The 2022 Season is in the books. While there’s still some playoff football to help us see how players do in the clutch, for dynasty players it’s a time to sit back, take stock and see how players fared. Over the next six Stock Watch pieces and the next three weeks, I’ll be looking back at the 2022 and 2021 classes by position. I’ll be evaluating if their stock rose, remained the same, or dropped during the course of the season. Now could be the time to sell high, buy low or hold on to a winning hand. Today, I continue with the 2021 Quarterbacks, a group that has shifted dramatically in year two.
Stock Up: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
About: Taking Fields was viewed as something of a home run where he fell for the Bears in the 2021 NFL Draft. But then-Head Coach Matt Nagy didn’t take to him right away. Fields only appeared in 12 games and started ten as a rookie, and the offense often looked flat and stagnant. Fields finished 2-8 as a starter, completing less than 60 percent of his passes for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns, and ten interceptions. This off-season the Bears changed coaches but did little to build an offense around Fields, who was behind a poor offensive line and saddled with a below-average receiving corps. And yet, Fields exploded in 2022. He only went 3-12 in 15 starts, but he threw for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He also added 1,143 as a rusher and eight touchdowns. Fields jumped to QB6 on the season, a promising sign for a player on a team with plenty of picks and the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. He’s solidified his place as a Top 10 option in dynasty.
Stock Up: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
About: Lawrence is another quarterback that made a meteoric rise from year one to year two, and again largely thanks to a coaching change. As a rookie, Lawrence was paired with Urban Meyer in an experiment that fell flat, to say the least. He finished with less than 60 percent completions, going 3-14 as a starter with 3,641 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. He finished as QB22 and looked to struggle. Enter Doug Pederson and a re-shaped offense. Few teams spent as much to surround their quarterback with playmakers as the Jaguars. They added tight end Evan Engram and receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, among others. It worked, too. Lawrence went 9-8 as a starter, completing 66 percent of his passes for 4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He finished as QB8 and looks more like the Top 10 prospect most figured he would be when he was drafted. If you bought low last off-season, prepare to cash in.
Stock Down: Mac Jones, New England Patriots
About: Coaching changes can also impact a player negatively, which is the case with Jones. In 2021, he led the Patriots to the playoffs and looked like the best of the rookie quarterbacks. After Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels went to the Raiders as Head Coach this off-season, Jones got caught in a unique Patriots experience. Matt Patricia—a defensive coach—and Joe Judge—a special teams coach—were placed in charge of the Patriots’ offense. That combined with a lack of weapons did Jones no favors in his second year. Jones slipped from QB18 in 2021 to QB23 in 2022. His stats also declined, going from 67 to 65 percent completions, and tallying just 2,997 yards and 14 touchdowns, 900 yards and eight touchdowns less than in 2021. He also slipped to 6-8 as a starter as his team finished just 8-9. Jones will probably never be more than a solid QB2. Those that roster him need to hope the new offensive coordinator brightens the upside for Jones in year three.
Stock Down: Zach Wilson, New York Jets
About: Wilson was the No. 2 overall pick, putting plenty of pressure on him with fans in New York. His rookie season was bumpy, to say the least, as he went 3-10 in 13 starts. He completed 55 percent of his passes for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. But the Jets surrounded him with weapons and looked for a big second season. It didn’t happen. While Wilson was 5-4 in his starts, that was more a credit to the rushing of Breece Hall and the work of the defense. Wilson completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,688 yards, six touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also ended up benched—twice. The first time for Mike White and then near the end of the season for Chris Streveler as the Jets slid out of the playoffs. The team says they’re not giving up on Wilson, but he’s far from a lock to start in 2023. Those that bet on him in rookie drafts need to look elsewhere.
Stock Down: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
About: Lance was the No. 3 overall pick, one for which the 49ers traded three First Round picks among other things. He was expected to be the 49ers’ franchise quarterback, and he entered the 2022 season in that position. That lasted just over one game. Lance lost Week 1 to the Bears and left Week 2 early, lost for the season. He finished the year 15-for-31 for 194 yards no touchdowns and an interception. He added 67 yards rushing too on 16 carries. In total, in two seasons, the 49ers have gotten 797 yards passing and 235 yards rushing. Meanwhile, the 49ers finished this season 13-4, with Jimmy Garoppolo going 7-3 as a starter and rookie Brock Purdy going 5-0 to close the season. Heading into year three, Lance is still an unknown for the 49ers—and fantasy owners—and coming off a big injury. If you still believe, this might be the time to buy low.
Stock Down: Davis Mills, Houston Texans
About: A Third-Round selection, Mills was a true bright spot among the quarterback class of 2021 as a rookie. The Texans weren’t a great team, but Mills looked sharp when given a chance to start. That didn’t hold true as he entered 2022 as the Texans’ starter. The Texans aren’t a great team, finishing with the No. 2 overall pick. Mills went 3-10-1 as a starter in 2022. His completion percentage dropped nearly six points as he put up 3,118 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He was benched mid-season for Kyle Allen. When that experiment flamed out, he ended the season often splitting time with Jeff Driskel. Mills is a capable quarterback and spot starter, making him an ideal NFL backup. But it’s clear the Texans will take a franchise quarterback in the draft, leaving Mills with little week-to-week value moving forward.
Stock Down: Kyle Trask, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
About: Since Trask was drafted, the Buccaneers have been Tom Brady’s team. Even during the brief off-season window when he retired last off-season, the Buccaneers didn’t seem comfortable moving forward with Trask as the starter. That seemingly remains true. Trask went 3-for-9 for 23 yards in his lone appearance in 2022, coming in Week 18 as the third quarterback into the game. It’s the only action he’s seen as a member of the Buccaneers. It’s still possible he’s a lottery ticket, but with Bruce Arians in the front office and the Buccaneers moving on from Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich, it seems the team is on the cusp of some big changes. None of that bodes well for Trask getting a shot at meaningful playing time.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.