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Fantasy Football: Where experts go wrong on quarterback rankings

·6 min read
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ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of many members of the fantasy football industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site-to-site). This will be an ongoing series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks. Knowing your league’s ADP/scoring remains equally important when drafting, but I rank the following quarterbacks higher than the general fantasy community.

Other overlooked players by position: Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight end

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (ECR = QB5 vs. DDD = QB3)

Prescott is right there with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in my tier one for fantasy QBs, yet he’s available rounds later in drafts. He was on pace to shatter the NFL record for passing yards before a season-ending leg injury in Week 5, yet still easily averaged the most fantasy points per game despite leaving midway through the third quarter.

The injury looked bad, but Prescott is expected to return without any physical restrictions. He’s posted an 8.3 YPA over the last two seasons while also adding the key rushing stats. Prescott is in his prime, and the Cowboys have an ideal setup with two elite tackles returning from season-ending injuries to go along with a receiver group that’s as good as any in football. Dallas’ coaching is hardly ideal, but playing indoors with these weapons should result in many high-scoring games — the Cowboys easily led the NFL in combined plays per game last season. Prescott is a candidate to win both the real and fantasy MVP this season.

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (ECR = QB9 vs. DDD = QB5)

Hurts doesn’t have much of a track record, and there’s reason to be concerned about Philadelphia’s new coaching staff, but he also has a ton of fantasy upside, rushing for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns during his final college season (also getting 11.3 YPA). While some question his passing ability, Hurts was quietly super accurate with Oklahoma. Moreover, last season he was throwing to arguably the worst receiving group in the league while averaging the highest intended air yards with the lowest expected completion%. In other words, no other QB was asked to attempt a higher degree of difficult passes at such a frequent rate than the rookie in 2020, and it came with a league-worst supporting cast and a coaching staff that was fired after the season.

The Eagles’ offensive line will be getting 2019 first-round LT Andre Dillard and Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks back after both missed 2020, and the team also spent the 10th pick of the draft on WR DeVonta Smith, who should make an immediate impact. Hurts played through an underreported “significant hamstring” injury down the stretch that he supposedly hurt in the second quarter of Week 16’s game in Dallas, yet the rookie still averaged the sixth-most fantasy points per dropback last season

I’d give it a 50/50 chance Hurts has a better fantasy season than Kyler Murray, who’s going 30-plus picks earlier in NFBC drafts and similar on Yahoo.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 03: Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) carries the ball for a touchdown in the first half during the game between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles on January 03, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has more talent around him in his second season, which should help him become a consistent fantasy contributor. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ECR = QB10 vs. DDD = QB8)

I’m not jumping ADP/ECR too much here, but Brady is the clear QB to me after “the big seven” are off the board. Those seven are all QBs who run, as they simply belong in their own tier. Put differently, quarterbacks rushed for almost 50 more touchdowns last season than they did in 2019. Simply waiting on QB in drafts is no longer a no-brainer move with the position scoring increasingly more fantasy points at the top

Rushing aside, Brady is somehow still being (slightly) undervalued in fantasy despite coming off winning yet another Super Bowl and being Tom Brady. After a truncated offseason and learning an entirely new system while playing through a knee injury that later required “serious surgery,” Brady averaged 319.3 yards (8.5 YPA!) with 20 TD strikes over the final seven games last year. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Gio Bernard give him a comical number of weapons in which to throw. Brady also finished second in the NFL in end-zone targets last season, so he couldn’t be in a more fantasy-friendly environment. Brady > Justin Herbert in 2021.

Age will eventually catch up to the GOAT, but I’m finished guessing it will be the upcoming season.

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers (ECR = QB30 vs. DDD = QB17)

Lance is one of the bigger wild cards when it comes to this year’s ranks/projections given the uncertainty of when he’ll play, as Jimmy Garoppolo could start longer than expected while winning with a loaded roster facing the league’s easiest projected schedule by a wide margin. Of course, Jimmy G has been extremely injury-prone, and there’s also a real chance Lance forces his way into the lineup after San Francisco traded multiple first-rounders for the dual threat.

Lance has a small track record that mostly came two years ago against weaker competition, but he’s reportedly advanced (he called protections at the line of scrimmage and played under center far more than any of the other incoming rookie QBs) and has the physical tools to be a fantasy star right away. He recorded a 28:0 TD:INT line while adding 1,100 rushing yards with 14 TDs as a 19-year-old, and those running skills should hold at the next level as someone who had multiple Big Ten offers to play safety and linebacker. In Kyle Shanahan’s system with George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel to go along with a strong offensive line, Lance will be at least a top-10 fantasy QB the moment he takes over as SF’s starter, making him the X factor in Superflex leagues this year. The 49ers also have the most favorable projected QB schedule during the fantasy playoffs

Lance is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and runs a 4.5 40 with an arm capable of throwing the football over them mountains. He’s about to take over a role that just saw Nick Mullens pass for the second-most yards through 16 starts in NFL history (sandwiched between Mahomes and Andrew Luck). Expect Lance to be drafted as a top-three fantasy QB in 2022.

Tyrod Taylor, Houston Texans (ECR = QB36 vs. DDD = QB28)

With Deshaun Watson unlikely to play for the Texans this season, Taylor is set to start with only third-round rookie Davis Mills behind him. Taylor doesn’t offer big upside, but he’s being undervalued in Superflex leagues given his rushing ability. He’s averaged 35.5 rushing yards over 47 starts during his career, which is the same number as Josh Allen and more than Russell Wilson (31.3). It’s ostensibly not a great situation in Houston without many playmakers, but it could also prove to be a nice fantasy setup with the Texans forced to throw frequently against prevent defenses while playing from behind most second halves. Taylor is the frontrunner to lead the league in “garbage fantasy stats” in 2021, but they all count the same.

Next time I’ll go over the tight ends I’m higher on compared to ECR.

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