On The Mend: When Should You Draft Joe Burrow in Fantasy Football?

Burrow is throwing at OTAs. Can you trust him as your fantasy QB?
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow practices during an off-season workout at the practice fields outside of Paycor Stadium Tuesday, May 7, 2024. Burrow is recovering from wrist surgery after a season-ending injury he suffered in a Week 11.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow practices during an off-season workout at the practice fields outside of Paycor Stadium Tuesday, May 7, 2024. Burrow is recovering from wrist surgery after a season-ending injury he suffered in a Week 11. / Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Joe Burrow has been cleared to throw the football for OTAs, and fantasy football managers should monitor his progress. Perhaps no player returning from injury has a broader range of outcomes. 

After starting the 2022 season slowly with a calf injury, Burrow finally looked healthy in Week 5, only to see his season cut short with a wrist injury six weeks later. Burrow had surgery to repair his dislocated wrist in November.

Before his 2023 season, Burrow finished as the QB4 in 2022, passing for 4,475 yards and 35 touchdowns.He finished as the QB8 in 2021. 

Joe Burrow's injury history is unique, particularly his torn scapholunate ligament complex, a rare injury for a pro quarterback. The extent to which this will affect his touch and strength is uncertain, but with a team of trainers and medical staff aiding his recovery, Burrow is not your average patient. Those who take a chance on him could reap significant rewards. 

Burrow certainly has the weapons to put up big fantasy stats. WR Ja'Marr Chase remains among the most elite at the position, and on Monday, the Bengals announced that Tee Higgins signed the franchise tag to stay in Cincinnati for at least one more season. They added RB Zack Moss to help replace Joe Mixon, and Chase Brown will also get a chance to help make an impression in his sophomore season.

While Joe Burrow has the potential to put up big fantasy stats, his growing injury history should give fantasy football managers pause. The good news is fantasy managers will get plenty of opportunity to observe his progress with the Bengals featured in this year's Hard Knocks. Fantasy Football managers should do some scouting from their couches.

It's also worth noting that the Bengals lost OC Brian Callahan to the Titans. Burrow and crew will learn a new offense with Dan Pitcher while recovering from injury and potentially negotiating new contracts. 

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) drops back in the pocket in the first quarter of the NFL Week 11 game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) drops back in the pocket in the first quarter of the NFL Week 11 game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Joe Burrow does not have the mobility of the elite fantasy quarterbacks, so I will only be drafting Burrow if he falls to a reasonable round in my drafts. Burrow is coming off the board as the QB7, ahead of Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Jordan Love, and Brock Purdy. That's too rich for my blood. 

Those who draft Burrow should consider a handcuff if he gets a slow start to the season. I wouldn't feel comfortable drafting Burrow without some solid insurance. That may mean taking another QB earlier than in the last round of a 1QB draft. Consider quarterbacks such as Jared Goff, Trevor Lawrence, Brock Purdy, and Jayden Daniels as your QB2. 


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Jennifer Piacenti

JENNIFER PIACENTI

In addition to being a fantasy sports and betting analyst at Sports Illustrated, Jennifer is a radio host for Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, and she hosts her own podcast, “Waiver Wired” on the Extra Points podcast network. Jennifer has been nominated for multiple FSWA awards for her NFL DFS video series. She’s a Scott Fish Bowl Finalist, and she finished third overall in the 2021 NFFC post-season mini. Jennifer is also a featured expert on MLB Network’s “Bettor’s Eye,” and a member of the esteemed Tout Wars, the fantasy baseball battle of the experts.