We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.
A phenomenon exists during every fantasy football draft season: Offenses have multiple skill-position players valued highly, but the quarterback responsible for enabling all parties involved doesn’t go off the board until the later rounds. There are three clear examples of this ahead of the 2021 season. The following teams have at least three skill-position players ranked highly at their position, but their quarterback is going outside of fantasy’s top-12 signal-callers:
- Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins (QB19), Dalvin Cook (RB2), Justin Jefferson (WR8), Adam Thielen (WR23), Irv Smith (TE12)
- Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan (QB17), Mike Davis (RB21), Calvin Ridley (WR5), Kyle Pitts (TE4)
- Washington Football Team: Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB20), Antonio Gibson (RB10), Terry McLaurin (WR12), Logan Thomas (TE10)
The natural next question: Does history tell us this is a sign the quarterback is undervalued, or is it the running back, wide receivers and tight end we should be worried about?
I went back over the past 10 seasons to determine how many offenses enabled at least three high-end running backs (top-24), wide receivers (top-24) and tight ends (top-12) in a single year. From there we can see how often these units also consisted of top-12 quarterback play in an effort to figure out if Cousins, Ryan and Fitzpatrick are truly going undervalued at the moment.
Overall, there have been 85 instances of an offense enabling at least three combined high-end running backs, wide receivers and/or tight ends in the same season since 2011. Some key findings: