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Fantasy football 2021: Second-year quarterbacks with breakout potential

There are only three projected starters who were rookies a season ago.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The second season is always a critical one in an NFL quarterback’s development as he transitions from the college to the professional game.

With such a bizarre offseason a year ago, the three rookie starters, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, had condensed offseasons mired with COVID testing and contact tracing protocols. But now they get a full year in an offense under their belts and it should mean big improvements moving forward for at least two of them. Burrow is recovering from an ACL injury, so it’s unclear just how ready he’ll be when Week 1 rolls around.

While both QBs who ended the year healthy should have really good years, one had already started almost a full season and had his own breakout year in 2020. So that only leaves one real option for a “breakout second-year QB”.

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

Tagovailoa was thrown into a musical chairs type of role late last season, as the team teetered back and forth between him and veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. But heading into year two in the same offense he should be comfortable and ready to attack NFL defenses. He also won’t be looking over his shoulder the whole season, as he’s now the unquestioned QB 1 for Miami with Fitzpatrick’s departure.

Miami had issues at pass-catcher last season, with no player eclipsing the 800-yard mark and just one wide receiver with over 500 total yards. Their top two pass-catchers in DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki return with a combined 1,500 yards and 10 scores between them. But they upgraded the role a lot this offseason to help give the second-year QB more top-tier options to throw the ball to. The Fins went out and got Will Fuller from Houston, who has been an elite WR when not dealing with injuries. Miami also drafted Tagovalioa’s old Alabama teammate, Jaylen Waddle, in the first round of the NFL Draft. That instant chemistry will be very important as they look to get out to a fast start in 2021.