NFL Prop Bets: First-Round Rookie vs. Veteran Quarterback Competitions

NFL Prop Bets: First-Round Rookie vs. Veteran Quarterback Competitions article feature image

The Highlights

  • Three of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft are favored to start more games for their team than the top veteran on its roster.
  • Baker Mayfield (Browns) and Sam Darnold (Jets) have the best odds (-150).
  • Lamar Jackson (Ravens) has the worst odds (+500).

Sportsbooks have posted prop bets on the NFL’s first-round rookie quarterbacks vs. their veteran competition at the position:

Who will start more games in the 2018 regular season?

  • Baker Mayfield (-150) vs. Tyrod Taylor (+110)
  • Lamar Jackson (+500) vs. Joe Flacco (-1000)
  • Josh Allen (-140) vs. A.J. McCarron (+100)
  • Sam Darnold (-150) vs. Josh McCown (+110)
  • Josh Rosen (-120) vs. Sam Bradford (-120)

We broke down some similar props on how many starts each of the top four quarterbacks selected in the draft will make in 2018, and I mentioned that over the past 10 years, 14 of the 17 quarterbacks selected with top-10 picks have started at least 10 games as rookies, and the three outliers were each surrounded by fairly unique circumstances:

  • Jake Locker: The epitome of a raw prospect; completed just 54% of collegiate pass attempts.
  • Jared Goff: Coached by Jeff Fisher.
  • Patrick Mahomes: Drafted to competitive and stable organization with an entrenched starting quarterback.

Keeping that in mind, let’s dive into this year’s crop of first-round quarterbacks.


Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield (-150) vs. Tyrod Taylor (+110)

Browns head coach Hue Jackson has already named Taylor as his starting quarterback, but Jackson also said he’d jump into Lake Erie following last season’s winless campaign (he hasn’t). Neither Jackson nor new offensive coordinator Todd Haley has a history of integrating dual-threat quarterbacks into their respective downfield-heavy attacks, and kick-starting the team’s future might be the last card Jackson has to play to avoid becoming the first coach in the league to get fired in 2018. After posting two of the three most-efficient seasons in college football history, Mayfield tops our dynasty rookie rankings.  My lean: Baker Mayfield (-150).

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson (+500) vs. Joe Flacco (-1000)

Flacco has objectively been a bad regular-season quarterback for three seasons running, and though he hasn’t missed many games, his injuries are starting to pile up:

  • 2013: Sprained MCL (no games missed)
  • 2015: Torn ACL (six games missed)
  • 2016: Pain in throwing shoulder (no games missed)
  • 2017: Back vertebral disc hernia (no games missed)
  • 2017: Grade 1 concussion (no games missed)

Jackson’s ridiculous speed and playmaking ability allow him to make plays that Flacco can only dream of. Ravens ownership has clearly grown restless during their three-year playoff absence — remember when RG3 was a thing in Baltimore? The Flacco vs. Jackson competition has the makings of 2017 Alex Smith vs. Patrick Mahomes, but -1000 seems a bit aggressive for an aging and immobile quarterback whose best years are almost assuredly behind him. My lean: Lamar Jackson (+500).

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen (-140) vs. A.J. McCarron (+100)

The Bills surrendered two second-round picks to the Buccaneers in order to move up in the draft and select Allen, who is the rawest prospect of the first-round quarterback group and could feasibly start the season behind both McCarron and Nathan Peterman. The “winner” inherits an offense almost entirely devoid of talent outside of the aging LeSean McCoy. FantasyLabs editor-in-chief Matthew Freedman called Allen “Locker with the arm of Kyle Boller and the uniform of J.P. Losman.” My lean: A.J. McCarron (+100).

New York Jets: Sam Darnold (-150) vs. Josh McCown (+110)

Don’t laugh: McCown is statistically one of the best Jets quarterbacks ever.

Josh McCown's average of 7.26 adjusted yards per attempt last season was the fourth-best single-season mark in Jets franchise history, but ranked just 15th in 2017 among 34 QBs with 6+ starts.

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) February 20, 2018

Of course, the soon-to-be 39-year-old has suffered a dizzying number of injuries since reemerging as a starter in 2014, and Teddy Bridgewater‘s contract includes just $1 million in guaranteed salary. Darnold is the second-youngest first-round quarterback ever, but he possesses the arm talent to take over for his injury-riddled teammates sooner rather than later. My lean: Sam Darnold (-150).

Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen (-120) vs. Sam Bradford (-120)

Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks stated that Bradford is the team’s starting quarterback, but added that Rosen will compete for the job. Given that Bradford’s degenerative knee issues have prevented him from starting even eight games in three of the last five seasons, Rosen might not have to wait long to be called upon whether he wins the job or not. My lean: Josh Rosen (-120).

Pictured: Baker Mayfield
Photo Credit: Ken Blaze – USA TODAY Sports

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