Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterback (2021)
Busting is a dirty word in the fantasy community. On the cusp of the season, we soak in the excitement and brim with optimism. The reality is there will be players who fall short of expectations. Weighing risk and reward is the best way to handle these situations. As Timothy Olyphant’s Kelly says in the cinematic classic “The Girl Next Door,”: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”
Previously I took a pass at identifying several quarterbacks who had concerns. Since then, Aaron Rodgers’ (QB -GB) situation has solidified, and his value has improved. Still, several players currently drafted as starting quarterbacks have reasons for concern. Below I will outline the cases, but please let me know where I errored and who is on your list.
Average Draft Position (ADP) referenced using FantasyPros consensus ADP.
Tom Brady (QB – TB) QB9, ADP 74
Brady is already operating in unprecedented territory. No quarterback over age 42 threw for over 1,000 yards in a season. Until 43-year-old Brady threw for 4,633 in 2020, his 21.87 fantasy points per game represented his best season since 2011. Vinny Testaverde’s 952 yards represent the best season by a player over 43.
And he finished QB11.
His ADP sits at QB9, and every pass he throws is part of history. He is victim to a sliding scale. Given his lack of rushing yards and the influx of rushing quarterbacks raising the ceiling at the top end of the position, he faces a tall task to reach the elite fantasy scorers.
Narratively there are reasons to fade him meeting this lofty position outside of age. The Buccaneers’ defense ranked 5th in DVOA, and they returned their entire unit. Competitively, Brady will always push for more, but given the rest of the NFC South’s potential lack of competition, the Buccaneers could find themselves with little to play for as the season wraps up.
In one QB fantasy, Brady is the perfect player to back up with a young quarterback like Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC) or Justin Fields (QB – CHI). Those players bring the rushing upside and could easily find themselves better fantasy plays as the season progresses. Drew Brees showed this past season the window on a significant era of quarterbacks is closing. We can appreciate Brady’s greatness, but there are natural avenues to him not hitting value on ADP in fantasy.
Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI) QB12, ADP 85
Hurts four games hit nearly every worrying mark for a quarterback. His 52% completion percentage was five points lower than the lowest qualifier, Drew Lock (QB – DEN). His 77.6 passer rating was 2 points higher than Lock’s and would have placed him in the bottom five of qualifiers. Hurts was not a good quarterback in 2020, but he made up for his shortcomings on the ground. His 352 rushing yards were the eight most by a QB.
The Eagles invested a first-round pick in DeVonta Smith ( WR – PHI) to help the passing game. Expectations have the Eagles utilizing a shorter passing game; new coach Nick Sirianni’s Colts offense featured one of the league’s lowest average depth of targets at 7.2 yards. These scheme changes may help with Hurts’ development in the passing game and mask accuracy issues. Still, the double-edged sword is releasing the ball on quick reads diminishes his opportunities to rush.
The other question is the genuine commitment to Hurts. Rumors have put the team as potential suitors for Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU). The possession of five picks in the top 64 stands to give the Eagles flexibility in the 2022 draft. No team is currently better positioned in capital to aggressively make a move for a QB. If Hurts cannot develop in Sirianni’s system, the team could proactively decide to remove him from the lineup. He offers tantalizing upside, but he could fail to take off at all.
Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) QB13, ADP 87
I cheated. Several contributing websites list Burrow as a QB1, but in the aggregate, final placement is just outside the top 12. Still, the mention is warranted.
From multiple reports, training camp has not faired well for the Bengals QB. Burrow is still on the aggressive end of the timetable for recovery from his MCL and ACL injuries that ended his 2020 season. Burrow has received physical clearance. Still, early indications point to some mental hangups getting comfortable post-injury, going so far as to suggest he would be avoiding media contact.
The reality is Burrow faces several similar concerns as Brady with a near non-existent rushing floor, especially post-injury. Burrow’s 17.87 ppg placed him at QB18. His lofty ADP is a combination of excitement about adding college teammate Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) and assumed development of the 2020 top overall pick. But given a myriad of concerns, there is a genuine chance he falls well short of this draft position.
Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to a more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.