2022 Fantasy Football Quarterback Shuffle Up: Justin Herbert to the moon

In real life, the quarterback is everything. It’s not just the most important position in football, it’s the most important position in team sports anywhere. In fantasy football? The quarterback is just another position. It’s the third- or fourth-most important spot of the four major spots, depending on your point of view.

I think it’s the least important field position for fantasy managers to solve (defense and kicker don’t count here).

That doesn’t mean we don’t want to get it right, of course. But you can do well at just about any ADP point with quarterbacks, and in a salary cap draft, there are plenty of reasonable ways to attack the position. If you play in a league that requires just one starting quarterback, you’ll probably never feel harried or anxious at the position. There are so many acceptable options.

Mind you, my favorite leagues are ones that require more than one starter; my league du jour opts for one Superflex spot, where a manager can select a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, or tight end. This makes the league a de-facto two-quarterback league but doesn’t completely hamstring a team if they don’t have a second option now and then.

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The dollar values below are unscientific in nature but reflect how I see the clusters of talent at the quarterback position. My number is on the left; the number on the right is what the player commanded in the recent Vegas Flex salary cap league, which ran its draft earlier this week.

Have some disagreements? Good, that's why we have a game. I welcome your reasoned disagreement over at Twitter: @scott_pianowski.

More Shuffles will come next week — after the signal callers, we'll have the running backs.

The Big Tickets

$35 Josh Allen ($35)

$32 Justin Herbert ($29)

$31 Joe Burrow ($31)

$31 Lamar Jackson ($29)

$30 Patrick Mahomes ($32)

$29 Kyler Murray ($28)

Although Allen is an outlier at my suggested offer, I'll probably play the waiting/value game and go a different route with my quarterback builds, as I don't want to give up the running back or receiver available in the Allen pocket. I also think it's possible he might give up a little of the running juice this year, and heck, his YPA last season was a modest 6.8. He's an excellent player. But others have a shot at beating him . . . Herbert is tied to a Chargers roster that, 1-to-53, might be the best in the AFC, though a little more team speed would be nice . . . I'm assuming the appendectomy won't hold Burrow back, and it seems the Bengals have finally fixed the offensive line . . . Jackson's rushing chops and connection with Mark Andrews are lovely, but he desperately needs Rashod Bateman to pop in Year 2, because the rest of the Baltimore receiving room is suspect . . . It might feel strange to see Mahomes a little lower than usual, though he belongs in this tier and I wouldn't have any major disagreement if anyone took him second overall at this position. Andy Reid needs to find a major wideout contributor among the several new candidates Kansas City added . . . Murray was reluctant to run after injuries hit him last year, and I don't love the receiving group either, nor do I trust Kliff Kingsbury. When Murray percolates to the top of my draft board, I'll probably shrug and wait until the other tier kicks into play.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$27 Tom Brady ($21)

$27 Russell Wilson ($30)

$25 Dak Prescott ($30)

$24 Jalen Hurts ($25)

$23 *Matthew Stafford ($32)

$22 Kirk Cousins ($26)

$22 Derek Carr ($25)

$21 Trey Lance ($25)

$21 Aaron Rodgers ($19)

There are some concerns about the interior of Tampa Bay's offensive line, but Brady as usual is insulated with talented wideouts, and he's also a good bet to play a full season. His likely last dance should be a harmonious one . . . Wilson did what Brady did back in 2020, he escaped to a better situation just in time. Even without Tim Patrick — who surely would have been on several of my rosters, before his injury — Wilson has an above-average set of pieces, not to mention more agency in the offense than he had in Seattle . . . Prescott badly needs a second option to step forward on the outside to go along with CeeDee Lamb (I like Dalton Schultz, but someone else is needed). If Will Fuller is healthy, he looks like an ideal candidate . . . Hurts has the rushing juice and a fantastic offensive line in front of him, and A.J. Brown was a tremendous addition, but I still don't completely trust Hurts as a passer. Too much of his production last year came in garbage time; it's lovely when it happens, but that's not a sustainable business model . . .

Stafford would be in the high-20s if not for the uncertainty surrounding his elbow. I'll probably step around him until we get some clarity . . . Cousins finally gets an offensive head coach to work with, and although the Vikings skill chart isn't particularly deep, there are stars at the top. He's a fine choice if you prefer a frugal approach to this position . . . Carr is basically the AFC's version of Cousins, an under-appreciated veteran who is throwing to a strong receiver group. Las Vegas has problems on the offensive line, but that's easier to mask in pass blocking than it is in run blocking . . . It's hard to know what Lance is ready to do as a passer, given that he's essentially been redshirted for two straight years. But his rushing chops provide a nice floor . . . Initially we were led to believe Rodgers knew Davante Adams was headed out of town; it now appears Rodgers was blindsided like everyone else. Rodgers still has plenty left in the tank, but Green Bay's pedestrian receiver room significantly limits his upside. I will not draft proactively into Rodgers for 2022.

Talk them up, talk them down

$14 Trevor Lawrence ($17)

$12 Tua Tagovailoa ($15)

$11 Justin Fields ($14)

$10 Matt Ryan ($12)

$8 Daniel Jones ($13)

$7 Carson Wentz ($10)

$7 Jared Goff ($8)

$7 Ryan Tannehill ($7)

Like so many of the sophomore QBs, Lawrence gets a mulligan. I can't accept every pro scout may have been wrong on him, and it's possible Urban Meyer was the worst modern coaching hire in NFL history . . . No one knows for sure if Tagovailoa can be a plus quarterback, but with Tyreek Hill here and Jaylen Waddle ascending, we're about to find out . . . Fields has been set up to fail by the Bears front office, but his rushing and athleticism provide a reasonable fantasy floor . . . Ryan looks like a world-beater compared to the exiled Wentz, who played a lot worse than his stats indicate. Ryan also needs Michael Pittman to have a breakout year, but most of us are on board with that . . . Jones is like Lawrence, entering a pivotal year but perhaps finally tied to positive coaching . . . Goff is around league average but the skill talent in Detroit makes him interesting in deeper leagues . . . Tannehill is in the second half of his career and no longer has Brown to drag him around the QB1 cutline. Tennessee was the No. 1 seed last year but probably won't make the playoffs this year.

Bargain bin

$6 Mac Jones ($9)

$5 Jameis Winston ($8)

$4 Zach Wilson ($7)

$3 Baker Mayfield ($7)

$2 Marcus Mariota ($6)

$2 Davis Mills ($5)

$2 *Deshaun Watson ($4)

$1 Mitch Trubisky ($5)

$1 Geno Smith ($1)

$0 Jacoby Brissett ($2)

Jones is a vanilla pick at a position with plenty of tantalizing upside options, but I could still live with him as a depth QB play if the others on my roster were ceiling-driven . . . Winston was a hair-on-fire player in Tampa, and a heck of a lot of fun in 2019, but the scheme is less ambitious in New Orleans, and I'm not sure how the receiver room will be unless Chris Olave is an instant star. No, I'm not drafting proactively into Michael Thomas (or Alvin Kamara, for that matter) . . . I want to see Mayfield click if only so I can draft DJ Moore with confidence . . . Mills is a lot better than most people think. He'll have a 12-year run in this league. Maybe Houston looks to replace him next year, and that's reasonable — you need a QB who could theoretically be the springboard to a championship run. But that doesn't mean Mills can't play. If nothing else, he buoys the fantasy value of Brandin Cooks, forever underrated.

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