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2021 NFL Draft: Fantasy Rookie Report - Quarterbacks

Senior fantasy analyst Michael Fabiano breaks down the incoming rookie quarterbacks on-field & fantasy potential

Fabiano's Fantasy Rookie Reports

Rookie quarterbacks haven’t exactly been a fountain of fantasy production over the years, but could we be seeing a change in that trend? Eight of the top-12 fantasy seasons from first-year field generals have been produced since 2015. That includes five players in the last three seasons, led by Justin Herbert’s 332.8 points last year.

Of course, we also must keep in mind that only 16 rookie quarterbacks have scored 200-plus fantasy points, and a mere three scored over 300 points since 2000. So, a mere three rookies would have finished in the top 10 in fantasy points at the position this past season. Heck, Dak Prescott's impressive 286.9 points in his rookie season of 2016 would have ranked just 12th in points among quarterbacks in 2020.

Regardless, rookie field generals are making a bigger impact in the world of fantasy football. That could continue in 2021, as the NFL welcomes what many consider a generational talent in Trevor Lawrence and at least two others who could be starters right out of the gate. So, for those fans looking to do their due diligence at the position, here’s my look at the top eight quarterbacks of the 2021 class.

Note: Age listed is at the start of the 2021 NFL season. 

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence

1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson 

  • 21 years old, 6-foot-6, 220 pounds

2020 Stats: 3,153 passing yards, 69.2 completion percentage, 24 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 68 carries, 203 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns (10 games)

Lawrence is considered the best quarterback prospect to come out of college since Andrew Luck. In three seasons at Clemson, he went 34-2, won three ACC titles and a National Championship. He completed 66.6 percent of his passes and threw for 10,098 yards, and scored a combined 108 touchdowns (18 rushing) in his career.

READ MORE: The Unrivaled Arrival of Trevor Lawrence

In 2020, Lawrence finished second in on-target pass percentage (82.6) among field generals. His arm strength allows him to accurately complete passes at all three levels. Lawrence can also escape the pocket when protection breaks down and make plays with his legs. He underwent successful surgery on his left labrum and is expected to be back at 100 percent for the start of the 2021 NFL season. 

Ohio State football Justin Fields playoff

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State 

  • 22 years old, 6-foot-3, 228 pounds

2020 Stats: 2,100 passing yards, 70.2 completion percentage, 22 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 81 carries, 383 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns (8 games)

Fields had plenty of success during his time at Ohio State, winning 20 games in 22 starts and two Big-10 titles while also making an appearance in the 2021 National Championship Game. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes in two seasons with the Buckeyes, finishing with 78 total touchdowns (15 rushing) in his career.

Fields completed 70.2 percent of his passes during an abbreviated 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He does well on deep throws and ranked 16th in air yards among quarterbacks despite not playing a full season. Fields can also put up numbers on the ground, which is huge in the world of fantasy football. He rushed for a combined 867 yards with 15 touchdowns during his 22 games at Ohio State. 

Trey Lance

3. Trey Lance, North Dakota State

  • 21 years old, 6-foot-4, 226 pounds

2019 Stats: (16 games) 2,786 passing yards, 66.9 completion percentage, 28 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 169 carries, 1,100 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns

Lance went “undefeated” in 2020, though North Dakota State opted to cancel its season after one game due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had 149 passing yards, 143 rushing yards, three total touchdowns (two rushing), and a pick in that game. His skills as a runner at the quarterback position remind me of fantasy star Josh Allen.

While he'll be a locked-in first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lance could need some time to develop at the next level. The arm strength is there, and he showed great poise during his collegiate career. Lance is also a good decision-maker, which is obvious from one single stat in his 2019 season: he threw zero interceptions on 287 pass attempts. Of course, one of the questions about Lance is the level of competition he ultimately faced at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

BYU vs. Boise State has huge New Year's Six and potentially, College Football Playoff, implications.

4. Zach Wilson, BYU 

  • 22 years old, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds

2020 Stats: (12 games) 3,692 passing yards, 73.5 completion percentage, 33 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 70 carries, 254 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns

Wilson's junior season at BYU was one for the ages, as he completed nearly 74 percent of his passes and led the Cougars to an 11-1 record. His 33 touchdown passes are 20 more than he had his first 18 games combined. Wilson also ranked second among quarterbacks in air yards this past season with a solid 2,187.

Wilson has the tools to make every throw, which is evident in his 95.0 passing grade on tight-window throws, per Pro Football Focus. That’s a higher grade than Joe Burrow, who had a grade of 90.5 percent in 2019. While he doesn’t have elite skills as a runner, Wilson does have some mobility if the pocket collapses around him. If there’s one downside, Wilson’s college competition wasn’t all that impressive. He’s also a virtual guarantee to be drafted by the New York Jets with the second overall pick. Quarterbacks drafted by Gang Green have not fared well in the NFL.


Alabama QB Mac Jones

5. Mac Jones, Alabama

  • 23 years old, 6-foot-3, 214 pounds

Jones is coming off a spectacular statistical campaign, leading all quarterbacks in passing yards while finishing second in touchdown passes. He also led Alabama to another National Championship. Over his last 24 collegiate games, Jones threw for an impressive 55 touchdown passes while throwing just seven interceptions.

Jones, who completed more than 77 percent of his passes, led his position in terms of one-target percentage (84.5) and finished with a bananas 145.2 rating. More of a classic drop-back passer, Jones won't give fantasy fans much as a runner. You also have to wonder how much of his statistical success came due to the ridiculous talent the Crimson Tide possessed in all phases of the offense, including Najee Harris, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. Still, Jones could go as high as third overall to the San Francisco 49ers. He’ll be a top-15 pick in a worst-case scenario.

6. Kyle Trask, Florida (23 years old, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds)

7. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (22 years old, 6-foot-3, 217 pounds)

8. Davis Mills, Stanford (22 years old, 6-foot-4, 225 pounds)

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for all of the latest breaking fantasy football news and the best analysis in the business!

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