Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 1 quarterbacks

Some players seem primed for a great week… and some not so much. Check if your quarterback should start or sit.


You just spent weeks or maybe even months predicting who the best quarterbacks will be this NFL fantasy season. How can we already be telling you who to sit and start? Well, there are teams and players that look ready to bust it out of the gate and others that look like they need a fifth preseason game. If you see your top quarterback on the wrong half of this list, hopefully, you backed him up with one of the lower-tiered options we say should start. Here ya go:

START THIS GUY: Kirk Cousins, Washington (vs. Philadelphia)

Philadelphia’s defense might surprise this year, especially when some recent additions in the backfield get acclimated… but it won’t happen this week. Kirk Cousins comes in with more than enough weapons. He won’t miss DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garcon a bit with the likes of Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, and Josh Doctson waving their hands for the ball. Plus, Jordan Reed starts at tight end while Brian Quick and Vernon Davis provide ample receiving depth.

Washington’s offensive line will hold back Philadelphia’s rush enough to let Cousins find his groove. I see over 300 yards and three touchdowns for the Washington quarterback in front of the Redskins’ crowd.

SIT THIS GUY: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (vs. Seattle)

So, you’re all proud of yourself for pulling the trigger on Aaron Rodgers before everyone else in your draft, eh? Well, I did, too. But I am starting Andy Dalton over him this week. I have in my mind 199 yards against Jacksonville last season. That’s how Aaron Rodgers started 2016. I remember thinking he didn’t look like he was in his groove for several weeks. This year, Rodgers starts the season against a riled-up Seattle defense. His offensive line is not as bad as some say, but they are not good enough to keep the Seahawks from chasing him all over the field.

Rodgers gets off to another slow start with 225 yards passing, one touchdown, one pick and a fumble lost.

START THIS GUY: Derek Carr, Oakland (at Tennessee)

Last season, Derek Carr became the QB10 in standard fantasy leagues with two wide receivers and a bunch of banged up tight ends and third receivers. The Raiders start this season with everyone healthy, plus a second tight end, a new deep threat, and a running back who will force every linebacker and safety to hesitate before they commit to defending the pass.

Tennessee put some offseason effort into improving their defensive secondary, but this test will be too much. Carr puts up 325 yards and four touchdowns in this shootout.

SIT THIS GUY: Cam Newton, Carolina (at San Francisco)

This is more of a gut feeling about the enthusiasm and opening-day hope flowing around San Francisco than it is an indictment of Cam Newton. Carolina’s new, more-conservative approach to offense could get tested by San Francisco’s new defense. They are quick and young and don’t realize they are not supposed to be good. Carolina will score, but more on the ground than through the air this week.

Newton has a good game, but not Cam Newton-good. Put him down for 218 yards passing with a touchdown and a pick, with only 11 yards rushing.

START THIS GUY: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at Cleveland)

This goes against two basic assertions I preached during the preseason: Roethlisberger is a below-average quarterback on the road, and Cleveland will have a surprising defense in 2017. Roethlisberger did have two great games among his 2016 road disasters. Visiting their rival Cleveland, who is coming off a “new attitude” 4-0 preseason, Pittsburgh is being discussed as a potential Week 1 upset victim.

It won’t happen. This will be one of Roethlisberger’s great games. He only throws for 255 yards but hits Brown, Bryant, and Bell for touchdowns. He runs for another as Pittsburgh’s defense keeps handing him the ball in great field position.

SIT THIS GUY: Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. NY Giants)

Prescott’s ADP this season is around the 13-14 range, so many of you aren’t planning on starting him anyway. But I know that Dallas fans want to start him every week, so I remind everybody that you should not play Dak Prescott against the Giants. In two games last season, the Giants held Dak to 19 NFL fantasy points combined. He managed to throw a touchdown in the second game, but the Giants negated it with two interceptions. They took away Dez Bryant (two catches on 14 targets) completely and kept everybody else under control.

By most accounts, the Giants’ defense is even better than last year. Sit Prescott until Week 2.

Too-easy-to-write-about top five

Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, Marcus Mariota, Drew Brees

Week 1 flash in the pan prediction

Mike Glennon throws for three touchdowns in extended garbage time, to go along with 299 yards and an interception. (27 fantasy points)

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Pat Opperman

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Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

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