As we approach the month of June, here are my updated fantasy football quarterback tiers for the 2021 season. All quarterback rankings are based on four-point per passing touchdown scoring systems.
Fantasy Football Redraft Quarterback Tiers: Late May Rankings
Tier One: Elite Options
- Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City): The best fantasy football or real-life quarterback in the NFL. Tied for first among all signal-callers with 25.3 fantasy points per game in 2020. Had seven overall QB6 or better weeks, including three separate weeks as the overall QB1.
- Josh Allen (Buffalo): Superior arm strength and rushing ability was finally supported with almost 70% accuracy. Tied Mahomes in fantasy points per game (FPPG) and has 25 rushing touchdowns in his three NFL seasons.
- Kyler Murray (Arizona): Legitimate NFL MVP candidate entering third season. Increased rushing totals by 275 yards. Had five consecutive weeks of overall QB5 or better production. Tallied 37 total touchdowns and ranked third among signal-callers with 24.4 FPPG.
- Dak Prescott (Dallas): Returns from gruesome compound ankle fracture in Week 5. Passed for 1856 yards in slightly over four games. Leads a superior trio of wide receivers in one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses.
- Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers): The reigning NFL Rookie of the Year has an improved offensive line with No. 13 pick OT Rashawn Slater of Northwestern and a healthy cadre of offensive weapons (Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook). Ranked eighth in quarterback FPPG including five games of overall QB4 or better.
Tier Two: Very Good Options
- Russell Wilson (Seattle): The excitement of three consecutive overall QB4 or better performances to start the 2020 season was extinguished by just one Top 10 fantasy game in the last eight weeks. Future Hall of Fame quarterback with a dynamic and prolific duo of receivers that continues to be limited by conservative play-calling.
- Lamar Jackson (Baltimore): Superior rushing production with over 2200 yards the past two seasons. Produced 10 fewer passing touchdowns than 2019, but was overall QB1 Weeks 13-15. Will he get enough volume and return his completion percentage above 65 percent?
- Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay): Over the past decade, Rodgers has thrown 4976 passes with eight or fewer interceptions in each season. The reigning MVP with a league-leading 48 passing touchdowns, the only variable is the continual drama with general manager Brian Gutekunst.
- Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams): A massive improvement in coaching and weapons for the 33-year old uber-consistent Stafford. The pairing with head coach Sean McVay could lead to an MVP- caliber season.
- Matt Ryan (Atlanta): Ten straight seasons of 4000-plus passing yards, including two years cresting 4900 yards. Has double-digit interceptions in three of the past four years and needs to lift touchdown passes back above 30. However, the addition of rookie tight end Kyle Pitts gives him elite passing game weaponry along with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage.
- Tom Brady (Tampa Bay): Age is only a number for the soon-to-be 44-year-old Brady. Returns one of the best receiving groups in football, including tight end O.J. Howard from an Achilles injury. Finished the year with 12 touchdowns and just one interception over the last four games of 2020.
Tier Three: Safe, Low Ceiling Options
- Joe Burrow (Cincinnati): Could easily be in Tier 2 by start of the season. Coming off major surgery to repair ACL and MCL. Addition of top WR prospect Ja’Marr Chase to Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd solidifies solid receiving core. Major lingering question? Pass protection.
- Baker Mayfield (Cleveland): Recovered from a disappointing 2019 season to post 27 total touchdowns and eight interceptions. Limited upside in run-first offense, but consistent low-end QB1 weekly upside with healthy Odell Beckham and Nick Chubb for a full season.
- Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee): Ranked ninth in positional FPPG and seventh overall with 34 touchdown passes. Still produced three overall QB5 or better performances over the last five games despite residing in a low pass volume attack.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (Washington): Always posts strong fantasy numbers regardless of receiving talent. Fitzpatrick now has Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and rookie Dyami Brown on a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
Tier Four: Low QB1 Upside
- Tua Tagovailoa (Miami): Tallied 14 total touchdowns and just five interceptions in his rookie season. Miami now adds Will Fuller and rookie Jaylen Waddle to wide receiver DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki. Dangerous young Dolphins team on the rise.
- Sam Darnold (Carolina): I’m in the pro-Darnold camp, believing a change of scenery away from head coach Adam Gase will rejuvenate his promising career. Solid receiving options and an elite pass-catching running back should secure a solid weekly fantasy floor.
- Daniel Jones (New York Giants): A superb supporting cast for Jones, who enters a make-or-break third season. The arm strength and rushing upside is present, but the 31 total turnovers in two seasons remain the biggest obstacle.
- Kirk Cousins (Minnesota): An elite running back, improved offensive line, and a productive trio of receivers (Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith Jr.) overcomes a run-heavy offensive game plan. Produced eight games of three passing touchdowns in 2020.
- Derek Carr (Las Vegas): Underappreciated consistency with three consecutive seasons of 4000-plus passing yards. Produced 30 total touchdowns with single-digit interceptions last season, but offensive line concerns loom large in 2021.
- Taysom Hill (New Orleans): Averaged 21.6 FPPG in his four starts last season, which would have placed him as overall QB9 for the full season. If Winston starts Week 1 as rumored, Hill will capitalize shortly thereafter.
- Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh): Elite wide receivers but eroding skills for 39-year old Roethlisberger. Double-digit interceptions in last five seasons of at least three games played. Needs a strong Pittsburgh running game to resurface for offensive balance.
- Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia): Has elite rushing ability with a solid Philadelphia offensive line. Consecutive first-round drafted wide receivers Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith should provide big-play targets with tight end Dallas Goedert serving as a reliable intermediate option. Difficult division and first full-year as a starter will limit upside.
Tier Five: Matchup-Dependent Streaming Options
- Trey Lance (San Francisco): It’s a matter of time before the rookie takes over for Jimmy Garoppolo. When he does? A strong arm, rushing speed, and head coach Mike Shanahan make him a great late-season streaming option.
- Carson Wentz (Indianapolis): Reunited with Frank Reich while playing behind a Top-10 offensive line, but turnover issues (31 interceptions/fumbles last two seasons) remain. No legitimate WR1 on team besides 31-year old T.Y. Hilton.
- Jared Goff (Detroit): Downgrade in weapons and coaching could reveal flaws hidden by Sean McVay’s system.
- Drew Lock (Denver): Biggest upside variation of any quarterback on this list. Superior weapons, offensive line upgrades, and an elite Denver defense could provide a plethora of scoring chances. Can Lock lead a Super Bowl-worthy roster?
- Jameis Winston (New Orleans): Winston has only achieved fantasy production guiding a strong supporting cast with a coaching staff that overlooked interceptions. In New Orleans, he has limited receiving weapons besides Michael Thomas, and Taysom Hill as a viable option all season.
Tier Six: Not This Year
- Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville): Coming off a 1-15 season with a first-time NFL head coach in Urban Meyer, I simply don’t trust Lawrence as a redraft starter in 2021.
- Cam Newton (New England): Would be interesting if he remained the starter throughout the entire season, but unlikely with 15th overall pick Mac Jones waiting in the wings.
- Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco): His time in San Francisco is coming to an end. Trey Lance likely to take over sooner than later.
- Zach Wilson (New York Jets): Strong arm but the level of college competition raises questions. New coaching staff looking more long-term.
- Justin Fields (Chicago): Dalton likely to start, Fields likely to overtake him early in the season. Talented, but better choices this year.
- Tyrod Taylor (Houston): Assuming Deshaun Watson is suspended for the majority of the season, Taylor’s rushing upside cannot overcome a dearth of weapons in Houston.
Embed from Getty Images