Last week, in my offseason NFL preparation, I addressed one of several key offseason changes that affect teams heading into each season: the hiring of new head coaches. I detailed how rookie coaches do compared to retread coaches and highlighted key trends and systems in which to back or fade each. Equally, or perhaps even more important to bettors, is the changing of a team’s starting quarterback from season to season.

Like the coaches, this can take two different forms: either a rookie being ushered in to guide a team’s immediate future or a season veteran being brought in to take over. Using the same logic I applied last week to evaluate overall performance and game-by-game angles for the coaches, I’m here now to do the same for the new quarterbacks.

 

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In this piece, I’ll introduce the five rookie quarterbacks expected to start for their respective franchises this season and then move on to the three veteran quarterbacks who have found new homes for 2024.

Five NFL Rookie QBs Expected to Test Betting Systems in 2024

After just one rookie quarterback saw significant playing time in 2022, last year brought five that started at least seven games for their teams. Two were expected first-season starters, while the other three saw extensive action after taking over for injured incumbents. The overall number would have been bigger had the Colts’ Anthony Richardson not been lost for the season after four games. This year’s NFL draft was a whirlwind for those who love seeing young quarterbacks get injected into starting lineups, as six QBs were drafted in the first 12 picks. Five of these guys are expected to start for their respective franchises:

Caleb Williams (Chicago) – Williams, the top pick in the draft, takes over for Justin Fields for the Bears. The offense showed sparks of promise under Fields in his three seasons but nothing resembling a consistent downfield passing game. Williams lit up the scoreboard at two different schools in his three years in college football and, according to most experts, was the quarterback most ready for early success in the NFL.

Jayden Daniels (Washington) – Daniels was the Heisman Trophy winner this past season in college football out of LSU and was as dynamic of a talent as there has been at the QB position in a long time. His ability to run and throw has Washington fans tremendously excited for the future. Interestingly, the Commanders’ biggest needs last year were on the defensive side of the ball, as they allowed over 30 PPG while the offense, led by the departed Sam Howell, was, at times, quite prolific.

Drake Maye (New England) – If any of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft were considered prototypical NFL passers, it would be Maye, who the Patriots selected at #3 out of UNC. He is going to be tasked with taking over an offense that has floundered in recent years under Mac Jones, who has now moved on to Jacksonville. Maye will be the first QB in the post-Bill Belichick era in New England, and most experts expect aggressive changes for the franchise in terms of style of play.

JJ McCarthy (Minnesota) – McCarthy guided Michigan to the national title this past January and is probably the “steadiest” of the first-round picks expected to start this year for their teams. The Vikings could be in somewhat of a rebuilding mode now however after moving on from QB Kirk Cousins. Their win total is set at a meager 6.5, just one full season removed from winning 13 games.

Bo Nix (Broncos) – perhaps the most controversial of the early QB picks in the draft, the Broncos have remained steadfast in the thought that Nix was the QB they wanted all along. He is the most seasoned of any of the five I have now named, and will start his first season as a 24-year-old after five college seasons for Auburn and Oregon in which he started 61 games. Nix replaces Russell Wilson after two volatile seasons for the franchise.

Michael Penix out of Washington was also a high draft pick for the Falcons but it is expected that he might wait and learn behind the newly acquired free agent Cousins, who I will address in the veterans section of this article later.

The struggling franchises that picked these former stars don’t have the luxury of being patient, so they are thrusting their prized rookies into significant roles right out of the gate. With the importance of the quarterback position in the NFL, the decisions to give these guys starting spots immediately will have huge implications on the outright and betting results of their respective teams.

As such, I’ve made it a habit of tracking rookie QB records and betting systems in recent seasons. Knowing how they perform historically is of great advantage when it comes to taking on the bookmakers. Thankfully, there have been some discernible patterns in regards to rookie quarterback performance, and bettors should take notice and take advantage.

