Quarterback Bye-Week Primer (2021 Fantasy Football)
The bye weeks are coming! Ok, not literally, but once the 2021 NFL season kicks off, they will be right around the corner. This season, byes begin in Week 6 and last through Week 14, a change from years past. One thing that hasn’t changed, fantasy managers researching which QB2s should be on their radar as their QB1’s bye approaches.
Using two excellent FantasyPros tools, the Bye Week Cheat Sheet and Quarterback By Committee Finder, we will help start your preparation today. The aforementioned Cheat Sheet isn’t just for quarterbacks. Bookmark it to view every relevant fantasy player on bye each week quickly. Additionally, QBFC is QB-centric, pairing signal-callers together to create an advantage over your competition in 2021.
As for this article, the Top 15 quarterbacks according to FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings will be considered “Starting QBs” to cover most 12-team league’s typical rosters. Then, we will assess which passers outside of the Top 15 ECR would make for valuable streamers each bye week. Finally, pay attention to repeated QBs and opposition defenses we intend to pick on, as these will be keys to making the decision when it comes time to stream the position for your fantasy team in 2021.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Matt Ryan (ATL).
- Useful Streamers: Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) at JAX & Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. SEA.
If you read my recent QBs to Avoid article, you wouldn’t have drafted Matt Ryan, but alas, here we are. Unfortunately, the options aren’t great in Week 6. Ben Roethlisberger, if he isn’t injured by now, draws the Seahawks at home. A Seattle defense that surrendered 124 points in five trips to the Eastern Standard Time Zone in 2020 torched for 1581 passing yards in those games.
Roethlisberger has enjoyed success through the air against the ‘Hawks from the Great Northwest. He has a near 70% career completion percentage against their secondary. If there were ever a week to consider the Steelers passing attack as a streamer, it would be in Week 6 with Seattle coming off two physical divisional contests in Weeks 4 and 5 that take place just five days apart. So take advantage of the schedule and enjoy the shootout on Sunday Night Football.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Josh Allen (BUF), Dak Prescott (DAL), Justin Herbert (LAC), & Trevor Lawrence (JAX).
- Useful Streamers: Tua Tagovailoa vs. ATL, Cam Newton (NE) vs. NYJ, & Jameis Winston (NO)/Taysom Hill (NO) at SEA.
Week 7 shapes up as QB Bye-mageddon! Four teams in your league will likely be scrambling for a replacement under center. So, BE PROACTIVE and stash one of the useful streamers above in Week 6.
Tua Tagolvailoa matches up with the Atlanta Falcons defense, who in 2020 allowed 23 or more fantasy points to the opposition’s quarterbacks in 12 of 17 games. New Atlanta defensive coordinator Dean Pees will be tasked with stopping the dynamic young Alabama product. The last time we saw Pees’ defense in action was in 2019 in Tennessee when their “D” finished the season ranked 24th in passing yards allowed.
Another option this week is Cam Newton. He takes on the New York Jets in Foxboro, a team against which he put up 516 passing yards, 95 yards rushing, and five touchdowns without a turnover, including two TDs on the ground in 2020. Cam loves the media’s eyes on him, and the Jets certainly bring the coverage despite their losing ways. So Newton is more than just a viable play here.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Lamar Jackson (BAL).
- Useful Streamers: Sam Darnold (CAR) at ATL, Carson Wentz (IND) vs. TEN, Ben Roethlisberger at CLE, & Cam Newton at LAC.
Sam Darnold failed to live up to the hype in New York. So now, he’s moved onto Carolina with hopes of a fresh start at just 24 years old. His career numbers are tough to swallow, 13 wins and 25 losses as a starter with a 59.8% completion rate and a 45-39 TD: INT ratio. However, one place Darnold has performed well is indoors. It’s a small sample, only two games, but he’s completed 73% of his passes and has a 3-1 TD: INT rate. This week he will be inside Mercedes Benz Stadium. Add in the porous Falcons’ defense, and you might have the recipe for one big performance from Sam.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Russell Wilson (SEA) & Tom Brady (TB).
- Useful Streamers: Carson Wentz vs. NYJ & Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill vs. ATL.
Another week, another recommendation to start an “old” quarterback in a new location. No longer in Philadelphia, Carson Wentz has the opportunity in 2021 to reclaim his prominence within the position. He’s also reunited with Frank Reich, with whom he put up his best numbers, in 2017. Wentz tossed 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions before tearing up his knee. Reich left Philly after that season, but now they look to rekindle the magic.
In Week 9, Wentz and the Colts square off at home against the undermanned Jets. Gang Green (the NYJ nickname) was nothing to fear in 2020. They registered only 31 sacks, turning over QBs just times ten times in the air, all while allowing 34 passing touchdowns. The Jets are a defense to attack, especially if you roster Tom Brady or Russell Wilson, as there aren’t many other above-average options to stream this week.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Joe Burrow (CIN).
- Useful Streamers: Kirk Cousins (MIN) at LAC, Carson Wentz vs. JAX, Ben Roethlisberger vs. DET, Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill at TEN, & Cam Newton vs. CLE.
Currently, there is no telling who will win the Saints QB job. But, whether it be Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, the duo will have inherent value in Week 10 vs. the Tennessee Titans defense who, in 2020, allowed the second-most passing touchdowns — 36. Tennessee was lit up by visiting teams for 27 or more points in five of their eight home games, not just porous versus the pass. They showed no home-field advantage last season.
