Justin Herbert has so far managed to deliver for fantasy football managers in his first two years. Now, as he enters his third season in the NFL, what is Herbert’s fantasy outlook for 2022, and does he present a value at his current ADP in fantasy drafts?
Justin Herbert’s fantasy outlook for 2022
Coming off a year in which he finished as the QB2 in fantasy, things look set for Herbert to have another solid year in 2022. There were some concerns entering last year that changes in the coaching staff around him could hamper his progress. However, he dispelled that with ease, averaging 22.4 fantasy points per game to finish the season with 380.8 fantasy points.
There is a lot of stability around this offense heading into 2022. Five of the top six targets are back, and the Chargers have also made offensive line improvements. Equally, a lack of investment in a feature back to complement Austin Ekeler will likely see this offense run through Herbert all over again. Only two teams threw the ball more than the Chargers last year, and it would be no surprise to see them finish among the top 10 once again.
Across his two seasons in LA, Herbert has started 32 games, totaling 713.6 fantasy points at an average of 22.3 per game. During that stretch, he has scored below 10 fantasy points on just one occasion, while topping 30 points on six occasions. Looking across his passing metrics, there were solid improvements in Herbert’s on-target and bad-throw rates, while his slight decline in completion can be somewhat attributed to an increase in drop rate from 3.8% to 5.8%.
The other thing that Herbert has done well is add value for fantasy managers with his legs. While he might not be the elusive runner that Lamar Jackson is or the bulldozer of Josh Allen, Herbert does just enough to provide value. He has 536 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns through those two seasons. While those numbers don’t blow you away, it’s a nice supplement to the value he brings with his arm.
How the Chargers’ depth chart impacts Justin Herbert’s fantasy projection for the season
The only departure of note for the Chargers from last season is that of tight end Jared Cook. He saw 83 targets, catching 48 for 564 yards, with four touchdowns. This season, the Chargers added Gerald Everett to replace Cook. While Cook’s career catch rate sits at 60.2%, Everett is at 65.5%. Therefore, this change could actually provide a slight upgrade for Herbert in terms of reliability at the TE position.
At wide receiver, Herbert’s top three targets are back, and so are the guys that worked around them. Retaining his top four receivers and continuing to make Ekeler a big part of this offense is key as Herbert continues to grow. He will have familiarity and comfort with all his weapons and their roles in the offense.
There have been some changes on the offensive line that are worth noting. Bryan Bulaga is gone, which is hardly a surprise after he played just 45 snaps last year. That leaves Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton competing at right tackle. However, that pairing saw significant snaps for this offense last year, so they are at least familiar with the scheme.
Los Angeles drafted Zion Johnson in the first round, and he could slot straight in as a starting guard. There might be some early growing pains, and the right side of the line could be the weak point opposing teams target.
The only thing that might change the Chargers’ offensive philosophy is the changes they made on defense. The Chargers gave up the 10th-most yards and the fourth-most points last year, meaning the offense had to stay aggressive. Additions of Khalil Mack, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, J.C. Jackson, and Bryce Callahan should improve that.
If the defense remains stout, we could see the Chargers lean on the run game a little more late in games. Still, there should still be enough volume for Herbert to be a successful fantasy option in 2022.
Herbert’s ADP for 2022
Herbert’s current ADP has him going off the board as the QB3 in the late third-round of 1QB leagues. He is usually a top-five selection in Superflex leagues and often goes in the top three. In PFN’s consensus 2022 QB fantasy rankings, Herbert sits as the QB2, suggesting he might be a solid value at his current QB3 price.
In Superflex formats, if you have a top-five selection and Herbert is on the board, it’s an easy selection. If you don’t take a QB that early, then you risk being left with two bottom-20 QBs as your starters. That is simply a risk you cannot take. The only QBs you should consider taking over Herbert there are Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson. Allen is the slam dunk, while the decision between Mahomes, Jackson, and Herbert really comes down to personal preference.
The decision to draft Herbert at his ADP in 1QB formats is somewhat tougher. Here at PFN, our general philosophy this season is that you can get good starting QBs in a 1QB league a few rounds later than you have to invest in Herbert. There are so many valuable WR and RB options available in the late third/early fourth round that spending that pick on a QB is a tough choice.
My personal preference is to pass Herbert up simply because, being selected as the QB3, he’s essentially being selected a fraction below his ceiling. In contrast, his floor is what we saw in 2020. He still averaged over 22 points per game but finished as the QB9. Yes, Herbert appears to be a very safe option, but you can find really good starting QBs later in the draft in Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.