by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s finally time for the regular season to start! Week 1 is one of the more difficult to predict, as the preseason generally gives little insight into what we should expect. The NFL is always changing, so even looking at results and numbers from 2017 doesn’t necessarily bear much value. That said there are injuries and other issues that influence perspective value, so let’s take a look at the best quarterback options heading into Week 1:
- Tom Brady – New England Patriots – vs. Houston
- Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers – vs. Chicago
- Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers – vs. Dallas
- Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cleveland
- Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
- Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks – at Denver
- Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings – vs. San Francisco
- Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions – vs. New York Jets
- Deshaun Watson – Houston Texans – at New England
- Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams – at Oakland
- Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Kansas City
- Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs – at Los Angeles Chargers
- Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
- Alex Smith – Washington Redskins – at Arizona
- Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals – at Indianapolis
- Nick Foles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Atlanta
- Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans – at Miami
- Jimmy Garoppolo – San Francisco 49ers – at Minnesota
- Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys – at Carolina
- Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons – at Philadelphia
- Mitch Trubisky – Chicago Bears – at Green Bay
- Eli Manning – New York Giants – vs. Jacksonville
- Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Buffalo
- Sam Bradford – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Washington
- Case Keenum – Denver Broncos – vs. Seattle
- Do we downgrade Aaron Rodgers given the sudden presence of Khalil Mack on the Chicago defense? He’s not going to have much time to get up to speed and we wouldn’t overestimate his potential Week 1 impact. He will certainly change things, making them a dynamic defense, and come Week 2 or Week 3 they will likely have emerged as a defense that you want to avoid with a mediocre quarterback.
- Could the Houston-New England game morph into a shootout? It’s possible, but at the same time what type of performance can we really expect from Deshaun Watson? He wasn’t all that impressive during the preseason after having his season ended with a knee injury in Week 8. If he’s on the field his upside is going to keep him as a QB1, but don’t ignore the risk until we actually see him perform well in the regular season.
- This is the second consecutive season that Le’Veon Bell has sat out the entire preseason. Last year he struggled in Week 1, as you’d expect, taking 10 carries for 32 yards and catching 3 passes for 15 yards. Would it be a big surprise if Bell has a similar struggle in Week 1 of 2018? That potential is going to push Roethlisberger higher up on the rankings than normal, and consider him a must start option and a potentially elite option.
- No one is going to argue the potential value a healthy Luck brings, but is anyone willing to bet that he’s truly healthy? A minor foot injury had him sidelined this past week, and that missed time coupled with sitting out all of ‘17 is going to loom large. It’s easy to imagine that he’s going to need to be eased back into the mix and will suppress his ranking for Week 1.
- The Chargers were among the better defenses against opposing quarterbacks a year ago, including allowing 16 TD (third fewest in the league). That said Alex Smith had 2 TD in each of his two starts against them in ’17, and with the weapons around him it’s easy to imagine Mahomes having similar success. Despite the matchup, don’t make the mistake of underestimating him.
- The Bears didn’t really open up the offense for Trubisky last season, but the handcuffs should be off immediately in ’18. He had one of his best games of ’17 against Green Bay, going for 297 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. There’s obviously a lot of risk, but as a QB2 he’s not a bad candidate.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings: