clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bills QB Josh Allen should absolutely be on your fantasy football radar

The Bills’ young signal caller should have a strong fantasy performance again in 2023.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was made for fantasy football. Where Allen may fall behind quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow in the latest real-world NFL rankings list, he remains a near-universal top QB in fantasy football circles. Look no further than his cover appearance on the forthcoming “EA Sports Madden NFL 24.” Josh Allen represents prolific production — an almost video game-like tendency to make the impossible look routine and planned.

According to Fantasy Life: Since the 2020 NFL season, Josh Allen has ranked no lower than QB2 in fantasy football points per game. In that same period of time, Allen is ranked fourth in both completion percentage over expected (+6.5%) and EPA per dropback (+0.29). Additionally, Allen is already third in career rushing TDs by a QB in the Super Bowl era. As we enter the 2023 NFL season, Josh Allen is one of just seven NFL QBs with at least three seasons throwing 35-plus TDs.

If you play fantasy football and are in traditional one-quarterback leagues, you’re likely looking at Josh Allen being drafted early in Round 2. If your league starts two quarterbacks or makes the position available as part of a “Superflex” slot, then Allen should be large on your radar as a Round 1 selection.

Josh Allen’s 2022 fantasy performance (started 16 of 16 games)

Josh Allen averaged 29.1 fantasy points per game last season — his third such season in a row averaging 27.8 points per game or better. In 2022, Allen was the fourth-best fantasy football QB in terms of rushing points per game alone (7.4 ppg). Allen finished as the No. 2 fantasy QB in 2022 (and 2020), and was the No. 1 rated fantasy QB for the 2021 season.

Josh Allen’s 2022 Passing stats
359-of-567 (63.3%) for 4,283 yards / 35 TDs / 14 INTs / 7.6 yards per attempt / 11.9 yards per completion, 267.7 yards per game / 96.6 QB rating / 71.4 QBR / sacked 33 times for 162 yards / 3 4Q comebacks, 4 GW drives

Josh Allen’s 2022 Rushing stats
124 attempts for 762 yards (6.1 y/a) (47.6 y/c) (7.8 att/g), 7 TDs, 13 fumbles / 55 first-down runs, long of 44 yards

(All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference)

The best-case scenario for Josh Allen’s 2023 fantasy numbers

The Bills are set to play the league’s fourth-toughest schedule in 2023, which is to be expected after once again winning the AFC East and securing the NFL’s two seed for last season’s playoffs. That means Josh Allen is likely to be heavily featured in every game, while trying to defend their division crown amid a ferocious trio of rivals.

Josh Allen’s best-case scenario in 2023 is likely one that crowns him NFL MVP at season’s end. If the Bills are going to be successful this coming season, they’ll need Allen to continue his ascent as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Winning league MVP would likely cement success in both regards.

Statistically, I see Allen’s ceiling this season at around 5,085-plus passing yards, or roughly 299 air yards per game. Such production would only require him to average around 31 more air yards per game than he did during an injury-plagued 2022 campaign.

Now recovered from last season’s UCL injury, it’s possible we see a bounce-back season in terms of efficiency from Allen, where he’s able to put better touch on shorter passes. As such, I expect Allen’s passing TD numbers to increase, especially as it relates to the red zone.

In total, it’s not out of scope to envision Allen throwing 45 TDs within the framework of a best-case scenario season. Prior to last season, Allen mystified the league with how seldom he threw red zone INTs. If best-case is the consideration here, it’s possible we see Allen get his RZ groove back, and tossing far fewer INTs near the goal and at all other points on the field — to the tune of a very low seven INTs in 17 games. A return to full health should also allow Allen to cut down on the fumbles — losing just six in a best-case scenario.

Many believe Allen’s rushing numbers will decline, due to various circumstances. I, however, don’t envision a huge dip in the 27-year-old’s ground-game production. Allen will always be Allen, and his running has been equally important in returning a once-moribund franchise to glory. In consecutive seasons (2021-2022) Allen carried the ball at least 122 times for 762 yards and six TDs. Prior to that, his carries didn’t drop below 102 beyond his rookie season (89 carries).

A potential statistical drop could come in Allen’s rushing touchdown output. Players like Damien Harris and perhaps Latavius Murray present the biggest question marks to Josh Allen’s red zone production, namely those goal-to-go TDs. Having said that, I continue struggling to find a Bills player better-suited at the goal, and believe Allen would find a ground score in better than half his team’s games in a best-case season — giving him nine rushing TDs in 17 games.

