(image credit: Charles Goldman/USA Today)
By: Jett Rosenstein
In 2020, we saw several QBs who were drafted as a top 12 QB and did not finish as a top 12 QB (Prescott, Wentz, Brees, and Stafford) and QBs who were drafted outside the top 12, but finished within the top 12 (Tannehill, Herbert, Rodgers, and Cousins). So, what will happen in 2021? I will break down who I think will be the top 12 fantasy QBs. Note: Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson have been excluded due to the uncertainty surrounding their future.
1. Patrick Mahomes (QB-KC) 2020 Rank: 4th
As expected, Mahomes tops this list. He finished as the #1 Overall QB in 2018 and has yet to finish outside of the top 12 in his young career. There is simply no other QB I rather have in the game on my fantasy team. Now, with an improved offensive line and the same weapons, Mahomes may be able to take back his top spot among QBs. Mahomes’ price (3.02) is a little too steep for me, but I do not fault anyone who wants to lock in their QB who presents a nice combination of safety and upside.
2. Dak Prescott (QB-DAL) 2020 Rank: 33rd *Missed 11 games in 2020*
The biggest question for Dak is health. In 2020, Dak was on his way to having a record-breaking season until it got cut short due to injury. Dak has plenty of weapons to work with and has a case for potentially being the #1 Overall QB in 2021. Dak has finished as high as #2 and as low as #10 among QBs throughout his career. I think Dak is a huge value right now going in round 5. He wants to finish what he started in 2020.
3. Josh Allen (QB-BUF) 2020 Rank: 1st
Josh Allen was at the heart of many fantasy rosters last season as he went on to be the best QB in fantasy. Allen looks to pick up right where he left off in 2020 with much of the same supporting cast set in place with bigger things in mind. After finishing as QB21 in his rookie season, Allen has followed that up with 2 Top-6 finishes. His elite combination of arm strength and rushing ability will keep in the conversation amidst the top fantasy QBs
4. Kyler Murray (QB-ARI) 2020 Rank: 2nd
Kyler Murray has had a great start to his career. He has finished within the top-7 QBs both years in the league. A lot of this production is due to his rushing abilities. Any time you can find a QB with the ability to be a runner, you have fantasy gold as is. If Murray wants to sustain his place among the top QBs in fantasy he is going to have to make better decisions and make better throws in the intermediate passing game.
5. Justin Herbert (QB-LAC) 2020 Rank: 9th
What a rookie season for Justin Herbert! Herbert looks to get even better in his sophomore campaign. Despite the fact he will be playing in an entirely new system, Herbert has the talent and supporting cast to propel himself into the top 5 QBs in fantasy. Currently going in the 6th round (7th QB), Herbert could wind up being a value pick if he performs to the level that I am expecting him to.
6. Russell Wilson (QB-SEA) 2020 Rank: 6th
People forget that over the first half of the 2020 NFL season, Wilson was the QB1. However, his performance fell off somewhat landing him at 6th among QBs. Now in 2021, Wilson will be operating under a new OC. Wilson still has terrific guys surrounding him in Metcalf and Lockett and should be poised to have another great season. Currently going off the board during the 6th round which is right around where I would also feel comfortable snatching him up.
7. Lamar Jackson (QB-BAL) 2020 Rank: 10th
After having a breakout year in 2019 where Jackson finished as the QB1, he came back down to earth, finishing as QB10 in 2020. Lamar will always be great in fantasy even if he never fully develops his passing ability. The reason being, he has the highest rushing floor among QBs. Some analysts think he should be in contention for being the first QB taken, but due to his question marks surrounding his arm, I much rather see if he falls and draft him after the top-tier guys are gone.
8. Ryan Tannehill (QB-TEN) 2020 Rank: 7th
People continue to discount what Ryan Tannehill has been able to do so far with the Titans. After finishing as QB21 in his first year with the team, he moved all the way up to QB7 in 2020. Now, with the addition of Julio Jones and the continued reliance on Derrick Henry, Tannehill is going to have another productive year and is once again critically undervalued in fantasy drafts. Currently, the 13th QB off the board with another year to show that he belongs in the QB1 discussion from here on out.
9. Matthew Stafford (QB-LAR) 2020 Rank: 16th
After a final season with the Lions that was pretty much summarized by injuries, Stafford looks to take on a new challenge with a much-improved situation in the Rams. He now will be in a Sean McVay system that has been successful in years past to go along with solid weapons. Sure, he may not have some of the rushing upside that some of these other QBs possess, but he has all the talent in the world. Look for Stafford to get back to producing the fantasy numbers he did between 2015-2017 and steal a spot in the top 12.
10. Joe Burrow (QB-CIN) 2020 Rank: 25th *Missed 6 games due to injury*
The #1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft looks to make a comeback in 2021 after suffering a devastating injury that cut his season short. Even with all of the questions surrounding his health and the Bengals’ ability to protect them, I have full faith Burrow will be one of the new guys welcomed to the “QB1” club in 2021. Besides the fact he is super talented, he also has a great supporting cast (Chase, Boyd, Higgins, etc.). Joe Burrow will exceed everyone’s expectations this year and if he's on the board when I am still in search of a QB, he will be my guy.
11. Tom Brady (QB-TB) 2020 Rank: 8th
No one knows when Tom Brady will no longer be a usable fantasy asset, but for now, he still is, hence why he made this list. The Buccaneers were among the top teams in pass attempts and Brady did not show any signs of age catching up to him. Even if the Bucs decide to throw the ball a little less, Brady still has the same offensive weapons intact and will continue to be a guy you should feel comfortable starting in your lineups, even if it isn’t every week.
12. Carson Wentz (QB-IND) 2020 Rank: 22nd
Will we finally see the Carson Wentz that almost won the MVP in 2017? He now joins an up-and-coming Colts team that should boost Wentz’s chances at becoming fantasy-relevant again. He now has a competent offensive line to go along with strong weapons. We know he has the talent, but if he is able to put it all together, Wentz will be a steal towards the end of drafts (12.07 ADP as of July 7, 2021).