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McFarland: 2021 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings & Tiers

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) against the San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking players by position is an integral part of fantasy football preparation. But grouping them into tiers is crucial to identifying the value you might be leaving in the draft room. For example, if you're on the clock and looking at several quarterbacks in the same tier, it could make sense to wait for a round — someone equally as worthy will probably be available with your next pick.

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Tiers can also help group players with similar expectations based on upside and floor. Most importantly, we don't want to pay more than the next drafter for a similar player.

Close = within three points
Trailing = down by four points or more
Leading = up by four points or more

Last Updated: Aug. 26, 2021

Tier 1

Rank Player Team ADP 2020 Top 12 Weeks 2020 Top 3 Weeks
1 Patrick Mahomes Chiefs 19 10 5
2 Kyler Murray Cardinals 40 11 3
3 Josh Allen Bills 32 10 7
4 Lamar Jackson Ravens 45 10 1
5 Dak Prescott Cowboys 56 3 2

Any one of these signal-callers could find themselves ranked No. 1 at the end of 2021. Take an opportunistic approach with this tier, adding exposure when they slip past ADP — especially if they complete a stack — but avoid reaching. If you come to a crossroads the first five to six rounds where you don't like the skill position value, all of these players are solid pivots.

Patrick Mahomes is in a perfect situation. Elite talent, a top-notch supporting cast (Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce) and a pass-heavy offense culminate with a nod for the No. 1-ranked quarterback in the top tier. 

Chiefs 2020 Pass-Play Percentages and Ranks
Close Pass % Close Rank Trail Pass % Trail Rank Lead Pass % Lead Rank
67.7% 3rd 76.3% 1st 61.1% 4th

The fourth-year quarterback also brings a solid floor in the rushing department with 272, 218 and 208 yards over the last three seasons. He has averaged 26.9, 21.0 and 25.2 fantasy points per game in three seasons as a starter. In 2019, he battled through a knee dislocation and missed two games.

Despite receiving the top position in the tier, Mahomes isn't the recommended play. The other four provide more value due to their discounted price.

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