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Quarterbacks to Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Apr 17, 2021

We’re not into the full swing of the fantasy season quite yet, but it’s that wonderful time of year right before the NFL Draft where fantasy managers emerge from their post-Super Bowl slumbers to begin research for the upcoming season. Like a beautiful caterpillar who has been transformed in his cocoon to emerge as a beautiful butterfly, so too will fantasy managers emerge for another season. You’re refreshed, hungry for more football, and most importantly, you’ve learned a few things. Offseason chatter and free-agency moves have shed some light on player outlooks, and we’ve had substantial time to digest last season’s most notable performances. So, this one’s for you, beautiful fantasy manager! Here are quarterbacks to avoid for the 2021 season.

Check out our Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR)

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Fall From Grace

Russell Wilson (QB – SEA): Positional ECR 7
For years, Wilson has been about as safe a fantasy pick as you could imagine, but there’s trouble in paradise, and the discord between Russ and Pete Carroll could be a big negative for Wilson in 2021. After starting the season on a ridiculous heater and emerging as an early favorite for league MVP, Russ finished the season less spectacularly. The early-season battle cries of “Let Russ cook” and adorable memes featuring the Hawks’ quarterback in a chef’s hat soon grew quiet, and by season’s end, Wilson’s first half was a distant memory.

Wilson’s first and second-half season splits contrasted remarkably, as shown below:

Passing Yards Passing TDs INTs Rushing Yards Rushing TDs
Weeks 1-9 2,541 28 8 265 1
Weeks 10-17 1,671 12 5 248 1

For his first eight games, Wilson was the QB3. For his second eight games, he was QB12. He split the difference and finished the season as the QB6, but his slow finish to the season is reason for concern. Wilson enjoyed the best season of his career, but it was due to a monster first half. Expecting him to post those numbers again is unrealistic, and picking him at QB7 seems like a reach.

Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU): Positional ECR 9
This has nothing to do with Watson’s talent and everything to do with his relationship with team management and supporting cast. Watson’s public request for a trade has shattered any trust fantasy managers have in him playing a full season with Houston. He hasn’t been traded yet, and there is a realistic chance he chooses to sit out. If he decides to play, Watson faces potential discipline from the NFL or the legal system based on multiple allegations he’s currently facing. Let’s say Watson faces no legal repercussions and makes up with management. He’s ready to roll… now what? Will Fuller left what was already a less-than-stellar receiving corps, and the offensive line is still a mess. Watson is a transformational talent who can carry an offense, but at some point, the off-the-field drama and poor supporting cast will catch up to him. There are safer quarterbacks to draft in this range.

Later Rounds

Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE): Positional ECR 18
Mayfield’s last three season fantasy finishes are 17, 19, 16, and his best season came as a rookie in 2018. Mayfield will provide some big games, but overall, this Browns’ offense isn’t built to sustain him as a QB1. This team is reliant on a heavy run game and solid defense, and Mayfield should remain a mid-tier QB2 for the 2021 season.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB – PIT): Positional ECR 20
Roethlisberger started the season playing some of the most efficient football of his career, but he regressed as the year went on and closed the season on a low note. Roethlisberger’s 33 touchdowns were the second-most of his career, but his passing yards were pedestrian, and he added next to nothing in the run game. Pittsburgh’s run game may be a mess again in 2021, but despite getting plenty of opportunities to sling the ball, Roethlisberger can’t be trusted as a reliable fantasy contributor. This is likely his final season, and the risks of injury and regression far outweigh any positives.

Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA): Positional ECR 23
In nine starts as a rookie, Tua totaled 1,805 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He added 109 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to bolster his final numbers, but this isn’t production that will endear you to fantasy managers. Tua will get an upgrade at receiver in Will Fuller for the upcoming campaign, and the coaching staff may decide to turn him loose in his first full year as a starter. Rookie performance isn’t everything, but it’s not meaningless. Expecting any significant return on value – even at this ranking – isn’t wise.

Can you draft the perfect 2020 team? Try our Perfect Draft Game >>

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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