When I released my top 10 quarterbacks for 2021 fantasy football there was shock from how high Jalen Hurts checked in. There was awe from how low Dak Prescott fell. And there was guilt from Tom Brady’s snubbing. So I retreated in shame, into a cave. Each day tabulating the numbers, ranking and re-ranking, visualizing which quarterbacks would be the 11th thru 30th best fantasy QBs in the year of two-thousand-twenty-one. After two weeks in solitude I emerged from the cave victorious, with a new completely random list of quarterbacks and E. coli from the squirrel poop water I drank. Anyway, here’s my top 30 quarterbacks for 2021 fantasy football:
Click here to see all 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings.
*Note: These rankings are geared toward standard one QB leagues 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. These preseason projections are available free of charge, while Rudy’s in season weekly projection subscription is currently available until July 31st at an early bird discounted price of only $17.99 for the entire season! These are the same weekly projections which have won Rudy Gamble the FantasyPros designation of “Best Bold Ranker” for the years 2017-2019 (and likely 2020!).
Tier 4 (cont’d)
11. Tom Brady – I admit it feels a little strange to rank Brady lower this year than I did his first season in Tampa—I ranked him #8 last year which was exactly where he finished the season. He has all the same weapons plus Antonio Brown and another offseason with less COVID restrictions to work with his receivers. But let’s face the facts here: he’s 44 years old, he threw 40 touchdowns for the first time since 2007 last year and still only finished as the #8 fantasy QB, he won’t post any rushing yardage and there’s been more than a couple times over the past two seasons where he’s looked fully washed up. Ranking the old GOAT inside the top 10 would essentially be ranking him at his ceiling.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 5,400Passing Yards, 58 Rushing Yards, 34 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
12. Taysom Hill – Rumor has it Jameis Winston has the leg up on the starting job in New Orleans. Shame on you all for spreading rumors like a bunch of school girls! Here’s what we actually do know: a) when Brees was hurt with 54 broken ribs last year the Saints turned to Hill, b) Taysom went 3-1 in his four games started in 2021, c) Hill exceeded all expectations through the air posting a 72% completion rate in those four games, d) there is no d. So why would Jameis be the favorite? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m not buying it. Hill’s dual threat versatility is not only a dream for fantasy footballers like us, but also for a schemer like Sean Payton. I’ll be bumping Taysom up to the back end of tier 3 if and when he’s announced as the starter.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 1,000 Passing Yards, 230 Rushing Yards, 7 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns (Rudy is projecting Jameis as starter)
13. Aaron Rodgers – This mini-tier is the two great QBs who I don’t expect to see on the field in 2021. I don’t have as strong of feelings on the Rodgers situation as I do the Watson mess. Some claim that since Rodgers didn’t opt out by the July 2nd COVID deadline then he must intend to play in 2021. Others claim that since he renewed his Green Bay Country Club membership then he’s clearly not leaving town—hilarious. A country club membership for Rodgers is the equivalent to a trip to McDonalds for us peasants. Truth be told, I’m not sure Rodgers even knows whether he’s going to play this season yet. Rumor has it (there’s that dirty word again) he’s told people close to him that he won’t play for the Packers again. Something tells me that’s his true intention right now but we’re all just guessing. Either way, the risk is very real.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,800 Passing Yards, 200 Rushing Yards, 34 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
14. Deshaun Watson – I should probably have Watson ranked a lot lower than Rodgers since I’d give him maybe a 10% chance of playing this year compared to maybe 40% for Rodgers. I’ll put this very credible sounding Sports Illustrated article here once again in case you missed it last time. Things aren’t sounding good for Deshaun. Remember his relationship with the Houston front office was already on the rocks before all this massage business. For what it’s worth, my interest in Tyrod Taylor or Jeff Driskel, or whatever other scrub the Texans find to chuck it to their scrub receivers, is very low.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: N/A
15. Trevor Lawrence – T-Law is one of the few players after tier 4 who I’d be willing to throw a dart at as my starting QB in one QB leagues. Upside is the name of the game in one QB leagues, and does anyone have more of an unknown upside than the top quarterback prospect of our generation? I’d be lying if I said I love the weapons that surround him in Jacksonville, but certain players elevate everyone around them. Lawrence just might be one of those players, and he can contribute on the ground too.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,500 Passing Yards, 300 Rushing Yards, 26 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
16. Joe Burrow – Initially I had Joe Donkey ranked at the back of tier 4 with all the rosy reports of a quick recovery and optimism regarding his availability for week one. But with more thought, I’ve become more conservative. There’s no denying Burrow’s all-around natural gifts, but don’t forget the knee injury he suffered was called “catastrophic” by many in the know. Even if he’s fully ready to go week one, I don’t foresee a mobile Joe Burrow in 2021. His ability to create big plays and rip off large chunks on the ground is a large selling point to Burrow’s fantasy game. Without that dimension his upside seems limited to backend QB1 territory.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,750 Passing Yards, 230 Rushing Yards, 27 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
17. Tua Tagovailoa – Along with Lawrence, Tua is the other QB who interests me outside of tier 4. It was a bit of a rough showing in his time as starter in 2020, but let’s not forget that last year’s COVID restrictions were particularly tough on rookies. The watered down training camp and lack of a preseason had to make the transition from college to pros more difficult than ever. DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Preston Williams and Jaylen Waddle is a fun receiving corps and there’s no denying the talent that made Tua the number five pick in last year’s draft. Plus he has the dual threat potential I’m always targeting at QB.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,300 Passing Yards, 270 Rushing Yards, 28 Passing Touchdowns, 5 Rushing Touchdowns
