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 you’re favorite player is low, blame them, not me. I’m just the guy crunching the data
Every time I even hint that I don’t think someone will do well, they skyrocket to the top of the list; Deshaun Watson is just the latest recipient of my unintentional good fortune. Watson completed 25 of 34 passes for 283 yards and a whopping four touchdowns in the Texans 57-14 routing of the Tennessee Titans. On top of that, Watson rushed 4 times for 21 yards and a fifth touchdown, which elevates his stats to an absurd level. He threw an interception and he still managed to score more than any other quarterback in the NFL, which says a lot about the monstrous week he enjoyed.
Looking back at his last few games, I’m starting to believe in this rookie quarterback’s season. Watson has always had potential, I said as much in last week’s column, but it is surprising to see it develop so quickly over the course of this season. I typically advise caution when it comes to quarterbacks because after one good game the discussion always turns to whether it’s for real or not. We’re only four weeks into the season, after all. But if we analyze each of those match-ups, I think it’s trending upward for Watson.
Week 1, he ranked 30th in QB points, but he also came in halfway through the game to take over for Tom Savage. He did enough in that game to snag his gig as starting quarterback. In Week 2, he was 7th; in Week 3, he was 17th; and now, he takes his first 1st-place finish for the season. While the amount of points he put out is absurd, and likely not replicable, I think he’ll finish as an overall Top 12 quarterback for the season. With that in mind, unless you have a stud quarterback who’s a must-start (Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, etc.)
I think picking up Watson and starting him is a safe move. If you wanna be even more cautious you can pick him up and bench him, but he should be targeted if he fits in your line-up and you have good waiver priority. Having a quarterback who’s not afraid to rush, especially in a matchup against the Chiefs who have a solid pass defense, is start-worthy match-up in my book though.
Based on his placement, you can probably guess the bounce back Cam Newton enjoyed this week. Cam put up 22 completions on 29 attempts and 316 yards, solid numbers all around, but nothing to gawk at. Where he really excelled was in the red zone, throwing three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. Quarterbacks, who aren’t afraid to make a running play can deliver, that’s where much of Watson’s value comes from, and Cam rushed eight times for 44 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. While an interception brings his stats slightly below Watson, it’s still a great showing from a quarterback no one believed in.
The issue with Cam this season is that I don’t trust him. He’s been progressively trending downward since an already bad Week 1, and those stats make me think this week is the aberration and not the first three weeks. There’s some truth to the idea of having shaky legs to start a season — and he barely played this preseason — it makes sense that nerves can get to someone, who has high expectations put on them, but he threw three interceptions and zero touchdowns last week.
If it’s going to be boom-or-bust and he’s busted three times, I don’t care that the boom is the most recent one. It’s inconsistent at best and deathly misleading at worst. Trade him now if you held onto him, bench if you really think he can keep turning it around, but as far as I’m concerned Cam Newton should not touch your starting roster.
Andy Dalton had a pretty great week. He made 25 of 30 attempts for 283 yards, which is great efficiency for admittedly middling yardage. Passing for four touchdowns is where he really gets his value this week, as well as making four rushing attempts for 12 yards. It’s not much, but it led the rushing yardage among the Bengals whose ground game was neutralized in an otherwise dominant match-up.
Dalton had the least mistakes in his game from the top three quarterbacks, relying on quick passes that wouldn’t be intercepted. Dalton’s been trending upward since Bill Lazor took over for Ken Zampese as offensive coordinator, but that sample size is only two weeks at this point. I personally want to see what he does against the Buffalo Bills in Week 5 before making a move on him. He’ll likely drop to free agency for other quarterback streaming options for his Week 6 bye, which should make it easy to pick him up then if the trend continues.
I’m thrilled to talk about Eli Manning as a top four quarterback for this week, I feel like a kid on Christmas. Manning relied almost entirely on the passing game due to the failings of his offensive line, with an admittedly terrible efficiency of 30 for 49 and 288 yards. Luckily for him efficiency doesn’t directly hurt you in fantasy, and throwing in two passing touchdowns and one rushing brings his fantasy day to life.
It’s interesting to note that even as the Giants record has gotten progressively worse over the first four weeks of the season, Manning’s numbers have continued to rise. His Week 1 performance was disastrous, week two was middling, week three was good, and this week was terrific. I think Manning is placing a lot of the blame for the Giants losses on his shoulders and it’s showing in aggressive play from the two-time Superbowl champ.
Continuing the trend of “Top Ten performers Grant didn’t believe in” is Russell Wilson, who continued his strong fantasy performance from last week. Maintaining solid efficiency in 21 for 26 passes and a solid return of 296 yards, Wilson threw two touchdowns and two interceptions. While that’s a bit disconcerting, he made up for it with his rushing attempts, going 4 for 38 and a bombastic 23 yard rushing touchdown.
