Best Of The Back-Ups
In 2020, 59 quarterbacks started games. 57 in 2019 and around 70 in 2018. There are only 32 NFL teams. With that in mind, it’s good to have a basic understanding of the backup quarterbacks and what to expect from them. Some of these quarterbacks will be players you might want to draft late to stash because they have a high chance of playing. Some of them are names you need to know mid-season and pick up a week early before the bye week and likely quarterback switch. Others will be good names to know when those injuries happen and others are trying to find a name and you will already know it and whether to put in a claim or avoid it. I have ranked each quarterback two ways.
First I give them a letter grade on the possibility and opportunity of them starting during the season. I give you who I believe is the starter and the backup for each team.
A– Very high change they start. Around 85%. Usually high draft-capital rookies that are the air apparent. Not a matter of if, but when
B– High chance they start. Around 60%. Usually young quarterbacks who might take over for veterans who have a history of poor play
C– Unlikely but not out of the questions they start. Around a 25% chance. The guy in front of them either has an injury history or its a change due to poor play
D– Highly unlikely they start without an injury in front of them. 10% chance. The starter s a stud and only an injury will give the backup a shot. Even with poor play the team has invested in them and will ride it out.
Next, I rate them on their fantasy impact if they do start. Ranking them 1-4. I go off the actual quarterback’s abilities, the team they have around them, and if they fit the system or how the system will change with them starting.
1– Solid QB1. They have the talent to be a starter and they have a team around them that will help make up for any deficiencies they have
2– Solid QB2- They either lack the talent or don’t have a solid team around them but they can still score points when called upon.
3– Streamer only- They have some skills and a good team around them. They will need a good matchup to be viable for your starting lineup
4– Avoid- They don’t have much talent or are unproven talent and the team around them is below average. even in a good matchup, they might not do well.
The backup quarterbacks are broken down by division for ease of finding. The best backups will be rated an A1 and the worst would be a D4. Let’s take a look at the backups and how they shake out.
Chad Henne (Kansas City Chiefs) D2
Opportunity – Patrick Mahomes isn’t going anywhere. He has only missed two games due to injury and one because it was Week 17 and the Chiefs had already locked up the playoffs. Mahomes does take a good number of hits and at times looks like he gets broken in half but still comes back. It should add some concern but the history of not missing games seems to negate that. The CHiefs have no one currently behind Henne
Talent – Henne is a 13 year veteran with starting history. He has only started one game in the past three years with Kansas City but has played in four games. In 2020 in three games he went 28 out of 38 attempts for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He also added one touchdown on the ground. He is 36 years old but still has plenty of treads left, and is surrounded by a great offense with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I do think that Andy Ried would focus on the run if Henne were to start for an injured Mahomes but he can still be a viable fantasy starter. He is listed as a D2 but could easily be an A1 with the right matchups. I would look at Henne as a low-end QB2 if he gets playing time.
Drew Lock (Denver Broncos) A2
Opportunity – So I was wrong. Bridgewater got the starting gig despite Lock having a better preseason. I think there is some strategy going on here to help Lock come along with his development. I think if Bridgewater struggles they won’t hesitate to switch to Lock. I think both will see playing time this year and it could be a back and forth situation. With Bridgewater’s injury history and his rushing tendencies, you have to think Lock would probably see the field this season even without the short leash for Teddy B.
**Out of all the quarterback battles, this one is the hardest to call. I currently have Drew Lock as the starter but that could change by the time I’m done writing this. Teddy Bridgewater comes in via trade and the expectation is he would get his fair shot at the starting job. Both have just been okay as starters in the past so whoever starts the season will be looking over their shoulder with every bad pass. The other quarterback on the roster is two-game starter Brett Rypien.
Talent – Let us start with the team around the quarterback. the Broncos have a solid WR group with Jerry Jeudy, Cortland Sutton, and Tim Patrick. Add in Noah Fant at tight end and you have a solid receiver core. The running backs seem to be headed to a split backfield with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. It’s close to a top-tier core of skill players and they should be in games where they need to score points. This will lead to a pass-happy offense. Lock threw for 2933 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions in 2020. The Broncos waited until the last week of the preseason which means they believe in the talent of both players. Lock would be a low-end QB2 for your fantasy team if/when he gets into the game. They would be in the streaming category but won’t be horrible against bad matchups but expect the turnovers.
I still have Lock as the starter, and Bridgewater comes in off a year in Carolina where he passed for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. That was a team that had a very similar wide receiver group in Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and Curtis Samuel. Now compared Bridgewater’s stats to that of Lock who threw for 2933 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. The interceptions are what leads most to believe that Bridgewater could easily come in and take the job from Lock. They both provide some rushing ability with Bridgewater running in five touchdowns and Lock three in 2020. They will be solid streamers who can succeed against good matchups and probably won’t be horrible against bad matchups but there will be turnovers no matter what. I still have Drew Lock as the starter, but both are low-end QB2s for fantasy teams.
Marcus Mariota (Las Vegas Raiders) C2
Opportunity – Derek Carr keeps holding on to his starting job despite all the doom and gloom surrounding him. It is rumored that he was one of the key reasons that coach Jon Gruden came out of retirement. He has never played exceptionally well and many thought Marcus Mariota signing with the then Oakland raider in 2020 to be the backup and presumably compete with Derek Carr for the starting job. He was coming off an injury-shortened 5th season with the Tennessee Titans. He never did beat out Carr for the job and now sits on the bench waiting for his turn. They also have coach favorite and preseason passing yard leader, Nathan Peterman on the roster.
