Projecting Quarterbacks to Improve in 2022

by Jason Allwine · Fantasy Football

Being an NFL Quarterback is perhaps one of the hardest jobs across any sport. Because of that, it makes sense that players take some time to reach their full potential. Sometimes quarterbacks even sit for a season or more, like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, before even getting their chance. In 2021, we saw promising quarterback play by some younger players. This offseason, we’ve seen some offenses add some talent that should help their quarterbacks. Without a doubt, there will be improvements in 2022 for some quarterbacks. Projecting quarterbacks to improve in 2022 by looking at the data will help fantasy gamers optimize their fantasy teams.

Disclaimer: This list will not include any names on the bounce-back candidates list published in May. Those quarterbacks have shown their potential already and are recognized as bounce-backs.

Davis Mills

Despite an abysmal Houston Texans team in 2021, third-round QB Davis Mills showed some promise. He started off the year poorly, but Mills ended the season on a solid five game stretch. In Weeks 14 through 18, Mills averaged 251.6 passing yards, 1.8 TDs, and 17.76 fantasy points per game. That’s definitely not world beating, but those are fine numbers considering the circumstances. The 2021 rookie quarterback class underwhelmed in 2021, but Mills was probably the second best outside of Mac Jones.

Mills finished the year top 10 in completion percentage against both man coverage (No. 9) and zone coverage (No. 6). He also ranked top 5 in production premium (No. 2) and deep ball completion percentage (No. 4). These stats show that Mills understands NFL defenses at a high level and can grow in his second year in the league. The Texans promoted quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton to offensive coordinator who had success with Chargers’ Justin Herbert in 2020. They also drafted Alabama slot WR John Metchie in the 2nd round. Metchie should help significantly when he returns from his ACL injury.

Editor’s note: This article was written before the news of John Metchie’s unfortunate diagnosis of leukemia. As a result, Metchie is likely to miss the 2022 NFL season.

Trevor Lawrence

It would be hard not to improve upon Trevor Lawrence‘s rookie year in 2021. He led the league in interceptions, had the No. 3 lowest completion percentage, and only threw 12 touchdown passes. But there’s some upside. Lawrence was No. 5 in carries and also led the league in dropped passes. Lawrence has rushing upside and some weapons were added to Jacksonville this offseason. He was a generational prospect going into last year’s draft. Lawrence should hopefully live up to his potential in 2022.

Christian Kirk and Zay Jones aren’t world beaters, but they are serviceable options and a clear upgrade from the weapons Lawrence had in 2022. Travis Etienne returning from injury should help the offense as well. The Jaguars also bolstered their offensive line this season and added Doug Pederson as the new head coach. In Pederson’s five years as the head coach for the Eagles, they never finished lower than No. 13 in the league in pass attempts. He is a pass happy coach and Carson Wentz had a near MVP season with his team. The potential is there for sure.

Zach Wilson

Another second year QB who has a good chance at improving is Zach Wilson. Wilson was drafted No. 2 overall in 2021, and he showed a few flashes of his talent last year but never showed much consistency. This was partly due to a below average WR corps and poor offensive line and partly due to being a rookie quarterback. Now he’s going into his second year and wide receiver talent was added in the draft via Garrett Wilson in the first round.

He showed some bright spots in 2021 which means he has room to grow. Wilson was very accurate last season. He ranked No. 1 in accuracy rating vs man, No. 13 vs zone, and No. 5 in deep ball accuracy, but Wilson had the No. 3 most dropped passes amongst qualified quarterbacks. If he keeps up the accuracy, Wilson is in for a good year.

Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts has already proven himself a valuable fantasy quarterback, but there are still plenty of doubters on his real life capabilities. That comes with good reason, as outside of his rushing prowess he leaves plenty to be desired as a passer. Hurts struggles against zone defenses ranking No. 29 in passer rating vs zone and No. 24 in completion percentage vs zone. He also had the No. 5 most interceptable passes ranked, No. 31 in true completion percentage, and No. 29 in true passer rating.

