It's going to be fascinating to see how quarterbacks get selected in Fantasy drafts this season. We might have reached the point where waiting on the position could be a mistake, and you should draft a quarterback with an early-round pick.
Or maybe not.
In 2022, there were four quarterbacks (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow) who averaged more than 25 Fantasy points per game. The next closest was Lamar Jackson at 21.3 Fantasy points per game, and only 10 quarterbacks were over 20 points per game for the season. It was a bad season for the position, and the best of the best really stood out.
But in 2021, eight quarterbacks averaged between 27.9 Fantasy points per game and 24.2, and 12 quarterbacks averaged at least 22 points per game. We had 11 quarterbacks average at least 25.6 Fantasy points per game in 2020.
I think this past season was more the exception than the rule, and we'll see better quarterback play in 2023. For example, along with Mahomes, Allen, Hurts and Burrow, I could see Justin Fields, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Trevor Lawrence average more than 25 Fantasy points per game. I'm also expecting quality seasons from Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Tua Tagovailoa -- and hopefully Aaron Rodgers.
It's still a deep position, especially if Kyler Murray (ACL) is healthy, and we'll see what happens with the rookie class following the NFL Draft. I'm not going to reach for a quarterback on Draft Day, and based on the current Average Draft Position Data for NFFC best ball leagues, I'm probably in the minority.
Four quarterbacks have an ADP in Round 2 (Allen at No. 13 overall, Mahomes at 14, Hurts at 17 and Burrow at 21). Herbert is next at No. 32 overall followed by Lawrence (36), Fields (39) and Jackson (47). That's eight quarterbacks being drafted in the first four rounds, and I'm not paying that kind of price. As a result, you can make a case that all of these guys are bust candidates at their cost.
Last year, based on the CBS Sports ADP, Burrow was a Round 5 pick. Fields, the No. 6 quarterback in points per game at 21.1, had a Round 12 ADP. Tagovailoa's ADP was Round 11, and he was the No. 7 quarterback at 20.1 Fantasy points per game. And Geno Smith, the No. 8 quarterback at 20.4 Fantasy points per game, did not have an ADP on CBS Sports.
I'm still going to wait to draft a quarterback, especially if the price is Round 2 for the top four guys. Even drafting Jackson toward the end of Round 4 is too expensive for how I like to build my Fantasy roster.
We'll see what happens with the ADP data in August when most Fantasy drafts are taking place, but you can put all of these guys in the early bust category for Busts 1.0. Now, here are some other bust candidates I will likely be avoiding this season based on current ADP.
Running Back Busts
I actually don't mind Henry's current NFFC ADP at No. 18 overall, but I would prefer to draft him toward the end of Round 2 in PPR. I don't like that he's the No. 5 running back off the board, and I'm afraid Father Time will catch up to Henry this season. He turned 29 in January, and that's not good for a running back. While he bounced back from the foot injury he sustained in 2021 that limited him to eight games -- he played 16 games in 2022 -- he has a lot of mileage on his massive frame with over 380 total touches in two of the past three seasons. The Titans offensive line is going through a makeover this year, and Tennessee reportedly was shopping Henry this offseason. He's been amazing when healthy over the past four seasons, averaging more than 18.1 PPR points per game every year since 2019, but I'm concerned he's reached the end of his run as an elite Fantasy option. I don't plan on buying a lot of stock in Henry this year.
Fantasy managers love Swift. The Lions don't seem to have that same feeling. Detroit signed David Montgomery this offseason to a three-year, $18 million contract with $11 million in guarantees, and coach Dan Campbell sounds like he's going to use Montgomery a lot. Campbell also said prior to signing Montgomery that the Lions need to manage Swift's workload to make sure he's healthy. Swift missed three games in 2022 and has yet to play a full season in three years in the NFL. It seems like Swift will again play a complementary role in Detroit, and that's why it's hard to draft him at No. 45 overall as the No. 17 running back based on his current NFFC ADP. I don't mind Swift as a flex option in PPR, but the earliest I would draft him is the back end of Round 5 or early Round 6. Montgomery should lead the Lions in carries this year, and Jamaal Williams led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns last season, which gives Montgomery the chance to get in the end zone quite a bit. He's also a better receiver than Williams, which could hurt Swift. I do like that Swift is in a contract year, and maybe he does finally break out this season. But you shouldn't draft him in Round 4 with Montgomery now in Detroit.
I'm not sure what to expect from Williams this season after he suffered a torn ACL and LCL in Week 4 in 2022. One ESPN report in February said Williams could be out for part of the 2023 campaign, while general manager George Paton said Williams is on track to play in Week 1. We'll see what happens in training camp, and Denver signed Samaje Perine in free agency as insurance. Until we know when Williams can return, it's hard to justify drafting him in as the No. 21 running back off the board based on his current NFFC ADP. Now, he's being selected at No. 70 overall, which isn't a bad gamble, but new coach Sean Payton's history suggests Denver will rotate running backs, and Payton is already hyping up Perine. Denver also might not be done adding to its backfield, especially if Williams needs more time to recover. I love the upside for Williams if he's healthy, but we might not see the best of him again until 2024 based on the history of his injury.
