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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, September 7, 2012 at 11:37 AM

It used to be an automatic rule of thumb in NFL handicapping that you would bet AGAINST rookie quarterbacks for the vast majority of their first season in the league. If you, right now, went back and reviewed the first seasons for even rookies who were destined to make the Hall of Fame, you’d be shocked at how badly they played as rookies.

That’s not quite the case any more. Rookies come in much better prepared these days than they did in the past because college football features more complicated offenses…and because young athletes take advantage of weight training now at a very young age. I think there’s a good chance Andrew Luck would have been a pretty decent NFL quarterback LAST YEAR when he was still at Stanford.  Think about how great Cam Newton played for Carolina in September last year. You couldn’t have imagined something like that happening 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

We have several rookie quarterbacks taking the field this weekend. Advanced Handicappers have to be very smart about how they handle these men. We are likely to see some future stars in this mix. But, we can’t forget that Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams was a #1 pick just a few years ago. And, if you’ve enjoyed watching those “Quarterback Camp” shows on ESPN with Jon Gruden in past years, you’ll have to admit that many of the featured athletes have been disappointments. Colt McCoy doesn’t yodel…but he doesn’t throw NFL level spirals either.

I’m not going to talk specifically about which teams I might be taking or fading this weekend. That information is strictly for my paying clients. But, I will lay out here in the Advanced Handicapping coursework how I think the new starters will rate as PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS, as well as the reasons for those assessments.


ANDREW LUCK (Indianapolis: visits Chicago)

I was very impressed with what I saw of Luck in the pocket during the Preseason. I will assume for now that the #1 pick in the draft is going to be a PLAYMAKER this season. Maybe he’ll make too many mistakes to invest in with confidence. Maybe not. I’m not currently planning to fade Luck unless he’s facing an opponent with multiple weapons. And, I’m optimistic right now that Luck will look better in November and December this year than Cam Newton did last year after he slowed down.


ROBERT GRIFFIN III (Washington: visits New Orleans)

I was actually a little disappointed with what I saw of Griffin in the Preseason. He’s still a great athlete. But, Washington used in him such boring ways that he may not be able to dominate a game with this team the way he did with Baylor in the colleges. He has the talent to match what Newton did last year…but may not be in the right environment. I’m going to watch this situation very closely.


RYAN TANNEHILL (Miami: visits Houston)

I’m very pessimistic that this is going to work out well for Miami this season, even though I can see why scouts are so impressed by Tannehill. He’s athletic and smart. He sure fits the prototype of what they want a QB to look like. And, maybe he can eventually improve up to that level. I don’t see him currently as a player who will star right off the bat. He may become a PLAYMAKER or GAMEBREAKER down the road.


BRANDON WEEDEN (Cleveland: vs. Philadelphia)

Expectations are already pretty low here in the market, with the Browns being an underdog of more than a touchdown at home to the Eagles. I would agree with the markets pessimism about Weeden. He was certainly a guy I could back at the college level when he was putting up huge numbers against kids who were 5-6 years younger than he was. He will have to prove to me he can succeed at this level.


RUSSELL WILSON (Seattle: at Arizona)

It’s easy to get excited about Wilson. He sure makes things happen, which is the definition of a PLAYMAKER. Can he do it once the games count for real? Can he do it against teams who have scouted his tendencies to take away his strengths? Look, he was definitely a “Preseason” PLAYMAKER who would help you cover exhibition pointspreads. The real tests are still ahead.

I can assure you that I have some very big plays on tap this weekend at both the college and pro levels. And, Sunday’s special feature could easily involve one of the new QB’s that I discussed today. Again, I can’t be any more specific than that in fairness to my clients. But, I have given you a framework that will allow you to apply the principals of Advanced Handicapping to Luck, RGIII, Tannehill, Weeden, and Wilson this Sunday and as their rookie seasons progress.

I’ll obviously be monitoring all five new QB’s closely…and I currently plan to report back on developments throughout the 2012 campaign right here on these pages. One of the hallmarks of Advanced Handicapping is staying ahead of the oddsmakers. When new personnel hits the league, this provides a window of opportunity for you to take advantage of.

I’ll be back with you on Tuesday for our next class here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. We’ll probably move back to college football for that session since both of this week’s classes discussed the NFL. I’ll do my best to read and react to both sports through the season as developments warrant. I should mention again that it’s smart to print out the coursework every Tuesday and Friday so you can build a virtual textbook that can be used year-round.

If you’d like some help picking winners in football (and daily baseball), my top plays are always available for credit card purchase right here at the website. Seasonal rates are affordably priced for those of you interested in making a longterm commitment.

Isn’t it great to have football back on the schedule? Thanks again for all of your hard work leading up to the season. All of your preparation is about to pay off! I look forward to our next visit on Tuesday as we continue the learning process here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. See you then.

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