Hurts is without a doubt a good, efficient player and leader of the team. Hurts was No. 1 in fantasy points per dropback (0.70), averaged the No. 6 most fantasy points per game (21.4), and had the No. 7 most money throws (35). He also led all QBs in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and carries. The team trusts him and this is evidenced by the fact the Eagles didn’t draft a QB. Instead, the Eagles built around Hurts this offseason by bolstering the offensive line, upgrading the defense in the draft, and trading for A.J. Brown. Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown are an excellent wide receiver duo, Dallas Goedert is a solid tight end, and the offensive line is good as well. Hurts is in a great position to improve in 2022.

Tua Tagovailoa

Ever since Tyreek Hill came to Miami, Tua Tagovailoa‘s stock has gone up. This is with good reason as Hill and Jaylen Waddle are both speedsters who are great at creating yards after the catch. Tagovailoa averaged the No. 31 air yards per attempt with only 6.9. He averaged 6.8 yards per attempt which ranked No. 23. While he may not throw the ball very far on average, he is still fairly accurate. Tagovailoa had the No. 3 highest accuracy rating (8) and the No. 9 best true completion percentage (72.9-percent). And when he did throw it deep, he wasn’t bad. Tagovailoa ranked No. 6 in deep ball accuracy rating and No. 1 in deep ball completion percentage.

Tagovailoa is going into a new system which is hard to quantify. Mike McDaniel was the 49ers offensive coordinator, and if Jimmy Garoppolo can succeed under his system Tua should at least improve. They also improved the offensive line this offseason. It’s put up or shut up time for him, and with Tyreek Hill and Mike McDaniel’s help he should improve upon an already solid second year.

Derek Carr

Derek Carr has been consistent his entire career. Carr only has one season with under 20 touchdowns and hasn’t had a year with under 3,000 passing yards. However, he hasn’t been a great fantasy quarterback. His best overall finish was QB11 in 2016 when he averaged 17.6 fantasy points per game. Last season, Carr finished No. 5 in passing yards and pass attempts but only threw 23 touchdowns- good for No. 13 overall. Because of that, he only averaged 15.9 fantasy points per game and finished as QB13 despite throwing for nearly 5,000 yards. The touchdown category should go up in 2022 with the addition of Davante Adams and new head coach Josh McDaniels.

While Adams was on the Packers, and essentially Aaron Rodgers only target, he still averaged 11.5 touchdowns per season over the last six years. That’s a high amount and a solid solution to Carr’s low touchdown output. They were teammates in college so they already have some chemistry. Of course, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller are excellent targets in their own right. With McDaniels’ system, Carr should improve in 2022 and finally tap into his ceiling. If everything goes right, we may see Carr’s first top 10 fantasy season.

Marcus Mariota

Wrapping up this list with Carr’s former backup who is now getting one last chance at being an NFL starter for the Atlanta Falcons. Marcus Mariota was the No. 2 overall pick in 2015 and never quite lived up to the hype. His best year was 2016 when he finished as QB13. He had 3,426 passing yards, 349 rushing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. These are all fine numbers, and he came close to replicating it in 2017 but had half as many touchdowns. He eventually lost his job in 2017 to Ryan Tannehill and was sent to the Raiders to sit behind Carr for two years.

The two years are up, and Mariota’s ready for another shot. He’s being reunited with head coach Arthur Smith who was his coordinator in Tennessee. Mariota is also getting the best set of weapons he’s had in his career. Instead of Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker, he’ll now be throwing to Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Cordarrelle Patterson. When Mariota did find success in his career, it was when he was force feeding Walker targets. Walker received over 100 targets in all three years he played with Mariota. Pitts should fill that role excellently, and Mariota should at the very least have a solid year unless injured. Reports are that he’s way ahead of Desmond Ridder in camp, so the job is likely his Week 1. It should be his job to lose as well. It’s his last chance, so you have to imagine he rises to the occasion.