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Wide Receivers Busts
Adams had another standout season in 2022 in his first year in Las Vegas, averaging 19.4 PPR points per game. He finished with 100 catches, 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns on a career-high 180 targets. That came with Derek Carr under center for most of the season, and now Adams will have to adjust to life with Jimmy Garoppolo. I'm still counting on Adams to play at a high level with Garoppolo, who should provide better intermediate passes than Carr. Now, while some of the downfield throws from Garoppolo could be a problem for Adams, he should have the chance for 100 catches again for the fourth year in a row. I expect Adams to see his touchdown total decline, and we'll see how the Raiders adjust with a different receiving corps with Jakobi Meyers in and Darren Waller out. I'm fine with drafting Adams in Round 2, but his current NFFC ADP is at No. 10 overall. If that stays the same in August, I plan to avoid Adams in most leagues.
Samuel had a quality season in 2022 when he averaged 12.2 PPR points per game, but he was a bust compared to his 2021 campaign when he averaged 21.2 PPR points. It looks like he could be a bust again based on his current NFFC ADP at No. 35 overall as the No. 15 receiver. I can't draft him that high, and the earliest I would select him is the middle of Round 4. For starters, the expected starting quarterback for the 49ers, Brock Purdy, is dealing with an elbow injury that could keep him out to start the season. We'll see if San Francisco turns to Trey Lance or Sam Darnold if Purdy can't play, and I don't love either scenario for Samuel. Next, you have to look at what happened to Samuel with Purdy, and the two played five healthy games together, including the playoffs. In those games, Samuel averaged 6.8 targets and 16.8 PPR points. That's great, but one of those games included a rushing touchdown, and Samuel only topped 60 receiving yards once. If you want to argue that Samuel's rushing production will continue to help him, he averaged just three carries per game after Christian McCaffrey joined the 49ers in Week 7 and had one rushing touchdown. He had eight rushing touchdowns in 2021. I love Samuel, but he's not someone you should draft in Round 3 this year.
I'm not sure there was anyone more excited about Pittman last year than me. I loved the pairing with Matt Ryan going into the season, and I expected Pittman to have a breakout third-year campaign. While he had a productive season -- 99 catches for 925 yards and four touchdowns on 141 targets for 13.2 PPR points per game -- he had less yards and touchdowns than his production in 2021. This year, Pittman won't be hyped as much, but his current NFFC ADP is still too high for me as the No. 17 receiver off the board at No. 44 overall. Most likely, the Colts will select a quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft, and we can reevaluate what that means for Pittman then. But he could open the season with Gardner Minshew as his quarterback, and I don't think Minshew will enhance Pittman's production. He definitely played better in 11 games with Ryan last year, and Pittman averaged 14.5 PPR points per game over that span. But he struggled with Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles, averaging 10.4 PPR points per game in five outings, and I'm concerned Pittman could be closer to those stats again this season. Round 5 is the right time to draft Pittman this year.
Sam Howell started one game for the Commanders last year in Week 18 against Dallas, and it was great for McLaurin. Howell only attempted 19 passes, but six of them went toward McLaurin, who caught three for 74 yards and a touchdown. That would be great if McLaurin can continue to get a 31.6 percent target share and average a touchdown per game, but clearly that's not going to happen. For example, McLaurin's target share in 2022 was 22.6 percent, and he's scored five touchdowns or fewer in each of the past three seasons. He's an extremely productive receiver, averaging at least 12.5 PPR points per game in all four seasons of his career. But he might have peaked in his second year in 2020 at 14.9 PPR points per game, and it's hard to see him breaking that barrier this season. We'll see if Howell opens the year as the starter, or it could be Jacoby Brissett under center, and neither quarterback signals a breakout season is upcoming for McLaurin. And McLaurin has to share targets with a talented running mate in second-year receiver Jahan Dotson, who led the Commanders with seven touchdowns in 2022. I like McLaurin as a high-end No. 3 receiver this year, but his current NFFC ADP is the No. 22 receiver at No. 52 overall. I will likely pass on him at that spot.
Tight End Bust
Kittle was thrilled with Purdy starting for the 49ers, which is understandable. The two had a great connection, and Kittle scored seven touchdowns in the eight healthy games he played with Purdy. To put that in perspective, Kittle never scored more than six touchdowns in a season in the first five years of his career. He also averaged 14.3 PPR points per game with Purdy. But there's a tale of two game logs when it comes to Kittle and Purdy, and it involves Samuel, who missed three of those eight games. In those three games without Samuel against Seattle in Week 15, Washington in Week 16 and Las Vegas in Week 17, Kittle had 21 targets for 14 catches, 236 yards and five touchdowns. In the other five games with Samuel healthy against Miami in Week 13, Tampa Bay in Week 14, Arizona in Week 18 and two playoff games against Seattle and Dallas, Kittle had 21 targets for 17 catches, 211 yards and two touchdowns. I'm still drafting Kittle as a top 10 tight end, but his current NFFC ADP is the No. 4 tight end at No. 55 overall. It could be hard for him to justify that ADP while sharing targets with Samuel, McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk, and again, Purdy might not be ready for Week 1. Just something to consider before you overvalue Kittle for this season.