When drafting fantasy teams, many owners use simple fantasy football rankings when they should be using fantasy tiers. While there is nothing wrong with targeting particular players, it can be difficult to execute that strategy if your preferred targets keep getting taken right before your selection.
Thinking of fantasy rankings in groups of players, or “tiers” – where you target a certain cohort of closely-ranked players – gives you much more flexibility in executing your draft strategy.
How To Use Fantasy Football Tiers
When drafting using fantasy football tiers, you want to pay attention to how close a tier is to its end. For example, if you are torn between taking a wide receiver or a running back, how many are left in the highest remaining tier? If there are three wide receivers left in the highest of the remaining fantasy football tiers but only one running back, then it would likely be smart to take the running back. In that scenario, it’s much more likely that you’re able to draft one of the wide receivers with your following pick.
Generally, you want to try and take one of the last players in a particular fantasy football tier rather than one of the first players in a particular tier. This is especially important if you are going by more of a value-based drafting strategy over a position-based drafting strategy such as Zero RB.
Of course, this knowledge must be combined with an average draft position (ADP). If you are deciding between two positions with a similar number of players left in a tier, then try and deduce which of the players is most likely to make it back to your following selection.
2023 Fantasy Football Tiers: Quarterbacks
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 1 – Proven League-Winners
This tier of quarterbacks will provide you with a matchup-proof weekly advantage at the quarterback position. The best of the quarterback fantasy football tiers, they’ll likely cost you a top-36 pick in redraft leagues and real values anywhere outside that range.
1. Jalen Hurts: Was 1st in fantasy points per game among quarterbacks and the overall QB3 despite missing two games. Essentially the goal-line back for an elite offense (2nd in NFL in carries inside the 5-yard line, 13 rushing touchdowns) with fully healthy A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. Only threw 60 total 4th-quarter passes in 2022 because the Eagles were so dominant, so his passing ceiling has plenty of room to grow.
2. Josh Allen: Yearly elite floor and ceiling, added Dalton Kincaid as a weapon and now Gabe Davis is fully healthy. The Bills will still be very pass-heavy, but will they keep their word about scaling down his rushing attempts?
3. Patrick Mahomes: Lacks the rushing yardage and touchdown ceiling of the two above him, but the best player in the NFL is also the surest floor bet at the position for fantasy purposes. His ceiling will be further raised if any of Rashee Rice, Skyy Moore, or Kadarius Toney prove to be consistent weapons.
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 2 – High Floor Difference-Makers With Elite Upside
This tier of quarterbacks is proven weekly advantages over the majority of your league who will rarely (if ever) come out of your lineup. They likely don’t have 50 total touchdown upside, but all are capable of being Tier 1 options at the high end of their range of outcomes.
4. Lamar Jackson: Stacked supporting cast with Odell Beckham’s signing, 1st-round selection of Zay Flowers, and a now-practicing Rashod Bateman to go along with Mark Andrews. With zero running back additions of note and J.K. Dobbins currently dealing with a contract dispute, the offense is designed to run through Jackson. Was once again on pace for another 1,000-yard rushing season. The new past-paced offense run by incoming OC Todd Monken is just icing on the cake.
5. Joe Burrow: Underrated rushing performance (12th among quarterbacks in yards, 5th in touchdowns) may be hampered early on by calf strain. Still, yearly candidate to lead the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns. A legendary season is in play if Higgins, Chase stay healthy and the Bengals continue pass-heavy ways (2nd in NFL in pass rate over expectation last year).
6. Justin Fields: Last year’s QB5 on points per game despite historically low passing volume. Signals point to drastic correction in that arena, plus upgrades at wide receiver and offensive line. Looks poised to take “the leap” a la Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts.
7. Justin Herbert: This year’s best positive regression candidate had just about everything go wrong in 2022’s injury-riddled QB11 finish. One season removed from a QB2 finish where he threw 38 touchdowns and 5,000+ yards. Fully healthy offensive line and returns all his weapons while adding stud Quentin Johnson, no running game to speak of, and fast-paced, deep-ball-oriented Kellen Moore as the new OC. Giddy-up!
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 3 – Average Starts With Weekly Advantage Potential
This fantasy football tier of quarterbacks features guys who you will start most weeks but may be benched in favor of a streamer in below-average matchups. They don’t have a consistent Tier 1 ceiling but will be enough to keep you afloat or even above average most weeks. Count these guys as your average league starts (mid-to-low QB1s).
8. Deshaun Watson: Was downright bad last year after long hiatus. But has the pedigree (three consecutive top-5 fantasy finishes from 2018-2020), weapons (Amari Cooper, David Njoku, Elijah Moore), and the offensive line to get back to Tier 2. A full offseason with Kevin Stefanski’s system should do wonders and will carry an even bigger load if Nick Chubb (who will turn 28 in December) gets hurt.
9. Trevor Lawrence: Last year’s QB9 finish after a disastrous rookie season was a massive step in the right direction. With a rushing floor (291 yards, 5 touchdowns) and a deep cache of weaponry (Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, Travis Etienne), he’s set to take another step in 2023. The best candidate of the Tier 3 quarterbacks to make the jump into Tier 2.
10. Kirk Cousins: A model of passing consistency (at least 4,265 yards passing yards and 29 touchdowns the past three years) simply doesn’t have the rushing upside to become a truly elite fantasy option. However, he’s a legitimate dark horse to lead the NFL in passing attempts and yards (4th in both categories last year) and now is without Dalvin Cook. Their drafting of Jordan Addison in the first round, the first full off-season of T.J. Hockenson, and a prime-age year of Justin Jefferson point to even more 2023 volume.
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 4 – Fringe QB1 Starters With Spiked Week Potential
These quarterbacks are best used as leaders of a committee approach on your fantasy team. They’ll have game-winning weeks in plus matchups but for one reason or another, lack the ceiling and/or floor of the Tier 3 group.
11. Geno Smith: It will be tough to outdo last year’s out-of-nowhere QB8 finish (4,200+ yards, 30 touchdowns), but the return of Metcalf and Lockett plus drafting of uber-rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba point to another year of “letting Geno cook” (8th in pass rate over expectation last year). Moderate rushing production can be expected from Smith (366 rushing yards last year), but they may be more pass-heavy early in the season than many expect due to Kenneth Walker’s groin injury.
12. Daniel Jones: Last year cannot be considered anything other than a smashing success (708 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns) after the start of his career. Will the “quantity over quality” influx of receiver depth and the addition of Darren Waller be enough to take a passing stat leap (15th in passing yards, 21st in passing touchdowns)? Likely more of a floor play, but we can’t count out coach Brian Daboll after 2022’s improvement.
13. Tua Tagovailoa: Similar projection to Geno Smith in that his huge potential passing ceiling is counterbalanced by a non-existent rushing floor. A bigger risk, however, considering one more concussion could knock him out for the whole season. But as long as he, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle stay healthy, the passing floor and ceiling are as high as anyone’s in Tiers 3 and 4.
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 5 – High-End QB2s With Decent Floors or Huge Range of Outcomes
These quarterbacks are very solid QB2s who will be useful in good matchups multiple times during the course of the season. Counting on them as your full-time starters will likely leave you at an aggregate disadvantage, however.
14. Dak Prescott: Once-bankable rushing floor has vanished since his catastrophic 2020 leg injury (19 rushing yards, 0.35 rushing touchdowns per game from 2016-2020, 11.7 yards and 0.07 touchdowns per game since) and now without fast-paced OC Kellen Moore. Lamb, Cooks, and Gallup form a great wide receiver corps though red-zone maven Dalton Schultz is now in Houston. Simply doesn’t have the ceiling he once had, but remains an acceptable floor play.
15. Anthony Richardson: Possesses the largest range of outcomes of any fantasy quarterback – could be the next Cam Newton or Jamarcus Russell. Incredibly raw and potentially bad as a passer, but we’ve simply never seen an athlete like this at the quarterback position. Must be taken seriously considering his rushing upside, especially near the goal line. A 3,000-yard passing season should be considered a huge success.
16. Aaron Rodgers: Similar to Prescott, his rushing floor has disappeared. Last year also was a marked step back from passing production as well (217.4 passing yards per game, zero 300-yard outings, one game with 3+ touchdowns), but has much-improved weaponry with stud WR1 Garrett Wilson. A vindictive Rodgers could certainly throw for 4,000 yards, but his days as a difference-making fantasy quarterback are over. With a slow pace and limited weapons, Rodgers is more of a “floor” play as your QB2.
17. Russell Wilson: Sean Payton is a massive upgrade from last year’s coaching staff, and Wilson finished the season playing much better than many realize. However, he’s another player whose rushing floor and ceiling have disappeared (31.3 rushing yards per game from 2012-2020, 15.9 from 2021-22). Can Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Marvin Mims make him an every-week fantasy starter again?
18. Jared Goff: His 2022 resurgence was an awesome storyline, but may be due for negative touchdown regression (4.9% touchdown rate last year, was between 3.5-3.8% the previous 3 seasons) and offers nothing with his legs. Weapons are good (if a little top-heavy) behind a fantastic offensive line, so there’s no reason not to expect 4,000+ yards and 25 touchdowns. Simply doesn’t possess the ceiling to be in Tier 4 or higher.
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 6 – Mid-Range QB2s With Limited Ceilings
These quarterbacks can flirt with a top-12 finish but are unlikely to threaten the top-8 overall. They are decent-to-average QB2s who will mostly be used in streamer and bye/week situations and can start multiple weeks in a pinch. They are hopefully not the best QBs on your roster.
