Now that free agency, the NFL Draft, and the schedule release have all passed, we have our initial layout in place in team depth charts and strength of schedule. With that, we want to take a look at some players across the fantasy landscape that are either polarizing, over/undervalued, or just interesting topics of discussion and walk through some of the pros and cons on where those players are regarded in fantasy circles through these long days of summer leading into the actual starts of training camps and actionable news.
Week 1 Age: 23.1
Contract: Signed through 2023
Using the Dynasty ADP app available at RotoViz, I pulled up the ADP for Hurts in 1QB leagues and SuperFLEX leagues. With the trade of Carson Wentz this offseason, signing 36-year-old Joe Flacco, trading out the No. 6 pick overall pick in this draft (and still having an opportunity to draft both Justin Fields and Mac Jones in the first round when they did pick), the Eagles are giving Hurts the opportunity to start in 2021.
With that, his ADP has climbed up to 38.8 overall in SFLEX formats (QB14 overall) and to pick 89.5 overall in 1QB formats (QB12) after being selected at pick 109.4 (QB28) in SFLEX formats and 214.5 (QB32) in 1QB leagues a year when it looked like he would be stuck behind Wentz on a huge contract.
How Did 2020 Go?
When Hurts was called upon to start the final four games of the season after Wentz struggled around a deteriorating roster in terms of health and performance, Hurts was a mixed bag. Here are his peripheral numbers compared to the other rookie quarterbacks in 2020 that threw 100 or more passes.
2020 Rookie Quarterbacks with 100 or more Pass Attempts
Hurts was last in the league in completion rate (52%), but also last in the league in expected completion rate (55.5%) since he had the second-highest depth of target (10.1 yards downfield) of all quarterbacks last season. 22.3% of the passes Hurts threw last season were throws over 15 yards downfield, which was second in the NFL (ironically, behind Joe Flacco at 23.9%) among the 44 passers who threw at least 100 passes. Anchored by an abundance of high-leverage pass attempts, Hurts led all rookies in yards per completion.
Hurts also was second behind only Justin Herbert in touchdown rate and fantasy passing points per pass attempt albeit on a smaller sample than both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.
All of those numbers are passing stats only. Factoring in rushing performance, Hurts dusted the rookies in fantasy points per dropback, ranking sixth in the NFL. The 272 rushing yards for Hurts in those starts were second in league history for a quarterback over his first four career starts behind Lamar Jackson. He added 53.7 rushing points on the season, which accounted for 49.1% of his fantasy output, which trailed only Taysom Hill (59.8%) and Cam Newton (50.3%). Rookie season Jackson had 63.2% of his fantasy output come via rushing.
If you have followed any of my work over the course of time, then you already are aware of the impact that rushing production for quarterbacks has on fantasy scoring at the position. But just in case you have not, here is something tidy on the origins of that impact, how the game has evolved into more mobile quarterbacks playing under center than ever, and the separation those players now hold over passing-only peers.
We all know Hurts can move and it is the hallmark of his fantasy appeal (at least in creating a floor). But we want to continue to dive into his passing acumen for the crux of things in hopes he can be the next true dual-purpose upside player that has broken the bank late in the game.
2020 Rookie QBs Clean Pocket vs Pressure
|QB||Clean Att%||Comp%||Y/A||Pressure Att%||Comp%||Y/A|
Looking at clean pocket versus pressure splits for rookie passers from Pro Football Focus in 2020, Hurts had the highest rate of throws under pressure of the group.
No team was as jammed up across the offensive line last season to the degree of the Eagles. Football Outsiders had the Eagles with 57.1 adjusted games lost due to offensive line injuries in 2020. The next closest team (Dallas) was at 46.4.
Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles prior to the season while 2019 first round pick Andre Dillard missed the entire season as well with a biceps injury. To tack on, Lane Johnson (nine missed games) and Isaac Seumalo (seven missed games) each spent time on injured reserve during the season. By the end of the season, the Eagles used 14 different offensive line combinations.
