Quarterbacks to Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)
The 2020 NFL season barely ended, and we’re already getting ready for the 2021 season. It’s never too early to dip your toes into some pre-pre-pre-draft analysis. Everything you read in February is subject to change upon new information, so don’t hold me to any takes in here about situations that evolve over the coming months.
That said, it’s still valuable to continually evaluate the fantasy football landscape. The following are quarterbacks I plan to avoid based upon the information available to us right now and what I anticipate will happen between now and the start of the 2021 season.
It seems like every year, Russell Wilson gets drafted as a top fantasy quarterback, and he always finds a way to disappoint. He may have finished QB5 this past season, but he still disappointed his managers. From Weeks 1-9, Wilson was the overall QB2, averaging 29.5 PPG. But from Weeks 10-16, during fantasy crunch time, Wilson was unstartable. He posted QB16 numbers while averaging 19.9 PPG. Mitch Trubisky, Andy Dalton, and the corpse of Ben Roethlisberger all finished higher through that span.
After a dismal finish to the season and an embarrassing (yet unsurprising) home loss to the Rams, how did the Seahawks respond? By essentially blaming Russell Wilson. The team fired Brian Schottenheimer, and Pete Carroll, one of the most incompetent coaches of the past decade, is recommitting to having Wilson turn around and give the ball to Chris Carson. Pete, I believe you. So for that reason, I’m out.
The Rams undoubtedly upgraded at quarterback in overpaying for Matthew Stafford. The Lions won the deal, but the Rams were never going anywhere with Jared Goff. I like Stafford, and I feel like he’s been a bit unfairly maligned over the years. I just don’t want Stafford in fantasy football.
I could end up being wrong, as the emotional reaction to this trade will have dissipated entirely by the time we draft our fantasy teams, but there seems to be a renewed confidence in Stafford as a member of the Rams. I expect overconfidence in Stafford will spike his ADP a bit more than it should. Stafford is acceptable as a streamer, but I have no interest in him as my starter in single quarterback leagues.
Stafford averaged just 16.5 PPG last year, which just won’t cut it anymore. He finished outside the top 20 quarterbacks. Granted, Kenny Golladay missed most of the season, but it’s not like Stafford has been devoid of weapons throughout his career. Stafford hasn’t posted a top-end fantasy season since 2013, and even that was only an overall QB8 finish. He will be better than Goff, and his presence makes me bullish on Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, but Stafford is not on my target list in single quarterback leagues.
Quarterbacks That Don’t Run
This was initially going to be Tom Brady, but the entire reason I’m avoiding Brady is that 100% of his production comes through the air. In the year 2021, if you are drafting a quarterback who cannot run, you are doing it wrong. It’s way too early for me to start doing rankings, but my general thoughts on the top-12 quarterbacks for 2021, in no particular order, are as follows:
- Patrick Mahomes (KC)
- Lamar Jackson (BAL)
- Kyler Murray (ARI)
- Josh Allen (BUF)
- Dak Prescott (DAL)
- Deshaun Watson (HOU)
- Russell Wilson (SEA)
- Aaron Rodgers (GB)
- Justin Herbert (LAC)
- Ryan Tannehill (TEN)
- Tom Brady (TB)
- Taysom Hill (NO)/Joe Burrow (CIN)/Jalen Hurts (PHI)
Brady is the only guy with zero mobility. The era of the immobile quarterback is over, and that applies both to the league itself and fantasy. For the foreseeable future, every single legitimate college prospect will be able to move around in the pocket. I’m not saying that every quarterback has to be Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson, but they at least need to be Justin Herbert. No one would mistake Herbert for a rushing quarterback, but he can run when he has to. Herbert is the baseline for mobility as far as I’m concerned.
In fantasy, rushing is more than just a cheat code now — it’s a necessity. In 2020, quarterbacks accounted for 126 rushing touchdowns and recorded 9,415 rushing yards (credit to JJ Zachariason for that data). Both of those numbers are all-time highs by a wide margin.
As the pocket passers of old like Philip Rivers and Drew Brees continue to retire, they will get replaced by mobile quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. It’s no longer an advantage to have a mobile quarterback in fantasy football; instead, it’s a disadvantage not to have one. I will make sure to draft a mobile quarterback next year.
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