19. Sam Howell: Seems to have convincingly won the quarterback competition in Washington, but there is benching potential playing in front of one the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL (Jacoby Brissett). Ex-Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy should make great use of exciting weapons Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel, and Antonio Gibson. His underrated mobility (828 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns in his final year at UNC) makes him even more exciting, but still a completely unproven NFL commodity.
20. Kenny Pickett: Tough to be much worse than last year (12 starts yielded 184 passing yards per game along with 7 touchdowns and 9 interceptions), but a 2nd-year leap with a supporting cast that includes Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington, Najee Harris, and Jaylen Warren is a decent bet. Not an elite prospect by any means, this will likely be a make-or-break year for Pickett.
21. Brock Purdy: Last year’s Mr. Irrelevant won the starting job despite serious elbow surgery, and has arguably the best set of weapons and quarterback-friendly offensive coach in the NFL. However, his 7.6% touchdown rate is certain to regress (for perspective, Mahomes and Tagovailoa finished 2nd in the NFL with a 6.3%) and he only threw for more than 234 yards once in six meaningful regular-season games. With zero rushing production, great defense, and an offense that focuses on a slower-paced, run-heavy philosophy, he’ll need to keep that touchdown rate up to become anything more than a spot start in 2023.
22. Derek Carr: Easily the best quarterback the Saints have had since Drew Brees has a nice plethora of weapons in Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, Rasheed Shaheed, Juwan Johnson, and Alvin Kamara. However, goes from an offensive-minded team to one coached by Dennis Allen. An above-average defense and pathetically weak division will allow them to run Jamaal Williams, Kamara, and rookie Kendre Miller far more often than fantasy managers will like.
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 7 – Low-End QB2s and Matchup Streamers
These tier of players are likely going to be added and dropped a lot in most leagues as matchup-based streamers. Outside of superflex/2 QB leagues, none of them are must-roster players.
23. Matthew Stafford: Seems to be healthy, but is another Cooper Kupp injury away from being completely unstartable. A bad offensive line, zero rushing ability, and his own long-term health concerns make him an uninspiring pick unless Van Jefferson or Tutu Atwell become consistent, quality weapons.
24. Jimmy Garoppolo: Averaged 238 passing yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game during his 49ers tenure, in possibly the easiest quarterback environment possible. Coming off of foot surgery with a downgrade in weapons, coaching, and offensive line, you can surely do better.
25. Jordan Love: Hopefully his multiple years behind Aaron Rodgers helped him progress past the mediocre prospect (regressed heavily as a junior in a weak conference) he seems to be. Camp reports have been mixed, and has a wildly young receiving corps. More than likely a slower-paced offense featuring a lot of A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones… can Christian Watson repeat his insane efficiency without Aaron Rodgers?
26. Kyler Murray: Was a fantasy asset because of his rushing ability, now coming off a serious knee injury where his mobility will be limited. The worst team in the NFL isn’t going to rush him back and is now without DeAndre Hopkins and fast-paced coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Fantasy Quarterback Tier 8 – Bottom-Barrel QB2s and Waiver Wire Fodder
These quarterbacks are either unproven enough or have so little upside they should not be drafted or rostered as of now (outside of superflex/2 QB leagues). The least valuable of the fantasy football tiers.
27. Mac Jones: Matt Patricia’s departure is a major addition by subtraction for this offense, but an underwhelming collection of skill-position players (DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne, Mike Gesicki, Hunter Henry) aren’t enough to elevate Jones into a reliable every-week QB2.
28. Baker Mayfield: Only positive are his weapons (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin), but is not certain to even beat out Kyle Trask. Camp reports have been predictably mixed (to put it nicely).
29. Ryan Tannehill: Has zero floor if the Titans’ season goes south, but has been an above-average fantasy contributor with adequate weapons in the past. Can DeAndre Hopkins and Treylon Burks bring back the glory days, or will the league’s potentially-worst offensive line and unproven offensive coordinator bring this house of cards crashing down?
3o. Desmond Ridder: Being better than Marcus Mariota last year doesn’t make him good. The Falcons will continue to be extremely run-heavy, but coach Arthur Smith can probably work some magic with Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and an elite running game. Potential for 2019-2021 Ryan Tannehill numbers due to his rushing ability and supporting cast.
31. Bryce Young: A very good prospect (though not elite) can’t make up for a pathetic supporting cast that’s asking a lot from the calcified husk of Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, and Jonathan Mingo. This is going to be a slow-paced, unexciting offense.
32. C.J. Stroud: A worse prospect than Young who is used to playing with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Marvin Harrison, and Emeka Egbuka at Ohio State is going to have a major wake-up call on the 2023 Houston Texans.