Joe Burrow’s fantasy outlook and projection for 2022

What is Joe Burrow's fantasy outlook and projection for 2022, and should you look to draft him at his current ADP?

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow played about as well as he could last year. Coming off a midseason ACL tear, Burrow exceeded all expectations, leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl. He also had several monster fantasy weeks along the way. So what is Burrow’s fantasy football outlook and ADP heading into the 2022 fantasy football draft season?

Joe Burrow’s fantasy outlook for 2022

It’s become difficult to evaluate quarterbacks for fantasy football because there are just so many good ones. Last season, 11 quarterbacks averaged over 20 fantasy points per game, including Burrow.

In years past, Burrow’s 20.5 ppg would’ve rendered him a high-end QB1. In 2021, he finished as the QB10 (minimum eight games played). Even a mere five years ago, in 2017, Burrow’s 20.5 ppg would’ve made him the QB3.

Burrow threw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns last season. He also led the league in completion percentage at 70.4%. Given how efficient Burrow was, how come he wasn’t more productive from a fantasy perspective?

Unfortunately, the Bengals run an offense the way I imagine Philip Rivers would run the 40-yard dash. Sloooooooow. Although they threw at a respectable 56% rate, the Bengals ran just 58 plays per game, the fourth-lowest rate in the league. For context, the Buccaneers, Bills, Cowboys, and Ravens all ran 66 plays per game; Eight plays per game is a significant difference.

If Burrow is going to be any better in fantasy, he’ll need more volume. It’s the only way. He really can’t get more efficient. Burrow’s 6.5% touchdown rate from 2021 is unsustainable.

Currently, Patrick Mahomes’ 6.3% career touchdown rate is the best in NFL history (since the merger). For context, Peyton Manning had a career 5.7% touchdown rate. Thus, Burrow will need to attempt more than 32.5 passes per game to combat the inevitable regression in efficiency.

How the Bengals’ depth chart impacts Joe Burrow’s fantasy projection for the season

The good news for Burrow is the Bengals have done everything they can to set him up to succeed. They already have an impressive set of wide receivers in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, and one of the best running backs in the league, Joe Mixon.

What they lacked was a competent offensive line. Burrow was sacked 51 times in 2021, the most in the NFL. Fortunately, the Bengals spent the 2022 offseason addressing this need. They signed two offensive linemen and drafted one in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s clear they understand protecting Burrow is paramount.

With no shortage of weapons, Burrow should still remain more efficient than the average quarterback. However, even a slight tick down in TD rate to 6% would cost Burrow a full fantasy point per game. And that’s assuming he maintains his league-leading 8.9 yards per attempt rate.

For Burrow to improve in fantasy, it will require a team-wide offensive philosophy change

The unfortunate reality is Burrow is unlikely to improve upon last season from a fantasy perspective. Outlier seasons do happen, so it’s not impossible for Burrow to put together a magical hyper-efficient season. But he kind of just did that.

Burrow is still young, entering just his third season in the NFL. He’s going to continue to improve, but if the volume isn’t there, he’ll need to maintain his efficiency to merely stay where he was last season. While 20.5 ppg is nothing to scoff at, if fantasy managers are looking for Burrow to push 22-23 ppg, something will need to change for that to happen.

Burrow’s ADP for 2022

Burrow’s ADP is around 60th overall. He’s being drafted as the QB6. If you’ve already read my CeeDee Lamb player outlook, you’ve seen me discuss improvement being baked into a price. That’s what we’re seeing with Burrow.

Historically, league-winning quarterbacks are those that outperform their ADP in terms of ppg. It’s going to be a challenge for Burrow to do that, given his ADP is about five spots higher than where he finished last season. You’re paying for an improvement that is not guaranteed to happen. And even if it does, he would need to be even better to provide value at cost.

I absolutely love Burrow as a QB. He, Chase, and Higgins are going to be an offensive force for the better part of the next decade. However, in fantasy football, I just can’t get behind a signal-caller that doesn’t run with ascension baked into his price. In PFN’s consensus 2022 PPR fantasy rankings, Burrow sits 10th at the position and 91st overall. By no means do we feel Burrow will be a bad QB in 2022, but his ADP is considerably closer to his ceiling than his floor.

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