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Don’t Wait to Draft a Quarterback in 2023

The discussion around the best strategies for winning fantasy football leagues is always changing. Not everyone agrees on the same strategies which is why the game works so well. As far as draft strategies go, a common theme over the last few seasons has been to wait to draft a quarterback. Especially in 1QB redraft leagues, there has been a surplus of strong options at the position with plenty of late-round quarterbacks to draft as starters. However, one of my biggest pieces of advice ahead of the 2023 season is: Don’t wait to draft a quarterback.

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Should You Draft a Quarterback Early in 2023?

Why Managers Have Been Waiting on Quarterback

Let’s take a look back over the last few seasons as to why the strategy of waiting on a quarterback gained popularity. A good year to start with this trend is 2018. That’s the year Patrick Mahomes became the Kansas City Chiefs starter. That season, and over the next few, highly talented quarterbacks such as Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow all entered the league, as well.

In 2017, the year prior to Mahomes’ arrival and 2018 MVP season, just three quarterbacks averaged over 20.0 points per game in fantasy football; one of whom, Deshaun Watson, played in just seven games as a rookie before tearing his ACL. Then from 2018 to 2021, the number of quarterbacks averaging 20.0 or more points per game is as follows: 9, 8, 12, 10.

Two-thirds or more of the quarterbacks ranking inside the top-12 were averaging 20.0 points per game or better in each of these seasons. In 2021, every quarterback inside the top-12 averaged more than 20.0 points per game. The advantage of having a top-three-to-five quarterback averaging anywhere from 5.o to upwards of 8.0 points per game more than the back end of the QB1 pool has been completely watered down over the last few seasons compared to years prior.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Draft a Quarterback in 2023

After discussing the depth at the quarterback position, specifically from 2018 to 2021, let’s now take a look at the 2022 season. Over those previous four seasons, an average of 9.75 quarterbacks finished with 20.0 or more points per game. In 2022, just six quarterbacks averaged over 20.0 points per game. More specifically, the top-three, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen, averaged over 24.0 points per game. That’s happened just once (2020) in the last 10 seasons.

Top-12 QBs by SeasonPlayerTeamPoints Per Game Avg.
2022-23 Season
1Jalen HurtsPhiladelphia Eagles26.8
2Patrick MahomesKansas City Chiefs25.8
3Josh AllenBuffalo Bills24.3
4Joe BurrowCincinnati Bengals22.3
5Justin FieldsChicago Bears20.5
6Lamar JacksonBaltimore Ravens20.3
7Kyler MurrayArizona Cardinals18.9
8Geno SmithSeattle Seahawks18.7
9Dak PrescottDallas Cowboys18.5
10Daniel JonesNew York Giants18.4
11Tua TagovailoaMiami Dolphins18.4
12Trevor LawrenceJacksonville Jaguars18.4
2021 Season Next Page
2021-22 Season
1Josh AllenBuffalo Bills24.6
2Justin HerbertLos Angeles Chargers23
3Tom BradyTampa Bay Buccaneers22.6
4Kyler MurrayArizona Cardinals22.6
5Patrick MahomesKansas City Chiefs21.8
6Aaron RodgersGreen Bay Packers21.5
7Jalen HurtsPhiladelphia Eagles21.4
8Lamar JacksonBaltimore Ravens21.1
9Joe BurrowCincinnati Bengals20.5
10Matthew StaffordLos Angeles Rams20.5
11Dak PrescottDallas Cowboys19.9
12Kirk CousinsMinnesota Vikings19
2020 Season Next Page
2020-21 Season
1Dak PrescottDallas Cowboys27.7
2Marcus Mariota (1 game)Las Vegas Raiders26.8
3Kyler MurrayArizona Cardinals25.8
4Josh AllenBuffalo Bills25.7
5Patrick MahomesKansas City Chiefs25.4
6Aaron RodgersGreen Bay Packers24.1
7Russell WilsonSeattle Seahawks23.6
8Deshaun WatsonHouston Texans23.3
9Lamar JacksonBaltimore Ravens22.6
10Justin HerbertLos Angeles Chargers22.1
11Ryan TannehillTennessee Titans21.5
12Tom BradyTampa Bay Buccaneers21.2
2019 Season Next Page
2019-20 Season
1Lamar JacksonBaltimore Ravens28.1
2Deshaun WatsonHouston Texans22.1
3Patrick MahomesKansas City Chiefs21.5
4Matthew StaffordDetroit Lions21.4
5Dak PrescottDallas Cowboys21.3
6Jameis WinstonTampa Bay Buccaneers21.3
7Russell WilsonSeattle Seahawks20.9
8Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints20.7
9Josh AllenBuffalo Bills19.8
10Ryan TannehillTennessee Titans19.3
11Matt RyanAtlanta Falcons19.1
12Kyler MurrayArizona Cardinals18.8
2018 Season Next Page
2018-19 SEASON
1Patrick MahomesKansas City Chiefs26.6
2Ben RoethelisbergerPittsburgh Steelers21.8
3Matt RyanAtlanta Falcons21.7
4Aaron RodgersGreen Bay Packers20.8
5Ryan FitzpatrickTampa Bay Buccaneers20.7
6Deshaun WatsonHouston Texans20.6
7Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints20.3
8Andrew LuckIndianapolis Colts20.3
9Cam NewtonCarolina Panthers20.2
10Mitchell TrubiskyChicago Bears19.5
11Russell WilsonSeattle Seahawks19.4
12Jared GoffLos Angeles Rams19.1

