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Which QBs will Fall from the Fantasy Top Ten in 2023?

By Joseph Hutchins | 7/28/23

Though I’ve been authoring this Top 10 Dropouts series since 2011, it’s always somehow difficult selecting three representatives from each position (QB, RB, and WR) to wax cynical about. These players are stars! They played amazing football last season! What makes me think they wouldn’t be equally amazing this coming season?! Any psychologist worth his or her salt recognizes this as good ol’ fashioned recency bias, which is more or less what this article is and has been about for over a decade. Last year’s stars won’t be this year’s stars because the math says they won’t but our imperfect brains, mine very much included, can’t comprehend that basic scientific fact. The end. OK, not really ‘cuz that would be a pretty short and uninteresting article. Let’s talk a bit more about WHO is most likely to disappoint in 2023 and, more specifically, why.

Note: All rankings are based on FFToday’s Non-PPR league scoring.

  Top 10 Quarterbacks - 2021
Rank Player
1 Josh Allen
2 Tom Brady
3 Justin Herbert
4 Patrick Mahomes
5 Matthew Stafford
6 Dak Prescott
7 Joe Burrow
8 Aaron Rodgers
9 Kirk Cousins
10 Jalen Hurts
  Top 10 Quarterbacks - 2022
Rank Player
1 Patrick Mahomes
2 Josh Allen
3 Jalen Hurts
4 Joe Burrow
5 Geno Smith
6 Kirk Cousins
7 Trevor Lawrence
8 Justin Herbert
9 Jared Goff
10 Justin Fields

Who Missed the Cut in 2022 (4/10): T. Brady, M. Stafford, D. Prescott, & A. Rodgers

Four QB dropouts is slightly below average since I started tracking this metric back in 2011, but last year’s group was still notable for how incredibly veteran they were / are compared to the Top 10 class. Brady (now retired), Stafford, Prescott, and Rodgers have combined to play 62 seasons of NFL football while the reigning Top 10 slingers have only combined to play 51. That’s 15.5 years of experience on average v. 5.1, a staggering delta. The kids are definitely alright, but…what happened to the old guard?

Tom Brady made season No.23 his long-anticipated swan song and though he wasn’t able to execute the fairy tale script he and Tampa fans may have envisioned, the GOAT was still very terrific, leading the league in passing attempts and notching the third most passing yards. A precipitous drop in TD tosses (25) did Brady in, it seems, as he hadn’t thrown fewer than 40 as a Buccaneer previously. Matthew Stafford would have to play nine more seasons to match Brady’s epic longevity but this next one, or maybe the one after that, could be his last, especially in the wake of some serious injuries and considering the fact LA’s offense is starting over. Outside of the great Cooper Kupp (himself coming back from injury), Stafford’s weapons are pretty basic. Moreover, ESPN recently ranked the Rams’ offensive line 30th overall, possibly forcing Stafford back into the role of crash test dummy he played frequently in Detroit.

Staying in one piece has become a challenge for Dak Prescott in recent years too. Dallas’ $160M man didn’t miss a game his first four seasons, but has missed 17 since then (2020), a trend he’ll need to reverse if he’s to reclaim Top 10 status in 2023. The five he missed last year buried any chance he had of replicating his QB6 performance from 2021 despite a very healthy 21.6 FPts/G. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, posted a very unhealthy (for him) 17.9 FPts/G mark despite playing every game in his final year as a Packer. In fact, the former Head Cheese had never dipped below even 20 FPts/G as the Green Bay starter, a tenure which began 15 years ago.

Most Likely Candidates to Fall from the Top 10 This Year:

Geno Smith

Geno Smith, SEA: No player in the league was more shockingly effective than Geno Smith in 2022. When Pete Carroll announced he would ride or die with the long-time journeyman or the deeply flawed Drew Lock heading into last summer’s training camp, one had to wonder if the Seahawks were just biding time for a later deal / free agent addition or, more cynically, leaning into a full-on tank. Nope on both counts, apparently. Propelled by Smith, the league’s Comeback Player of the Year, Seattle overachieved to finish 9-8 and earn a surprising NFC Wildcard berth, ultimately bowing to division rival San Francisco in that playoff game, 41-23.

