Fantasy Football: 2021 Quarterback Pre-Season Projected Rankings

by Jake Ellenbogen
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The new NFL season is fast approaching and so I’ve compiled my quarterback rankings in fantasy football for this season. Before we get into it the scoring format I used was a full 6 points per touchdown and half-point PPR. Of course if you don’t know where to go to start your fantasy football journey I highly recommend our sponsor if you head on over and use promo code DTR you will receive $25 bonus cash on your first deposit. Now, let’s get into it.

1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (508.78 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 3,802 yards, 40 TDs, 8 NTs (1,184 rushing yards & 6 TDs)

This may have been the year Lamar Jackson‘s rushing stats took a slight dip but that was before the injury to Rashod Bateman and way before the season-ending injury to JK Dobbins. While I do expect Ty’Son Williams and Justice Hill to get opportunities it’s going to be the Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards show in that backfield. Jackson was likely going to transition to more of passer this year but with Dobbins sidelined I expect Jackson to replace Dobbins and Edwards to assume a much bigger role.

This, of course, is what puts Jackson as the QB1 of fantasy football for me in all formats. He’s just going to be absolutely lethal with all of those touches. While I don’t think he out-carries Edwards or out-rushes him, it’s worth noting that 191 carries for 1,184 yards is very good and that is the type of season I have projected for Jackson. He had 159 carries and 1,005 yards last year with JK Dobbins in a significant role beside Edwards, now I expect his 159 carries to go up to 191 at the very least. Perhaps we could even see a 200 carry Jackson? Who knows? Either way he’s worth drafting early on because he can win in every way as a QB where only really Kyler Murray can sort of match at this point.

2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (508.78 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 5,185 yards, 51 TDs, 9 NTs (357 rushing yards & 3 TDs)

Once again Patrick Mahomes is coming off a Super Bowl appearance although this time he didn’t take home the Lombardi Trophy. One could expect a Mahomes vengeance tour in 2021 and with a Kansas City Chiefs offensive line that revamped and reloaded for the season, Mahomes should have more time to throw than ever before. One should expect the usual weapons Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to have big-time seasons but the most enticing part of the offense is a potential full season with second-year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

With Mahomes’ running ability and the likelihood of getting close to 700 passes on the season in a 17-game season, he becomes one of the absolute biggest weapons at the quarterback position.

3. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (501.3 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 5,185 yards, 51 TDs, 9 INTs (99 rushing yards)

It may feel weird for people to see Matthew Stafford‘s name this high on a list like this but you had best get used to it. Stafford has been highly-productive in the NFL since he came into the league over a decade ago. He’s had six top-10 fantasy football seasons in that time and that was with the Detroit Lions playing majority from behind whether it be a garbage-time situation or a comeback situation. Now, we flip the switch and Stafford is with Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams who traded the farm to secure his services for at least the next two seasons.

When you go back and look at Jared Goff’s success with the Rams in 2017 and 2018 it’s not hard to see how Stafford could amass an incredible year statistically with the team. This is by far the best-looking passing offense McVay has housed since joining the Rams with the addition of Stafford to the bevy of weapons Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, DeSean Jackson, Van Jefferson, Tyler Higbee, Darell Henderson, Sony Michel and others. Stafford is in for an MVP caliber season and long as he is kept upright and the Rams as a whole stay healthy. After last season McVay is likely tired of limiting his offense because of his quarterback’s own limitations. Expect him to let Stafford sling it in 2021.

4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (486.82 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,748 yards, 49 TDs, 6 NTs (129 rushing yards & 2 TDs)

Rodgers stayed and wants to run it back in Green Bay for one more season following his impressive 2020 MVP season. Last year he had 48 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions and while it may seem crazy I have him doing about the same in a 17-game season. You may not get the rushing stats you would get out of Kyler Murray but Rodgers is more likely to throw more touchdowns. With the Packers retaining Aaron Jones, Rodgers has a backfield still intact with his main weapon Davante Adams.

It’s uncertain about the offensive line with elite left tackle David Bakhtiari expected to miss half the season on the physically unable to perform list but I expect Rodgers to be Rodgers regardless and put in another great year of production.

5. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (483 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,625 yards, 32 TDs, 12 NTs (900 rushing yards & 9 TDs)

While I expect Kyler Murray to take that next step this year, it’s all about the running for me. The thing that’s most important for fantasy football owners when it comes to the running quarterbacks are the full six point touchdowns in standard formats. Murray is transcendent no matter what type of scoring you are using for your league. This year he has loads of help all over the offense and improved defense that could help the team as a whole.

