While the 2022 quarterback class is not labeled as extraordinarily strong, Liberty QB Malik Willis will be an intriguing name as managers decipher his 2022 dynasty fantasy football value and future projection. With eyes on the 2022 NFL Draft, what are Willis’ strengths and weaknesses, and how does his landing spot with the Tennessee Titans impact his 2022 dynasty value at the moment?
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Malik Willis’ dynasty fantasy profile
I’ve stated this before, and I’ll say it again — Malik Willis has the highest dynasty ceiling of any quarterback in the entire 2022 class. His ceiling might be higher than any player in the draft for that matter. Sure, this is not viewed as a highly touted class, but that does not take away from how special of a talent Willis is and what he can bring to an NFL offense.
At 6’0 3/8″ and 220 pounds, Willis is what we call “rocked up.” Those who were at the Senior Bowl can attest to this. While basically all of the top-ranked QBs were there except for Matt Corral, Willis was the star of the show.
Willis is the closest player we have seen to Lamar Jackson since he came into the NFL in 2017. He is a dual-threat QB with a cannon of an arm. In his final year at Liberty, Willis recorded two 300+ yard passing games, totaled 2,250 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, and completed 64.2% of his passes. Willis led all quarterbacks with 944 rushing yards while posting 14 touchdowns. Those 14 touchdowns were seventh in the nation among all players, not just QBs.
Willis is everything you want in a QB for dynasty and fantasy in general based on the film. He has one of the strongest arms of the class and brings an unmatched rushing floor. Of the QBs available in rookie drafts, Willis has the most room to grow in value as well. There is a path where Willis is a top-five QB in two years. Quarterbacks will never be cheaper than in the rookie draft, especially in superflex dynasty leagues. Willis is a Tier 1 prospect that you can get at a discount due to his draft capital.
We cannot begin to talk about Willis’ strengths for dynasty and not discuss his rushing upside. It has become evident in the NFL and fantasy that QBs with rushing upside bring a substantial edge. Look at how Jalen Hurts was able to finish as the QB9 despite completing just 61.3% of his passes with only 16 touchdowns. Willis brings the same upside with an even higher-graded arm.
Willis is a legitimate quarterback. He has a cannon attached to his shoulder. He can hit the deep 60-yard touchdowns, but the quarterback position is more nuanced than that. Willis can throw into tight windows and alter his velocity and trajectory to get a ball over or underneath defenders.
Additionally, he already shows a high level of aptitude when throwing on the run, thanks to his effortless velocity. It forces defenses to make a difficult decision. Do you come downfield to protect the run or stay in coverage? There is no easy answer when facing Willis.
Often overlooked, Willis’ character is unquestioned. Every single person who has been around Willis has said nothing but glowing things about him. That’s going back to his high school coaches, college, QB coach, trainers, teammates, or anyone who has met him. The video of Willis helping someone on the street when he was at Indy was a glimpse of his character. He is a natural leader of men. When you have no background in the NFL to stand on, your character and how you approach your work speak volumes. For Willis, it is something that will quickly earn the respect of those around him.
Now, there is a reason Willis is being questioned as an NFL and dynasty prospect. I’m not going to sugarcoat it — as sensational Willis is, he was also arguably the most frustrating QB to watch on film in my grading process.
Consistency is an issue. Willis can go from making a play that would be on every highlight package to making a boneheaded decision or missing a wide-open receiver on the very next rep. Willis’ progressions can be lacking, and he needs to learn when to take the easy completion. He must learn to take some juice off the ball and throw the changeup for the first down rather than a Jacob deGrom heater.
Also, Willis needs to stay in the pocket more rather than bailing when he feels pressure. He has been the best athlete on any field he has stepped on as a player for his entire life. This will not be the case in the NFL, where there are linebackers who can chase him down. Accuracy can also be a concern, as Willis can miss the easy throws or overshoot his deeper targets. He tends to miss high, which is a product of putting too much pace on a ball.
Regardless, do not let this push you away from Willis. Everything “off” about him can be coached. What we are drafting in dynasty is a player’s ceiling. No QB has a higher ceiling than Willis — plain and simple. The key to unlocking his potential is a patient team drafting him in 2022. He needs time to learn and develop. If this happens, Willis’ dynasty ceiling is through the roof.
Willis’ Injury history
For a mobile QB, Willis has escaped significant injury. That’s partially due to his frame, but he’s also an intelligent runner who avoids “the big ones.”
He didn’t see a ton of playing time at Auburn behind Bo Nix, attempting just 14 passes. It was not until he transferred to Liberty that Willis got the starting nod. He did not miss a game in his two years at Liberty, though there was a scare.
In Week 8 against North Texas, Willis sustained a foot injury on a third-down play in which he was sacked. He spent a significant amount of time in the locker room before gingerly walking to an awaiting ambulance. He went to an area hospital for X-rays, which came back negative. Willis was back under center for the very next game.
Mobile QBs bring a heightened level of concern, but Willis tends not to take big hits in the open field. That will help his longevity in the NFL, where defenders are bigger, stronger, and faster.
Tennessee Titans select Malik Willis in the third round
The wait is finally over. Willis has been drafted. After the talk of Willis potentially being the No. 2 overall QB, the Titans selected the Liberty QB with the 84th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Personally, I hope Willis balls out and proves everyone wrong. Offhand, I cannot think of a time where a QB with Willis’ intangibles was selected at this extreme of a draft-day discount. He has the arm, the legs, ball placement, everything. In the third round, there is zero risk for the Titans.
Also, depending on where Willis’s ADP falls, fantasy managers’ risk has been reduced. Willis was the 1.01 in superflex drafts but will likely slide. To where I’m not sure yet, as the draft is still progressing. However, it’s worth looking at the future.
The Titans owe Ryan Tannehill a fully guaranteed $29 million in 2022. Barring injury, he is the starter. Yet, in 2023, it’s a non-guaranteed $27 million, meaning Tannehill could be playing his last year with the team.
Willis is the replacement, and it could happen as early as next season. That’s perfect, as he needs a year to sit and learn the game. Once ready, Willis joins a dangerous offense with Derrick Henry and a newly-added Treylon Burks, along with Robert Woods.
I’m still in on Willis as he has the highest ceiling of any QB. It’s just going to take at least a year before we find out if we were right or wrong.