Quarterbacks to Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)
With the NFL evolving into a pass-first, up-tempo league there is a lot of value to be found in the quarterback position in 2021. No less than 13 quarterbacks finished last season averaging 20 points per game or more with an additional eight averaging more than 17 points per game. At a position this deep – and so closely clustered together for scoring purposes – there are several quarterbacks to avoid at their current ADPs.
I’ve broken down four players below who I will not be selecting this year unless they slip down the draft board. In most cases, the players have red flags that make me comfortable with leaving them alone on draft day. In one case, I simply cannot advocate for taking a quarterback in the top-20 picks of a draft.
Average Draft Position (ADP) referenced using FantasyPros consensus ADP.
Relative to ADP
Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC): QB1, No. 14 Overall
Before you get out the pitchforks and torches, hear me out. Patrick Mahomes has a top-20 overall ADP right now so unless you are in a league that massively overweights QB scoring, you are paying up at a position that you don’t need to. The margin between the QB1 and the QB10 in most leagues is somewhere around four points per week. To put that in perspective, the margin of difference between the TE1 (Travis Kelce (TE – KC)) and the TE10 (Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI)) on a points per game basis last year was 10.3.
You are much better off targeting players at other positions where the disparity between tiers is much greater. As tempting as the security of Mahomes might be on draft day, don’t click that button
Joe Burrow (QB – CIN): QB13, No. 87 Overall
Joe Burrow was one of the best values in redraft leagues in 2020 but a year later he is someone to stay away from. While the Bengals added Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) to the already strong duo of Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN) and Tee Higgins (WR – CIN), there are still concerns along the offensive line. Early returns in camp for that group have been mixed at best so with Burrow coming off an ACL tear, that doesn’t inspire confidence.
Burrow finished 2020 with three rushing touchdowns and 142 yards rushing in just 10 games. While he isn’t Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL), he did hold enough rushing upside to boost his weekly floor by almost two full points. The Bengals are unlikely to want Burrow to be exposed outside of the pocket so that upside will be capped, especially since part of Burrow’s value last year was tied to his ability to extend plays.. Additionally, there are factors involved with an ACL injury that Burrow will need to overcome. Stepping up in the pocket and delivering a throw in the face of pressure will be a big hill to climb. Psychologically, it might take him some time to trust his body as well. I am not a fan of drafting players at the ceiling and that goes double for guys coming off an injury. Unfortunately, Burrow falls into both of those categories meaning he is unlikely to be on many of my rosters.
Matt Ryan (QB – ATL): QB15, No. 117 Overall
Matt Ryan is a popular choice in this category but, in pulling back the curtain, it’s with good reason. The Falcons were one of the pass happiest teams in the NFL last season with Ryan finishing the year with a career-best 626 attempts. However, he only threw 26 touchdown passes so despite the massive volume he barely finished as a QB1. Now Ryan not only has to contend with a new offensive scheme but also the loss of Julio Jones who he has traditionally played worse without. Since the two have played together, Ryan’s quarterback rating drops to just 88.6 and he averages an interception per game without Jones in the lineup.
Even if we have confidence in the Falcons’ other weapons stepping up and meshing well with Ryan, a lot must go right. Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL) being as good as advertised would help but either way, Ryan will likely have to thrive on less volume. New head coach Arthur Smith’s offenses in Tennessee were some of the most run-heavy in the league during the last two years. It is highly unlikely that Ryan is in the top-5 of the league in attempts this season and if the Falcons do look to establish the run, Ryan will not come close to returning value. At #14 in the FantasyPros ECR ranks and with minimal rushing upside, Ryan is a player I will be avoiding.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB – WFT): QB23, No. 161 Overall
Ryan Fitzpatrick is ranked 19th in FantasyPros ECR putting him firmly in the QB2 discussion but I won’t have him on many rosters. Although most fantasy analysts believe Fitzpatrick is an upgrade at the position for The Football Team, I don’t see the value in taking him in the top-20 among fantasy quarterbacks.
Trusting Fitzpatrick to start all 17 games is risky. It’s a feat he has accomplished just three times over his 16-year career so, despite some moments of brilliance, he has only finished in the top-20 in fantasy points twice since 2011. He’s never topped 4,000 yards in a season in his career and with the Washington defense being one of the best in the NFC, he may be asked to be more a game manager and less of a gunslinger. Fitzpatrick will have his hot streaks but Washington is unlikely to be in many shootouts and should lean heavily on Antonio Gibson (RB – WFT). I believe this makes Fitzpatrick more of a floor play than we are accustomed to. He is certainly someone who should be safe as a high-end QB3 but is being over-drafted right now as a low-end QB2.
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