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2021 QB Fantasy Football Scoring Review

By Matt Schauf 10:25am EDT 7/21/22


Josh Allen delivered for your fantasy football team last year.

QBs on whole, however, did not.

The group regressed from a 2020 fantasy-scoring boom to deliver its weakest output since 2017. Allen’s position-leading 27.0 points per game last year (which obviously differed by scoring format) would have ranked just 7th among QBs in 2020. It also would have landed him 2nd at the position in 2019, 2018 and 2017.

The NFL saw pass attempts decline in 2021. That followed 3 straight years of increases in the category.

2017: 1028.7 (attempts per NFL week)
2018: 1039.5
2019: 1050.2
2020: 1059.9
2021: 1039.6

There’s reason to believe in a rebound there. We previously saw even higher attempts per week (a little more than 1,076 in both 2015 and 2016) take an even larger plunge (1028.7 in 2017).

As you can see above, 3 straight years of growth followed that previous fall.

Everyone is well aware at this point that throwing the ball gets it downfield much more efficiently than running. So it’s unlikely that league coaches are collectively deciding to lean back toward 1980s football.

Just look at the draft picks and money spent on wideouts this offseason.

So don’t be surprised if we see passing totals rebound in 2022. Last year’s decline, however, did show up in fantasy points.


Weekly Scoring

Just like each of the past few years, I lined up QB scores for each week throughout the season and then took the median for each spot in the position rankings. The 2021 result for the weekly top-scoring QB beat that spot for each of the previous 3 seasons. But things went the other direction the rest of the way down.

Check out the drastic differences by spot vs. 2020’s big scores:

The splits proved less pronounced in 2019 and 2018, but still favored those seasons over 2021. We need to look back to 2017 for the last time QBs scored fewer fantasy points per game.

You can check our 2022 fantasy football rankings for our predictions on how everyone at the position will score this season.

As for this article, I’m going to shift slightly now to focus on how specific QBs fared on a weekly basis.


How Did Your QB Rank?

Call it Reliability Rankings if you want. Call it the Hunt for Spike Weeks. It’s both, really. And what you’re looking for here should depend on the format you’re playing.

Trying to win a tournament? Then you want a guy who can deliver you some 30+ weeks. Seeking a player who can just stay in your lineup every week so you can beat 11 other people in a single league? Then a lower-ceiling passer who delivers regular top-12 finishes might be your guy.

As you can see in the graphic above, 37.8 points marked the median #1 weekly QB score last season. In counting up top-shelf weeks, I went with 35 points as the bar, which aligns more closely with that level across the past few seasons.

Only 10 QBs gave us any games of 35+ fantasy points last season. Here they are, ranked by percentage of total games they reached that level

1. Lamar Jackson – 3 of 12 – 25%
2T. Josh Allen – 3 of 17 – 17.6%
2T. Patrick Mahomes – 3 of 17 – 17.6%
4T. Kyler Murray – 2 of 14 – 14.3%
4T. Tyler Huntley – 1 of 7 – 14.3%
6. Joe Burrow – 2 of 16 – 12.5%
7. Justin Herbert – 2 of 17 – 11.8%
8. Sam Darnold (!) – 1 of 12 – 8.3%
9. Aaron Rodgers – 1 of 16 – 6.3%
10. Tom Brady – 1 of 17 – 5.9%

Scoring 32+ fantasy points gave you a top-3 level QB week. Despite reaching 35 just once all season, Brady got to this range much more often.

