Dynasty Sleepers: Quarterbacks (2021 Fantasy Football)
Dynasty sleeper quarterbacks are a different breed. At running back, we can tell stories of young backs climbing to the top of a depth chart, like James Robinson. At wide receiver, we have a rich history of physically gifted players overcoming rocky college journeys to ascend to the top of the sport, like Tyreek Hill.
In contrast, quarterbacks almost always fall in line with draft capital — 23 of the top 30 dynasty signal-callers were once first-round picks. The ones who have broken through are legends at this point. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Kirk Cousins have all dominated the headlines for the last two decades. Identifying a sleeper quarterback carries the most reward in Superflex scoring, as you can secure a decades-long lineup piece for minimal capital. It’s time to slap on a blindfold and throw some darts.
The Saints enter 2021 with arguably the most uncertain quarterback situation in the league. Head Coach Sean Payton’s decision to start Taysom Hill following Drew Brees’ Week 11 injury complicates Winston’s standing. With the fresh perspective of a new season, the current dynasty QB29 needs a reevaluation.
Foremost, it’s rare to have the bottom fall out on a player who led the league in passing yards in a 2019 QB3 finish. Winston’s talent is apparent; he event went first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. But his turnovers spiraled, and the fact that he attempted only 11 passes in 2020 requires us to take a leap of faith.
At this point, it is worth trusting Winston’s faith in Sean Payton. Winston re-signed with the Saints swiftly at the beginning of free agency. There is a chance his agent put feelers out and determined no team would offer a sure starting job. However, there is also a chance Winston shares Payton’s vision for his usage.
Drew Brees’ QB8 finish in 2018 shows the possibility for both Saints’ quarterbacks to co-exist. Hill is one of the unique players in the league, demonstrating the ability to play special teams and contribute as a receiver, rusher, and passer. In an era of 48 active man rosters, versatility continually adds value. Locking him into the starting quarterback role eliminates this valuable role, and the difference in performance between the two is negligible.
The Saints have been a staple as a top 10 passing offense since Sean Payton’s arrival. This offseason presents a rare opportunity to acquire a player of Winston’s talent level as an afterthought. He could be a steal in a Superflex format who turns into a dynasty cornerstone.
Cue the groans. Trubisky’s story is well known at this point, and he is edging on journeyman status. Still, he went second overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he even returned a Pro Bowl season (in which he finished as the fantasy QB15).
The intrigue lies in a fresh beginning. Buffalo offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey displayed masterstrokes in their development of Josh Allen. Buffalo has designed an offense to play to his strengths with quarterback runs and a leveled passing attack that creates open areas for him to attack.
The statistical case for Trubisky’s recovery is complex. His air yards per attempt have decreased every year of his career, while his turnover rate was an all-time high in 2020. He also nearly halved his rushing attempts, an area that was key to his success in 2018 when he accumulated 421 yards on 6.2 yards per carry. Statistically, it paints a portrait of a player who lost confidence in himself.
Trubisky is at a pivotal moment in his career. Look no further than his former counterpart in the Chicago quarterback derby, Nick Foles. Foles flashed early potential before crashing hard. A mediocre season with the Rams followed by a backup season with the Chiefs had him headed out of the league until a fortuitous playoff run with the Eagles reshaped his legacy.
Trubisky finds himself in a similar position. Buffalo looks to be a contender again in 2021. Given Allen’s aggressive playstyle, the potential opportunity for playing time is always on the horizon. Trubisky has an excellent chance to redefine his career and fantasy value.
Time to dig deep for this last option. A 28-year-old undrafted quarterback with 77 career regular-season passing attempts does not typically profile as an enticing buy. But a player with this profile doesn’t often put on such a gutty postseason performance against the eventual Super Bowl champions. Heinicke did just that last year by posting 352 total yards and two touchdowns in an eight-point loss to Tampa Bay.
The team moved quickly to add Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency. All signs point to the veteran as the team’s 2021 starter. With a top-five defense locked in place, they seem to hope that a veteran who can keep the offense moving will be enough to contend for another playoff appearance.
The concern with Fitzpatrick is his career-long perchance for backbreaking turnovers. Over the past two seasons, his TD/INT ratio in the first three quarters sits at 26-13. In the fourth quarter, that flips to 7-8. It is a trait that saw him lose an opportunity earlier in his career as Buffalo’s starting quarterback, and it isn’t one that Rivera will stomach well.
Heinicke currently ranks as the dynasty QB51. His 46 rushing yards against the Bucs profiles as an intriguing dual-threat fantasy producer. He is an afterthought and a player who could make for an interesting competitor.
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