If you consider that there are 272 regular season games, and five rookies could be starting at 80 or more of them, with potential for more depending upon injuries, coaching decisions, etc., understanding when these first-time signal callers perform at their best and worst levels is crucial. Last year, there were 55 starts made by starting rookie QBs.

Of course, not all of these guys will succeed, their levels of achievement will vary greatly. Some may go on to become Super Bowl champion quarterbacks, others may settle in as solid starters for teams, some will flounder and have short careers, while others might become career journeymen. Whatever the case, without foundation-based historical analysis, football bettors typically have their hands full in getting to know these new players at the sport’s most crucial position.

In order to help readers get a jump on handicapping these rookie quarterbacks, I like to look back at how past rookies have fared in recent seasons. Of course, each new player will have to be evaluated on their own strengths, weaknesses, and team situation, but knowing how past players in similar spots have done or how those setting the odds judge these guys can only help.

I’ve logged all rookie quarterbacks who have started at least seven games in their initial season in the league over the last two decades. There have been 57 such players since 2004, including five in 2023 alone.

As you can see from the chart, the first players tracked are Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, both eventual multi-time Super Bowl winners. In addition to analyzing the player-by-player performances for all 57 guys, I’ve also uncovered some various betting systems that have been developed using these rookie quarterbacks. As a bettor, you should look to employ some of the more noteworthy systems when any of our 2024 rookie class is inserted as starters in their teams’ rotations.

As you look at the chart, one of the first things you’ll want to digest is that the majority of these rookie quarterbacks do, in fact, help their teams improve. Only 19 of the 57 teams showed a worse winning percentage in the new quarterback’s games started that rookie season than they did the prior season. Four maintained the same winning percentage, while the other 34 helped their teams improve. 

The combined success rate of these 57 players was 303-436-2 SU (41%) and 369-358-14 ATS (50.8%). You can’t profit by simply backing or fading these rookies and their teams blindly, neither on money lines nor point spreads. That is where the systems below come in, guiding you to the spots in which they are best backed or faded.

VIEW NFL ROOKIE QB STARTERS CHART HERE

Betting Systems Involving Rookie Quarterbacks

Using the 57-player sample dating back to 2004 and their individual game logs in that span, I was able to come up with several definitive betting systems, considering variables such as line ranges, home/road dichotomy, depth into the season, and type of opponent faced, among others. Let’s dig right into them and then be sure to cross-reference them against the schedules for each team when released:

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #1 – Rookie quarterbacks are trending downward
Earlier, I indicated winning percentages of 41% straight up and 50.8% ATS for rookie quarterbacks since 2004. The results of late are far worse. Since the start of the 2013 season, rookie quarterbacks who started at least seven games in a season are just 167-300-2 SU (35.8%) and 218-245-6 ATS (47.1%). In addition, only four of 38 rookie QBs in that span was able to lead his team to the playoffs that season, the latest being CJ Stroud of the Texans. Furthermore, this past season saw the #1 pick, Bryce Young of the Panthers, guide his team to the worst won-lost percentage drop in his starts for any QB in the last 20 years.

Analysis: In my opinion, many of the rookie quarterbacks coming out now are either leaving college too early or being drafted into situations where there is little or no chance to succeed. Be careful with that logic this year, especially since all five expected starters are taking over teams that won seven games or fewer. Their team situations are not what they were in college, being loaded with an overabundance of offensive weapons and physically dominant blocking.  How do these guys respond when there’s plenty of adversity to overcome? They haven’t seen much of that to this point. Guaranteed they will in the NFL.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #2 – Rookie quarterbacks are a risky bet in the postseason
In their last 16 playoff games, rookie quarterbacks are just 5-11 SU and ATS (31.3%). Take away Joe Flacco’s 2009 run and the record drops to 3-10 SU and ATS.

