2020 proved to be a banner year for fantasy quarterbacks,
with six different players averaging 27 or more fantasy points
per game, including Josh
Allen, who led all QBs with 29.1.
We would have likely had seven players topping 27 points
or more this season had Dak Prescott not suffered a season-ending
Just how good were quarterbacks in 2020? Only twice in the
last 20 years has there been a season with more than one QB
scoring 27-plus points in a season. Both Peyton Manning and
Drew Brees topped the 27-point mark in 2013, and four quarterbacks
in 2011, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton,
reached that mark.
What drove such a massive increase in quarterback fantasy
production this past season? In one word: rushing.
Quarterbacks combined to smash the previous record for rushing
touchdowns and rushing yards, with QBs combining for 127 rushing
touchdowns and 9,424 yards, compared to the previous highs
of 87 (2019) and 8,085 (2018).
Kyler Murray and Josh Allen, two of the top players at the
position, combined to score 19 rushing touchdowns to go along
with setting career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns.
At the time of his injury, Dak Prescott was on pace to also
set career marks in fantasy points scored, and not coincidentally,
was on pace to average a career-best eight rushing touchdowns.
The league has changed, and fantasy owners need to change
with it. Unless you are an incredibly efficient QB and throw
a ton of touchdowns, you are going to likely finish outside
of the top five at the position if you don’t add value
with your legs.
Below are my way too early quarterback rankings for 2021.
Keep in mind that free agency, the NFL draft, injuries, and
roster moves over the next six months will significantly affect
Allen jumps up to the top spot at the position after a breakout
2020 campaign in which he set career-highs across the board,
with 4,533 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns, along
with eight rushing touchdowns. Like Lamar Jackson in 2019,
Allen proved to be a league-winning asset taken outside the
top-5 in most drafts. Although Jackson came crashing down
after his breakout year, I anticipate Allen will post another
30-plus passing season while adding a floor of seven rushing
Mahomes is likely the top-ranked QB on most people’s
boards, and I cannot fault anyone ranking him over Allen based
on his consistency over the past few seasons. The most significant
difference between Mahomes and Allen are the rushing touchdowns,
with Mahomes averaging just two in all three of his seasons
as the starter for the Chiefs.
What do Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb,
and Josh Jacobs all have in common? They are the only players
in 2020 who posted more rushing touchdowns than Kyler Murray,
a second-year QB who also posted nearly 4000 passing yards
and 26 passing touchdowns.
I do not think Murray’s rushing touchdown total will
stay that high, but I believe he will continue to make improvements
as a passer and reach 30 passing touchdowns and 4k yards in
It may surprise some to learn that Prescott was on pace to
outscore Peyton Manning’s record-setting 2013 as the
biggest fantasy season to date for a QB before suffering his
broken leg in Week 5 against the Giants. Of course, four and
a half games is too small of a sample size to know how Dak
would finish, and his contract status makes him a bit of a
question mark. But considering the weapons he has around him
and the return to health of the offensive line and Zeke Elliott,
Prescott could end up being a massive value in drafts if he
falls outside the top 5.
The reigning MVP set career-marks in passing touchdowns last
season with 48 while topping 70% completion percentage for
the first time in his hall of fame career. Not only did Rodgers
lead the league in passing touchdowns, but he also blew all
other quarterbacks away on our consistency tracker. Although
this may be his last season with the Packers, don’t
be surprised to see Rodgers put up another 40-TD season before
heading to the 49ers or Broncos in 2022.
Fantasy football writers who predicted a massive regression
to the mean for Lamar Jackson proved to be 100% correct, with
the 2019 MVP crashing down to Earth last year. Jackson managed
a disappointing 2,757 passing yards and only 26 passing touchdowns,
despite still rushing for 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.
Without his massive rushing production, Jackson would have
fallen well outside the top 20 and looked somewhat lost as
a passer in 2020.
Despite his regression, a little perspective on Jackson is
needed when evaluating him for 2021. First, projecting him
to reach a modest 3200 passing yards and four more passing
touchdowns is well within reason. Just that subtle increase
would make him a top-5 player, assuming he continues to run
at the same clip. Another thing to consider is that although
his 25.6 points per game placed him ninth overall at the position
(Min 7 games), that same average would have made him tied
with Russell Wilson for QB1 in 2017.
Wilson quietly had his best season as a pro in 2020, setting
career marks in completion percentage (68.8) and passing touchdowns
(40). In addition, he rushed for his highest total since 2017
when he was the QB1, and added a pair of rushing touchdowns.
He also boasts one of the most exciting young wide receivers
in DK Metcalf.
The only knock on Wilson is that after a season of letting
“Russ Cook,” the team fired offensive coordinator
Brian Schottenheimer, presumably to return to their old ways
of rushing the ball. That is not a good thing for Wilson owners
hoping he might crack the top-5.
Watson is likely much higher on most people’s boards,
but I am looking to avoid him if he stays with the Texans.
He is clearly disgruntled with his team's front office and
has requested a trade, making him a risk to pull a Kenny Golladay
and miss significant time due to injury. If the trade issues
were not there, Watson would be in my top-5.
Herbert was a revelation for fantasy owners and Chargers
fans last season. As a rookie, he threw for 300 or more yards
eight times, with six games of three or more passing touchdowns.
Although most people think of him as a big-armed, pocket passer,
Herbert quietly added 234 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
If you are looking for the next young quarterback to jump
up to elite fantasy production in 2021, Herbert might be that
In keeping with the theme of quarterbacks setting career
marks, Ryan Tannehill was outstanding last year, setting career-highs
in both passing (33) and rushing TDs (7). Although his passing
yardage took a big dip last year and the team continues to
run through Derrick Henry, Tannehill’s value as a runner
cannot be denied, making him a solid QB1 in 2021.
Assuming the Bucs retain the services of Chris Godwin, Antonio
Brown, and Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady will be a massive value
as a QB ranked outside of the top-5. I assume that the team
will not be able to retain all of those players, and the defense
will continue to play at a high level as they did in the second
half of 2020, making Brady less valuable as a fantasy commodity.
I doubt Brady will be an elite fantasy option, but you would
be hard-pressed to find a safer pick at QB.
Stafford working in a progressive offense with Sean McVay
calling plays is precisely what the doctor ordered for a talented
player like Stafford, who was wasting away in Detroit. It
is difficult to project how many passing attempts Stafford
will have under McVay, and the Rams will still be a run-first
team, but he will have arguably the best weapons of his career
and a play-action game that will lead to ample touchdown passes.
Stafford is likely going to be my favorite later-round QB
to target based on his upside.