1. Tom Brady – 7 of 17 – 41.2%
2. Josh Allen – 5 of 17 – 29.4%
3. Lamar Jackson – 3 of 12 – 25%
4. Patrick Mahomes – 4 of 17 – 23.5%
5. Kyler Murray – 3 of 14 – 21.4%
6. Jalen Hurts – 3 of 15 – 20%
7. Dak Prescott – 3 of 16 – 18.75%
8. Justin Herbert – 3 of 17 – 17.7%
9. Tyler Huntley – 1 of 7 – 14.3%
10T. Joe Burrow – 2 of 16 – 12.5%
10T. Aaron Rodgers – 2 of 16 – 12.5%
12. Daniel Jones – 1 of 11 – 9.1%
13. Sam Darnold – 1 of 12 – 8.3%
14. Kirk Cousins – 1 of 16 – 6.3%
15T. Matt Ryan – 1 of 17 – 5.9%
15T. Matthew Stafford – 1 of 17 – 5.9%

It’s interesting that both Jackson and Huntley spiked high in their biggest weeks, and you’ll see that Jackson continues falling down the list in the next section.

This list also better illustrates how much Brady helped fantasy teams last season. And we find Hurts and Prescott jumping in with multiple spike weeks, despite not reaching 35 in a given game.

Let’s look now at how often QBs reached QB1-level (top 12) scoring. That median checked in at 21.8 for last season, so that’s the bar I used for the count.

Here’s every QB with more than 1 top-12 level week:

1. Josh Allen – 12 of 17 – 70.6%
2. Aaron Rodgers – 11 of 16 – 68.75%
3. Josh Johnson – 2 of 3 – 66.7%
4T. Tom Brady – 11 of 17 – 64.7%
4T. Patrick Mahomes – 11 of 17 – 64.7%
6. Kyler Murray – 9 of 14 – 64.3%
7. Jalen Hurts – 9 of 15 – 60%
8. Lamar Jackson – 7 of 12 – 58.3%
9. Dak Prescott – 9 of 16 – 56.3%
10T. Justin Herbert – 9 of 17 – 52.9%
10T. Matthew Stafford – 9 of 17 – 52.9%
12. Joe Burrow – 8 of 16 – 50%
13. Kirk Cousins – 7 of 16 – 43.75%
14. Russell Wilson – 6 of 14 – 42.9%
15. Derek Carr – 7 of 17 – 41.2%
16T. Jared Goff – 5 of 14 – 35.7%
16T. Teddy Bridgewater – 5 of 14 – 35.7%
18. Carson Wentz – 6 of 17 – 35.3%
19T. Sam Darnold – 4 of 12 – 33.3%
19T. Trevor Siemian – 2 of 6 – 33.3%
21. Taylor Heinicke – 5 of 16 – 31.3%
22. Mac Jones – 5 of 17 – 29.4%
23. Cam Newton – 2 of 7 – 28.6%
24. Daniel Jones – 3 of 11 – 27.3%
25. Justin Fields – 3 of 12 – 25%
26. Matt Ryan – 4 of 17 – 23.5%
27. Jimmy Garoppolo – 3 of 15 – 20%
28. Ryan Tannehill – 3 of 17 – 17.7%
29T. Zach Wilson – 2 of 13 – 15.4%
29T. Tua Tagovailoa – 2 of 13 – 15.4%
29T. Davis Mills – 2 of 13 – 15.4%
32. Ben Roethlisberger – 2 of 16 – 12.5%
33. Trevor Lawrence – 2 of 17 – 11.8%

Carr’s fantasy season would look kinda crazy if you didn’t know the context. He finished QB12 in total points (depending on your format) but had the most top-heavy output.

He delivered 26.1+ points in each of the first 3 games, then never reached that level again. Carr posted 4 more games of 20+, topping out at 25.0 in Week 6. His final 6 games all found him falling short of 18 points, including 5 of 15.2 points or fewer.

That team, of course, lost WR Henry Ruggs after 7 games and lost TE Darren Waller in Week 11 (plus a missed Week 7). The Raiders have since traded for (and paid) Carr’s college buddy to try to change last year’s trajectory.

My biggest takeaway from this group, however, might be the numbers of Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow. Each offered you QB1-level scoring just about half the time last season. That’s not great relative to where Herbert and Burrow are getting drafted so far this year. (Stafford’s coming off the board a little later.)

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