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.
Note: Starting this week, the roundup will become 1-28, to account for 4 teams having a bye each week from this point in the season. This week starting quarterbacks Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Trevor Siemian, and Kirk Cousins had a bye, and as such will not be included in the round-up. However, the Wide Receivers article will remain 1-32.
Watson had another monster game and quite frankly, it doesn’t surprise me anymore. Watson went 16 for 31 for 261 yards and an insane five touchdowns. While the efficiency is nothing to write home about, Watson’s accuracy in the red zone, particularly against a competent defense like the Chiefs, managed to bring him to the top of the list, a noteworthy accomplishment for a quarterback, who lost their game.
The only game Watson hasn’t performed serviceable in is the opening week against the Jaguars, who are the most elite defense this year. On top of that, Watson rushes a lot for a quarterback, and this week, he was 3 for 31 in that regard. An athletic quarterback can get a lot of points off the back of rushing, especially if they’re willing to do it in the red zone as Watson has done in the past. It also mitigates concerns about a rookie quarterback and provides a good floor for him as far as fantasy value goes, because if he has an iffy passing day that will at least score him some points.
At this point, I’ve fully bought into the hype on Deshaun Watson. I was working on a package deal and as part of it traded off Tom Brady and received Watson. While I don’t think Watson is a better quarterback than Brady by any means, even if the numbers he’s currently putting up are better, cashing in on his name value to improve at other positions for the “downgrade” of Watson is absolutely worth it at this point. Watson will be a Top Ten quarterback when this is all said and done, and I think the potential for Top Five and beyond is absolutely there as well.
If you can get Watson, the time to buy him low is slowly eroding. People are hesitant to trust rookie backs, but putting up numbers like this consistently is enough proof for me to buy in. On top of that, the Texans are playing the Browns this upcoming week, who are already a weak defense, who will assuredly face growing pains under the newly elected starter Kevin Hogan. He’s match up proof regardless, but this match up should be exceptionally good for Watson, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is #1 yet again in next week’s column. Maybe that will jinx him, but I have confidence.
Dak Prescott continued his consistent performance this week, landing him the #2 spot for this week; albeit, almost 6 full points behind Watson in PPR Standard scoring. Prescott went 25 for 36 for 251 yards and three touchdowns. An interception brings his scoring down a bit, but four carries for 27 yards and a rushing touchdown make up for that and more.
Prescott has consistently put up great numbers throughout the season, trending upwards from 12th, to 11th, to 10th, to 9th, and now 2nd. While this trend is more of a novelty than something that will continue going forward, he’s consistently putting up QB1 numbers without the reputation of being a QB1. I think if you can get him for cheap or for some reason off the waivers, you absolutely should. This is the Cowboys bye week, and if someone else drops him to stream a different QB, snatch him up.
Carson Wentz rounds off our top three after a dominating performance against the Arizona Cardinals. Wentz went 21 for 30 for 304 yards and four touchdowns. An interception brings his numbers down a bit, and he also got something out of 6 rushing attempts for 11 yards, but the touchdowns are what make this a monster week for Wentz. This is Wentz best-point performance this season, albeit not his highest overall ranking. (He was the second-best quarterback in Week 2 of the season.)
I like Wentz a lot for someone, who isn’t getting a ton of discussion as an elite quarterback. He’s currently #6 for the season and the Eagles have a solid arsenal of weapons. Unfortunately, I think, whoever owns Carson Wentz knows that by now and the price you’re going to be paying isn’t worth the upside, unless your quarterback situation is dire. A solid quarterback, but one I don’t see being traded a ton at this particular point, with the exception of large package deals.
- Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
Alex Smith is the biggest surprise of this season, but the guy has been getting it done. He had another great week against the Texans in a shootout that ended 42-34 in their favor. Smith was 29 for 37 and 324 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed five times for 19 yards, but he’s on this list by virtue of his technical play, which has been astounding and contributed to the Chiefs being the sole undefeated team in the NFL.
Smith has had an excellent completion rate and through five games has yet to throw an interception, which is the kind of consistency you like to see from a quarterback. Weeks 2 and 3 were somewhat shaky, but still respectable performances. Alex Smith has a decent floor with a huge ceiling that seems dependent on whether they’re heavily utilizing Kareem Hunt. Against weak pass defenses or strong ground defenses he’s a must play, and I’d still say he’s borderline QB1 otherwise.
Cam Newton continued his hot streak after a slow start to the season, going 26 for 33 and putting up 355 yards, which leads the week. Three passing touchdowns nicely padded those numbers, although I’m sure owners wish his seven rushing attempts didn’t end in zero net yardage. Making the top five for a second consecutive week, the decision on which Cam is here is up for debate.
My biggest strength and biggest weakness is I believe in the hot hand. If I see a recent trend, I tend to weight that more heavily than prior performances, because so much of fantasy football is acting before the vultures descend on a pick-up. Of course, aberrations of play happen, which makes this dangerous, but it can also lead to good waiver wire play. I think if you can get Cam from people who believe this trend is the outlier in some sort of package deal, you should, because if it continues soon no one will wanna part with him.
