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2021 Fantasy Football: Late-Round Quarterbacks That Carry Upside

Check out a few late-round quarterbacks that Skyler is fond of entering the 2021 NFL season.

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Waiting to select a quarterback in the later rounds has long been considered a viable strategy to deploy in fantasy football. Some people would argue that in recent years, the tactic of standing by to take a quarterback has steadily dissipated due to the emergence of running quarterbacks, or like some like to call it, the “Konami Code” quarterbacks. Konami Code quarterbacks are dubbed such because of the classic cheat code that you could input into Konami video games, giving you unlimited ammo or the power to do whatever you wanted.

Quarterbacks that can give production on the ground — along with through the air — are considered to have the highest upside in fantasy football, which is why Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, and Kyler Murray are all consensus top five picks at the position. Even when you’re someone who is deploying a late-round strategy at the quarterback spot, or if you want a second quarterback that can have league-winning upside, taking someone who has a chance to record numbers in the running game has proven to be a successful approach in drafts. When searching for a late-round quarterback that can deliver you a chance to dominate your leagues in 2021, consider these dual-threat signal-callers.

ADP is courtesy of FantasyPros’ ADP consensus

Justin Fields (ADP: 120th Overall, QB19)

Rookie quarterbacks can sometimes be great value picks due to the masses being wary of relying on a first-year quarterback to deliver consistent production in fantasy football. While Trevor Lawrence is being taken as a top 15 quarterback in drafts, Justin Fields is almost slipping outside the top 20 quarterbacks selected. Of course, Lawrence is guaranteed to start in Week 1 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, he has rushing upside, and the defense of the Jaguars should give Lawrence plenty of opportunities to play from behind. As for Fields, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft isn’t going to be handed the job by the Chicago Bears.

Matt Nagy has named Andy Dalton the starter, but he hinted at Fields getting a chance to prove what he’s got in training camp and the preseason. While I’m rooting for Fields to do what Russell Wilson did to Matt Flynn in 2012, I don’t expect the Bears to start Fields in Week 1. In the same breath, I do believe that Fields will be inserted as the starter sooner rather than later in the upcoming season. During his collegiate career at Ohio State and Georgia, Fields combined for 1,133 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns. Fields displayed a stupendous ability to create with his legs, whether it be to throw the ball or take off with it. There aren’t many quarterbacks that possess the ceiling that Fields does once he’s officially handed the reins in Chicago’s offense, one that has Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, and David Montgomery at his disposal.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Lance (ADP: 128th Overall, QB22)

To continue the theme of rookie quarterbacks, I’m aboard the Trey Lance train as well. As a fan of the Los Angeles Rams, I can admit that I was itching for the San Francisco 49ers to trade up in the draft just for them to take Mac Jones. The chaos that would have ensued on social media would have been priceless. But the 49ers made the right choice — at least in my eyes — by taking a potential dual-threat stud in Lance, crushing my dreams of absolute anarchy taking place in San Francisco.

The disappointing development for Lance is that Kyle Shanahan recently shared, via The Athletic’s David Lombardi, that there is no open quarterback competition right now and Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter for the 49ers. So as long as Garoppolo is healthy and is playing well, he’s going to get the nod. Even with Shanahan’s recent comments, I’m still confident that Lance sees the field once Garoppolo begins to show signs of struggling. San Francisco likely wants Lance to operate in the same system that Garoppolo does, but he also brings something that Garoppolo lacks: the ability to make things happen with his legs. Over the course of 19 games at North Dakota State, Lance scampered for 1,325 yards on 195 attempts and found the end zone 18 times. If I’m looking for a second quarterback to stash on my bench in the later rounds, Lance is a premier target due to the chances of him playing in a quarterback-friendly offense.

Daniel Jones (ADP: 181st Overall, QB26)

It’s do-or-die (not literally) time for Daniel Jones as he enters his third season with the New York Giants. Even if Jones continues to fall short of showing consistency as a real-life quarterback in 2021, he can be a perfect example of how an average or below-average quarterback can still be useful in fantasy football. New York made a concerted effort to surround Jones with more weapons this offseason, signing Kenny Golladay, Kyle Rudolph, and John Ross in free agency, along with taking Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Plus, Saquon Barkley is slated to return to the gridiron, even if it’s in a limited capacity to start the season as he recovers from a torn ACL he suffered last season. And if the offensive line of the Giants can build upon their strong finish to the 2020 campaign, there are absolutely no excuses for Jones not to have the best year of his career.

Back in 2019 as a rookie, Jones concluded the year as QB23 in fantasy football despite playing in only 13 games. When taking a look at his weekly average, Jones notched 17.46 fantasy points per week, which was the 15th-most among quarterbacks in 2019 (putting him ahead of Tom Brady, Kirk Cousins, and Jared Goff). Jones followed up his rookie season by finishing as QB24 in 2020. While his passing numbers have left a lot to be desired, Jones has given us a solid rushing floor with an average of 55 attempts, 351 rushing yards, and nearly two rushing touchdowns per season in his first two years. With Barkley being eased back into action, we could see Jones tuck the ball and run more often in 2021. And if Jones can increase his passing production with his new-look cast of weapons, we might be cooking with fire, gas, or however the saying goes.

**Editor’s note** We’d be cooking with grease, Skyler. Cooking with grease :)