Justin Fields Dynasty Value: Buy-Low on the Steelers Future QB1

The NFL offseason is the ideal time to capitalize on dynasty player value, as the market price for most veterans remains stable—unless affected by trades, new signings, or injuries. During the dynasty rookie draft period, you have the opportunity to acquire veterans you believe hold value at a discounted price, with the hope that they will excel in the near future.

The 2024 NFL free agency period has been a whirlwind, offering a rich pool of potentially undervalued veterans to target in dynasty leagues. Among them, one quarterback traded this off-season stands out as particularly underestimated by the community. I’m eyeing this player for a dynasty bargain acquisition, and you might be surprised to learn it’s none other than Justin Fields.

BEARS TRADE JUSTIN FIELDS TO THE STEELERS

Justin Fields was one of the biggest stories of the entire off-season. The Bears held the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, which Chicago used on the best prospect in the class: Caleb Williams.

There is a lot of information to uncover with the Fields-sweepstakes, but allow me to summarize to the best of my abilities.

This may not need to be said, but if the Bears hadn’t obtained the No. 1 overall pick, Fields would likely still be their starting quarterback. Bears GM Ryan Poles said himself that trading Fields was “one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do on the job” and that he “wanted to make sure we did right by him, where he can have the opportunity to potentially start and continue his career.”

Poles was the former Director of College Scouting for the Chiefs in 2017, the year Kansas City scouted and drafted Patrick Mahomes. As irrelevant as this may sound, Poles believes in Fields as a player. He even said on the Pat McAfee Show that Fields’ Jersey is hanging up in his home, and his child dressed up as Fields for Halloween.

There have been countless negative reports from the media suggesting that Fields will be a backup quarterback for the rest of his career because of the price the Pittsburgh Steelers paid to acquire him: a conditional sixth-round pick for the 2025 NFL Draft.

The fact is that Ryan Poles was not quite zeroed in on Caleb Williams by the time free agency began, and because he waited, Fields’ asking price decreased. The common narrative is that nobody wanted Justin Fields, but multiple teams were interested.

It is important to note that Ryan Poles really did care about Fields and “wanted to do right by him,” thus favoring Fields’ situation over the Bears’ compensation. Fields chose to go to Pittsburgh, led by a legendary head coach, Mike Tomlin, who holds the record amongst active head coaches for most consecutive non-losing seasons at 17. The feelings seem mutual, considering Tomlin stated, “he oozes talent and potential,” at a press conference after the Steelers acquired Fields.

JUSTIN FIELDS VS RUSSELL WILSON

Yes, the Steelers also signed Russell Wilson to a one-year deal for this upcoming season, but it might be important to note that the Denver Broncos are paying Wilson $38 million to not be a part of their team in 2024.

Over the last two seasons, Fields did have a higher expected points added per play than Wilson did (while also putting up more fantasy points per game). Although Wilson does have “pole-positioning” for the starting quarterback job in Pittsburgh, I’m not overly confident that it will last for an extended period.

Mike Tomlin is enthusiastic about Fields’ arrival in Pittsburgh, as Fields has been featured in elite company (Michel Vick, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts) amongst all quarterbacks since 1970. Fields is also one of four active quarterbacks with more than 6,500 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards since 2021; a list includes some of the NFL’s elites, such as Josh Allen, Jackson, and Hurts.

In my opinion, Russell Wilson is obviously being used to clear some runway for Fields (maybe teach him a few things as well) to eventually become the Steelers starting quarterback. Wilson’s receivers in Denver had the third-best target separation, yet Wilson has taken the most sacks and had the worst expected points added on those plays of all quarterbacks over the last two seasons.

The Bears are clearly setting up Caleb Williams with a top receiving core, something Fields never had, adding top names like Rome Odunze and Keenan Allen to a DJ Moore-led receiver room. While Wilson showed poor play in Denver even with his receivers gaining separation, Fields’ receivers were just 28th in target separation last season. Not only that, but Fields’ Chicago receivers were 29th in drops, and amongst the 66 quarterbacks who recorded a start in 2023, he was 34th in protection rate last season, which might be difficult for any quarterback to look promising in.

Despite the horrendous play-calling and lack of talent around Fields, he could still manage with what he had. Similar to Lamar Jackson, the most intriguing part about Justin Fields is his rushing ability.

This past season, Fields was first in carries per game, third in carries, and fifth in both red-zone carries and red-zone carries per game. Given this opportunity, Fields also produced on the ground, ranking second in rushing yards and rushing yards per game.

