June 10, 2021

2021 Fantasy Football QB Tiers

The 2021 NFL fantasy football season is closing in and our coverage never stops. We want you to feel so confident and comfortable entering your draft that you know you'll win your league and have bragging rights over your friends, family and coworkers. 

It all starts with ranking the fantasy football talent. Having a great plan starts with understanding the value of each position. Reaching on the wrong position or player can be devastating to your team.

We're starting with quarterbacks. Often the position that is reached upon the most because there's always an antsy person wanting their favorite guy before anyone else grabs him. It's a position we must land a top-10 talent and have a decent backup in case of injury.

We broke every QB who matters into five tiers and analyzed each below. Let's get into it.

Fantasy Football Tiers: RB | WR | TE

Tier 1: Superstar dual-threats

Patrick Mahomes | Josh Allen | Kyler Murray | Lamar Jackson 

The belles of the ball are unquestionable when it comes to fantasy football. The top-four talents are able to win with their arm, limit turnovers, and run for even more production. Landing a premier passer in this tier will ensure you have a top producer all year long.

Patrick Mahomes (380 points in 2020), Josh Allen (405), Kyler Murray (391), and Lamar Jackson (342) are my top-tier quarterbacks. Allen and Murray finished first and second in total fantasy points, respectively, in 2020. Mahomes and Jackson finished fourth and 10th, respectively.

The weekly upside with these individuals trumps everyone else. While we saw some great veteran play from Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson last year, those are more predictable performers who aren't as likely to continue ascending like these young stars.

You're likely spending anywhere from an early second-rounder to a late fourth-rounder for any of these dynamic presences. 

Tier 2: Dangerous creators

Dak Prescott | Russell Wilson | Aaron Rodgers | Justin Herbert 

Dak Prescott (139 points), Wilson (373), Rodgers (388), and Justin Herbert (343) are my next tier right below the first four names. You'll notice we have two younger gunslingers who emerged in 2020 joining the savvy vets who exploded for huge campaigns. These are your fourth- and fifth-round targets and go in short order after the top stars.

I could see a decent regression from Rodgers and Wilson. Both saw a big jump from the prior season and were disgruntled this offseason. Their advancing ages will make a repeat of their elite year less likely if not guaranteed. 

Prescott and Herbert are surrounded by elite talent and had great numbers despite not playing in every game. We can assume Prescott will be healthy for this year, and few passers have as many weapons around them as he does. Herbert should make a jump as a sophomore, but even repeating his 2020 would be just fine for us.

You're getting championship production in this category and should aim to get anyone from these top-eight names. Failing to will force you to pull production from other spots because the decline really begins here. 

Tier 3: Solid but not trustworthy

Tom Brady | Ryan Tannehill | Matthew Stafford | Kirk Cousins | Matt Ryan | Joe Burrow | Jalen Hurts | Trevor Lawrence

In this tier, we have some aging veterans who have some uncertainty, and some uneven youngsters who haven't proved everything we need to see just yet. Tom Brady (350), Ryan Tannehill (350), Matthew Stafford (271), Kirk Cousins (319), and Matt Ryan (293) are here as the veterans. The youngsters include Joe Burrow (178), Jalen Hurts (112), and Trevor Lawrence (rookie). 

The weekly consistency will determine your team's fate if your starter is in this tier. I had Brady last year and while his overall points were great, it seemed he had his worst games when I needed him the most. It's frustrating to not have the explosive output when you need them from this group. 

Tannehill is in the best situation in the tier thanks to the Titans adding Julio Jones to the mix. He limits interceptions well and is a perfect fit in Tennessee. But his age is a bit of a concern since he's had a major knee injury in the past.

I do like the potential fantasy upsides of Burrow and Hurts in particular. Burrow has great surrounding pieces and will throw the ball a ton to get raw stats. Hurts can run the ball and has no competition to start, so he can rack up points if he's able to limit turnovers. 

These mid-rounders can determine your season if they're your primary guy. I'd aim for more but wouldn't hate having one as a starter as long as I grab someone from Tier 4 right after.

Tier 4: Backups with upside

Baker Mayfield | Ryan Fitzpatrick | Tua Tagovailoa | Ben Roethlisberger | Justin Fields | Derek Carr | Jameis Winston | Trey Lance | Zach Wilson

These are either stat-producing passers who maybe aren't the most dynamic talents every week, or they're young players surrounded by a ton of talent who can produce. Nevertheless, I'd love a backup from this pool.

Baker Mayfield (256), Ryan Fitzpatrick (161), Tua Tagovailoa (140), Ben Roethlisberger (277), Justin Fields (rookie), Derek Carr (281), Jameis Winston (2.4), Trey Lance (rookie) and Zach Wilson (rookie) are here for me. We're not truly in trouble if someone here has to be a spot starter but anything more might be dicey until they've proven themselves as a QB1. 

There's nothing wrong with thinking Mayfield, Tua, or one of the rookie signal-callers explodes in 2021. But be realistic with their limitations and youth. There's always tough stretches with young players.

The veterans like Carr, Fitzpatrick and Winston simply don't have the weekly upside or consistency to be more right now. Winston is the most intriguing but he was also intriguing last year. We saw he was a major fantasy bust as Taysom Hill played in front of him.

Tier 5: Waiver wire pickups

Deshaun Watson | Sam Darnold | Andy Dalton | Carson Wentz | Daniel Jones | Mac Jones | Cam Newton | Tyrod Taylor | Teddy Bridgewater | Drew Lock | Jared Goff

This is where everyone else falls. Whether it's Sam Darnold (145), Andy Dalton (144), Carson Wentz (213), or Daniel Jones (190), these are the wait-and-see guys. They can be backups but be ready to swap them out quickly. Don't invest much into any of them. 

Consistency and upside are issues with each of these guys. We have to see the former three in new situations after playing no better than mediocre in 2020. Even if there's improvement we're looking at them as a backup first.

Wentz has the most upside of the group because he's been productive before with a great offensive line and set of receivers. The Colts can replicate a lot of that situation and he's the closest of the bunch to bump into the next tier.

The wild card is Deshaun Watson. Watson would be a top-eight name if his situation was resolved, but we have to consider him unlikely to play in 2021 while his legal situation plays out and if he's traded. Hopefully we'll have clarity by the time late August comes around. 

Photo: Getty Images