2021 QB Sleepers

Dave Carey, Justin Rosser, Jeremy Maw- June 11, 2021

2021 is full of some exciting sophomore Quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, and Joe Burrow. Add in the 2021 NFL Draft class of Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones and you’ve got an extreme amount of media attention focused on the next generation of Quarterbacks. We are going to be pivoting off of these trendy names and suggesting some veteran options which are being slept on, going into the 2021/22 Fantasy Football redraft season.

For reference, Fantasy Pros 2021 ECR and ADP is the benchmark being used. These guys do a really good job at compiling data from a variety of sources that they use to produce a really good working average, for today’s purpose.

1. Matthew Stafford

2020 QB16 / 2021 ECR: QB11 / 2021 ADP 10.03

Matthew Stafford was a great quarterback with a horrible surrounding cast for most of his 12-year career. This guy is as tough as it gets. I always hear people scream that he is always injured. Let me tell you, aside from 2019, he has played in all 16 games every year since 2011.

I picture Stafford’s career as a Formula 1 car, driving a dirt rally course on a rainy day. Despite the awful defense, poor line play, and carousel of horrible RB additions, he managed to put up some solid numbers. Last year, the Lions finished 5-11 and last place in the NFC North. Stafford still managed to put up 4,084 passing yards with 26 TD to 10 INT.

Superbowl contender, as per request in the off-season. The Rams stepped up to bat and paid a hefty price to snipe Stafford off the trade market before anyone could outbid them. The Rams gave up Jared Goff, a 2021 3rd round pick, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick (while also freeing up cap space in the process). Needless to say, both General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Sean McVay, felt like he was the missing piece.

What does this mean for fantasy? Well, sitting at the 10th round, is a perfect spot to snag a potential league winner, while also waiting on the position. First, Stafford has never had an offensive play-caller like Sean McVay, who some call an offensive guru. He has never had a surrounding cast this deep. Pass catchers like Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson for the big arm throws. In addition, the complimentary pieces of Van Jefferson, and rookie Tutu Atwell. He now has the 2020 #3 ranked offensive line, per ProFootballFocus, protecting him. With late-season breakout rookie Cam Akers taking the rock, there is no reason this slinger can’t be a top 5 QB. Akers has great hands, to go with a great burst through the line, so with pre-snap movement and confusion, mixed with some play-action, there is the potential for some absolute fireworks on this offense.

The sky is the limit as all the puzzle pieces are fitting together. Pass on Mahomes early and go get yourself a gem in the 9/10th round. You won’t regret it.

2. Kirk Cousins

2020 QB11 / 2021 ECR: QB16 / 2021 ADP 14.05

When you think about the offense for the Minnesota Vikings, two primary things come to mind. The 2020 RB2 – Dalvin Cook and the sensational rookie season that Justin Jefferson had, breaking the yardage record for a 1st year WR with 1,400 yards. Cousins is a common denominator in the mix but comes at a nice discount on draft day checking in with an ADP near the middle of the 14th round.

You may or may not remember Cousins pioneering the fully guaranteed contract for Quarterbacks, when he signed a 3-yr $84 million contract leading into the 2018 season. Applying this vote of confidence from the Vikings organization to Fantasy Football isn’t a direct translation to fantasy success but it does speak to the amount that the team believes in his abilities.

While he has been supported by high end targets like Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Justin Jefferson, Cousins can hold his own statistically. Owning a 104.03 rating and 91 passing TDs across 3 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. In 2020 Cousins threw for a career-high 35 TDs and 13 INT’s where much of his INT’s can be attributed to pass protection. The Vikings addressed this issue by selecting OT Christian Darrisaw in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft and then again in the 3rd round when they selected G Wyatt Davis.

Cousins is best suited as the second QB on a typical fantasy roster where he can be rotated in to take advantage of softer coverage matchups. You’ll want to key in on softer matchups like we saw last year in week 17 vs Detroit where Cousins threw for a season-high 405 yards and 3TDs.

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick

2020 QB28 / 2021 ECR: QB20 / 2021 ADP 22.02

Outside of the superstar class of the NFL, Ryan Fitzpatrick may bring the most exciting brand of football to the table. Lovingly dubbed “Fitzmagic”, for his incredible abilities to rescue a game from the jaws of despair, this journeyman Quarterback is now playing for his 9th team in the NFL. Fitzpatrick is generally viewed as a gunslinger with a propensity to push the ball downfield. Over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he lead Miami to 5 combined 4th quarter comebacks or game-winning drives.

In 2021 he’s going to have the opportunity to lead an exciting Washington Football Team who just added to their strong offensive group by signing Curtis Samuel to a 3-yr $34.5 million contract early in the 2021 Free Agency period. Third-year WR Terry Mclaurin and sophomore RB Antonio Gibson have drawn a lot of attention this off-season with hopes that they can rise with the offensive tides. Both are fantastic options for Fantasy Managers looking to lock in RB2/WR2 caliber players with RB1/WR1 upside.

In 2020 Fitzpatrick established the best completion percentage of his career at 68.5% while playing for the Miami Dolphins. His average FPTS per game were a mere 16.07, across 9 GP, which he only started 7. This deflated statistic is enough for most to look well past him in 2021.

The change of scenery from a conservative Miami offense to a Washington Football Team who attempted 601 passes last season 9th most in the NFL should bode well for Fitzpatrick. Early in OTA’s the Washington offense has shown it is capable of building a successful season passing the ball to Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas with the addition of the dynamic Curtis Samuel.

4. Daniel Jones

2020 QB24 / 2021 ECR: QB19 / 2021 ADP: 20.06

No quarterback received a more improved supporting cast this off-season. Danny Dimes is primed for a huge increase in fantasy production as he enters his third year in the NFL. At best or worst, Jones has been an average quarterback to this point. Coming off a season where he threw 2,943 yards, 10 TD’s, and 11 INT’s, Jones also managed 423 yards on the ground.

We can chalk up a lot of the struggle to the brutal offensive line. Jones was “under pressure” 40% of the time in both 2019 and 2020. A complete disservice to a young quarterback. That being said, former 2020 first-round tackle, Andrew Thomas, will take a natural leap after looking great in the second half of the year. In addition, Nate Solder will return after opting out in 2020. Lastly, Matt Peart, drafted in the third round in 2020, is someone who the organization has high hopes for with a lot of upside.

Looking ahead to 2021, the talent pops off the page. Last season, Jones owned a 132.5 passer rating on 20-plus yard throws. The league average was 100.9. Now, he has Kenny Golladay to pad those stats, as an elite downfield target opposite the speedy Darius Slayton (4.39 40-yard). First-round selection, Kadarius Toney, is an explosive athlete with incredible play-making ability along with incredible balance, who will excel in a “gadget role”, adding to a diverse offensive attack. Kyle Rudolph was signed in the off-season which will help with blocking and short/medium passing plays over the middle. By far the biggest struggle for Jones last season. Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram complete this dynamic aerial attack which will pose a huge challenge for any defense.

Oh, there is also this guy named Saquon Barkley who should help the offense a bit as well. The 2019 sixth overall selection will have all the tools necessary to have a top 10 QB season.

5. Ben Roethlisberger

2020 QB14 / 2021 ECR: QB17 / 2021 ADP: 13.0

The prime for Roethlisberger has already come and gone. You can make a case for him being a draft pick to avoid but before you do, let’s examine the situation and see if we can’t find a few reasons why a fairy tale end to a great career isn’t so far-fetched. For fantasy purposes at the very least.

In 2020 Roethlisberger finished as QB14, with 277.2 FPTS and a 33/10 TD/INT ratio. One of the most appealing points from a Fantasy Football perspective was that he had a completion percentage of 65.6%, while attempting over 600 passes! His 608 attempts came in 3rd in the NFL. The Steelers struggled to run the football in 2020 and as a result, the offense funneled through the QB position.

Part of the allure of this sleeper is the weapons he has to work with on offense. A 3-pack of WR’s which include Diontae Johnson – 144 targets in 2020, Chase Claypool – 9TD’s in 2020, and Juju Smith-Schuster – TikTok sensation. Add the top Rookie RB in the 2021 NFL Draft – Najee Harris to the offensive mix and you’ve got a group that can bolster the Fantasy Potential of Roethlisberger, the common denominator in the mix.

The list of players we’ve provided are all available in the double-digit rounds of redraft formats. Use your discretion to fit them in as a low-end QB1 or a potentially valuable QB2 in your respective formats. We hope that a few of the options here can help you feel more confident waiting to draft a QB in your upcoming draft season.

Give the Marksmen team a follow on twitter:

The Fantasy Marksmen (@FantasyMarksmen)

Justin Rosser (@Justinrosser10)

Dave Carey (@87_Carey)

Jeremy Maw (@J_Maw)

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