Offseason Wrap-Up: Recap of Quarterback Changes Around the NFL
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Arguably the most important player in football is the quarterback and this offseason has not left the position unscathed. A change at quarterback means ripple effects across the entire team with significant impacts on surrounding fantasy assets.
Let’s take a look at these changes to the QB position that will affect fantasy football in 2022. To catch up on offseason impacts on the wide receivers and running backs, check out Most Impactful Wide Receiver Moves and Changes That Impact RBs.
Russell Wilson Has New Home in Denver
This move is both great, but also very, very bad. You may have heard that Denver is just one quarterback away from being a championship team and now they have a Pro Bowl veteran in Wilson to lead them to the promised land.
About that “one quarterback away” part… the former starter of the Denver Broncos was sent to Seattle to take Wilson’s place. More on that in a moment.
Let’s stick with Denver. Wilson is coming off of a “down year” having not finished in the top 12 in fantasy for the first time since entering the league in 2012. Alas, he finished as the QB16 over 14 games and battled through a finger injury that hampered him for the rest of the season.
Wilson is an upgrade at the position and helps every fantasy position for the Broncos. The obvious beneficiaries are Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, but KJ Hamler should be fully healthy this season as well. In addition to Drew Lock (and a lot of other things), Denver shipped off TE Noah Fant to Seattle leaving Albert Okwuegbunam as the primary tight end.
Because the offense will have a significantly better passing offense with Wilson under center, the also helps Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon in the run game. Defenses will have to completely restructure how they shut down Denver’s offense in 2022.
Drew Lock Dealt to Seattle
Unfortunately, the Seahawks are not in the same boat. As of this article date, the quarterback room consists of Lock and Geno Smith. Head coach Pete Carroll dismissed the idea that they would trade for Browns’ QB, Baker Mayfield. I really would like to add a “wink, wink” at the end of that. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Mayfield starting at quarterback in Seattle, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Colts Snag Matt Ryan from Atlanta
After last season, it was clear that Indianapolis was looking for a change at quarterback. The Carson Wentz experiment didn’t go as planned and the Colts needed both leadership and better quarterback play. They hope they have found it in Matt Ryan.
The Falcons attempted to get Deshaun Watson from the Texans early in the offseason, but that deal did not go through. The Colts found their chance to swoop in and make their play for Ryan.
The 37-year-old quarterback has been a starter in the league since 2008 when he was drafted third overall by the Falcons. He is a four-time Pro Bowler including a selection as a First-Team All-Pro and has been the league leader among various stats throughout his career. Since 2011, Ryan has finished in the top 12 eight times including two times as the QB2. He is not afraid to throw the ball. Since 2016, he is first in passing yards (26,978) and completions (2,327), second in attempts (3,473), and fifth in passing touchdowns (165).
This year could very well be the breakout year for Michael Pittman that fantasy managers have been waiting for. Pittman has yet to play with a quarterback quite like Ryan. This move also gives Parris Campbell a leg up and makes rookie Alec Pierce a viable option late in drafts. With a more serious passing game, Jonathan Taylor should hopefully see things open up in the run game. As if Taylor wasn’t dangerous enough in fantasy.
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Marcus Mariota Reunites with Arthur Smith
The Falcons acquired Raiders’ backup Marcus Mariota as the veteran presence in the quarterbacks’ room. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was the offensive coordinator during Mariota’s time with the Tennessee Titans.
While the move makes sense in terms of familiarity, are we really taking Mariota’s position as the starter seriously? Perhaps the Falcons already answered that question after drafting Desmond Ridder in the third round. Ridder has an impressive resume out of Cincinnati including a 44-6 record as a starter and being named the AAC Offensive Player of the Year twice.
Mariota, on the other hand, has not been a starter since 2018 when he played 14 games and went 7-6 with the Titans. From 2015 to 2018, Mariota’s passing numbers were middle-of-the-pack. He was 18th in completions, attempts, and yards and 20th in touchdowns. However, his game didn’t rely on his arm as much as his legs. He was sixth in rush attempts, fifth in rushing yards, and fifth in rushing touchdowns among quarterbacks over those years.
It will be interesting (to say the least) to see how Smith plans to incorporate Mariota into an offense that has been centered around a polar opposite quarterback in Ryan. As long as Mariota remains the starter, it doesn’t bode well for the pass-catchers. Not only does Mariota rely on his legs, but he has been on the field sporadically since losing his starting role. If Ridder becomes the starter, there is the obvious issue of a rookie trying to compete in the NFL, which is also not ideal for the passing game.
Still, Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson can succeed in fantasy. Even with a 7-10 record last season, Pitts finished as the TE6 and Patterson as the RB9 in PPR scoring thanks to his wide receiver chops.
Carson Wentz Returns to the NFC East
After falling out of favor with the Eagles, Carson Wentz found himself reunited with Frank Reich and Press Taylor for the Indianapolis Colts last season. Unfortunately, the familiarity between the quarterback and the head coach did not translate into victory as the franchise had hoped.
The story isn’t over for Wentz, who finds himself back in his old stomping grounds in the NFC East as a Washington Commander.
There has been criticism of Wentz’s play, and for good reason in most cases. There were inconsistent mechanics, rumors of subpar practices in Philadelphia, holding onto the football for too long, and head-scratching decision-making at times.
Still, there was enough for head coach Ron Rivera to grab Wentz and name him as their starter even after drafting Sam Howell. For the Commanders, Wentz represents one of the better options at quarterback since Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith.
Wentz will likely stay in that middling QB2 territory for the 2022 season. However, he does bring optimism to the table for his surrounding weapons such as Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson.
This will be a pivotal year for both Wentz and the Commanders. Wentz will need to prove that his 2017 MVP run wasn’t a fluke and Rivera needs to turn the Commanders into a contending team instead of just a hopeful one in his third year as head coach.
Fierce QB Battling Will Ensue in Pittsburgh
For the first time since 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves without a named starting quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger retired after last season and leaves some big shoes to fill.
Prior to the draft, the Steelers picked up Bills backup and former Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky. Then, to make the waters muddier, they drafted Pittsburgh’s own Kenny Pickett in the first round of the draft. That is the first time the Steelers drafted a quarterback in the first round since… you guessed it… 2004 with Roethlisberger.
Head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t mince words about what he expects from his quarterback room this offseason including returning backup Mason Rudolph. “I expect it to be fierce because I know all three guys. I don’t expect anyone to take a backseat,” he told Rich Eisen on The Rich Eisen Show.
This developing storyline, in addition to that in Cleveland, will be one I monitor very closely as the offseason progresses.
Cleveland Throws $230 Million at Deshaun Watson
The Browns are moving on from Mayfield (even though he is still technically on their roster as of this article) in favor of the controversial Deshaun Watson. Amid a mountain of lawsuits and sexual misconduct allegations, Watson sat out the 2021 season as a Houston Texan. Still unresolved, the quarterback got a guaranteed boatload of money to play in Cleveland.
Whether or not there will be any repercussions for Watson this year or not remains to be seen. He has wrapped up his meeting with the NFL regarding the lawsuits and allegations and all we can do is wait for more information.
If Watson does not play for a part or all of the 2022 season, it is highly likely that Jacoby Brissett will start as the Browns’ quarterback. He has experience as a starter and is capable enough to keep the Browns’ fantasy weapons viable. This is especially true of the Browns’ run-heavy mentality with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Even if Watson does suit up, we cannot forget that he did not play a single snap last season. There is bound to be rust as well as getting comfortable with a new offensive scheme.