Talent – Marcus Mariota is probably one of the best non-rookie backups there is in the league. He has the resume. He has the skills around him. He is just missing the opportunity. He will turn 28 years old during the season so there is no reason to believe his talents have diminished other than being rusty from lack of play. The Raiders let their top wide receiver from 2020 in Nelson Agholor go. They did sign John Brown from the Bills in the offseason and add him to the group of Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, and Huner Renfrow. They also have Darren Waller who broke out to be a top 3 Tight End last year and is a big body who can soak up targets. The floor seems high for Mariota and the ceiling can be top 15 QB versus good matchups. If he were to get into the game due to injury or Carr finally sub coming to the doom and gloom placed on him every year, Mariota will be fine. He will be a plug-and-play QB2 for your team. The raiders around him have to make you hopeful as well. they have a solid running game with Josh Jacobs and offseason acquisition Kenyan Drake.
Chase Daniel (Los Angeles Chargers) D3
Opportunity – Justin Herbert had one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback EVER. He is set to be the starter for the chargers for the next 10 years. Chase Daniels would need an injury in front of him to get the start. Behind Daniel is young prospect Easton Stick. There have been rumbles that Stick could be the primary backup. Stick got the first half of the preseason week 2 game against the 49ers. I believe that Daniel is still the backup headed into week 1.
Talent – Chase Daniels isn’t a bad NFL quarterback. He hasn’t had the best teams around him on his previous stops. He has a very high completion percentage which will help if he has to come in as relief. The team around him has a great pass-catching back in Austin Ekeler. They have a stud wide receiver in Keenan Allen. Unfortunately, the rest of the team leaves something to be desired. Should Chase Daniels have to play the team would be struggling to keep up with other high-powered teams. He could be a streamer if you are in a tough week with byes but not someone I want to have. If it is Stick coming in as relief I think he can be an okay NFL quarterback but is to be avoided for fantasy.
Mitch Trubisky (Buffalo Bills) C2
Opportunity – Mitchy Trubisky leaves a meager Chicago Bears offense and joins the Buffalo Bills as the backup behind Josh Allen. Allen just got paid and is set to be the Bills starter for the foreseeable future. Allen’s 102 rushes last year do leave some concern about his injury risk. Tribisky does give the Bills coaching staff confidence so they may not rush Allen back from any injuries.
Talent – Trubisky is long past his draft-day hype but still provides a solid set of skills that will be productive for fantasy. In 2019 he had four games with three passing touchdowns and three more in 2020 despite only playing nine games. He lacks the true rushing upside that Allen provides but is not a statue in the backfield. The Bills have leaned into their pass-friendly offense that saw Stefon Diggs lead the league in targets, receptions, and yards with 166, 127, and 1535 respectively. The Bills added Emmanuel Sanders to their receiving core and have break-out candidates Isaiah McKenzie and Gabriel Davis. The running game leaves something to be desired so the Bills will rely on Mitchy Biscuits to throw the ball if he comes in for an injured Josh Allen. The one good aspect of the Bills rushing duo of Zack Moss and Devin Singletary is they are good pass catchers which is something Trubisky is used to from Chicago where he had one of the best pass-catching backs in Tarik Cohen. With a solid offense around him, Trubisky will be a solid QB2 for fantasy.
Jarrett Sidham (New England Patriots) D4
Opportunity – The offseason surprise of Cam Newton getting cut leaves the Patriots with an injured Jarrett Stidham behind rookie Mac Jones. The Pats also let go veteran Brian Hoyer leaving them with little depth at the quarterback position. The move from Newton to Jones is a sign they will stick with Jones this season and probably the next 2 for worse or for better. The post-Tom Brady era in New England will consider Cam and a one-year bump in the road..
New England drafted Mac Jones 15th overall in the first round of the draft this year as the future of the franchise. In the post-Tom Brady era in New England, they have been searching for the next big thing. Cam Newton returns to be the presumed season starter but it’s only a matter of time till Mac Jones sees the field. The Patriots have a late bye in week 14 so plenty of time for Jones to get up to NFL speed. between the draft capital, poor passing play, and injury risk of Newton, Jones should see snaps this season. Behind Jones is veteran Brian Hoyer and injured Jarrett Stidham.
Talent – Stidham hasn’t proven anything in the NFL. He has a total of 44 passing attempts for two touchdowns and three interceptions. With the lackluster team behind him, Stidham is an avoid for fantasy. We haven’t seen any of the qualities we would want from a streamer. Low completing percentage, no rushing ability, and no experience. If he is in your roster you must be hurting bad.
Cam Newton only threw for 2657 yards last season with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. A long cry from his MVP season in 2015. He retains the job for now based on his rushing work where he rushed for 12 touchdowns in 2020. the Patriots did commit to the passing game in the offseason. They brought in free agents wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. They also drafted running back Rhamondre Stevenson. None of these players have been fantasy stars outside of Agholor last year with the Vegas Raiders. You add in returning “weapons” of N’keal Harry, Damian Harris, and James White you don’t see a bright future for the Patriot’s offense this season. Mac Jones has the draft capital and skills to be a QB2 even with what looks to be an anemic offense.
