- Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
- Josh Allen, Bills
- Kyler Murray, Cardinals
- Lamar Jackson, Ravens
- Dak Prescott, Cowboys
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers
- Justin Herbert, Chargers
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks
- Tom Brady, Buccaneers
- Matthew Stafford, Rams
- Ryan Tannehill, Titans
- Kirk Cousins, Vikings
- Matt Ryan, Falcons
- Baker Mayfield, Browns
- Joe Burrow, Bengals
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
- Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
- Sam Darnold, Panthers
- Derek Carr, Raiders
- Deshaun Watson, Texans (in-limbo ranking … could be traded or suspended soon)
- Daniel Jones, Giants
- Drew Lock, Broncos
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington Football Team
- Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
- Jalen Hurts, Eagles
- Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
- Jameis Winston, Saints
- Jared Goff, Lions
- Cam Newton, Patriots
- Jacob Eason, Colts
- Zach Wilson, Jets
- Andy Dalton, Bears (Justin Fields could be the starter by Week 6)
a) With 17 games now on the regular-season schedule, it’s possible that two or three quarterbacks will surpass 5,000 yards passing in 2021.
However, for my money, Patrick Mahomes remains the only healthy lock for 5,000 yards passing and 40 total touchdowns.
So, in that vein, Mahomes merits the top spot here … despite finishing fourth in points per game last season.
b) Josh Allen (4,965 total yards/45 TDs last year) possesses more fantasy upside than Mahomes, given his two-year total of 17 rushing touchdowns. But he remains No. 2 on our listing for two prominent reasons:
**It’s hard to imagine Bills wideout Stefon Diggs surpassing last year’s staggering tallies of 127 catches, 166 targets, 1,535 yards and eight touchdowns.
**Receiver Cole Beasley (82 catches, 967 yards, 4 TDs last season) won’t have the lightning-fast John Brown (now with the Raiders) clearing out underneath coverage this year, perhaps making it difficult for Beasley to crack 100-plus targets for a third straight time.
**The running back tandem of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss will undoubtedly exceed last year’s cumulative total of seven touchdowns. Why is that? Because it’s an incredibly low hurdle to clear in 2021.
c) Dak Prescott (reported shoulder strain at the beginning of camp) has averaged 322 yards passing and 2.1 touchdowns in his last 21 starts.
Robust numbers for sure, but is it really worthy of a No. 5 ranking?
After all, charting the last two seasons, Prescott (and his fantasy owners) endured six outings of zero or one touchdown.
For us, though, as long the Cowboys have a bottom-five defense, in terms of points and rushing yards allowed, Prescott will be obligated to continually post personal bests in attempts, completions and passing yards.
It also helps that his troika of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup all possess the potential for 1,000 yards receiving in 2021.
d) With 3,971 yards passing and 37 total touchdowns last year, Kyler Murray now bears a strong fantasy resemblance to the Bills’ Josh Allen.
However, we’re not ready to commit to a top-2 ranking, given one crucial consideration:
**As Murray creeps closer to a contract extension north of $200 million, he’ll likely become more conservative when escaping the pocket. In other words, the odds of notching double-digit rushing touchdowns in back-to-back seasons become prohibitively long.
(Quick fun fact: The incredible Lamar Jackson has never racked up double-digit rushing TDs in a single season.)
e) No one’s expecting Rodgers to fully match his NFL MVP numbers from last season (4,299 yards passing, 51 total TDs).
But then again, Rodgers (13 outings of 300 yards passing and three-plus touchdowns in 2020) has never been on the precipice of choosing his next team either, as might be the case in just six short months.
So, let’s just assume complacency won’t be a lingering concern in 2021.
f) How epic was Justin Herbert’s rookie campaign with the Chargers (4,336 yards passing, 36 total TDs in just 15 starts)?
It might stand as the gold-standard output of highly touted quarterbacks in Year 1 for decades; and yes, that includes the NFL’s move to 17-game seasons.
Last year, with a mid-level receiving corps, Herbert rolled for 300 yards passing and/or three touchdowns in 11 of his 15 starts.