Aaron Rodgers had another good game, bringing the Packers to victory after the Cowboys seemingly sealed the deal. Rodgers went 19 for 29 for 221 yards and three touchdowns, on top of solid rushing stats to the tune of 32 yards on four carries. Rodgers salvaged not only the game for the Packers, but continued his dominance in fantasy football.
At this point, Aaron Rodgers is the sole quarterback, who has put up top ten numbers every single week, and there’s nothing I love more than consistency. The perceived value for him, unfortunately, is way too high to justify purchasing him, unless his owner is hurting at a position you’re plentiful in. But by and large Rodgers is not a player who will be moving from lineup to lineup.
Brian Hoyer is not a quarterback that I want to write positive things about. He’s in the top ten this week, so I kinda have to, but it’s definitely a struggle. Having said that, the numbers speak for themselves. He went 29 for 46 and 353 yards, which is good, even if the efficiency is pretty terrible. It’s the second-most passing yardage of the week, just two yards behind Cam Newton. Throw in two touchdowns and it’s not a bad day, especially for someone with the reputation like Brian Hoyer.
Hoyer is at this point a streaming option that is entirely match-up dependent. He’ll have big games like this, or he’ll put up a total of two points. Even when streaming is an option, I’m always hesitant, because I just don’t think he’s a consistent enough player.
Sadly, I was wrong about Philip Rivers, who led the Chargers to victory against the Giants and secured their first win of the season. Incidentally, this means that Eli Manning has never defeated Rivers in a contest across the four games they faced each other. In this particular game, Rivers went 21 for 44 and 258 yards, which is straight up terrible efficiency for okay yardage. He threw three touchdowns and a pick, which boosted his numbers enough to get into the top ten.
Rivers is a big name that I’ve never seen as anything more than a streaming option. If the Chargers can break through a pass defense, Rivers will put points on the board. If he’s available, I’d go full steam for this stream.
Jameis Winston had a solid night, going 26 for 46 for 334 yards and a touchdown. In a week where a lot of quarterbacks threw a high volume of passes with terrible efficiency, Winston is perhaps the most interesting, because he was against the worst-ranked defense in the league, the New England Patriots. And while he got the high volume of passing yards you would expect from that match-up, it didn’t convert into touchdowns and as such didn’t have quite as much boom as quarterbacks, who previously played the Patriots.
Part of me wants to pump the brakes for Winston, because his floor isn’t quite where I’d like it. There are certainly worse options out there, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Rounding off the top ten is Jacoby Brissett, who narrowly defeated the 49ers 26-23. Brissett completed 22 of 34 passes for 314 yards and an interception. Normally that would lead you to the back-half of the list, but Brissett had a rushing touchdown, which lands him his spot in the winners circle for this week.
Any quarterback willing to rush in the end-zone can salvage a week, and Brissett is a good example of that. So if he’s one of your streaming options, I don’t think it’s a terrible pick-up.
Hogan’s debut performance over DeShone Kizer as the starting quarterback was a solid showing in spite of yet another loss for the team. Hogan went 16 for 19 and 194 yards, netting two touchdowns and a pick in the process. Clearly, the Browns prefer to run the ball, but Hogan isn’t afraid to throw the ball in the end zone, which does provide some fantasy value. If he can get the touchdowns, he’ll be valuable, but if you want a high floor he’s not gonna be your guy, given the lack of receiving options on the Browns.
Carson Palmer went 28 for 44 for 291 yards and a touchdown. Standard numbers for a middle-of-the-road quarterback, I like Palmer for his consistency, but his ceiling doesn’t seem particularly high. If you don’t want to mess with streaming quarterbacks, you can probably pick him up cheap, or even for free in some leagues, but there’s nothing particular special about Palmer’s game here or next week’s game. He’ll always tread the line between QB1 and QB2.
Stafford completed 23 of 35 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. I have a buddy that is in love with the Detroit Lions and will tell you for days why this performance isn’t indicative of Matt Stafford, but it pretty much is. He’s in the same bunch with Carson Palmer, reliable points who might have a good day here or there depending on the match-up. My advice is likewise the same, pick him up if you’re wanting for options, but even with a decent floor he’s not a must start by any means.
Josh McCown marks the new halfway point this week, ending the top half of this list. McCown completed 23 of 30 passes for 194 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. McCown has had a good season with his style of play, but as far as fantasy value it’s been very match-up dependent. He probably has the most value for Week 6 relative to his perceived value.
Dalton went 22 for 36 and 328 yards. A touchdown pads it out nicely, but two interceptions mean he’s gonna be on the back half of this list. I’m relatively high on the Bill Lazor-led offense of the Bengals, and while the fantasy value wasn’t there this particular week the Bengals did win. Going into his bye, Andy Dalton could be a sneaky pick-up, but it might not be worth the bench spot given the floor we saw early in the season.
