Trey Lance Dynasty Value: Where to draft him in 2021 rookie fantasy drafts?

Despite only stepping on the field once in 2020, Trey Lance still saw his name called early in the 2021 NFL Draft, but his dynasty value in various fantasy football formats is in question by some given the competition. With a tremendous ceiling, should fantasy managers be willing to take the long view when it comes to Lance’s dynasty value?

Trey Lance’s dynasty value for 2021

There is no doubt that Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence headlines the draft class. His right arm and ridiculous flow have been anointed as the next savior since coming out of high school. Behind him, the QB2 for the 2021 rookie class is up for debate. BYU’s Zach Wilson is the front runner, but Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Alabama’s Mac Jones remain in the conversation. However, many seem to be discounting just how spectacular Lance is? 

Lance has more burst than Fields and looks like a skill player in the open field from a dual-threat standpoint. While I hear the argument that he only played one year, well, so did Wilson, basically. Sure he played multiple seasons, but you can not tell me that the 2019 Wilson was a draftable asset in dynasty leagues. 

When you watch the film on Lance and make your evaluation of his talent in terms of fantasy value, remember this one thing — he was a freshman out there on the field making guys look silly. From a dynasty value perspective, Lance is the QB2.5 along with Fields. His ceiling is just as high as Fields, if not higher.

Don’t get me wrong. Any of these four are a cut above the rest, with Mac Jones sliding in at QB5. You would be delighted with any of them. Yet, knowing I can get Trey Lance a touch later and the skill set he has, I am all in on the kid from NDSU.

Trey Lance selected by the San Francisco 49ers

Mac Jones, who? Okay, but for real though, this is a phenomenal pick and could not be a better fit for Lance and his dynasty value. Shanahan is arguably the best play-caller in the NFL and now gets the most athletic QB to lead an offense loaded with talent. Forget the competition. Forget the exhibition game. Lance is a complete stud and, for my money, has the highest ceiling of any QB in this class. The fact the 49ers sold the farm to get the No. 3 overall pick tells you all you need to know about their faith in his talent.

The fact Shanahan fed misinformation throughout the organization to make sure potential leaks did not point back to their love of Lance is honestly amazing. Everything about Lance in this offense is the perfect fit, from his athleticism to having played in both the pistol and under center. The fact that he can bring a zone-read option that Shanahan loves to throw out there as a new wrinkle is incredible. Lance is the style of QB who could rush for over 600 yards and throw for 3,500 yards as a rookie.

Lance put on a show in 2019 at NDSU

Not every QB comes out of high school a five-star recruit with a mailbox full of offers. Some don’t even get offers to the schools in their own state. That is what happened to Lance, who grew up not far away from the University of Minnesota.

The only Division I-A college football team to offer him a scholarship was Northern Illinois. Minnesota wanted Lance to play safety. Instead of changing, Lance went to NDSU and made everyone go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate their scouting process.

Lance started all 16 games at QB in an award-winning and record-setting undefeated national championship season. NDSU’s 16-0 record was the first 16-0 finish in college football since 1894. 

Lance threw for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns on 287 attempts in his breakout year while completing 66.9% of his passes. Lance also got it done on the ground, rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. What is just as, if not more impressive, is that Lance never threw an interception. 

His breakout season put him on the map as a first-round selection in the NFL Draft. However, a canceled season in 2020 and some recency bias worked against Lance and his value for the NFL and dynasty formats.

His “showcase game” did not go as planned and might have been a mistake

The FCS moved the 2020 season to the spring of 2021. Therefore, Lance did not really get to increase his fantasy and NFL value in his final college season. What they did was play a single game against Central Arkansas. This was nothing more than a place for Lance to showcase his skills, rather than waiting for pro days and an NFL Combine that was uncertain at the time.

Lance looked mortal in his one game. He threw his first career interception and looked bewildered at times while taking 3 sacks. While he looked rusty in the first half, Lance settled down in the second. You saw his composure return along with his legs.

Lance went 15 of 30 for 149 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He also ran for 143 yards on 15 carries for 2 more touchdowns.

CAU had one job and one goal in mind in preparation for this game — don’t be his showcase. They took this game as a challenge and almost as disrespect that Lance was using them to show how good he was. In turn, they showed he was mortal. 

However, I think it would be unwise to throw out the body of work for a thrown-together game in the middle of a crazy season. It would not be wise to let this one game sour your view of Lance’s fantasy value and his potential in dynasty leagues.

Where should you draft Lance in dynasty rookie drafts?

The “level of competition” narrative for Lance is used as a knock against his dynasty value. There is a concern about the speed of the game. Aren’t we worried about that with every QB? While I will concede that NDSU wasn’t playing Alabama every week, if you can play and throw, you can play and throw.

Lance has one of the best arms in the class. With a flick of the wrist, it is 65 yards downfield. That has nothing to do with who he is playing against. Lance can go through multiple progressions, play under center or in shotgun, and he stays calm in the pocket. There is not a throw he cannot make, and he shows incredible accuracy downfield. My one knock is he needs to stop throwing fastballs to players five yards away from him. 

Lance is my fantasy QB2 in the 2021 dynasty class, and I would have no issue taking him in the middle of the second round in 1QB drafts. When you get into Superflex, Lance is my No. 2 overall pick given the positional scarcity and increased value on the quarterback position as a whole. 

The question is whether or not Shanahan wants to roll out Lance as the day one starter.  Give him time to learn the speed, playbook, and players while developing. Then, let him take over the starting role and flourish. But some of his comments as press conferences starting they were looking for a starting QB makes you think he has flipped his mindset of running out Jimmy Garoppolo early on. 

If targeting Lance, have some patience if he struggles and his dynasty value takes a hit

From a historical aspect, quarterbacks don’t typically have phenomenal rookie seasons — Joe Burrow (for half a season) and Justin Herbert are outliers. There are far more E.J. Manuel and Blake Bortles-type performances dotting the history books.

Since 2010, there have been 34 QBs taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Of those QBs, only five finished inside the top 12 in their rookie season.

2011 – Cam Newton, QB3
2012 – Robert Griffin III, QB5
2012 – Andrew Luck, QB9
2019 – Kyler Murray, QB8
2020 – Justin Herbert, QB9

Including those five rookie quarterbacks, only 15 ended the season inside the top 24. Context is needed as Joe Burrow and his injury-shortened season would have easily joined this group.

When we look at quarterbacks who had success early on, there is a shared trait — mobility. Yes, that even includes Luck, who ran a 4.67 at the NFL Combine.

We have to remember these elite prospects are going to the worst team in the NFL for a reason. They have more holes on their roster than just the quarterback. The ability to get out of the pocket and create in the open brings such a massive boost to a player’s value.

Lance is arguably the best dual-threat QB in this class, and because of that, his potential dynasty value is through the roof. His legs can get him out of tough spots when defenders are crashing around him. If Lance is still available when on the clock in rookie fantasy drafts, I will not hesitate to add his talent to any dynasty team I have.

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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