Entering 2021, Hurts should have more clean pockets to throw from. From a clean pocket, he led all rookies with 7.7 yards per pass attempt due to his willingness to throw the deep ball. The downside, however, is his completion percentage regardless of pressure is a concern. Finishing last here in clean pocket completion rate and second to last under pressure, Hurts has to be a more efficient passer altogether moving forward if he is going to sustain a grip on the starting job beyond this season.
Even factoring in the depth of target influence, Hurts completed 56.1% of his passes with 15 yards of the line of scrimmage (league rate was 70.2%), the lowest rate among all quarterbacks with 100 or more such attempts distantly behind the next quarterback, which happened to be Carson Wentz (63.4%).
The positive news is that Hurts. of course, is not the only rookie passer to struggle throwing the ball out of the gates. Over the past decade, here are all of the first- and second-round rookie quarterbacks to complete fewer than 60% of their passes in this modern era where everyone is completing passes.
Round 1-2 Rookie Quarterbacks Below 60% Completion Rate Over the Past 10 Seasons
*Min. 100 Pass Attempts as Rookies
We have quite a list of have nots here, but also a third of these inefficient rookie passers were able to pull out positive fantasy production. Among the 21 passers here outside of Hurts, eight have already turned in a QB1 scoring season with those eight combining for 23 QB1 scoring seasons. It is worth noting that only four of the passers above outside of Hurts were second-round quarterbacks, with only Andy Dalton and Derek Carr receiving second contracts from their team.
Hurts has the smallest starting sample size among the list above, but ranks ahead of only Blaine Gabbert in rookie season completion rate. The positive news is that he is third in yards per attempt and fourth in touchdown rate.
You probably have already noticed, but the past two top-scoring quarterbacks in the league in Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen are here. Everyone knew that those two young and athletic quarterbacks carried the rushing ability to carry their draft cost the past two seasons, but nearly nobody believed they had the passing capability of putting together the types of passing seasons that each did in their breakout seasons for fantasy.
Hurts was an objectively better collegiate passer than both as well. His yards per pass attempt rose every year of his collegiate career at Alabama and Oklahoma while his 11.3 Y/A in 2019 is the third-highest final season mark for a quarterback invited to the combine over the past 20 seasons. When he was drafted, Hurts entered the NFL ranking in the 91st percentile in career Y/A (9.1), 90th in TD/INT rate (4.0:1) and 77th in completion rate (65.1%) for all collegiate passers since 2000. Of course, Hurts also had the benefit of playing elite collegiate programs that have done nothing but churn out inflated passing efficiency numbers recently, so there is a large grain of salt to apply here.
Still, Hurts was a better thrower than Jackson was entering the league in my opinion and does offer a strong enough proxy of a rushing ceiling that Jackson does. Hurts’s four rookie-season starts look a lot like Jackson’s rookie season run in that he struggled as a thrower and relied on rushing output.
Jalen Hurts vs Lamar Jackson Rookie Season Output Per Game (Starts Only)
2022 is Not Guaranteed
The breakouts for Jackson and Allen have impacted the ADP for Hurts a great deal. Nobody wants to miss out on the next fantasy asset that looks like the past two breakouts we just have had when there is so much overlap here.
Placing any potential MVP-caliber season expectations on any player is a tall ask and we should not be expecting that output from Hurts. You should be buying the floor with the upside potential that as a better passer in year two he can make a jump into a regular QB1 fantasy asset per game.
The difference in the big picture is that the overall success of the Eagles matters a great deal here in deciding the future for Hurts. Allen was taken with a premier draft selection and always had rookie contract leverage in providing a runway, even after he struggled in each of his first two seasons in the league. The Ravens went from 4-5 to 10-6 and in the playoffs in Jackson’s rookie season after he became the starter, and are 30-7 in the regular season with him as their starting quarterback. Regardless of your opinion on Jackson as a real-life passer, he is a 24-year-old MVP of the league already and the Ravens have been nothing but successful as an organization with him under center. Teams rarely break the wheel when they are reeling off wins to that degree. The best recent examples of that happening revolve around Alex Smith in San Francisco and Kansas City.
