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The Most Efficient Quarterbacks of 2021



By Steve Schwarz | 6/5/22

Jameis Winston

Accumulating fantasy points as a quarterback has a pretty direct correlation to playing time. The more you play the higher you rise on the Total Fantasy Points list. But accumulating fantasy points in an efficient manner tells us much more about a quarterbackís real performance.

In 2021, the most efficient quarterback in the NFL was not Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson. No, according to my calculations it was Ö Jameis Winston! Apparently, rumors of his fantasy death have been greatly exaggerated.

Winston scored 137.1 fantasy points while touching the ball just 193 times over seven games before a left ACL injury ended his season. Thatís scoring a league-high .710 points every time he either threw or ran the ball. Maybe watching Drew Brees and learning under Sean Payton really did him some good. More about Winston later on.

There are a few more interesting facts which can be deduced from the chart below of almost all of the 2021 quarterbacks who took the field.

  2021 QB Efficiency
Quarterback Tm PaAtt RuAtt Total Att FPts FPts/Att
Jameis Winston NO 161 32 193 137.1 0.710
Joe Burrow CIN 520 40 560 390.4 0.697
Aaron Rodgers GB 531 33 564 381.9 0.677
Trey Lance SF 71 38 109 73.0 0.669
Matthew Stafford LAR 601 32 633 412.6 0.652
Russell Wilson SEA 400 43 443 286.0 0.646
Kyler Murray ARI 481 88 569 357.7 0.629
Jalen Hurts PHI 432 140 572 359.4 0.628
Josh Allen BUF 646 122 768 476.7 0.621
Jimmy Garoppolo SF 441 38 479 293.6 0.613
Justin Herbert LAC 672 63 735 450.9 0.613
Tom Brady TB 719 28 747 457.9 0.613
Kirk Cousins MIN 561 29 590 360.6 0.611
Geno Smith SEA 95 9 104 65.3 0.610
Dak Prescott DAL 596 48 644 391.1 0.607
Patrick Mahomes KC 658 66 724 440.1 0.607
Tyrod Taylor HOU 150 19 169 101.4 0.600
Cam Newton CAR 126 47 173 103.2 0.597
Gardner Minshew PHI 60 9 69 40.1 0.581
Ryan Tannehill TEN 531 55 586 339.7 0.580
Lamar Jackson BAL 382 133 515 296.8 0.576
Trevor Siemian NO 188 9 197 109.7 0.556
Carson Wentz IND 516 57 573 313.7 0.547
Teddy Bridgewater DEN 426 30 456 247.2 0.542
Drew Lock DEN 111 10 121 64.7 0.535
Tua Tagovailoa MIA 388 42 430 227.5 0.529
Baker Mayfield CLE 418 37 455 237.9 0.523
Taylor Heinicke WAS 494 60 554 288.3 0.520
Derek Carr LV 626 40 666 343.0 0.515
Mac Jones NE 521 44 565 291.0 0.515
Justin Fields CHI 270 72 342 175.5 0.513
Davis Mills HOU 394 18 412 201.6 0.489
Matt Ryan ATL 560 40 600 292.6 0.488
Jared Goff DET 494 17 511 247.0 0.483
Daniel Jones NYG 361 62 423 203.2 0.480
Zach Wilson NYJ 383 29 412 195.2 0.474
Sam Darnold CAR 406 48 454 214.6 0.473
Andy Dalton CHI 236 16 252 115.4 0.458
Tyler Huntley BAL 188 47 235 107.5 0.457
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 605 20 625 281.5 0.450
Case Keenum CLE 72 12 84 37.3 0.444
Colt McCoy ARI 99 22 121 52.7 0.436
Jordan Love GB 62 12 74 31.3 0.423
Trevor Lawrence JAC 602 73 675 275.5 0.408
Jacoby Brissett MIA 225 19 244 97.2 0.398
Mike Glennon NYG 167 7 174 64.8 0.372

For those quarterbacks who managed to play a full season of games, Joe Burrow was the ďmost efficient.Ē This probably isnít surprising as he threw 34 touchdown passes and 4611 yards against just 14 INTs and also rushed for a pair of scores though running isnít really part of his game. He also managed these numbers despite an offensive line which yielded the third-most sacks (55) and second-worst sack percentage (9%). With Bengals management making a concerted effort in the off-season to improve the OL (added Laíel Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karras in free agency), Burrow could be even better in 2022. Donít sleep on Burrows and be blinded by ďbiggerĒ name quarterbacks.

Russell Wilson didnít get a lot of love during the 2021 season but most of his issues were injury related complaints. Before his finger injury Wilson completed 90-for-125 (72%) for 1196 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception. His new receivers in Denver may not be Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, but beware of underestimating how Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick will improve with the arrival of Wilson and help keep Wilson playing at a very high level.

The league had already caught up to Patrick Mahomes before this season and the loss of Tyreek Hill will only emphasize this fact. Beware of overvaluing the Chiefsí signal caller. This isnít 2018, itís 2022.

 Patrick Mahomes
Year Efficiency
2021 0.607
2020 0.664
2019 0.644
2018 0.772

Itís difficult to have faith in Derek Carr even with the addition of All-Pro Davante Adams. Heís not very efficient and he doesnít add anything with his legs. Sure, his numbers should improve with a receiving corps of Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller, but donít expect top-five. Heís never thrown for more than 32 touchdowns and never averaged more than 21.6 FPts/G. Even his 4,804 passing yards in 2021 was bolstered by three OT games to start the season when he averaged 401 ypg. He averaged just 257 passing yards the final 14 games. Low end QB1 is your goal if you draft Carr.

Matt Ryan isnít a fantasy star anymore and the shift to run-centric Indianapolis isnít suddenly going to change that. The Colts may win more under Ryan than Wentz, but they arenít suddenly going to change their spots and throw the ball all around the yard. As with Mahomes, this isnít 2018 when Ryan averaged 26 FPts/G and his efficiency rated out at .650.

Mac Jones led all rookies who saw significant playing time (Trey Lanceís 109 touches arenít significant enough to qualify), but none produced a top-25 season. There were just too many factors blocking their way. The OL in Chicago for Justin Fields, the receiving corps in New England for Jones, the offensive scheme for the Jets and Zach Wilson and the complete disarray of the Jacksonville franchise for No.1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. I see the Jetsí and Jaguarsí second-year quarterbacks making the most significant improvements from this group of young QBs.

You can see why Ben Roethlisberger retired. He couldnít play anymore despite skill position players which the above rookies would have been dying to have on their roster (Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, tight end Pat Freiermuth and running back Najee Harris).

 Ben Roethlisberger
Year Efficiency
2021 0.450
2020 0.511
2019 Injury
2018 0.595

How is Mike Glennon on an NFL roster?

Now back to our most efficient quarterback of 2021 Ė Winston. Iím a bit concerned that he wonít be ready to play opening day after hearing he was still limping around during last weekís OTAs. Also, the retirement of Sean Payton should not be underestimated. Even though Pete Carmichael is still the OC under new coach Dennis Allen (formerly the DC), it was Payton who directed this offense. And the Michael Thomas saga continues. This is the longest running ankle injury in the history of sports. Without a healthy Thomas to go along with new additions Jarvis Landry and rookie Chris Olave, itís hard to see the passing game clicking. There are just too many questions for me to put my 2022 season in Winstonís hands. I would, however, be willing to take a flyer on him as my backup at his current ADP (156.8).