QB2s with Top-Five Potential (2021 Fantasy Football)
The quarterback position is always one of the most discussed positions as it is the most vital position in the NFL. But for people who prioritize running backs and wide receivers in fantasy football, finding a quarterback in the mid-to-late rounds that can produce similar numbers to a QB1 is a popular strategy.
We’ve seen certain quarterbacks burst onto the scene as QB2s and finish as a QB1, whether it be due to a new situation, better weapons, or just simply getting healthy. While Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson remain popular choices early in drafts, I have laid out a few QB2s entering the 2021 season that have the potential to conclude the year as a top-five quarterback in fantasy football.
Matthew Stafford (LAR)
What’s there not to like about Matthew Stafford heading into the upcoming season? The fearless signal-caller, who has averaged 8.7 intended air yards per attempt in the past three seasons, is taking his talents to the warm confines of Los Angeles to play under Sean McVay. Besides being THE quarterback that McVay wanted, the 33-year-old quarterback also gets to join a Los Angeles Rams squad that features an arsenal of Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, DeSean Jackson, Tyler Higbee, and an up-and-coming star in Cam Akers.
Not to mention, Stafford will get to play behind an improved offensive line that ranked seventh in the NFL in pass-block win rate compared to the Detroit Lions, who had the 20th pass-block win rate in 2020. Despite playing through an assortment of injuries last season, Stafford still modestly finished as QB15. Stafford isn’t a stranger to being a top option in fantasy football, though, as he was a QB9 or better from 2015-2017.
During his time in Detroit, Stafford took a beating, and injuries have begun to take their toll on him in recent seasons. But there isn’t a better place for Stafford to prove that he’s still one of the best pure-throwers of the football than the Rams. Stafford is currently QB13 in the Expert Consensus Rankings, and barring injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finish as QB10 or better in 2021.
Matt Ryan (ATL)
It seems as if Matt Ryan goes under the radar every offseason and is undervalued in fantasy drafts. Ryan has finished as QB12 and QB11 in the past two years, respectively, and in 2018, the former first-round pick was QB2 in fantasy football. While Ryan continues to get older, he is still surrounded by plenty of weapons on the Atlanta Falcons.
Julio Jones should revert to being an elite option again after having an offseason to get healthy. Calvin Ridley has proven he’s a stud. Hayden Hurst is a more-than-capable tight end, and Atlanta is expected to bring in another running back to complement Mike Davis. Plus, Arthur Smith is the new head coach of the Falcons, which means Ryan will be playing in a very quarterback-friendly offense that maximizes his skills.
There’s a chance that the Falcons add another offensive weapon with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft instead of bringing in Ryan’s successor, especially given Ryan’s recent restructured contract. If Atlanta selects one of Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, or Devonta Smith, then the outlook on Ryan in 2021 is astronomical.
Daniel Jones (NYG)
While Stafford and Ryan aren’t shocking choices, Daniel Jones could be a bit of surprise to some people. The New York Giants were aggressive in the offseason to add a true No. 1 wide receiver, and they found just that by signing Kenny Golladay to a massive contract. The decision to add Golladay shows that New York wants to push the ball down the field more with Daniel Jones.
Simultaneously, the Giants don’t want Jones to have any more excuses not to succeed. Besides Golladay, Jones will have Saquon Barkley back in the backfield, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Kyle Rudolph. The offensive line will need to continue to improve after producing the sixth-highest adjusted sack rate in 2020.
What gives Jones upside in fantasy football is the fact that he has some sort of production with his legs, combining for 702 rushing yards on 110 attempts and three rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons. With his passing numbers expected to spike upward – unless he fails with the weapons around him – Jones has the potential to exceed expectations next season.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.