Russell Wilson has officially rebounded from his shaky start to the season. Clocking in at #2 last week and #5 this week, his prospects seem to be trending upward. I think at this point he’s the safe start we thought he’d be at the beginning of the season. That might not necessarily hold up for the rest of the season, I’m a bit lukewarm personally given the somewhat mixed play in what looks like dominance statistically, but I can’t argue against two consecutive top five weeks for a big name like Wilson.
Smith had a solid game in Monday’s game against the Washington Redskins, going 27 for 37 and 293 yards. Smith passed for just one touchdown, connecting with star tight end Travis Kelce late in the first half, but put up impressive rushing yardage (7 for 56) and his own rushing touchdown to bolster his stats. This totalled for 27.3 fantasy points in Standard PPR scoring, four points short of his impressive week one showing.
Smith is in a weird place. Kansas City has been able to pull off four consecutive wins, but Smith’s numbers have only been solid in two of those weeks. In large part, I think Kansas City’s success is more due to Kareem Hunt, rookie running back of the year to this point, rather than anything Smith is doing. Despite being the second-highest scoring quarterback at this point, I don’t think he’s consistent enough for the value he’s currently rated at. If you can sell him, as part of a package, I think that’d be your best bet, but otherwise I see most him mostly an excellent second quarterback in 2 QB leagues.
Jameis Winston won his game against Eli Manning last week, but falls a bit short of the veterans numbers this week. Winston really excelled in the passing game this week, sending bombs that totaled 332 yards, the third-highest for the week. While his efficiency, much like Manning, was terrible, going 22 for 38, but he put up three passing touchdowns and some passable rushing yardage with four carries for 12 yards.
This is Winston’s best week after two consecutive weeks of being the #20 quarterback for the week. If you need a quarterback for this upcoming week, he isn’t a bad pick-up, after they have extra rest against their Thursday Night Football game against the New England Patriots, but long-term I don’t see any value and view his current placement as a bit of an aberration.
- Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Mr. Consistency rings in his second consecutive week at the #8 spot following the Packers destruction of the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football in Week 4. Rodgers was 18 for 26 and 179 yards, a 75% completion rate that is if anything a bit low for the infamously precise Rodgers. Rodgers low yardage was mitigated by his prowess in the red zone, throwing the four passing touchdowns that earned him his third consecutive spot in the Top Ten.
Rodgers is the most consistent quarterback at this point, going 8-6-8-8 in the rankings since the start of the season. He and Dak Prescott are the only players to continually rank in the top ten quarterbacks, which means he’s a must-start in my book. If you can get him, go for it, but I don’t see many people parting with guaranteed QB1 numbers without a decent deal or some really poor evaluations.
- Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys)
Dak Prescott had a bit of a mixed bag of a game, which makes sense considering the Cowboys ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. Going 20 for 36 is not the kind of efficiency you want to see, even if it did net a serviceable 252 passing yards. Throwing three touchdowns is great, but an interception dims the appeal a bit. I will say 25 yards on 3 carries are impressive for a quarterback, even if they didn’t end in touchdown conversions.
For a lot of the same reasons that I’m high on Aaron Rodgers, I’m high on Dak Prescott. If you can post consistent fantasy numbers that means you’re a predictable variable, and in a game as wild as football having some predictive validity is helpful. He isn’t quite as impressive as Rodgers (most people aren’t, after all) and I don’t think he has nearly as high a ceiling, but he’s a one of those guys I’d pick up and start as a QB1 if I didn’t have an absolute stud. He’s a low end QB1, but a QB1 nonetheless.
While the Redskins ultimately didn’t pull out the win after holding on to the lead through the first half, Kirk Cousins put in a solid effort and rounds off our top ten. Going 14 for 24 is not ideal, but in a week of poor efficiency somewhat forgivable even if it’s for just 220 yards. Cousins threw two passing touchdowns but netted a good amount of points in the rushing game, rushing 7 times for 38 yards.
This isn’t the kind of upside those who picked up Cousins wanted, but it is reassuring that he’s having some bounce back after poor numbers in the first two weeks. Barring severe outliers, I like to evaluate more recent games heavier, and that makes me a bit more bullish on Cousins long-term prospects. If you have the bench space and aren’t thrilled with your current starter, Cousins is on a bye and a likely easy pick-up, and I do think he’ll be putting up Top 12 seasonal numbers come the end of the season.
- Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
After two consecutive weeks at the top, Brady falls just short of the top ten. Brady delivered his usual performance in the passing game, passing for 307 yards, but his efficiency was not as good as one would expect, going 32 for 45. Two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown still keep the elite quarterback in the top half of this list, and if you have him, I still think he’s a must-start. Even when Brady loses, he’s putting up really good fantasy numbers, which means he’s absolutely an auto-start for me.
Philip Rivers had a good week that could have been great. He put up the second highest passing yardage at 347, but in a theme we keep revisiting, he was stopped from connecting on most of his passes, going just 22 for 38. Unlike many of the others on this list; however, I worry that this is the kind of efficiency will be a long-term hindrance to putting up good points. He’s a touchdown dependent quarterback, and while he managed to put up two this week, if he doesn’t connect in the red zone his value goes kaput. I’d trade him as part of a package while his numbers are decent, especially given the Chargers current record.
The Saints crushed the Miami Dolphins 20-0 in Wembley Stadium in London, but the game tempo didn’t match the outcome. Brees struggled in the first half to get a rhythm going, and while he went full Brees in the second half, it didn’t entirely save his game. Having said that, 268 passing yards and two touchdowns is nothing to sneeze at, even if his 29 for 41 efficiency leaves something to be desired. It’s not an excellent week for an excellent quarterback, but nothing he’s showing is wavering my confidence in his abilities as a player.
Goff went 21 for 36 on passing attempts, putting up 255 yards, and threw two touchdowns. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road week for a middle-of-the-road quarterback. I like a lot of what I see from Goff long-term, but his ceiling is unfortunately capped at the moment, so I can’t advise starting him in all, but the most dire formats. If you’re in a two quarterback league the discussion changes, because depending on how the draft shook-out, he could be one of the better second quarterback options, but for most people Goff is easy to overlook.
Palmer relied heavily on the passing game this week, going 33 for 51 on passing attempts, the most for the week. Similarly, this resulted in the most passing yardage for the week with 357 yards, but an effective strategy it was not, throwing just one touchdown and a pick. Palmer went heavy on the passing game this week, which might bode well for his ceiling going forward given how fantasy point are scored, but given the limited returns, it gave him in a closely-contested win. I wonder if he’ll go back to that well. Regardless, his stock as as high-end QB2 hasn’t changed on account of this week.
- Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans)
Marcus Mariota was on the wrong side of the 57-14 blowout last week to the Houston Texans, but still managed to put up two rushing touchdowns in the first half that keep him in the top half. The less said about his passing game, the better, but for anyone curious: two picks, 6 for 10, and 90 yards. I don’t love the outlook regardless, but on top of a hamstring injury that kept him out of the second half, I think it’s best to cut Mariota. Rushing touchdowns are great, but I don’t think he’s the type to consistently put them up.
After a strong start to the season Carson Wentz followed last week’s trajectory and put up a decidedly “meh” performance. He went 17 for 31, which is nothing to write home about, although he has decent yardage off the 17 completions with 242 passing yards. A passing touchdown keeps his stats decent, but personally I wonder, if the big numbers we saw early on were a mirage that won’t be replicated. I’m gonna hold on to Carson Wentz, but bench him if you have him. Don’t drop or hold him, see how this next week goes.
Tyrod Taylor put up exactly the kind of numbers you’d expect from Tyrod Taylor. 60% completion rate on 20 attempts, 180 yards, and a passing touchdown. He attempted some rushing plays, but like Carson Wentz, he didn’t get much done in that regard. I like someone, who goes for the rushing plays, they’re the golden ticket as far as quarterback fantasy value, but Tyrod Taylor is a touchdown-dependent QB2, who I wouldn’t feel great about starting in a two quarterback league, let alone single.
I admire dedication to the passing game as much as the next guy, but when you go 15 for 35, clearly there’s an issue somewhere in the process. Netting just 140 yards and one passing touchdown on those 15 completions is equally distressing, especially given the pick, he threw in the second quarter. The only thing keeping Blake Bortles away from the bottom tier this week is going 4 for 38 on rushing yardage, but anyone who can talk you into picking up Blake Bortles or seeing long-term potential in the mediocre QB2 should be selling ice to Eskimos.
Siemian has been seen as a match-up dependent streaming quarterback, and this week did little to dispute that view. Having said that he didn’t put up the explosive numbers you’d want given a solid match up against the injury-laden Oakland Raiders, going 16 for 26 and 179 yards with a lone passing touchdown. Four rushing attempts is a nice perk, but their failure — netting just one yard — does not leave me with confidence. If you like his match up against the Giants go for it, but I wouldn’t put him on my roster.
