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Awesemo’s 2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers, Breakouts & Busts: Quarterbacks

Eric Lindquist



Firing up best ball draft after best ball draft? Getting prepped for that big home league? Then there is no better time than now to check out Awesemo’s Breakouts, Sleepers and Busts tool that coincides with the NFL Draft Wingman. Over the course of this week, we will go position-by-position breaking down the most undervalued/overhyped players according to the top minds at Awesemo. Be sure to refresh the fantasy football draft rankings throughout the preseason, as any noticeable snap count trends, standout performances or players named as starters will influence the rankings leading up to Week 1 of the regular season. But as it stands today, here are the top 2021 fantasy football sleeper, breakout, deep sleeper and bust candidates at the quarterback position.

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Fantasy Sleepers, Breakouts & Busts: Quarterbacks

Breakout: Lamar Jackson (Awesemo Ranking: 37; Current ADP: 50)

It would be disingenuous to call Jackson an unknown commodity, as he has been nothing short of a fantasy football star since entering the league in 2018. While many consider 2020 to be a down year for him, he still had a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season and seven touchdowns on the ground. That sort of built-in floor makes up for any passing game concerns, which really should not be concerns at all considering the 26 touchdowns he managed last year and the gaudy 36 he tossed in 2019.

And yet, after a year where he was drafted in the late first/early second round in a number of drafts, Jackson has fallen all the way to the fourth in 2021. That is an absurd drop that has made him routinely the fifth quarterback off the board behind Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott, who all cost significantly more draft capital. In fact, Awesemo rankings have Jackson listed as the third-best quarterback selection amongst that grouping and the 37th overall play, making him a strong breakout candidate at his current ADP. And if Jackson can eclipse the 3,000-yard mark with his arm like he did in 2019, expect a QB1 result to be very much in play.

Sleeper: Trey Lance (Awesemo Ranking: 68; Current ADP: 164)

The biggest discrepancy that exists between Awesemo’s Rankings and current ADP is Lance by far. He had a number of question marks surrounding his selection after playing just one college game in 2020 (and at FCS school North Dakota State, no less). But based on the enthusiasm emanating from head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch throughout training camp, it sounds as though Jimmy Garoppolo’s starting quarterback job is very much up for grabs.

And if that is the case, Lance could be primed to put up massive fantasy numbers due to the electric arm and athletic ability he put on full display in his first preseason game. His 5-for-14 line in that outing looks worse than it was due to a number of dropped passes, but he is more than in the hunt to win the job. And with the established skill players that surround him in elite George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, Lance seeing the field would mean massive fantasy potential for this entire offense. As the 22nd quarterback off the board in drafts but sixth in Awesemo’s rankings, Lance is a sure-fire sleeper to add to fantasy football teams.

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Deep Sleeper: Daniel Jones (Awesemo Ranking: 124; Current ADP: 192)

If following the traditional “wait to draft quarterbacks” line of thinking, Jones could very well be the man to snag in late rounds. He has had a rough go of it in his brief NFL tenure, going 8-18 as a starter in his two seasons. And without Saquon Barkley in the backfield to create plays in the passing game for almost all of 2020, Jones managed only 11 touchdown passes as opposed to the 24 he put up in 2019. Couple that with a notable turnover problem (22 interceptions and 29 fumbles in only two years), and Jones doesn’t exactly scream “draft me.”

But considering Jones provides something of a rushing floor, with 702 career yards on the ground, taking some fliers on him is far from the worst of ideas. Plus, with veteran Mike Glennon as his official backup, the Giants have zero intention of starting anyone else behind center all season long, barring injury. And if the newly acquired Kenny Golladay can stay healthy for once, Jones will have by far the best receiving weapon he has ever had at his disposal. So considering the fantasy point gap between top quarterbacks and mediocre quarterbacks is not nearly as spread out as it is at other positions, taking some shots on the bottom end of the board with Jones could be a profitable way to go.

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Bust: Joe Burrow (Awesemo Ranking: 167; Current ADP: 98)

After playing just 10 games in his rookie season before suffering a torn ACL injury, Burrow is back on track to resume quarterbacking duties for the Bengals for the 2021 season. The Bengals also added his former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase to an already stacked wide receiver corps consisting of Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, which should make for some highlight reel-worthy plays throughout the year. Burrow will also be playing behind the offseason’s fourth-most improved offensive line according to PFF, although they are still a far cry from good (or perhaps even competent).

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But with so many quarterbacks with so much rushing upside to elevate their floors, Burrow would have to really outperform passing projections to pay off his current ADP of 98. In fact, Burrow only averaged 14.2 rushing yards per game, and logical thinking would suggest head coach Zac Taylor will not put his franchise quarterback at risk with any sort of designed runs less than a year removed from major knee surgery. With so many other available quarterbacks that can get things done on the ground at far later stages of the draft, Burrow is a pass to be the relied upon passer for season-long lineups.

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