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Jayden Daniels, Justin Fields among mobile late-round QBs to target in 2024 fantasy drafts

Who benefits from the Cowboys' pass-heavy attack?
Denny Carter and Kyle Dvorchak talk about who on the Dallas Cowboys will feast in fantasy if the team goes to a more pass-heavy offense.

It’s hardly a mystery as to what makes a good late-round quarterback. It’s not passing efficiency or volume. It’s the rushing potential, always the rushing potential.

Fantasy drafters have, for better or worse, become much sharper in their valuation of quarterbacks over the past five years or so. They understand that a mobile signal caller who can, and will, rack up yards and touchdowns on the ground is nothing short of a fantasy football cheat code. Managers hacked the game with Lamar Jackson outside the top-100 picks in 2019, or Justin Fields and his torrid second half stretch in 2022.

Josh Allen being the 11th QB off the board in 2020 also fits the Konami code bill. Same goes for Jalen Hurts as the QB12 in 2021 fantasy drafts. It’s an easy little game when we want it to be. Skeptics of Allen and Jackson and Fields and Hurts said we can’t trust their accuracy or whatever. Thankfully that doesn’t matter at all in fantasy football. We’re not NFL general managers, as much as some of us long to be.

Below are some late-round quarterback options who have what it takes to once again hack fantasy football with rushing production, even if their passing profile leaves a lot to be desired.

Jayden Daniels, Washington Commanders

ADP: QB17 (104 overall)

The fastest quarterback in league history is on this list of late-round mobile QBs? You don’t say. I do. I do say.

The uber-mobile Daniels will undoubtedly be under center for Week 1 even if Washington coaches continue this deeply embarrassing Marcus-Mariota-as-starter charade. If you can erase the memories of Daniels’ reckless college play — including the big hit supercut that lives rent free in my cortex — he could be as great a value as Lamar was in 2019. Unless, of course, Daniels’ ADP steadily rises in August.

Daniels in his final season at LSU had 65 rushing attempts in 12 games, or 5.4 per game. He was, shall we say, highly effective as a runner, averaging 10.4 yards per attempt on his way to 1,251 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. A truly baffling 65 percent of Daniels’ 2023 rushes went for at least 10 yards. He was tough to bring down too, notching 4.7 yards after contact per rush (YCO/A). Only UCF QB KJ Jefferson had a higher YCO/A in 2023, per PFF.

Daniels went for 1,071 yards on 80 carries in 2022 with similar rushing peripherals. His 682 yards after contact led all quarterbacks by a wide margin. Suffice it to say the speed-demon Daniels is a good runner.

Whatever difficulties Daniels might have as a drop-back passer in 2024, he’s going to run and run a lot. Double-digit rushing attempts won’t be a rarity for Daniels in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. He appears to be the best possible late-round option if you forgo the elite quarterback tier this summer.

Will Levis, Tennessee Titans

ADP: QB24 (144 overall)

I’m torn on Levis. On the one hand, his 2023 profile confirmed everything we were worried about when he entered the league. On the other hand, men with Will Levis avatars on the X platform tell me he’s good. His 21.5 percent pressure to sack rate last year was the 11th worst (out of 41 qualifying QBs) and he struggled mightily with intermediate passes. So count me skeptical of the Levis avis.

Last season, Levis was 24th out of 44 qualifying QBs in adjusted net yards per attempt on throws of 10-19 yards with a 43 percent completion rate on those attempts. His completion rate over expected (-11.3 percent) was 41st out of 44 QBs on these attempts (please stop sending me Levis highlights, Titans fans; I’m tired).

Levis had at least four rushing attempts in four of his seven rookie year starts. That’s not a lot, but it’s something. Looking back at Levis’ rushing profile during his two seasons at Kentucky can be (somewhat) instructive. His rushing was limited in 2022 — his final collegiate season — as he dealt with a nagging toe injury and a severe shoulder sprain. Levis logged just 30 rushes over 11 games that season. Go back to 2021 and a healthy Levis was quite different as a rusher, with 64 rushing attempts over 13 games (4.9 per game). The burly, mayonnaise-enjoying quarterback averaged 40 yards and 0.7 touchdowns per game on the ground. That’s 8.2 fantasy points per contest, if you’re scoring at home.

Let’s not forget Levis’ forgettable pre-Kentucky college career. He functioned (mostly) as a short yardage and red zone rushing threat at Penn State, taking on a Taysom Hill-type role with specialized offensive packages designed to utilize his speed and massive frame. The 2020 season saw Levis average 9.4 rushes over nine appearances. In 2019, he notched 6.3 rushes in seven games as a special package QB.

Levis is a prime candidate to pick up the dreaded injury prone label if he gets dinged up again in 2024. Last year, we saw Levis sustain injuries to his quad, his ankle, and foot. If he can somehow stay on the field, Tennessee’s modernized offense under head coach Brian Callahan should increase offensive play volume and use more spread formations that could open up running lanes for the hyper-athletic Levis and his 88th percentile burst score and 72nd percentile 40 time.

Justin Fields, Pittsburgh Steelers

ADP: QB26 (172)

Russell Wilson says he’s rejuvenated mentally, spiritually, and in all ways — except for physically. That’s good. I’m happy for ole’ Russ. Steelers Nation, let’s weld! I also don’t think there’s any chance he hangs on to the Steelers’ starting gig for the entire 2024 season.

Justin Fields is probably going to see spot usage even in Wilson starts this season. The Steelers will surely be forced to play Fields, probably sooner rather than later. That’s why Fields should be drafted in 12-team leagues with deep benches and certainly in all Superflex formats.

Fields last year was seventh in fantasy points per drop back. He trailed a who’s who of elite NFL quarterbacks along with Anthony Richardson. Go all the way back to 2022 and Fields trailed only Jalen Hurts in fantasy points per drop back because, you see, he’s an incredibly effective rusher.

Lamar Jackson was the only QB with a higher yards after contact per rush than Fields in 2023. Thirty-four percent of Fields’ rushing attempts last season went for at least 10 yards, on par with Jackson. Fields becomes an instant starter in 12-team formats as soon as the Steelers tire of Russ’ mediocrity. Not even Arthur Smith can mess this up. I think.

Bo Nix, Denver Broncos

ADP: QB31 (187 overall)

Preparing to operate as Sean Payton’s brain under center for the Broncos this season, Nix has (somewhat) sneaky rushing appeal that could make him fun for fantasy purposes. Don’t tell this to the Nix haters, of which there are many.

Nix didn’t show much on the ground in his final season at Oregon (256 yards on 34 rushes) but in 2022, Nix logged 66 rushes in 12 games, or 5.5 per contest. Twenty-six percent of those attempts went for at least 10 yards — not an atrocious number, all things considered.

Nix is no slouch as an athlete. This might not shock you once you consider Nix has trained since exiting the womb to be a professional quarterback. Though we don’t have Nix’s NFL Combine data because good players no longer participate in the Combine, Nix did register an 82nd percentile speed score and an 80th percentile 40 time in high school, which was, admittedly, a long, long time ago for the six-year college player.

Nix could vacillate between game managing check-down artist and occasional pocket escaper as Denver’s starter this season. It’ll be an interesting mix, and one that should have fantasy appeal.