Fantasy football player profile: Josh Allen


(As fantasy football dives headlong into draft season, some players warrant a little extra attention. All August, Dom Cintorino and Adam Pfeifer will do deep dives into some of the notable names. Follow along with our player profiles series. Today’s profile: Josh Allen)

Fantasy football value 2021 – Josh Allen

When the Buffalo Bills traded up to select Josh Allen back in the 2018 NFL Draft, let’s just say that many people disagreed with the move. Coming out of college, Allen had all the physical tools in the world but there were plenty of concerns regarding his ability to put it all together and become a franchise quarterback in the NFL. 

Fast forward to 2021, and not only is Allen not a bust, he’s one of the best signal callers in all of football. 

Allen is coming off one of the best breakout campaigns we’ve ever seen from a quarterback, throwing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns while adding 421 yards and eight more touchdowns on the ground. Since his rookie season, Allen’s completion rate has climbed every year, going from 52.8%  in Year 1 to 58.8% in Year 2 to a whopping 69.2% of his passes. And that was despite ranking 11th in the league in average depth of target (9.1 yards). Meanwhile, his 7.95 yards per pass attempt ranked sixth among qualified passers.

For fantasy, Allen finished as the QB1, averaging 25.6 points per game, while his 0.65 fantasy points per dropback was good for fourth in the league. Under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Buffalo really opened up their playbook, giving the keys to Allen. Of course, adding a receiver of Stefon Diggs’ caliber also makes that decision easier. Buffalo went from 26th in passing play percentage in 2019 (54.9%) to 11th last year at 61.7%. And in neutral gamescripts, the Bills were third in the NFL in passing rate at 63%. They were also among the league leaders in first down passing rate, which helped Allen attempt 572 passes (sixth-most), around 36 per contest. The change in Buffalo’s offense (as well as the addition of Stefon Diggs) helped Allen throw for at least 300 yards eight times last year after failing to reach the 300-yard mark in any game in his career before 2020. With Daboll back calling plays again in 2021, look for Buffalo to remain one of the most aggressive offenses in football.

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While Allen took massive steps forward as a passer, his continued rushing also helped unlock his insane upside in fantasy football. In 44 career regular-season games, Allen has 26 rushing touchdowns, scoring 8, 8 and 9 touchdowns on the ground over his first three seasons. With Buffalo abandoning the run quite often last year and Allen having the size and athleticism to take advantage of short-yardage situations, the Bills called his number a lot from in close. His nine carries from inside the 5-yard line last year ranked 16th in all of football and tied for second among quarterbacks. He was responsible for 37.5% of Buffalo’s carries from inside the 5, which was also tied for the second-highest rate at the position. Allen finished the year with 102 rushes but just 29 of them came off scrambles, meaning plenty of attempts were designed by this Buffalo offense. He also ranked fifth among quarterbacks in rushing attempts out of RPOs. 

It got to the point last season where if Allen got outside of the pocket, opposing defenses were in trouble. Per FTN’s advanced passing stats, Allen completed 72.8% of his passes when outside the pocket, which was good for the third-best mark in the league. Meanwhile, his 11 passing touchdowns from outside of the pocket were tied for the second-most in football and given how good Buffalo’s receivers are, if Allen gets outside of the pocket, odds are that someone is going to get open for him. Then there is the play-action passing, which was still very evident with Allen last year, despite Buffalo not having much of a running game. Allen finished second in the league in passing yards off play-action (1,594), while his 15 touchdowns off the play type were good for third-most. Finally, Allen posted the 10th-best completion percentage on deep passes (44.8%) so he pretty much got it done in every aspect of the game last season. He’s a star.

Fantasy football ADP stock watch – Josh Allen

The quarterback position (per usual) is loaded for fantasy, but especially this season and especially the top-five. Allen is very much in that tier but is closer to QB1 than QB5, per the FTN Fantasy ADP tool, meaning he is being drafted as a top-three quarterback in most drafts. I don’t see anything happening that will drastically change Allen’s ADP the rest of the summer and it just depends on who you prefer among the top five or six quarterbacks. It also depends on your overall strategy when it comes to the quarterback position in drafts but if you are targeting an elite player, Allen obviously needs to be on your radar. 

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NFL fantasy football ranking – Josh Allen

(Check out Jeff Ratcliffe’s top 100 0.5 PPR rankings.)

Allen comes in as the consensus QB2 in FTN’s rankings, just behind Patrick Mahomes. Eliot Crist and I have him as the QB3, while Jeff Ratcliffe and Chris Meaney have Allen as the QB2. Because the top five at the quarterback position is so loaded, I honestly can’t fault anyone for having Allen as their QB1 or QB5. Sure, it is difficult to expect Allen to post better numbers than he did during his breakout campaign in 2020 but he still has QB1 overall potential in this high-powered Buffalo offense. 

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