Fantasy Football QB draft prep: How important is it to find the next Josh Allen? It could win you your league

Written by on August 17, 2021

Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL — perhaps in all sports! — but that has never really been reflected in how Fantasy Football players value them. That’s starting to change with the rise of two-QB and SuperFlex leagues, but with one-QB still remaining the dominant way people play, quarterbacks remain relatively undervalued in Fantasy. 

You can still wait until your lost non-kicker/DST pick to take a QB and come away feeling okay about it, and it will be even easier to pull off when QB battles in places like Chicago, New Orleans, New England, and San Francisco play out — hopefully to Fantasy players’ benefit. You can probably get by with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tua Tagovailoa, or Cam Newton in the late rounds. 

But we’re trying to do more than just get by. We’re trying to bring home a championship, and it was hard to do that in 2020 if you didn’t have one of the elite quarterbacks. So, is it worth paying up for one of the elite guys this season? Should you still wait? We’re previewing the quarterback position on CBS Fantasy this week, and that’s what today’s newsletter is going to focus on. I’ve got a breakdown of the state of the QB position heading into the season, plus Heath Cummings’ excellent QB preview with a ton of interesting details you need to know about. Plus, you’ll find my answers to five of the biggest QB questions as we get into the heart of draft season, and at the bottom of the newsletter, you can find my updated QB rankings. 

But first, tune in to the QB preview podcast from Fantasy Football Today, and don’t forget to check out the Ebay store for our Fantasy Football Today Draft-A-Thon, coming on Sept. 1, where we are raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. There are a ton of cool opportunities to interact and even play in a Fantasy league against Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, Adam Aizer, and I, plus the rest of the FFT crew and some of our best friends from around the industry. We’ll have new stuff throughout the month, so make sure you bookmark that and come back to see what we’ve got. It’s all for a great cause, and you can get some help winning your league while you’re at it.

Now, here’s where the QB position stands heading into 2021:

State of the QB position

2020 was one of the best seasons for quarterbacks ever. We saw the third-most and the most passing touchdowns in NFL history, along with the second-lowest sack rate ever. Additionally, four different quarterbacks rushed for at least 500 yards, matching 2013 for the most ever; lower that threshold to 400 yards and eight quarterbacks got there, an NFL record. 

Back in June, I wrote about how different the QB landscape for Fantasy was in 2020, and given those numbers, it’s no surprise. 24 quarterbacks managed to average at least 20 Fantasy points per game, but there was still a big gap between the haves and have-nots. Among the “haves”, 11 averaged at least 25.2 points per game in six-point-per-pass-TD leagues, a number that would have been good for no worse than fifth at the position every year since 2012. 

And those elite quarterbacks were consistently dominating. 56.2% of all top-12 finishes at the position by week came from players who finished in the top 12 at the end of the season; in 2019, that was 49.5%. It was even more extreme at the high end, as top-six finishers accounted for 45% of top-six weekly finishes, compared to just 33.3% in 2019. 

If you didn’t have one of those high-end quarterbacks, you were behind the competition consistently, but if you had success streaming, it was probably because of the likes of Taysom Hill and Jalen Hurts, who each finished top 12 in three of their four starts. Which is a hint: If you’re not going to invest in one of the high-end quarterbacks, you’d better make sure you’re looking for rushing quarterbacks. There are more than ever — there might be a dozen Week 1 starters who could conceivably rush for 400 yards without even including Trey Lance or Justin Fields. As the position gets younger and more athletic, the barrier for entry could keep getting even higher, and we might not be far from the non-rushing quarterbacks being completely left behind. 

I’m not expecting passing to be quite as easy in 2021 as it was in 2020 — things course-corrected after 2011’s historic production — but that might just make those rushing quarterbacks even more valuable. That’s the way the wind is blowing. 

Check out my rankings for the position below, check out Jamey, Dave, and Heath’s here, and for a little more nuance, Dave’s tiers will paint a clearer picture.

Heath’s position previews have been among my favorite pieces of draft content over the last few years because he packs so much actionable advice and useful information into them in a format that takes little time to understand. He covered running backs two weeks ago and wide receivers last week, and now he’s got his QB preview ready to go. Here’s some of what you’ll find inside:

QB Draft Strategy

“In a one-quarterback league that rewards six points per passing touchdown, Patrick Mahomes is worth a pick at the two-three turn and the rest of the top-six should be drafted in Round 4 or Round 5. … In two-QB or Superflex leagues, the top six should all be first-round picks or early second-round picks at worst, and the top-10 should probably be gone by the end of Round 2. But don’t go chasing after that. … One change you need to make when you can start more than one quarterback is to value floor more. Someone like Trey Lance may have enormous upside, but he might not play for a month or more.”

