One of the most difficult tasks in drafting a fantasy football team
is trying to decide between two players you essentially see as having
nearly identical value. Knowing how to break such a ďtieĒ
can be important as often a pick comes down to a dilemma between
Player A and Player B. The purpose of this article is to not only
identify pairs of players that are considered of nearly equal value
in 2022, but also take a look at the process of solving those dilemmas.
Our first installment of this feature examines two quarterbacks
entering into their third NFL seasons having both been drafted out
of college in 2020.
Joe Burrow has exploded onto the NFL scene by way of his skills
and overall leadership abilities, but this season, heís getting
recognized in fantasy circles for being a player of high value.
He is likely going to be a QB1 for fantasy purposes for the next
decade or so, particularly if his options to throw to remain as
dynamic as they are at present.
Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts has far less job security and the forecast
concerning his next decade is cloudy. That said, Hurts possesses
an ability to score fantasy points that extends beyond the parameters
of what Burrow brings to the table and that makes choosing between
these two third-year quarterbacks so difficult.
There are reasons to like both guys as your starting quarterback
and you might be able to wait to grab either until the sixth round
(or even a bit later). So, who do you choose?
The strengths of Burrow as a fantasy quarterback are fairly obvious,
but worth stating to create comparison. Primarily, he has a world-class
stable of wide receivers to throw the ball to - guys who can not
only excel in the red zone, but can take a pass ten yards downfield
and turn it into a 50-yard gain. That dynamic led to Burrow averaging
12.6 yards per completion last season, which was second only to
last year with respect to QBs that played in more than five games.
So, in leagues which value yardage and award bonuses for big yardage
games, Burrow is an ideal fit as your starting QB. In addition to
the trifecta of JaíMarr
Chase, Tee Higgins,
and Tyler Boyd,
the Bengals added TE Hayden
Hurst in the offseason to shore up seam routes. It all adds
up to an offense that is buoyed by a loaded cupboard at receiver
and will have to score regularly to overcome what is an opportunistic,
but otherwise very average defense.
Hurts doesnít average as much per completion as Burrow, but
he was top-six in the league in that category just the same. Hurts
has the capacity to extend plays with his legs which means that
big yardage games are also possible even if not as frequently. The
strength of Hurtsí game, though, from a fantasy perspective
has to do with his work as a runner. Anytime a QB scores double-digit
TDs rushing in a season and is the teamís primary goal line
option, we as fantasy managers pay attention. When you look at what
Hurts did last season (784 rushing yards, 10 rushing TDs), the results
show 138.4 fantasy points generated prior to him even throwing a
pass. Weíll contrast that with Burrow in a moment. Itís
a dimension to Hurtsí game that is impossible to ignore. A
third-year quarterback would be expected to make a jump forward
in the passing game, but with respect to ground prowess, youíve
either got it or you donít. Hurts has that aspect of his fantasy
game down pat.
Letís go back to Hurtsí 138.4 rushing number for a moment. What
percentage of that number accounts for Joe
Burrowís ground production? If you guessed 17%, you would
be correct as Burrowís ground attack accounted for a paltry 23.8
fantasy points. That means when comparing Burrow to not only Hurts,
but also Josh Allen,
and Kyler Murray,
heís got a lot of catching up to do in the air. Even the 44-year-old
Tom Brady accounted
for 20.8 points rushing the ball, so Burrow is more on TB12ís
level than anywhere near what Hurts (and others) can do. It certainly
creates a different ceiling even as his floor is more dynamic
by way of his noted strengths.
In contrast, Hurts may be able to score fantasy points in a variety
of ways, but heís not guaranteed to be the starting QB in
Philadelphia for the duration of the season should even moderate
regression occur. It is always concerning when a QB barely completes
60% of his passes and Hurts didnít eclipse that mark by
all that much (61.3%) in 2021. Lower completion percentage means
fewer yards via fewer sustained drives and modest expectations
for yardage over the course of a season. Considering that reality
alongside far lesser job security, Burrow offers a stability that
Hurts cannot in spite of his attractive accomplishments from last
season. 1,500 yards difference in passing yards is, after all,
nothing to sneeze at.
One thing not mentioned above is that Hurts will be operating
with a significant upgrade at wide receiver this season in the
form of A.J. Brown. Brownís presence will allow DeVonta Smith to be what he is more ideally suited for - the WR2 spot
on an NFL team. Together with high volume target Dallas Goedert
at tight end, Hurts may not have what Burrow has to throw to,
but heís trending in a good direction.
As for Burrow, whoís to say that the opening act with Chase isnít
just the beginning of something even better? Yes, defenses will
prepare for the duo differently this season, but with more time
to gel in an NFL offense, Burrow to Chase may rise to an even
more potent level. The presence of Tee
Higgins on the other side will certainly keep defenses honest
and could mean that Chaseís rookie season was the first of many
years of dominance.
The bottom line when it comes to this match-up is whether you
value safety and security or upside more. Burrow isnít going
to get benched. Heís isnít going to be held back by
coaches who want to see Cincinnati in more of a ball control mode.
Heís going to be allowed to be the gunslinger he wants to
be making him a safe bet to essentially repeat last seasonís
numbers without a great deal of difficulty.
He isnít likely to exceed them though, and thatís
where he and Hurts differ. With A.J. Brown in the fold, I would
expect Hurts to throw for 400-600 more yards than last year while
also improving on his TD totals thru the air (he notched only
16 passing TDs in 2021). The question is whether or not heíll
remain the goal line option for the Eagles that he was last year.
Since no one outside of the offensive coordinator and head coach
can probably answer that in early August, risk is generated. And
therein creates the rub. I think Hurts is the better fantasy QB
to have ultimately based on projections, but I also think youíll
need a better back-up on the roster than would be necessary with
Burrow in the QB1 seat just in case. Security? Upside? Your value
system, thus, will make the choice for you.
Projected 2022 Statistics: