QB2s with QB1 Potential (2021 Fantasy Football)
The late-round quarterback – a beautiful player for fantasy football managers. Taking a quarterback late in drafts can allow a manager to load up at other positions and snag a productive signal-caller without investing a lot of draft capital. Which quarterbacks currently ranked outside our top-12 in Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) have QB1 potential for the 2021 season? I’ve got three names in mind.
Kirk Cousins (MIN): ECR QB16
It’s absolutely possible for Captain Kirk to finish as a top-12 QB in 2021. In fact, I’d venture that those chances are fairly strong. Cousins has a history of elite fantasy finishes dating back to his Washington days. From 2015-17, Cousins finished as a QB1 in all three seasons. Last year, he finished among the top 12 once again (QB11) for the first time in Minnesota. He certainly had a lot of help in the form of record-setting rookie Justin Jefferson and stalwart possession receiver Adam Thielen, and both will return in 2021.
In addition to Jefferson and Thielen, Cousins has a reliable pass-catching back in Dalvin Cook and an emerging young stud in Irv Smith Jr. Coming off the most prolific scoring season of his career (35 passing TD, one rushing TD), Cousins has a chance to build on that performance in 2021 and be a reliable fantasy option taken a bit later in drafts. You like that?
Ryan Fitzpatrick (WFT): ECR QB20
This isn’t a pick just for laughs because of “Fitzmagic” and his stylish outfits, huge beard, or first day of school placard. He has legitimate top-12 upside in Washington this season. For starters, Washington has the fourth-easiest schedule for quarterbacks, according to the FantasyPros Strength of Schedule tool. That tasty schedule includes matchups with Dallas and Philly twice each as well as Atlanta, Seattle, and the Chargers.
I’d be remiss not to cite precedence here when making my case for Fitz, so let’s take a look at his production. Through Weeks 1-6 of 2020, he was the QB8 with Miami and averaged nearly 21 fantasy points per game with an arguably weaker cast of receivers and backs than he’ll have in Washington. Let’s go back to 2019, his first year with the ‘Fins. He finished the year as the QB16 and was fantasy’s QB2 from Weeks 7-17. Finally, let’s go back to 2018 when he started the season with 1,230 passing yards and 11 touchdowns through Week 3 and ranked as the overall QB1. We haven’t seen success from Fitz over the course of an entire season, so it’s reasonable to doubt if he can sustain his elite level of play for more than just brief stretches. If we’re talking QB1 upside, there aren’t any other guys in this range (save the next guy I’ll mention) who have it.
Cam Newton (NE): ECR QB28
Apparently I’ll have to keep screaming this from the rooftops, but Newton is way undervalued this season… like, criminally undervalued. Seriously, taking him as essentially a freebie in drafts should be a jailable offense. The year 2020 was rather unkind to Cam, as he joined a new team with barely any time to acclimate to the new offensive system thanks to COVID-19 protocols. Then, Newton contracted the virus and was forced to miss Game 3. After that, his performances were all over the map, and he admittedly wasn’t the same physically.
As if the new system, lack of prep time, and illness weren’t enough, Newton was forced to throw to one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. His top options were Jakobi Myers and Damiere Byrd, and the Pats lacked a legitimate TE. With so much working against him in 2020, Newton has a ton of potential heading into the new campaign.
For starters, he’ll presumably start the year healthy. New England invested heavily in receiving options Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor. Newton has another year under his belt to get comfortable with Bill Belichick’s system. Don’t forget the disrespect Newton’s received in the media and even at his own camp and new addition Mac Jones to add additional motivation. All of those factors make Cam a legitimate QB1 threat, but I’ll add one more tasty tidbit. He rushed for 12 touchdowns last season – most among quarterbacks and second-most of his career. I have high hopes for Cam this season, and he’s one of my favorite draft targets.
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