Jacoby Brissett (Miami Dolphins) B2
Opportunity – Jacoby Brissett comes to the Dolphins who have put all their chips behind 2019 1st rounder Tua Tagovailoa. Tua’s rushing makes him an injury risk and the inconsistent play last year means Brissett could see action more than we think right now. There have been rumors of the Dolphins making a trade at the quarterback position. That leaves me to believe they are not 100% behind Tua.
Talent – Jacoby Brissett went from starter for the Colts in 2019 to back up in 2020 to a new team in the Miami Dolphins in 2021. Tua took over last year and played in 10 games, starting 9. He finished 2020 with 1814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He also rushed for three touchdowns. Brissett’s skill sets match up well with Tua and the type of offense the Dolphins seem to want to run. When he was starting for the Colts in 2019 he passed for 18 touchdowns and rushed for four. Even in 2020 as the back up he still managed to rush for three touchdowns as a gadget-type player for the Colts. The Dolphins don’t have a ton of talent around the quarterbacks. They have tried to bring in wide receivers via free agency and draft. They signed Will Fuller V and drafted Jaylen Waddle to combine with Devante Parker and Preston Williams at wide receiver and Mike Gesicki at tight end. The issue is that the Dolphins project to be a bottom third offense. They project to be behind in most games so they will need to pass more. I believe that Brissett is a great backup for Tua. Ge can teach him how to be a pro. Brissett learned from the GOAT in Tom Brady. He would be a solid streamer with Qb2 upside because he can run the ball in.
Mike White (New York Jets) D4
Opportunity – The J-E-T-S let James Morgan go in their last round of cuts. Leaving them with Mike Whaite. A 5th round rookie backing up a rookie doesn’t seem like a recipe for success but unless Zach Wilson goes down White will never see the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets did bring in a veteran if Wilson got hurt.
The Jets drafted Zach Wilson to be the franchise guy. No matter how bad he is this year (and it will be bad) he will start. So unless there is an injury we won’t see either of these guys playing. A lot of people were and are surprised the Jets didn’t bring in a veteran guy to help teach Wilson and be a more accomplished backup. They do have Josh Johnson on the roster but he project to be the 4th man which usually means practice squad.
Talent – Not going to lie. I had no clue who these guys were when I saw their names. Mike White was a 5th round pick in 2018 and James Morgan was a 4th round pick in 2020. Neither of them is going to be good in the NFL. I would wager that both will be probably out of the league in two years if not sooner. The team around them is also not great. The Jets brought in Corey Davis who outside of last year has been a sub-par NFL wide receiver. The rest of the receiving room is more wait-and-see than stars right now. Rookie Elijah Moore could have a breakout but not with Morgan or White throwing the ball. If Wilson goes down expect the Jets to rely even more on the run game with Tevin Coleman and Michael Carter. Neither Morgan nor White ( I believe White is the first up as a backup) is someone you want to ever have on your fantasy team.
Case Keenum (Cleveland Browns) C1
Opportunity – Baker Mayfield has produced good stats over his first 3 years and is in no danger of losing his starting job. He does have a very physical playing style that could lead to him getting banged up.
Talent – Case Keenum had been around. you probably didn’t know that he was on the Cleveland Browns. He signed there in the 2020 offseason making it his 7th team. He did not start any games last year and only attempted 10 passes. He is only three years removed (2018) from being the starter in Denver where he started all 16 games, threw for 3890 yards and 18 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Even in 2019 Keenum played in 10 games with the Washington Football Team and had 11707 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. At 33 years old he is still a very talented quarterback. The team around him is solid. The Browns have a solid running game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The latter in Hunt is an excellent pass catcher. The receiving core of Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Donovan People-Jones, Rashard Higgins, Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant provide a variety of target options for Keenum if he were to come into relieving Baker Mayfield. He would provide low-end QB1 for your fantasy team.
Dwayne Haskins / Mason Rudolph (Pittsburgh Steelers) B3
Opportunity – Ben Roethlisberger returns for his 18th season in Pittsburgh. It’s still up in the air which quarterback will be the backup if Big Ben would go down. Last year it was Mason Rudolph but early camp reports say Dwayne Haskins has been playing well. After those two there is Joshua Dobbs who looks to be the odd man out.
Talent – Both have limited talent in themselves. The team looked to sure up its rushing game in the offseason. James Conner left in free agency but drafted top running back Najee Harris in the 1st round. Both Haskins (whom I believe will be the primary backup) and Rudolph are turnover-prone. In Haskins’s 16 NFL games he has thrown 14 interceptions compared to 12 touchdowns. He also has had 11 fumbles with 5 of them lost. Rudolph has had less playing time but in his 15 NFL games, he has 10 interceptions and 15 touchdowns with 4 fumbles none of which were lost. The team around them has three good wide receivers in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and Diontae Johnson. None of them however have had top-end wide receiver years. Combined they make for a tough coverage for defenses so one should be open just depends if they can find them in time. Big Ben has been injury prone but I don’t see either of these quarterbacks as anything more than a streamer for fantasy if they have to play.
Brandon Allen (Cincinnati Bengals) C3
Opportunity – Joe Burrow pretty much tore everything in your knee that you can last year. That being said he looks like physically he will be back to form to start the season. Mentally is another issue. He does have a very aggressive style that we are seeing out of young quarterbacks these days. I would not put burrow in the “rushing quarterback” group of Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen but he can run. In college, he rushed for 13 touchdowns in 28 games. compare that to Josh Allen who rushed for 12 in 27 games. With an already surgically repaired knee and some rushing Burrow could be a slightly higher injury risk. This gives Brandon Allen a chance to see the field in 2021. Behind Allen is Kyle Shurmur.
