Thursday Night Football has a history of sloppy play and poor offense, but that had better not be the case in Week 1. Not with the way we've got these quarterbacks projected.
It's really not much of a concern, because the sloppy play on Thursdays is generally attributed to the short week. Tom Brady and Dak Prescott have had plenty of time to rest up for this one. It's been seven months since Brady won the Super Bowl and Prescott has had even longer, even if he was recovering from an injury in the process.
While there might be some risk of Week 1 rust, even that shouldn't be a problem since both of these teams brought back virtually their entire starting offense. What is a concern, for Prescott at least, is the defense he's facing. The Buccaneers brought back their whole defense as well, and it's a fierce collection of talented players. That's why you'll see Prescott ranked 10th, which is about the lowest I'd expect him to be all year. While I would start Jalen Hurts over him, Prescott is only a half a point behind Hurts in my projections at the bottom of this article.
For Brady, there is no such concern about the defense. His biggest problem might be finding a way to keep all those offensive weapons happy with only one football. As of Thursday afternoon, his Buccaneers have the highest projected point total according to Las Vegas. That's enough to earn Brady a spot in my top three quarterbacks as a true must-start and quite possibly a week winner.
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Let's get to the rest of the preview:
Week 1 QB Preview
Numbers to know
- 28.9 -- Patrick Mahomes' Fantasy points per game the past three seasons. That's nearly four more points per game than any other QB who has played the last three years.
- 35.4 -- Tyrod Taylor's rushing yards per game as a starter. That, combined with a good matchup, makes him a solid QB2 in Week 1.
- 6.6 -- Kyler Murray only averaged 6.6 rush attempts per game after his injury in 2020. How much that rebounds will determine his chances to be the QB1.
- 329.6 -- Dak Prescott's passing yards per game in 20 games with Kellen Moore. He needs to average just over 322 per game to break Peyton Manning's single-season record.
- 3.4% -- Jameis Winston's career interception rate. That will not fly under Sean Payton.
- 293.8 -- Matt Ryan's passing yards at home in 2020. That's 15 more yards than he averaged on the road. The split was even bigger in 2019.
Matchups that matter
Waiver Wire Targets
WAS Washington • #14
Age: 41 • Experience: 18 yrs.
I don't expect this to be a game where Washington can just run the ball and play defense, and while the Chargers defense should be improved, they aren't a defense I'm avoiding yet. Fitzpatrick projects as my No. 17 quarterback this week, ahead of Roethlisberger, Winston, and Baker Mayfield. But it's Week 1, so don't get too crazy with your streaming.
Derek Carr QB
NO New Orleans • #4
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Carr doesn't have a great matchup but he is at home and he has a decent implied point total, so I wouldn't hate him in a pinch. But again I wouldn't start him over anyone who was drafted in the top 12.
I'm excited about the potential upside for Tagovailoa, but I'm a little nervous about starting him Week 1 without Will Fuller at the New England. Still, he's available in more than a third of leagues and is an excellent backup if you have a starter you feel good about.
Jalen Hurts QB
PHI Philadelphia • #1
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Hurts will be in a dome, projected to be chasing the score, against a pretty bad Falcons defense. If anything, I'm not sure the over/under of 48 is high enough in this one. In his three complete games last year, Hurts averaged 28.6 Fantasy points per game. If he comes close to that this week he may win someone a million dollars.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the roster rate is going to be very high for Ryan this week. And I do think he has 300-yard, three-touchdown upside, which is more than enough at his cost. I don't really want to start Ryan in cash games because there is at least some risk the Falcons jump out to a lead and Arthur Smith goes run-heavy like he often did in Tennessee. But that generally worked out okay for Ryan Tannehill.
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 1 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that has out-performed experts big-time.