There’s a good chance that you’re not going into the first week of the NFL season with Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, or another one of the upper echelon of fantasy football quarterbacks. That’s fine. You can still do well with guys from the lower tiers of signal callers, but you’ll have to consider the matchups. Fortunately, we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Here are some names who could make or break your opening week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants
Once upon a time this was a no-brainer. But the years have not been kind to Roethlisberger and his dad bod. The fact that he only played two games last season thanks to an elbow injury that put his career in doubt either makes him a fantasy afterthought or an early favorite for Comeback Player of the Year. I’m in the later camp. He’s got a great matchup this week against the Giants.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
If you have Murray on your roster, chances are you drafted him to be your very own bargain basement version of Lamar Jackson. I applaud you for that decision, and believe that you will be richly rewarded. But is the week to put all your fantasy hopes on him, against the defending NFC Champions? Well, there’s not going to be a better time. The Cardinals are likely be trailing by a substantial margin in this game, and even if they aren’t Arizona is going to have to go into this matchup scheming its heart out to have a chance. That’s going to mean plenty of work for Murray as both a runner and a passer, which could be especially promising now that Nuk Hopkins is the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
I’ve seen Rivers name on a few “start” lists this week, thanks to what should be a pretty easy matchup against the Jaguars. I’m taking the opposite line here. This recommendation has nothing to do with Rivers’ overall ability (I’m bearish on his overall outlook this season). It’s a matter of volume this week. The Colts should be able to do most of the work in this one with their running backs. Sure, Rivers may throw for a couple hundred yards and a touchdown, but I don’t think he’s going to have much to do in the second half of this game. So it’s not exactly a risky move to start him, but you’ll be cheating yourself out of playing another quarterback with a much higher ceiling.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
The Packers were a problem for Cousins last season, giving him his two worst games of the year. He threw a pair of touchdowns and three interceptions and had a total of just 352 yards. It didn’t help that he got sacked six times in those two games; five in their Week 16 matchup. The Packers defense isn’t going to be giving him any breaks to start this season.