- Eli Manning (New York Giants)
After being on the up-and-up for a few weeks, all good things must come to an end. Manning completed just 21 of 36 passes for 225 yards, throwing two touchdowns and interception. While I’d be willing to call this an aberration, with the injuries across the Giants wide receiver pool Manning’s fantasy value has gone far, far down. Especially against the Broncos this week, do NOT start Eli Manning, without the wide receiving weapons he’s about as far from match-up proof as a quarterback can get. If they do somehow pull off a win, it’ll be off their run game, like Orleans Darkwa or Wayne Gallman or Shane Vereen, which doesn’t boost Manning’s numbers.
- Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Tom Brady had a down week, completing 30 of 40 passes for 303 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Mind you, when a down week is 30 completions and over 300 yards, that isn’t exactly terrible. The Patriots ultimately won their match-up and were able to play conservatively, but conservative for the Patriots is still 40 pass attempts, so there’s no need to worry about Touchdown Tommy.
Manuel is coming in as the backup for an injured Derek Carr and had a shaky start to the role. He completed half of his 26 pass attempts for just 159 yards. 1 touchdown and 15 rushing yards bring it up a bit, but it’s nothing to write home about. Manuel’s only prospect would be as a streaming option, but it’s not even a given that he’ll be playing over Carr this upcoming week. Manuel is best left on the waivers with the other backup quarterbacks.
To give props to Case Keenum, he did better than starting quarterback Sam Bradford, taking over in the second half of the game. His numbers aren’t great, for playing in one half, going 17 for 21 for 140 yards and a touchdown isn’t terrible. I like the rhythm Case has gotten into with the offense, but the question of Sam Bradford will always loom over any long-term prospects he might have. Keep him off your roster, at least for this season.
Up and down, left and right, I don’t know what to make of Russell Wilson. Wilson completed 24 of 37 passes for 198 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. They did ultimately win the game, so I can’t fault him too much here, his stats are deflated a bit here because of the flow of the game, but it’s not exactly the type of showing you’d expect against the Los Angeles Rams of all teams. I can’t get a bead on Russell Wilson, and that makes him a bench prospect for me until I can.
Bears fans pinned their hopes on Mitch Trubisky, and so far it doesn’t look great. 12 for 25 completions for 128 yards, a touchdown, and an interceptions looks abysmal on paper. Having said that, the Bears are a run oriented team, so I won’t fault him too much for the deflated stats. Having said that, unless you’re banking on the hope of something big, Mitch should not be starting in Week 6. The experience just isn’t there yet, he’s only had one game as starter over Mike Glennon.
Tyrod Taylor had an average Tyrod Taylor game, maybe a bit below the mean. He passed below 50% with 12 completions on 25 attempts, hit 166 yards, and threw a pick and a touchdown. It’s not great, but Taylor is not match-up proof, he’s always more in the streaming discussion. Which, going into a bye week, is nonexistent, so he shouldn’t be on anyone’s radars.
Joe Flacco didn’t embarrass himself, which at this point is what Ravens fans want from the guy. He went 19 for 26 and 222 yards in the Ravens blowout win, passing for quick passes by and large with a few longer bombs that somewhat inflate the yardage. Flacco didn’t directly hurt himself this week, which again, good for anyone who for some reason held onto him after the game in London, but his floor is nonexistent and you start hitting your head on his ceiling around the mid-teens, so keep him off your roster.
Goff had an interesting game. He went below 50% on completions, with just 22 on 47 attempts, but did pass for 288 yards. Unfortunately the volume he was throwing didn’t turn into passing touchdowns, and instead backfired to the tune of two interceptions. Goff can be useful in the right match-up, the Rams aren’t a bad team, but the Jaguars are definitely not it. Avoid Goff at all costs against the best pass defense in the league.
The fill-in for Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel went 21 for 32 for just 142 yards and a touchdown. It’s not a terrible completion percentage, but he didn’t get much yardage off of it, and if you’re gonna pass to the tune of 32 attempts you need to make some plays off of it. While Mariota is still questionable, Cassel should stay on the waivers until, at the very least, he can prove he can do anything exceptional in the backup role.
The Dolphins won, but owners of Jay Cutler probably weren’t happy with how it went down. Cutler had a below 50% completion rate, going 12 for 26 92 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. With DaVante Parker possibly out with an ankle injury, I don’t see any value in streaming Cutler for this upcoming week…or most weeks, for the matter, but definitely not Week 6.
Blake Bortles came back down to the numbers you’d expect from, well, Blake Bortles. In a blowout win over the Steelers, Bortles barely outpaced Big Ben at the end of this list with just 8 completions on 14 attempts for 95 yards and a pick. Bortles passed low volume to avoid interceptions, and the Jaguars can do that because they have a great ground game and defense, but it’s why I can’t start him. He’d need to be far behind to try any big passing plays, so for all that his team is succeeding, he has no fantasy value.
- Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Finishing off the list for this week is Big Ben. Ben went 33 for an astounding 55 pass attempts, but made just 312 yards off of that volume and threw an infamous five interceptions on top of it. He barely scrounged up positive points in a week many started him, and any hope that he could be used for explosive home games has been dashed away for this game. If you can sell him on the name in some sort of package go for it, but if you can’t cut him and move on.
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