College Fantasy Football Preview: Comparing the Top Quarterbacks to Draft
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Corral.
As we head into the 2021 season with Malik Willis sitting atop our quarterback rankings, it is interesting to compare the Liberty signal-caller with a handful of 2020’s top performers at the position.
Before we get into the numbers, understand that we used game-by-game statistics instead of week-by-week numbers because last year’s schedule was incredibly inconsistent.
The table below was created to give you an idea of production consistency for each player from game to game.
Graphing last year's game-by-game fantasy production offers a better visual when it comes to looking at consistency.
Willis hovered around the 40-point mark in six of ten games last year, while Corral only flirted with the 40-point mark three times in 10 games.
However, Corral posted only one sub-25-point game, while Willis racked three such performances.
Perhaps the standout of the graph is Desmond Ridder's performance from Game 4 to Game 8, the most productive and consistent stretch of any quarterback last year.
Surprisingly, we went an entire season without a Lincoln Riley quarterback posting a 40-point game.
In the chart above, we took a look at each quarterback’s FPPG average if we excluded their top-five performances. This gives us a better look at consistency throughout the 2020 season.
Earlier, we mentioned that Corral had fewer sub-25-point games than Willis, and this graph shows Corral was the most consistent of the bunch.
We also mentioned earlier that Ridder had the most impressive five-game stretch of the 2020 season, but those games aside, he was no better than any other quarterback in the table.
A quick glance at Liberty's schedule will make you drool for Willis, but sometimes an easy schedule will lead to inconsistent weeks, especially if he's taken off the field because the Flames have a big lead. That should not be the case for Corral, who will likely play 60 minutes in almost every game this season, barring injury.
Before we move on, notice that Rattler was third on this list. Excluding each player’s top-five games, Rattler was more consistent, game-by-game, than Howell, McCall, and Ridder. Of all players listed above, he's projected to have the biggest jump in production in 2021.
The chart above shows just how explosive each player can be throughout the season, as they were in 2020.
Willis and Corral had four and three games of 40+ points, respectively, while Rattler, Howell, McCall, and Ridder combined for three.
This chart really highlights Ridder’s impressive five-game stretch. His explosiveness elevates his value in best-ball leagues, whereas his lack of consistency, as shown in the previous chart, lowers his value in redraft leagues.
To no surprise, Willis and Corral top the chart.
We haven't mentioned Sam Howell and Grayson McCall up until this point, but for as good as McCall was last year, he could potentially be better in 2021 with 10-of-11 starters returning to the Coastal Carolina offense.
As for Howell, his potential is sky-high this year as well. Last year, the Tar Heels scored 66 touchdowns — 31 passing and 35 on the ground. Howell recorded five of those 66 rushing touchdowns, but with the departures of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, he could call his own number a bit more often around the goal line this year.
He has passed for at least 3,600 yards and accounted for at least 36 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons at UNC, so a 4,000-yard and 40-touchdown season is a possibility this year, even with a new set of receivers.
So, we finally come to the point where we must decide, Willis or Corral? It's easy to see why they are our top two quarterbacks going into the 2021 season, but all of the data we just reviewed may cause some fantasy owners to re-evaluate their QB1.
Liberty’s schedule is a breeze, but will it be too easy at times?
Corral does play in the SEC, but the days of SEC defensive dominance are a thing of the past, and the Rebels’ lack of defensive prowess means Corral and the offense must outscore their opponents.
Willis or Corral? It's your call.
If you're more undecided now than you were before reading this, let us offer one last thought: What if Lincoln Riley develops Rattler into the next Oklahoma quarterback fantasy juggernaut this year?
Ultimately, you're landing a top-tier quarterback with any three of those players.