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Quarterbacks to Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)

Quarterbacks to Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)

Quarterbacks remain the focus of the NFL. Rules changes, mega salaries, and endless promotions make QB the most sought-after position on Sunday. Unfortunately, in our game, fantasy football, the quarterback hasn’t received the same treatment. “Wait on QB” is the draft mantra in 1 QB leagues, but the popularity of Superflex settings threatens to change that thought.

So when asked to give you advice on which signal-callers to avoid, it needed to be correlated to the weight QBs receive in your particular league. Here are four quarterbacks you should steer away from and which format their shortcomings will penalize drafters the most.

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1 QB Formats

Matt Ryan (QB – ATL) ECR QB14 | ADP QB14
In leagues with only one starting QB slot, you want upside. Your waiver wire will be full of weekly streamers and safe floor quarterbacks. Matt Ryan belongs there, not on your draft day roster. There’s plenty of excitement around the Falcons’ rookie TE Kyle Pitts (TE-ATL), but this offense took a significant hit when it lost Julio Jones (WR – TEN). Last season, with Jones, Matt Ryan only cracked the weekly Top 12 QB finishers six times while finishing outside of the Top 18 at his position on seven occasions.

Jones’ departure doesn’t only limit Ryan’s upside. The writing was on the wall late last year. His offensive took a turn for the worst down the stretch in 2020. From Week 11 on, the Falcons’ franchise QB was sacked 22 times, second-most in the NFL! In addition, opposing defenses exposed the Atlanta line utilizing the blitz 108 times in those final seven weeks, most in the league. Don’t be fooled by Matt Ryan’s volume, either. He led the league in completions and attempts in 2020 but still finished just 15th in fantasy points per game. Leave Ryan for someone else.

Superflex Leagues

Ben Roethlisberger (QB – PIT) ECR QB22 | ADP QB17
Ben Roethlisberger’s overall 2020 fantasy numbers aren’t terrible, certainly worthy of a selection as your second QB in Superflex leagues, right? Wrong. Over the final six weeks of the season, Roethlisberger was putrid. He averaged 16.3 fantasy points per game (25th amongst QBs) while “airing it out” at just 5.6 yards per attempt (worst in the NFL). Yes, there are plenty of weapons for the Pittsburgh signal-caller, but his downfield passing skills are long gone.

In front of Roethlisberger, the Steelers have lost essential cogs. Maurkice Pouncey retired, Alejandro Villanueva signed with Baltimore, and David DeCastro was released. Exposing a 39-year-old to the inconsistencies that come with an offensive line learning to gel is not ideal. Especially since Ben Roethlisberger has nursed over a dozen injuries during his career, he’s a Hall of Famer, but a 2021 hard pass all the same.

Derek Carr (QB – LV) ECR QB23 | ADP QB20
A theme is developing in this article: Avoid QBs with Offensive Line Concerns. Derek Carr is another passer whose linemen will be learning on the job in 2021. The Raiders traded three veteran trenchmen for draft picks and did not sign any big free agents to replace them, leaving Carr protected by an entirely different group. In addition, his mobility isn’t a strength, so any leaks upfront will end with the QB on his back.

Carr’s not going to win any fantasy weeks. He never has. Mike Tagliere writes yearly about “Boom and Busts,” and the Vegas franchise QB rarely lands a boom-worthy score (just once under Jon Gruden). Between 2019 and 2020, Derek Carr has thrown one, or no touchdown passes in 50% of his games. So I wouldn’t even recommend him as a bye-week filler.

Best Ball Competitions

Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA) ECR QB21 | ADP QB21
Speaking of boom/bust candidates, Tua Tagovailoa imploded for fantasy managers in 2020 60% of the time. He finished outside the Top 18 quarterbacks six times and inside the Top 12 only twice over ten games played. In addition, the Dolphins offense didn’t trust Tua in scoring situations. He only had 3.4 attempts per game in the red zone, making it difficult for him to have a monster week.

Best Ball teams need weekly upside, and Tagovailoa hasn’t shown that in the NFL yet. Miami drafted his former collegiate teammate Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA) and added Will Fuller (WR – MIA) to the mix in hopes of helping their young QB become the playmaker they believe him to be. Unfortunately, the latter can’t stay healthy, and the former will have to adjust to the NFL quickly. Tua will face some stout defenses in the division once again. I would much rather back up my Best Ball QB1 with a counterpart who has “boomed” before, like Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE) or Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU). I am playing for those big weeks, not waiting to see what could be.

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Aaron Pags is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Aaron, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyTriage.

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