QB1 Predictions (2021 Fantasy Football)
Fantasy football season is fully upon us! Drafts are rolling, mocks are being completed by the dozen, friends become heated rivals, and analysis is omnipresent. Today, I’ll take a crack at predicting the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks for the 2021 season, complete with explanations for all my picks.
Rankings provided using FantasyPros Experts Consensus Rankings
1. Josh Allen (BUF): ECR QB2
I get it. Patrick Mahomes is the QB1, and you don’t want to hear any back sass about it. Too bad. Allen is this year’s QB1 after finishing in that position last season. Allen took a huge leap forward in 2020, obliterating previous career highs with 4,544 passing yards, 37 TDs, 10 INTs, a 107.2 QB rating, and nearly 70% completion. In every season of his career, Allen has rushed for at least 400 yards and 8 TDs. If he can continue his efficient play as a passer, his rushing numbers will be the icing on the cake that leads to him finishing as fantasy’s top signal-caller.
2. Patrick Mahomes (KC): ECR QB1
Since I didn’t rank Mahomes as the top fantasy quarterback, he’s got to be no lower than second. In three years as a full-time starter with the Chiefs, Mahomes has averaged an insane 4,622 passing yards, 38 TDs, and 8 INTs. So why do I have him at No. 2? Though Josh Allen doesn’t have the talent that Mahomes does as a passer, Allen’s rushing abilities give him a slight advantage that I believe carries him to a second straight QB1 finish. I also believe the Super Bowl hangover is real after two straight trips and three straight AFC title games. I don’t think Mahomes will be far behind, but Allen edges him out this season.
3. Lamar Jackson (BAL): ECR QB4
Jackson’s biggest knock is his paltry passing numbers, and that’s fair. He led the NFL in passing TDs in his 2019 MVP season with 36, but the passing yards have been pretty menial. Across the last two seasons, L-Jax has passed for just 5,884 yards to go with 62 TDs and 15 INTs. He’s more than made up for that production with 2,211 rushing yards and 14 rushing TDs in that span. How good has Jackson been as a runner? With just his rushing numbers alone, he would have been the RB26 in 2020 and the RB21 in 2019. Baltimore’s receiving corps got a needed upgrade with the additions of Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman, giving the high-floor quarterback a higher ceiling.
4. Kyler Murray (ARI): ECR QB3
Through 10 weeks and nine games last season, Murray led all QBs in total fantasy points and FPPG (30.16) before a shoulder injury derailed what looked to be THE QB1 season. Josh Allen ultimately took that crown, but Murray finished second by only 15 points. His passing numbers were nearly identical to those of his rookie season, though he boosted the TDs and completion%. Murray also rushed for 11 touchdowns, second only to Cam Newton‘s 12 among QBs. Murray will look to continue his strong play from a season ago, and he’ll have AJ Green and Rondale Moore in the mix of talented wideouts.
5. Dak Prescott (DAL): ECR QB5
After a career-best 2019 season, Prescott looked poised to take the next step in 2020. He started the season on a tear, racking up 1,424 passing yards to go with eight passing TDs, three INTs and three rushing TDs from Weeks 2-4. Recovering from a brutal ankle injury and two surgeries is no joke, but Dak is expected to be fully healthy for Week 1. He’s got a good offensive line and one of the strongest receiving corps in the NFL. He should be an easy top-5 play in 2021.
6. Russell Wilson (SEA): ECR QB6
Did you know that since 2013, Russell Wilson has never failed to finish the season as a QB1? In that same span, he’s finished in the top-five five times and the overall QB1 once. He’s an amazingly consistent QB who comes up with solid numbers every year. Even if he’s not allowed to “cook” as he was to start 2020, Wilson should find a way to succeed thanks to a pair of elite wideouts and a strong running game.
7. Aaron Rodgers (GB): ECR QB7
Can Rodgers stay on a roll in 2021 as the reigning MVP? After tossing a career-high 48 touchdowns in 2020, Rodgers enjoyed an offseason steeped in mystery surrounding his return to the team and a very public tropical vacation. Will his feud with the Packers’ front office affect his play, or can he continue to pump out elite fantasy production? Over the past seven seasons, Rodgers has been a QB1 six times and the overall QB1 twice. He’s a near-lock for top-10 numbers if he remains healthy.
8. Justin Herbert (LAC): ECR QB8
Herbert became only the fourth rookie QB in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards, and he set the record for rookie TD passes with a massive 31. Thrust into a starting role unexpectedly due to medical malpractice on Tyrod Taylor, Herbert now has the luxury of preparation heading into Year 2. He flashed immense upside as a rookie, and keeping him out of the top-10 would be ludicrous.
9. Tom Brady (NE): ECR QB10
In his first season with the Bucs, Brady didn’t have much to celebrate – just a Super Bowl victory, the most passing touchdowns in franchise history, and his most passing yards in five seasons – typical 43-year-old stuff. The goat will be back with a full offseason to practice, a year of experience in his new system, and the same talented group of receivers and backs. There’s no reason he can’t replicate last season’s success.
10. Matthew Stafford (LAR): ECR QB12
From 2011-2017, Stafford averaged 4,377 passing yards, 28 TDs and 14 INTs. In 2019, he was on pace for 38 TDs before an injury forced him to miss the second half of the season. We’ve seen him put up massive numbers, but can he get back there with the Rams? He’s got a clever coach in Sean McVay and a quality receiving corps headlined by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Expect him to shine for his new team in 2021.
11. Ryan Tannehill (TEN): ECR QB9
Tanny has turned his career around since landing with the Titans, and he’s become a reliable fantasy QB to boot. Since taking over as Tennessee’s starter six games into the 2019 season, Tannehill’s 16-game pace is 3,749 yards, 31 TDs, and just 7 INTs. This season, he’ll get AJ Brown and Julio Jones, providing him a loftier ceiling to go with his already-stable floor.
12. Joe Burrow (CIN): ECR QB13
Burrow enjoyed a stupendous debut season, showing off his arm and surprising mobility in the process. Before an ACL/MCL injury sidelined him after 10 games, Joey B was on pace for 4,300 passing yards and 21 TDs. Cincinnati upgraded its offensive line in the offseason and drafted Burrow’s former teammate Ja’Marr Chase to add to an already loaded receiving corps featuring Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. I’m ranking Burrow at his floor because he could easily finish in the top-10.
Just Missed the Cut
Cam Newton (NE): ECR QB27
I love Newton as a sleeper this season, and as long as he can stay on the field, he has QB1 upside. His passing numbers last season were absurdly low, but I believe New England’s deficiencies at receiver were the major culprit. Newton showed how lethal he is with 12 rushing TDs, and an improvement in the passing game should help him blow his QB27 ranking out of the water.
Jalen Hurts (NE): ECR QB11
I’m not quite sold on Hurts as a QB1, even though he’s close. He’ll need to improve on accuracy in 2021, and the Eagles’ receiving corps isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Hurts has the advantage of mobility on his side which has proven highly beneficial for fantasy QBs, but he’ll have to be stellar in that department to sneak into the top-12. I’m ranking him just outside that elite QB1 group.
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