There is low risk and big upside for the Eagles giving him this opportunity. Hurts does not have first-round, premier draft capital to create multiple outs for him if the Eagles do not have team success in 2021. He does not even have a cap hit of $2M in any season on his rookie contract. Nor was he selected under this current coaching staff that was brought in this offseason.
Philadelphia has given Hurts a surrounding cast to succeed more than people realize as well. They are the first team since 2005 to use back-to-back first round picks on wide receivers in Jalen Reagor and the 2020 Heisman Trophy Winner DeVonta Smith. They have other top-60 picks starting in Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders on their rookie contracts to go along with an offensive line that is a strong unit when healthy and just tacked on Alabama center Landon Dickerson to insure 33-year-old Jason Kelce in Round 2. Despite the perception of the Eagles roster based on 2020 output, this is more than a fair shot in providing enough talent for Hurts in his audition to become the quarterback beyond this season.
Not only have the Eagles given him enough, but they have also insured themselves the opportunity to make a play for another rookie quarterback if Hurts falters and fails to develop this season. As of right now, the Eagles have 10 draft picks in the 2022 draft. Two of those are first rounders (theirs and the Miami pick) as well a potential third first rounder from the Colts pending Wentz playing 75% of the snaps this season or 70% and the Colts make the playoffs.
If you are looking for a positive outcome where the Eagles massively outkick expectations, Philadelphia does have the third-best schedule based on forecasted win totals, which you can find at Sharp Football Stats.
Wrap It Up Already
In dynasty, every player has potential to be both a buy and sell at the same time. You just have to find the proper context in your league in which he is valued per owner. I am high on Hurts from a 2021 stance because the archetype of quarterback he is offers too much upside to let slide if he has a successful passing season, even at league baselines. In 1QB redraft formats, if you miss on Hurts in the QB8-Q10 range, you are not crippling your team since you can find viable quarterback play in that format. There is more risk in SFLEX formats, however, where the waiver waters are not stocked. In those formats, I will select Hurts with an out if he fails.
But because of the lack of premier draft capital investment, new coaching staff, and questionable team success for the Eagles in 2021 creating instability for Hurts beyond this audition period, I am actually lower than the current market with him as my QB18 in Dynasty formats.
Knowing that I value rushing production from fantasy quarterbacks, it should be no surprise that I drafted Hurts in six SFLEX leagues a year ago during the rookie draft. All six were in the second round. I have already moved him in three of these leagues, choosing to just take my initial profit and hedge in those spots. Here are the three deals I made…
Received: 2023 1st and 2023 2nd
Received: 2021 1.08 (Selected Zach Wilson) and 2022 2nd
Received: 2022 1st and 2023 1st
Startup ADP and cost is not going to be an exact market for you with team context a driving force in established leagues, but here are the buy and sell point suggestions using that as a guideline pending which side you fall on.
Market 2020 Rookie Pick Value: Early/Mid-First (1.04-1.06)
Market QB Value Targets: Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa, Matthew Stafford
Market RB Value Targets: Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler, J.K. Dobbins
Market WR Value Targets: Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas, CeeDee Lamb
Market TE Value Targets: George Kittle, Darren Waller
Market 2020 Rookie Pick Value: Early/Mid-Second (2.03-2.05)
Market QB Value Targets: Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa, Matthew Stafford
Market RB Value Targets: A.J. Dillon, Tony Pollard, Michael Carter, Damien Harris
Market WR Value Targets: Jalen Reagor, Corey Davis, Michael Gallup, Jarvis Landry
Market TE Value Targets: Irv Smith Jr., Mike Gesicki, Cole Kmet