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Justin Fields: A Top-Shelf BACKUP QB for 2021?

By Matt Schauf 9:06am EDT 6/16/21


Bears HC Matt Nagy seems to be telling everyone who will listen lately that Andy Dalton is his starter and will remain so into September.

So does that mean we should forget about a rookie-year fantasy breakout for Chicago's top NFL Draft pick -- a guy the Bears jumped up 9 spots to secure?

We'll see. But here are some reasons -- in a FREE preview of Fields' player profile -- that you might want to keep him in your fantasy plans.

(Become a DS Insider to get full access to profiles, 2021 fantasy football projections and much more.)


What You Need to Know:

  • Fields entered college dead-even with Trevor Lawrence in recruiting rankings, with the 2 of them splitting the top spots across recruiting services.
  • As a 1st-time starter at Ohio State in 2019, Fields ranked 3rd in the nation in passing efficiency. He trailed only Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts.
  • Fields also ranked 8th nationally with 9.2 yards per pass attempt that season and delivered a terrific 11.6% passing-TD rate.
  • In 2020, he posted 9.3 YPA. Even better, Fields ranked 2nd among 154 draft-eligible QBs in Pro Football Focus’ adjusted completion rate -- trailing only Mac Jones.
  • PFF deemed him “one of the most accurate quarterbacks we’ve ever charted.”
  • Fields ran a 4.46-second 40 at his pro day. Even if you give that the 0.05 pro-day penalty, Fields would still rank 99th percentile at the position.
  • The former Buckeye ranked 13th in scrambles per dropback among 154 draft-eligible QBs in 2020, according to PFF data. He averaged a scramble every 8.5 dropbacks. Zach Wilson averaged 1 every 22.8, Lawrence 1 every 36.4 and Jones 1 every 47.6. (There’s no data for Lance, who played just 1 game in 2020.)
  • Check our Dynasty Prospect Scouting Report for more, including clips of Fields in action.
  • The Bears signed Andy Dalton this offseason to a 1-year, $10 million contract and tweeted on March 24 that he was “QB1.”
  • More recently, HC Matt Nagy was asked if it’s true Fields cannot take over the starting job in training camp (according to The Athletic): “Yes, correct. Andy Dalton is our starter.”
  • The NFL drafted 58 first-round QBs from 2002 (expanded to 32 teams) through last season. On average, the 1st start for those players came in Game 7.5. The median for the group: Game 4.
  • Widdle it down to the 36 QBs taken among the top 12 picks, and the average 1st start comes in Game 5.35. The median: Game 3.


Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Fields enjoyed a terrific 2 seasons as Ohio State’s starter. Chicago jumped up from #20 to #11 to secure Fields. Sure, Matt Nagy was on the Kansas City staff that sat Patrick Mahomes for a year behind Alex Smith. And the same could happen here. But Nagy might be coaching for his job. More importantly, Fields is simply a bigger talent. History says a highly drafted QB is likely to start at some point in his rookie season -- and usually sooner than later. We’re betting Fields starts more games than Dalton this year. The more games he starts, the more opportunity to turn his combo of rushing and passing ability into a high fantasy ceiling. Fields carries immediate upside well into the position’s top 12.

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