With the 2021 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, it’s time to get a lay of the land with some rookie dynasty fantasy football rankings. Today we’ll attack quarterback. This year’s class is an interesting group that is headlined by generational talent Trevor Lawrence.
Quarterbacks tend to offer some of the most value in dynasty rookie drafts due to the extremely long shelf life we see if the player ends up being a quality starter. Let’s be clear that there are very few, if any, of these types of players in each draft class. Furthermore, those players aren’t always easiest to pinpoint, but these rankings will give you a good indication of the best bets.
Before we get into the rankings, we should address a common response to pre-draft rookie fantasy football rankings. It goes something like this: “Why rank players now when everything changes after the draft?” There’s no doubt that the draft reshuffles the deck, but that doesn’t mean we simply wait until all the picks are in to rank these players for dynasty purposes. Ranking before the draft gives us the advantage of ranking on an even playing field. With no landing spots or depth charts in place, we can compare apples to apples. We then can use this information to provide even better rankings after the draft takes place.
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
(Trevor Lawrence scouting report)
Can’t-miss prospects don’t come around every year, especially at quarterback. But Lawrence is in that conversation with the likes of John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. A prototype for the modern NFL quarterback, Lawrence has size and athleticism to go along with a pro-caliber arm. As polished as they come, he processes at a high level and already possesses nuances in the pocket that will protect him from taking sacks. Lawrence has a game that is tailor made for today’s fantasy football. His dual-threat ability position him well for long-term fantasy football success.
2. Justin Fields, Ohio State
(Justin Fields scouting report)
From the sports documentary show QB1 to a potential fantasy QB1, Fields has had quite a journey. He started his career out at Georgia but transferred to Ohio State after one season. That move proved a wise one, as he’s been one of the nation’s top quarterbacks over the last two years. But let’s be clear that uniform scouts are way off base when they compare Fields to previous Ohio State quarterbacks. He simply isn’t cut from the same cloth. Fields is accurate and consistently pushed the ball downfield in college. He also comes with impressive mobility, though he isn’t a run-first quarterback. Add that all up and you have the makings of a future QB1 in fantasy.
3. Trey Lance, North Dakota State
(Trey Lance scouting report)
This year’s draft comes with a lot of uncertainties, and there are perhaps none bigger than Lance. He has all the tools to be a future standout option, but Lance has a very limited resume, having only played one game in 2020. But in 2019, Lance flashed elite dual-threat ability to go along with a high football IQ in a pro-style offense. He also has a massive arm, though accuracy is an issue at times. Still his propensity to push the ball downfield — he had an 11.1-yard aDOT in 2019 — paints a favorable picture for fantasy upside. That plus Lance’s ability as a runner make him a very intriguing fantasy prospect.
4. Zach Wilson, BYU
(Zach Wilson scouting report)
Similar to Joe Burrow last year, Wilson had a meteoric rise in his final season of college football. In the process, he went from a so-so starter to one of the most electric signal callers in the nation. Wilson showed the ability to make any throw in the book and can do so with the flick of his wrist. Those big-boy throws also come with impressive mobility. To be fair, he didn’t face the same level of competition as Trevor Lawrence, but Wilson’s arm and ability to extend plays bode well for fantasy success in the NFL. Like many of today’s top fantasy options, Wilson’s dual-threat profile gives him an intriguing ceiling/floor combination.
5. Mac Jones, Alabama
(Mac Jones scouting report)
If we just based things on stats, Jones clearly belongs in the conversation with the other top quarterbacks in this year’s class. Of course, box score scouting won’t get us very far in the evaluation process. To Jones’ credit, he displayed impressive accuracy and touch as a passer and was poised in the pocket. Of course, he also did so in an elite offense. He also doesn’t have the arm strength of this year's top prospects. That said, he’s still a first-round talent. While he doesn’t possess an elite fantasy ceiling, Jones has the potential to be a long-term top-20 option with back-end QB1 potential if everything breaks the right way.
6. Kyle Trask, Florida
(Kyle Trask scouting report)
From backup high school quarterback to likely Day 2 NFL draft pick, Trask has had quite a ride. Only a starter over the last two seasons, Trask showed a major jump in production, tossing 42 touchdown passes in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. In many ways, Trask is a throwback quarterback who possesses impressive arm strength but also has below average mobility. Trask does enter the league a bit old at 23, but age isn’t really a concern at quarterback in dynasty leagues. The bigger concern here is the lack of a dual-threat component to his game. That’s a huge knock in today’s brand of fantasy football which places a cap on Trask’s long-term outlook.
7. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
The Senior Bowl MVP has consistently improved over the course of his college career as a four-year starter. Mond has ample experience in a pro-style offense under Jimbo Fisher and has a dual-threat skillset. But he also lacks consistency and doesn’t possess NFL-caliber arm strength. Mond is going to be a very interesting case study, as his progression in the college level suggests the capability to continue to grow. That said, he may likely max out as a backup level option. He does have the ideal dual-threat profile, but it’s unlikely he ever surfaces as a long-term fantasy option.