Talent – We saw Brandon Allen last year and it was inconsistent. Week 16 he passed to 371 yards and two touchdowns. Then followed that up in week 17 throwing for 48 yards and 2 interceptions. Those games were against the Texans and Ravens respectively. This shows me that you can play Allen in favorable matchups if you need to. The team around him is pretty good. Joe Mixon is a solid running back who isn’t horrible as a pass-catcher. Hyped rookie Ja’Marr Chase, young players Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, and forgotten Tight End CJ Uzomah (see my previous article) give Allen plenty of target options that can go anywhere on the field. The Bengals will surely miss Burrow if he went down but have the talent to back up a solid quarterback in Brandon Allen. A streaming option depending on the matchup.
Tyker Huntley (Baltimore Ravens) C3
Opportunity – Tyler Huntley was able to beat out Trace McSorley for the backup job to Lamar Jackson. Jackson isn’t going anywhere except the bathroom so Huntley won’t be seeing the field much. With Jackson’s rushing, he is still an injury risk.
Lamar Jackson is the best rushing quarterback possibly ever. He’s rushed for over 1000 yards the past two seasons. That would be great for a running back. The issue is that he is a quarterback and more so he has the body of a quarterback. He’s not meant to take that much punishment. This puts him at injury risk and leads to more chance that Trace McSorley gets some time in the Ravens offense. behind McSorley is Tyler Huntley.
Talent – Huntley has some rushing ability which plays well into the scheme the Ravens already have going with Lamar. He clearly showed enough in preseason to beat out McSorley. The team as a whole took a hit when J.K. Dobbins went down for the year. Gus Edwards takes over as the lead back and will be servicable. The wide receiver core is banged up right now but when healthy could be great if the team were to pass more. Huntley will be a big splash play for fantasy his first week but after that he’s nothing more then a streaming candidate.
The issue with McSorley is NFL reps. He has only attempted 10 NFL passes for three completions and one touchdown. He doesn’t carry a high draft capital. He was taken in the 6th round back in 2019. You then look at the team around him. The Ravens have been one of the worst passing teams in recent history. This is mainly due to Jackson’s running more often than not. Marquise Brown and company has yet to produce a note-worthy fantasy season. The Ravens brought in Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted Rashod Bateman to help. They also return a solid tight end in Mark Andrews. If McSorley were to get under center for an extended period of time he could succeed with those weapons but it would be a vast contrast from what the Ravens do with Jackson.
C.J Beathard (Jacksonville Jaguars) D3
Opportunity – The shocking trade of Gardner Minshew means that there is little to no chance that any of the backups see the field outside of an injury to Trevor Lawrence. Everyone expected Lawrence to be the starter but trading Minshew is a real shot of confidence in him. They also let Jake Luton go loose, leading more confidence in Lawrence and Beathard.
**It’s hard to not like Gardner Minshew. He has a personality and flair about him. Even though head coach Urban Meyer hasn’t “officially” named his starter, it would be a shock to not see the #1 pick, Trevor Lawrence, starting the season. Lawrence does have a lot of experience in rushing the ball in college so an injury risk is there. Behind Minshew, there are last year’s spot starters C.J. Beathard and Jake Luton.
Talent – Beathard, with the 49ers last year threw 6 touchdowns in 6 games with no interceptions. He was and is a solid short game passer who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. He lacks the true upside potential but won’t lose the Jags games. He won’t be winning you many fantasy games. Beat hard would be a streaming canadite against bad defense but I would be looking for other options if I could
**Talk about a raw deal. Gardner Minshew played nine games last year threw for 2259 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He got injured and struggled to regain his starting role as the Jaguares were headed towards the number one pick and Trevor Lawrence. He now comes into camp trying to beat out the number one overall pick for the starting job. He has talent and a spark about him that seemed to capture the spirit of the Jaguars last year. The team around him is young and hungry. Surprise running back star James Robinson last year also gets a raw deal as the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne. New coach Urban Meyer seems to be making his stamp on the team which also features wide receivers DJ Chark, Marvin Jones Jr, and Laviska Shenault. Had the team not being trying to get the top pick in the draft last year we probably would have seen Minshew play more games and been a solid quarterback for fantasy. Minshew would be a QB1 if starting.
Sam Ehlinger / Jacob Eason (Indianapolis Colts) A4
Opportunity – The Colts thought they fixed their quarterback woes by trading with the Philadelphia Eagles for Carson Wentz. That is off to a rocky start. Wentz already has a foot injury and is expected to be out anywhere from 5-12 weeks. This leaves the Colts with Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger. Eason looks to be the first to get a shot at playing but that could change with preseason. Recent reports say that Wentz could be back in week 1. The Colts signed Brett Hundley after the Wentz injury but he doesn’t project to make the team once Wentz is healthy
Talent – Neither of these quarterbacks exactly instills confidence for your fantasy team. Eason was a 4th round draft pick in 2020. He did not record a snap last season. Sam Ehlinger is a 2021 6th round pick. Both had okay college careers. Ehlinger looks to be the better based on college stats where he had a stellar year in 2018 throwing for 25 TD’s and five interceptions and rushed for 16 and in 2019 when he passed for 32 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and 7 rushing scores. The other issue is the team around them. The colts look to be a run-heavy team drafting Jonathan Taylor in 2020 and have Marlon Mack coming back from injury. The wide receivers are… well just… Meh. T.Y Hilton, Parris Campbell, and Michael Pittman jr do not have top-end wide receiver talent or skill sets anymore. Even given a good matchup I don’t see either of these quarterbacks being viable for fantasy despite the more than likely that they play.
