Patrick Mahomes is the NFL’s best player; there’s really no disputing that. The rest of the league thinks so. He’s also the betting favorite in the MVP race heading into the 2021 season. However, that doesn’t mean you want him on your fantasy football team.
Why? It’s truly not meant as a slight to Mahomes. It all comes down to where you’d have to draft him to actually secure his fantasy services on your squad and speaks to the minimal separation between top-tier QBs, or even the potential up-and-comers offer.
While making sure you’re not the first to draft a quarterback is common practice among experienced fantasy players — in standard one QB leagues — it’s something everyone can use a reminder on ahead of the biggest draft weekend of the year.
Patrick Mahomes’ fantasy draft cost is way too high
Case in point, Mahomes and Josh Allen in 2020. The two signal-callers averaged the same amount of fantasy points (25.3) per game. Mahomes was the first QB off the board in most drafts — a first-round pick in some cases — while Allen went in the seventh or eighth round ahead of his breakout 2020 campaign.
This season, they’re the top-two QBs by ADP, yet Mahomes (16.4 overall) is going a round and a half ahead of Allen.
Another example of the value you can find at QB later is Justin Herbert. He ended up starting 15 games as a rookie and was a waiver-wire hero, finishing as the QB9. Herbert was one of 10 passers who averaged between 22 and 25 points per game in QB standard-scoring settings. His 22.9 average was 2.4 fewer points per game than Mahomes, which could end up being the difference between a win or a loss in one fantasy matchup, but Mahomes is the one with the prohibitive draft capital that could mean your team has much bigger deficiencies elsewhere over the course of the season.
Jalen Hurts was another rookie waiver-wire hero last season. During the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16), he was the QB3, averaging 25.9 points per game.
Bottomline, going quarterback early puts you behind the rest of your leaguemates when it comes to roster construction at running back and wide receiver. Comparing the 2020 RB1 in .5 PPR leagues, Alvin Kamara, to the RB10, Kareem Hunt, there was a difference of 9.9 points per game. Admittedly, you couldn’t have gotten Kamara where people were taking Mahomes, but it illustrates the gap in running back tiers compared to quarterback tiers.
[2021 Draft Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]
There is so much value in waiting on QB
Dual threats Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray are coming off the board in the fourth or fifth round depending on league size. Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson are typically being taken in the 50s, while Herbert and veteran pocket-passers Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are targets in the 60s.
Ideally, you want to find this year’s version of Allen: A dual-threat QB ready to take a leap who’s being overlooked in drafts. Based on what he did last season, Hurts has been a popular pick from our group of fantasy analysts (here and here). While we’re not sure how good he really is as a passer, the appeal is that he averaged a ridiculous 68 rushing yards per game in his four starts last year. If he continues at anything close to that clip in 2021 and he’s merely adequate as a passer, then we’re looking at top-5 QB upside.
There are also several intriguing rookies who could offer draft value after pick 120, such as Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields. While Lawrence will start right away, you might need to find a bridge QB to fill the void until Lance and Fields take over in San Francisco and Chicago, respectively.
Mahomes is everything that’s right about the NFL. Root for him and appreciate his greatness. Just don’t draft him on your fantasy team or you might be the one losing squad he’s tied to.