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Quarterbacks + Tight Ends To Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)

Jul 21, 2021


 
Today our writers are discussing quarterbacks and tight ends who we’re unlikely to draft at their current rank. Note that the expert consensus rankings (ECR) referenced are for half-PPR leagues.

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Q1. Which QB are you least likely to draft at their current rank?

Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) ECR: QB8
Rodgers has a ton of question marks coming into the season. He’s wanting out of Green Bay, and he there’s a good chance he sits out for a decent amount of games. He’s currently ranked as the QB8, which isn’t extremely high, but with someone who has question marks, it’s too high for me. Rodgers also had his best season ever last year, completing 70.1% of his passes and tossing 48 touchdowns to five interceptions. While he is still extremely talented, those numbers will regress to the mean and where he is going, I like to draft running backs and wide receivers. I rarely draft quarterbacks in the middle rounds and just wait until later to grab one with upside. There are just too many question marks surrounding him and enough risk for me to be out on him at his current QB8 ranking.
– Connor Rigg (@ConbonNFL)

Personally, I’m a fan of drafting QBs in the later rounds of drafts, but sometimes I’ve decided to get risky and take one earlier. If I draft one before the tenth round, though, I want to make sure they have as few question marks as possible, which means I’ll be passing on Rodgers at QB8. Even in the sixth or seventh round, he’s just too risky for me. There’s a non-zero chance that he holds out and misses multiple games while a new contract or trade is discussed. There’s also a non-zero chance that he retires to avoid playing at all this year. Those are some big risks to take on in the middle rounds of your draft. To be fair, there’s also a non-zero chance that he ends up playing all 17 games and finishes as the QB1 overall, making his ADP a steal. For me, in July, it’s just too murky, so I’ll pass on him in this range and wait to draft a streaming option later.
– Andrew Hall (@AndrewHallFF)

Last year I thought Rodgers was one of the best values of any quarterback in fantasy. This year, however, seeing him ranked in the top-10 at the position has me far less interested. I think Rodgers will end up playing all 17 games for the Packers in 2021 so this isn’t based on him sitting out some of the season. Instead, I am skeptical that he will be nearly as efficient as he was last season. Rodgers led the league with 48 touchdowns despite throwing just 526 passes, which ranked 13th in the league. Regression is almost certain to hit here and I would rather wait a couple rounds and take someone with a higher rushing upside like Jalen Hurts or someone like Matthew Stafford, who has the look of someone being underrated by everyone in the community.
– Jason Kamlowsky (@JasonKamlowsky)

Patrick Mahomes II (QB – KC) ECR: QB1
I fully expect Mahomes to be one of the best fantasy quarterbacks in the league this year. The Chiefs did an excellent job of rebuilding their offensive line and the overall roster is loaded with playmakers. I will be very unlikely to draft Mahomes, however, due to my philosophy regarding fantasy quarterbacks. On July 16th, I did a Mock Draft at FantasyPros and had the ninth pick in the simulation. I was able to take Tyreek Hill in the first round, Stefon Diggs in the second round, and Keenan Allen in the third round. I waited until the 11th round to select a quarterback and I took Matthew Stafford with that pick. FantasyPros gave me a grade of 97 out of 100 for that simulation. The more mock drafts I do this offseason, the more comfortable I am waiting on a quarterback. Mahomes will have a fine year, but I think the depth of the quarterback position makes waiting the better strategy.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

Forever the QB1, Mahomes is deserving of his status as the consensus first QB off the board. He just won’t be on my team. Even in situations where I pick on the back end and take Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce, I just can’t bring myself to take Mahomes. I know the value of stacking and the fact that Mahomes + Hill/Kelce can win me weeks by themselves. I also know that Mahomes goes in the third round. While Mahomes is worthy of being the first QB taken, he is not a full round or two better than the likes of Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, and Lamar Jackson. Last season, Mahomes averaged less than 0.5 ppg more than Allen and Murray, and averaged 0.5 ppg less than Prescott did in the five games he played. It appears more worth it than ever to actually take a QB before the very end of your draft, specifically in 0.5 PPR, but the third round is still too rich for me.
– Jason Katz (@JasonKatz13)

Russell Wilson (QB – SEA) ECR: QB6
Wilson is a great quarterback and is certainly capable of delivering on his current ranking of QB6. Two things make me nervous though. First, after being QB3 through the first half of the 2020 season, he fell to QB12 over the last 8 games. The Seahawks went with a more run heavy approach to help their defense out in the second half, and Wilson’s stats suffered as a result. Will Pete Carroll follow the same strategy in 2021, or will he let Russ air it out again? Second, the Seahawks have the hardest schedule for QBs in the entire league this season. That’s right – 32nd out of 32 teams. Wilson won’t get to pad his stats against many cupcake defenses this year. I’d still draft him as a starter, but QB6 is too high for me. I’ll take a chance on Justin Herbert, Tom Brady, or Jalen Hurts a round or two later instead.
– Scott Youngson (@FantasyMutant)

Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) ECR: QB13
I may be the only human in the world who’s down on Burrow right now, so you are not wrong to disagree with me. However, I think there’s substantial reasoning to shy away from Burrow. He’s the QB13, which feels higher than it should be. Yes, if all cylinders fire and he’s healthy, he could have upside for days. That’s a monster “IF.” I think he’s going to struggle. He’s not just coming off of a brutal season-ending injury, but he also suffers from one of the worst plagues in the NFL: he’s on the Cincinnati Bengals. I’ve seen arguments that the O-line will be better this year, but I’m unconvinced. Drafting Ja’Marr Chase over getting a top O-lineman was a decision made out of fear and not out of competence. Drafting a handful of Lineman in Rounds 2, 4, and 6 is not going to fix the problems. Burrow spent last year running for his life. At QB13, he’s probably worth some risk, but you still are paying a lot for a QB2. An we’re still in July, which means the hype should only grow from here. You should exercise caution with Burrow, especially since he was just QB16 over the weeks he played in. Has he even shown us he can win you your league? No. All he’s shown us is that he’s the face of a franchise that may ruin his career.
– Tim Metzler (@Timmy_the_metz)

Josh Allen (QB – BUF) ECR: QB2
Normally for this question, in 1QB leagues, I would simply choose the highest-priced QB, which is Mahomes. However, in a world in which Mahomes were to fall a bit, let’s say from his overall ranking of 34 to a Round 4-5 ADP, I’d scoop him up immediately. However, I would not employ the same divergence in draft strategy with Josh Allen. Buffalo’s QB was the MVP runner-up last season, albeit not particularly close to Aaron Rodgers, primarily due his immense improvement as a passer. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Allen displayed great potential as a runner, often acting as the Bills’ goal-line back, akin to Cam Newton. However, he was a pretty horrid passer prior to last season, where from 2019 to 2020 his completion percentage spiked from 58.8% to 69.2%, his yardage grew from 3,089 to 4,544, his yards-per-attempt jumped from 6.7 to 7.9, and his passing touchdowns nearly doubled from 20 to 37. But for a one-year reversal from the prior two seasons, there’s risk of him regressing to the mean and not being as efficient or as accurate as he was last season. Allen has a massive ceiling, but at the QB2 – and 47 overall – ranking, I’d rather wait and take a cheaper QB who may not have an inflated ADP.
– Jared Lese (@JaredL_FF)

Check out our Consensus Dynasty Rankings here >>

Q2. Which TE are you least likely to draft at their current rank?

Mark Andrews (TE – BAL) ECR: TE5
Andrews finished as the overall TE4 last season in points per game. He is certainly worthy of being ranked as high as TE4 this season, and certainly no lower than TE6. I would gladly make Andrews the sixth TE off the board. There is just no way I’m doing that in the fifth round. Andrews’ fifth round ADP is not just perplexing, but it’s downright outrageous. I wouldn’t even consider Andrews until at least the eighth round, and even then, I would probably pass. Why is Andrews treated better than every other random back end TE1? He averaged 10.1 ppg last season. The TE12, Noah Fant, averaged 8.3 ppg. So for a 1.8 ppg advantage, I can pay a 4-5 round premium? No thank you. I have zero interest in a part-time tight end in a low volume passing offense with the greatest rushing QB of all time on a team that added three new wide receivers to its roster, including one in the first round.
– Jason Katz (@JasonKatz13)

Tight end is the toughest position for me to evaluate but Andrews stands out here. Coming off a season where he ranked 10th at the position in targets, I think it is a hard sell to put Andrews over T.J. Hockenson or Kyle Pitts. Baltimore has had a notoriously low-volume passing game the past three seasons, which limits Andrews’ upside. Add in the fact that the Ravens added Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins in the passing game and it is hard to project much of a leap in production. Andrews will continue to be a rock-solid TE1 and a top-five option at the position but I’d much prefer to wait until later in the draft and take someone like Noah Fant or Robert Tonyan.
– Jason Kamlowsky (@JasonKamlowsky)

Similar to my rationale for the QB whom I’m least likely to draft, for TEs, I’m also considering what’s the best value. When drafting your leagues, you have to optimize the perceived reward of a certain player versus the accompanying risks and opportunity costs. So why is Mark Andrews, who’s put up respectable back-to-back fantasy years in fantasy, the TE whom I’m most likely not going to draft? As we all know, the perennial TE1, Travis Kelce, crushed in fantasy again in 2020. In fact, in 0.5 PPR leagues, Kelce outscored the TE2, Darren Waller, by 35.2 points, while Waller outscored the TE3, Robert Tonyan, by 74.6 points. So we already know there’s a massive tier break between the top fantasy TEs and all others (at least when George Kittle is injured). But let’s take this one step further: the TE3 and TE12 were only separated by just 32.3 points. That’s it. 32.3 points across a 16-game season. For this reason, I believe there’s absolutely zero reason to draft any TE not named Kelce, Waller, or Kittle, unless he falls significantly down your drafts. Andrews, the TE5 (T.J. Hockenson could find himself on this list, too, as the TE4), is a touchdown-dependent TE on a run-heavy team who probably won’t provide any significant value to your team above the TE12 or even later.
– Jared Lese (@JaredL_FF)

