If you showed best ball ADP to a casual football fan one of the first things they would probably ask you is, ‘why the hell does Jalen Hurts go ahead of Joe Burrow, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady?’ Of course, anyone who has played fantasy football understands that his rushing upside trumps the better passing stats of traditional pocket passers.
The tricky thing for fantasy managers is that rushing QBs are no longer the undervalued cheat code to drafts that they once were. Pretty much every QB with a high rushing floor is pushed up multiple rounds over where they would have been drafted a few years ago. Does this mean we shouldn’t draft them? Of course not, we still need league winning upside, but we do need to be more thoughtful in how we value them now that there is a real opportunity cost to drafting them.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at one of the most exciting QBs in 2022 drafts.
Reasons to Draft Jalen Hurts
The best reason to draft Jalen Hurts is because he is among the group of QBs who have the upside to finish as the QB1 on the season. He is also one of an even smaller group of QBs who could run for 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdowns. His rushing floor locks him in as an elite fantasy option and there are reasons to believe he can take a step forward as a passer.
Hurts showed meaningful improvement in his second year and is a player known for his excellent work ethic. It’s also important to separate fantasy performances from real football. Hurts is unlikely to be the most efficient passer but he did rank 11th in PFF’s big time throw % metric which shows he isn’t just going to play it safe. More importantly, his red zone passer rating took a massive jump from his rookie to sophomore seasons which is the area I believe will be most important to him realizing a ceiling outcome.
Jalen Hurts Fantasy Upside Case
In order to unlock his fantasy ceiling Hurts will need to continue his development as a passer. His rushing ability gives him a great floor but he will need to increase his passing yards and TDs to have a top 5 season at the position. The good news is the organization helped him out by acquiring one of the best WRs in the game, A.J. Brown.
As I outlined in the section above, Hurts did improve as a passer last year and is just going into his age 24 season so it is reasonable to think he can continue to ascend. Now that he is playing on an offense with legitimate weapons and a great offensive line, it becomes even easier to imagine the upside.
Assuming he delivers similar rushing numbers to last season I don’t think it is that much of a stretch for him to throw for 3,500+ yards and get into the mid-20s for touchdowns. If he can make that statistical jump he should easily finish as a top 5 QB. In a scenario where the offense clicks and Hurts approaches 40 total TDs (rushing + passing) he absolutely has a path to being the #1 QB in fantasy football.
Reasons to Avoid Jalen Hurts
Honestly, the best reason I have to avoid Jalen Hurts is because you can make a similar bet on Trey Lance more than a round later. It is also worth pointing out that Hurts has the lowest floor of the top 6 QBs because he is the only one that could get benched for poor play. Every other QB that goes that high in drafts is viewed as a true franchise QB while there is a realistic chance the Eagles could look to replace Hurts in the draft next year.
If things go wrong for the Eagles it is possible that Hurts just isn’t on the field at the end of the year when it matters most. This isn’t very likely in my opinion but it is a risk that none of the other elite QBs face. I can understand if drafters prefer to take the other top tier QBs, but within a portfolio of best ball teams fully fading Jalen Hurts is flat out irresponsible.
Jalen Hurts Fantasy Downside Case
It’s tough to come up with too bad of a downside case assuming Hurts is on the field. Injury is always a concern with rushing QBs and there is a non-zero chance he could be bad enough as a passer that Gardner Minshew gets a few starts (especially with this offseason training regimen). But those are difficult to predict and low probability risks that we must take for a shot at league winning upside.
The realistic worst-case scenario is that Hurts delivers on his rushing floor but does not progress as a passer which results in him putting up similar numbers to last year and finishing as a low-end QB1. The other downside scenario would be if the Eagles are able to win with their running game and defense they may just not lean on Hurts’ arm at all. This could lead to him repeating the low passing TD numbers from last season that capped his weekly upside.
In those scenarios he should still only underperform his ADP by a few spots which makes him a much safer pick than he first appears.