Well it feels like fantasy championships were just a week ago, but as the old adage goes, “there ain’t no rest for the wicked.” With 2020 and a whole lot of recency bias still ripe on my mind, I aim for these positional rankings to give you a premature preview of 2021, a season hopefully devoid of COVID complications among other things.
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QB Rankings – “The Leap of Faith” Tier
- Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
- Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
- Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
- Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
- Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Daniel Jones, New York Giants
- Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears
- Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
- Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts
- Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
- Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers
Here’s where the waters get very muddied. Who you want in this tier depends on what you’re looking for and will almost always depend on matchup to some degree. Are you looking for high upside and incredible talent in your receiving core? Look for Goff, Big Ben, or the vintage Matt Ryan performance. Do you need a journeyman to gut out a high-floor performance? Drew Brees and Philip Rivers can still sling the ball around.
What differentiates these guys from the tier prior is that I see even more events and situations having to go right for them for them to match the production. A solid matchup may not be enough to buoy them to QB1 outing. My ultimate thought here is looking for upside in a realm of uncertainty, hence why I’m listing younger signal callers such as Goff, Mayfield, Burrow and Jones up higher than some seasoned vets.
Goff is a truly ambiguous candidate that always sniffs around QB1 territory but has enough backbreaking performances to have you curse him and relegate him to your bench. He had 6 performances under 12 fantasy points 5 over 23, take a step up to the roulette wheel with him. Even more uncertainty clouds his future as the Lions got a healthy ransom to take on his contract and ship Matt Stafford over to the Rams
Baker Mayfield and Joe Burrow likely show the highest upside of this class, each having a talented class of young wide receivers and still showing lots of room to grow. We can hope for more offensive line support for Joe Burrow and more trust for Baker Mayfield, much like what we saw towards the end of the season. These two offer some promise if you are uncertain with your first quarterback pick.
As for 19-22, if you’re picking any of these players, you’re not exactly optimistic and hanging your hat on the pick, but you’re not writing off their season by any means. Each have a proven track record but I envision few paths where they’re headlining your championship fantasy team, something that I don’t say as much for some of the earlier candidates. Daniel Jones may be the biggest threat with his legs being a threat, but Brees, Trubisky, and Roethlisberger still figure to have some solid offensive weapons between Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, David Montgomery, Allen Robinson, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster if he says. These guys will be enough to buoy these on the occasional weekly matchup, but throughout the whole season? Not so much. Serviceable backup status that likely only finds a starting spot 1-5 times this season.
Here’s a fun fact about Philip Rivers. He’s never had a 30+ point fantasy game, not over the past season, not over the past three years, never ever. Indy is going to be continue its run-first approach and has the offensive line with arguably the most chemistry in the league. The only real reason for owners to be excited to stream him has to be six matchups that should be relatively friendly against AFC South opponents.
Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr are both coming off near career years and yet still cannot produce enough fantasy wise to be solid fantasy assets outside of 2 quarterback leagues. Bridgewater, while he likely wouldn’t sink your ship on a given week, only scored over 20 points in 4 occasions this year. Carr slightly overperformed that mark at 7, but all it took was him playing at a level equivalent to his near-MVP season in 2016. His 15 turnovers, exemplified by performances like his heartbreaking dud against the Atlanta Falcons, should be enough to scare you away on a regular basis, but 5 performances over 300 yards is enough to keep you coming back for more.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Fitzpatrick
I mean, the man who needs no introduction. If Fitzpatrick starts for a team, he consistently sits around the top rung of QB2 options. I still remember his 2018 season where he and Jameis combined to be QB2 overall. Here’s his fantasy point totals in the 6 games he started beyond the Patriots game in 2020:
24.32 – QB10
24.2 – QB7
21.3 – QB12
27.6 – QB3
16.04 – QB15
19.28 – QB6
I mean… he likely won’t start in 2021 because he is consistently overlooked, as he was with Tua in town. I don’t see this changing soon.
Teams/QBs Not listed: WFT, Miami, New York Jets, SF 49ers, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots
These 7 teams (and Miami for good measure) are by no means in a quarterback wasteland; they’re just the most uncertain as it currently stands. I would have had the Chargers in this tier last year, and they went out and churned out Justin Herbert with the best rookie season by a quarterback ever. There is value here, but it is the definition of a lottery ticket. Some of these teams may draft new talent either under center or lining up wide to provide more offensive firepower. It is NOT a deadzone. However… if they are your #1 option, you better have some incredible firepower in your other skill positions to cover up this weakness.