Justin Fields might have as much upside as anyone in the 2021 NFL Draft not named "Trevor Lawrence." The Bears recognized this and pulled the trigger on a trade with the Giants to move up to No. 11 and select their hoped-for franchise quarterback. He has difference-making skills, but the question is, will he get the opportunity to make a difference as a rookie?
Rated a consensus five-star prospect out of Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Ga., Justin Fields eventually took his dual-threat capabilities to Ohio State after committing to Penn State, then changed his mind and spent his first year at Georgia. With the Buckeyes, Fields was a two-year starter who led them to a combined 20-2 record and two berths in the College Football Playoff.
On the strength of 51 total touchdowns in 2019, Fields collected big-time accolades including first-team All-Big Ten, the Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year. He was also a Davey O'Brien Award Finalist and a Heisman Trophy finalist then and was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Quarterback of the Year in 2020.
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We're breaking down everything you need to know about Fields from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
2021 Fantasy Impact
Quarterbacks who can run should always be at the top of your draft list, and Fields can run. He rushed for 1,133 yards in 34 college games, and he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at his pro day while weighing in at 227 pounds. Even allowing for the possibility that pro day times are inflated, that's elite speed at the QB position. By comparison, Jalen Hurts ran a 4.59 at 222 pounds at the combine and Robert Griffin III ran a 4.41 at 223 pounds.
But he's not just a one-trick pony. Fields was excellent as a passer in college, throwing 67 touchdowns to just nine interceptions while averaging 9.2 yards per attempt. Chicago isn't an amazing landing spot for a quarterback, but they do have Allen Robinson, a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver who has dragged much less talented quarterbacks than Fields along with him over the years.
The only question is whether Fields will get the opportunity to start from Day One. Given that the Bears apparently told Andy Dalton he would be their starter when he signed as a free agent, it's fair to wonder if they'll stick with that in training camp. Obviously, Fields has much more upside than Dalton, and Fantasy players (and Allen Robinson) will be rooting for Fields to get the job.
If he does, Fields could be a starting-caliber Fantasy option as soon as he is the starter. Think of guys like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, or Jalen Hurts in recent years doing so. Fields wasn't as prolific a rusher as those guys in college, but he's got all the physical tools to be a plus rusher. If Fields was going to start from Week 1, I would probably rank him as a top-12 QB for Fantasy. - Chris Towers
Fields went off the board 10 picks after Zach Wilson, but I'd take Fields over him in a Dynasty league. That means I would probably target him as a first-rounder in a standard rookie draft, and he might be the No. 2 overall pick in any Superflex or 2QB league.
- Good-sized quarterback with strong build. Regularly shed blitzers and tacklers thanks to the combination of agility and power.
- Very good, polished, consistent footwork that helped provide a solid base on his throws. Navigated the pocket well, stepping up when the space was there and moving around when it wasn't.
- Has poise in the pocket and usually did a very good job keeping his eyes downfield when climbing and when the pocket collapsed.
- Understood the basics of pre-snap reads and reacted accordingly. Also had a terrific play-action fake and pump fake to get linebackers and safeties off-balance. Did a good job of looking off safeties to make an easier throw to the sideline.
- Worked mostly out of shotgun but had a handful of under-center snaps.
- Arm strength is very good, allowing him to make any and every throw. Constantly goes for and frequently wins on far-sideline tosses and deep throws. Passes have traveled as far as 50, 51, 56 and 61 yards in the air.
- Generally had very good accuracy both in the pocket and on the move. Routinely hit slants, sidelines, curls, digs, posts, fades and deep balls. Fields threw best in rhythm.
- Mobility is a huge asset. Not only can Fields run RPO or navigate a pocket and move out of it with ease, but his excellent improvisational skills helped him frequently take broken plays and turn them into quality gains.
- Fields is a passer first, but he has good speed, acceleration and burst when he does take off. He's also willing to get physical to convert a first down or score a short-yardage touchdown. Eighty percent of his rushing scores came from 10 yards or closer at Ohio State.
- Should fit right into RPO and zone read concepts with the potential to handle a West Coast offense by his rookie season. Managed plenty of choice routes with his top receivers at Ohio State.
- Tough and competitive. Took a massive hit versus Clemson, writhed in pain on the turf, and missed one play. Also played through a thumb injury versus Clemson (six touchdowns).
- Praised for his leadership by former coaches Urban Meyer and Ryan Day. "He's taken over the locker room," Meyer said last December.
- Had a tendency to hold onto the ball too long and stared down receivers, leading to plays breaking down and defenses getting to Fields. This specific issue may have magnified other issues below.
- Typically navigated the pocket well but would sometimes get flustered and lose momentum when he got knocked around by pass rushers. Games against Alabama, Northwestern and Indiana all had spurts of Fields playing poorly once defenses started to hit him. He was already the 11th-most blitzed quarterback in college last season, and NFL defensive coordinators figure to blitz him heavily upon his arrival.
- Threw what seemed to be designed/predetermined passes most of the time. Perhaps this was because the coaches knew he would hold the ball too long otherwise. There's evidence of him finding a second option, but it's not consistent. Fields seems intelligent -- can he quickly master the art of reading defense coverages after the snap?
- Mixed bag in terms of awareness -- sometimes he saw defenders and stoically stood in pocket and delivered a money throw, sometimes he completely missed a defender and got hit. Especially didn't see unblocked front-four defenders.
- Would sometimes not see or pass up easy short-area throws to take a chance on a deeper one. Some would work out, others would get picked off. Fields has to be a little more willing to play it safe.
- Sometimes had an elongated throwing motion on middle-of-field throws. His accuracy would be affected.
- Occasional "drifty" footwork might annoy some coaches, but rarely did it seem to impact his accuracy or arm strength.
|2020 v top 25||5||63.8||1,311||13||6||218||1|
|2019 v top 25||6||63.2||1,482||14||3||196||2|
Advanced stats to know
- Second-best adjusted completion percentage (80.8%), per PFF
- 2.8% turnover-worthy play rate, 21st-best per PFF
- 38 plays of 20+ yards (19th most in CFB)
- 12th-best in Air Yards before completion (1,396) with only the 62nd-most pass attempts
- Play-action passing: 77 attempts (48th-most), 74.0% completion rate (fifth-best), 11.78 yards per attempt (14th-best), nine touchdowns, one interception
- Only 86 yards came on screen passes per PFF
- 14th in the nation in yards per attempt (9.33); Trevor Lawrence was 9.41
- Saw the 11th most blitzes in the nation, and played the fewest games of anyone in the top 20
- Of his 15 rushing touchdowns at Ohio State, 12 were from 10 yards or closer
Fields has said in the past that he's modeled his game after Russell Wilson, and that's who I keep coming back to for comparison. I especially see Wilson when Fields takes off and runs when a play breaks down, as well as when he uncorks a deep ball and connects through a tight window. A wrinkle is that Fields is bigger than Wilson, and it's believed that Wilson fell in the draft in part because of his size. That's not going to happen to Fields.