The bad thing about projections is they aren't great in unknown situations. And considering the calendar is getting ready to turn to June, we still have some pretty important unknowns about the 2021 season. We don't know who Deshaun Watson or Aaron Rodgers will be playing for or if they'll be playing Week 1. We also don't know if Matt Ryan will have Julio Jones, which may have a bigger impact than you might guess.
For the first time this offseason I'm adjusting quarterback projections based on the leans I have on each situation. Admittedly, these leans could be wrong, but at this time I feel better projecting Tyrod Taylor as the Texans quarterback and Jones on a team other than the Falcons. That means you won't see Watson's name in the projections below, but he'll still be in the rankings, at No. 14 for the time being. I'm leaving Rodgers on the Packers for now, but if there isn't a resolution by mid-July we'll have to seriously consider moving him down in the rankings.
Even if he starts Week 1, Taylor is no more than a low-end No. 2 quarterback, who could lose the job to Davis Mills if the Texans ever think he's ready. Taylor projects at QB19 thanks to his rushing ability, but he has more downside in two-QB leagues than upside at that cost. The change didn't just affect quarterback projection, obviously. David Johnson fell from RB24 to RB32. Brandin Cooks was WR17 when projected for a full season with Watson, he fell to WR26. No other Texans' playmakers project as someone you'd draft, but it badly hurts the sleeper appeal of rookie Nico Collins if Watson is not the starting quarterback.
The potential loss of Jones is equally disastrous for Ryan, at least if you look at 2020. In the nine games that Jones played 50% of the snaps or less, Ryan averaged 6.7 yards per pass attempt and 17.3 Fantasy points per game. That's Drew Lock territory. He didn't have Kyle Pitts in those games, but we probably shouldn't expect Pitts to replace Jones' production in his rookie season. I had projected Ryan at QB14 with Jones and the statistical adjustment without his star receiver dropped him to QB24.
Would I actually draft Taylor before Ryan? No chance and my rankings reflect that. But neither of them rank inside my top 20 quarterbacks.
A couple of other quick notes before we get to the projections:
- I'm projecting Taysom Hill as the starter in New Orleans, but you can't draft him as a top-12 quarterback until he actually wins the job.
- The gap between Patrick Mahomes and everyone else is substantial if your league rewards six points per touchdown pass. In leagues that reward only four points, the top four quarterbacks are separated by just 10 Fantasy points. Just take the fourth quarterback in that format.
- I'm currently projecting Cam Newton and Jimmy Garoppolo as starters on their teams. I'd rather draft Newton than Mac Jones, but I rank Trey Lance ahead of Garoppolo because there is a lot more upside in Lance.
- I'm projecting Justin Fields to start for the Bears, but admittedly that probably won't happen Week 1. Draft Fields higher than his projection in one-QB leagues, but outside the top-24 if you need to start two.
Here are my updated 2021 quarterback projections: