Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): We could use this space to talk about injuries because there were a ton last week (pour one out for David Johnson), but I’m more interested in what’s going on at quarterback. Six QBs went for at least 300 yards in Week 1. Two were no-brainers—Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, who happen to be playing each other this week—while the others were names you probably wouldn’t expect. Alex Smith put on a clinic against New England with 368 yards, Sam Bradford did what you’re supposed to do against New Orleans (which means he ripped them to shreds) while Carson Wentz had himself a day against the Redskins (307 yards, two touchdowns). Which brings us to the most stunning development of all—Jared Goff’s breakout against the Colts (career-high 306 yards, 117.9 QB rating).
A quick check of the waiver wire shows that Smith, Bradford, Wentz and Goff are still available in the majority of fantasy leagues. I know QB is a deep position this year but do any of these players pique your interest, or were there Week 1 performances just a mirage?
Jeff Brubach (@Jeff_Brubach): While the Rotoworld staff could line up opposite the New Orleans defense and score at least 14 points (I’ll nominate Evan to quarterback), Sam Bradford‘s Week 1 outing was awfully impressive. I’m moving ahead with Bradford in leagues where I’m a QB streaming machine, as the upcoming Minnesota schedule looks decent enough and the weapons in the Vikings’ offense continue to impress. Maybe I just want more chances to watch Stefon Diggs but I am definitely interested in this Minnesota offense and what Bradford (just 37% owned on Yahoo) can contribute in fantasy leagues.
Evan Silva (@evansilva): Bradford and Wentz stand out from this group. Wentz because the Eagles are willing to let him be a high-volume quarterback and did well to improve his supporting cast in the offseason, and Bradford for supporting cast reasons as well in addition to facing a soft season-long schedule. I think we have seen what Alex Smith has to offer for long enough, although he certainly deserves credit for playing a great first game.
Connor Allen (@ConnorAllenNFL): Similar to Jeff and Evan, Bradford is the quarterback who excites me most in this group. After suffering from the most injured offensive line in the league in 2016, the Vikings switched up their entire starting lineup in 2017. The healthy and seemingly revamped offensive line afforded Bradford plenty of time in Week 1, albeit against a poor Saints defense. With two exceptional receivers to throw to in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen along with underrated tight end Kyle Rudolph, Bradford should be much more than a one-week wonder. And with film-grinder favorite Dalvin Cook keying the running game, it isn’t hard to project the Vikings as a good all-around offense this season. Facing what looks to be one of the easiest strength of schedules in terms of passing defense, Bradford has definite streaming appeal in fantasy leagues and should be picked up if you are struggling at the position.
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): There was a person on this website who wrote about Bradford having legit QB1 upside for leagues this offseason, just saying. I want to really like Wentz for the reasons that Evan mentioned, but seven of his next 10 games look rough on paper. However, I still believe he’ll easily out-produce his 2.6 percent TD rate from a year ago and progress significantly from a fantasy standpoint. I think Goff keeps this thing rolling the next two or three weeks, then runs into a buzz-saw for two months after, so feel free to take this opening month to move Todd Gurley and Sammy Watkins if you can.
It’s only been one week, but one guy I’m slightly concerned about is Kirk Cousins. His weapons and passing volume aren’t going anywhere, but that situation feels extremely toxic, especially with him already having one foot out the door. If Week 1 has some rollover effect (especially traveling cross-country against a Wade Phillips defense), I could see the season snowballing rapidly for the Redskins’ entire organization. Instead of a set-and-forget guy to take the upside on, Cousins may be someone where you have to cherry-pick his matchups.
Pantuosco: I agree that Bradford presents the most upside. I know he’s been injury-prone and hasn’t played on many good teams throughout his career, but Bradford is quietly coming off a great season and as many of you have already alluded to, his supporting cast is quite strong. Bradford set career-highs in passing yards and quarterback rating last year while setting an NFL record by completing 71.6 percent of his passes. Bradford has averaged 312.2 passing yards over his last five games going back to last year including three straight games with at least three touchdown passes. It might be a tad premature to elevate him to weekly QB1 status but Bradford has at least proven that when he has time to throw, he rarely makes mistakes.
I also think there’s reason for optimism in Los Angeles, where Jared Goff has already reaped the benefits of an improved offensive line and a better receiving corps than he had last year with Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and rookie slot receiver Cooper Kupp. The Rams’ new coaching staff led by up-and-coming offensive mind Sean McVay also gives Goff a better chance at success, though I don’t want to get carried away after one good game against a checked-out Colts squad. The fact remains that Goff was winless in seven starts last year and didn’t look particularly competent in any of them. He needs a few more games like last week to win my trust.
Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin): I guess I will speak up for Alex Smith. I think calling what we saw from him on Thursday night a one-game wonder is ignoring what happened in the preseason, when Smith was equally excellent while also making plays downfield—his stats in the Seattle game were marred by several drops. I am not saying he is the new Aaron Rodgers or anything, but with the weapons they have on offense and his newfound affinity for throwing deep, Smith is going to be a streaming option in good matchups all season. With Ronald Darby out for Philadelphia, he has one such matchup this week.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): There’s still no one in this group I would call an every-week starter. I agree with Ray that Smith deserves more credit and is a fine option this week. The Eagles’ front seven is daunting, but the back end is easily exploitable. The Chiefs can counteract pressure with quick passing to Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt. And let’s not forget that Andy Reid, who is known as the best post-bye week coach in the NFL, has had 10 days to prepare for a defense now missing its only viable corner. For what it’s worth, all the offseason reports had Smith being more aggressive down the field. That certainly was the case in Week 1.
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