QB1 Primer: Week 1
In our first weekly installment of The QB1 Primer, we look at the varying tiers of quarterbacks, assessing risk, home/away matchups, and realizing each week will have a bit of spontaneity. For a look into What Makes a QB1?, check out last year’s totals and what an average week looks like at the QB position.
This isn’t predicting exact order of finish, but more identifying which guys have the best shot to be among the top 12. We will organize our weekly picks in these 4 categories:
“Four”-Sures– Here are four starts that should be no-brainers for the week.
Com-Four-table– Four QBs with relatively safe floors with added upside to be a solid top 12 choice.
Last Four In– Four QBs who could sneak into the top 12 including a stream of the week options and at least one daring dart throw.
Four-get About It– Four guys who could be on the outside looking in of the top 12, including some higher profile QBs with tougher matches that could underperform.
See where The Fantasy Footballers have these QBs ranked for Week 1.
Drew Brees vs. OAK
This is the surest QB1 performance I can see in the slate of games in Week 1. Brees is money at home and the Raiders gave up the 7th most passing yards in the league in 2015. This is highest Vegas total of the week with 51 combined points. I don’t need to give you much convincing to foresee 300+ yards and 2-3 TDs.
Russell Wilson vs. MIA
Wilson finished the year on a tear in 2015 as the offense began to embrace an up-tempo but efficient passing game. He begins the year at home against a putrid Dolphins pass defense that gave up the fifth most passing TDs (31) in the league last year. Wilson also has among the safest floors in the business when you add in 30+ rushing yards per game.
Aaron Rodgers @ JAX
Rodgers on the other hand faltered down the stretch for fantasy owners last year but should return to form in a juicy Week 1 matchup even on the road. This game has Vegas’ 4th highest total for Week 1. The Jaguars, albeit much improved, ranked 4th worst against the pass. With the return of Jordy Nelson and the addition of Jared Cook, I like Rodgers even on the road to resurrect his QB1 nature.
Carson Palmer vs. NE
With the recent news of John Brown’s return, Palmer with have his full arsenal of weapons available at home against the Patriots. Palmer was as consistent as they get last year with 9 QB1 performances. He may not have the highest ceiling of these other QBs in this section but definitely has proven that his fantasy floor is QB1 territory.
Andrew Luck vs. DET
Part of me wants to wait and see if Luck and his offensive line gels together after a preseason which failed to impress. There’s just too much talent on the receiving end and I think he’ll be forced to push the issue against the Lions. I anticipate this being a high scoring affair with the total being 50 points and the likelihood that Luck will need to throw 40 times. He could easily end up as Week 1’s QB1.
Blake Bortles vs. GB
Bortles, for all the garbage time hate he endured last year, is a solid choice at home against the Packers. He showed last year that he was fantasy 4th most consistent QB on a per game basis. I like the potential for garbage time points and some deep bombs to Allen Robinson. You might need to close your eyes in the first half but the end result can certainly give you QB1 numbers.
Philip Rivers @ KC
The Chargers ran the most passing plays (710) in the league last year. With the return of Keenan Allen and addition of Travis Benjamin, you should expect much of the same up-tempo passing attack. Rivers attempted and completed the most passes of his career while throwing for the most yards and was a QB1 performer 8 times last year. The Chargers are a 7 point underdog on the road, a recipe that might see Rivers throw 40 times.
Matthew Stafford @ IND
Stafford has been one of my favorite late-round QBs of this offseason and his Week 1 matchup bodes well for a player who was the QB4 over the final 8 games of 2015. The Colts gave up the 9th most passing yards in the league and with a new up-tempo offense.
Last Four In
Kirk Cousins vs. PIT
One of the poster childs for this column last year was Captain Kirk. He opens this year with a home matchup against a Steelers pass defense that gave up the 3rd most passing yards per game (271.9) while also sporting one of the highest 1st down percentages in the league. I’m not in love with Cousins’ decision making sometimes but the end results can certainly enter QB1 territory.
Derek Carr @ NO
When you mix a porous pass defense and a young gunslinging QB, it adds up to a tasty Week 1 fantasy play. The Saints gave up the most passing TDs (45) and the highest QB Rating (116.2) while also surrendering the second most passing yards; in other words, it was rough. The Vegas line projects this as a high-scoring affair.
Tyrod Taylor @ BAL
Taylor’s running ability gave him some under-the-radar QB1 totals in 2015 as he visited the pantheon 8 times with a more consistent floor than Philip Rivers and even Aaron Rodgers. His 40 yards rushing per game gives him an “extra passing TD” per game, something often overlooked. The Ravens also had the fewest INTs in the league last year while also giving up an average 99.6 QB Rating on the year. Check out a full article write-up on the “Case for Tyrod Taylor”.
Joe Flacco vs. BUF
This is my “stream of the week” and an absolute under-the-radar play that could pay great dividends in DFS tournaments. The Ravens quietly led the NFL in pass attempts in 2015 and should continue to throw downfield under the tutelage of OC Marc Trestman. I like this matchup against a Bills defense prone to giving up big plays surrendering 59 plays of 20+ yards, 3rd most in the NFL in 2015.
Four-get About It
Cam Newton @ DEN
Count me out on Cam Week 1, which will surprise many who took him as the first QB off the board in their drafts. In a Super Bowl road rematch, I’ll shy away from a pass defense which surrendered the least yards per game (199.6) in the league in 2015. I’m afraid of Newton forcing the ball and not having the ability to rush against Denver’s vaunted pass rush.
Ben Roethlisberger @ WAS
Another tough road matchup for a QB with somewhat of a depleted core of playmakers. Roethlisberger was below average last year on the road, a narrative which somehow has flown under the radar. He only threw 5 total TDs in away matchups in 2015 and I know I am among the minority to expect this team to struggle out of the gate.
Jay Cutler @ HOU
Cutler is a streamable option most weeks but needs to be sat down in every format Week 1 on the road against one of the league’s stingiest defenses. The Texans were third best against the pass (210.4 ypg) as well as top five in sacks (45) in 2015. I expect much of the same and will be fading most Bears in Week 1.
Eli Manning @ DAL
The Cowboys were fifth best against the pass (227 ypg) in the league last year and I expect DC Rod Marinelli to approach their divisional rival with the same secondary intensity despite the lack of star power. Eli threw 11 of his 14 INTs on the road last year and I’ll be among those missing out on the enigmatic QB this week.
See where The Fantasy Footballers have these QBs ranked for Week 1.