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2023 Fantasy Football: Second-Year Quarterback Breakouts

In 2022 there turned out to be two second-year quarterbacks who were among the top-ten fantasy producers last year. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields had great seasons. In today’s piece, we’ll examine this year’s crop of second-year QBs to see if we can find more breakout performances for this fantasy football season.

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Nine quarterbacks were selected in the 2022 NFL draft.

Kenny PickettSteelers120
Desmond RidderFalcons374
Malik WillisTitans386
Matt CorralPanthers394
Bailey ZappePatriots4137
Sam HowellCommanders5144
Chris OladokunSteelers7241
Skylar ThompsonDolphins7247
Brock Purdy49ers7262

Two never took a snap. Corral’s Lisfranc injury put him on injured reserve and he was out for the entire season. Oladokun was cut by the Steelers and the Chiefs picked him up and placed him on their practice squad.

Willis, Corral, Zappe, and Thompson are clear backups this year.

Brock Purdy will be in a fight for the starting position with Trey Lance and Sam Darnold.

That leaves three second-year quarterbacks, Pickett, Ridder, and Howell that got to start at least one game last year and will probably be the starters this year.

Second-year Quarterback Breakouts?

Sam Howell – Washington Commanders

Of these second-year quarterbacks, this is the one that I am the most unsure of. He only had one start last year so there isn’t much of a track record.

With Jacoby Brissett hanging around, there is a chance that Howell may not have the starting job locked down yet, but if he does start, he will have a good crop of receivers to throw to.

Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samual are all good pass-catchers. The last time that tight end Logan Thomas was healthy and played a full season he had 670 receiving yards.

Howell is a running QB that could add some fantasy points that way. In 2021 as the QB for North Carolina, he ran for 828 yards.

There are a few reasons I am staying away from him though. The Commanders’ offensive line is ranked 27th out of 32 according to PFF. In addition to that, Fantasy Pros has Washington with the toughest schedule for quarterbacks. That doesn’t sound like a good combination.

Desmond Ridder – Atlanta Falcons

Ridder was in four games last year and was a bit uneven. He admitted his head was swimming trying to learn the system. He was also working with a rookie wide receiver, a rookie running back and his tight end, Kyle Pitts, was only able to play in 10 games before tearing his MCL.

Ridder is set up to have a monster season. The rookie Running back that came in fifth for Rookie of the Year is now listed second on the depth chart behind their new shiny can-do everything back Bijan Robinson. Drake London is coming off the boards right now as WR25 and should be ranked higher than that. Cordarrelle Patterson can be used less in the backfield now and go back to the Swiss army knife that he is. Kyle Pitts, if healthy and used the right way, can reclaim that top-five TE ranking.

If I am looking at one of these second-year quarterbacks to add to my roster this is the one I will have in my queue.

Kenny Pickett – Pittsburgh Steelers

Last year was not a very good year for Pickett. He had more interceptions than touchdowns. He did have flashes though.

This offseason the Steelers remade their offensive line which should help. They also brought in Allen Robinson to be one more receiver for him to throw to. In this year’s draft, they selected Darnell Washington. He is a beast that will not only block but as the year goes on I expect him to be a second pass option from the tight end position and with Pat Freiermuth get some goal-line catches.

His two wide receivers are going to be the key. Dionte Johnson had 882 yards but no touchdowns. 2022 Rookie George Pickens had 801 yards and only 4 TDs. We saw Pickens make some circus-like catches last year but was also very inconsistent.

Pickens has the talent to be a true number-one receiver. If he can do that and Johnson can score some touchdowns then Pickett can absolutely become fantasy-relevant. I just don’t see him becoming another Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, especially in a Mike Tomlin offense.

Who’s your favorite second-year quarterback? Share your take in the comments below. For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!

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