paired with his elite production from a clean pocket. This past season, Williams posted PFF’s highest grade operating from a clean pocket.

No Bears QB has ever thrown for 4,000 yards or 30 TDs. I hardly think it’s a stretch to see Williams hit the 4K passing yards mark in Year 1. As for fantasy football specifically, I’d be excited about Williams and his upside with rushing TDs.

He is a deadly threat near the goal line. The No. 1 overall pick scored 27 rushing TDs in 2.5 seasons as a starter at the college level. He also added 44 rushing yards per game.

Given Swift’s lack of – less call it – “red zone reliability” we could see the Bears rookie QB get credited for a lot of TDs in year 1. His passing TD-INT ratio in the red zone was 46-1 during his college tenure.

The Bears have the third-easiest schedule, and they draw the Titans at home to start the season.

They follow it up versus the Houston Texans on the road (SNF), then draw the Colts, Rams, Panthers and Jaguars in London before a Week 7 bye. Williams is one of my favorite late-round QBs, and the favorable schedule bolsters the case for drafting him to use him as your starter from the get-go. Per Sharp Football, the Bears have the easiest schedule over the first 10 weeks of the season.”

There’s the bullish case for Williams as a late-round QB, despite the track record of non-rushing rookie QBs being super fantasy-relevant. Even though I think Williams will add some value with his legs, the vast array of weapons at his disposal suggests he will try to find a receiver before relying too much on his legs.

One of his biggest “flaws” in his college profile was holding onto the ball too long. Last three college football seasons, Williams had ranked 11th, 2nd and first in the nation in average time to throw averaging 3.27 seconds. The only other notable/recent college passers that posted similar time-to-throw stats include Malik Willis (3.2), Kenny Picket (3.07) and Anthony Richardson (3.16).

Williams holding the ball for too long has been a question raised during the Bears OTAs.

But I bring up these negative points because we have to poke holes when the price continues to rise. At this point – and with the Bears being the featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks – I am not so sure he’s going to end up being a late-round QB when the dust settles closer to draft day. The price has gone way up for a rookie QB to QB12 which is very much projection-driven. These are all new coaches, receivers, etc.

And consider me somewhat skeptical about Shane Waldron as the OC after he put together an uninspiring Seattle passing game that got worse from 2022 to 2023 after they lost Canales. He also brought with him from Seattle, Kerry Joseph as the new Bears QB coach. Chicago also hired Thomas Brown as the offensive passing game coordinator. He flamed out as Carolina’s OC in 2023 after spending 2020-2022 with the Rams. Do we love this offensive coaching staff?

Williams’ median projections have him slated much closer to the QB17 range closer to Herbert, Cousins, Mayfield and Geno Smith. Want a QB with 3 strong WRs? Draft Smith.

Overall, there are much safer options at better prices you can get later in the draft. I.e. Jayden Daniels. Bet on the rushing over projected passing efficiency, especially when it comes to a first-year QB. And if you are going to be on passing efficiency, it better be cheap.

I mentioned earlier that the Bears had one of the healthiest WR/TE rooms last season. Obviously If one of the big “three” were to miss time, it would make our lives for fantasy football so much easier. But it would also hurt Williams’ upside if the “situation” isn’t as desirable as it looks like on paper.

Justin Herbert (QB – LAC)

I wanted to put Justin Herbert in this article because the market has soured on him like no other top fantasy QB before. And I can’t say that his suppressed ADP isn’t warranted. It is given the unknown of a run-heavy offense orchestrated by Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are both gone. Herbert’s 2024 outlook is hardly perfect. But behind an upgraded OL, with an easy schedule and Herbert’s talent as the QB17 off the board…we’ve gone way too far.

Remember, fantasy QB scoring is more tied to rushing and passing efficiency, not necessarily raw passing volume. I believe the market is overestimating the projected rushing of LA’s offense and not considering Herbert’s passing abilities enough.

In 2023, 13 games of healthy Herbert equaled the QB5 in points per game at 19.8. 6th-highest top-6 weekly finisher rate. 5th-highest weekly QB1 rate. When Lamar Jackson played under Greg Roman in Baltimore, the Ravens QB posted a top-7 passing TD rate in three of four seasons. 6.3% TD passing rate overall. That’s better than any TD passing rate Herbert has accomplished during his four-year career. It would have ranked second last season. There’s also a chance Herbert is used more as a rusher, further adding to his upside case.