Analysis: The postseason pressure is a lot to bear for a rookie quarterback, and the best resumes are typically built on playoff success. For the elite quarterbacks, this usually comes later in a career. In five of those last nine losses, the rookie’s offense was held to 17 points or less. The most recent loss in this regard came following last season when CJ Stroud and the Texans lost 34-10 to the Ravens.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #3 – Rookie quarterbacks have gotten off to very slow starts of late
As part of their overall recent struggles, rookie quarterbacks have struggled for bettors as early-season starters, going 2-18-1 SU and 5-15-1 ATS (25%) in their L21 week 1-3 games. They are also on a 22-7 Under the total (75.9%) run in their last 29 such contests.

Analysis: Typically, rookie starters are sided against by those setting the odds early simply because of their inexperience. After a 45-27-1 ATS run from 2004-20, the tables have been turned on rookie QBs the last couple of seasons, as they have gone just 2-17-2 in their last 17 games while leading their teams to just 16.6 PPG. Obviously, this has meant a lot of Unders on totals as well.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #4 – Rookie quarterbacks have experienced major late-season woes
For as much as rookie QBs have struggled early in recent years, over the long haul, or since 2008, the part of the season in which they have struggled worst is in weeks 10-15, as they are just 96-144 SU and 101-129-10 ATS (43.9%) in that time span.

Analysis: Most offensive coordinators are slow to trust their rookie quarterbacks in expanding their offenses, making it much easier on opposing teams to study and prepare for them. There may also be the factor of hitting the “rookie wall” after a few months of being in the league. If you figure a college season is usually 12-13 games, if you add three preseason games to 10 regular season contests, you can easily understand why this period in the season might be taxing on rookies.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #5 – Rookie quarterbacks have struggled on the road, particularly late in the season
The results of rookie quarterbacks on the road lately are startling. Since the start of the 2013 season, rookie starters have combined for a record of 107-105 ATS (50.5%) in home games but just 88-113 ATS (43.8%) in road/neutral games. In later season road games, week 10-EOY, they are just 32-94 SU and 52-72-2 ATS (41.9%).

Analysis: This system is all about the increasing pressures in the NFL for quarterbacks, and typically, only the most seasoned pros can thrive in late-season road contests. Rookie quarterbacks are a definitive play against in such games.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #6 – Don’t fall for the big underdog point spreads with rookie quarterbacks
Since 2015, rookie starting quarterbacks facing underdog lines of 6.5 points or more have won just 15 games, going 15-108 SU and 45-75-3 ATS (37.5%).

Analysis: As much as bettors in the NFL like to think that a large point spread can provide the necessary cushion and insurance for betting a rookie quarterback, it simply isn’t the case. As underdogs, these quarterbacks (and teams) are simply overwhelmed. These teams are scoring just 16.2 PPG in those contests, and backing teams with that low of production consistently is just not a sound strategy. Remember, only the league’s most woeful offenses get assigned large underdog lines like that.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #7 – Rookie quarterbacks have been solid bets in the home favorite role over the last four seasons
Since the start of the 2020 season, rookie starting quarterbacks have taken care of business in the home favorite role, going 26-8 SU and 23-10-1 ATS (69.7%).

Analysis: Oddsmakers can prove to be a reliable guide for when to back & fade rookie starting quarterbacks. In system #6 above I detailed the reasons on why to fade them as large underdogs. Alternatively, when given the nod from the experts when playing at home, these rookies perform admirably. The average point production is 26.9 PPG in this system, usually a total big enough to cover chalk lines.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #8 – Rookie quarterbacks are not good bets as road chalk
Over the last 12 seasons, rookie starting quarterbacks have proven not worthy of backing as road favorites, going 21-20 SU but 17-23-1 ATS (42.5%).

Analysis: Things are typically tougher on the road in the NFL. Rookie QBs find this out the hard way and typically struggle when expected to do well in these tough environments.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #9 – Scoring more than 17 points is a key benchmark for outright and ATS success for rookie quarterbacks
Since 2009, rookie starting quarterbacks whose teams have scored 17 points or less in a game are a brutal 27-253 SU and 56-217-7 ATS (20.5%), as opposed to 216-139 SU and 251-95-9 ATS (72.5%) when topping that point benchmark.