Davis Mills / Tyrod Taylor (Houston Texans) C3
Opportunity – Let’s start with that I believe that Deshaun Watson will not play a snap for the Texans this year. I believe that Tyrod Taylor is the starter going into week 1. So we will focus on Davis Mills. A 3rd round pick in the 2021 draft Mills looks to be the future for the Texans. The issue for me is that the future shouldn’t be now. Tyrod Taylor is a capable game manager quarterback who won’t win the Texans any games but also won’t lose them games. Week 10 looms large here as the Texans head into the bye. We could see a shift to Mills if the Texans really want to see what they have. This would set them up to better use what projects to be a high pick in the 2022 draft. They also have Jeff Driskel on the roster.
Talent – I think Davis Mills is talented but needs time to be an NFL starting quarterback and even more to be fantasy relevant. The team lacks playmakers. I really like David Johnson this year rushing the ball. The Wide Receiver group is not great. Brandon Cooks manages to stay with a team for once in his career but outside of that, it’s a lot of hopes and prayers. Hopes that a rookie in Nico Collins can be good and that Anthony Miller can rescue his career after getting traded from Chicago. I’m not putting too much stock into the Texan’s passing game this year. It’s a weight-and-see approach for Mills but worth stashing if he looks to get some starts.
If Watson were to start I would rate Tyrod Taylor as a C3. The longer the season goes the more likely they would switch to Mills over Taylor.
Logan Woodside (Tennessee Titans) C3
Opportunity – Logan Woodside will clearly beat out Matt Barkley for the backup role to Ryan Tannehill. The issue is that even at 33 years old Tannehill isn’t letting for of the starting job anytime soon. Unless Tannehill goes down there is no way Woodside sees the field. they will most likely draft a young quarterback next year and Woodside will be a third-stringer or on the streets.
Talent – Woodside leaves something to be desired in the talent department. This is his second stint with the Titans after being signed to the practice squad and then released in 2018. He did get some playing time in the AAF for the San Antonio Commanders where he put up average numbers. The team around him is pretty stacked. A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Josh Reynolds, and Marcus Johnson can stretch the field and make contested catches. Derrick Henry is a beast coming out of the backfield. If we were to see a Woodside lead Titans it would be a run-first team but against good matchups, I believe Woodside could be a streaming fantasy quarterback.
Trey Lance / Jimmy Garoppolo (San Fransico 49ers) A1
Opportunity – We don’t know who the starter is at this point. I lean to Jimmy Garoppollo right now (subject to change). Trey Lance landed in the best spot he could as a rookie. It’s clear that Garoppolo is not long for the starting job. The 49ers have a week 6 bye. Usually, if a team is going to make a switch it comes following the bye. We could see 12 weeks of Trey Lance in 2021. Jimmy Garoppolo is not a bad quarterback. He has struggled to stay healthy. 2019 was his only complete season. All of this leans towards Trey Lance sooner rather than later. Behind Lance, they have Nate Sudfeld.
Talent – Lance is on a team with a progressive thinking coach in Kyle Shanahan. His rushing abilities will be a full go on that team that seems to allow anyone behind that line to rush for 100 yards per game. There are plenty of receiving options as well. George Kittle is one of the league’s best tight ends. Debo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are young versatile wide receivers with play-making ability. His talent, draft capital, players around him, and early season QB switch make him a QB that you may want to take a flyer on late in drafts. If Lance were to start I would rank Garoppolo the same as the backup. Both are QB1s for fantasy.
Colt McCoy (Arizona Cardinals) C3
Opportunity – Colt McCoy signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals this offseason to be the veteran backup to Kyler Murray. Kyler Murray’s rushing ability makes him a higher injury risk. The Cardinals spent a lot of draft capital on Murray and let previous first-round pick Josh Rosen leave, so there is no fear of who is under center in Arizona.
Talent – The team that coach Kliff Kingsbury is building in Arizona does not suit Mccoy’s talents but is still stacked with skill. Top-end veteran wide receivers in Deandre Hopkins and AJ Green are there to teach young wide receivers Chrisitan Kirk, Andy Isabella, and Rondale Moore. Chase Edmonds is a great pass catcher coming out of the backfield and off-season acquisition James Conner provides a big body running back to the mix. The up-tempo style of play might have suited a younger McCoy. McCoy turns 35 at the start of the season and hasn’t been a productive NFL quarterback since his second season in 2011 with the Cleveland Browns. In the past 3 years as a backup for the Washington Football Team and the New York Giants he has only played in 8 games and attempted 147 passes. He only has 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The talent around him will help a lot. Both Hopkins and Green are great at contested catches but outside of a good matchup I cant see McCoy being more than a streamer for fantasy.
John Wolford (Los Angeles Rams) C3
Opportunity – The Rams traded Jared Goff and a bunch of draft picks in the offseason to get Matthew Stafford. The 33-year-old vet comes to the Rams in hopes of returning them to a Super Bowl. Stafford has been one of the more durable quarterbacks despite always seeming to have some sort of minor nagging injury. In his 12 year career, he has played 9 complete seasons. He is getting up there in age and it doesn’t take much for a minor injury to lead to a few missed games. Wolford could see some time this year. After Wolford, they have Bryce Perkins
Talent – We don’t have much to go on in terms of NFL games. Wolford has only played in basically one and a half NFL games. He did have a semi-productive year in 2018 in the AAF where he threw for 1617 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. That was through 8 games. The team around him on the other hand is pretty stacked. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp look to rebound from last year. Darrel Henderson is looking to prove he can be a three-down back after the injury to Cam Akers. Tyler Higbee is primed for a break-out year. Wolford has a year in the system and a coach who can bring the best out of young players in Sean Mcvay. Wolford would be a streamer against good matchups if he plays.
Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks) D3
Opportunity – Despite the rumors that Russell Wilson wanted out of Seattle he remains the starting quarterback. The Seahawks have not drafted a quarterback since Alex McGough in the 7th round in 2018. McGough remains the 3rd string quarterback for the Seahawks. Wilson is in no danger of losing his job. He has been known to run which ups his injury risk but has also been a durable quarterback. He has not missed a game since taking over as a rookie in 2016. The Seahawks also brought in Jaguar’s cast of Jake Luton as the 3rd string quarterback.
Talent – Luckily the Seahawks have not needed Gino Smith’s “talents” in the two years he has been the backup. His last touchdown pass was back in 2017. He doesn’t have the talent that matches what the seahawks have in wide receivers. DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and D’Wayne Eskridge are field stretchers. That is not what Geno can do. We could see an uptick for tight ends Gerald Everett and Will Dissly if Geno plays. Coach Pete Caroll will most likely rely on the run game with Chris Caron if Wilson were to go down. Smith would be a streamer, maybe a low-end qb2 for fantasy.
Justin Feilds / Andy Dalton / Nick Foles (Chicago Bears) A2
Opportunity – Let’s start with who the starter is. I believe that it will be Andy Dalton to start the season. I think Nick Foles is the odd man out in Chicago. Justin Feilds is the one to keep an eye on. The Bears schedule is not the greatest but is okay early. With a week 10 bye, it’s a late date to switch quarterbacks but plenty of time to see what Dalton is. The talent coming out of college and the draft capital for Justin Feilds make it hard to think he won’t play at all in 2021.
Talent – Fields has a rushing upside which is key for fantasy production but the team around him is not that great. David Montgomery is a solid running back but has yet to break into the top two tiers of running backs. The wide receiver group of Allen Robinson and Darnel Mooney are great but again need to make the next step up. Outside of those two receiving options, there isn’t much to note. Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin, and Justin Hardy are not names you are excited about. Even at the Tight End position, we have seen glimmers of talent from Cole Kmet. there is also ancient Jimmy Graham who is still a big body for red-zone targets. The skill is there for Fields or Foles or Dalton but the talent around them leaves some questions. they will be an okay starter once they play but not someone you care about banking your team on. I think if Feilds comes in mid-season he will be a QB2 for fantasy based on his rushing abilities.
Jordan Love (Green Bay Packers) C2
Opportunity – Despite everyone’s favorite offseason soap opera Aaron Rodgers is back with Green Bay. The reigning league MVP is there for this season at least. Jordan Love is a talented QB who has to wait another year to take over. Rodgers is smart about not taking hits and keeps himself healthy. The Packers could switch later in the season if things are headed south but it might be too late for fantasy relevance.
Talent – He comes into the season getting plenty of practice reps with the starting offense. He has a college resume that shows he is a confident passer as well as a rusher. The extra years sitting learning from a two-time MVP is never a bad thing. Reminds me of the last quarterback to do that. Oh, wait that was Aaron Rodgers. The team itself is solid. Davonte Adams, Alan Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Amari Rodgers, and Robert Tonyan are all solid. Adams is a top 3 wide receiver every year. The running backs of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon provide a great rushing attack that could take pressure off Love if he had to come in. Love would be a QB2 for your fantasy team if he gets to play.
Kellen Mond (Minnesota Vikings) D3
Opportunity – The Vikings didn’t sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal and drafted Kellen Mond in the 3rd round of the 2021 draft. That being said there is no reason to believe that Captain Kirk is going anywhere outside of an injury. Mond could be the future of the Vikings but will probably have to wait a year. After Mond, they have Jake Browning on the roster
Talent – Mond comes out of college with a pretty decent stat line of 71 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in 4 years. He also rushed in 22 over that span. If he gets into the starting role expect more rushing than we see from Cousins which leads to more fantasy points. The Vikings have a solid wide receiver duo in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. They have one of the best running backs in Dalvin Cook. If Mond does have to play I expect a lot more flash in the offense based on his skill set. it could be an exciting time, especially against weak secondaries. He would be a low-end QB2 with rushing upside for fantasy teams.
Tim Boyle/David Blough (Detriot Lions) D4
Opportunity – The Lions traded away long-time starter Matthew Stafford and brought in young gun Jared Goff. The Lions are putting all their eggs in the Goff basket. They will let him play out the season unless he gets injured. the Lions haven’t done the best job keeping Stafford upright in the past so expect Goff to take some sacks in 2021.
