Itís easy to get excited by a rookie quarterback who was drafted
high in the first round Ö or even first overall. But what is the
likely real value of that top pick for your 2021 fantasy team?
First off, we have to differentiate dynasty leagues from single-season
leagues. For dynasty leagues, getting a great quarterback means
a decade of elite play from the position and the ability to spend
your draft capital elsewhere for the next few years. In that way,
the value of a great quarterback is similar to that of the real
life team who drafted him.
But what of the majority of fantasy football enthusiasts? For
those who play a single season at a time, itís much harder
to find the next 2020 Justin Herbert (who averaged a stunning
26.3 FPts/G) or a 2011 Cam Newton (27.6 FPts/G) much less a 2017
Deshaun Watson (32.2 FPts/G).
So letís look at the facts.
I evaluated all quarterbacks selected in the top-three rounds
of the draft for the past 10 years. There were 53 such picks made
Of those 53 quarterbacks, 11 made zero starts (20.8%). Most of
these were easy to understand. They were drafted as backups to
the likes of; Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady
(twice). Or they were projects. We should be able to spot them
pretty easily and avoid them.
In 2021, three of the eight quarterbacks selected in the top-105
picks, figure to hold a clipboard for most, or all, of the season
barring serious injury to the starter; Kyle Trask (that Brady
guy again), Kellen Mond and Davis Mills. They are keeper-league
picks only, or very late-round picks in deep roster leagues.
If we throw out the 11 quarterbacks who didnít make a start,
the remaining 42 quarterbacks averaged 18.5 FPts/G. That number
would not make the ďaverageĒ rookie a fantasy-worthy
starter. In 2020, 18.5 FPts/G would rank 28th among those who
made at least two starts.
What did it take to make the top-12 of 2020 fantasy quarterbacks?
The answer is the 23.4 FPts/G of Kirk Cousins. But that mark was
the highest in the last 20 years, so to be fair I took the average
of the 12th-best fantasy quarterback over the past 10 seasons.
The average No.12 fantasy quarterback since 2011 was 21.6 FPts/G.
And how many rookie quarterbacks over the past 10 years have
reached that mark? Answer: 22.6% or 12 of 53 quarterbacks. Even
if we eliminated the obvious rookies who werenít going to
start at all this season you still have just a 28.6% of selecting
a fantasy-worthy rookie quarterback.
And if you think to yourself Ė OK, Iíll just limit
myself to first-round picks or second-round picks. Sorry, thatís
not the answer.
Second round picks averaged 18.7 FPts/G and 40% of the picks
didnít start a game. For first-round picks, they averaged
a little more (18.8 FPts/G) and at least most of them got onto
the field at some point. Just 6.3% of first round picks never
started a game in their rookie season.
A better evaluating theory would be determining which rookie
quarterbacks have a chance to start 15 or 16 games. There were
14 rookie QBs who started 15 or more games and they averaged 20.1
FPts/G. Still not starter-worthy, but closer.
The 15-game starting filter likely eliminates Mac Jones and Trey Lance from the mix as Newton and Jimmy Garoppolo still figure
to start the season for the Patriots and San Francisco 49ers,
So we are down to just three possible rookie quarterbacks who
may be worthy of starting in their first year for your fantasy
Letís look at the three and evaluate who should be worthy
of your attention.
Lawrence, Jacksonville - Of the
three quarterbacks, Lawrence has the best weapons. D.J.
Jones and Laviska
Shenault at wide receiver and James
Etienne and Carlos
Hyde make up a solid group of options. Chark regressed after
a breakout season in 2019 (73-1008-8), but given the quarterback
play of Gardner
Glennon and Jake
Luton in 2020 it was probably understandable. Marvin Jones
is a proven talent and Shenault is a Curtis
Samuel-type ďSwiss-armyĒ knife. Robinson was one of the biggest
surprises of the 2020 season (240-1070-7 rushing and 49-344-3
receiving). The team drafted Lawrenceís Clemson teammate, Etienne,
who made himself into a great receiving back in his final seasons
for the Tigers. Lawrenceís fantasy value makes me think of Joe
Burrow before his injury where the previous seasonís top choice
averaged 21.9 FPts/G.
Wilson, New York Jets Ė The Jets
made a big move to pry Corey
Davis (65-984-5) out of Tennessee, but their skill position
options are still limited with Denzel
Mims (23-357-0) and Jamison
Crowder (59-699-6). Meanwhile, Tevin
Coleman (injured for most of 2020) and rookie RB Michael
Carter (North Carolina) will man the backfield. The team did
try to help itís porous 29th-ranked OL (according to PFF) with
USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, but itís likely that Wilson will
be throwing on the run most of the time. For these reasons, I
donít think Wilson is a viable fantasy option for 2021.
Fields, Chicago - I think Fields
starts the season under center opening day having only to beat
out aging veterans Andy
Dalton and Nick
Foles. Heís got the No.1 receiver of the three quarterbacks
in question (Allen
Robinson), but Iím not yet sold on Darnell
Mooney and Anthony
Miller. Tight end Jimmy
Graham still has value in the red zone, but thatís about it
and the trio of David
Cohen (ACL) and Damien
Williams is helpful with their varied talents, but unspectacular.
The most intriguing factor here is Fieldsí lack of turnovers over
his Buckeye college career and rushing ability (67 TD passes,
9 INTs, 867 rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs at OSU). He reminds
me of Kyler Murray
who in 2019 posted 21.5 FPts/G.
Bottom line: only Lawrence and Fields should
be expected to help your fantasy team in 2021.
Top-Three round quarterbacks selected