By: Austin Lee
Way too early? There’s no such thing in fantasy football! If you want to get serious about winning championships, and the money that comes along with it if you play for cash prizes, then you first need to realize that fantasy football is just like everything else in life – you get out what you put into it. There is so much information to consume year-round that can and will separate you from everyone else in your league. That is our entire mission here at 365 Fantasy Football – to put you in the best possible position to succeed.
Let’s jump right into our way too early top 10 quarterback rankings for the 2021 season. Every fantasy manager has a different approach to drafting quarterbacks – some prefer to pay up early for the “stud” name and some people punt their quarterback pick until the later rounds. This list can serve as a great tool to identify some really great value for your draft that you may recognize you do not need to pay such a steep draft capital and get similar production while adding depth to much more critical positions for your team.
#10) Derek – Russell Wilson
Wilson is under pressure at a ridiculous rate. He’s also getting older. So much of his production comes on broken plays where he extends the play with his legs and finds someone deep and takes it to the house. Those are plays that you just can’t count on or project. Russ is also known for his disappearing act in the second half of the season. There’s a new offensive coordinator in town that promises to be “more aggressive” but going into his 10th season, we know what he have in Russell Wilson.
#10) Austin – Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill has found a resurgence since joining the Tennessee Titans. He has been extremely efficient with his new team and his numbers are shocking. Outside of overall yardage, his stats are equal to or exceed those of Patrick Mahomes. Admittedly, his ceiling is a bit lower due to the sheer volume that Derrick Henry consumes, but Tannehill makes the most out of what work he gets. The Titans OC, Arthur Smith, is moving on to a head coaching position, but is being replaced by someone internally. That means consistency and not much will be changing in terms of philosophy and overall style of play. His favorite target, A.J. Brown, has emerged as one of the best receivers in the league and should be in line for an increased workload, which bodes well for Tannehill and his fantasy owners, too. He’s a solid option on draft day if you opt to wait for the later rounds to address your QB spot.
#9) Derek – Justin Herbert
Herbert is legit. His performance as a rookie was unbelievable. In his first few weeks as the starter, we saw quite a bit of rushing, which had fantasy owners racking up the bonus points. Once he got settled in and had his feet under him in the pocket, it was a different story and those rushing yards just weren’t there anymore. He finished as the QB 9 in 2020 and will easily be able to repeat in 2021.
#9) Austin – Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson is a quarterback that I’m avoiding at all cost. Don’t hear what I’m not saying, though. I love Wilson and his talent. I knew he would be playing on Sundays from the moment I first saw him play in college. As a fantasy manager, I hate him and his disappearing act over the back half of the season. There’s a reason that Russ has never received a single MVP vote. The guy starts out on fire over the first 6 weeks and then his production falls off a cliff and is borderline impossible to trade once that happens unless your league mate(s) suffer an injury to their QB position. Even then, I’d rather take my chances streaming quarterbacks from the waiver wire than waste a roster spot on Russell Wilson. Don’t draft him, but if you do, start sending those trade offers in week 4 and sell high.
#8) Derek – Baker Mayfield
All the listeners of our 365 Fantasy Football podcast know my love for Baker runs deep. He was unbelievable for fantasy after Odell went down. He graded out as the tenth best QB in the league in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus, but from the time Beckham went down, Baker graded out as the QB 5. If Baker and Odell can finally establish some sort of chemistry, Baker will take the next step and easily be a weekly start.
#8) Austin – Matthew Stafford
Oh my goodness! Matthew Stafford has been a monster for fantasy throughout his career and I don’t think we’ve seen his ceiling. He’s always been behind a subpar offensive line and only had 1-2 weapons to throw to. He will be playing behind the best line he’s ever had and surrounded by weapons at every position for the first time in his career. I would not be shocked to see him throw for 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns. He’s just the type of quarterback that this offense needs. Him, Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee are going to be draft day steals!
#7) Derek and Austin – Aaron Rodgers
We know what you’re thinking: “How could you rank the reigning MVP all the way down at #7?” Listen, Rodgers had an amazing season and we are not trying to diminish that. With that said, don’t let “recency bias” blind you to the big picture. It’s incredibly hard for quarterbacks to repeat being the number one QB for fantasy – there are just too many variables at play. Rodgers, historically, has been in the 4-8 range. Outstanding year for Rodgers, but don’t get caught trying to chase that level of production on draft day as the third QB off the board or you will be very disappointed. If he falls to around this range, go ahead and take him and you’ll be fine.
#6) Derek – Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is phenomenal, don’t get me wrong. I only question how much longer Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill can produce at the level they are. If either one take even a slight step back, that’s a huge blow to Mahomes’ owners considering how much draft capital is spent to acquire him. Not only that, but for the sake of his longevity in the NFL, they need to establish the running game. Combine those two elements and you see natural regression in terms of fantasy production, although he will still be elite.
