The 20 best starting quarterbacks in the NFL

By Rachel Wold
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback is the highest-profile individual in the NFL. In most cases, a team’s success falls heavily upon who is slinging that pigskin from week to week.

And now that the 2018 NFL season has reached its quarter mark, there has been enough evidence left on the field to determine which quarterbacks have been hitting home runs and which ones have been striking out.

Find out right here which team’s signal callers made the cut and which quarterbacks missed the boat.

20. Blake Bortles, quarterback, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles’ passing game has been like staring at a Yo-Yo thus far. Two matchups saw the fifth-year quarterback pass for at least 376 yards. While in his other two games, Bortles failed to hit the 200-yard mark. During Bortles’ four games, he has thrown seven touchdowns versus three interceptions. More consistency should be his goal. Though on the positive side, the Jags are 3-1 and Bortles is completing a personal-best 64.7 percent of his passes.

19. Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears

Trubisky is primed to rise up the ranks if he continues to wow us with monster performances. But, we must note that the six touchdowns Trubisky passed for in Week 4 came against the worst pass defense in the league. Combined, Trubisky has a total of nine scores on record, including one game without a score. His outlook for the remainder of the season is promising, however. Trubisky’s mobility has him averaging 29 rushing yards per game. And to top that off, Trubisky currently boasts a commendable 70 percent completion rate as well as a 101.6 quarterback rating.

18. Alex Smith, quarterback, Washington Redskins

As one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league, Smith is averaging 255.7 passing yards per game this season. He has also completed 68.8 percent of his passes and sports a 102.2 quarterback rating to date. Though, generating more points to help secure more wins would help Smith keep his Skins competitive within the NFC East. Currently, running back Chris Thompson leads Washington as Smith’s No. 1 receiver with 20 catches and 155 yards. It will be interesting to see Smith attempt to connect more with his wide receivers for some bigger scoring plays. Washington has averaged just 21.3 points per game through three dates.

17. Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle Seahawks

Having been spotted dumped on waiver wires in fantasy football after being drafted way too high, Wilson has been terribly out of sorts. His offensive line is largely to blame and it has allowed Wilson to get sacked 16 times in four games. As a result of what quickly turns into a dangerous on-field environment, Wilson has completed 62.8 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns compared to three interceptions. That would include a scoreless tilt for him in Week 4. The Seahawks reside at 2-2, and their only real hope is Wilson rediscovering his magic.

16. Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Houston Texans

Watson has not been performing as swimmingly as was anticipated by many prior to the start of the season. Meaning, he has not been throwing touchdowns at the rate he was as a rookie. Instead, Watson has showed that he is human with Texans finally achieving their first win in Week 4. While trying his mightiest to keep up with his opponents, Watson has been piling up passing yards galore to the tune of 311.5 on average per game. Though, he’s also thrown only seven touchdowns compared to four picks on the season.

15. Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben currently leads the league in passing yards at 353.5 per game. That means little. The Steelers tie the Cleveland Browns at last place in the AFC South with a 1-2-1 record. Armed with an offense full of talent — including top wideout Antonio Brown — Roethlisberger has managed only eight touchdowns while throwing five interceptions in four games. There has been a lot of sloppy play. That goes without saying. Big Ben and Brown need to start making more music and creating less drama for the team to succeed.

14. Carson Wentz, quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz returned in Week 3 and clearly looks to be recovered from last season’s torn ACL. So far in two games, the third-year quarterback has passed for three touchdowns and one interception. Though, he’s also been sacked nine times during that span. Hopefully, Wentz’s offensive line will have his back moving forward. Despite this, Wentz is still completing nearly 67 percent of his passes.

13. Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers

Hands down, Newton is one of the most entertaining quarterbacks to watch come game day. He is excellent on his feet and has averaged 45.3 rushing yards per game. Super Cam has also stolen three rushing touchdowns away from running back Christian McCaffrey, much to the annoyance of McCaffrey’s fantasy owners. Adding to that, Newton has thrown five touchdowns and has only one interception. Perhaps an uptick in Newton’s 215.3 passing yards on average per game would hoist him up in rankings. On a high note, Newton’s 67.4 percent completion rate marks a career-high.

12. Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Detroit Lions

Stafford might deserve a little more respect here if the Lions were not 1-3. And, it is still hard to forget Stafford totally getting his butt kicked in a Week 1 blowout loss to the New York Jets when he threw four interceptions. Beyond that atrocious performance, Stafford has done a great job of redeeming himself. He has put up an awesome 111.7 quarterback rating since that horrible first game. Stafford has also passed for seven touchdowns compared to only one interceptions during this span. The ceiling is high and Stafford is well-equipped to continue his recent stellar play.

11. Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

Luck is hanging in there like the trooper he is after having been out of the game for nearly two years. Through the first quarter of the season, he averaged a decent 281.5 passing yards per game. He also threw for nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Though as expected returning from an injury, Luck has been shy take off with the ball as in years past. This is a good thing folks. The safer version of Luck is different, but his numbers thus far are promising.

10. Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Minnesota Vikings

This newly-paid and very rich quarterback must perform better to help his Vikings improve off a current 1-2-1 record. Cousins’ numbers have been exceptional in that he has averaged 346.8 passing yards per game. This includes 10 touchdowns compared to throwing just two interceptions. But Cousins and his offense need to seal the deal and start winning. Cousins’ big numbers and stats are simply fluff at this point. The Vikings also need to better protect Cousins, who has been sacked 13 times in four games.

9. Joe Flacco, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

Not many would have predicted that Flacco would rank within the top-10 quarterbacks at this point in the season. But a new group of receivers has breathed life back into this veteran quarterback. Flacco is averaging 313 yards per game with eight touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also has the Ravens at a surprising 3-1 through the quarter point of the season. Though, let’s please not go as far as to call him elite.

8. Andy Dalton, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals

Not to be outdone by his division rival quarterback, Dalton and the Bengals are also at 3-1. Dalton has completed 65.2 percent of his passes and has thrown for 11 touchdowns. That ranks second-best among quarterbacks in the NFL. We would rank the Red Rifle even higher on this list if it was not for the six interceptions he has thrown. But, the upside for Dalton to continue trending in the right direction is huge considering the talent he is surrounded by.

7. Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots

For those who did not expect to see Brady here, things could have been worse. Some of what has gone sour for Brady had much to do with his lackluster group of receivers. Through the first quarter of the season, Brady averaged just 229.5 passing yards per contest. This was accompanied by nine touchdowns, but also an characteristic four interceptions. Brady and his team nailed home wins during this stretch, but got beat badly on the road. A terrible Week 3 performance in a loss to Detroit was hard to watch. Thankfully, the talented veteran followed that up with a sweet rebound performance.

6. Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers

Playing through an injury has been tough for Rodgers. But he has still managed to average 282.5 passing yards per game, while throwing just one interception in four contests. We would love to see an increase in touchdowns and more wins for Green Bay, but a banged up receiving group is not helping Rodgers’ situation. Though at the end of the day, Rodgers still remains one of the most accurate and mistake-free signal callers in the league.

5. Philip Rivers, quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers

At the quarter mark, Rivers has passed for 11 touchdowns while throwing only two interceptions. Rivers has looked much more relaxed under center, thanks to the Chargers having an excellent run scheme in order. With less scrambling and more time to concentrate when throwing the ball, Rivers currently boasts a 68 percent completion rate and an exceptional 110.8 quarterback rating.

4. Matt Ryan, quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan has looked to be in mid-season form or perhaps beyond at this point. He has averaged a slick 329 passing yards per game on top of scoring 10 touchdowns and throwing just two picks. This has him at a stellar 114 quarterback rating. The Falcons offense is currently averaging a healthy 29 points per game. If Ryan keeps up his current pace, we would have to think the team eventually starts putting more wins on the board.

3. Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams

Goff has been truly amazing thus far en route to helping his team remain undefeated. He has completed a phenomenal 72.4 percent of his passes, which has earned him a current quarterback rating of 127.3. The highlight of the season for Goff was his five-touchdown, 465-passing yard performance against what we thought was a tough Vikings defense in Week 4. Performances such as this should not be expected every week from Goff. But, there is not much the young quarterback has done wrong these days other than perform razor sharp.

2. Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints

About as dialed in as quarterbacks get in terms of accuracy, Brees is currently completing an incredible 75.8 percent of his passes. He leads the league in this stat just as he did to end the 2017 season. In the well-balanced offense he runs, Brees has thrown for eight passing touchdowns and zero interceptions. And in a memorable, down-to-the-wire performance against Atlanta in Week 3, Brees easily foiled his defenders and scored two rushing touchdowns to win the game. He is a true talent — still as athletic as ever — and has averaged 323.8 passing yards per game. The Saints currently lead the NFC South at 3-1.

1. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes has taken the league by storm and is simply electric to watch — Chiefs fans — or not. Already breaking records, Mahomes has recorded a league-high 14 passing touchdowns in just four games. He also managed his first rushing score in Week 4. Among all the goods delivered, Mahomes and the Chiefs remain undefeated. To further credit Mahomes, he has yet to throw one interception in 138 passing attempts. He has averaged 300 passing yards per game while earning a stellar 126.5 quarterback rating. Is his awesomeness sustainable? We’re not too sure. But he sure is fun to watch.