Big Ben hasn’t been putting up big numbers. He went 18 for 30, 216 yards, one touchdown, and one pick. He’s a bit of a big name gone bust, and I don’t see him trending higher than Top 15 or so for the season in the absolute best case scenario. A decent QB2 in a pinch, but unless you’re in love with the Steelers upcoming schedule, I’d use his name for trade bait while you still can. Which, for many people, is already too late. I wouldn’t advise outright dropping him, but the long-term outlook is not good.
I advised a Stafford pick-up, so I’m sorry he didn’t explode like I hoped. I really do think there’s a lot of potential given the lay-out of his team, especially since the Lions defense is superb and quick to get him the ball. He went 19 for 31 and 309 yards, which is not terrible, it’s the lack of touchdowns that has him this low. He’s a good quarterback, and if you can get him cheap I think it’s worth the investment.
- Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)
Carr went 10 for 18 and 148 yards before being taken out late in the third quarter with an injury. His back injury is likely to take him out for 2-6 weeks, and given the subpar performance, he was putting in before that, I don’t think he should be taking up the spot on your roster. Unless you have a free IR spot, cut him, as much as it hurts. I wish the early numbers could have kept up, but it doesn’t look like this will be Carr’s season.
After an amazing Week 3 showing, Brissett has come down to about the spot in the rankings that we would expect. He went 16 for 29, which isn’t good, 157 yards isn’t great, and 1 touchdown and 1 interception certainly isn’t good. If you picked him up, hoping for good upside last week, sorry to say but it wasn’t a good move. Cut him if you have him, I don’t see any value unless it’s something like a 16 team 2 quarterback league.
Joe Flacco had nowhere to go up given that he put up less points then people, who literally don’t play professional football, but I’m sure anyone, who tried to hold on to him isn’t thrilled with his performance. When you’re throwing more interceptions than touchdowns — 2 to 1 — its an issue, especially when you make 49 passing attempts. The craziest thing is that that’s the same amount Manning made, and he completed one more than the #4 quarterback, but still could not get anything started offensively. There’s nothing here, move along.
Keenum’s probable last week in fantasy ended not with a bang, but a whimper. He went 16 for 30 and 219 yards, he just couldn’t get anything started. With Sam Bradford likely in Week Five, any upside in picking up Keenum is long gone. Barring another injury to Bradford he’s not gonna see anymore play, no one will begrudge you for cutting him.
I don’t know what’s happening with Matt Ryan this season. The Falcons offense was a force last season, but this season, he’s nosedived hard. He’s put up less points each week, threw two interceptions last game against the Bills, and went 24 for 42 and 242 yards this game. If you can get value off the name go for it, if you need the bench space drop him, but personally I just want to hold and hope for some kind of improvement. Maybe the Falcons bye can help them right the ship, but I honestly don’t know.
Brian Hoyer completed 24 of 49 attempted passes, a horribly inefficient rate. Brian Hoyer averaged under ten yards per completed pass, a terrible rate for a pass heavy offense. Brian Hoyer threw zero touchdowns and one interception, which — you guessed it — is atrocious. Guess what this means? Brian Hoyer is an awful NFL quarterback! I can’t see any reason for owning him, decent upcoming schedule or not, and any good performances are an aberration. For the love of God, do not pick up Brian Hoyer, I cannot stress this enough.
Jay Cutler continued his disastrous snowball of failure, going 20 for 28 and 168 yards and an interception. There isn’t much else to say about his performance in the Dolphins shut-out, Cutler isn’t someone you should be rostering in all, but the most desperate of situations. I could see him turning it around, but when they can’t even get good production out of a running back like Jay Ajayi, I don’t think the Dolphins have it in them for a decent season. If it’s gonna turn-around, it needs to happen soon.
Josh McCown has the “honorable” distinction of being the lowest-placed quarterback to actually win their game. Huzzah…? He actually wasn’t terrible, posting 22 for 31 and 224 yards, but an interception and a fumble bring his numbers down. McCown will continue to be a match-up dependent streaming option, but given these were his numbers in a win even that’s in question at this point.
Mike Glennon threw two interceptions, fumbled twice, and somewhere in the mix actually scored a touchdown. Unfortunately for Glennon, his stats aren’t going to matter, because he’s lost his starting gig to Mitchell Trubisky. Any value Glennon might have had went down after he lost that, although with that in mind Trubisky wouldn’t be a terrible pick-up since he’s a relative unknown.
Kizer has returned to his usual placement at the bottom of the list. The Browns offense is an utter mess this season, he went 16 for 34 for just 118 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception. If you’re looking for a silver lining, there really isn’t one, the best I can tell you, he rushed five times for 10 yards, so maybe there’s some rushing touchdown upside there. Do not pick up Kizer, in that path lies madness.
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