Analysis: The amount of points a team scores is obviously not all on its quarterback so this is more of a team system than anything else. Still, projecting a team’s points in a given game is a key part of handicapping football, and using a good simulator can be of great value when you consider systems like #9. Don’t force the issue if rookie quarterbacks are facing stout defenses, it rarely pays off. For those of you who are new to VSiN, my Strength Ratings published on VSiN.com throughout the NFL season project scores for every game based upon a couple of time-tested models. These are a great place to start. The contrast between CJ Stroud and Bryce Young in their rookie seasons is a perfect example of how to utilize this information successfully.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #10 – By type of opponent, divisional and non-conference matchups have been tougher for rookie starting quarterbacks

  • The breakdown of success level against Division, Conference, and Non-Conference opponents has been definitive for rookie starting quarterbacks. Here are those trends:
  • Since 2015, rookie QBs are just 39-92 SU and 52-75-4 ATS (40.9%) versus divisional opponents.
  • Since 2018, rookie QBs are just 20-42 SU and 24-37-1 ATS (39.3%) versus non-conference foes.
  • Since 2018, rookie QBs have fared well against non-divisional conference opponents, going 42-49 SU but 54-37 ATS (59.3%).

Analysis: You may think these are random but it seems that the extreme ends of the familiarity of opponent index causes issues for rookie quarterbacks.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #11 – Losses have tended to snowball for rookie QB’s
In their last 133 starts with their teams coming off outright losses, rookie QBs have gone just 42-91 SU and 58-73-2 ATS (44.3%). This trend dates back to 2018.

Analysis: With most struggling teams, it’s hard to pull themselves up in struggling times. With the prospects of a rookie QB leading the way, the task becomes even more ominous.

NFL Rookie Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #12 – Non-Sunday games have been a respite for rookie QBs
Rookie quarterbacks have fared reasonably well under the spotlight of non-Sunday games lately, going 16-16 SU and 21-9-2 ATS (70%) in their last 32 such tries. Moreover, they are 18-5-1 ATS (78.3%) in their last 24 Monday Night contests.

Analysis: Typically, the non-Sunday games are a little bit higher stakes, as in most cases, they are stand-alone nationally broadcast games. It’s a welcomed sign to see these rookie quarterbacks compete well is such scenarios.

The Key Systems for Three Veteran NFL QBs Leading New Teams in 2024

As opposed to drafting a rookie quarterback and promptly inserting him into their starting lineup, some franchises choose to go the veteran route and trade for or sign an experienced signal caller to try and bolster their immediate futures.

This strategy has brought fairly mixed results and range from winning Super Bowls that first year to plummeting below what they were prior. According to my records, there have been 28 instances over the last two decades in which teams brought in veteran QBs that had been in the league at least eight years and started extensively during that span for one or more teams.

Last year, this was the case for the Saints, who signed Derek Carr after he had spent the first nine years of his career with the Raiders. In a lot of cases, these acquisitions are some of the biggest storylines of the entire NFL offseason.

For 2024, we unofficially have three veteran quarterbacks expected to take over franchises for the first time. As you’ll see, I’ve included Aaron Rodgers, who although he was acquired last year by the Jets, only played one regular season series before being lost to injury. Therefore, I consider this upcoming season to be his first hopefully full season with the team. Here are those three veteran QB faces in new places:

Aaron Rodgers (Jets) – As I indicated earlier, the move to acquire Rodgers was actually completed last year for the Jets. However, the season-ending injury in Week 1 cost the franchise, and NFL fans for that matter, a shot at finding out what might have been. Rodgers’ passer exploits with the Packers are well-known, and this Super Bowl Champion and future Hall-of-Famer hopes to lift New York to new heights in 2024. Interestingly, a few of his top receiving targets were teammates in Green Bay. This will be a huge story to watch.