Subsequently, the last time these two teams met, in 2019, combined, they scored 66 points. Of course, that was with Drew Brees (QB-NO) at the helm. However, even with a limited Brees in 2020, the Saints finished in the Top 5 in total touchdowns for 2020. The Titans also were among the highest five TD-scoring teams in the NFL last year. This game sets up as a shootout, so get yourself a piece of the action while Joe Burrow readies for a strong finish to his sophomore campaign.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Matthew Stafford (LAR).
- Useful Streamers: Baker Mayfield (CLE) vs. DET, Tua Tagovailoa at NYJ, Ben Roethlisberger at LAC, Jared Goff (DET) at CLE, Cam Newton at ATL, & Trey Lance (SF) at JAX.
There are a handful of savvy replacements for Matthew Stafford in Week 11, including a head-to-head battle between Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff. Not exactly a “Game of the Week” candidate, but Cleveland allowed 31 touchdowns last season, the 8th worst in the NFL, while Detroit was the worst scoring defense and gave up 38 touchdowns themselves. Goff amassed 268 passing yards and two TDs in his only other career start at Cleveland, so we can hope that the scores keep coming against these units.
By Week 11, Trey Lance could be orchestrating Kyle Shanahan’s offense in San Fransisco. If he is, you likely would have needed to stash him earlier in the year on your fantasy bench. His rushing upside makes Lance a viable play every week. Still, a matchup with Jacksonville, who surrendered over 4300 yards of offense against them in 2020, finishing in the bottom 10 in the NFL in yards allowed, makes him a spectacular target here.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Patrick Mahomes (KC) & Kyler Murray (ARI).
- Useful Streamers: Ryan Fitzpatrick (WAS) vs. SEA, Justin Fields (CHI) at DET, & Cam Newton vs. TEN.
Week 12 sets up as a bye week with enormous fantasy implications, with both Kansas City and Arizona taking the week off. The byes will vacate roster slots not only at QB but across all positions. So again, the best advice is to get AHEAD of this bye by stashing streamers a week or two early in anticipation of the holes in your lineup.
Washington hosts Seattle, and as previously discussed, the Seahawks haven’t performed well on the East coast. Additionally, this Week 12 soiree is sandwiched between two divisional home games, setting it up as a “trap” game. In my opinion, Ryan Fitzpatrick is more than a filler. Mike Tagliere agrees, citing Fitzpatrick’s propensity for appearing inside the weekly Top 10 fantasy QBs since 2017. He’s been a QB1 in 18 of 37 games played over that time. As a result, fantasy managers should feel confident starting Ryan Fitzpatrick in most weeks of need.
Justin Fields enticed Chicago brass so much that they traded up nine slots in the 2021 NFL Draft to acquire the Ohio State prospect. It is merely a matter of time before the organization replaces Andy Dalton (QB-CHI) with their big-ticket rookie. Fields accounted for 86 touchdowns in his 34 collegiate games played. The Bears have hope he can turn around the franchise, but redraft fantasy managers just need one acceptable performance at Detroit in Week 12 to satisfy their investment. Like Trey Lance, if you plan on streaming Fields, you will need to stash him before Chicago makes the switch.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Aaron Rodgers (GB) & Ryan Tannehill (TEN).
- Useful Streamers: Kirk Cousins at DET & Trey Lance at SEA
Since 2018, Kirk Cousins has visited Detroit three times, scoring 22, 29, and 34 points at Ford Field, respectively. Typically, Cousins doesn’t provide much upside, but he has dominated the Lions on their home field. He’s a highly safe bye week play most weeks. However, Minnesota’s commitment to the ground game limits the ceiling. Ten days after the Lions play on Thanksgiving, Cousins and company come to town, and streaming him can be even more profitable in a stack. If you selected Justin Jefferson (WR-MIN) early on, combine the Vikings’ top wideout with his QB for a chance at a monster fantasy week.
- Starting Quarterbacks on Bye: Jalen Hurts (PHI).
- Useful Streamers: Sam Darnold vs. ATL, Deshaun Watson vs. SEA, Daniel Jones (NYG) at LAC, Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill at NYJ, Teddy Bridgewater (DEN)/Drew Lock (DEN) vs. DET.
An underrated defense to attack in 2020 was the Los Angeles Chargers. They were a bottom ten scoring defense. Additionally, down the stretch at home, Derek Carr (LV), Joe Flacco (PHI), Jarrett Stidham (NE), and even Russell Gage (WR – ATL) beat their secondary with TD passes. Now it is Daniel Jones’ turn. Jones can be a nice streamer as he can pitch in with rushing stats in addition to any passing numbers he puts up. However, he has been a fumble waiting to happen. The bright side is Jones has upped his seasonal rushing total from 279 to 423 yards while putting the ball on the ground less frequently (down to 6 fumbles from 11).
Nick Kosmider of The Athletic answered 10 Questions About the Broncos, the first two taking on the QB competition in camp. He purports Vic Fangio will announce the starter before the team’s third preseason game, which won’t be necessary for most fantasy leagues since the Denver quarterback isn’t likely viable in 1QB formats. However, whether it’s Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock, bye week streamers can attack the Detroit Lions again in Week 14.
Whew! We’ve made it to the end of the byes.
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