Fantasy Football 2021: Ranking Top QBs Heading into the Season

Keegan PopeContributor IIIAugust 12, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Ranking Top QBs Heading into the Season

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Longtime fantasy powerhouse Drew Brees has moved on to the greener pastures of retirement, but there's no shortage of elite signal-callers left on the board as fantasy football draft season approaches.

    And while everyone's draft strategy has its own unique twists, landing an elite-level quarterback—versus say, a mid-tier starter—could be the difference between the playoff fringe and competing for a championship. Last year's game-changer was Josh Allen, who jumped from a middling 18.6 points per game in 2019 to lead all quarterbacks who played the full 16 regular-season games with 25.3 points per contest.

    Pre-injury, Cowboys star Dak Prescott was on a tear (27.3 PPG) and could yet again be a fantasy monster if he's recovered from the ankle injury that sidelined him for most of last season.

    But without further ado, here are the five can't-miss QBs you'll regret passing on if you have the opportunity to draft them.  

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City

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    A healthy Patrick Mahomes is the ultimate fantasy trump card. Had he played in all 16 games last season, he would have almost certainly stolen the leading-scorer crown from atop Allen's head.

    With a healthy Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Mahomes has monstrous potential to put up 35-plus points in a given week on any defense in the league. The turf toe injury from last year affected his mobility and rushing threat, but with a revamped offensive line after the Super Bowl debacle, Mahomes should be able to carve up defenses comfortably.  

Josh Allen, Buffalo

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Allen was by no means mediocre in 2019, but his 2020 performance was unfathomable heading into last season. Allen's progression as a pocket passer has finally caught up to his arm talent, and having Stefon Diggs as a primary target didn't hurt, either.

    Second-year wideout Gabriel Davis, who caught 35 passes for 599 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago should solidify himself as a true No. 2 receiver, and Emmanuel Sanders, fresh off a career-rejuvenating season in New Orleans, will team up with Cole Beasley to provide two excellent slot options for Allen.  

Kyler Murray, Arizona

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Another of last year's big leaps came from Kyler Murray, who jumped from the middle of the pack (18.5 PPG) to just under 24.5 points per contest last season. Unlike Allen and Mahomes, Murray has the legitimate threat of scoring as a runner any time he touches the ball; last season, he accounted for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground alone.

    Whether head coach Kilff Kingsbury dials back the designed runs to protect Murray from injury is yet to be determined, but his dual-threat ability, combined with DeAndre Hopkins and the additions of A.J. Green and rookie Rondale Moore, makes him a potential No. 1 fantasy QB.  

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Up until very recently, it was a legitimate question whether Aaron Rodgers was going to suit up in Green Bay Packers uniform again. His displeasure with the front office's draft and free-agency decisions was made public through numerous media reports, and there's still a good chance this is his final season in Green Bay.

    But for now, he's entrenched as the starter, and his masterful 2020 season makes him a must-have for 2021. In one of the all-time best seasons put together by a quarterback, Rodgers threw for nearly 4,300 yards and a career-high 48 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

    It seems unlikely he will be able to repeat that at age 37, but with Davante Adams and Aaron Jones returning, and favorite target Randall Cobb back in the fold after a trade with the Houston Texans, don't be shocked if Rodgers yet again defies Father Time.  

Russell Wilson, Seattle

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Although Rodgers' discontent had been obvious for quite some time, Russell Wilson's frustrations with head coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks front office seemed to come out of nowhere early this offseason, but Wilson later denied ever requesting a trade. It's unlikely that affects his on-field performance, but fantasy team owners will hope they get the Russell Wilson from the first seven games of last season and not the Wilson from Weeks 8-17.

    In Seattle's first seven games—six of them wins—Wilson threw 26 touchdowns, including two five-touchdown games and two four-touchdown performances. But then the wheels began to fall off. Seattle's offense hit a wall, and Wilson threw just 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions in the final nine regular-season games.

    The good news is that the Seahawks return DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Will Dissly, Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson, giving Wilson one of the best supporting casts in the league. He did, however, take 47 sacks last season—the third-most of his career—and as he approaches age 33, keeping him upright must be a priority.