In addition to Fields’ evident rushing prowess, he also showed improvement as a passer. This past NFL season, Fields was ninth in deep ball accuracy rating and pressured completion percentage, plus 10th in deep-ball catchable pass rate.

It will certainly be interesting to see how George Pickens, who was first in yards per reception and 10th in deep targets among wide receivers last season, can connect on Fields’ deep balls, like D.J. Moore.

Fields made the right reads and shots downfield, but the only receiver catching them was D.J. Moore. Simply put, his coaches did not put him in a position to succeed as much as he could have, yet Fields is being used as a scapegoat for how mediocre the Bears were the past three seasons.

Tyler Scott beats his man here (creating more than enough separation), and Fields makes the proper down-field read – but Scott makes a rookie mistake by slowing down during his route. Thus, the pass was deemed “overthrown.” This deep ball could not have been thrown any better than it was, and that’s exactly the big-play ability coach Tomlin is looking for. There were multiple occasions in which Fields made the correct decision, only to be failed by his pass-catcher or play-call.

Regarding fantasy football, Fields is definitely underrated, considering that he was fifth in fantasy points per drop-back and ninth in fantasy points per game. There was a vast differential there, too, as he was actually third in expected fantasy points per game last season.

Fields was not some no-name prospect coming out of college, either. That should be emphasized by the fact that Fields had a similar big-time throw rate and drop-backs per start as Josh Allen did as a prospect, both of whom were in a league of their own upon their arrivals to the league.

This will be a career reset for Fields. Judging by his metrics in the NFL and as a college prospect, he should be able to thrive given the right environment. Everyone knows Joe Burrow is one of the most electric college quarterbacks ever, and he brought his success with him to the NFL. However, coming out of college, Fields had a higher big-time throw rate and lower pressure-to-sack percentage than Burrow—plus, he can give defenders nightmares with his legs.

THE CASE AGAINST RUSSELL WILSON

After Russell Wilson was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos, there were real discussions regarding the Broncos deeming them “Super Bowl contenders.”

Wilson showed evident signs of decline, and the Broncos ended up being extremely underwhelming, as he owned a record of 11-19 throughout his two seasons in Denver. On the other hand, Fields and the Bears were never discussed as Super Bowl contenders because the team around him was considerably less structured than even Wilson’s Broncos.

When you consider Russell Wilson’s age and decline, it makes sense why he was only given a one-year deal. Fields is only a year older than the Broncos’ rookie QB Bo Nix (24) and just finished his third NFL season—he has more than enough football ahead of him to prosper and develop under Tomlin’s historically great system.

Diontae Johnson was traded to the Carolina Panthers, which prompted Pittsburgh to use their 2024 third-round pick on the 22-year-old wide-out from the University of Michigan, Roman Wilson. The Steelers are apparently moving toward a “rebuild” or “re-tool,” bearing in mind both of their best wide receivers are under 23, with George Pickens being their top pass-catcher.

Justin Fields should be able to work with this combination of solid coaching, decently reliable (but young) receivers, and an improved offensive line (ninth-fewest sacks and 10th-best pass-blocking unit in 2023) in Pittsburgh.

I am very much out on Russell Wilson being a franchise quarterback for any organization in the NFL, let alone the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why not take a shot at a young, athletic quarterback like Justin Fields, who is highly regarded by both a top-tier general manager in Ryan Poles and a legendary head coach in Mike Tomlin?

JUSTIN FIELDS DYNASTY OUTLOOK AND VALUE

Russell Wilson or Justin Fields? Which Steelers QB to Draft in 2024 Fantasy Football

In Dynasty, Justin Fields is currently valued behind veteran quarterbacks a decade older than him, like Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins. I am taking Fields over those quarterbacks every time. Fields does have far more upside in the long run, while those assets are depreciating and could implode at any moment.

Cousins and Stafford may outscore or outplay Fields this upcoming season. Yes, Fields may not start right away. However, the reward for investing in Fields could pay off considerably.

Mike Tomlin is a renowned head coach known for never having a losing season, while Fields is a young quarterback known for never having a winning season–one of those two “trends” has to give in. If it does not end up paying off to invest in Justin Fields, you are certainly avoiding a fair amount of risk considering his low market value at this moment in time.

Buy-low on Justin Fields in dynasty fantasy football while people still think he will be a backup quarterback for the rest of his career.

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