ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of many members of the fantasy football industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site-to-site). This will be an ongoing series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks. Knowing your league’s ADP/scoring remains equally important when drafting, but I rank the following quarterbacks lower than the general fantasy community.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (ECR = QB7 vs. DDD = QB12)
Rodgers posted a silly 48:5 TD:INT line while winning his third MVP award last year despite the Packers spending their first-round pick on a QB, defying logic and expectations. He’s in the conversation as one of the best quarterbacks ever, but he’s being drafted too high in fantasy leagues in 2021 coming off such a monstrous season. Rodgers simply doesn’t run nearly as much (especially at this stage of his career) compared to an increasing number of other QBs throughout the league, and his outrageous 2020 TD rate is almost certain to regress.
Put differently, Rodgers’ fantasy value last year was tied to a TD% that’s historically been incredibly difficult to repeat, and it was aided in part by a favorable pass defense schedule that projects to be among the toughest this season. It will be especially challenging while playing in a system that operated at the league’s slowest pace last year while posting a bottom-seven pass rate.
In 2019, Rodgers was the QB14 in fantasy points per game, and more than a handful of legitimate rushing QBs have entered the league since. Rodgers is an inner circle Hall of Famer and a backend QB1 in fantasy, but he’s being drafted too high off last year’s stats. Jalen Hurts will likely score more fantasy points in 2021.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (ECR = QB13 vs. DDD = QB17)
Burrow is likely to make a leap in year two, but his ADP expects a major one. He was the QB18 on a per game basis as a rookie, when he posted a modest 6.7 YPA. That came with the sixth-best completion percentage above expectation, and the Bengals added former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase early round one, so it makes sense why fantasy drafters are being aggressive with Burrow. But he’s coming off a torn ACL, which not only can be an accuracy concern during the first year back, but it will almost certainly limit his rushing stats after undergoing knee surgery in December. Cincinnati’s offensive line remains a real problem, as is facing the Ravens, Steelers and Browns defenses six times (all three project to be among the best in football).
Burrow has a bright NFL future, but with a shaky coaching situation and being limited coming off a serious injury, there’s no good reason he's going so far ahead of Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins. In fact, I’d give Baker Mayfield a 50/50 chance of scoring more fantasy points in 2021.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (ECR = QB18 vs. DDD = QB26)
He’s a candidate for major growth another year removed from serious hip surgery and with two new receivers added, but again, it would take a notable leap for him to match his ADP. Tagovailoa ranked No. 29 in adjusted yards per attempt and No. 25 in fantasy points per dropback as a rookie, and he’ll be dealing with an uncertain play-calling situation. Will Fuller is one of the most injury-prone players in the NFL (and currently sidelined), while DeVante Parker has a long injury history as well and was on the PUP list until Monday. Rookie Jaylen Waddle is also reportedly still not fully recovered from his ankle surgery, so while Miami’s new receiving corps looks good on paper, it’ll be a challenge to keep them healthy (something the team benefited from greatly last season).
Cam Newton, New England Patriots (ECR = QB28 vs. DDD = QB34)
Only Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott had more rush attempts inside the five-yard line last season than Newton, and he’s a quarterback who missed a game. Still, as nice as the rushing stats are for fantasy, Newton’s struggles passing were at times downright ugly. Learning a new system and dealing with COVID could be to blame, but the safe bet is Mac Jones taking over sooner rather than later. Bill Belichick seemingly loves Newton, but Jones has quickly impressed. It'd be a major upset if the rookie doesn't end up starting more games than Newton in 2021.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints (ECR = QB30 vs. DDD = QB35)
Winston’s aggressive style has helped fantasy managers in the past, but this is a different coaching staff and system than when he was frequently throwing pick-sixes in Tampa Bay. While there’s a good chance he loses the starting job outright, even a best-case scenario for Winston will still lead to Taysom Hill entering games for multiple packages, including the goal line. With Michael Thomas sidelined indefinitely, the Saints also enter 2021 with arguably the worst set of WR/TE in the league. Hill will cost the higher pick but is worth it having far more fantasy upside.