I never like making the fantasy football bust series. I really don’t. I want everyone to be good, and I want everyone’s sleepers to hit, and I don’t want anyone to be a bust. Unfortunately, fantasy football doesn’t work that way. That means we have to take a look at some bust quarterback candidates for 2021 fantasy football. There are no criteria here except for the ol’ gut. Generally, I looked for guys getting drafted at or above their perceived ceiling for 2021 fantasy football. Let’s dive in.
Bust Quarterback #1: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
(ECR QB6, 65 Overall)
Russell Wilson annually ends as a top-12 quarterback, and I don’t think he’s going to fall out of those ranks. But, this is a caution against reaching for Wilson because you saw the top-five quarterbacks go off the board. Wilson is going 9 picks after the Lamar Jackson/Dak Prescott/Kyler Murray triple tap in the fifth round. Unfortunately, he doesn’t merit that pick. For me, I have him in a tier with Justin Herbert and Ryan Tannehill, who go three and 27 picks later, respectively. He carries a decent upside, since he’s Russell Wilson, after all. But, this really feels like you’re drafting Russell Wilson at his ceiling.
Let’s just compare this to Ryan Tannehill, who, again, goes two full rounds later. Tannehill finished the season with nine top-12 finishes, to Russell Wilson’s ten. But, eight of Wilson’s ten top-12 games came in the first eight games of the season. That was the “Let Russ Cook” Era of the Seattle Seahawks. Now, they fired Brian Schottenheimer because he didn’t want to run the ball more. BRIAN SCHOTTENHEIMER! Schotty famously loves to Establish the Run, so that particular disagreement is a bit head-scratching.
Wilson likely returns value as a QB1, after all, he’s done that literally every season of his career. But, drafting Wilson closer to Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson than Ryan Tannehill feels like a panic move. Sit back, relax, and take a guy two rounds later with the same upside (who added a Hall of Fame wide receiver to boot).
Bust Quarterback #2: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
(ECR QB10, 89 Overall)
This feels a bit icky since I ranked Hurts inside my top ten back in January. But, that felt a little overreactive and like a knee-jerk reaction to his finish. In his four starts last season, he finished as a top-12 QB three times. But it wasn’t like he was good in those games. He finished with a sub-52% completion percentage and averaged just 8.8 air yards per pass attempt. That means that on average, he was throwing the ball inaccurately and a short distance. Other guys in the 8.8 air yards range averaged a 64% completion percentage. That’s really bad. But, he ran the ball for an average of 68 yards per game in his starts last year. So, we can sort of wallpaper over his bad passing and stare directly at the rushing. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s enough to get me to take him inside the top-ten, not with the bevy of options at my disposal who can run and throw the football well.
But, there’s built-in growth possible here. Jalen Reagor had a lost rookie year, and Hurts gets college teammate DeVonta Smith back in his arsenal of weapons. Unfortunately, I’m just not sure if that’s enough. Hurts has a chance to finish top-ten, but drafting him inside the top-ten feels like people are getting Kyler Murray-Lamar Jackson FOMO and are transforming that into thinking that Jalen Hurts is good. He should be going in the top-fifteen, with a chance at top ten. Not going in the top ten, with a chance at the top ten. I’ll do what he has so much trouble with at the NFL level: pass.
Bust Quarterback #3: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
(ECR QB14, 118 Overall)
Matt Ryan’s ranking initially flew out of control when the Falcons drafted Kyle Pitts. But, luckily, it normalized when the Falcons traded Julio Jones. I am going to be honest… I don’t get it. He threw for a ton of yards last year (4,581 ranked fourth), but it took a lot of air yards to do it, and it took a career yard per target from a hall of fame wide receiver to make it happen.
But, it feels like Matty Ice’s career’s normalized: he’s averaged about 290 yards per game passing with 26 touchdowns and about a dozen interceptions in each of the last two seasons. And, as exciting as Kyle Pitts is… I don’t see Matt Ryan improving on that in 2021. Not with a new, run-first offensive coach in tow, and not while replacing Julio Jones with Kyle Pitts.
Ryan has a chance to finish inside the top ten but I am not taking any quarterbacks with his profile in 1QB leagues (all arm, no legs). He’s averaged fewer than eight yards per game on the ground in the last four years, and while he has six rushing touchdowns in the last three seasons combined, he had five in his prior ten years combined.
I’m just not interested in Matt Ryan, since he offers little-to-no rushing upside, and he doesn’t have a top-tier passing game at his disposal, either. He is what he is, and what he is is not someone I want in a 1QB league.