It’s been an eventful offseason for the quarterback position. I know, I know, it’s too soon to joke about Masseuse Gate. But as I read over one massage therapist’s account of an interaction with Deshaun Watson back in 2019, my immaturity got the best of me as visuals entered my mind. I’ll just leave this here:
“Watson developed an erection, she says, and also began clenching and slowly ‘thrusting the air.'”
Regardless of maturity level, it’s difficult to read that Sports Illustrated article and not find it both very credible and extremely concerning for the future of Watson’s NFL career. I don’t see many paths to him playing football in 2021. And then we have the whole, slightly less mind boggling, Aaron Rodgers saga. Will the Packers hall of famer hang up the cleats to pursue a career as Jeopardy host? If I have to take a hard stance today, I’m saying neither of these elite fantasy QB options touch the field this season. And thus, you will not find either among my top 10 quarterbacks for 2021 fantasy football:
*Note: These rankings are geared toward standard QB scoring with 4 points per passing touchdown. Projections provided in this season’s rankings are not my own, they come from Rudy Gamble’s World Renowned 2021 Fantasy Football Projections.
1. Kyler Murray – First ranking of the season and I’ve already gone rogue! Kyler doesn’t have the the highest floor of all fantasy QBs, but I’ve never been one to draft nor rank for floor. It’s the ceiling I’m after, and Murray has the highest ceiling of all. Many will disagree with that statement, but remember through nine games last year the Cardinals QB had 10 rushing touchdowns and 17 passing touchdowns with 604 rushing yards. That was the week he suffered a shoulder injury which may have hampered him for the rest of the season. Murray was on pace for nearly 1,100 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns; absolutely insane rushing production which really moves the needle in leagues which reward 4 points per passing touchdown versus 6 points per rushing touchdown. Sure, there’s some risk that injury becomes a recurring theme in his young career, but it’s a risk I’m willing to live with when it comes with league winning upside.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,600 Passing Yards, 770 Rushing Yards, 25 Passing Touchdowns, 7 Rushing Touchdowns
2. Patrick Mahomes – What needs to be said here? Mahomes is likely the best pure passer of our generation and still has Hill and Kelce at his disposal. He’s the safest fantasy QB and has the highest upside as well if your league rewards 6 points for a passing touchdown; would not be surprised in the least by another 50+ passing touchdown season in 2021. In my mind it’s six of one, a half dozen of the other between Murray and Mahomes. Very slight personal preference lands Mahomes in my two hole (hehe) instead of #1.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 5,200 Passing Yards, 400 Rushing Yards, 34 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
3. Lamar Jackson – An LJax bounce back in 2021 seems more than likely. Last year was what I’d call a post breakout slump. The Ravens early season matchups and game plan created a perfect storm where Jackson wasn’t asked to do much on the ground. Plus he missed a little time with COVID. But Jackson handled double digit carries in 8 of his final 9 games, producing much closer to his 2019 fantasy numbers over the final few weeks. I expect much more where that came from this coming season and there’s still #1 overall fantasy QB upside here.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 3,600 Passing Yards, 1,000 Rushing Yards, 29 Passing Touchdowns, 5 Rushing Touchdowns
4. Josh Allen – Listen, I was driving the Josh Allen bandwagon last year. See the praise I wrote last year in my top 10 quarterback rankings where I ranked him #6. I know this is slightly lower than most people have Allen ranked this season (he’s currently the #2 QB off the board), but this ranking has nothing to do with me no longer loving the Bills’ QB and everything to do with me loving the three guys above just a little more. The one slight negative I’ll highlight is that a big part of his value comes from goal line rushing touchdowns (8, 9 & 8 rushing TDs each of the last three seasons). I’m not saying there’s any real reason to expect that won’t continue, but it also wouldn’t shock me if Zack Moss suddenly took half those away in 2021. By the way, Rudy projects him as the #1 overall QB, so there’s that.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 5,000 Passing Yards, 560 Rushing Yards, 31 Passing Touchdowns, 6 Rushing Touchdowns
