The 2022 NFL season was a fun one. There were so many twists and turns and now it is time to react. It is time to soak in all the season gave us and make adjustments in our dynasty leagues. Like last year, I am bringing in a Rookie Reactions series to break down every fantasy-relevant rookie’s fantasy football season and talk about their dynasty fantasy football future.
This article begins with the quarterbacks.
Brock Purdy, SF
The 49ers had injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, and needed the last overall pick in the draft, Brock Purdy, to step up. He delivered. In his last six regular season games, he averaged around a 70% completion rate and 218 yards per game, throwing at least two touchdown passes in each game. In the playoffs against some tough defenses he continued to play well, leading his team to an NFC Championship.
One of the many big questions with Purdy is: who was truly responsible for his impressive play? There is more to a performance than just the statistics and yards and touchdowns.
Here is what I found from the film: Purdy delivers the ball fairly well all over the field. He can make throws down the field as well as outside and in between the hashes. He takes what he can get, and understands he does not always have to go for the big play. That trait is extremely impressive for a rookie quarterback to have. Most young players may just sling it in hopes of a big play.
One thing to focus on is his passing when under pressure. Nearly anyone can pass decent from a clean pocket, but not many can have true poise when under immense pressure. In his first week against Miami, the Dolphins sent blitzes on 13 of 40 of Purdy’s dropbacks, trying to shatter the rookie’s confidence. He took three sacks and averaged 4.6 yards per drop back, taking a lot of easy short plays.
In his next game against Tampa Bay in week 15, it was a little bit different. He showed the ability to escape and evade pressure and was six of seven for 108 yards and two touchdowns on plays under distress against the Bucs defense.
Fast forward to the Divisional Round playoff game against Dallas, a defense that loves to cause havoc. Under pressure from Micah Parsons and company on 48.5% of his dropbacks, Purdy completed 15 of 17 passes for 159 yards and no turnovers. He was excellent, especially considering there was little run game to help him out.
Will Brock Purdy even start moving forward? Unfortunately, no one knows. All we can do at this point is speculate. He will likely be out until August due to an elbow injury. Adding onto that, the 49ers still have Trey Lance, the quarterback they traded multiple firsts for to draft third overall. He has not really had much NFL playing time, and will have an opportunity to make good impressions with Purdy absent. So, if I had to put money on who will be the week one starter, I would bet that San Francisco still may want to see what they have in Lance before they give up on him.
Putting everything into balance, Purdy is not a player managers should be desperately looking to buy, or sell. It all truly depends on the value you are receiving back or giving up. He has a lot of potential if he is the starter of this 49ers offense, but it will be an uphill battle for him with the competition for the starting job, and his injury setting him back.
A late second-round rookie pick, or any player around that value seems like a good place to value him. If you cannot find the return you want while selling him, or think the price is too steep to buy him in your league, do not make that trade. If you trade away or trade for Purdy, it is a move I want to be ecstatic over.
Kenny Pickett, PIT
Pickett was the only rookie quarterback to start more than five NFL games this season. In his 11 full games played, he put together 2,209 yards through the air, six touchdowns, and nine interceptions. That may sound very lackluster, but it really has been a tale of two halves for him.
In his first five games, he hit 6.0 yards per attempt twice, but beat that in all of his last six games. Adding on, in his last six games he only threw one interception compared to eight in his first five. Pickett cleaned up the mistakes, and watching him play in the second half was a delight. He led the Steelers to a big comeback win against Baltimore, and made some extremely impressive throws. He finished his last six games with five wins.
Even with the improvement we have seen from him over the last six games, he never got it done for fantasy at any point in the 2022 season. He never finished as a top-ten quarterback in a week, and finished top 15 only twice. He threw just six touchdown passes in his 11-game season which is not nearly enough to get you to fantasy football glory.
The passing volume was also relatively low – he averaged just over 32 pass attempts per game, which would have ranked 20th among all NFL teams.
In his second year, maybe we see Pittsburgh let him sling the ball a bit more. Diontae Johnson, year two George Pickens, Pat Friermuth, and Najee Harris is a pretty good receiving core to work with. If you are the Steelers, why not see what you really have in Pickett? If he were to truly be unlocked and be the leader of the offense, he could be someone who leaps into the top-12 conversation if he really were to convert and take advantage of an increased number of pass attempts, as we saw in flashes this past year.
One last thing about Pickett: he can run the football. He did not show much in his rookie year, but in college he put up some solid rushing numbers. At the combine he showed speed with a 4.73-second 40-yard dash. If that begins to develop more in future years, that will benefit his fantasy football career immensely.
In dynasty fantasy football, I don’t think he is a bad buy. Being on Twitter and interacting with the community a lot, I get the sense that Pickett only gets hyped up by Steelers fans and that you could buy him for cheap. Finding a great quarterback is proving to be very difficult, so why not take a cheap shot at someone who could be great with a very solid offense around him?