#6) Austin – Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert just compiled the single greatest rookie season at the quarterback position in NFL history. Think about that for a moment. All the greats that this sport has seen and Herbert outperformed them all and didn’t even play in week 1. He was unbelievably good when under pressure from defenses – #2 in that regard. With just under 67% completion rate, over 4,300 yards and 31 touchdowns, the sky is the limit for this kid. The offensive line can only get better and you couple that with a full offseason to prepare and further develop chemistry with his receivers and you are in for a ton of fantasy production. I’d be more than happy with Herbert as my QB next season.
#5) Derek – Dak Prescott
It’s easy for people to forget about a player when they miss an extended period of time, but don’t forget about Dak. He was lighting it up before going down with a season-ending ankle injury. That’s the key, too. It’s a broken ankle – easy fix. Some people around the industry are talking like Dak is coming off a major injury and may never be the same. Dak may need a little game action to shake the rust off, but by game 2 he will be picking up right where he left off.
#5) Austin – Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray is a dynamic quarterback. He’s got that cheat code for fantasy with his elite scrambling ability. He had an unbelievable fantasy season in 2020. My only hesitancy with placing him in the top 3 is we have a very long history of NFL defenses finally figuring out a rushing quarterback and taking that away (or at least containing it). Murray is an above average passer, though, so even if his rushing totals take a hit he will be a more than suitable weekly start. If the rushing yardage isn’t there, he’s always a threat to scramble in for a TD inside the ten-zone, so the rushing touchdowns will be there to save his production.
#4) Derek – Jalen Hurts
Yes, you read that right. We saw both sides of the coin once he took over as the starter in Philadelphia. Carson Wentz has moved on to Indianapolis and Hurts is the man in Philly moving forward. He’s a winner, plain and simple. His rushing ability is fantastic and gives him a safe floor. The Eagles are basically in rebuild mode. Their receivers are terrible, to put it kindly, as is their offensive line. Point being, Jalen Hurts is going to be putting a lot of miles on those wheels this season and you can sit back and watch the points pile up.
#4) Austin – Dak Prescott
Before going down for the year, Dak was on pace for 6,760 yards and 36 touchdowns. He was in process of rewriting the single-season history books. You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, but we are just talking about a 4-week stretch.” You’re right, but Dak was producing at that rate because they’re defense can’t guard the bench that is stationary on the sideline. He had to produce at that level just to keep the Cowboys in the game. Dan Quinn will be taking over the Defensive Coordinator duties in 2021, which is a positive, but there’s simply too much work that needs to be done to improve that unit enough to take the workload off of Dak and the offense. Dak may not push 7,000 yards, but he’s a lock for 5,000+ in 2021. The even better part is he will not be drafted as a top 5 QB on draft day. If you can get Dak as the 7th or 8th QB off the board, you’re going to get an absolute steal!
#3) Derek and Austin – Deshaun Watson
The problems for Houston continue to pile on as the latest development is that Deshaun Watson will never play another down for the Texans and is prepared to sit out if his demand for a trade is not met. Watson is an unbelievable talent and undoubtedly a franchise QB. There are only a handful of teams that have the money and/or draft capital to acquire his services. The good thing for fantasy managers is that all of them have a slew of offensive weapons and a line that won’t have him running for his life on every snap. No matter where Watson suits up next, he’s a sure-fire bet for a top 3 finish.
#2) Derek – Kyler Murray
For those unaware, Kyler Murray is really good at football. Before injuring his throwing shoulder last season, Murray was consistently bouncing back and forth between the QB 1 and QB 2 ranking. His rushing ability and ceiling with rushing touchdowns is insane. Only question is, do you want to pay up on draft day to get him? If he can produce as a top 2 fantasy quarterback, he’ll be worth the price.
#2) Austin – Josh Allen
If Josh Allen isn’t in your discussion for Most Improved Player, we can’t be friends. Accuracy has always been the knock on him, but in 2020 he showed that he’s put the work in to correct that and as a result, took his Bills team to the AFC Championship game. The acquisition of Stefon Diggs had many on the fence last year, but the Allen-Diggs connection was among the best in the NFL. Allen’s poise, attitude, leadership and work ethic are placing him firmly among the elite at his position and if 2020 gave any insight to the future, Bills fans have to be ecstatic. With a full offseason to further develop chemistry and shore up their offensive line, Allen has a legitimate shot at finishing as a top 2 fantasy quarterback.
#1) Derek – Josh Allen
Everything Austin said above! Josh Allen is becoming one of my favorite quarterbacks in the NFL. Diggs and Allen have a full year together under their belts and a full offseason to continue getting better. If Allen can stay healthy and produce at this level, he’s going to be a draft day darling and carry you to the playoffs.
#1) Austin – Patrick Mahomes
It seems like such a chalk pick, but I can’t physically bring myself to place anyone above Patrick Mahomes. Not to say that won’t be the case or isn’t possible, but when you look at talent, offensive system and weapons around him, how can you pick anyone else? We play the game of probability as fantasy football analysts and there is nobody else more probable to finish as the QB 1 for fantasy.