A big reason for the depth at quarterback in fantasy football over the last few seasons is the rise of talent overlapping with the tail end of certain Hall of Fame careers like Ben Roethelisberger, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. On top of that, strong seasons from others such as Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Matt Ryan interspersed among them helped uphold the trend.

The average age of starting quarterbacks across the league has also dropped considerably in the last year. Using the AFC South as a sample size, by the end of the 2023 season, Trevor Lawrence (24), C.J. Stroud (22), Anthony Richardson (21), and Will Levis (24) would have a median age of 22.75-years old amongst the division’s starting quarterbacks.

This is not to say that young quarterbacks cannot succeed. However, a turnover of starting quarterbacks across the league on rebuilding and retooling franchises lessens the probability of having a large number of the position averaging 20.0 or more fantasy points per game. In 2023, there is a large gap between obvious studs who win fantasy matchups and starters you can get by with week-to-week. Don’t wait to draft a stud quarterback.

Which Early Quarterbacks To Target

There are three quarterbacks to draft the earliest and it’s the three who exceeded 24.0 points per game last season: Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen. Consider, too, each of these three has finished at the top spot of the position in seasons prior. If you’re unable to secure either of those players in one of the first three rounds, there are still a handful of quarterbacks to target over the next few rounds.

Playing in a pass-heavy offense with elite weapons and opportunities to throw a high number of touchdowns is an obvious way to rise in the quarterback rankings. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert fit that mold in 2023. Another way is to rack up points with your legs. While Burrow and Herbert have that ability, Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields present far more upside running the ball.

Justin Fields’ 10.82 points per game average from rushing alone last season is the second-most all-time from a fantasy quarterback. The highest average in that category belongs to Lamar Jackson (10.84) from his 2019 MVP season. Fields (52.8%) and Lamar (38.3%) also rank in the top three in the percentage of 2022 fantasy points from strictly running the ball.

Hurts, Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Lamar, Fields, and Herbert are QBs I would draft early rather than wait to draft a quarterback. Sure, there will be players that naturally round out the top-12 and carry upside of their own. I’m certain in a fully healthy season, most, if not all of, of the quarterbacks discussed here will finish inside the top 10. They all have a shot to be the best at their position and that’s worth investing a high draft pick in.

For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!

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