While the 2022 quarterback draft class is not labeled as extraordinarily strong, North Carolina QB Sam Howell will be an intriguing name as managers decipher his 2022 dynasty value and future projection. As the eyes of the fantasy football community shift towards the incoming rookie class with pro days, the NFL Combine, and eventually, the 2022 NFL Draft, which landing spots fit Howell’s strengths and weaknesses, and what is his 2022 dynasty value at the moment?
Sam Howell’s dynasty fantasy profile
Despite losing Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dazz Newsome, and Dyami Brown (four 1,000-yard players), Sam Howell put together a solid season in 2021. His completion rate dropped to 62.5% (217-of-347), but Howell still posted 3,056 yards with a 30: 9 TD-to-INT ratio.
What surprised many was his improvement as a rusher. As we know in dynasty, those extra points via the legs are a massive bonus for weekly scoring and a player’s ceiling. Rushing 183 times across 12 games, Howell totaled 872 rushing yards with 11 touchdowns. He finished third among FBS QBs in rushing behind only Malik Cunningham of Louisville (1,031) and Malik Willis of Liberty (878).
Quarterbacks struggle in Year 1
At 6’0 1/4 ″, 221 pounds, Howell isn’t going to wow you with his size. There is also a reason he is constantly compared to Browns QB Baker Mayfield, who came in at 6’0 5/8 ″ and 215 pounds. While Mayfield was a more polished QB in college, we could see Howell become a starting-caliber QB in both the NFL and dynasty.
However, this is not a guarantee. In fact, we tend to struggle at finding QBs who do this in Year 1. Of the 39 QBs selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2010, only five finished as a top-12 QB in their rookie season. With no guarantee Howell is selected inside Round 1, he could be a candidate to sit a season.
Personally, I feel this is in his best interest for his long-term development. With that said, Howell is currently my fourth-ranked QB of the 2022 dynasty class. Quarterbacks are never cheaper in fantasy than on draft day, especially in superflex leagues. If you like him and his landing spot, I would pounce on the opportunity.
When you watch Howell’s game tape, it evident he was a baseball player. His release and motion are short and compact, with the ball rarely traveling away from his shoulder. While he does not have the arm strength of Willis or Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Howell can still deliver the ball downfield with pace. It takes little effort to fire the ball into the hands of his receivers in intermediate windows from multiple angles.
2022 Dynasty Rankings: Top 250 PPR players across QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs
Howell’s competitive toughness on the field also adds to the comparisons to Mayfield. He is a fiery leader, willing to stand in the pocket when he knows a defender is coming. Yet, he maintains his poise and gets up, looking for more. While he might not be planting flags at mid-field after a win, Howell has the tenacity which will win over a locker room.
Howell needs to work on reading the entire field and going through his progressions. At times, he locks on to his first option and can force a ball into a window that isn’t there. This is a death sentence in the NFL, as DBs are quicker and have more range than anything he has come across before. Howell also needs to demonstrate more consistency in his accuracy. There were too many examples where he underthrew, overthrew, or was wide of his intended target.
Also, Howell needs refinement in the pocket. This might not be entirely on him as North Carolina has a subpar offensive line. However, rather than staying at the depth of his drop, Howell needs to work on feeling the pressure and stepping up in the pocket. With NFL edge rushers becoming more dominant, this is the best way for him to attempt to avoid them and their range while helping out his tackles as they redirect the rush.
As mentioned when referencing his toughness, it should come as no surprise that Howell rarely missed games. In fact, he only missed one contest due to injury his entire collegiate career.
Howell missed a contest against FCS Wofford in the Tar Heels’ final home game of the season thanks to a shoulder injury he suffered the week before. He’d come back to play two rivalry games, first against North Carolina State in the final regular-season contest and against South Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
In an era where more and more players are choosing to opt out of bowl games to focus on the draft, Howell showed his competitive drive by going out with his team one final time.
Top landing spots for Howell’s dynasty value
With projected draft capital and team needs in mind, which teams are top landing spots for Howell in dynasty? Can he help alter the trajectory of an NFL franchise, whether on Day 1 or down the road?
Get used to seeing the Steelers listed as landing spots for quarterbacks. No one wants to see Mason Rudolph trotting out there in Week 1. Not the Steelers, their fans, or dynasty managers rostering any of their players.
You need to have a certain mentality to play football in the AFC North. It is as blue-collar as it gets. The games are tough – borderline dirty at times – and you play to the second or maybe even third whistle. Howell has the mentality to fit in with this style of football.
Not only that, but talented playmakers would surround him in Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris. Howell has the intangibles. He just needs the mental reps and knowledge to go with it. It’s hard to find a team with more stability than the black and gold, boding well for Howell’s dynasty stock should he land here in 2022.
We need to look at the coaching staff as with any landing spot. Gone is Mike Zimmer, and in is Kevin O’Connell, the latest person to get a head coaching gig after breathing the same air as Sean McVay. Following O’Connell is Wes Phillips, who will act as the offensive coordinator. Phillips was the Rams passing game coordinator and tight ends coach during the super Super Bowl run in 2021.
Kirk Cousins is in the twilight of his career. Minnesota is stuck with his laughably high cap hit of $ 45 million in 2022, but he is a free agent in 2023. For Howell and dynasty managers who acquire him, this might be a blessing in disguise. The Vikings would have little to no motivation to rush him out there. Yes, they have Kellen Mond, who was drafted last season. However, that is a player selected by the previous regime, so the new front office is not tied at the hip to him.
In terms of surrounding talent, the Vikings are full of it. Dalvin Cook is a top rusher in the NFL. Justin Jefferson is one of the best in the league and wouldn’t see a dropoff from his top-two dynasty ranking. Adam Thielen is locked up until 2025. And the Vikings have both Irv Smith Jr. and – if he re-signs – Tyler Conklin. Given Phillips’ history as a TEs coach, there would be a reason to believe they will be focal points of the offense.
It’s not a landing spot that would give much dynasty value in 2022 for contending teams, but for the future, Howell to Minnesota makes all the sense in the world.
You do not need a magic 8-ball to know Sam Darnold is not the answer. While they did pick up his fifth-year option, this does not indicate Matt Rhule’s undying love for him. With Rhule on the apparent hot seat, the first step is to address the QB position. Howell could be the answer as they keep his talent in-state. I honestly think Howell could develop into a starting quarterback in the right scheme, and from a personnel standpoint, the Panthers have the weapons.
He is not enough of a rushing threat who would take away from Christian McCaffrey’s production, but Howell would benefit from the little wins that come from dump-offs. Then, you have an elite WR1 in DJ Moore, who is the only WR in the NFL with three straight years of 1,200 yards or more. Robby Anderson is a volume pass catcher, and second-year WR Terrace Marshall Jr. has the skills to become the No. 2 as he was in his final year at LSU. From a dynasty standpoint, I genuinely like this fit for Howell.