I might be underrating Murray’s passing statistical output but even if I am that’s still an incredibly valuable player in fantasy and one that you could argue an earlier pick for.

6. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (481.48 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 5,187 yards, 40 TDs, 14 INTs (420 rushing yards & 7 TDs)

We saw the Wyoming franchise face finally emerge last year as one of the league’s best. While many seem to be in favor of him having another great season there are still some Josh Allen doubters out there. Allen’s biggest thing is protecting himself, he takes too many unnecessary hits and he will have to cut that down to survive in this league. Since I do think he survives the year though I have him throwing for 40 touchdowns and carrying seven more into the end zone. I really think he and Stefon Diggs have created one of the most dynamic duos in the NFL and I don’t see that going away.

Now, combine Gabriel Davis in his second year, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders? You have a lot to like surrounding Allen at receiver. It begs the question if the two-headed monster backfield of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss can add even more to the fire than we saw last season. If so? Allen could be in for a QB1 season.

7. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (462.40 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 5,210 yards, 38 TDs, 7 INTs (220 rushing yards & 5 TDs)

The face of the Dallas Cowboys carried the team last year with no defense to speak of. He was on pace for the first-ever 6,000 yards passing season in NFL history until he an ankle dislocation injury ended his season. Now, he’s back and he has the same bevy of weapons he had last year but with an improved defense led by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn that could keep them in most games.

Due to the improvement all around Prescott is likely going to be playing meaningful football all season long. His rushing ability is key as well as it is nice to have a quarterback that can get you points with his legs. That bodes well for a good fantasy football season. With the emergence of last year’s first-round pick CeeDee Lamb one has to imagine that this Cowboys offense gets dialed up a notch while of course a lot of that falls on Ezekiel Elliott who has to get back to his original form if they want to reach their full potential.

8. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (433.84 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,771 yards, 36 TDs, 13 INTs (230 rushing yards & 5 TDs)

Justin Herbert seized the opportunity last year from the notorious Tyrod Taylor injury but he really made the most of it with that opportunity so much so I comfortably can say he’s in the top ten. If you are looking for a protected quarterback with mobility, arm strength, weapons, coaching and a defense that can help him out then look no further than Justin Herbert. Last year he threw for 31 touchdowns while only throwing 10 interceptions and added five via the ground. This year I expect more of the same but him to improve as a passer collectively.

This is a massive year for Herbert and the Chargers who just brought on Brandon Staley as the brand new head coach. I think this team is trending upward as high as a Super Bowl berth this year and I think Herbert is very clearly a QB1 that you need to target.

9. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (426.06 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,804 yards, 36 TDs, 13 INTs (439 rushing yards & 2 TDs)

My biggest concern with Wilson is protection and rightfully so. Wilson has been sacked 394 times which comes out to be an average of 43.8 sacks a season which is more than any other QB since the 1970 league merger. In just three years he’s on pace to become the all-time most sacked quarterback. So, as long as Seattle keeps him healthy and he continues to never miss a game Wilson’s projected stats are warranted.

Wilson has a new weapon in second round D’Wayne Eskridge who is expected to be a more explosive upgrade to David More who left in free agency. Furthermore Wilson has DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson and now Gerald Everett as his go-to weapons.

With Wilson being a threat to take off and run at any moment it’s not hard to see why he would be a top 10 projected fantasy football quarterback. The most interesting part of this is his new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron who will be bringing over everything he has learned from coaching with Sean McVay in Los Angeles.

10. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (413.36 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,954 yards, 34 TDs, 9 INTs (252 rushing yards & 3 TDs)

The talk this off-season has been about Burrow and his lack of confidence in his knee. While I don’t love the offensive line, I do think the weapons (including the addition of LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase) are there and the confidence will be back for Burrow in year two coming off the torn ACL. With 17 games on the docket this year and perhaps a bunch of garbage time Burrow is easily a QB1 and almost makes it into the top 10.

11. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (404.68 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,692 yards, 37 TDs, 8 INTs (50 rushing yards & 2 TDs)

Big Ben has been the name everyone besides Steelers fans wants to watch fall off for some reason. I don’t think he’s as done as many think and furthermore I still think he will have no problem leading a highly productive offense. The team is already four-deep at wideout, they have Eric Ebron but ended up adding both Najee Harris and Pat Friermuth in the draft. Harris in my mind joined the team as an instant difference-maker.