8. Davis Mills, Stanford
After riding the pine for the first two years of his career, Mills played well enough to leapfrog K.J. Costello on the Stanford depth chart. He possesses prototype size for the position and has plenty of zip on his passes. Of course, the major downfall for Mills is his limited resume. With just 11 career starts due to injuries, he leaves Stanford with far less experience than most of his peers. That means Mills will likely need to develop more at the next level. While we can’t rule that out from happening, there’s a long road ahead for Mills. He’s a longshot to surface on the fantasy radar.
9. Jamie Newman, Wake Forest
One of the many prospects who opted out due to COVID-19, Newman heads into the draft with a somewhat limited resume. As such, he’s certainly a lot more raw than the top prospects in this year’s class. That said, he comes with NFL size and plus athleticism. Newman played behind Sam Hartman at Wake Forest, and technically transferred to Georgia in 2020. But without tape from last season, we can only draw from 2019. Newman flashed a big arm and plus ability as a runner, but also lacked polish in the pocket. He may not be the best pro prospect, but Newman’s dual-threat ability gives him an outside shot at surfacing on the fantasy radar.
10. Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Tough as nails, Ehlinger started for the better part of the last four years for the Longhorns. The good part of Ehlinger’s game for fantasy is also the bad part of his game for the NFL. Simply put: He scrambles a lot. In four years at Texas, Ehlinger ran a massive 554 times. All of those rushes certainly add up in terms of fantasy points, but it’s also a major knock on his game for football purposes. Ehlinger’s below average chops as a passer and propensity to bail on the pocket just simply don’t bode well for success at the next level. He profiles as a career backup who is unlikely to ever have fantasy value.
11. Ian Book, Notre Dame
He’s the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history, but Book isn’t your prototype NFL prospect. Mobility isn’t an issue for the former Golden Domer, as Book is coming off a 2020 campaign where he found the end zone a healthy nine times as a runner. However, he leaves the college level with some major deficiencies as a passer. Despite his impressive athleticism, Book lacks the arm strength and timing to have success at the next level. Even if he catches on as a backup, it’s extremely unlikely that he ever surfaces as a fantasy option either in the short- or long-term.
12. Feleipe Franks, Arkansas
Franks started his college career out at Florida and didn’t look like he’d be in the mix as a potential future NFL option, but that all changed in 2020 at Arkansas. Last season, he flashed a big arm and willingness to push the ball downfield. He also has impressive athleticism for his size, posting a 4.55 40-yard dash time at his pro day. Despite these plusses, Franks struggled mightily against pressure and took 31 sacks last season. He also struggled with short-area accuracy thanks to too much velocity on these throws. While Franks certainly looks the part of an NFL signal caller from a physical standpoint, he’s unlikely to be anything more than a deep backup option at the pro level.
13. Shane Buechele, SMU
Benched for Sam Ehlinger at Texas, Buechele started the last two years in the Air Raid offense at SMU. He isn’t afraid to toss the rock around the yard, but he’s undersized and lacks NFL-caliber arm strength.
14. Brady White, Memphis
Prolific at the high school level, White initially attended Arizona State, but his time there was derailed by injuries. He stayed healthy at Memphis over the last three years and put up 90 touchdowns. Despite the numbers, White doesn’t have the physical tools of an NFL quarterback.
15. K.J. Costello, Mississippi State
Costello has the ability to make NFL throws, but he’s one of the most limited athletes among this year’s quarterback prospects. His pro day results brought up the rear in nearly every testing category. His inability to move doesn’t bode well for him catching on with an NFL team.
16. Zac Thomas, Appalachian State
Athleticism isn’t an issue for Thomas, as he flashed impressive dual-threat ability at App State. Like a lot of mobile college quarterbacks, Thomas doesn’t possess premium arm strength. He’s also undersized for the pro level.
17. Peyton Ramsey, Northwestern
After spending three seasons at Indiana, Ramsey used a grad transfer year with Northwestern. He’s comfortable on the move and uses his athleticism to his advantage, but Ramsey has a somewhat limited arm and doesn’t operate especially well inside structure.
18. Zach Smith, Tulsa
Smith started his career at Baylor and transferred to Tulsa following the 2017 season. While he has an NFL build and favorable arm strength, Smith struggled mightily with turnovers and accuracy over the past two seasons.
19. Kevin Thomson, Washington
One of the more athletic signal callers in this year’s class, Thomson is listed as a Washington product, though he didn’t play a single snap for the Huskies. He spent four years in the FCS at Sacramento State. Despite his athleticism, Thomson doesn’t possess NFL chops as a passer.
20. Brady Davis, Illinois State
Davis started his career at Memphis but transferred to Illinois State after three seasons. He’s suffered two torn ACLs in his college career and did not suit up in 2020. That injury history is a major concern. Davis looks comfortable running an offense, but lacks NFL arm strength.