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Where Have All the Elite Fantasy Quarterbacks Gone?

The last four weeks have not been kind to QBs. What does that mean as the fantasy playoffs approach?

When the 2021 fantasy football season began, we had an embarrassment of riches when it came to quarterback play. Now it’s just an embarrassment.

In each of the first eight weeks of the season, no fewer than 10 quarterbacks scored at least 20 fantasy points. There haven’t been 10 QBs hitting the 20 mark in any week since then. In Week 10, only three QBs scored at least 20.

It’s never good news for the NFL when quarterback play is subpar, but it’s even worse for fantasy managers. If your QB1 is Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts or Dak Prescott, you’re mostly fine — no tough lineup decisions, and the results are good more often than not — but figuring out which quarterbacks to start is no longer a no-brainer.

Consider this: In the last six weeks, Mac Jones has more 20-point fantasy games (2) than Patrick Mahomes (1).

Sam Darnold has been among the top five QBs in as many weeks this season as Kirk Cousins (2).

Only five quarterbacks have been the QB1 in any given week this season: Allen (4 times), Justin Herbert (3), Mahomes (2), Kyler Murray (2) and Matthew Stafford (1).

Mahomes currently stands as the QB7 -- a down year for the former MVP but still a valuable fantasy asset. However, Mahomes is the poster boy for this year’s inconsistency at the position. Consider his average fantasy points per game this season:

  • First six games: 31.65
  • Last five games: 17.98

Even more startling: Mahomes has had two games this season with five TD passes (Weeks 4 and 10). If you take out those two performances, Mahomes’ other nine games have produced an average of 16.5 FPPG. That would put him at QB16 -- just a tick above Tyrod Taylor.

For all of Mahomes’ inconsistencies, only three quarterbacks have had more weeks of 20-plus fantasy points: Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen and Dak Prescott.

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Here are the QBs with the most 20-plus scoring weeks in 2021:

  • Jalen Hurts -- 8
  • Josh Allen -- 7
  • Dak Prescott -- 7
  • Patrick Mahomes -- 6
  • Tom Brady -- 6
  • Aaron Rodgers -- 6
  • Matthew Stafford -- 6
  • Kirk Cousins -- 6

Kyler Murray has five 20-plus games. Since he missed three starts, Murray is the only other QB not on the list above who scores 20-plus in at least half his games. Essentially, Murray, Hurts, Allen and Prescott are the only quarterbacks you can count on to score at least 20 points in more than 50% of their games.

In other words, every other QB is basically a roll of the dice.

Playoff puzzle

Which brings us to this quarterback quandary: If finding a reliable QB1 for your fantasy squad is not as obvious as one might think, then what’s your plan of action for the fantasy playoffs?

For example, Mahomes averages three fantasy points more per game this season than Joe Burrow. In Weeks 15-17, which are the fantasy playoffs for most leagues, Burrow has a much more favorable schedule (Broncos, Ravens, Chiefs) than Mahomes (Chargers, Steelers, Bengals). If you have the choice, do you start Burrow over Mahomes?

How about this one for fantasy managers relying on Lamar Jackson: The Ravens QB, who only has four games this year with 20-plus fantasy points, faces a tough Green Bay defender in Week 15. Tyrod Taylor is going up against the Falcons’ porous pass defense. Doesn’t it make sense in Week 15 to pick up Taylor on waivers and bench Jackson? Go ahead; we dare you.

The bottom line is that quarterback play in 2021 has not always been pretty. Don’t take anything for granted as the fantasy playoffs draw closer. Study the numbers, and don’t be afraid to make a move that seems odd. There are very few obvious choices this season.

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