NFL Betting: How to Bet the Week 1 Starting Quarterback Market
The new NFL league starts in a matter of days. Teams will soon be able to sign or trade for players. A major storyline heading into 2022 will be the quarterback carousel with some big names reportedly on the move. Whether the Green Bay Packers will be without Aaron Rodgers in 2022, or if Russell Wilson remains in Seattle, there are plenty of uncertain quarterback situations around the league at present.
NFL odds is offering odds on the identity of the Week 1 starter on four teams who have some uncertainty revolving around their starting quarterback. Let's take a look at the best places to attack this market.
Salary cap figures are courtesy of Over The Cap.
Kyler Murray (-700)
Any Other Quarterback (+400)
This one seems straightforward to me.
Kyler Murray will be the Week 1 starter for the Arizona Cardinals in 2022. I know he isn't exactly happy with the team at moment. Frankly, amidst extension to key personnel, it seems that the team has a few issues with him, too. The reality of the situation is that the Cardinals are not going to get anything approaching an upgrade, given their cap situation and draft spot.
Murray is one of only three quarterbacks with at least 11,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards since 2019. The Cardinals averaged 0.14 Offensive Net Expected Points (NEP) per play last season with Murray at quarterback for most of the year. Murray averaged a career-high 270.5 passing yards per game (while also rushing for a career-low 423 yards).
Arizona is $3,047,141 over the salary cap and faces A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, Chase Edmonds, and James Conner hitting free agency. Even if they can keep some of this group, the Cardinals are not improving on last season's performance with a journeyman at quarterback.
The Cardinals have no incentive to move off Murray at this point.
New Orleans Saints
Any Other Quarterback (-400)
Jameis Winston (+250)
This is a scenario in which there seems to be value on the underdog, Jameis Winston.
The New Orleans Saints' salary cap is a mess, with the team currently more than $48 million over the cap.
They might like one of the players in this draft class, but there is a risk that sitting at No.18 in the first round that their guy might already be off the board. Even then, that doesn't close the door on Winston's return as the early-season starter.
Winston did the job they asked him to do last season of "do not harm the team". He responded with a career-low of 167.1 passing yards per game, but he set another career low with an interception rate of just 1.9%.
The Saints were 5-2 with Winston as the starter in 2021, and given his familiarity and comfort with the scheme, he could return on another low-cost deal. The fact he ended last season early after suffering an injury might further pour cooling water on his market.
I think Winston has a strong case to be the guy in Week 1 at the very least.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones (-550)
Any Other Quarterback (+350)
I refuse to believe that the New York Giants will not bring in a veteran to compete with Daniel Jones.
The new front office and coaching staff have no allegiance to Jones, who has been mostly mediocre since being drafted back in 2019. Jones is one of 19 quarterbacks with at least 1,200 pass attempts since 2019. Jones is 17th with 8,392 yards, 18th with 45 touchdown passes, and 16th with 6.5 yards per attempt.
That's not great for a player taken with the sixth overall pick.
Connecting the dots is pretty easy in this situation, with the GM and head coach coming from Buffalo where Mitchell Trubisky spent 2021 as the backup to Josh Allen.
In 2019 when both were full-time starters, Trubisky averaged 0.00 Passing NEP per drop back to Jones' mark of -0.04. Notably, Trubisky appeared to improve significantly under Brian Daboll in his limited time in Buffalo -- just as Allen did. With that the case, there's definitely value the former Tar Heel can beat out the former Duke Blue Devil.
Any Other Quarterback (-500)
Mason Rudolph (+400)
Dwayne Haskins (+1200)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are all about loyalty. They show it, and they expect it.
So, if they say they would be comfortable trotting out Mason Rudolph as their Week 1 starter, we may have to take them seriously. It's not something I would do personally, though.
Rudolph is the proud owner of a 5-4-1 record as a starter in the NFL, averaging a less than inspiring 139.2 passing yards per game in that span. Dwayne Haskins has not exactly wowed anyone since entering the league, either during his stint with Washington or his time sitting behind Rudolph and Ben Roethlisberger.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has spoken in the past about the importance of mobility at the quarterback position, so some might think that would indicate an interest in Malik Willis out of Liberty. There is also the prospect of keeping Kenny Pickett in Pittsburgh almost 40 years after letting another Panthers quarterback (Dan Marino) slip through their fingers.
However, a trade will almost certainly be necessary. Pickett and Willis are ascending as the top-two quarterbacks in the draft, and as always, the position is sliding up the draft board out of desperation. The Steelers' 20th pick might be too late.
Even with a rookie, Rudolph could be the Week 1 starter due to familiarity. Therefore, as unsettling as it may seem, there's value on him at 4-to-1 odds.