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Must-Have Quarterbacks & Tight Ends (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Mar 3, 2021

In February, I gave you a list of must-have quarterbacks and tight ends for the 2021 season that featured Lamar Jackson, Matthew Stafford, Justin Herbert, Dallas Goedert, and Logan Thomas. Now, it’s time to add a few more names to the list.

Here’s my latest batch of must-have QBs and tight ends as we inch closer to the start of free agency with rankings based on FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings.

Check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft coverage >>

Must-Have Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson (HOU): ECR QB5
Nobody knows where Watson will be playing in 2021. And guess what? I don’t care.

Watson has finished as a top-five quarterback the last three seasons, and last year might’ve been his finest work. Watson led the NFL in passing yards and threw a career-low seven interceptions in a year where he was sacked 49 times and was without DeAndre Hopkins. That’s a heck of a feat.

If Watson’s traded out of Houston, his situation can only get better. If he’s still stuck in Houston, he’s already proven that he can put up a phenomenal season in an adverse situation. I hope Watson is traded to an organization that knows what it’s actually doing. But if he isn’t, I can safely count on him to still put up elite numbers.

Carson Wentz (IND): ECR QB22
I’m probably going to take a shot on a Wentz rebound in at least one league this season. And I’m guessing it won’t cost me much to do so. The fantasy football community has presumed Wentz’s career to be over. There’s no doubt he bottomed out in 2020. Every dropback was a sack or a turnover waiting to happen as he constantly tried to do way too much.

But it wasn’t all his fault. Wentz was let down by terrible pass protection, subpar weaponry, and a stubborn (now jobless) head coach who refused to instill any balance with a consistent running game.

Now in Indianapolis, I’m willing to believe in Wentz once more. The protection in Indianapolis is considerably better than in Philly. The Colts allowed only 21 sacks in 2020, while Wentz was sacked 50 times in 12 games last season.

Wentz will also be reunited with Frank Reich, the man who helped Wentz perform at an MVP level in 2017. During that season, Wentz threw for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns in 13 games. Add in a strong running game and decent weapons, and this has the makings of a Comeback Player of the Year season.

Oh, and people have seemingly forgotten that Wentz was the QB9 in 2019. If you’re someone who loves to wait, wait, and wait at quarterback, then Wentz could be a great option at the tail end of drafts.

Must-Have Tight Ends 

Irv Smith Jr. (MIN): ECR TE16
Last year, we saw Robert Tonyan and Mike Gesicki emerge as top 10 tight ends in their third seasons. Smith could be that breakout candidate in 2021.

Smith’s targets, receptions, and yardage all went down slightly during his sophomore season. However, Smith went from three touchdowns as a rookie to five scores and averaged 12.2 yards per reception in 2020.

And what timing! Kyle Rudolph was recently cut by the Vikings, opening up the door for Smith to finish as a top 10 tight end in 2021.

Kyle Pitts: ECR TE31
Tight end is a really unexciting position, where there are a few elite guys, a few upside guys, and a whole lot of bland options in between. So why not shoot for the moon with one of the best pass-catching prospects in this year’s draft class?

Pitts isn’t your typical tight end prospect. He’s a 6-foot-6, 240-pound beast who has elite receiving abilities to go with his stature. He should be able to line up just about anywhere at the next level and provide a variety of matchup problems for defensive backs and linebackers.

My guess is the New York Giants take Pitts with the 9th overall pick. While Daniel Jones grosses me out, the target volume opportunity will be there in that passing game.

Tight end is one of the toughest positions to adjust to when transitioning from college to the pros. But like I said, Pitts is a special prospect who has the talent to make an impact from Week 1. And if Pitts doesn’t work out, I’ll go mine the waiver wire as I would with any of the other less exciting options ahead of him.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato

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