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 Start||Straight-up Record||ATS Record|
|Any other game||4-11||5-10|
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
Rookie Quarterbacks Starting Rookie Season
|2017||Mitch Trubiskey||Chicago Bears|
|2017||Deshaun Watson||Houston Texans||Yes||Yes|
|2017||DeShone Kizer||Cleveland Browns||No||Yes|
|2016||Carson Wentz||Philadelphia Eagles||Yes||Yes|
|2016||Dak Prescott||Dallas Cowboys||No||No|
|2016||Jared Goff||Los Angeles Rams||No||No|
|2015||Marcus Mariota||Tennessee Titans||Yes||Yes|
|2015||Jameis Winston||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||No||No|
|2014||Teddy Bridgewater||Minnesota Vikings||Yes||Yes|
|2014||Derek Carr||Oakland Raiders||No||Yes|
|2014||Blake Bortles||Jacksonville Jaguars||No||No|
|2013||Geno Smith||New York Jets||Yes||Yes|
|2013||EJ Manuel||Buffalo Bills||No||Yes|
|2013||Mike Glennon||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||No||No|
|2012||Robert Griffin||Washington Redskins||Yes||Yes|
|2012||Kirk Cousins||Washington Redskins||Yes||Yes|
|2012||Brandon Weeden||Cleveland Browns||No||Yes|
|2012||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||No||No|
|2012||Ryan Tannehill||Miami Dolphins||No||No|
|2012||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||No||No|
|2011||Andy Dalton||Cincinnati Bengals||Yes||Yes|
|2011||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||No||No|
|2011||Blaine Gabbert||Jacksonville Jaguars||No||No|
|2010||Sam Bradford||St. Louis Rams||No||No|
|2009||Mark Sanchez||New York Jets||Yes||Yes|
|2009||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||No||No|
|2008||Joe Flacco||Baltimore Ravens||Yes||Yes|
|2008||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons||Yes||Yes|
|2007||JaMarcus Russell||Oakland Raiders||No||No|
|2006||Matt Leinart||Arizona Cardinals||No||Yes|
|2006||Vince Young||Tennessee Titans||No||No|
|2006||Jay Cutler||Denver Broncos||No||No|
|2005||Kyle Orton||Chicago Bears||No||Yes|
|2005||Alex Smith||San Francisco 49ers||No||No|
|2004||Ben Roethlisberger||Pittsburgh Steelers||Yes||Yes|
|2004||Eli Manning||New York Giants||No||No|
|2003||Kyle Boller||Baltimore Ravens||No||No|
|2003||Byron Leftwich||Jacksonville Jaguars||No||No|