By Grant Playter | Staff Writer
Howdy loyal readers, Grant here with your weekly round-up of quarterbacks you should be eyeing for this upcoming week. If you want to know who you should start in your fantasy league, these rankings should be an excellent tool to advise you.
A word of warning before we get into it, however. Everyone gets hot and cold streaks, and just because someone performed one way this week doesn’t mean they’ll repeat it next week. But if someone is consistently in the top ten despite getting little to no fanfare from leagues at large, it might be a prospect worth considering.
The statistics used to determine these rankings come from ESPN.com, so if your favorite player is low, blame them, not me. I’m just the guy crunching the data.
After a shaky first week against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tom Brady has managed to prove why he’s the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the 2017 season. Brady passed for a monstrous five touchdowns, more than anyone else on the list, and 378 yards. While his efficiency was a little shaky, going 25 for 35 on receptions, and he had costly fumble in a close game, if you have Brady you start him, no question.
QB valuations are always tricky, since it’s a very league-size dependent statistic, but if you can trade off some mid-tier flex options and your starting QB to upgrade to Brady, I’d think it’d be a fair trade. He’s just so far ahead of the other QB’s at this point, and the only one to break 1000 passing yards over three games.
Russell Wilson is a big name, who hasn’t had a great season, but he more than doubled his output in passing yards with this week’s performance against the Titans. Passing for 373 yards and four touchdowns nearly gets him to Brady’s threshold and may renew confidence in a shaky 2017 season. But his inconsistency up to this point has me worried, especially given the Seahawks shaky offensive line and his lack of efficiency, going 29 for 49. He mimics Brady in a way, but has lower highs and much, much lower lows.
My advice with regards to Wilson is to use him for trade bait if you can, but I wouldn’t say holding onto him is a bad move either. He’s certainly not an automatic start, unless it’s a two QB league. If someone in your league is targeting him with some decent flex options up for grabs, I think that’ll be an advantageous deal on your end, because I don’t have confidence in games like this to continue. But holding onto him until you have a bigger data set to work with isn’t a terrible gamble either, I just personally don’t have the confidence for it.
Keenum is the first surprise in this list, but it’s a theme we’ll be revisiting throughout this top ten in an outlier of a week in football. Keenum passed for three touchdowns and 369 yards, and had one of the best efficiency ratings of the week in 25 for 33. Keenum was aided by having the #1 wide receiver of the week in Stefon Diggs, who he managed to connect with for eight receptions and two touchdowns.
Keenum showed a lot of talent this week and meshed well with the Vikings offense, which in most circumstances would leave me curious to see where he’d go. Unfortunately, as good as this week is for Keenum, his long-term fantasy prospects are not great. It’s probably about a 50/50 shot that Sam Bradford plays in Week Four, but barring any other injuries to their starting QB I don’t see the Vikings utilizing Keenum in Week Five and beyond. If Bradford is out, this might be a solid week to start him, but after that, you may as well drop him or best case scenario get some trade value out of him from less informed competitors.
Continuing the trend of “THIS quarterback is in the top ten???” in our number four spot is Jacoby Brissett. Brissett went 17 for 24 for 259 yards, which is all-around pretty mediocre, but where he really picked up points was in not one, but two personal rushes for touchdowns. It’s a little unusual to see quarterbacks personally rush, but it’s very unorthodox to see them personally rushing in the red zone. Brissett capitalized on this unique strategy and helped the Colts secure their close victory.
Having said that, and I’ll be saying this a lot throughout this piece, if you aren’t in a 2 QB league you shouldn’t consider doing anything, but trading Brissett. It’s tempting to try to start him to see if he has another one of these big match-ups, but the lack of consistence means that’s basically a Hail Mary hoping to get some kind of sleeper edge, so I don’t recommend it. If you have him and can get some trade value off of him go for it, but at best I think he’s someone you drop after your QB1 finishes his bye week.
I’m about as confused as you are why Blake Bortles is number five on this list, but the data doesn’t lie. Bortles went 20 for 31 for 244 yards, which are about the stats you’d expect from him. But the Jaguars absolutely routed the Ravens allegedly superb defense in London, England, which allowed Bortles to connect in the red zone four times and boost up his stats tremendously.
If you want to talk yourself into starting Bortles, I can give you a few rationale. Last week, he proved he can still provide fantasy value when the games in garbage time, and unlike Keenum, he’ll remain the starter, so long as he’s healthy. But again, with those inconsistent quarterbacks that had a big week this week, I just don’t see any long-term value.
Kirk Cousins is a tricky player to evaluate. Last season, he was a consistent borderline QB1, but through the first two weeks of this season, he only put up a combined 419 yards and 2 touchdowns. It’s not particularly surprising to see him have a good week here, going 25 for 30 for 365 yards and three touchdowns, but it does raise the question of which Kirk Cousins is here.
Personally, I’m wary, but as someone who picked up Kirk Cousins based on his performance last year, I think it’s safe to work with the assumption that this week isn’t the outlier, the first two weeks were. This next week could prove critical in assessing where Cousins level of play really is, but I really don’t think you’d get much value out of trading him relative to his potential for success.
Remember when I said how unorthodox it was to see a quarterback pick up a lot of points by personally rushing in for a touchdown? Well, call Hoyer unorthodox. Hoyer had an incredibly mixed bag of a game, passing an admittedly impressive 337 yards, but with a mediocre efficiency of 23 for 37. He picked up two passing touchdowns and his own personal rushing touchdown, but also threw an interception.
I’m going to take the opposite tact with Hoyer than what I took with Cousins. I think this week is the outlier as far as value goes for Hoyer. He’s an inconsistent performer and while weeks like these may tempt you to try and get some sneaky value out of him, I really do think come the end of the season, he’ll be a bottom five quarterback with fantasy value. This week had a lot of bad to go with the good, and given the bad for the first two weeks, I can’t advise anything but dropping or trading him.
Aaron Rodgers can have shaky weeks from time to time, but in general, he’s a very reliable quarterback to have and is in the first tier for a clear reason. He put up one of the most fun games to watch for sure this week, coming back from a 14 point deficit at halftime for an overtime victory, and his stats reflect that effort. 28 for 42 and 313 yards with three touchdowns looks like a Hoyer-esque mixed bag, but his completion percentage rose dramatically in the second half of the game.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but don’t trade Aaron Rodgers. There are a consensus three Tier 1 quarterbacks in Tom Brady, who’s far and away #1 three weeks into this season, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. Brees has a higher ceiling than Rodgers is my opinion, but as this week shows Rodgers has a higher floor than Brees.
Goff went 22 for 28 and 291 yards, which on top of three touchdowns puts him solidly in the top ten for this week. Goff is in his sophomore season of the NFL and I really see a lot of potential in him, because of the younger QB’s on this list, I think he’s shown the most consistent performance. He’s managed to put up over ten points each week, which a good amount of “great” quarterbacks can’t say.
Unfortunately, while I think his career trajectory is looking really good, I don’t see his fantasy value. He’s definitely worth of being a QB2 in two quarterback leagues, but unless you’re really comfortable sacrificing value from a QB1 for a really good trade deal and going forward with your back-up in Goff, I think he’s someone you keep on your bench.
I’ve written in before and I’ll write it again, but Dak Prescott being this high confuses me. Going 13 for 18 is decent efficiency, but not the kind of volume you want to see, especially given that he didn’t even break 200 passing yards, posting just 183 yards. But in the red zone, he used his passers effectively, picking up two touchdowns, and in one of the strangest trends of the week, personally rushed for a touchdown. Nothing encapsulates the weirdness of the week like that statistic.
Prescott didn’t change his value this week, even with some decent numbers on the board. Maybe it’s a pleasant surprise to people, who need to start him in two quarterback leagues, but while he’s a solid starter in those, I don’t see any value for him outside of that. He’s a middle of the road quarterback in spite of the occasional good week.
Going 35 for 47 for 366 passing yards is the type of Manning, we reminisce of thinking of Super Bowls past, while the two interceptions are the realities of the current state of the Giants. I’m poised to look at the positives in Manning’s game against the Eagles. And they’re there, because in spite of the loss, he compensated for his atrocious offensive line by utilizing an aggressive quick, short passing approach. But the fantasy value ultimately isn’t there, even I can admit that, and unless you’re really high on him connecting with OBJ like he did this week, I don’t see much value on the board in solo quarterback leagues.
After not even making the top 32 quarterbacks last week in lieu of his backup Kevin Hogan, Kizer put up a solid week in fantasy value. While his efficiency was absolutely terrible, going 22 for 47 for just 242 yards, he utilized the quarterback rushing strategy nicely. Rushing 7 times for a solid 41 yards, Kizer is the fourth quarterback on this list, who managed to also rush for a touchdown. Kizer put up the points this week, but the long-term value isn’t there, especially looking at how mixed they were — he’s just too inconsistent to rely on even in 2 QB weeks.
Palmer had a conventionally good game, passing 29 for 48 and 325 yards, capping it with two touchdowns. Palmer was held down by a strong defense, which limited his efficiency, but he performed solidly in spite of that. These numbers aren’t flashy, but they reflect a consistency, I like in Palmer, and his stock is continuing to rise in my eyes as the season progresses. Definite QB2 prospect, if you can pick him up off the waivers or for cheap, I’d say go for it.
- Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
Some weeks, you’re gonna have the Drew Brees, who passes for over 350 yards, and some weeks, you’re gonna have the Drew Brees for 220 yards. His efficiency was solid, going 22 for 29, and picking up two touchdowns keeps him in the top half of starting quarterbacks, but it is a disappointing performance for owners, who want the explosive weeks that Brees absolutely has in him. Having a low floor is the trade-off for that perk, unfortunately, but I absolutely see him bouncing backs and it’s no question in my eyes that you should continue starting him.
If he had managed to score in the red zone on any of his eight rushing attempts, we might be talking about Watson as another weird entrant to our top five and the weird pattern of quarterback rushing touchdowns. But Watson didn’t, although his 8 carries for 41 yards is very solid. The Patriots defense isn’t exactly stunning, but the Texans put up an admirable effort and it took a last minute drive from Brady to steal the game from them. Watson did manage to break 300 yards in the passing game with a so-so efficiency of 22 for 33, but two interceptions means he falls a bit to number 15. A solid QB2 pick with long-term potential in the NFL as a whole, but not someone I see with a ton of long-term value in this 2017 season.
- Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans)
Mariota had a pretty middling week, passing 20 for 32 and 225 yards, which is about what you’d expect from someone dead-center in this list. There’s nothing particularly flashy to talk about, aside from a somewhat interesting 7 for 27 on rushing yards, but it is solid production from what most would consider a solid QB2. Maybe his stock is slightly higher after this week, but personally I think Mariota is just showing his consistency in his defined role.
Taylor had a decent outing this week, going 20 for 26 and 213 yards. While it’s solid efficiency and mediocre yardage, a lot of quarterbacks dropped the ball this week — some quite literally — and Taylor delivered by not screwing up. His eight rushing attempts for just 13 yards might be a bit frustrating, but this week hasn’t changed anything for Taylor. He’s a deep pull borderline QB2 in larger leagues, and not much else as far as fantasy value goes.
Stafford had a mixed bag this week that’s landed him on the back half of these rankings. As a fantasy owner, I admire his commitment to the passing game, but when you’re connecting on just 25 of 45 passing attempts, it’s worth considering putting more thought into other ways to get on the board. Stafford is a top tier QB2, borderline QB1, and I really think he has the potential to explode if you can pick him up for cheap this week.
The official word on Dalton under his fresh offensive coordinator is…good? While they ultimately lost, the Bengals led the scoring for much of the game and only lost due to the dedicated efforts of a great QB in Aaron Rodgers. But while they did control the flow of the game, his stats don’t really reflect that. Going 21 for 27 is alright efficiency, but when it results in just 212 yards it’s worth considering if Dalton is a good quarterback, who you’re just not gonna get a ton of fantasy value out of. At this point, I’m out on Andy Dalton, because while I like where the new offense is heading, I don’t think it’s one fantasy owners will get much mileage out of.
Winston had a bad game with decent stats. Which sounds weird to say, but three interceptions is bad even if you’re passing for over 300 yards, especially with a shaky consistency of 28 for 40. If you’re throwing more interceptions than touchdowns your output doesn’t matter, because ultimately you’re going to end up on the wrong side of the halfway point. If for some reason, breaking 300 yards convinced you to pick up Winston, trade him fast or drop him back down to waivers. Here there’s nothing to be gained.
- Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
After his explosive first week against the Patriots, people who thought they’d get some sleeper value out of Smith must be disappointed. He only made 21 passing attempts, although it’s worth noting that completing on 16 of them isn’t bad efficiency at all, instead relying on the rushing game. And while that resulted in a Kansas City victory, the fantasy value isn’t quite there. He’s worth benching for now to see if he relies more on the pass offensive in coming weeks, but I don’t see any QB1 value that one might have expected after the first week.
On the bright side, the Jets beat the Dolphins and McCown outperformed Jay Cutler, as I predicted in our weekly bench/start piece. On the down side, it was a bit of a circus all around, and McCown’s stats aren’t exactly thrilling, even if they beat Cutler’s. 18 for 23 and 249 is actually good efficiency on both a completion and yards per completion viewpoint, but the Jets don’t rely on their passing game enough to justify anything other than QB2 placement in two QB leagues.
You would think Ryan, the star quarterback of the 2016 season, would not fall this low in a rankings list. Unfortunately, this one concerns the 2017 season, not the 2016 season, and while the Falcons ultimately pulled out the win against the Lions on Sunday, it was in spite of Ryan, not because of him. Going 24 for 35 and 294 yards is bad efficiency, but the yardage is there. On top of that, he passed for touchdowns and helped the Falcons lead for the entirety of the game. But again, if you’re throwing more interceptions than touchdowns — in this case, 3 to 2 — you are having a bad week, and Matt Ryan 100% had a bad week. Long-term, I don’t know how much this hurts him, and I still think he’s your starter if you have him, but I wouldn’t begrudge someone trading up for him, if you disagree with that sentiment.
- Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles)
He had 21 for 31 and 176 yards, which is bad. Just bad. Wentz managed to get a touchdown to somewhat salvage his fantasy outing, and the mistakes of others, keep him out of the absolute bottom of this list, but it was the Eagles ground-game and Jake Elliot that helped them secure this week’s victory, not anything Wentz was doing. It’s disappointing if you picked him up after his great Week Two performance, but if you did do that, I don’t think it’s a must-drop situation. Play him in a QB2 slot if there is one, and if there isn’t… well, that’s the risk you took picking up Wentz, and you’re gonna have to live or die by the Eagles passing offense.
Roethlisberger put up similar yardage to what he’s done this whole season, hitting the mid-200s. Which is, he was a quarterback, who heavily relied on the rushing game would be very good. But he’s not, the Steelers passing offense is their main weapon and their efficiency isn’t there, going 22 for 39 in this week’s lost. I don’t know if this ship will be righted, but at this point his value’s so low that I think the only move you can hope for is to hold on and hope the ship rights itself.
- Jay Cutler (Miami Dolphins)
Cutler had a shaky offense this week, completing 26 receptions is not something you want to see from a pass heavy offense that made 44 attempts. But those 26 completions going for just 220 yards is definitely something you don’t want to see. Cutler did manage to throw a touchdown, but counteracted that by throwing an interception, which is more than enough reason for his placement in this list. While it was a bad week, it wasn’t extravagantly bad, and I actually think you could get some good value picking him up this week from people who aren’t as high on week in 2 QB leagues.
Newton had an atrocious week and anyone who disagrees is flat out wrong. A rushing touchdown was his sole saving grace after throwing three interceptions, the fifth to do so this week, but it’s just not enough. 17 for 26 isn’t good efficiency, and having just 167 yards is an abysmal yardage rate. On top of a possible injury, if you can get any trade value out of Newton, do it now, even if it’s for a decent kicker or defense. It stings, because he is a big name, but I don’t see any value in him, and if you can’t get trade value, cut him for someone else.
Siemian went 24 for 40 is mediocre efficiency at best, but converting that into 259 yards averages into a pretty decent rate. Unfortunately this week, Siemian couldn’t convert in the red zone, and if you throw in a couple of interceptions, it makes for a rough week. I don’t think this week is indicative of his talent at all; however, and if you can buy him cheap, I think this is the week to do it.
Glennon went 15 for 22 and just over 100 yards, throwing 1 touchdown and 1 interception. The Bears ultimately relied on rushing, going over 200 yards in that degree, so it’s not really Glennon’s fault, he’s this low on the list. But the fantasy value for a quarterback on a team that carries the ball isn’t there, the question is whether the Bears will keep trying to mimic this success. I don’t think you pick up or cut Glennon after this week, but if they’re gonna keep rushing the ball you might look into freeing up some bench space.
It speaks to the utter inability of Joe Flacco that a backup quarterback that went 6 for 9 and 36 yards scored the sole touchdown of the game. What’s even more depressing is he’s not the bottom of the list and over two major names you wouldn’t expect to see this low. Obviously, Mallett has no fantasy value.
What happened to Carr this week is beyond me. Completing just 19 of 31 pass attempts is already not great, but passing for just 118 yards on the completions is feeble. Throwing two interceptions on top of that, and you’d be shocked to think Carr was being praised to kingdom come just a week ago. As bad as this stat line is, I do think it’s the worst performance, we’ll see out of both Carr and the Raiders this season, so if you want to pick him up cheap this is the week to do so. But with a stat line like this, I can see why you’d be hesitant to do so.
A fifty percent completion rate in a pass offensive heavy team is not good, especially when you make 40 attempts over the course of the game. Throwing no touchdowns makes it even worse, but not terrible. But throw in three interceptions and I’m almost surprised backup Kellen Clemens didn’t make the list above the starting Chargers quarterback. I think this is an off-week for Rivers, especially given how consistent he was across the first two weeks, but if he repeats it next week you may want to look into dropping him. For now, you gotta start the stud, even if he isn’t performing.
Honorable Mention: Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
When I was collecting the stats for this week, I was a bit surprised when I couldn’t find Flacco, even outside of the Top 32. Then the realization hit me, and I went through the entire roster of NFL quarterbacks to the very end. And sure enough, below all the quarterbacks, who play this week was Flacco. Flacco was 8 for 18 at just an abysmal 28 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions, and scored in the deep negatives for this week. It’s worth considering if Flacco is really the second quarterback you want in 2 QB leagues. You won’t get anything for him, but replacing him with someone like Goff or Watson wouldn’t be a terrible move.
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