You can tell a child not to touch something because it is hot and will burn them. That child may listen, or they may end up touching the item anyway. The 2021 rookie quarterback class burned us, and while no one said don’t touch it, we should have seen the heat coming off it.
Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones started games for the teams that drafted them. While Lawrence has clearly been the best of the bunch, he still has a long way to go. As for the rest of the class, the remaining four are the closest thing the NFL has to a box of Bertie Bott’s Beans.
This class is a lesson for both the NFL and fantasy players. Each quarterback represents a valuable lesson to the fantasy and dynasty community. Whenever a player, especially a rookie, it is important to look back and answer the question, “Why?”
Lawrence was the king of the 2021 quarterback class and a former Devy king as well. Before Caleb Williams, before Joe Burrow, there was the legend that was a freshman Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. As a freshman, he took over for a disappointing Kelly Bryant and led Clemson to a National Championship. From there, the expectations for the former five-star recruit skyrocketed.
Lawrence serves as the lesson that tempering expectations is critical to finding long-term value. Look at what he was as a rookie. He was stuck in the human trash can in Urban Meyer’s franchise with a horrendous staff. He underperformed, and people panicked. Last year, he got a new coaching staff, they built a system around him and schemed him into positions to make plays. He finished the QB8. Now, this year has been some rough sailing, but he has shown he can do it.
Be patient, temper expectations, and stay the course. Lawrence will bounce back, don’t let it be against you instead of for you.
People argued about Justin Fields the most of anyone when it came to the 2021 quarterback class. Could he read a defense? Could he be the first Ohio State quarterback to find success? Was his final game against Clemson a fluke? All of these questions kept the draft and fantasy community split on Fields.
Fast forward two-plus years later, and Fields and the Chicago Bears have taught us a whole new lesson: coaching staffs and offensive lines matter. The Bears have yet to give Fields an offensive play-caller who can set him up for success. When you watch him, he is almost afraid or not trusting himself to make throws, which simply can’t happen. Yes, they gave him DJ Moore, and he has seemingly finally connected with him, but that isn’t always enough. The offensive line has never been healthy prior, and this year, they finally drafted him some help.
It’s likely Fields won’t be a Bear next year, and that is okay. Depending on the landing spot, he may still have fantasy value. Get him a proper offensive line and coaching staff to boost him and watch him succeed.
While he is an established starter from the 2021 quarterback class, Mac Jones may not be for much longer. Jones and the Patriots have seemingly plateaued as an offense and are now a fantasy wasteland. No free agent signings or coaching changes made a difference on offense, and now they are stuck in the mud overall.
While Bill Belichick, the coach, can’t be questioned, his general manager record can be. At this point, Jones has shown he can be a long-standing quarterback in this league, but his skill set is not that of a starter. The lesson Mac Jones has taught us is simple: you can dress up a pig, but it is still a pig. He never had the greatest arm, didn’t make plays on his own, and thrived within a system. It worked at Alabama, but for the dynasty and those around him, he is a detriment.
Zach Wilson and Trey Lance
In a two-for-one to close things out on the 2021 quarterback class, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance are the biggest disappointments in this group. Zach Wilson was drafted to the New York Jets with good coaching staff, weapons drafted around him, and an offensive line was established. None of that ended up mattering for him. Trey Lance was a project at the quarterback position coming out of North Dakota State. He went to a winnow team, which ultimately led to his downfall.
Lance sat for a year before earning a chance to start for the 49ers. While Lance would lose his job to a Mr. Irrelevant, Wilson lost his job to a generational talent in Aaron Rodgers. They have taught us that offensive schemes matter, especially in college.
Wilson came from a high-flying, pass-happy offense at BYU that produced a lot of flashy throws and numbers. We saw what it did for Wilson and then later Jaren Hall. The scheme took the thought process out of him, and upon being in the NFL, we saw where that got him. With Trey Lance, the old-fashioned, NFL-style offense at North Dakota State that was run first allowed his dual-threat skillset to work. In the NFL, he struggled with finding throwing lanes and windows and, like Wilson, trusted in himself to make throws.
Mistakes happen, especially in the NFL and dynasty fantasy football, but it is important to learn. After you learn the lesson that this 2021 quarterback class taught us, it is time to adapt.