The 13th quarterback drafted this year in this high-stakes format (4-point passing touchdowns) has an ADP (149) in the middle of the 13th round. There are multiple quarterbacks drafted after Round 14 with a chance to finish with starting fantasy value in the season-long fantasy games.
By cheating the quarterback position, a fantasy owner can gain added depth at running back, wide receiver, and tight end, especially if selecting a quarterback after the 12th round when the player pool at the skill positions starts to dry out. Success comes down to identifying the key player at all positions. Therefore, it makes sense to wait on your first quarterback if you see strength at running back or wide receiver after Round 8.
Pay Attention to Running Quarterbacks
Many leagues award quarterbacks four points for passing touchdowns to lower the scoring edge for the position compared to formats with six-point passing touchdowns. In addition, passing yards typically range from 0.04 to 0.05 at the most popular sites.
A running quarterback back gains his advantage in two ways.
First, each rushing touchdown is worth 1.5 times a passing touchdown. In 2020, Kyler Murray finished with 11 scores on the ground or 66 fantasy points. For another quarterback to match his output in fantasy points via the air (4-points per touchdown), they would need 16.5 passing touchdowns.
His second edge comes in rushing yards. Each rushing yard is worth double a passing yard in 0.05 scoring formats and 2.5 times in leagues that award 0.04 fantasy points.
In the case of Murray, his 819 yards rushing were worth 81.9 fantasy points or 51 yards per week. A pure passing quarterback would need to pass for 2,048 yards to match his scoring in 0.04 leagues and 1,638 in 0.05 scoring systems.
Last year, Cam Newton threw only eight passing touchdowns, but he did run the ball in 12 times. His fantasy points total (144 – equal to 26 passing touchdowns) for scoring matched or beat half of the quarterbacks in the league despite ranking 34th in passing touchdowns.
Top Running Quarterbacks with QB2 Status
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Hurts gets some knock for his accuracy, but he projects to be a high-volume runner with scoring value on the ground in the red zone. His opportunity in the run game falls in line with Kyler Murray while relying on more power than elite scoring. Lamar Jackson led the NFL in fantasy scoring in 2019 (10th in 2020), but he has never thrown for over 300 yards over 37 starts in the regular season (once on the postseason). Hurts made four starts last year, leading to two games with over 300 yards (338/3 and 342/1). In addition, he averaged 11.5 rushes for 68 yards with three more scores. I was a big fan of him going into the 2020 NFL Draft, and his star will rise this year. His receiver corps projects well, and the Eagles’ offensive line will be much better than last season.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
When doing my pre-2021 NFL Draft research, I had Lance ranked second at quarterback while predicting he would be an excellent fit for San Fran’s offense. In my initial ranking, I had Jimmy Garoppolo starting with the thought that the 49ers would rotate in Lance on short-yardage downs and at the goal line.
After one preseason game, his arm flashed an 80-yard touchdown, but he did struggle to complete passes (5-for-14 with only 48 more yards).
In 2019 at North Dakota State, Lance proved to be an impact runner (169/1,100/14) while failing to throw an interception in his 16 starts.
For now, I have him seeing three-quarters of the quarterback snaps this season, making him an upside QB2 in fantasy land. However, if he earns the Week 1 start, his stock should rise to a starting fantasy quarterback while filling the role of a breakout player.
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Over his final 22 games at Ohio State, Fields averaged close to 10 rushes per game while being active at the goal line (15 touchdowns). His running has more of a chain move feel while showing a high completion rate (68.4). I expect him to win the starting job for the Bears in Week 1, but I don’t expect his ceiling to be as high as Hurts and Lance in his rookie season.
To Be or Not To Be
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Despite being at training camp and doing his prep for the 2021 season, Watson remains on the sidelines, awaiting the news on the future of his playing ability this year. The Texans don’t want to risk getting him hurt as a negative outcome would void the remainder of his contract under the league's personal conduct policy. At some point, he looks like a viable flier, but Watson most likely ends up being a donation pick in fantasy leagues. The next step in the process is the results of a grand jury investigation.
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars retooled the leadership of their offense in the offseason, leading to a new head coach, quarterback, and franchise running back. Despite some offensive momentum, only one of their skill players (Travis Etienne) gets selected inside the first 60 picks in PPR leagues. However, Lawrence has receiving talent in the backfield, and his top three wide receivers give him a respectable floor in passing yards in his rookie season. He’ll even chip in with some rushing yards and touchdowns. As a result, his fantasy view will rise once in real game action while remaining a viable QB2 in 2021 with the potential to breakout.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
After a quiet start to his NFL career over 10 games, Tagovailoa falls into the post-hype model based on his 2021 draft value (204). Miami improved the depth of his receiver corps, and he has a developing pass-catching tight end. His college career was on par with Trevor Lawrence in the passing game. The NFL needs a good lefty quarterback, and Tagovailoa looks to have the tools to push up the rankings in his sophomore season.
Stuck in Neutral
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
The presence of an elite running back and a question at WR2 for the Vikings in 2020 led to Cousins being undrafted in most fantasy leagues. However, he finished with a career-high in touchdowns (36), thanks to the emergence of Justin Jefferson. Minnesota finished 22nd in the league in passing attempts (516), forcing Cousins to earn his fantasy keep via touchdowns. He has two excellent wide receivers, and Dalvin Cook will be active in the passing game. He works best as a QB2 with matchup value.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have consistently ranked hear the top of the league in passing attempts, helping Ryan up the fantasy quarterback rankings. He lost Julio Jones to the Titans in the offseason while gaining an upside tight end. The lack of star power at running back hurts Atlanta’s ability to sustain drives and be productive on the ground in the red zone. Ryan also offers minimal stats in the run game. His passing opportunity puts him in the neutral column, but I won’t fight for him on draft day.
Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Carr will complete many passes, and he has one of the better tight ends in the league. His ceiling looks much higher than Matt Ryan due to the Raiders' potential at running back and the development of Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. His ADP (190) is more than fair for a fantasy owner to use him as a backup. If Ruggs does flash Tyreek Hill skills, he'll be worth his price point.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
The Browns want to play good defense and run the ball. Even with this philosophy, a stable of running backs, and injuries at wideout, Cleveland still had some very high-scoring games in 2020. Mayfield has never passed for over 4,000 yards, and he doesn’t change the game with his legs. More steady than explosive, with most fantasy dreams coming from the idea that Odell Beckham will regain elite status after four down seasons.
QB2 ADP Final Thoughts
They say, “Cheaters never win.” I guess they don’t play fantasy football as the best fantasy owners that fade the quarterback position have an excellent feel for the drop-offs at all positions while waiting to vulture a quarterback that slips too far in drafts.
When deciding on your fantasy quarterback(s) this season, review the receiving options on each NFL roster while also taking in each quarterback's career resume. These two data points should point you in the right direction at quarterback in 2021.
Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical break downs for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. A inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!