How should we prioritize the rookie QBs in fantasy heading into the 2021 NFL season? Here are my rankings:
- Trey Lance
- Lance has a big arm and is a physical runner when he escapes the pocket
- Lance scored 14 rushing touchdowns and averaged 10.6 rushing attempts per game. Lance is willing to take off and run which raises his floor and ceiling as a fantasy contributor.
- Lance will step into an exciting fantasy environment. The 49ers are loaded with talent on offense. Aiyuk, Deebo, and Kittle make up an electric pass catching group, and are a perfect fit in a Kyle Shanahan offense.
- The niners had a 55% situation-neutral pass rate which ranked 24th.
- The Niners project to have a solid offensive line anchored by stud LT Trent Williams.
- The likeliest outcome is Garoppolo starting Week 1, but Lance overtaking him in the first few weeks.
- Lance’s rushing ability and the landing spot are the biggest reasons why he’s in the top spot of my rankings.
2. Trevor Lawrence
- He averaged 6.8 rush attempts per game. He’s a capable runner who takes off when he sees fit rather than taking off whenever he gets the chance.
- Lawrence now enters a team that has been desperate for quality QB play. He is the shot in the arm that this offense needed. This team didn’t score many points and struggled to move the ball down the field last season.
- They have several solid receivers in the offense consisting of DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, and Laviska Shenault. Chark in particular has flashed upside, which is exciting given that his skillset will be better utilized with Lawrence’s strong arm. There have been talks about Etienne being used out wide in a “Percy Harvin” role. That would add creativity and optionality to this offense.
- Lawrence will be working behind an offensive line returning all 5 starters. While the continuity is a positive, the talent leaves more to be desired as they project to be middle of the pack at best.
- Urban Meyer will take over as head coach, which introduces some uncertainty. We don’t know what tendencies to expect from Meyer at the NFL level, but so far I’m skeptical.
- It’s likely that the defense will be a bottom 10 unit so the offense should find itself in pass-heavy game scripts.
- Trevor Lawrence is the best pure-passer in this class. He finds himself in a solid situation in Jacksonville, and with the ability to produce fantasy points with his legs when he needs to, he comes in as the number 2 fantasy rookie quarterback.
3. Justin Fields
- Ran a 4.51 40
- Fields averaged 10.1 rushing attempts per game showcasing his willingness to run. In theory, Fields’ upside is exciting with his strong arm and outstanding rushing ability, but I’m skeptical that he maximizes those strengths. There is little evidence that Fields has the ability to create outside of structure.
- Fields lands to a Bears team that is returning head coach Matt Nagy. Last year, this team was right around league average in situation-neutral pass rate.
- The receivers consist of underrated star Allen Robinson, intriguing sophomore Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller, Marquise Goodwin while Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet fill the tight end role. Robinson provides Fields with a legit WR1 option, while Mooney and company are capable complimentary pieces.
- The offensive line is in poor shape as this looks to be a bottom 10 unit. They did draft Tevon Jenkins out of Oklahoma State in the 2nd round. It would go a long way if he can impress at one of the tackle positions. Fields won’t be able to realize his upside if he doesn’t have time to throw.
- Matt Nagy has committed to Andy Dalton being the starter. There is still a chance Fields impresses enough at training camp to change Nagy’s mind, but this clearly hurts Fields’ outlook.
- While it’s unlikely that he’s the starter in Week 1, I’d expect him to take over as starter early in the season.
- Fields’ ability to produce points with his legs provides a nice floor, but with the shakiness of the o-line and my skepticism toward his passing ability, he comes in as the number 3 fantasy rookie QB.
4. Zach Wilson
- Wilson is a gunslinger who doesn’t shy away from tight windows
- He averaged 5.8 rushing attempts per game. He’s able to scramble when he needs to, but we shouldn’t be counting on a lot of rushing production.
- Wilson lands on a Jets team that is trending in the right direction. The receiver corps is much improved over last season. Corey Davis and Denzel Mims will line upon the outside while a combination of Jamison Crowder and Elijah Moore will operate from the slot.
- Along with the change at WR, the Jets have finally shipped out Adam Gase bringing in Robert Saleh to take over.
- While there should a major improvement in production for the receivers this year, the same can’t said about the O-line. Wilson is going to be working behind a poor offensive line in year one which doesn’t bode well for his chances of success.
- Wilson doesn’t produce with his legs like the other QBs ranked above him. He’s also working behind a poor offensive line and for that reason he finds himself in the number 4 ranking.
5. Mac Jones
- He’s a pocket passer who is lacking in arm strength but makes up for it with accuracy
- Jones averaged just 2.7 rushing attempts per game. He’s an immobile pocket passer who will have to rely on his arm for fantasy points.
- He enters an offense that has been revamped this offseason. Receivers consist of Nelson Agholar, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, alongside tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
- This team was one of the run-heaviest teams in the league last year, but I don’t see that being the case this year. Belicheck is flexible in the sense that he will do whatever he thinks gives him the best shot at winning. With their inferior talent on offense last season, Belicheck figured running the football would do just that. With the improved talent on the offensive end, I see them being closer to middle of the pack for rushing percentage.
- Jones will benefit from working behind a top 5 projected offensive-line. The O-line is the strength of this football team and greatly improves Jones’ outlook.
- Jones comes in at number 5 because we can’t expect any production on the ground. He’s also competing with Cam Newton for the starting role so there is more uncertainty than the others for when we could see him take over.