Outside of superflex and 2QB formats, running backs and wide receivers are the more prestigious positions in fantasy football. Nevertheless, correctly identifying QB breakouts that can be targeted as late-round fliers in fantasy football drafts can be a game-changer and make your team a contender. So which quarterbacks could break out in 2021?
2021 Fantasy Football QB Breakouts | AFC
Will a change of scenery for one QB help him break out for his new team in 2021?
Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts
I don’t need to tell you how bad Carson Wentz was in 2020 — but I will. Wentz had career lows in nearly every category last season and a career-high in the one a QB doesn’t want. After 12 weeks in which Wentz totaled 2,620 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions on 251 of 437 pass attempts (57.4%), he was benched as the Eagles’ starting QB in favor of Jalen Hurts. As a result, Hurts showed enough promise that Philadelphia elected to send Wentz and his hefty contract to Indianapolis.
Quite honestly, this looks like a good opportunity for both sides. The Eagles moved on from Wentz and gained significant draft capital in the process. On the other hand, Wentz gets a fresh start with a familiar face on a contending team.
Colts head coach Frank Reich was Wentz’s offensive coordinator in Philly from 2016 to 2017. In Wentz’s sophomore season in 2017, he threw a career-high 33 touchdowns and was the QB2 in fantasy through 14 weeks before tearing his ACL. Following the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory, Reich accepted the head coaching position at Indianapolis. Since then, Wentz has been mediocre at best, with last year’s performance the worst of his career. Nevertheless, Reich thought it was worthy enough to trade for him after such a tumultuous season.
The Colts are a contending team, and I believe that Reich will get Wentz back in the right direction. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say he’ll be the QB2 again anytime soon, he should easily outperform his current ADP of QB21. Projecting Wentz to finish as a low-end QB1 should not be a bold take.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
Contrary to popular opinion, Tua Tagovailoa played “fine” in his rookie season. But when the QB that goes directly behind you in the NFL Draft puts up record numbers, you’re going to get the brute of the criticism — whether it’s warranted or not. In truth, some of it was. After all, Tua was a rookie in 2020, and rookie QBs tend to make their fair share of mistakes. A lot of it, however, was out of Tua’s control.
First and foremost, Tua was coming off major hip surgery in a year with no preseason or training camp. Furthermore, he had next to no one to throw to. An argument could be made that Tua probably shouldn’t have seen the field in 2020, and in some aspects, I agree.
With a year under his belt and offseason training to go with it, Tua is now in position to break out in 2021. Tua is feeling much better health-wise and has additional weapons to throw to this coming season. He’s not only reunited with his former Alabama teammate, Jaylen Waddle, but the Dolphins also signed WR Will Fuller in free agency. Both players make Miami’s offense drastically better, and Tua should reap the benefits.
The Dolphins’ QB situation is an interesting one, to say the least. But the pieces are there for Tua to take a huge leap in his second year. Assuming he does, it should make him a viable asset in fantasy. Not only is Tua a QB breakout candidate in 2021, but with a schedule that includes the Jets twice, the Panthers, and the Giants between Weeks 11-15, he could also be a league winner in several fantasy football leagues.
2021 Fantasy Football QB Breakouts | NFC
Which QB breakouts stand out from the NFC?
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
While the jury is still out as to whether Jalen Hurts can be the guy for the Eagles, fantasy managers should be excited for what he can do in Year 2. In Weeks 14-16 as the starter last season, Hurts was the QB3, with an average of 25.89 fantasy points per game. Yes, this is a small sample size because Hurts had just four starts on the year, but he was a league winner for fantasy managers willing enough to start him.
As a passer, Hurts still needs some work at the NFL level. He completed just over 52% of his 148 total attempts, with an average of 229.8 passing yards per game in his four starts. But on the ground is where he turned heads and why he has the capability to break out in 2021. In those four starts, Hurts added 46 rushes for 272 yards and 3 touchdowns. For what that means for his fantasy value, we need to look no further than Week 17.
Hurts played miserably in Week 17 — to the point that he was benched in favor of Nate Sudfeld. Of course, we could speculate he was pulled for other reasons, but there’s no denying that Hurts was awful through three quarters. He finished the game completing 7 of 20 passes for 72 yards and an interception. However, he added 8 rushes for 34 yards and 2 scores. That gave him a total of 17.28 fantasy points on the day.
It’s just one game, but if this is what we can expect Hurts’ floor to be in 2021, then sign me up. For 2021, I’d expect more games like the previous three when Hurts was electric. As a breakout candidate for 2021, Hurts has the potential to finish the season as a top-six QB.
Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers
AGE has certainly played a factor in Sam Darnold’s development. No, not actual age, since Darnold is still only 24 years old, but what simply is known as the Adam Gase Effect. Ryan Tannehill — amongst many other players — has suffered from AGE in the past but has shown it is possible to overcome.
Like Wentz, Darnold is in an excellent position to revitalize his career. Head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady are two of the best offensive coaches in the NFL. For them and GM Scott Fitterer to sign off on a trade for Darnold instead of taking a QB in the NFL Draft should tell you how they feel about his ability to be a franchise player.
In addition to his fresh start, Darnold is reunited with WR Robby Anderson. In 30 games together in New York, the two players connected 102 times for 1,531 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite Darnold’s obvious problems in New York, the two had great chemistry together on the field. And now, he’ll get the chance to build chemistry with another great receiver in D.J. Moore and the No. 1 overall fantasy player, Christian McCaffrey.
I’m not going out of my way to draft Darnold in 1QB formats. Nevertheless, I think he’ll turn out to be a popular streaming option and a sneaky good option to have in 2QB sets.
Want more fantasy football analysis and news?
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay current with all things around the NFL and the upcoming 2021 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.