Russell Wilson (Pittsburgh) – The Russell Wilson experiment in Denver was a disaster and left the Broncos franchise in trouble both on the field and in terms of the salary cap. The Steelers have acquired a heavily-discounted Wilson in hopes that he can be the missing piece the team has needed to get back in contention atop of the AFC. This franchise has been gritty and solid defensively and in the running game. Unfortunately, QB woes have held them back. A big season out of Wilson would change that narrative quickly.

Kirk Cousins (Atlanta) – The Falcons made a bold move in acquiring Cousins in the offseason to a massive contract. They then proceeded to confuse everyone by drafting QB Michael Penix with the eighth pick last month. In any case, Cousins’ career has been checkered. While he has proven the ability to stuff the stat sheet with both Washington and Minnesota, postseason success has eluded him. Atlanta has a crop of talented young skill position players and he could be just what they needed to elevate their careers. If it doesn’t work out for him, perhaps Penix gets rushed into duty early.

The franchises that added these successful veteran quarterbacks all share the belief that they are just a key puzzle piece or two away from hitting it big. It’s a viable thought in all three situations. I have always been forthright in my belief of how important the quarterback position is in the NFL, and having someone there that has proven they can do the job can make the difference.

What I’ve done is logged all the veteran quarterbacks over the last two decades that have started at least eight games in their initial season with their new team after spending at least eight other seasons of extensive starting experience elsewhere. There were 28 such players since 2004.

As you can see from the chart, the first players tracked are Vinny Testaverde, Kerry Collins, and Mark Brunell. In addition to analyzing the player-by-player performances for all 28 guys, I’ve also uncovered some various game-by-game betting systems that have developed using these veteran quarterbacks. Use these when handicapping the games of the Jets, Steelers, and Falcons this season.

As you look at the chart, one of the first things that you’ll want to digest is that the majority of these rookie quarterbacks do in fact help their teams improve. In fact, 17 of the 28 teams showed improved won-lost percentages over the previous season in the games that new QB started.

Still, only 15 of 28 had winning records as a starter that season, and only seven of the 28 started a playoff game for that team, highlighted by Tom Brady of the Bucs & Matthew Stafford of the Rams, who won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2021 and 2022. Brady’s Bucs and Peyton Manning’s Broncos were the most potent offenses of the group, both topping the 30+ PPG mark.

The combined success rate of these 28 players was 210-190-1 SU (52.5%) and 197-190-14 ATS (50.9%). Interestingly, only 10 of the 28 players produced a winning ATS mark, however. If you compare these numbers to those of the rookie quarterbacks in their first seasons, you’ll find an improvement of 11.5% outright and 0.1% ATS. So, it is obvious these veteran players are a better choice for winning more games, albeit usually in a more expensive contract situation.

VIEW NFL VETERAN STARTERS CHART HERE

Betting Systems Involving Veteran Quarterbacks in Their First Year With New Teams

Using the 28-player veteran QB sample dating back to 2004 and their individual game logs (401 games) in that span, I was able to come up with several definitive betting systems, considering variables such as line ranges, home/road dichotomy, depth into the season, and type of opponent faced, among others. Let’s dig right into them and then be sure to cross-reference them against the schedules for each team when released:

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #1 – Veteran quarterbacks start slow for their new teams
It takes a little time for these veteran quarterbacks to find their footing with their new franchises. In fact, dating back to 2006, in the month of September, these guys have gone 37-25 Under the total (59.7%), averaging about 1.5 PPG less than usual offensively.

Analysis: In my opinion, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as even though these are seasoned veterans we are dealing with, they are usually learning new systems themselves, and naturally their production is a bit less in September than in the latter months of the season.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #2 – Veteran quarterbacks are best for their new teams in the month of December
I just showed how these veteran QBs in new places struggle a bit out of the gate. Well, like should be expected, these QBs play best in the key month of December, when postseason berths are usually on the line, going 47-43 SU and 50-37-3 ATS (57.5%) since 2004.