Malik Willis, TEN
Willis was looked at as one of the best if not the best quarterback of the 2022 NFL Draft class before the draft began. Many believed he would go in the first round, but he ended up missing that mark. He was selected at pick 86 by Tennessee.
Not a very strong draft capital was invested in him, and he did not get much playing time in his rookie season either. In his very few games played, he did nothing very impressive. What was more important was that towards the end of the season, with the playoffs on the line, Joshua Dobbs was the quarterback filling in for Ryan Tannehill when he was injured. This was also after watching Willis start multiple games.
With that action, the Titans clearly showed they have no trust in their rookie quarterback and that they wanted to start a veteran, who has been a backup his whole career over him. It also shows us that something is clearly wrong and that this year was not a good season for him.
In dynasty, I am selling Willis for pretty much any top-24 rookie pick I can find, or any player in that value range. I understand that he can run the ball and for fantasy football, we love that. However, he was already a third-round pick, and his profile seemed very shaky. Adding on to that, Dobbs was given the nod over him after almost a full year of seeing him in practice and starting a couple of games. Due to all of this, it is extremely difficult to see Willis doing anything big with the Titans.
Sam Howell, WAS
Howell is a name who was thrown out as a bit of a sleeper in the 2022 NFL Draft. Not many in the NFL Draft community really loved him as a prospect, and the draft capital reflected that. He was selected 144th overall by the Washington Commanders.
Carson Wentz started the season, and when he went down to an injury, Taylor Heinicke filled in well. When Wentz got healthy he came back and started. Howell was not in the conversation to start at any point in the 2022 regular season until week eighteen. In week eighteen he actually did not look half bad. He arguably looked like the third-best rookie quarterback this year in his small sample. He put up an 83.0 passer rating, one touchdown and one interception against a pretty tough Dallas defense.
There have been many reports flowing that the Commanders are telling candidates for new coaching positions that Howell will be the starter in 2023. Why wouldn’t he be? The Commanders do not have the draft capital to get a top prospect in this year’s draft class, and most of the quarterbacks on the trade market or free agency are nothing more than bridge quarterbacks. They have tried the bridge quarterback too many times and failed, and we also all know what happened with Matt Ryan and the Colts. The Commanders should want to find a franchise quarterback, and with that mentality they will give Howell a shot. If he does not pan out, they will most likely have a high pick in the 2024 draft with an opportunity at a franchise quarterback there.
In dynasty fantasy football, Howell is a solid hold. I do not believe he will start multiple years for this team, but no one in the dynasty community believes in him at all. The price you would get for selling him is not significant. I have seen him sold for a third-round superflex pick, which is essentially nothing. Therefore, in a superflex league, hold onto him if you have him unless you have a crazy Commanders fan in your league who is willing to pay a significant price. If you hold on, you could have a starting quarterback of one of the 32 NFL teams for a year, which is valuable.
Desmond Ridder, ATL
Heading into draft season, Ridder was probably the most polarizing quarterback in the NFL Draft and fantasy football community. Some loved him, and some could not get onto the Ridder hype train. Rumors suggested he would be a round-one selection, but he was selected in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons.
Unfortunately, we did not get to see much of Ridder this season, as Marcus Mariota had the stronghold on the starting job for the majority of the season. In the four games he did play, he was fine. He completed 63.5% of his passes along with rocking an 86.4 passer rating. He threw two touchdown passes, and did not turn the ball over.
Looking towards next year, Ridder is the probably favorite to be the starter for the 2023 season. The Falcons are not going to go back to Mariota, and a veteran bridge quarterback for a rebuilding team is not a good answer. Atlanta has pick eight in the 2023 NFL Draft and as a result, they will likely not be in the running for top quarterback prospects Bryce Young or CJ Stroud unless they trade up. They may be able to pick Anthony Richardson at their spot if they really want a quarterback, but looking at the status of their team, and the potential they have in Ridder, I doubt they will take a shot on a risky prospect in Richardson. It would be the clear best move for them to take a shot to fill a team need, and look for a quarterback next season if Ridder does not end up working out.
Looking at dynasty purposes, If you have Ridder in dynasty and can sell him for a mid to early second-rounder in a superflex league, or a player of that worth, that is absolutely worth it. If he even is the starter for the Falcons, there is a sliver of hope for Ridder and his development through these next months preparing for 2023. However, I was never the biggest fan of Ridder as a prospect. It seems unlikely he would have ever been ranked where he was if the quarterback class of 2022 was actually a good one. He rarely got through all of his progressions well, his accuracy was consistently inconsistent, and his ball placement was never very special.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this article. Please come back next week for the first part of the rookie running back reactions.
- 2022 Rookie Wide Receiver Reactions: Part Two - March 29, 2023
- 2022 Rookie Wide Receiver Reactions: Part One - March 16, 2023
- 2022 Rookie Running Back Reactions: Part Two - March 6, 2023