Finding value at the quarterback position during your draft provides a major edge. It’s tough to pass on flashy skill players in the early and middle parts of the draft, but in single-QB leagues, reaching for a quarterback often starves you or a premier wideout or running back. You can find good value on those positions in the later rounds, but it’s easier to find a legit sleeper or breakout candidate at QB. Even if you prefer to draft a QB early, dipping down in the rankings for a potential steal late can pay off in the form of a trade once the season starts.

The perfect picture of a sleeper quarterback is Justin Herbert last year. In single-QB redraft leagues, he was often undrafted, only to finish as a top-10 option at the position. 

Speaking of guys going undrafted, if you’re not in a deep league, be sure to keep an eye out for some of the sleepers below during the early part of the season. At least a few will be available on the waiver wire, so be ready to pounce if they have a hot start.

This year’s list features six players locked in quarterback battles. All have major upside if they run away with their respective jobs. 

  • People were quick to write off Tua after a lackluster rookie season, but remember that he was coming off a serious hip injury suffered during his final year at Alabama. Although his rookie season wasn’t what many hoped, he did show off his ball placement and accuracy skills. The Dolphins went out and got him two receivers that excel in getting open deep, Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller V. They play more to Tua’s strengths than DeVante Parker or Preston Williams. Tua already has experience hitting Waddle in stride, and they should pick up right where they left off. Mike Gesicki and Hunter Long are more than serviceable options at tight end, too. Put simply, Tua wasn’t set up for success in 2020. In ‘21 he is, and he could easily outperform ADP.

  • Mayfield finished behind the likes of Cam Newton last season at QB17. It’s not that Mayfield doesn’t have weapons or isn’t a promising young passer; he just doesn’t get the volume. He’s in the Ryan Tannehill range of passing attempts.However, there’s no shortage of firepower on the Browns’ roster, and Baker has shown capable of making big plays.PlayerProfiler.comranked Baker as the No. 2 quarterback in “money throws” last season (throws requiring “exceptional skill and athleticism” or “throws executed in clutch moments”). That can’t be ignored. With household names like OBJ and Jarvis Landry, the Browns offense always has the potential to explode. Behind an elite offensive line, Baker should sit comfortably in the pocket regularly. Additionally, the Browns offense will be among the league leaders in red-zone attempts, resulting in some easy passing touchdowns. He’s accurate and he’s not afraid to make big throws. Any increase in passing volume could mean a great year out of Mayfield.

  • Jones definitely has things going in the right direction. Saquon Barkley is coming back and Kenny Golladay is added into the fold. Whatever your opinion may be on KaDarius Toney, he’ll help the offense move the ball. If Danny Dimes can get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, he could enjoy a fantasy-relevant season, especially if he averages north of 30 rushing yards per game again. At his low price in drafts, he’s a low-risk, high-reward player — optimal for a backup if you take a QB early.

  • Winston, with his newfound eyesight, has a ceiling as high as a top-10 QB. Assuming he wins the quarterback battle with Taysom Hill, a Sean Payton offense led by a gunslinger has a nice ring to it. If he limits his turnovers, he could easily see 5,000 yards passing with close to 40 touchdowns in a 17-game season. (Though Michael Thomas’ankle injury clouds the optimism a bit.)Even in his disastrous 30-INT season with the Bucs in 2019, Winston put up a QB3 finish. Of course, Winston could just as easily lose the starting job and Hill could be a top-10 candidate, like he was during his starting run last year,thanks to his rushing floor. Winston would be the higher-ranking, higher-reward player, but Hill would likely be more consistent if he winds up starting.

  • Lock, like Winston, is another ‘throw caution to the wind’ gunslinger, but he hasn’t had any past success, even with solid weapons around him. He completed just 57.3 percent of his passes in 2020 and hasn’t shown much promise. But as we know, crazier things have happened in fantasy football. Does Josh Allen turing into an elite passer in 2020 ring a bell? Lock has nowhere close to the rushing upside as Allen, but another year in Pat Shurmer’s offense could turn the tide. Shurmer isn’t a sexy name, but he did lead a 2017 Vikings offense that produced a QB7 season from Kirk Cousins. With the weapons around Lock, he surely has the potential to do something similar.

  • The Jimmy G era is coming to an end in San Francisco, but when? In the year the 49ers made it all the way to the Super Bowl, Jimmy G finished at QB14. With even more weapons now, his ceiling is even higher if hewinds up being the full-time starter for the 49ers this year. But that’s okay. According to FantasyPros, Garoppolo is coming off the board at an average draft position (ADP) of QB33. We could see an Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes situation where Lance sits for a year to be groomed as the future starter. If that’s the case, Jimmy G will absolutely shatter that ADP. On the flipside, Lance has tremendous upside if named the starter early in the season. His rushing upside presents a solid fantasy floor. At NDSU, Lance posted 48 total touchdowns, over 1,100 rushing yards, andjust one interception. That’s not a typo. This suggests he won’t throw himself out of the game very often. He’s coming off the board before Garoppolo, and it’s probably a smart move to draft both of them if you draft either, depending on your league’s format.

  • Fields could vastly outperform his QB19 ADP. He has the tools to be a stat stuffer, and his low ranking is an indication of the unknown. Mobile rookie quarterbacks have a solid floor, but his success will depend on how long the Bears coaching staff pretends Andy Dalton is worth keeping in there. If Fields wins the job early in the season, he could be the best guy on this list.

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