We’re seeing a changing of the guard at the quarterback position as Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, and Alex Smith have all retired while Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers are nearing the end of their respective careers. We’re in good hands, though, as the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, and Lamar Jackson headline an exciting new generation of quarterback talent. Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins continue to be solid fantasy options in the middle of their careers. We’re also getting a high-upside new rookie class that includes Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields. There are tons of great options at the quarterback position for fantasy football in the 2021 season.
QB Fantasy Draft Strategy
You will find various strategies out there as far as drafting a quarterback goes. One thing that is important right off the bat is to understand how your league size and scoring format works. Sometimes quarterback scoring can be weighted differently. The standard is usually four fantasy points per passing touchdown and one fantasy point per 25 passing yards. If it is six fantasy points per passing touchdown, and yards are weighted differently, then you can have an advantage drafting a quarterback earlier. It's also important to remember that rushing quarterbacks aren't as valuable in a six-point passing touchdown league. League size can determine if you need to wait longer or not. A shallow 8-10 team league will not emphasize the quarterback position compared to anything that is 14 or more. We will look at what is usually standard, though.
Patrick Mahomes was the first quarterback off the board per ADP last season, and Lamar Jackson followed close behind. Dak Prescott was the third quarterback taken in drafts. These three proved yet again that quarterback is a very fluid position, and it’s not easy to predict who will be the top option each year with so much talent. Josh Allen, the top quarterback last season, and Aaron Rodgers, the third-best quarterback, were taken in the 8th round. Kyler Murray, the second-highest-scoring QB, was drafted in the fifth round. Allen may seem like an outlier, but we’ve seen guys like Lamar Jackson, Jameis Winston, Patrick Mahomes, and Matt Ryan go from late-round picks to top-three finishes at QB in recent years.
There are pros and cons to every strategy at the quarterback position. Drafting the guy, you believe in early on will give you some week-to-week comfort as you can have a set-it-and-forget-it option at QB. However, if you spend an early pick on a quarterback, you must understand the opportunity cost as you are sacrificing the ability to take another running back or wide receiver to fill out your roster. You only start one quarterback every week, so that this opportunity cost can be huge. Of course, it’s a different calculation in super-flex or 2-QB leagues.
There is a solid middle tier this year that gives you the best of both worlds in terms of being confident in your quarterback every week while not taking on a huge opportunity cost. That tier is filled with Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Ryan Tannehill. Additionally, guys like Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, and Trevor Lawrence are high-upside options drafted in the middle rounds.
Of course, many late-round quarterbacks can provide strong value as well. My favorite late-round quarterback options include Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taysom Hill, and Derek Carr. Still, you can easily drop and add these guys throughout the season to maximize value as you stream the position.
One thing to remember when drafting quarterbacks is the discrepancy between fantasy points earned from passing vs. rushing. In standard QB scoring, each passing yard earns a quarterback 0.04 points. Meanwhile, each rushing yard earns a QB 0.1 points. That means that a quarterback will earn 10 points for 250 passing yards or 100 rushing yards. Therefore, quarterbacks who will reliably run the ball are much more valuable in fantasy football. Lamar Jackson has proven this to be the case.
Quarterback (QB) Fantasy Football Rankings Frequently Asked Questions
Who Are The Best Fantasy Quarterbacks?
There are a number of quarterbacks available at the top of drafts who will be real difference-makers this season, and it’s hard to sift through them to figure out who the top scorer at the position will be. Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson are the top four quarterbacks off the board in terms of ADP, and it’s likely one of these four ends up the top scorer at QB. Allen was the top scorer last season and Murray was second. Aaron Rodgers, the third-leading scorer last season, should be in for another great year as well.
Who Is The Number One Fantasy Quarterback?
YMost rankings have Patrick Mahomes as the #1 quarterback this season, and he lands there in ADP. I certainly don’t have a problem with taking Mahomes as the first quarterback off the board as he’s been a top-five QB in per-game scoring in each of the past three seasons. However, I have Kyler Murray ranked as my number one quarterback this season. The Cardinals added A.J. Green and Rondale Moore to the pass-catching corps which will help Murray’s passing upside and he has the rare elite ability both through the air and on the ground.
Do I Need Two Quarterbacks On My Roster?
This question is very dependent on roster size and league size. With a bigger roster, you can justify rostering two quarterbacks as you won’t be sacrificing holding high-level running backs or wide receivers. Additionally, in a larger league, it can be difficult to find better quarterbacks on the waiver wire, so it makes sense to hold onto two startable options. Of course, if you’re in a 2-QB or Superflex league you will want to keep two quarterbacks on your roster.
What is Streaming Quarterbacks?
For any of the onesie positions - QB, TE, K, and DEF - streaming is a very viable strategy. With a handful of options available at any given time on the waiver wire, it can be smart to swap out your quarterback based on the matchup they face in any given week. The best way to kickstart a streaming quarterback build is to identify a quarterback with good matchups to start the season, draft them late, and not worry about the rest. Streaming quarterbacks is a great way to mitigate the fact that you only need one QB in a standard league and there are many quarterbacks who can be viable starters throughout the year.
What Should I Look For In Drafting A Fantasy Quarterback?
There are a few notes to make before heading into your fantasy drafts. The strategies above will help you prepare for what direction you want to go, but also have a backup plan if the names you want get drafted. You might have come across some debates about volume vs. efficiency. At other positions, volume ranks a bit higher. While we still want some volume at quarterback, efficiency generally is something we weigh higher.
Being able to put up numbers on the ground is also noteworthy because it takes away from pass attempts. It was a bit of a mixed bag when correlating passing volume with fantasy production. Matt Ryan ranked first in passing attempts last year but finished as just the QB12. Ben Roethlisberger ranked third in passing attempts but finished as the QB14. Ryan Tannehill, meanwhile, had just the 18th-most passing attempts but finished as the QB7. Efficiency metrics such as completion percentage and touchdown rate are better indicators for fantasy success.
Do Other Positions Have A Drastic Effect On Quarterback Production?
It may be easy to assume that bad teams must have bad quarterback production for fantasy football, but that’s not always true. For example, Deshaun Watson was on the Texans, one of the worst teams in the league, but finished as the QB5 in fantasy last season. Justin Herbert finished as the QB9 despite the Chargers having a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs. Being on a bad team can put a quarterback in obvious passing situations late in games and give them the opportunity to collect plenty of fantasy points in garbage time when defenses are playing more a preventative style.
Wide receivers have a huge impact on quarterback production, as well. The arrival of Stefon Diggs in Buffalo last season was a huge factor in Josh Allen’s massive third-year leap. Kyler Murray finished as the QB2 after Arizona added DeAndre Hopkins. Run through the list of the top quarterbacks in fantasy scoring and you’ll find some of the top names at the wide receiver position as well. Aaron Rodgers has Davante Adams, Patrick Mahomes has Tyreek Hill, Ryan Tannehill has A.J. Brown, etc. Offensive line can also be very beneficial for quarterbacks, particularly for rushing quarterbacks.