Numbers to know

  • 3.9Patrick Mahomes has outscored the second-best quarterback over the past three years (Russell Wilson) by 3.9 Fantasy points per game.
  • 15Aaron Rodgers would have thrown 15 fewer touchdown passes last year had his touchdown rate been his career norm.
  • 30.7Kyler Murray‘s rushing yards per game in his final seven games. He only scored once on the ground in that stretch. If that doesn’t bounce back, he’s not a top-five Fantasy quarterback.

Draft to stream in Week 1

Format Matters

For more from Heath’s QB preview, including his sleepers, breakouts, and busts, positional tiers, and projections, head here

So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen’s huge season, and find out.

Every week for our position previews, CBS Fantasy Editor Dan Schneier has been asking us a handful of big questions to get you familiar with what you need to know. Here’s what he asked about quarterback, and here are my answers: 

1. Which QB has an ADP that makes the least sense to you?

Justin Herbert as QB4. There’s a lot to like about Herbert coming off his historic rookie season, and it’s natural to suspect he’ll only get better in Year 2. Herbert scored the second-most Fantasy points of any rookie QB ever in 2020, behind only Cam Newton’s 2011 season that saw him drop 404.6 points in CBS Fantasy standard scoring, finishing as QB5. Newton only dropped to sixth the following season, but his total fantasy points fell by nearly 45 points. That was a similar scenario to Herbert’s rookie season, as 2011 was a historic year for passing, at least in part due to defenses being less prepared coming off limited work together coming off the lockout. We already saw some regression for Herbert, who had multiple passing touchdowns in eight of his first nine starts, but only three of his final six. Herbert should still be a starting Fantasy quarterback, but I can’t justify taking him over any of Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, or Dak Prescott, at least. 

2. Which QB (outside the first two rounds*) has an ADP that makes the most sense to you?

Tom Brady as QB9. I might have him ranked a little below that, but I can see bumping him up because of the safety he brings to the table. The Buccaneers are ludicrously stacked at the skill positions, and, after a sort of rough start to the season — hitting rock bottom in Week 9 against the Saints — he played at arguably a higher level than we’ve ever seen, with 30 touchdowns in his final 11 games and a 4,800-yard pace. He doesn’t have QB1 upside because he lacks rushing production, but Brady is about as safe as a non-Mahomes QB can get.

3. Which QB have you been drafting the most of so far?

If I’m taking a QB early, it’s probably going to be Kyler Murray. If I’m waiting, I’ve been doubling up on Cam Newton and Justin Fields, with the hope that if and when Newton loses the job, Fields will have the Bears job locked up. It’s possible neither is starting by Week 1, but I’m confident enough in my ability to stream to chase the upside of two rushing QB.

4. Which QB have you been drafting the least of so far?

Baker Mayfield. He doesn’t cost very much, but I have a really hard time getting excited about a quarterback in a run-first offense who doesn’t run himself. Mayfield had just three games last season (out of 18, including playoffs) with more than two passing touchdowns, and only four with three or more total touchdowns. It’s not impossible for a low-volume QB to be a starting-caliber option — and I’m not entirely opposed to streaming Mayfield against the Chiefs and Texans to open the season — but there are probably 25 quarterbacks I would rather draft, including stash-and-hold guys like Fields and Trey Lance.

5. Which QB will benefit most from an offseason coaching change?

I think Tua Tagovailoa is a dark horse for this one. The Dolphins promoted TE coach George Godsey and RB coach Eric Studesville to be co-offensive coordinators, and I’m hoping they’ll be more aggressive with their young QB this season. Tagovailoa had one of the lowest average times from snap to throw in the league and he had the sixth-most pass attempts in run/pass option plays, and while those low-risk plays are a vital part of any NFL offense at this point, you’d like to see the Dolphins trust Tagovailoa to take the top off the defense a bit more. If his full complement of weapons is ever healthy, I expect they will.

Chris Towers’ QB rankings

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Kyler Murray
  3. Lamar Jackson
  4. Josh Allen
  5. Russell Wilson
  6. Dak Prescott
  7. Aaron Rodgers
  8. Jalen Hurts
  9. Ryan Tannehill
  10. Tom Brady
  11. Justin Herbert
  12. Joe Burrow
  13. Matthew Stafford
  14. Tua Tagovailoa
  15. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  16. Trevor Lawrence
  17. Kirk Cousins
  18. Justin Fields
  19. Cam Newton
  20. Tyrod Taylor
  21. Trey Lance
  22. Carson Wentz
  23. Daniel Jones
  24. Ben Roethlisberger
  25. Matt Ryan
  26. Derek Carr
  27. Andy Dalton
  28. Jameis Winston
  29. Taysom Hill
  30. Jimmy Garoppolo
  31. Jared Goff
  32. Zach Wilson
  33. Baker Mayfield
  34. Drew Lock
  35. Sam Darnold
  36. Teddy Bridgewater
  37. Mac Jones


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