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2023 Undervalued / Overvalued: Quarterbacks

By Michael O'Hara | 8/4/23 |

2023 brings in an era that has never been seen in fantasy football. The second-round quarterback is here! This is brand new as many fantasy managers have preferred the late-round QB in recent years. This brings on a set of questions that have never had to be answered. Is it worth it to take a quarterback with one of your first four picks? If so, which quarterbacks are worth this high price? As we’ll find out, spending the 15th overall pick on a QB is not a smart investment. However, locking down an elite QB - or a QB that has the potential to be elite - is almost essential in this era of fantasy football.

Note: ADP based on PPR scoring


Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
ADP: 4.06, QB7

The case for Herbert being undervalued: Herbert has been highly productive throughout his career and the Chargers added arguably the league’s most aggressive offensive coordinator.

The case against Herbert being undervalued: Herbert provides little rushing upside and will have to put up astronomical passing numbers to be an elite QB.

Verdict: There is no denying that Justin Herbert features one of the best arms among all NFL QBs. Despite having the arm talent, Herbert simply did not deliver for fantasy managers last season. He posted career lows in touchdowns and yards per attempt, leading to a QB11 finish on the year. This was highly disappointing as Herbert was coming off of a QB2 finish in 2021.

Although Herbert was disappointing in fantasy, he was still productive, quietly finishing 2nd in passing yards. Herbert’s disappointing finish can primarily be attributed to one thing: touchdowns. He finished with just 25 passing touchdowns and a 3.6 percent touchdown rate, both career lows by a wide margin. Herbert also had zero rushing touchdowns after having eight between his initial two seasons making him a candidate for positive regression next season.

New additions in Los Angeles will help Herbert boost his TD numbers and potentially lead the league in passing yards. The first addition is TCU product, Quentin Johnston. The former Horned Frog is a YAC machine and is just another weapon at Herbert’s disposal. The second addition is new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. After departing from Dallas this offseason, Moore arrives in Los Angeles to ideally bring out the potential of this talented offensive unit. The Dallas offense under Moore has been nothing short of explosive. Dallas has finished top five in scoring in back-to-back years.

The current situation in Los Angeles has Herbert set up to explode in 2023. He could realistically lead the NFL in pass attempts, yards, and touchdowns. If things go according to plan, Herbert will easily finish among the elite fantasy QBs.

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
ADP: 7.07, QB9

The case for Watson being undervalued: Watson has finished as a top-five QB in fantasy points per game in every season outside of 2022 and finds himself with arguably the best arsenal of weapons in his career.

The case against Watson being undervalued: Watson looked like a shell of his former self last season, finishing as a QB2 or worse in four of six starts.

Verdict: Anyone who watched Deshaun Watson play in 2022 would agree that he underperformed. However, this isn’t terribly shocking. Watson found himself in a rare set of circumstances. Prior to his return in Week 13, Watson had not played in an NFL game in over a year and a half. It was inevitable that Watson would show some rust in his return to full-speed football.

On top of having to readjust, Watson had to deal with some incredibly bad weather that affected fantasy outputs for all players in those games. While these two reasons can’t fully excuse Watson’s poor performance, they are worth noting as they highlight the circumstances that led to the odds being stacked against him last season. With a handful of starts and another offseason under his belt, Watson is primed to bounce back in 2023.
Before his off-the-field issues, Watson strung together three straight seasons in which he was a top-five quarterback in fantasy points per game. In Watson’s last full season (2020), he was elite in several critical metrics. He ranked top five in yards per attempt and deep ball percentage, as well as top 10 in nearly every rushing metric.

Over the last few years, Cleveland has made it clear that they want to focus on the passing attack. They have made several moves in the last two years to signal this, including extending David Njoku, adding Elijah Moore, and letting go of Kareem Hunt and not replacing him.

Watson’s talent combined with a deep and talented group of pass catchers could create fantasy gold. If you don’t snag an early-round QB, consider Watson, as he is one of the few QBs going in this range that could finish as the QB1.


Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
ADP: 2.03, QB1

The case for Mahomes being overvalued: Mahomes is currently being drafted in the early second round and likely does not provide enough value over other options in this range.

The case against Mahomes being overvalued: Mahomes has been the most reliable and consistent fantasy quarterback over the last several seasons, providing a floor of an elite QB.

Verdict: Before getting into this, let’s establish that Patrick Mahomes is undoubtedly the most talented quarterback in the NFL. This is not a question of his ability to produce in fantasy, it is an argument against his price.

Being selected with the 15th overall pick, Mahomes is drafted in the range of some elite WRs and RBs. Stefon Diggs, Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, Tony Pollard, and Garrett Wilson are all in this range. All of these players have elite upside and can provide teams with a much larger advantage than Mahomes.

The edge that Mahomes provides is not that significant over other quarterbacks. Prior to a Week 15 injury, Jalen Hurts was the QB1, averaging nearly a full point more per game. Through Week 9, Josh Allen was by far the QB1, scoring 1.7 points more per game than Mahomes. After injuring his elbow in Week 9, Allen tailed off. This is all to point out that Mahomes does not provide a significant edge over other quarterbacks and arguably isn’t the most valuable QB in fantasy.

While this point is not massive, this offense seems a bit fragile. The Chiefs may be one Travis Kelce injury away from being lost. Their primary weapon - a nearly 34-year-old tight end - has stayed shockingly healthy throughout his career. If Kelce were to miss time, this offense could easily see a massive hit in production.

In this range, consider drafting a WR or RB that could finish as the top player at their position. Drafting a quarterback 1-3 rounds later seems like a better plan, especially considering there are 4-6 other quarterbacks that could contend with Mahomes for QB1.

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
ADP: 4.05, QB6

The case for Fields being overvalued: Fields finds himself in an offense that may throw the ball less than any other team and he’s yet to prove himself as an efficient passer.

The case against Fields being overvalued: After rushing for over 1000 yards in 2022, Fields exhibited elite rushing upside, a trait that can lead to game-breaking fantasy production.

Verdict: Fields is being drafted as a player who is going to break out, going in the middle of the 4th round, among QBs who have solidified track records with elite upside (Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson). While Fields may share the upside, he does not have a proven track record and requires a major improvement in passing efficiency and overall output to outperform his ADP.

Many compare Justin Fields this year to what Jalen Hurts offered last season. A quarterback who is an explosive runner that received a new weapon. Sorry to rain on the parade, but D.J. Moore is simply not the same caliber of wide receiver as A.J. Brown and the Chicago offense will not be as potent as Philadelphia’s. On top of this, the Bears will almost certainly be bottom five in the league in passing rate, making it incredibly difficult for Fields to make a significant fantasy impact through the air.

Based on the Bears’ projected passing volume, Fields will more than likely require a near 1000-yard rushing season to deliver value on his ADP. This does not seem like a smart bet, making the price for Fields too high.

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