Week 1 of the NFL fantasy football season was somewhat of an oddity with Alex Smith, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford all as top-three quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady all finished outside of QB1 territory.
We can expect regression to the mean with some of these surprising performances, while others might very well live up to Week 1 performances moving forward on the season. With what's expected to be the first full slate of NFL game on Week 2, here are our rankings for the 32 starting quarterbacks.
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady might have struggled to the tune of 16-of-36 passing for 267 yards without a touchdown in Week 1, but he has an unbelievable favorable matchup against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. While some expected the Saints' defense to be improved this season, that most definitely didn't happen on the opening Monday Night Football action of the season. The Saints allowed Sam Bradford to put up a career-best performance, completing 27-of-32 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. That enabled Bradford to finish as the second-best QB in Week 1 after his preseason ADP had him as a bottom-end QB2 option.
How do we expect New Orleans defense to stop what promises to be an angry Tom Brady? We don't. Look for an especially dominating performance in Week 1, especially with former Saints Brandin Cooks returning to New Orleans. 400-plus passing yards and four scores is not completely out of the equation here.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
While Green Bay was held to four field goals and one touchdown against a dominating Seahawks defense in its Week 1 home win on Sunday, Rodgers himself still put up pretty darn good numbers. The former NFL MVP completed 28-of-42 passes for 311 yards. Unfortunately, having thrown one touchdown compared to one interception — this left Rodgers out of the QB1 conversation. The great news here for Packers fans and Rodgers' fantasy owners is that he completed a combined 16-of-21 passes to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the win.
Look for Rodgers and Co. to head into Atlanta on Sunday night and take advantage of a Falcons defense that somehow allowed Mike Glennon to finish as a better fantasy quarterback than both Tom Brady and Russell Wilson in Week 1.
3. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
We absolutely love this matchup for Carr and the Raiders against a horrible Jets team. The only issue here is that, as a two-touchdown favorite, maybe the Raiders shut down its passing attack at home against the Jets. To put into persepctive how bad New York's defense will be this season, it enabled Tyrod Taylor to finish Week 1 as a top-seven fantasy quarterback. Considering Taylor lost Sammy Watkins in a trade this summer and struggled during the preseason, that has to spell trouble moving forward on the season. It's also important to note that this Jets team yielded an absurd 30 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions last season.
For his part, Carr is coming off yet another tremendous performance to open the 2017 season. The recently-extended Pro Bowl quarterback completed 22-of-32 passes for 262 yards with two touchdowns and zero picks against a good Tennessee Titans defens on Sunday. What do we expect from him here against a bad Jets team? 300-plus yards and three scores seems to be likely.
4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Despite his team struggling to put away a pesky Bears squad in Week 1, this reigning NFL MVP was up to his old tricks on Sunday. Including an 88-yard touchdown strike to Austin Hooper, Ryan tallied 321 yards on a tremendous 21-of-30 from the field. Sure his fantasy impact took a hit with just that one score, but it was a solid all-around day.
We're not too sure what to make of the Packers' defense heading into Week 2. Sure they pressured Russell Wilson 44 percent of the time he dropped back to pass while holding Seattle to nine points in Week 1. But that tells us more about the Seahawks' offensive line. Can we really forget that Green Bay finshed 31st against the past last season? Well, Sunday night against Ryan will give us an idea.
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Garbage-time scoring at its best. Brees struggled through three-plus quarters against a dominating Vikings defense on Monday night before ultimately leading the Saints to a touchdown-scoring drive late in the fourth. This enabled him to finish 27-of-37 passing for nearly 300 yards. Then again — much like Ryan before — Brees threw just one touchdown. A top-six fantasy quarterback each of the past 11 seasons, we fully expect Brees to get back on track.
It should start in Week 2 against a Patriots defense that was absolutely blitzed by Alex Smith in the team's season opener. Really, the Pats just don't have the bodies upfront to help out what should be a good secondary. That should help the Saints, as they are injury-plagued along the offensive line. It's also important to note — much like the past few seasons — Brees will have to toss the rock a whole lot to help his Saints overcome a disastrous defense.
6. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
We're not going to lay much of the blame for Seattle's offensive struggle in Week 1 on Wilson. He simply just didn't have the time to pass behind a horrible offensive line. As we mentioned above, Wilson was pressured on 44 percent of his drop backs and was sacked three times. Ultimately, he completed just 14-of-27 passes for 158 yards without a touchdown or an interception.
Heading into Week 2, we have to be a bit cautious here. On paper, the expectation should be that Wilson will dominate a previousl weak 49ers defense. This is until we realize a defensive line consisting of DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Earl Mitchell and Elvis Dumervil could lead to consistent pressure on Wilson. After all, San Francisco did hold Cam Newton to a No. 17 ranking among quarterbacks in Week 1. It is a vastly improved defense. That could be cause for alarm here.
7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
There's an interesting backdrop to Pittsburgh's narrow Week 1 win over Cleveland. Big Ben completed all 11 of his passes to Antonio Brown for 182 yards. When tossing the rock to the rest of the team, this quarterback completed 13-of-25 passes for 81 yards. That's important to take into account, especially considering Pittsburgh was going up against what many exepct to be a bad Browns defense. This most definitely won't be the case against Minnesota in Week 2. The Vikings held Drew Brees to a No. 16 ranking among quarterbacks in Week 1. They also held No. 1 WR Michael Thomas to five receptions for 45 yards on eight targets.
8. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
9. Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings
10. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers