We are about to begin the 2021 NFL preseason, and fantasy football draft season is officially in full swing. Over the next few weeks, we are going to rank the top players at each of the four major fantasy positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) so that you can be ahead of the game and win your fantasy football league this season. Today, we will begin with the quarterbacks.
In each list of rankings, we will take a close look at the most prominent Steelers and determine when you should take them in your league’s draft.
Like most years, the quarterback position is extremely deep, so unless one of the top quarterbacks drop down the board, it is usually best to wait and use your early round draft capital on running backs and receivers. As BTSC podcast personality Jeremy Betz has pointed out, grabbing a quarterback relatively early can give you leverage in trading. It is an interesting concept I had not given much thought to, but if you are not a big trader in your league, the best value comes after round eight. If you can get a guy with a high-floor such as Matthew Stafford and then come back with a lottery ticket in Zach Wilson or Sam Darnold, I think you will be in really good position.
Feel free to share which strategy you think is best in the comment section below. But without further adieu, let’s get to the rankings!
1. Patrick Mahomes — Kansas City Chiefs
This one is pretty simple for me. In 2018, I took Mahomes in the 15th round of almost every draft I was in, and I was able to dominate most of those leagues. Every year since then, his ADP has been too high for me to consider him. However, if he falls to the late third or early fourth round, he is worth the high price you will have had to pay for him. With a revamped offensive line, I expect Mahomes to remain healthy and be the QB1 in fantasy football once again.
2. Josh Allen — Buffalo Bills
I liked Allen last year but passed on him due to his tough schedule down the stretch. The schedule turned out to be a fluke, and Allen dominated just about every defense no matter the difficulty. I got cute and payed for it last year, but I am giving this guy all the credit he deserves this season. If he falls to the mid to late fourth round, he is worth the capital.
3. Aaron Rodgers — Green Bay Packers
It could get ugly in Green Bay quickly, but now that Rodgers is back, I expect him to play with a huge chip on his shoulder. With Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, and two good running backs, this will be one of the better offenses Rodgers has been a part of during his time in Green Bay.
4. Lamar Jackson — Baltimore Ravens
In my fantasy draft overreactions video that you can view here, I made a joke about how Lamar could be ranked as either a quarterback or running back. Unfortunately, no fantasy sites will allow me to start him as a running back. Yet. Until they do, we will keep him listed as a quarterback. He still cannot throw accurately for the life of him, but his upside as a runner gives him the ability to go off for 30 or more points on any given week.
5. Kyler Murray — Arizona Cardinals
All indications point to Murray relying less on his legs in 2021, which means fewer fantasy points as a runner. However, the additions of Rodney Hudson, A.J. Green, and Rondale Moore put Murray in a better position to succeed as a passer. Being used less as a runner may bring his ceiling down a little, but he still has a higher floor than any of the quarterbacks ranked below him.
6. Russell Wilson — Seattle Seahawks
Wilson wanted offensive line help but did not get his wish granted this offseason. Still, he is Mr. Consistent whenever he is healthy, and with a receiving corps that boasts D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Dwayne Eskridge, expect Seattle to light up scoreboards once again. Wilson is a safe play and an excellent value pick if you can grab him in the seventh round or later.
7. Justin Herbert — Los Angeles Chargers
I was not a fan of Herbert in last year’s draft, but I did say that the best fit for him would probably be with the Chargers. He exceeded my expectations in year one, and he will look to do it again in year two with an improved offensive line. I do have concerns about a second-year slump, but I still expect Herbert to put up big stat lines, even if they do not always lead to wins for his team.
8. Matthew Stafford — Los Angeles Rams
Stafford is the most underappreciated quarterback in the league not named Ben Roethlisberger. It is true that there are no playoff accolades that can be added to his Hall of Fame resume, but I expect that to change this year. With a head coach that understands quarterbacks and an offense that has Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, Stafford has a legitimate shot to be an MVP-level quarterback in 2021.
9. Joe Burrow — Cincinnati Bengals
I did have Dak Prescott here, but considering that Dak is still not throwing a football and Burrow has recovered very well, I decided to shake up my rankings. I am still worried about Jonah Williams remaining at the left tackle spot, but if he can make a leap and this offensive line can keep Burrow upright, he could be a top five fantasy quarterback by season’s end.
10. Dak Prescott — Dallas Cowboys
There is no denying the incredible talent that Dak has at his disposal, but an aging offensive line trying to protect a quarterback coming off a major injury should give fans reason for concern. The reward makes Prescott tempting, but there are just too many other safer options at the position for me to invest anything greater than a seventh or eighth round pick on him.
11. Trevor Lawrence — Jacksonville Jaguars
I like Lawrence in fantasy but do not love him. We do not even know if Urban Meyer’s offense will work in the NFL, and Lawrence is coming off an injury. On the flip side, Lawrence is an extremely talented quarterback who has D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones, and Travis Etienne at his disposal. You will need another quarterback on the roster if you take Lawrence, but grabbing him toward the end of your draft could pay big dividends down the line.
12. Jalen Hurts — Philadelphia Eagles
I am still not sold on Hurts as the long-term answer for the Eagles, but the addition of former college teammate DeVonta Smith will only help Hurts as a passer. If Jalen Reagor can step up in year two, and if the offensive line can show improvement, Hurts could sniff the top ten among fantasy quarterbacks. However, until he improves as a passer, you are relying almost solely on his rushing ability.
13. Tom Brady — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What does Brady not have? He has three capable running backs in Gio Bernard, Leonard Fournette, and Ronald Jones, and he has the best threesome of receivers in the league in Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin. His offensive line is loaded with talent, and he has a defense that can bail him out when he has a bad game. His upside is limited due to having zero athletic ability, but he is still Tom Brady, which means that the floor will always be high.
