Joe Burrow was one of the most exciting rookies that came out of the draft in 2020, and the offseason moves give him an interesting 2021 fantasy outlook. The number one draft pick had an outstanding college year in 2019 and started off his NFL career in style. Unfortunately, he picked up a significant left leg injury mid-season halting his rookie year. With that in mind, we look at how the injury will of affected him? How the draft will make a difference to him and where should you be drafting him?
Burrow’s Rookie Season
Overall, the team worked effectively on offense while Burrow threw the ball. The issue was that the Bengals were hit with injury throughout the season. Joe Mixon only played six games, Tyler Boyd missed some time and A.J. Green was a shadow of himself. Combining that with sub-standard production, it was really impressive that Burrow was able to have the season he did.
However, there were some positive signs for the team. In particular the performances from Tee Higgins grabbed headlines. The offense generally is young and has plenty of opportunity to grow.
Joe Burrow had a good start to the season not only showing his passing ability but also his rushing. Unfortunately, the season-ending injury cut it short but his stats show positive signs. In the ten games he played he passed for 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns. He did throw in five interceptions but that is understandable given the protection he was given. He was on pace for 4,300 yards and 21 touchdowns had he not had the injury. Not only was his passing totals good but he was also on course to rush for 227 yards and five touchdowns.
Ultimately, Burrow’s season was ended due to an injury he suffered to his ACL. The offensive line were unable to protect him all season. Ultimately, Burrow finished the season with 32 sacks. Allowing your QB to be tackled that often is a recipe for disaster!
Offseason Moves & News
The news that has come out of Cincinnati recently is that Joe Burrow is going to be ready for week one. So happy days right? Well maybe not given the serious nature of the injury. The reason people shouldn’t be so bullish with that news is that he has had major reconstructive knee surgery. This was not basic surgery and Burrow himself has said it has taken a long time just to walk normally. Burrow has been quoted as saying that it was tough to do anything by himself including to shower or go to the bathroom.
The biggest worry when it comes to Burrow is that he only had the surgery back in December. For an athlete to be back and be 100% ready to go in nine months is a big ask. He will most likely be out on the field but that doesn’t mean he is at full strength. Another potential issue is how will he react mentally to being in a game situation again. When a player has such a significant injury sometimes they are not as care free as they were before having that injury. He might not have any of these problems but it is worth considering when you draft your QB.
The Bengals looked to try and focus on their weak spots in the offseason. The team mainly used the free agency period to strengthen their defense, but made a few additions to their offensive line:
- Riley Reiff 1 year $7.5m contract
- Quinton Spain 1 year $1m contract
Reiff in particular should be a decent option for them as a starting tackle. The veteran has been solid in his career, but truly hasn’t been a top-notch performer. However, given the weakness of the offensive line, it’s a significant upgrade over what they have.
We had a couple of months build-up to the draft where everyone was saying that the Bengals were going to take o-lineman Penei Sewell. Sewell was seen as the top choice when it came to finding someone to protect Burrow. However, as the draft got closer the buzz was behind stud wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to be the Bengals first pick. The former LSU receiver ended up being the pick and the Burrow Chase combination will hit the NFL this September.
Chase is going to excel in the NFL and Burrow has got himself a high-quality receiver. Along with the fact that they have a strong relationship already this combo should prove strong quickly. Also, it’s not like Chase is the only receiver he has. Currently, Burrow has got two quality options already with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Although the Bengals missed out on Penei Sewell they did bring in some additions to the offensive line.
In the second round, they bought in Jackson Carmen from Clemson along with D’Ante Smith and Trey Hill later in the draft. Although these guys might not have the quality of Penei Sewell they do have the size to help protect Burrow. When it comes to if Burrow will be a success this upcoming season much of it will depend on the o-line. The Bengals ranked 30th when it came to the o-line last year. If they can improve this even slightly it will be a huge plus for Burrow.
Joe Burrow Fantasy Outlook 2021 Verdict
There are risks with Burrow which is concerning given his age. The fact that he has had major reconstructive surgery on his knee is not good. However, he has done everything he can to get back to full fitness. The Bengals have bought in a high quality receiver and multiple o-linemen who should help Burrow produce more. If Burrow comes back healthy and plays a full season his outlook for your dynasty team will be positive.
Although some of this is speculative it does go to show that he is very much fantasy relevant. Burrow’s rushing ability makes him a candidate to put on your team. If you take Justin Herbert’s performance last year you can see a similar outcome for Burrow in 2021. Obviously Herbert through for 31 touchdowns which would mean Burrow would have to have a big bump to match him.
However, the rushing yards and rushing touchdowns would be similar to this year. Also with the improved o-line and extra offensive weapons, Burrow could reach those numbers. Herbert finished as the QB9 for the season and Burrow could do the same.
All of that together makes Joe Burrow an interesting prospect for 2021, with a fantasy outlook of being a streaming option with upside.
Image Credit: Ken Blaze – USA TODAY Sports