QB projections vs. ADP: Mining tier values like Jalen Hurts and Kirk Cousins (2022)

If the interaction with last week’s Triple Slash article is any indication, we’re in store for an incredible football season. This week, I am incredibly excited to get into one of my favorite offseason exercises — identifying values and market inefficiencies at the QB position by plotting the best available quarterback projections against consensus ADP. Luckily for us, we have easy and intimate access to the most accurate NFL projections anywhere, provided by our resident expert (and top-shelf Tout Wars partner) Jake ”The All-In Beast” Ciely.

If you’d like to see the source and inspiration for my work below (while simultaneously having your mind blown), I fully encourage you to take a look at the most robust fantasy football cheat sheet available.

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Though Jake and other noted projectionists are doing the entire football world an inimitable service with their work, it only gets us to the bridge. We’re still on our own when it comes to crossing it, and how. Hopefully, this exercise can serve as a guide. I’m especially interested in clusters of demand, and I find beginning with a macro view of the emerging market adds that valuable perspective.

QB projections vs. ADP: Mining tier values like Jalen Hurts and Kirk Cousins (1)

My first assessment of this chart will sound familiar to anyone with experience in chart reading or technical analysis. Zooming all the way out we notice a clear bearish (or descending) channel, which intuitively makes sense. Our expectations are that the further we move down in ADP (plotted to the right), the projected point totals should decrease (plotted towards the bottom). That being established, we now know what to look for. Any outliers to the topside of the channel are theoretically value targets, as well as the inverse being true. Players found at the base of our channel, or below it, are technically overvalued by the market according to Jake’s projections. Here’s a rough idea of what visualization I’m aiming for to help you see for yourself. I went so far as to transpose a parallel bearish channel beginning with the top two QB picks — the same way I would when charting anything else. Please keep in mind that similarly to the projections themselves, charting is meant to work in ranges.

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QB projections vs. ADP: Mining tier values like Jalen Hurts and Kirk Cousins (2)

ADP 1-50

At the very top-left, Josh Allen stands alone in both price and projection. The Bills’ shot-caller is in line to earn over 10 percent more points than the next fantasy QB. At the onset of the draft season, he was being picked in the third round. Considering Allen was my odds-on favorite to be the top-scoring player overall, he ended up as my most rostered player this spring. Jake and I are in total lockstep here — I have Allen as my clear-cut QB1 and think he could even outperform his projected 422 fantasy points with ease.

In the second QB tier of Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Lamar Jackson, they all have nearly identical projections, creating a tight linear base right inside the Top 50 ADP. Anytime we run into such similar projections at a position, I would generally recommend the drafter defer to price.

(Video) 2022 Fantasy Football - Quarterback Tier List

  • My Top 50 ADP value: Josh Allen

ADP 51-100

Eight QBs are being drafted in our second fifty-pick block between ADP 51-100: Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. This is our first chance to apply some of the perspectives this chart offers. Notice the similarity between the two QBs who fall below our channel. Prescott and Wilson embody the downside risk to drafting non-rushing QBs inside the Top 75. In fact, they project more similarly to players like Trey Lance (ADP 100) or even Trevor Lawrence (ADP 134). As much as drafters love Kyler Murray, he’s projected identically to Tom Brady, but going almost thirty picks earlier. Food for thought.

However, the real standout on this block, and the board altogether, is Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (ADP 68). His plot can be found far north of the channel’s boundary as the second highest projected QB overall. The dual-threat sophomore is poised to win leagues from a value standpoint if Jake’s foresight has anything to say about it.

  • My 51-100 ADP value: Jalen Hurts

ADP 101-150

I always look for values at QB because, in a game predicated on opportunities, it’s the one position assured a magnitude of them. Once we pass the century mark on the board, 11 QBs have been drafted. That being said, it doesn’t mean the best 11 have been drafted. We theoretically have our pick of the remaining litter. Historically, in single-QB leagues, I generally wait for this point to draft the position, and then eventually take my favorite two. Remember, even if you were to miss on both attempts, the demand for a QB in-season on the free agent market is greatly reduced. Most managers have invested significant capital behind center. Most don’t intend to burn a roster space on someone they won’t start. Using this exact type of exercise can help us map out our late-QB strategy, affording us the ability to drop back even further as we stack crucial wide receivers and running backs.

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It’s pretty easy to see why you’ll find me taking my play-caller this late in drafts. Two of the seven QBs found between ADP 101-150 (Trey Lance and Justin Fields) have tremendous appeal due to game-changing rushing upside. Another (Trevor Lawrence) is being drafted nearly three rounds after Lance, yet is projected for more total points than four QBs drafted earlier. Two other QBs (Derek Carr, Tua Tagovailoa) have added a legitimate All-World wide receiver to their arsenal. All this, and we still haven’t gotten to my favorite of the bunch.

Kirk Cousins is currently being drafted as QB15 even though in 2021 he was tied for fourth in QBR (103.1), fourth in QB Accuracy (77.6%), ninth in QB DVOA (15%), while posting a Top 12 (QB1) finish in pretty much everything that matters: Passing Yards (4221), Touchdowns (33), Interceptions (7), Yards Per Attempt (7.5), Average Depth Of Target (8.5), as well as PFF’s Big Time Throws and Turnover Worthy Plays. Cousins had six games with 315+ passing yards, a 90th percentile throw velocity (59mph) and the Vikings offense operates fast. Maximizing opportunities is paramount in fantasy football and Minnesota was near the top of the league regarding pace of play, running a snap under 27 seconds on average. Don’t forget that Cousins also gets a major weapon in Adam Thielen back (63 receptions, 686 receiving yards, 10 TDs in Weeks 1-12). In my opinion, Cousins provides a perfect stable option while you churn through other potential league-winning QBs.

  • My 101-150 ADP value: Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins

ADP 150+

I love a good bargain as much as the next person, but please do not wait until pick No. 150 to draft your starting QB. With that out of the way, 19 QBs are off the board at this point, accounting for all fantasy starters and the majority of backups in 1QB leagues. Most fantasy managers are no longer even considering the position, which we can use to our advantage if we did in fact draft a top-tier QB. If you rostered Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, for example, your second QB should be coming from this bin.

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Even though his projections are the furthest outside the channel to the downside, by far, I think I’d actually consider Deshaun Watson right now. He’s not only proven to be a consistent QB1 finisher when he plays, but the uncertainty surrounding Watson opens a window of opportunity. In trading terms, it’s akin to speculating on an earnings report. Watson’s price is currently in limbo, and if you wait until his fate is determined then you’ve missed any chance at the potential windfall profit. If, for example, we are assured that Watson will play this season, he will fly up boards too fast to capitalize. Now, of course, the inverse is also true but you must sometimes risk it for the biscuit. If he ends up suspended or excommunicated, Watson’s the world’s easiest cut.

If that’s a little too risky for a team with such a strong base, I’d make a very similar case as before for Zack Wilson and Daniel Jones. Both have upgraded their contextual surroundings, flashed the occasional highlight throw, along with bursts on the ground. I do not know who will be better in 2022, but I do know this: I have benefited in trading leagues by hitting on this type of pick and flipping it, and then trying to do it again. If you have someone like Josh Allen at the helm, the last thing you want to do is second guess playing him. Look for the highest potential return from that roster spot and move on.

  • My 150+ ADP QB values: Deshaun Watson, Zach Wilson, Daniel Jones

(Top photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

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