Despite the drubbing, Smith played well in his first postseason start—253 yards and two scores against a premier defense—and the Seattle brass rewarded him with a new three-year, $105M contract. More importantly, the ‘Hawks didn’t select a QB prospect in April’s draft or add any direct competition via free agency, meaning the job is Geno’s for the foreseeable future. Who’d have thought Seattle and not Denver would be more stable at the quarterback position after last year’s blockbuster sent Russ Wilson to the Broncos for a boatload of draft picks? Additionally, the team added Jaxson Smith-Njigba to an already talented WR corps (DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett), providing Smith with enviable battery mates in the passing game.

All those positive developments aside, I guess I’m still skeptical Geno can replicate what looks to be, on its face, an extremely anomalous season. Is he the guy who toiled in obscurity for six seasons after flaming out as the Jets’ signal caller in 2014? Or is he the dude we saw last year, igniting a rebuilding squad to an unexpected playoff berth? My guess is somewhere in between and a regression to the mean.

Jared Goff, DET: There’s genuine excitement brewing in the Motor City where the Lions, invigorated by a maniac coach and an exciting offense (usually an oxymoron in Michigan), look like NFC North contenders. A 32nd-ranked defense may blunt that enthusiasm sooner than later, but there’s no denying Detroit will be fun to watch this coming year and…heck, who needs defense when it comes to fantasy football? If anything, the Lions’ inability to stop anyone last season increased the value of guys like Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown, not to mention RB Jamaal Williams, who went from part-time Packer to Packer slayer when he scored twice to spoil Green Bay’s playoff hopes in Week 18.

Williams has since moved on, as has D’Andre Swift, and the duo was replaced by David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. That’s probably a net negative for Detroit unless Gibbs is an instant dual-threat hit, which is always possible and especially if he stays on the field more than Swift did. Nevertheless, it’s worrisome to suffer that much turnover on offense and lose a great locker room leader in Williams after building so much positive momentum late last year. The Lions suffered another unexpected loss when Jameson Williams, who missed most of 2022 recovering from injury, also gambled away the first six games of this coming season. Simply put, it’s difficult to imagine Detroit’s offense being as dangerous as last year’s version.

It’s also difficult to imagine the Detroit D being as bad as they were in 2022. Super sophs Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston looked legit up front and the team beefed up its back end by signing C.J. Johnson-Gardner, Cameron Sutton, and Emmanuel Moseley. I think the offensive dip and the defensive uptick knock Goff out of the Top 10 club in 2023.

Justin Fields, CHI: I nailed two of my predicted three QB dropouts last year (Prescott and Rodgers) but whiffed on the third, Jalen Hurts. I mean whiffed as in swung so hard my knees buckled. Hurts made huge strides as a thrower (101.6 passer rating) and was even more devastating on the ground (13 rushing TDs, tied for second overall), leading some to argue he should have won Super Bowl MVP honors despite being the losing quarterback.

The comparisons between Hurts and Fields are pretty obvious, to include a similar passer rating trajectory from years one to two. Hurts improved from a rough 77.6 rating as a rook to an 87.2 rating in his sophomore season. Similarly, Fields struggled to a 73.2 rating his first season before improving to an 85.2 mark last year. Could the former Buckeye make the same type of Year 3 leap his colleague in Philly did? Anything’s possible but the infrastructure in Chicago doesn’t compare. For starters, an already iffy O-line returns only one player (LT Braxton Jones) to the same position this year. Moreover, the WR corps, though improved with the addition of D.J. Moore, doesn’t compare to what Hurts is running with in Philly (A.J. Brown and the Slim Reaper). On top of all this, it’s not clear what Chicago’s doing at the running back position. Maybe it doesn’t matter since Fields is easily the best rusher on the team?

That rushing ability, BTW, will absolutely be the reason I’m wrong about Fields if I am. Anyone who can run for 1,143 yards and eight TDs quarterbacking that dumpster fire of an offense has a very high floor. I just don’t know if it’s high enough to maintain Top 10 status in 2023. Don’t overpay for him.

Next: Running Backs

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