Talent – First off I believe Tim Boyle is the backup. Doesn’t matter either way since neither is any good. David Blough is the one with any NFL experience. He played in 5 games and threw 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The Lions also don’t have much around their quarterback. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams coming out of the backfield can catch the ball well. Tight End T.J. Hockenson had a great stretch last year but has been inconsistent overall. The wide receiver group is underwhelming. Camp reports have 4th round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown leading the way. He’s beating out veterans Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and second-year player Quintez Cephus. There isn’t much to be too excited about with the Lion’s offense with Goff so you aren’t going to start either of the backups if Goff were to go down.
Cooper Rush(Dallas Cowboys) C4
Opportunity – Cowboys let last year’s 3rd stringer Garret Gilbert go and held onto Cooper Rush. With Dak coming back from a major injury and dealing with some new ones there could be an opportunity for Rush to play sooner than most people think. They also brought in Will Grier formally of the Carolina Panthers.
Dak Prescott is the starter despite the contract. He has come back from a horrific leg injury and that does raise some concern. He has played very well since he was drafted and does not have to worry about where he is playing, at least for this year. After Gilbert, there is Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush.
Talent –Rush has almost no NFL experience so looking at his college stats we see an inaccurate thrower. He never had a college season with less than 10 interceptions and that was playing at Central Michigan which doesn’t get top-end players. He would be an avoid for fantasy.
You probably know the name Garret Gilbert but that’s not a good thing. Last year after Dak Prescott got injured it seems the Dallas Cowboys rolled out every quarterback they could get their hands on. Gilbert only played in 1 game. He completed 21 of his 38 passes for 1 touchdown and 1 interception. We don’t have a ton of NFL data to go on but if we look back at college he wasn’t a bad starter for SMU in 2012 and 2013. That is a long time ago and his journeyman status doesn’t inspire us with confidence. He does have some rushing abilities which are always great for fantasy. The team around him is solid which helps his cause. Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz catching the ball, and Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard out of the backfield mean that Gilbert only has to manage the game and not win it for them. Given good matchups, he could put up a baseline of 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception which is a solid floor for most quarterbacks. That would put him in solid streaming even low-end QB2 range.
Gardner Minshew (B1) /Joe Flacco (C3) (Philadelphia Eagles) C3
Opportunity – With a surprise trade for Gardner Minshew the Eagle’s backup position is now in flux. I believe this trade puts Minshew in the main backup role. It will take him a few weeks to learn the system, so if Jalen Hurts were to go down early we could see Joe Flacco. It wasn’t a blockbuster trade like the rumored Deshawn Watson rumors were but it shows the lack of rock-solid confidence in Jalen Hurts. I think his leash got much shorter and needs to prove he can continue to grow as an NFL quarterback. If he cant we could see Minshew take over and the Eagles bench Hurts to develop without risking his health.
**The Eagles traded away Carson Wentz to give Jalen Hurts the job after his performance in the final weeks of 2020. Joe Flacco comes in on a one-year deal to play for his hometown team. Hurts is known for his rushing ability which always leads to more hits which raises the injury risk. The Eagles have been linked to plenty of quarterback trade rumors, so their confidence in Hurts may be already fading. If he struggles they could just cut bait and switch to Flacco and shot for a high draft pick. After Flacco, there is Nick Mullens.
Talent – I’m gonna copy and paste what I originally wrote about Minshew when he has the Jags back up. It’s a very similar team make-up going from the Jaguars to the Eagles. Slightly less talented but still an offense that Minshew can produce with
Talk about a raw deal. Gardner Minshew played nine games last year threw for 2259 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He got injured and struggled to regain his starting role as the Jaguares were headed towards the number one pick and Trevor Lawrence. He now comes into camp trying to beat out the number one overall pick for the starting job. He has talent and a spark about him that seemed to capture the spirit of the Jaguars last year. The team around him is young and hungry. Surprise running back star James Robinson last year also gets a raw deal as the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne. New coach Urban Meyer seems to be making his stamp on the team which also features wide receivers DJ Chark, Marvin Jones Jr, and Laviska Shenault. Had the team not being trying to get the top pick in the draft last year we probably would have seen Minshew play more games and been a solid quarterback for fantasy. Minshew would be a QB1 if starting.
Flacco has played some meaningful games the past 2 seasons as the backup for both the Denver Broncos and New York Jets. The once Superbowl champ is not in his prime but is not completely washed up either. The bigger issue is the team around him. Rookie DeVonta Smith will need to get up to NFL speed quickly. Outside of Smith, no one is super excited about the talents of Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, and Greg Ward. Tight Ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are there as well and might provide a safety net for Flacco who can’t air it out down the field like he used to. There are also some pass-catching running backs in Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and rookie Kenneth Gainwell. It will take a good matchup for Flacco to produce streamable fantasy numbers on a sub-par Eagles offense.
Mike Glennon (New York Giants) C4
Opportunity – Daniel Jones comes into his 3rd NFL season as the entrenched starter in New York. The Giants brought in Mike Glennon on a one-year deal to be a veteran presence as the backup. There is no sign that Daniel Jones will lose his starting job this year to Glennon no matter how many turnovers he has. Jones does rush a fair amount and if he can keep the field tackling him instead of defenders he should stay healthy. Behind Glennon is Clayton Thorson.