14. Sam Darnold — Carolina Panthers
It is no secret that I love Carolina’s offensive coordinator Joe Brady. He is a special offensive mind, and I expect him to fix the damaged good that is Sam Darnold. Darnold was always given a raw deal by the fans in New York, as he was never given a fair opportunity to succeed. A fresh start is exactly what he needed, and I expect him to take off in an offense that contains D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall.
15. Ben Roethlisberger — Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben has always carried a low floor in fantasy football due to the potential of multiple turnovers in a single game, but in Matt Canada’s offense that will depend less on the quarterback and more on the running game, I think Ben will become a more stable option in fantasy football. Roethlisberger finished as QB14 last season, according to fantasydata.com. This is why I do not understand experts that rank him outside their top 20 or even top 25.
If things go as planned with the new-look offense, Roethlisberger is going to have fewer than 600 pass attempts, but fantasy experts seem to think that this is a negative. Throwing fewer pass attempts and relying more on the run game is exactly what Ben needs to get through a full season healthy. This will also improve Ben’s efficiency, as defenses will not be able to expect the same play on every down. If a run game is established early on, Matt Canada will be able to run more play action. The Steelers will see fewer defensive packages with two high safeties, and Roethlisberger will have more opportunities to make things happen downfield. And with a potent group of receivers that includes Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Diontae Johnson, I am excited to see what Ben can do.
Roethlisberger is generally drafted behind Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, and occasionally Trey Lance, who is not even the projected starter. Mayfield and Tannehill are the leaders of teams that will run the ball more than any other teams, and neither of those guys have as many weapons as Ben has at his disposal. Tannehill and Cousins have several reliable targets, but both Tennessee and Minnesota lack the depth that the Steelers have at receiver. All of the names listed above have better offensive lines, but none have proven to be clutch in the big moments like Ben has.
You always have to be careful with Ben, but I still think he deserves the slight edge over the guys being taken in the same range. Tannehill and Cousins provide similar upside, but if their running backs start off hot, their coaches are not afraid to ride them for 35 or 40 carries that game and totally throw out the passing game. There is a risk with any player you take in the later portions of your draft, but I have begun to buy into the new offense that Matt Canada is bringing to Pittsburgh.
The offensive line is still a question mark, but when Ben is healthy, he still has the ability to be a top 8-12 fantasy quarterback. If you have a young quarterback already on your roster, grabbing a veteran like Roethlisberger in the later rounds is not a bad idea. He is a fairly safe play whenever the Steelers are playing at Heinz Field, and he still has the upside to go off for 30 points on any given week considering the weapons he has to work with.
16. Ryan Tannehill — Tennessee Titans
Tannehill is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in fantasy football, but I still think the Titans took a step back on offense. Julio Jones is the big name that fans are raving about, but losing both Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis will be difficult to replace. A.J. Brown and Julio will be tough to stop if they are both healthy, but Tannehill will have to remain efficient to remain relevant in fantasy.
17. Baker Mayfield — Cleveland Browns
The Browns are a run-heavy offense, but #6 is still deserving of attention in fantasy. His floor is lowered due to the success of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt near the goal line, because it takes away many of his opportunities for passing touchdowns. However, he has lots of weapons at both tight end and receiver, including rising star Donovan Peoples-Jones. The upside is still there, but Cleveland’s offensive philosophy makes Baker nothing better than a reliable backup.
18. Zach Wilson — New York Jets
If you take a top-tier quarterback early but still want another quarterback on the roster, Wilson may be your guy. He is available near the end of most standard drafts, and the upside is tremendous. With an up and coming offensive line as well as an intriguing receiving corps that includes youngsters Denzel Mims and Elijah Moore, I am excited about Wilson’s potential.
19. Kirk Cousins — Minnesota Vikings
Cousins has not been clutch in the big moments, but he continues to put up solid fantasy numbers year in and year out. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have developed great chemistry with Cousins, and tight end Irv Smith, Jr. is poised for a breakout season. The offensive line has improved, but getting Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis in the draft gives this unit an opportunity to become a top 10 offensive line. With that type of supporting cast, Cousins is an incredibly safe option as a backup.
20. Tua Tagovailoa — Miami Dolphins
Health is such a major concern here, but let’s not forget that Tua is a really talented quarterback. If the offensive line can gel and keep Tua upright for a full season, he has the potential to be a top 12 quarterback. Being reunited with college teammate Jaylen Waddle gives him another speedster to go along with Will Fuller. Expect some big plays downfield.
Best of the Rest
21. Matt Ryan — Atlanta Falcons
22. Daniel Jones — New York Giants
23. Justin Fields — Chicago Bears
24. Deshaun Watson — Houston Texans
25. Drew Lock — Denver Broncos
26. Carson Wentz — Indianapolis Colts
27. Ryan Fitzpatrick — Washington Football Team
28. Derek Carr — Las Vegas Raiders
29. Jimmy Garoppolo — San Francisco 49ers
30. Jared Goff — Detroit Lions
31. Taysom Hill — New Orleans Saints
32. Trey Lance — San Francisco 49ers
33. Mac Jones — New England Patriots
34. Jordan Love — Green Bay Packers
35. Teddy Bridgewater — Denver Broncos
If you want the best fantasy advice week in and week out, check out BTSC’s new podcast, The Steelers Fantasy Football Fix, hosted by Jeremy Betz. You can listen to the latest episode below.
But what do you think of these rankings? Is Ben Roethlisberger’s ranking justifiable? Who do you think is ranked either too high or too low? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!