I project him to have one of the best rookie seasons for a running back we’ve seen in a long time. Roethlisberger is no longer with Randy Fitchner and new offensive coordinator Matt Canada has me excited for what’s to come. He’s a fantasy football QB1 but I’ve been able to steal him late in the last two rounds of an Underdog draft. Watch out for Big Ben.

12. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (388.54 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,951 yards, 37 TDs, 15 INTs (5 rushing yards & TD)

It’s that Bruce Arians/Byron Leftwich air-it-out offense that has me thinking Brady is firmly in as a fantasy football QB1 but someone that can throw for close to 40 touchdowns in a 17 game season. Brady’s running back room got a boost when the team brought in Giovanni Bernard who in my opinion will be like having James White all over again (a type of player style he didn’t have last year) those two are going to be lethal in tandem. That’s not to mention a full year of Antonio Brown back as well as OJ Howard.

13. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (377.60 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,065 yards, 27 TDs, 8 INTs (610 rushing yards & 4 TDs)

Hurts has been a very controversial quarterback and he’s only into his second season. Many wonder if the Eagles made the right decision sticking with him. Hurts might be on one of the worst teams. Because of this I see him as a fantasy football QB1 based on his rushing numbers. He should also receive plenty of garbage time opportunities. This isn’t to say that Hurts can’t do more without garbage time but it’s just to add to the fact that he can do a little bit of everything.

14. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (377.34 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,196 yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs (255 rushing yards & 5 TDs)

Tannehill no longer has Arthur Smith but that doesn’t mean his play is about to plummet off a cliff. Tannehill is still gifted with a bevy of weapons headlined by trade acquisition Julio Jones. The scrambling ability of Tannehill will keep you getting extra points each week. His improvement over the last two years has solidified him as a fantasy football QB1. He might not be the ideal QB1 because of how many touchdowns Derrick Henry will take in himself but Tannehill’s 30+ touchdowns is definitely good enough to keep pace in any league as your starting quarterback.

15. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (373.22 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,858 yards, 31 TDs, 10 INTs (89 rushing yards & 2 TDs)

We won’t get into why Matt Ryan is one of the most underrated players let alone quarterbacks in the sport but we will discuss how he has Kyle Pitts, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Mike Davis at his disposal and new offensive-minded head coach Arthur Smith. Smith whether entirely the reason or not has been credited for revitalizing Ryan Tannehill‘s career in Tennessee. Ryan doesn’t need to be revitalized he’s already a damn good quarterback.

Ryan might be a low-end QB1. He can test defenses deep but has some weapons that can literally make plays all over the field. The hope is that the defense isn’t atrocious and the offensive line takes a step forward. Either way, expect Ryan to be in for one of his best seasons.

16. Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts (362.70 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,255 yards, 34 TDs, 13 INTs (215 rushing yards & 4 TDs)

It sure would be awkward if all of those people who made fun of Carson Wentz getting hurt had to backtrack and delete all of their tweets when Wentz went off in Indianapolis. Look, it’s unfortunate what has happened to Wentz but the breadcrumbs are there and they scream to me a lot of his success had to do with being put in the right position and the scheme which was Frank Reich‘s baby. He’s now back with that same Frank Reich in Indy and with a good offensive line and weapons that can make plays after the catch or over the top in Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell and T.Y. Hilton, Wentz has enough at his disposal to get back to his old ways with Reich. He’s a QB2 with serious QB1 upside as long as he stays healthy.

17. Daniel Jones, New York Giants (361.30 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,255 yards, 31 TDs, 14 INTs (331 rushing yards & 3 TDs)

This is one of my big risky picks this year Daniel Jones.  The Giants opted not to draft Justin Fields and continue developing their young quarterback. Jones has the dual-threat ability to help in fantasy football but the Giants are getting Saquon Barkley back to go with prized free agent signing Kenny Golladay (if he can stay healthy) and their first-round selection Kadarius Toney. The offense is chaotic. However, the hope is that Jones’ chaos is inflicted on opposing defenses and not his own team. I’ll go with Jones being a QB2 this year with potential QB1 upside.

18. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (360.50 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,445 yards, 33 TDs, 12 INTs (167 rushing yards & TD)

Best-ball was made for players like Kirk Cousins. High volatility players that can have five touchdowns one game and three interceptions the next. Cousins is a QB2 with upside as a QB1. With the weapons he has it’s just way too hard to blacklist a quarterback like that. I have him with nearly 200 more yards in a 17 game season and just two fewer touchdown passes. It’s unclear how good the Vikings will be. However, Cousins is going to fight tooth and nail to make sure they are at least a fun offense.

19. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington Football Team (350.56 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,704 yards, 28 TDs, 17 INTs (224 rushing yards & 3 TDs)

The first QB2 of the list goes to Ryan Fitzpatrick who is in Washington with a killer defense. He also has some exciting weapons that can stretch the field and make plays after the catch. The addition of Curtis Samuel notably has me giddy and not to mention what they already had in Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin and converted tight end Logan Thomas who has blown up since making the switch from quarterback.  Fitzpatrick is deceptively mobile and is fearless when taking shots downfield. Fitzpatrick may turn the ball over, but he will make it up with his touchdowns. He’s a clear QB2 with QB1 upside.

20. Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers (333.72 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,113 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs (312 rushing yards & 3 TDs)

Are we about to see Sam Darnold change the trajectory of his career in Carolina? I think so. Matt Rhule’s Panthers have outfitted Darnold with an offense that has a lot to like and a former go-to guy in Robby Anderson who is reunited with Darnold. This offense with the signing of Dan Arnold and second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr. could be deep enough to give Darnold all he needs. As long as Christian McCaffrey stays healthy Darnold’s dual-threat ability could translate well and I expect it to moving forward. Darnold should be considered a low-end QB2 and high-end QB3.

21. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (320.10 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 3,880 yards, 24 TDs, 14 INTs (329 rushing yards & 5 TDs)

The big scare for Trevor Lawrence is that offensive line but make no mistake he’s a fantastic quarterback prospect and the Jaguars have given him plenty of weapons for him to work with including drafting former Clemson teammate Travis Etienne who is expected to be used all over the offense. Lawrence will be able to finish in the top 25 off his escapability improvisational skills. Lawrence may have a few games where he drops the ball. However, he’s a high-end QB3 that has massive upside if the Jaguars front can keep him upright.

22. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (318.56 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,139 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs (110 rushing yards & 2 TDs)

Shocked? I actually think Jared Goff has a good season in Detroit spearheading the new offense ran by Anthony Lynn. Lynn will have the Lions going with a run heavy approaching featuring second-year man D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams and rookie running back Jermar Jefferson. That will open up the play-action game for Goff who excels in that department. With the speed on the perimeter and TJ Hockenson around to catch passes Goff will be able to deliver a promising season. Now, is he QB2? Goff is more of a QB3, but if you waited on QB, Goff could suffice. The big thing for Goff is that he shouldn’t have any huge games like a Baker Mayfield or even Jameis Winston could have.

23. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (317.80 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 3,970 yards, 29 TDs, 12 INTs (170 rushing yards & TD)

This may seem low for some but I’m not sold on Baker Mayfield being a top 15 fantasy football quarterback. This, however, would be an improvement from his 2020 season which was pretty efficient. Odell Beckham Jr. is back and the team went out and added Anthony Schwartz in the draft coupled with the emergence of sixth-round 2020 pick Donovan Peoples-Jones. There are certainly plenty of weapons for Mayfield but when you have Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt you don’t have to throw as much as the other teams. Mayfield still won’t be throwing anywhere near as much as others. With that said, he falls at 25 here as a low-end QB2.

24. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (309.30 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,306 yards, 23 TDs, 13 INTs (300 rushing yards & 3 TDs)

The hope for Tua is to establish confidence in his offensive line and more importantly in himself. He’s suffered some injuries that have me worried but in camp early on he created some chemistry between he and Albert Wilson and most importantly former teammate at Alabama and first-round selection Jaylen Waddle. It’s been unfortunate for the Dolphins who have Devante Parker battling injury and Preston Williams coming off a major one not to mention the fact Will Fuller will be suspended for the first game. I think Tua’s running ability makes him a solid QB3 and at best a mid-tier QB2. The upside is there and he has the weapons to make him look better.

25. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints (309.30 PTS)

2021 Projected Stats: 4,440 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs (157 rushing yards & TD)

Winston waited patiently for his time and watched Taysom Hill and Drew Brees play over him last year. This is why Winston will be starting and in terms of having a season with Sean Payton it won’t be as great as it could have been before Michael Thomas‘ injury. While I’m optimistic about Marquez Callaway and of course having arguably the best receiving back in the game in Alvin Kamara. I am not convinced Winston will do enough to be a fantasy football gem without Thomas.

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