Predicting the Top 12 QBs for Week 1 (Fantasy Football)
Here we are again. I find myself in a familiar position… in a not-so-familiar 2020.
This is the 6th year for the Fantasy Footballers I’ve undergone the task of whittling down 32 starting NFL QBs to just 12 for the week. To keep me accountable, I post the success rate of the column at the bottom each week so you have a chance to follow along. For reference, anything near 60 percent is ridiculously good in the fantasy football space. Last year I ended at 57 percent and take pride in working through my process each week.
As mentioned in the 25 QB Statistics article early this off-season, the QB position is streamable. There are always a number of good weekly options. The long-term goal is to find the right blend of your league waiver wire QBs and some solid matchup-dependent plays. This article isn’t about predicting the exact order of finish, but more identifying which guys have a shot to be among the top-12. There will be QBs from among the 32 you don’t see listed here. It means I likely think of them in that low-end QB1 range of QBs10-15 and don’t feel a strong lean this week.
Here is how I will breakdown the QBs heading into Week 1:
Four-Sures: Top-4 for the week and definite must-starts.
Com-Four-table: Four QBs with relatively safe floors with added upside to be a solid top-12 choice.
Four In the Door: Four QBs who could sneak into the top-12 including the Ballers “Stream of the Week” options and at least one daring dart throw.
Four-Get-About-It: Four QBs I’m fading this week and projecting to finish outside the top 12. Often this includes some higher-profile QBs with tougher matchups that could underperform.
***IMPORTANT NOTE*** There are 15-20 viable QB starts each week. If you don’t see your guy listed on here, that’s ok. This article is about predicting the top-12 not necessarily who is safest. I’d strongly advise you to follow Andy, Mike, and Jason’s advice for where they have QBs ranked for Week 1.
Russell Wilson @ ATL
It’s time for Peach Cobbler to get out of the kitchen and #LetRussCook. The Falcons gave up the 8th most fantasy points to opposing QBs and the Seahawks are 1.5 point road favorites. This game should be a shootout with the line rising to 49 as of this publishing.
Dak Prescott @ LAR
We forget how good Dak was last year. He was in full control of this offense setting career highs in almost every category. The Cowboys have the 3rd highest team implied total of the week. Even on the road, he’s a top-5 play with 300 yards almost always on the table.
Deshaun Watson @ KC
Mahomes’ counterpart in the Thursday Night game just got paid to be great… because he is. In losses, Watson averages over seven yards per carry and is always a threat to run in a score. He’ll have to keep up with Mahomes in the highest over/under of the week. He’s an every-week play. Listen to the Footballers discuss the Thursday Night Game.
Matt Ryan vs SEA
While the Falcons aren’t intimidating at home, Ryan knows how to rack up yardage and can get to the top-12 pantheon from sheer volume. The Seahawks gave up the 6th most passing yards in the league and were bottom-5 in terms of sack rate. If Ryan has a protected pocket and has time, he should be able to get there. Trust Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to cause fits for the opposing secondary. Ryan is Jason’s “Start of the Week”.
Ben Roethlisberger @ NYG
Reports have been good recently that Ben looks healthy and ready to roll. This Monday night matchup against the Giants is a great way to get started. The Giants gave up the fifth-most passing yards and the 4th most passing yards in the league. He’s ranked as the Footballers Consensus QB10 for the week and his floor seems safe with a 26 point team implied total.
Carson Wentz @ WSH
He is a safe play this week albeit on the road. The last time he played Washington, Wentz went for 295 and three TDs. Last year, Washington allowed the 9th most fantasy points to opposing QBs and I like that trend to continue. They allowed the 3rd most passing TDs in the league in 2019. Philadelphia’s line is banged-up and so is Miles Sanders but Wentz can get to 250 & two TDs this week easily.
Four in the Door
Matthew Stafford vs CHI
Stafford at home in Week 1 seems like a safe play. Last year at home, he averaged 310 passing yards per game and three TDs. Don’t be scared off by these Bears. There’s a connection between Stafford and Golladay, who went 3/57/1 & 4/158/1 in his two games against Chicago without Stafford. He’s “Andy Start of the Week“.
Jimmy Garoppolo vs ARZ
We poo-poo on the handsome one after the 49ers Super Bowl loss. He’s an efficient passer ranking 3rd in yards per attempt (8.4), 7th in TD Rate (5.7%), and 8th in passer rating (102.0) last year. At home against the Cardinals, he has the 4th highest team implied total (27.3) of Week 1. Arizona allowed 27.6 points per game last season, 5th most in the NFL, and the MOST passing yards in the league. They bleed yards on the field. He is a better DFS tournament play than a start but he’s in consideration to sneak into the top-12.
Teddy Bridgewater vs LV
If you’ve been following me at all this year, I love what the Panthers are trying to do on offense. I mentioned they were the 5th-fastest in 2019 in terms of seconds per play in the DFS Pace of Play article. The Panthers hit the over in 11 of their 16 games and I like them as 3.5 dogs at home. Bridgewater is accurate and has the playmakers and speed to make things happen. The Raiders gave up the 7th most fantasy points to opposing QBs last year. Love me some Teddy B this week. Don’t @ me.
Dwayne Haskins Jr. vs PHI
Here’s my dart throw of the week. Remember every year there are 40+ QBs who finish in the top-12 and Haskins could be one of them. It’s not pretty but just a reminder that Washington played Philly close last year. The Eagles won 32-27 in Week 1 and 37-27 in Week 15. In those games, Terry McLaurin absolutely torched them (5/125/1 and 5/130/1) and Darius Slay doesn’t scare me off at all. I think this game could be close and rookie Antonio Gibson will be used out of the backfield.
Drew Brees vs TB
Tom Brady @ NO
Whoa.. whoa.. whoa… This is a strong stance for Week 1 fading two future Hall of Famers in the highest Vegas total of the weekend aside from Texans/Chiefs. Last year, Tampa Bay games hit the over in 12 of their 16 contest, by far the most in the NFL, mostly due to Jameis Winston. But this is a completely different team. For all the talk of their shootouts in the dome, the Saints were fortunate last year going 7-1 in one-score games and hit the under in four of their eight home games. This isn’t a guarantee and I’ll go with the under and lackluster production from the old gunslingers.
Aaron Rodgers @ MIN
Rodgers on the road is not at the top of my list at this point in his career. Last year, in both games against Minnesota, he barely surpassed 200 passing yards. The Packers are a running team and their identity lies with Aaron Jones these days, who destroyed the Vikings last year: 23/116/1 & 23/154/2. I’m not starting him anywhere.
Don’t see your QB here? Consult the Footballers award-winning rankings each week.