Justin Fields' Fantasy Outlook After Bears Select QB in 2021 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Northwestern, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ Mast/Associated Press

After months of rumors and debate, scouting reports and hot takes, Justin Fields has been drafted No. 11 overall by the Chicago Bears.

And now that we're done debating where he'll be drafted, we can begin discussing what type of fantasy impact he'll have as a rookie. 

More than likely, not much of one. 

Here's the thing: Just three rookie quarterbacks in the past five years have finished top-10 in fantasy points at their position (Justin Herbert in 2020Kyler Murray in 2019 and Dak Prescott in 2016). You don't often find rookies that make an enormous impact in fantasy football, period, outside of the running back position. 

And Fields has an additional factor working against him: It's possible he won't even start as a rookie, or see much playing time at all, stuck behind Andy Dalton on the depth chart. 

No, teams don't generally trade up for quarterbacks only to sit them for an extended period. He was clearly selected to be the future of the position. What we don't know is when he'll actually see the field. 

Now, you could make the argument that because Fields is a threat on the ground (1,133 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in his three college years), he does have the potential to be fantasy relevant the moment he hits the field. 

Murray's 544 rushing yards and four rushing scores bolstered his fantasy value significantly in 2019. Prescott rushed for just 282 yards but six scores as a rookie. Even Herbert had five rushing touchdowns last season.

And then there's Lamar Jackson, who was given just seven starts as a rookie in 2018 but finished the year with 695 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Had he started the whole year, he would have been a top-10 quarterback for fantasy players. 

The point is, quarterbacks who can have an impact on the ground generally offer more immediate benefit as rookies than pure pocket passers. Fields, it should be noted, isn't a game-changer on the ground to the level of a Murray or Jackson. But it's a different dimension to his game.

On balance, though, you should be drafting him as a highly speculative QB2, and he really should only be your backup if you have an incredibly safe QB1 you trust. The odds aren't in Fields' favor when it comes to having major fantasy relevance in his first year. 

Chicago gave Dalton a one-year, $10 million deal this offseason. One would imagine he'll open the year as the starter.