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: As six teams were on bye this week, this week will be the Top 26 rather than 32.
Goff absolutely exploded this week in the 51-17 blowout, which is doubly surprising given that he completed just 14 of 22 pass attempts, but they went for 311 yards and 4 touchdowns. That means of 14 receptions, 4 were touchdowns, or 28% of his passes. It’s not Will Fuller levels of touchdown efficiency, but it’s about as close an anyone else has gotten this season, and doubly impressive because he’s a quarterback.
There are two big takeaways from Jared Goff leading the rankings this week. One, that the Rams are an absolutely elite offense with a lot of big playability. Second, that the New York Giants are such a dumpster fire of a team that streaming a quarterback against them, as much as it pains me to say it, is a very valid strategy. Goff isn’t an elite quarterback, as much as some pundits may be claiming, but we’ve seen team after team succeed against the struggling Giants.
It’s my job to hype Jared Goff up because he’s the #1 quarterback or the week, and I do think his situation is good. Having a great running back in Todd Gurley and a solid offensive line does give a quarterback more flexibility for big plays. Throw that in against a poor defense, you’re gonna have a good week, Goff was an excellent streaming option for that exact reason. But I don’t think Goff is a particularly special talent in terms of, he just had a good game script, and to illustrate that point I want to go back to his pass attempts.
Goff was 14 for 22, which in most weeks would lead to mediocre scoring. I can see the argument that he didn’t need to pass, and when he did he managed to get the four touchdowns, but the consistent production just isn’t there in my opinion. The Rams are a run-heavy team and that means most weeks Goff isn’t going to be passing a lot. I feel like this is more of an aberration and as I’ve said before, I think Goff is a better real life quarterback than fantasy quarterback. I’d personally be looking to sell high on Goff, especially given some of the Rams rougher match-ups coming up.
It’s odd to see a losing quarterback perform so much better than the winner, but Tyrod Taylor excelled this week in fantasy. Taylor completed 29 of 40 passes for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns and also rushed 6 times for 35 yards and another touchdown. The majority of the points he scored came in garbage time when the Bills had already lost the game, but nonetheless it’s interesting to see a team that struggles so much at the wide receiver position perform this well.
The recent trade of Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills will only improve Taylor going forward. He didn’t have that particular weapon in this game and still succeeded, and I’m fairly high on his rest of season schedule. The issue getting him is that he’s coming off a great week, but it’s always worth investigating, especially if other people have just been using him as a streaming option. He might be best obtained as part of a package for a deal you’re on the fence on.
Dak bounced back from his only off week of the season, completing 21 of 33 pass attempts for 429 yards and two touchdowns. Alone this would be impressive, but he also rushed for 27 yards and another touchdown on 3 carries. The weather was fine on the field this week and Prescott performed to expectations, so I’m absolutely willing to chalk up last week’s fantasy performance to an aberration caused by the storms last week.
Dak is currently the #4 quarterback on the season so if you were able to pick him up on his off work that’s great. The suspension of Ezekiel Elliot will be determined shortly, and not having access to his star running back could hurt him, since they may need to rely on the pass offensive more and limit the efficacy thereof. But Prescott is a good enough quarterback that I’m not particularly worried about that, and if Zeke’s suspension does get upheld – which might not necessarily rule before this Sunday’s game – trading for Dak from a tilting owner could be worth it.
Carson Wentz had a game that was remarkably similar to Jared Goff, completing 15 of 27 pass attempts for 199 yards and four touchdowns. He padded his stats out with 2 carries for 8 yards, but the main story is the touchdown to reception ratio. A lot of people were worried about how the Eagles would perform against what is typically considered a good defense in the Denver Broncos, but their utter routing is proof that Wentz is match-up proof.
I think Wentz is worth an investment going into his bye week because of this, especially if his owner is hurting with his absence. Giving up some depth for an elite quarterback on a dominant team is a potentially play-off winning move. The quarterback position is typically underrated, but in match-ups that are determined by ten or fewer points the difference between a stream and a starter can be the difference between winning and losing. This will be the last week t pick up Wentz, and I think it’s worth it.
Jay Cutler came back from his injury with a strong performance, even if the Oakland Raiders ultimately won the game. Cutler completed 34 of 42 pass attempts for 311 yards and 3 touchdowns, which surprised many people who thought the Dolphins would struggle against the Raiders. What made it doubly surprising was the emergence of both Dolphins running backs in Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams.
A major concern was what trading off Jay Ajayi would do for the Dolphins offense, but it seems to have worked out for both sides. Ajayi thrived in the Eagles game and the two people behind him in line had great games. Having these solid running backs makes up for the Dolphins poor offensive line and gives Cutler more options, which elevates him to a match-up dependent streaming option for me. He’ll likely be on waivers at this point, so if you want to scoop him up to play him against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Egnland Patriots there are certainly worse options.
Russell Wilson delivered another great fantasy performance, completing 24 of 45 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Two interceptions hurt his bottom line a bit, but he makes up for it with ten carries for a whopping 77 yards. Wilson has been seen as a great fantasy option rest of season, as a passing quarterback on a team with a great defense, and weeks like this feed into that perception.