The Chargers have the second-easiest schedule this year compared to the 27th-most difficult in 2023. They will host the Raiders to open the season, followed by two road games versus the Panthers and Steelers. You don’t need to squint too hard to see the Bolts starting the season on a high note. And you better believe that positive game scripts will allow Jim Harbaugh to establish the run with RB1 Gus Edwards. So even if Herbert’s outlook to start the season is slightly bumpy, it just takes one negative game script to see him realize his late-round potential. Week 4 against the Chiefs should be the perfect jump start for him to post strong passing stats.

Still, I’ll admit that given the lack of early-season schedule appeal, Herbert likely won’t be my No. 1 late-round QB option. In the player pool, yes but not my favorite. For that reason, he is also a QB I’d shy away from in Superflex formats inside the top 3 rounds. Most median projections have Herbert in the QB15 range.

I’d also like to point out one coaching move that works in favor of Herbert that is not being discussed enough.

The Chargers brought back Shane Day as the QBs coach on Harbaugh’s coaching staff. Day spent last season with the Texans (senior offensive assistant) after serving as pass game coordinator and QB coach for the Chargers in 2021-22. Herbert’s a big fan. Before LA, he was hired as the quarterbacks coach under head coach Kyle Shanahan from 2019-2020.

We could see something like Jimmy Garoppolo’s ’19 stat line for Herbert in 2024. He threw for nearly 4,000 yards (nearly 250 yards/game) and 27 TDs. That team ranked 30th in pass attempts per game. He was the fantasy QB14.

Will Levis (QB – TEN)

The Titans’ Will Levis will likely be discussed as a popular late-round QB. Not for me. Here’s why. Week 1 at the Bears and their vastly improved defense. Week 2. Jets. No thanks. It’s a new offense that could take some time for things to gel.

Final Thoughts

A lot of what makes this QBs to avoid list isn’t hyper-focused on the individuals’ 2024 outlook. Sure, I’ve added in my analysis/intel of what I think might happen with specific QBs. But what I am trying to hammer home here is to structure your fantasy football roster in a way that helps you navigate around potential QB landmines as I have laid out. So much of what goes into QB rankings/ADP the following season is just copying and pasting the guys who passed the most TDs.

But as I’ve detailed that’s not a wise approach. Fundamentally, chasing last year’s TDs isn’t a profitable strategy. You want to project who throws the most TDs…this season. Not just from last year.

But the problem is the guys that throw the most get “rewarded” by seeing their ADP rise into that middle QBs the following season. And this is the area of the draft where QBs often fail to live up to expectations.

Because the name of the game with QB still comes down to value. So, unless you have a QB posting elite production over the 20-point threshold, you are just better off waiting at the position.

There’s so much late-round QB value this year, that I want to take advantage of. And when you go late-round QB, it nearly eliminates the bust risk at the position.

I also want to stretch how important it is to look at the early season strength of the schedule before drafting your QBs. Because most QBs outside the elite are matchup-based. This is also super important when you follow a late-round approach, where early on you likely don’t have a matchup-proof QB.

I detailed the schedules in depth in this article: 2024 NFL Schedule Release: Fantasy Football Winners, Losers & Takeaways.

The TLDR version…

Good opening schedules: Caleb Williams, Aaron Rodgers (after Week 1), Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield.

Bad opening schedules: Kirk Cousins, Drake Maye, Sam Darnold, Bo Nix, Will Levis.

Final segment.

You’ll notice that I left off Anthony Richardson. He didn’t make it anywhere on this list of QBs to avoid, even though he’s probably viewed in that capacity after missing nearly all last season with an injury. But the fact that he missed so much time last season, has me more bullish he won’t suffer the same fate in 2024. Again, injuries tend to regress year over year. Due to Richardson’s injury, the Colts were the 2nd-most injured team at QB last season (behind the Jets). Even if he does miss some time, it still won’t probably be the same length as last year.

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