18. Kirk Cousins – Can you imagine being excited to start the season with Kirk Cousins as the QB1 leading your fantasy team? Yes, he has a couple great receivers to work with, and one of the best running backs in the league too. He had all those weapons last season when he posted a career year with 35 touchdowns and 4,200 passing yards on his way to finishing the season as the #11 ranked fantasy QB. Sure, not bad, but hardly worth getting excited about. I prefer taking a shot on someone with real upside in one QB leagues. Let others go with the boring, “safe” options like Cousins.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,400 Passing Yards, 150 Rushing Yards, 28 Passing Touchdowns, 2 Rushing Touchdowns
19. Baker Mayfield – We’ve hit the streamers tier so I’ll start moving a little faster. Quick note, I value some of these passers much higher in superflex and two QB leagues for various reasons, but since these are one QB league rankings feel free to ask my opinion on specific players in other formats down in the comments. Anyway, the Browns ideal game plan is to run a lot and then run some more. Of course that won’t always work, so sometimes they’ll call on Mayfield to air it out to OBJ and Landry. He’ll have some big games and he’ll have some stinkers—see: 2020.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,100 Passing Yards, 220 Rushing Yards, 28 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
20. Carson Wentz – A lot of folks are writing Wentz off. Not Donk. Never doubt a guy with a chip on his shoulder. Reunited with his former offensive coordinator Frank Reich, behind one of the best offensive lines in the game, I won’t be surprised if Wentz returns QB1 value in 2021.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,500 Passing Yards, 330 Rushing Yards, 30 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
21. Matt Ryan – What should we expect from Matty Ice without Julio? Well he didn’t have Julio much of last year, so that seems like a decent baseline: 4,500 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, finishing as #12 fantasy QB. Pretty much everything I said about Cousins applies here. Will Ryan finish higher than this ranking? Most likely. Will you feel good about starting him every week? Highly doubt it.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,700 Passing Yards, 100 Rushing Yards, 28 Passing Touchdowns, 2 Rushing Touchdowns
22. Derek Carr – You like Carr more than Ryan, Wentz, Mayfield and Cousins? No argument there. You can order this tier anyway you prefer. Six of one, half dozen the other to me. One thing Carr has going for him is his two explosive second year wide receivers in Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards who both could pop in 2021. And that sexy beast, Darren Waller.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,500 Passing Yards, 170 Rushing Yards, 28 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
23. Justin Fields – The Bears first round pick is one of two QBs I have ranked after tier 6 who I wouldn’t be shocked to see finish in the top 5 fantasy QBs. I mean, I’d be a little shocked, it’s the Bears. But there’s an outside chance with the athleticism and mobility Fields brings to the table. Unfortunately, I also wouldn’t put it past the Bears organization to give Andy Dalton the starting job and stick with him waaaay too long.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 3,000 Passing Yards, 260 Rushing Yards, 18 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
24. Trey Lance – Lance is the other upside rookie QB I’m lumping in with Fields. He could shock the world as well if Shanahan gives him his shot in San Fran sooner rather than later. Kittle is a great safety blanket for a rookie QB and the Deebo/Aiyuk tandem is explosive as well. And this is a kid who ran for 1,100 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns as a sophomore at North Dakota State. He could be a fantasy windfall.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 2,200 Passing Yards, 220 Rushing Yards, 16 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
25. Ryan Fitzpatrick – Fitzmagic is exactly what a team without a name needs. I mentioned it in my top 10 wide receivers for 2021 fantasy football: I’m excited to see what Terry McLaurin is capable of with a real NFL QB at the helm. That said, we all know what to expect from Fitz at this point. There will be stretches of legitimate QB1 play followed by stretches of disaster. Stream at your own risk.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,700 Passing Yards, 350 Rushing Yards, 26 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
26. Sam Darnold – A change of scenery couple be just what the doctor ordered. The supporting cast of D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey is just a slight upgrade over Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios and 50 year old Frank Gore. Also, he isn’t on the Jets. If you wanted to argue for moving Darnold or Fitz or even the next guy up into tier 7 I wouldn’t put up a fight, but they still lack the upside to pique my interest in one QB leagues.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,600 Passing Yards, 300 Rushing Yards, 26 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
27. Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben has been a big fantasy turd several times over the past two seasons. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t retire. He does retain one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the league which keeps him on the streaming radar, but don’t get too attached to the overcooked berger.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,200 Passing Yards, 80 Rushing Yards, 30 Passing Touchdowns, 1 Rushing Touchdowns
28. Daniel Jones – The only thing I remember from Jones’s 2020 was that breakaway run where he fell flat on his face at the 10 yard line. His leash is starting to get a little short in New York and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him benched at some point in 2021. I suppose he could also shock me with a post hype breakout, anything’s possible.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,500 Passing Yards, 550 Rushing Yards, 25 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 4,400 Passing Yards, 140 Rushing Yards, 24 Passing Touchdowns, 3 Rushing Touchdowns
30. Jordan Love – I debated Jordan Love versus Zach Wilson here before deciding it doesn’t really matter, because I’m not drafting either even if Rodgers does sit out. But at least Love would have some upside with his mobility and Davante Adams still at his disposal.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: N/A