Wilson is set up for another good game against the Arizona Cardinals, so if you have him you should absolutely start him. However, it’s worth noting that the Seahawks schedule is dicey going forward, with both the Eagles and the Jacksonville Jaguars coming up. Selling high and picking up someone who has a lot of talent and an easier schedule plus some depth at other positions might be worth it. Speaking of which…
Matthew Stafford lit up Monday Night Football, completing 26 of 33 pass attempts for 361 yards and 2 touchdowns. While part of this is absolutely because of the Green Bay Packers utterly destitute state, he broke 400 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in last week’s outing as well. Stafford is the highest paid player in the NFL and outings like this seem to back up the rationale behind that.
More importantly, the Lions schedule for the rest of the season is very soft, which means he’s doubly likely to continue these stellar outings. With many great quarterbacks being taken out for the season (most notably Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Carson Palmer) Stafford is a great option for a team that is hurting. His perception is in that sweet spot between elite and good so you wouldn’t have to pay all that much relative to his actual value and it should take care of your QB woes for the rest of the season.
Cam Newton had a not great outing in the usual sense, completing 13 of 24 pass attempts for just 137 yards, but the floor that he has a rushing quarterback was shown this week. Newton rushed for 86 yards on 9 carries this week, netting his sole touchdown of the game in the process. In that vein, Newton is an interesting prospect.
Newton was running plays designed to maximize his effectiveness on the ground and clearly that is the path the Panthers want to take with him. That solidifies the floor he has for me and makes him a viable candidate for a pick-up. Having said that, if his ground game is halted for whatever reason, Cam Newton is not an excellent passing quarterback and I worry that he could be shut down. Relative to the points he’s putting up he’s risky, but if you believe he can continue the ground success the floor will be there.
Jacoby Brissett had a good game that no one was expecting against the Houston Texans, who have faltered with the loss of their starting quarterback. Brissett completed 20 of 30 of his pass attempts for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns, finding T.Y. Hilton for the first time in a while for several deep bombs. He padded his stats a bit, rushing for 12 yards on 2 carries, but Brissett was ultimately effective in the passing game.
If you’re starting Brissett, it’s going to likely be for one of two reasons, given that he’s currently on most leagues waiver wire. His match-up has to be fantastic for one reason or another. An elite offense that will get up big on the atrocious Colts defense will force Brissett to pass a lot in the second half, and provided the defense isn’t excellent that will likely give him a boost. Or, the defense is so poor that Brissett can make deep plays to the very capable wide receiver T.Y. Hilton happen, as it did this week. Either way he shouldn’t be rostered for this weeks match-up against the Steelers, unless you have the bench space and want to get him early for future match-ups.
Drew Brees had a fine showing that landed him in the top ten, completing 22 of 27 potential passes for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also, for one reason or another, tried to rush twice, but only picked up 4 yards, which makes sense given that Brees is good at everything except rushing. It’s his first top ten showing in a while, which as a Saints supporter makes me happy, but his long-term fantasy outlook isn’t great.
I’ve been saying this for week’s but even when Brees is having competent showings like these, the state of the Saints offense means I don’t want to have him. Alvin Kamara is a pass-catching running back, but he’s still a running back and banking on him to catch a pass heading into the end zone rather than carry it in is way too risky. The Saints have become a team that love to run the ball, and the only person I’d want to hold other than Kamara or Mark Ingram is Michael Thomas. Drew Brees is great at throwing the ball, but he just doesn’t need to this year and I don’t think it will reflect for his fantasy value.
Alex Smith fell just outside the top ten this week, completing 25 of 34 pass attempts for 2 touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed the ball a surprising 5 times, netting 19 yards in the process. Why he chose to do that rather than rely on prodigious rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who saw limited carries,, is a mystery for the ages, but it does pad out his numbers nicely on the week. Alex Smith is a Top 5 quarterback this season and he’s continued to perform even when the Chiefs have not. If you can get him, go for it, but it’s gonna be pricey and might not be the best fit for your roster.
Tying exactly with Smith is Matt Ryan, who completed 24 of 38 pass attempts for 313 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Ryan has been dealing with offensive woes on top of a rough schedule following his Superbowl appearance, and I feel like this is one of the better weeks he is going to have. If you can sell him off the back of a performance like this going into the game against the Cowboys I would, but his value isn’t exactly great and it might not be worth the headache. Hoping for an elite offense to get back to prior form isn’t fun, but for the value he’s at it might be the type of calculated risk you need to take.
Surprisingly, Brett Hundley takes the final spot in the top half. Hundley looked atrocious against the Lions, even if his statline came out okay at the end of it. Completing 26 of 38 passes for 245 yards is passable, although being unable to connect in the end zone hurt him. Most of Hundley’s value, like a worse Cam Newton, is going to come on the ground, this week to the tune of 4 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown. This is about where he caps off unfortunately, and I wouldn’t recommend him in anything other than an amazing match-up, and even then it’s probably not worth the potential downside.