Talent – Glennon never materialized into a capable NFL starter. He is no on his 6th NFL team in six years. The Giant’s offense around him is a huge question mark. Saquon Barkley is coming off an injury season and camp reports were that he may not be available till week 3. The Giants signed one of the top free agents in Kenny Golladay and John Ross to pair with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton. Training camp reports have made even staunch Giants fans question how good they will be this year with Jones as the starter. I cant imagine the doom and gloom being any better if Glennon was at the helm. He would be someone to avoid for fantasy unless he proves he can produce.
Taylor Heinicke / Kyle Allen (Washington Football Team) B3
Opportunity – The Washington Football Team decided not to draft a quarterback in the 2021 draft. Instead, they roll into the 2021 season with ultimate veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter. I believe that Taylor Heinicke beats out Kyle Allen for the backup role. He’s not the future but could be a starter for a few years. As much as I and most people love Fitzmagic, he hasn’t been able to stay the starter for a team since 2015 with the New York Jets. The Football Team has a week 9 bye and could make the switch then if Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a good opening eight weeks.
Talent – Heinicke isn’t great but isn’t bad either. He has limited NFL experience and has been inconsistent in his limited playing time. He has an okay college resume but has struggled with interceptions. The team around him looks to be pass friendly with wide receivers Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel, tight end Logan Thomas and running backs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissis. With no real tape to see what Heinicke is you can only put him in your starting lineup if it’s a very favorable matchup.
Taysom Hill (New Orleans Saints) A1
Opportunity – This WAS the hardest quarterback battle to predict. It now looks like Jameis Winston will be the week 1 starter. Tayson Hill looks to resume his role as a gadget player for the team. Winston has proven to be a solid passer and gets inserted into the starting role. I think the leash for Winston is one of the shortest in the league. With a week six bye Winston needs to go into it with at least a 3-3 record to hold his job. Opportunity should be there for Hill as a gadget player. The Saints need to figure out what they have for the future.
Talent –Hill has some starting experience. Last season he played well for the injured Drew Brees. Injuries have plagued the team with Michael Thomas being out. Now we have fantasy sleeper Adam Trautman going down. Alvin Kamara is still a top running back but after that, there isn’t much. Despite that, the team still puts up points and both Hill and Winston are startable when they are starting. Whoever is starting will be a high-end QB2 for fantasy. Their stock just goes up when Thomas returns.
Blane Gabbert / Kyle Trask (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) D2
Opportunity – Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. He has shown no signs of decline even at 44 years old. Now if Brady did get injured the Bucs are looking at a tough choice between veteran Blane Gabbert and rookie Kyle Trask. I believe that before their week nine bye it would be Gabbert but after that, it would be Trask going in. Preseason may shine some light but I believe that Trask is the future for whenever Brady retires. Also wanted to note that Brady has only 4 seasons where he did not play all 16 games. That includes his rookie season in 2020 where he played in 1 game for 3 passes.
Talent – The team around these quarterbacks is good. They returned all their offensive starters from last year’s Superbowl championship team. Wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown are the best triple threat in the game. Rob Gronkowski isn’t what he used to be but is still a big body in the red zone. Running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are capable running back. No matter who will go in for an injured Brady, they will be able to be competent. they won’t be winning you a week but they won’t lose you weeks. Low-end QB1s for fantasy.
P.J. Walker (Carolina Panthers) B4
Opportunity – The Pathers made the change from last year’s starter in Teddy Bridgewater and traded for Sam Darnold. The hope is that a change of scenery will revitalize Darnold back into the college player that had such hype when he was drafted. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think Darnold is not a good NFL quarterback and the Panthers will see that sooner rather than later. If he struggles and doesn’t have a solid record heading into week 13 bye I can see a change happening. I think P.J. Walker gets the first crack as the backup but I could see Will Grier taking some snaps as well. it will be an interesting battle to watch preseason
Talent – The issue is that I don’t see either Walker or Grier are a capable NFL quarterback. Grier played in 2 games in 2019 and there 4 interceptions and had one fumble. Walker has only played in 3 NFL games and has passed for 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions. He did however have a semi-productive season in the XFL where he passed for 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The rest of the skill positions for the Panthers are good. Christian McCaffery, when healthy, is a great running back and pass catcher. DJ Moore and Robby Anderson look to continue the stellar performances they had last year. I don’t think the Panthers are going to put the game in either Walker or Grier’s hands but they could get significant work in screen passes to McCaffery. They would be low-end streamers for fantasy.
Feleipe Franks (Atlanta Falcons) D4
Opportunity- Even at age 36 Matt Ryan isn’t going anywhere. The Falcons seemed locked into him as the starter for 2021. A.J. McCarron was slated to be the backup but went down in the 2nd week of the preseason with a knee injury. That leaves the Falcons with Feleipe Franks. Franks comes in as an undrafted rookie who had an up and down college career. He hasn’t shown much in the preseason so far. The Falcons may look to add veteran quarterback before the season kicks off to help.
Talent- The Falcons surprised everyone this offseason by trading away superstar wide receiver Julio Jone. They are relying on Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and Olamide Zaccheaus to pick up the slack. The Falcons also drafted top tight end, Kyle Pitts, in the 2021 draft who slots in to fill the long vacated shadow of Tony Gonzales. Franks hasn’t done anything in the NFL and I would be worried about what he can do. It is just too much risk even with the talent around him for your fantasy team. There is very little in the running game outside of Mike Davis. The team is a pass-first and Franks doesn’t fit that mold. I would avoid him for fantasy purposes.
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