Justin Fields enters the 2021 NFL Draft at 22 years years old with an impressive resume. After backing up Georgia QB Jake Fromm in his freshman season, the five-star recruit transferred to Ohio State where he started for the next two years.
As the starter for the Buckeyes, Fields went 19-0 in the regular season, including two consecutive Big 10 Conference Championships wins and two trips to the College Football Playoffs. The team advanced to the National Championship against Alabama in his final season, but lost to the Crimson Tide in the final hour.
Fields closed out his two-year career with Ohio State with completing 296 passes on 579 attempts, 5,373 passing yards, 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions. To top it off, he rushed for 867 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
It feels like Fields is getting lost in the shuffle amid the Mac Jones rumors, Trey Lance hype and certainty of Trevor Lawrence at the No. 1 overall pick. Fields and Lawrence were neck and neck in prospect rankings coming into college, both highly touted as five-star recruits. He’s an elite athlete with a durable frame at 6’3” and 228 pounds and clocked in an unofficial 4.44 40-yard dash. He’s got excellent arm strength and the accuracy to put the ball exactly where his receiver needs it.
The knocks on Fields mostly stem from concerns regarding his ability to make timely reads and processing speed. There are times that Fields holds onto the ball a bit longer than he should to extend a play, which can always leave the potential for taking an unnecessary sack or forcing a boneheaded play.
Mock Draft landing spots
Fields has been projected all over the map recently. In Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent 2021 NFL Mock Draft, he was projected to be drafted No. 7 overall by the Detroit Lions. Todd McShay’s most recent mock draft had Fields falling down to the No. 11 pick to the New England Patriots. The Atlanta Falcons have also been apart of the rumor mill, though we did get recent word that they’re open to trading back.
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
Rookie quarterbacks don’t always see immediate success (on the field, or in fantasy football), but Fields has enough rushing upside to provide him an instant “cheat code” for fantasy football production. The risks with any rookie asset in fantasy football is the potential that they won’t be an immediate starter. If the team that drafts Fields has a capable starter (à la Matt Ryan for the Falcons) and feel that he does have room to grow in terms of processing the field, there’s always the potential for him to sit. If he does get the start, he has the potential for immediate impact as a low-end QB1, high-end QB2 with upside for days — based on his legs alone.
Fantasy impact: Career
Fields’ long-term impact for fantasy football managers is of course tied to the longevity of his career and finding the right offensive scheme. However, his innate abilities as a quarterback and athlete make him a player with high-upside. He’s got a strong arm and is accurate to boot, but his rushing ability could be what takes his upside in fantasy football to a whole new level.
In 2020, eight of the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks had at least 250 rushing yards. Fantasy football scoring tends to favor rushing yards over passing yards, and that is precisely how Cam Newton managed to finish as the QB16 despite just 2,657 passing yards, 8 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Fields is a future fantasy football stud in the making.