Fantasy Football Absurdity Check: Can We (Still) Trust Justin Herbert?

2021 Justin Herbert Los Angeles Chargers

Well, that one hurt. If you’re reading this, it probably means that you’re frantically hoping to find a way to hatch the egg that Justin Herbert laid in week thirteen.  It’s understandable if you’re skittish about Justin Herbert; he finished just .12 fantasy points ahead of being the third-worst QB in this game. Jarrett Stidham’s garbage time production nearly matched that of Justin Herbert’s four quarters. Well, I know why you’re here. You’re asking yourself if you can trust Justin Herbert going forward, or if this is a harbinger of things to come for the rookie signal-caller.

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. The reason you’re here… Justin Herbert stunk out loud this weekend. He threw the ball 53 times and managed just 209 passing yards. Most of that came in garbage time, as he threw for 46 yards before the Chargers were down 21-0. And I admit that I am fully implying that garbage time started in the late second quarter in this game. It was 28-0 at the half, what do you want from me? From there, Herbert picked apart the underneath of the Patriots defense (and threw two picks during free play). He was truly awful, throwing no touchdowns and two picks to go with those 209 yards.

And guess what? We should have seen it coming.

Bill Belichick’s Patriots have been the bane of rookie QB existences. 26 different QBs have gone toe-to-toe with Belichick’s Pats during his reign of terror. Five dudes in that timeframe passed 20 fantasy points. Russell Wilson is the only rookie QB to throw three touchdowns against his Patriots. Only four guys have topped 300 passing yards (and one, shockingly, was Geno Smith). All told, rookie QBs had a 25-to-40 touchdown to interception ratio against the Patriots during the Belichick Era. They stunk out loud! All of them! And so did Justin Herbert today! But, again, that’s to be expected.

Now, let’s take a look at what Justin Herbert has been this season. Prior to today’s game, Herbert averaged 24.21 fantasy points per game on 301.5 passing yards, 18.5 rushing yards, 2.3 touchdowns, and 0.7 picks per game. Jam all that together and you have the QB4 in fantasy points per game on the year. Not too shabby for a rookie who couldn’t even get a snap count right in training camp. Especially not bad for a guy who didn’t know he was the starting quarterback until the moment he jogged out onto the field in week two. If that sounds pretty good… it’s because it is. It’s historic, actually.

No other quarterback had more passing yards in their first ten games than Justin Herbert. His 23 touchdowns in his first ten games rank as third all-time and his 1.74% interception rate is tenth-all time (min. 250 pass attempts), just ahead of Aaron Rodgers.

To put it a different way: he’s good. So, you should trust him.

If you want more reason to trust him, not only is Justin Herbert good, but his opponents in his remaining games are bad. He gets the Falcons, the Raiders, and the Broncos in the next three weeks. The Falcons are the only team that makes Taysom Hill look like an actual quarterback, so you know Herbert will do well (they allow the most fantasy points to QBs). He follows that up with a Raiders team that allows the tenth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The finals are his only issue, as the Broncos are middling against opposing quarterbacks. The good news there is he already took care of business against them once this year, posting 278 passing yards, 3 touchdowns (and two picks) all the way back in week eight.

Justin Herbert had one of the worst performances of his young career on Sunday. Given how historically good he’s been, you could probably stack up a whole decade worth of games before he lays another stinker as he did against the Patriots. Don’t worry about it; no other rookie quarterbacks can produce against the Patriots. Don’t consider it a harbinger to come. Just dust yourself off, and move on (if you can). We can, and will, continue to trust Justin Herbert.

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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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