Many of us subscribe to the late-round quarterback strategy, which is very viable. You can read my previous article on the topic. If we’re drafting late, streaming QBs is another strategy we can leverage in order for us to take advantage of matchups. We all have our favorite QBs at the end of the draft this year, but the worst feeling is drafting your favorite, and then looking at the schedule afterwards and realizing you face the Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, and Rams in the first four weeks like Dak Prescott is. Drafting two quarterbacks isn’t a viable strategy in one-QB leagues for two reasons: 1) you’re wasting a valuable spot on your bench in the beginning of the year with a QB instead of a RB or WR flier and 2) you don’t want to look ahead too far into the season. The defenses change up from year to year and we shouldn’t try to infer too much from the end of last season to the middle of the next. All we have in the beginning of the season is to look towards the end of the last, and even that isn’t always accurate but it’s all we’ve got, combined with keeping track of defensive personnel changes on paper. Here are some QBs I think should have some good matchups in the beginning of the season, while we re-evaluate our QB situation every single week while we stream. Remember, once we’re into the season a few weeks, get an idea of which defenses to stream against and plan a week ahead.
Best early-season schedule: Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer goes up against the Lions, Colts, Cowboys, and 49ers in the first four weeks. These teams gave up the 3rd, 8th, 16th, and 11th most fantasy points to QBs last season, respectively. The Lions haven’t switched much up on their defense this offseason, the Colts have a few new young faces but not enough to make an impact, the Cowboys lost six starters on defense, and the 49ers are well… the 49ers. Palmer picked it up towards the end of last season after a rough start; from weeks 9-17, he threw for 19 TDs and 9 INTs. He also threw the 8th most passes last year, and I expect that type of volume to continue in Bruce Arians’ offense. John Brown should also be healthy, and they don’t have to worry about putting Michael Floyd on the field. Palmer’s a guy you can pick up in the 13th-14th round in drafts, and then re-evaluate as the season progresses, but in the meantime, enjoy those first four games.
Decent early-season schedules: Tyrod Taylor, Eli Manning, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles
Tyrod Taylor starts off the season with the Jets, Panthers, Broncos, and Falcons. These teams gave up the 13th, 14th, 32nd, and 2nd most fantasy points to QBs last season. The Jets will probably give up more this year as they are trying to lose. The Panthers and Falcons defenses might have improved since last season but they both were bottom five in passing yards allowed last year. The Broncos will probably be as good as ever, but at least Taylor is playing them at home. The reason why Tyrod is mostly reliable is that he offers a safe floor with his rushing yards. The Broncos gave up the fourth most rushing yards to QBs last year, possibly because QBs were running for their lives, but hopefully Tyrod can take advantage.
Eli Manning has the Cowboys, Lions, Eagles, and Bucs to start the season. Respectively, they ranked 16th, 3rd, 26th, and 17th in fantasy points given up to QBs. Like I mentioned earlier, the Cowboys have lost six starters on defense and will probably be a bit of a mess that first week. Eli has done relatively well against the Cowboys in his career. The Lions have a great #1 corner, but the rest of that secondary isn’t nearly as good. The Bucs have done okay, but have given up the 10th most passing yards last year. Manning has never been consistent and easy to predict, so I would personally stay away from him, but those two first games are pretty juicy matchups, and you should be able to get him late in the 11th.
Andy Dalton faces off with the Ravens, Texans, Packers and Browns. The Ravens didn’t give up a whole lot of fantasy points to QBs (23rd), but did give up the 9th most touchdown passes. Dalton has a couple of red zone threats in AJ Green and Tyler Eifert, and might be able to take advantage. The Texans were top notch against QBs last year, so I would be wary of putting Dalton out there Week 2. The Packers and Browns are teams I would love for Dalton to start against. The Packers gave up the 7th most fantasy points to QBs and the Browns gave up the most. You can get Dalton in the 12th round, and as long as he has his weapons back, he can start off the season pretty nicely.
Blake Bortles has two good matchups in the first four games – in Week 2 against the Titans and Week 4 against the Jets. He goes up against the Texans and the Ravens those other weeks. The Titans gave up the 5th most fantasy points to QBs and the Jets are aiming to give up an all-time record number of fantasy points to QBs in 2017. Those are juicy matchups that I’m looking forward to in those even-numbered weeks. I am keeping an eye on Bortles if I’m streaming, in case he’s on the waiver wire after Week 1. I’m not drafting him, because I’m not going to put him up against the Texans defense in their house that first week. I will also not waste a bench spot on a second QB.
Rough early-season schedules: Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Matt Stafford, Carson Wentz
I’m going to list out players below with the teams they’re playing against their first four weeks of the season. These are guys I’ll be wary to draft because their early season schedules are pretty daunting.
Dak Prescott – Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, Rams
Philip Rivers – Broncos, Dolphins, Chiefs, Eagles
Matthew Stafford – Cardinals, Giants, Falcons, Vikings
Carson Wentz – Redskins, Chiefs, Giants, Chargers. More because he’s a rookie.