5. Jalen Hurts – Another rogue ranking! I originally had Hurts lumped into tier 2, but B_Don talked me down a little on the Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast. As my co-host harped, there’s a certain level of uncertainty attached to Hurts that you don’t get with Jackson and Allen—and some will argue the other four in this tier. But there’s parallels between Lamar Jackson heading into the 2019 season and Jalen Hurts heading into the 2021 season that I can’t unsee. It’s a small sample, but in the three games he started and finished, Hurts looked explosive, aware and mature beyond his years. If he can progress in the passing department—much like Jackson in 2019 and Josh Allen in 2020—there’s no reason to think the Eagles passer can’t make the leap up into tier 1.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,200 Passing Yards, 620 Rushing Yards, 25 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
6. Russell Wilson – Here’s what I wrote about Wilson when I recently drafted him in the second round of our dynasty superflex startup, “The Seahawks’ run heavy game plan in the second half, on the legs of a much improved defense, has driven Wilson’s stock down like a cruiseliner during a pandemic. Still, Russ has thrown 30+ touchdowns in each of the last four seasons (five of the last six) and he’s never missed a game in his nine year career. Plus he has arguably the best receiver in the game at his disposal, D.K. Metcalf.” In short, we know he has the #1 overall QB upside, but that upside is very dependent on which direction Pete Carroll chooses to take this offense. At the same time, the floor is as rock solid as it gets.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,800 Passing Yards, 630 Rushing Yards, 30 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
7. Dak Prescott – Most will have Dak atop this tier or even in the tier above. My concerns about him being hampered by the compound leg fracture in the early season are subsiding with all the positive reports coming out of OTAs but I’m still not sold that Prescott is actually the fantasy monster we witnessed in weeks 1-4 last year. The numbers were eye popping, but how much of that was the product of game scripts dictated by their horrid defense? Even in 2019 their terrible defense backed him into a corner forcing nearly 600 passing attempts. Maybe their defense will be one of the worst in the league once again, but what if they’re the slightly better version we saw in the second half of 2020? Regardless of my concerns, the elite weapons surrounding Dak keep him at least in the discussion with the elite fantasy QBs.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 5,200 Passing Yards, 320 Rushing Yards, 29 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
8. Justin Herbert – I for one, did not see that rookie performance coming from the Oregon product. But it happened and there’s little reason to think Herbert won’t follow up his record setting rookie season with more of the same. Unless he doesn’t mesh with the new coaching staff, but there’s no reason to think that would be the case. A second off season to work with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler should only elevate Herbert to the next level, and there’s a chance I’m vastly undervaluing him with this ranking.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,700 Passing Yards, 260 Rushing Yards, 29 Passing Touchdowns, 5 Rushing Touchdowns
9. Ryan Tannehill – Coming into 2020 I was one of the few people who believed in Tannehill as a backend QB1, which you can fact check by visiting my top 20 quarterbacks post where I ranked him #11. But even I didn’t expect the eruption we saw from Tannehill last year. Now he gains a hall of famer in Julio Jones to line up across from superstar A.J. Brown. I don’t see the Titan’s QB repeating his 7 rushing touchdown total from last year as long as Derrick Henry remains healthy, but the addition of Julio should make up for some of those lost numbers—assuming Julio can stay healthy himself.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,300 Passing Yards, 240 Rushing Yards, 27 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
10. Matthew Stafford – Remember the numbers Jared Goff was able to put up in the Sean McVay system with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp? Here’s a refresher, in Goff’s four seasons as the starter he averaged 4,270 passing yards and 25.5 passing touchdowns. There were some major ups and downs in those four years, but it’s not a bad baseline. Do you think Stafford is better than Goff? I sure do, and the Rams seem to think so too. I’m excited to see what Stafford can produce with a competent coaching staff, for the first time in his his 12 year career.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,400 Passing Yards, 160 Rushing Yards, 28 Passing Touchdowns, 2 Rushing Touchdowns