T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET) ECR: TE4
Hockenson is a terrific player and he has a great chance to finish as the No. 4 tight end. My issue is with him being 53rd among all fantasy players. Last year, Hockenson had 101 targets, 67 receptions, 723 yards, and six receiving touchdowns. That meant that he had only 108.3 fantasy points, which was good for the fifth-best tight end, but only the 149th ranked fantasy player. For him to justify being the 53rd selection this year, he is going to need to be closer to the numbers put up by Darren Waller, who had 145 targets, 107 receptions, 1,196 receiving yards, and nine receiving touchdowns. If he is not going to reach that level and stay around 723 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns, there is not enough difference between him and several players being drafted after him. Matthew Stafford is no longer in Detroit, replaced by Jared Godd. Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams will likely be the starters in Detroit this year. Defenses are going to go into games trying to take away Hockenson and Goff is not going to be good enough to thread the needle in double coverage. I just do not see the upside to taking a player like him with the 53rd overall pick. 
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

Logan Thomas (TE – WFT) ECR: TE9
Thomas enjoyed a breakout season last year for the Washing Football Team. After playing for four different team since entering the NFL, he made his mark last season. He caught 72 passes for 670 yards and six touchdowns while drawing 110 targets ( 3rd-most among TEs). Here is why I’m lower on him than consensus and why he’s a fade for me. First, Alex Smith was the QB for majority of the season and checked it down to Thomas a lot. That will not be the case for the gun-slinger Ryan Fitzpatrick. Next, Washington brought in Curtis Samuel and drafted Dyami Brown in the NFL draft. They also have Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic in the backfield, who are very talented pass-catchers. Terry McLaurin is an elite wide receiver and will be the first target for Fitzpatrick. This is extremely concerning for Thomas’s target share. He’s not going to receive 110 opportunities again, which will make it very difficult to pay off his price tag of TE9. He’s too risky for me and while he’s talented, I’d rather take a shot on Tyler Higbee, Irv Smith, or Adam Trautman.
– Connor Rigg (@ConbonNFL)

Noah Fant (TE – DEN) ECR: TE8
Fant is currently ranked at TE8 at 81st overall, which would make him a late-sixth round pick. He’s ranked around players like Robby Anderson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner, to name a few. Much like Fant, all those players have their own question marks, but I would rather take all of them over Fant at that range. Fant is the third option in that passing offense and will have either Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock under center. No thank you. Depending on how my first five or six picks go I could see taking a player like Conner here even though he might not last the entire season but simply because the RB landscape is so volatile the further you get in the draft. At TE there are other options later that I’m just as happy with as I would be with Fant. This includes players like Tyler Higbee, Evan Engram and Jonnu Smith. Give me all those guys over Fant at that price since I think they could all produce similar weekly numbers.
– Andrew Hall (@AndrewHallFF)

Robert Tonyan (TE – GB) ECR: TE10
Tonyan had a great 2020 season, buoyed by 11 TDs on only 52 receptions. Some quick math reveals that 21% of his catches went for a touchdown. He tied with Travis Kelce for the most TDs for a Tight End last season on half the catches Kelce had. That seems a bit unsustainable to me. Maybe he’ll get more targets this year to compensate, but any time a player’s value is tied so strongly to touchdowns, it makes me wary. Tonyan is not ranked super high as the TE10, but he’s still going ahead of names like Logan Thomas and Mike Gesicki, who were targeted far more often than he was last season and figure to be bigger focal points of their respective offenses. I’d rather roll with one of them – especially if I can get them a bit later in the draft. The Aaron Rodgers situation only compounds the concern. If Jordan Love is under center instead of Rodgers, do you think the Packers will throw the ball as often near the goal line?
– Scott Youngson (@FantasyMutant)

Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL) ECR: TE6
I 100% am on board with anyone who wants to draft Kyle Pitts in dynasty and devy leagues. His long-term ceiling is legit. However, I think his current ranking of TE6 is insane. Like…literally insane. Every year, we get a TE drafted early in the first round who’s deemed the “greatest TE prospect of all-time.” And that player always falls drastically short of expectations. Now, I don’t doubt that Pitts has a lot of skill and talent. That’s not the issue. The issue is that he’s still a rookie at a position that takes time for players to perform well. That’s just reality. As my dad likes to tell me, “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” So stop pretending like Pitts is different. He’s not. Not yet. Is there opportunity in Atlanta? Yes! Julio Jones is gone. Yippee! That doesn’t change the fact that the Falcons had a roster of all former first round picks last year and were wholeheartedly mediocre. The team has issues that Pitts simply can’t fix on his own. It will take time. Julio’s departure also does not guarantee more targets for Pitts. It likely means we’ll see another WR step up and become the WR2 to Calvin Ridley‘s WR1. Hayden Hurst is still in town and he’s still got a first-round pedigree. Pitts is an illusion. Draft in dynasty, avoid in redraft.
– Tim Metzler (@Timmy_the_metz)


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