Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will start his first NFL game next Monday against the Minnesota Vikings. Chicago decided to bench Mike Glennon after he turned the ball over four times against Green Bay last Thursday.

Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, looked good in preseason games passing for 364 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite the pedigree and strong performance in preseason games from their first-time starter, the Bears opened as 3-point underdogs (5Dimes) against the Vikings and a majority of bets are on Minnesota.

Should you fade rookie quarterbacks in their first start?

Since 2003, by our count, there have been 37 rookie quarterbacks that made a start in the season they were drafted (let us know if we missed any). Using the Bet Labs database, we found that rookie passers in their first start have gone 12-25 (32.4%) straight-up and 18-19 (48.6%) ATS.

On average, these rookie QBs were underdogs of 4.87 points. Since 2003, all teams that are underdogs of 4 to 5 points have gone 133-283 (32.0%) straight-up and 194-216 (47.3%) ATS. So, first-time rookie starters perform as we would expect based the spread.

Not each start is created equally. Some rookies begin their careers in the first game of the season, others start as backups and only get thrust into the lineup when the veteran starter either gets hurt or plays poorly enough to be benched.

When a rookie makes their first start impacts the betting results.

1st StartStraight-up RecordATS Record
Game 18-1413-9
Any other game4-115-10

Rookie quarterbacks that start the first game of the season have gone 13-9 (59.0%) ATS but just 5-10 (33.3%) ATS if they make their start later in the year. Why such a difference?

A working theory on why rookie quarterbacks might perform better in Week 1 of the season is that they have had all summer and the preseason to prepare. A rookie quarterback making a start after Week 1 has not been taking first-team snaps. While a rookie quarterback should be learning certain aspects of the game from a veteran while holding the clipboard there is no substitute for playing time.

The results for rookie quarterbacks after Week 1 look even worse if you remove Deshaun Watson from the mix. The Texans’ quarterback played the entire second half of Week 1 before making his first start in Week 2. Without Watson, rookie quarterbacks starting after Week 1 have gone 4-10 ATS (Note: small sample size alert!)

Trubisky has not attempted a pass in the regular season. He will have an extra time to prepare with the team playing on Monday but if the trend for rookie quarterbacks making their first start in-season holds, the Bears will be in trouble against-the-spread.


2017 NFL Pro Systems

All picks are 25-15, +8.42 units

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Rookie Quarterbacks Starting Rookie Season

YearQuarterbackTeamWinATS
2017Mitch TrubiskeyChicago Bears
2017Deshaun WatsonHouston TexansYesYes
2017DeShone KizerCleveland BrownsNoYes
2016Carson WentzPhiladelphia EaglesYesYes
2016Dak PrescottDallas CowboysNoNo
2016Jared GoffLos Angeles RamsNoNo
2015Marcus MariotaTennessee TitansYesYes
2015Jameis WinstonTampa Bay BuccaneersNoNo
2014Teddy BridgewaterMinnesota VikingsYesYes
2014Derek CarrOakland RaidersNoYes
2014Blake BortlesJacksonville JaguarsNoNo
2013Geno SmithNew York JetsYesYes
2013EJ ManuelBuffalo BillsNoYes
2013Mike GlennonTampa Bay BuccaneersNoNo
2012Robert GriffinWashington RedskinsYesYes
2012Kirk CousinsWashington RedskinsYesYes
2012Brandon WeedenCleveland BrownsNoYes
2012Russell WilsonSeattle SeahawksNoNo
2012Ryan TannehillMiami DolphinsNoNo
2012Andrew LuckIndianapolis ColtsNoNo
2011Andy DaltonCincinnati BengalsYesYes
2011Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersNoNo
2011Blaine GabbertJacksonville JaguarsNoNo
2010Sam BradfordSt. Louis RamsNoNo
2009Mark SanchezNew York JetsYesYes
2009Matthew StaffordDetroit LionsNoNo
2008Joe FlaccoBaltimore RavensYesYes
2008Matt RyanAtlanta FalconsYesYes
2007JaMarcus RussellOakland RaidersNoNo
2006Matt LeinartArizona CardinalsNoYes
2006Vince YoungTennessee TitansNoNo
2006Jay CutlerDenver BroncosNoNo
2005Kyle OrtonChicago BearsNoYes
2005Alex SmithSan Francisco 49ersNoNo
2004Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh SteelersYesYes
2004Eli Manning New York GiantsNoNo
2003Kyle BollerBaltimore RavensNoNo
2003Byron LeftwichJacksonville JaguarsNoNo