Analysis: These veteran quarterbacks are well versed in the weather and other pressure-some issues that arise in the NFL in the late season months. They have fared their best in these situations in recent years, at least in terms of their point spread covering ability.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #3 – Veteran quarterbacks are a solid bet in the postseason
In their last 12 playoff games, the veteran quarterbacks in new places are 9-3 SU and 8-4 ATS (66.7%).

Analysis: This is the reason most of these franchises add these veteran quarterbacks, to help them achieve postseason success. Including wins in seven straight games by Brady and Stafford, once these guys reach the postseason, the advantage is with them.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #4 – Non-Sunday games have been a struggle for veteran QBs with their new teams
Veteran quarterbacks have struggled under the spotlight of non-Sunday games lately, going 19-32 SU and 19-31-1 ATS (38%) in their last 51 such tries for their new teams. Moreover, they are 8-16-1 ATS (33.3%) in their last 25 Monday Night contests.

Analysis: This is a strange one for me, as you’d think that the pressure of stand-alone nationally broadcast games would be old hat for these season veterans. Perhaps oddsmakers are shading this experience edge.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #5 – Veteran quarterbacks thrive with their new teams at home
The results since 2005 of veteran quarterbacks playing with their new teams at home are quite impressive, as they have gone 113-65 SU and 95-72-11 ATS (56.9%).

Analysis: This is a very strong performance level by NFL standards, as there are very few simple angles that produce records of almost 57%. The point production in these contests has been 23.7 PPG, over 3 PPG better than on the road, a sign that even the most season players can still get motivated by the love they feel from the home crowd. By comparison, in this same span, these vets are a 49.1% point spread cover on the road.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #6 – By type of opponent, non-divisional conference matchups have been best for veteran starting quarterbacks in their first season with new teams
Since 2005, veteran QBs in their first season with new teams have fared well against non-divisional conference opponents, going 77-62 SU but 77-60-2 ATS (56.2%).

Analysis: This is a similar trend to the records of the rookie QBs. By comparison, these veterans are a little better than a 48% point spread cover against divisional and non-conference opponents.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #7 –Veteran QBs have shown a tendency to lead their teams back well after losses
In their last 135 starts with their new teams coming off outright losses, veteran QBs have gone 70-65 SU and 75-57-3 ATS (56.8%). This trend dates back to 2016.

Analysis: This is exactly the opposite performance level of the rookie QBs who tended to have losses snowball on them. The veterans are able to get their teams to respond well to the adversity of losses. By comparison, these vets are only a 50/50 point spread cover when guiding their teams off of wins.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #8 –Veteran quarterbacks have proven relatively trustworthy as big favorites at home with their new team
Since 2004, veteran starting quarterbacks facing home chalk lines of 7.5 points or more have been quite successful, going 28-3 SU and 19-11-1 ATS (63.3%).

Analysis: This is a bit different from the NFL norm, as there aren’t all that many situations where I could encourage bettors to lay big numbers, even with host teams. But, these QBs, being savvy veterans, simply take care of business and get it done in these should-be wins games.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #9 – Veteran quarterbacks have been atrocious in the road favorite role with new teams
Since the start of the 2004 season, veteran starting quarterbacks playing their first seasons with new teams have performed terribly in the road favorite role, 40-30 SU but 25-44-1 ATS (36.2%).

Analysis: This trend falls right into the trap of typical NFL tendencies. There are not that many systems where road favorites in the NFL thrive. Even with veteran QBs, these rebuilt teams struggle with the added pressure of being installed as road chalk by the experts.

NFL Veteran Quarterbacks Stats Betting System #10 – Veteran quarterbacks are consistent bets as sizeable underdogs with new teams
Dating back to 2006, veteran starting quarterbacks in their first seasons with new teams have gone 40-65 SU but 60-40-5 ATS (60%) when playing as underdogs of three points or more.

Analysis: I specifically used the word consistent in describing this performance level of veterans QBs as 3+ point underdogs in their first seasons with new teams because the records for both home and road are exactly 60% against the spread. Feel comfortable in taking the points with these guys when the situations arise this season.

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Steve Makinen
As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.