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2021 Fantasy Football: 3 Quarterbacks to Avoid

The Fake Teams writers tell you which signal-callers to shy away from this year.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Week marches on, and we are starting off the morning with a few guys you should consider pumping the brakes on for 2021 fantasy football. As always, we’d love to hear your arguments in the comments. Stick around later in the week for Mark’s bold predictions (Thursday), Skyler’s late-round upside QB options (Thursday), and our staff targets (Friday). Oh, and surely some MLB Trade Deadline news from now until Friday. Buckle up, gamers!

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals Minicamp Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (Skyler Carlin)

ECR: QB13

I just want to make it clear, I’m a fan of Joe Burrow on the outside looking in and I believe he could be primed for a stellar season in 2022. But as the second-year quarterback returns from a torn ACL and MCL, along with damage to his PCL and meniscus, I haven’t gotten many shares of Burrow in fantasy football at his current price. As I highlighted in a recent thread on the bird app (check it out here), quarterbacks who have suffered a torn ACL or structural damage to their knee have historically been limited in their rushing production — outside of Deshaun Watson — which severely caps the upside of a quarterback.

From Weeks 1-10 in 2020—before Burrow sustained his season-ending knee injury—he was QB15 in fantasy football, partly due to his 37 rushing attempts for 142 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Yes, the Cincinnati Bengals added Ja’Marr Chase in the 2021 NFL Draft, the duo of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are poised to produce, and Joe Mixon is primed for a productive campaign. All that being said, people are banking on Burrow to have a much better season through the air despite returning from a serious knee ailment. Or, for some odd reason, some people may be expecting Burrow to be even more aggressive with his legs following his awaited return to the field. If Burrow ends up exceeding my expectations, then I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong. But with Burrow needing to prove that he’s comfortable — especially behind a very “meh” offensive line — coming off of knee surgery, I’ll happily avoid him in favor of guys like Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, and Trevor Lawrence in the same price range. Given the guys I can get around the same ADP as Burrow or even later, he just seems like an unnecessary risk at the quarterback position.

NFL: Miami Dolphins Minicamp Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (Mark Abell)

ECR: QB20

I know that there is a growing movement behind him having a breakout year, but I am not on board. The Dolphins added wide receivers Will Fuller V and Jaylen Waddle, which adds tremendous talent and speed, but they have still failed to address one of the biggest issues. On top of Tua trying to get acclimated to the professional level, the Dolphins are among the league leaders in the getting the ball out fast. This isn’t because they want to, it’s because for three years now they have had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Sure it’s a young line that might improve, but I have not seen anything to make me believe that Tua isn’t going to be either throwing the ball two seconds after the snap or running for his life half of the time. Also, they have one of the more difficult schedules for quarterbacks in 2021, providing an added obstacle. Tua will face Cameron Jordan (NO), Shaquil Barrett (TB), Jerry Hughes (BUF x2) and Carl Lawson (NYJ x2) in 2021.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders (Heath Capps)

ECR: QB24

There isn’t a scenario where I can see myself drafting Carr. He’s not shown us that he can explode with any regularity, and now the immobile signal-caller is behind an offensive line that lost multiple starters from last year, including stud center Rodney Hudson. The Raiders are also banking on 38-year-old Richie Incognito remaining healthy, which seems unlikely.

If Carr finishes among the top 24 quarterbacks this year, it will be because he endured the entire season and started every game (as he did last year) while others got injured. But I can’t bank on that happening, and I can more easily talk myself into guys like Daniel Jones (accurate down the field, added Golladay, Saquon is back) or Sam Darnold (still young, is free from Adam Gase, has Run-CMC, DJ Moore, former teammate Robby Anderson). Jones is the obvious upside play, while Darnold (to me) represents the same sort of floor play as Carr. There’s also Jared Goff (QB30) being left for dead if it’s a warm body you’re searching for. Why would you ever pay up earlier for Carr? This isn’t rotisserie baseball, people. The compilation of vanilla stats over the course of the season isn’t what you’re going for. At least, I hope it isn’t...