In review — for this best-case, 17-game scenario, it’s possible Allen’s numbers would look like:

5,085 passing yards (69.2% cmp), 45 passing TDs, 7 INTs / 675 rushing yards, 9 TDs, 6 fumbles

These totals would place Allen as the new leader atop the NFL’s all-time combined passing and rushing leaders, surpassing the mark set by Patrick Mahomes (5,608) in 2022.

The worst-case scenario for Josh Allen’s 2023 fantasy numbers

A topic none of Bills Mafia enjoys discussing: Suppose Josh Allen isn’t an alien this coming season? What would a worst-case, 17-game scenario look like for Allen? A near-complete regression, especially in terms of efficiency.

Should the Bills find themselves in a host of messy battles, it’s possible “Hero Josh” returns to confound our collective brains. Nearly any Bills fan will say that the only one to hold Josh Allen back is himself. But once he finds his pacing, calms his nerves, and dials in on his opponent, the sky’s the limit for Allen.

However, sometimes a front can cast its shadow on that day at the lake. If offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey struggles to find success with receivers not named Stefon Diggs, Allen could be in for a long season where he presses the ball at inopportune times to receivers ill-suited for their required roles.

Allen’s turnover numbers were last season’s hot topic, the bulk of them coming by way of fumbles while operating out of the pocket. Allen must find a way to cut down the turnovers, which may come if he finds less reason to run with the ball.

There’s also the very slim potential for his numbers to regress toward his 2019 season totals, should the offense adopt a run-heavy scheme. I don’t envision that happening, but it would certainly lower Allen’s ceiling as a passer.

In this worst-case, 17-game scenario, it’s possible Allen’s numbers would look like:

3,500 passing yards (60.5% cmp), 25 TDs, 12 INTs / 675 rushing yards, 10 TDs, 10 fumbles

Finding a handcuff to Josh Allen for your fantasy football roster

Traditionally, handcuffs in fantasy football tend to be understudies to a team’s primary player at a position. Think running back by committee. There is no in-house handcuff for Josh Allen. Former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore said it best. Kyle Allen was signed in the offseason to be Allen’s backup. Despite sharing a last name and nominal-if-underwhelming NFL experience as a starter, Kyle is very much not Josh. Few NFL quarterbacks can compare to Josh Allen.

Players like Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields ... maybe even Daniel Jones. Those are the guys who compare to Allen as a dual-threat signal caller. Each of them are also likely to be drafted as the starting QB for a fair number of your opponents’ rosters.

Chances are you’re not looking to roster Buffalo’s backup QB. If you are, abandon the thought immediately. You’re better-served targeting a mid-to-lower tier starting QB on another team — someone who’s a far better option coming off your bench than Kyle Allen would be coming off the Bills’ bench. There’s often plenty of depth available to get your team by in a pinch. That, of course, changes if you play in a league starting multiple QBs. Your strategy might also need to change in such a situation.

Other Bills players who could benefit from Josh Allen in 2023

Any primary target receiving a football from Josh Allen’s extended arm fits into this category, and wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis immediately jump out. Chances are if you have both Allen and Diggs, you should do well in your league.

Tight ends Dawson Knox and rookie Dalton Kincaid are also on this list. Knox is very TD-dependent, but he tends to find them in bunches. It remains to be seen how Dorsey will utilize Kincaid, but the belief is he’ll be featured as more of a big-bodied Cole Beasley and less of a traditional TE. Running back James Cook could break out as a pass catcher in the NFL, given the ability he showcased in college.

Josh Allen’s 2023 fantasy football outlook

Much has been made about the Buffalo Bills’ AFC East foes improving this offseason. While it’s true those teams have gotten better on paper, they still have to prove capable of beating the Bills when it matters most.

Perhaps the biggest departures on offense for Buffalo are running back Devin Singletary and receiver Isaiah McKenzie. Neither should be a huge factor when considering Josh Allen’s potential output this coming season.

Early on in the offseason, there were rumblings about Josh Allen wanting to run less, to protect his body in hopes of better helping his team reach its ultimate goal. Asking Allen to be anyone other than himself seems an impossible task. I believe Allen will continue to run as opportunity presents itself, regardless of offensive formation or directive from coaches. Much of what Allen’s done on the ground has been the result of ad-libbed opportunity, rather than designed QB runs. No one who plays fantasy football can prepare for that variable. It’s... too variable.

While Patrick Mahomes rightfully gets the lion’s share of glory, Josh Allen remains hot on his heels, potentially even surpassing him in fantasy football. Given the early predictions for the AFC East, it’s possible Allen finds an opportunity (and the necessity) to put up big numbers — in hopes of helping Buffalo claim its fourth-straight AFC East championship en route to a home stand for the rights to play in the Super Bowl.

Simply stated: If you want to win fantasy football, you want Josh Allen.