HIT OR MISS: 2022 Rookie Quarterbacks.
What’s good, Rush Nation? I’m back with a new mini-series. This time looking at the Rookie class of 2022 and how their landing spots impact their Fantasy Football outlook for this season. What competition do they face? And, what I think you can expect from drafting these rookies, rather than veteran’s at a similar time in a draft. Who’s gonna HIT? Who’s gonna MISS? And, who am I firmly sitting on the fence with?
I’ll be basing this article on Superflex, PPR, 12 team league.
Kenny Pickett was the only Quarterback drafted on day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pickett will have a somewhat clear shot at the starting job in 2022, with Mitch Trubisky backing him up. Aside from a crisis, the former Pitt prospect will likely put up QB2 numbers in 2022. By doing so he will have the best rookie campaign from this Quarterback class.
We’re not here for “sure things”. So, let’s dive into some of the more puzzling prospects.
Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons.
ATL are in full rebuild. In the 3rd round of the NFL Draft they selected Cincinnati Bearcats signal caller, Desmond Ridder. Throughout his college career, the 22 year old put up some decent numbers. Showcasing his dual threat ability, which is always a bonus in Fantasy Football. He also achieved the AAC Offensive player of the year in 2020 and 2021.
The Falcons brought in 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota this off-season. The former Oregon Duck had an illustrious college career and his list of NCAA accolades is astounding. But, his NFL career hasn’t been as plain sailing. The Hawaiian was Drafted by the Tennessee Titans, 2nd overall in 2015.
As a rookie Mariota finished as the QB22 in PPR. Following that up with solid QB15 and QB16 finishes through the end of the 2017 season. After a poor 2018 season for Mariota, the Titans brought in veteran Quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Mariota lost his starting role week 6 of 2019. Since then he’s spent 2 years in Las Vegas backing up Derek Carr.
Although it seems Mariota could have the starting role locked down, I predict Ridder to take over somewhere around week 6, if not before. Similar to how Tannehill became the QB1 for the Titans in 2019. Whenever Mariota has faced significant competition for a starting role in the NFL, he’s lost out. Both Ridder and Mariota showcase some rushing ability and had similar numbers in college, albeit Ridder played 1 year more. Even at the scouting combine, the duo’s measurables had similarities.
As I said earlier, the Falcons are in the middle of a rebuild. Mariota’s contract doesn’t signify he was brought in as the long term solution to trading Matty Ice to Indianapolis. Signing a 2 year contract in ATL worth $18.75 million. However, only $6.75 million of that is guaranteed(signing bonus & 2022 salary). That’s back up money. Meaning if Ridder impresses throughout 2022, the Falcons will only have $2.5 million in dead cap from Mariota’s contract in 2023.
When Tannehill beat out his counterpart in Tennessee, he put up low end QB2 numbers for the season. I’d go as far as saying that’s Ridder’s floor for 2022, providing he wins the job. You’ll probably be able to draft Ridder at around the QB36 mark, based on my current rankings. At a similar ADP as, Tua’s back up Teddy Bridgewater, fellow rookie Malik Willis and current Carolina Panthers starter, Sam Darnold.
In conclusion, you know what to expect from Mariota and that ain’t going to win you any championships. Desmond Ridder’s upside is worth a punt in Superflex leagues. Marcus Mariota is a career back up now and his contract shows exactly this. Ridder could win that job in Atlanta very quickly. He has the best chance, outside of Kenny Pickett, for a starting role and being a viable option in Fantasy Football for 2022.
And for that reason, he’s a Hit!
Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans
In the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Tennessee stopped the slide of Liberty star Malik Willis. It’s no secret this year’s Quarterback class isn’t as strong as the last few. Nevertheless, Willis was seen as a 1st round talent and the consensus number 1 Quarterback in this group. At Liberty he excelled with arm strength, accuracy and an elite ground game.
It wasn’t always plain sailing in his college career though. He transferred to the Flames and sat out the 2019 season per NCAA rules after riding the bench at Auburn. The Georgia native’s draft stock soared the last couple of seasons. Including back to back seasons of over 850 yards rushing and 29 rushing Touchdowns. It didn’t go his way on draft day and eventually went at pick 86 overall. A massive slide for the consensus number 1 Quarterback in the class.
Ryan Tannehill has had a topsy turvy Fantasy career. The 33 year old is entering his 11th year in the NFL. Other than his rookie year or where he has gone down with injury, Tannehill has never finished below a QB2. He had a pro-bowl berth in 2019, the year he took the starting job from Marcus Mariota. Before going on to a QB8 overall finish in 2020 and QB12 last year.
Tannehill the Titan
For redraft, Malik is gonna have a tough time getting relevant. Tannehill has been a dominant performer since joining Derrick Henry and co. in Nashville. He’s also under contract until the end of 2024. It’s Tannehill’s job in 2022 and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise.
Malik Willis has faced adversity and the competition won’t phase him. I have no doubt he will have an NFL career and be a Fantasy force in the future. But, I’ll find it hard to draft him before the likes of Desmond Ridder, Drew Lock or Baker Mayfield. I’d say you could draft Willis around QB40 this year, by my rankings.
To sum it up, Ryan Tannehill ain’t going anywhere. And, I can see Malik Willis struggling to see the field in 2022, except for if the former Texas A&M player gets injured. Tannehill will be a screaming value in drafts this year and I’ll happily plug him as my QB2 in Superflex leagues. But, as far as the rookie is concerned, he’s a miss this year. I’m out.
Matt Corral, Carolina Panthers
VERDICT: ON THE FENCE!!!
I could have quite easily put Sam Howell in this position. Seeing as the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz this off-season it seems less likely Howell wins the job or even gets much chance too. Either way I have Corral and Howell ranked very close together.
The Ole Miss star was the fourth Quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. 94th overall, by the Carolina Panthers. With their QB carousel last season, this could be an ideal landing spot, for opportunity at least. It was evident that Matt Rhule didn’t know what his best move under center was last season. The Carolina coach even re-signed Cam Newton at one point when Darnold was out.
Matt Corral had a consistent career in Mississippi. And, come redraft season he will be basically free to draft. The issue with the boy from Cali is if he is capable of beating out Sam Darnold. Also from California, Darnold was drafted by the New York Jets 3rd overall in 2018. Gang Green then traded him to the Panthers last year.
Darnold’s Fantasy Football finishes have been poor. QB25 has been his best overall finish in his 4 seasons. Add to that missing at least 3 games every year through injury, It’s hard to believe he’s the long-term option in Charlotte. Darnold is out of contract at the end of 2022 and without a miraculous turn of form, Rhule could also be following him out the door.
The former USC Trojan will also be cheap as a backup in Superflex drafts. He’s currently my QB35 for 2022. If Corral beats him to the starting role at any point, he will definitely have QB2 upside. If neither of these guys work out it’s likely Scott Fitterer and the Panthers front office could target Bryce Young or CJ Stroud next year. Or, possibly even a veteran Quarterback via a trade.
Next time we move onto Hit or Miss Running Backs. You can hit me up on twitter – @lvenes1
To read Lewis’ last article on JK Dobbins’ injury prospects, click here