Fantasy football QB tiers and streamers for Week 1

With the start of the 2021 NFL season officially underway, here are our fantasy football streamers and QB tiers for Week 1.

One of the most universal strategies in fantasy football that is widely recognized amongst managers is QB streaming. As we quickly approach the Sunday Slate of Week 1 of the NFL season, let’s discuss QB tiers and streamers you should have on your radar as you set your lineups.

Week 1 QB tiers

While individual rankings will always be valuable for weekly decisions, a tier-based approach at QB can help find similar production ranges.

Tier 1

Lamar Jackson | Baltimore Ravens @ LV
Patrick Mahomes II | Kansas City Chiefs vs. CLE
Kyler Murray | Arizona Cardinals @ TEN
Josh Allen | Buffalo Bills vs. PIT

Tier 2

Ryan Tannehill | Tennessee Titans vs. ARI
Aaron Rodgers | Green Bay Packers @ NO
Russell Wilson | Seattle Seahawks @ IND

Tier 3

Jalen Hurts | Philadelphia Eagles @ ATL
Justin Herbert | Los Angeles Chargers @ WAS
Matthew Stafford | Los Angeles Rams vs. CHI

Tier 4

Trevor Lawrence | Jacksonville Jaguars @ HOU
Matt Ryan | Atlanta Falcons vs. PHI

Tier 5

Joe Burrow | Cincinnati Bengals vs. MIN
Kirk Cousins | Minnesota Vikings @ CIN
Baker Mayfield | Cleveland Browns @ KC
Sam Darnold | Carolina Panthers vs. NYJ

Tier 6

Ryan Fitzpatrick | Washington Football Team vs. LAC
Jimmy Garoppolo | San Francisco 49ers @ DET

Tier 7 

Ben Roethlisberger | Pittsburgh Steelers @ BUF
Derek Carr | Las Vegas Raiders vs. BAL
Tua Tagovailoa | Miami Dolphins @ NE
Jameis Winston | New Orleans Saints vs. GB

Tier 8

Teddy Bridgewater | Denver Broncos @ NYG
Zach Wilson | New York Jets @ CAR
Carson Wentz | Indianapolis Colts vs. SEA
Tyrod Taylor | Houston Texans vs. JAX

Tier 9

Daniel Jones | New York Giants vs. DEN
Mac Jones | New England Patriots vs. MIA
Jared Goff | Detroit Lions vs. SF
Andy Dalton | Chicago Bears @ LAR

Tier 10

Taysom Hill | New Orleans Saints vs. GB
Trey Lance | San Francisco 49ers @ DET
Justin Fields | Chicago Bears @ LAR
Drew Lock | Denver Broncos @ NYG
Davis Mills | Houston Texans vs. JAX

QB streamers for Week 1

The general premise of a QB streaming strategy in fantasy is to play the matchup each week rather than riding the entire season with one player at the position. It is all about identifying favorable matchups that week and adding that QB off waivers.

When identifying streamers, I consider these things: Vegas betting lines, a defense’s fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and pace trends.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the QB streamers for Week 1.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

You like that?! Sorry, it’s Week 1, and I got excited, but not as much as Cousins is to take on the Bengals on Sunday. Last season, the Bengals were a middle-of-the-pack defense in points allowed to QBs (18.3) while also allowing 35.7 points to WRs per contest. Although they did make a few improvements in the offseason, they will be without starting cornerback Trae Waynes (hamstring) for this game. 

Expect to see the Vikings maintain possession in this game as their defensive line will wreak havoc on Joe Burrow and the suspect Bengals’ offensive line. Justin Jefferson is looking to back up his OROY performance, and both he and Adam Thielen are top-15 plays this week at receiver. There is a slight risk that the Vikings go a bit run-heavy in the second half, but with Dalvin Cook, the damage will have already been done. Cousins is a solid streamer option for Week 1 with high-end QB2 upside.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

While we all can’t wait to see Trey Lance take the reins and elevate this potent 49ers offense, don’t overlook Jimmy Garoppolo when scouring the waivers for QB streamers in Week 1. 

After an offseason of speculation and watching his team move up in the draft for his successor, he has something to prove. In Week 1, he has a cakewalk matchup against a Detroit Lions team vying for the No. 1 overall pick in 2022.

No team allowed more fantasy points to opposing QBs than the Lions last season (23.8). They were also last against RBs (32.5). Furthermore, Detroit ranked 30th against WRs (44.1) and in yards per game at 297.

The 49ers should have a field day.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the best play-callers in the NFL and has been prepping for this game all summer. Every 49ers offensive player is a must-start this week, including Garoppolo for those looking for QB streamers in Week 1.

Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers

Revenge game! You know the NFL is back when that narrative starts getting thrown around for analysis. But in all honesty, Sam Darnold is an intriguing play this week if you are looking for Week 1 QB streamers. From a team vs. team matchup, the Jets can’t hold a candle to the Panthers’ skill players.

Robby Anderson was sensational last season and is also taking on his former team. DJ Moore is one of the most electric WRs in the NFL and has back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons. They added breakout candidate Terrace Marshall Jr. in the draft and have some guy named Christian McCaffrey at running back. I’ve heard he might be good at football.

All Darnold has to do is get the ball to his playmakers and let them do the work for him. The Jets were abysmal last season defensively, ranking 30th against QBs (22.0), 20th against RBs (24.1), and 21st against WRs (38.1). Sure, Adam Gase is gone, and head coach Robert Saleh has them moving in a positive direction. Still, rebuilds don’t happen overnight, and they have quite a ways to go before we consider them competitive. 

Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady is one of the most brilliant minds in the NFL and is on the shortlist for the next round of head-coaching vacancies. Is there risk starting Darnold in Week 1 for fantasy? Sure, but the payoff could be massive for those in 2QB or superflex leagues.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.