C.J. Beathard kicks off the second half of the list, completing just 24 of 51 – less than half – of his passes for 294 yards and an interception. He salvaged his week with a rushing touchdown and 16 yards on the ground, but the 49ers have yet to win a game for a reason. If you’re desperate, streaming the quarterback playing opposite the New York Giants is never a terrible call, but the 49ers are one of the only teams playing worse than the Giants at this point. For that reason, I’d look for other options if at all possible.
Josh McCown put up a good performance that was unfortunately stifled by a game script that did not require him to pass. MCcown completed 14 of 20 pass attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown, as well as netting a rushing touchdown and 13 yards on the ground. McCown has a great match-up against the Bucs this week, which means he’s likely rostered, but after that is his bye week and a good time to scoop him and bench him should he be cut.
Blake Bortles had a solid outing, going 24 for 38 for 259 yards and a touchdown and also netting 20 yard on the ground with 5 carries. The issue rostering Blake Bortles is because the Jaguars are such a run heavy team that his upside is capped, but his rest of season schedule outside of a meeting with the Seahawks looks really good. He’s somewhat boom-bust but if you need a play, he’s not a terrible option, given that everyone think he’s utter garbage in spite of some decent outings.
Mariota started for me and one of my leagues, and while he didn’t let me down as much as a certain Washington Redskins player, it wasn’t all that pretty. Mariota completed 19 of 28 passes for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. Unfortunately, the big appeal to Mariota, the floor provided by his ground game, didn’t manifest with just 6 rushing yards on 3 carries. Until Mariota gets that mobility entirely back his floor is practically nonexistent, and I’m hesitant to start him this week even against the Cincinnati Bengals. At some point he’ll get back to his old form, but the clock’s ticking on the fantasy team and waiting on that could prove fatal.
Joe Flacco was a mixed bag this week, completing 34 of 52 pass attempts for 261 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also rushed for 7 yards, although that’s not particularly relevant. The Ravens are supposed to be a pass heavy team, look at the pass attempts here if you need further proof, but Flacco isn’t effective in that role. There are Ravens that you can start, but Flacco is too inconsistent to be relied upon in any capacity.
Drew Stanton was competent this week, completing half of his 30 pass attempts for 201 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He’s not quite as terrible as he’s been in the past, but he was also playing the 49ers so that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement. The fact that he’s #19 against a terrible defense is all the reason you need to keep him off your roster heading into a match-up against the Seahawks.
Derek Carr ultimately won the game, but the re-emergence of Marshawn Lynch limited his fantasy output, costing him two potential touchdowns. Carr went 21 for 30 with 300 passing yards, netting a touchdown and a pick along the way. It’s not a great fantasy performance but the good play was there in reality. If you can pick up Carr after a poor statistical performance I would be willing to do so, especially if he was cut for his bye week.
The Giants are bad and Eli Manning’s performance reflects that. He completed 20 of 36 pass attempts for 220 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. The Rams absolutely demolished the Giants and it’s a minor miracle that he managed to get what he got, even with Sterling Shepard back in the mix. Eli Manning has a cushy schedule going forward, and he’s worth stream consideration against the only team worse than the Giants, but it’s taking on the risk of a performance like this.
As many feared would happen, Tom Savage was unable to effectively utilize the Texans excellent offensive weapons in what should have been a slam dunk match-up against the Colts. Savage completed just 19 of 44 pass attempts for 219 yards and his first ever NFL touchdown, but I don’t think he’ll be scoring very many more. Maybe he’ll impress against a solid Rams defense, but more likely than not he’ll struggle even more. Keep Savage on the waivers going forward.
Jameis Winston’s injury took him out halfway through the game – as well as made him #27 for the week, and thus not on the list – meaning that Fitzpatrick had an opportunity to impress. He was fine for a half game performance, completing 8 of 15 pass attempts for 68 yards and a touchdown, as well as netting 30 rushing yards on three carries. Fitzpatrick will be starting for the next few weeks while Winston recovers, and it’s worth considering the stream. Maybe not against the Jets this week, but against the Dolphins looks good to me.
Brock Osweiler was a dud in his blowout loss to the Eagles. He completed half of his 38 pass attempts for 208 yards, a touchdown, and two picks. My motto is that if you’re throwing more picks than touchdowns, you should not be rostered; Osweiler is no exception. The only Bronco I would be willing to own at this point is Demaryius Thomas, and even he’s going to be a dubious prospect with Osweiler at the helm. The Broncos are not a team you want to deal with in fantasy, so steer clear regardless of the match-up.
A lot of people expected Kirk Cousins to struggle against the Redskins, but he managed to win. Unfortunately, for fantasy purposes he didn’t deliver, which is unfortunate given that he’s one of my starters. Cousins completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 247 yards, throwing zero touchdowns and a pick with it. Cousins has been on a roller-coaster this season, but I expect the cart to keep speeding downhill for next week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. If he’s your starter you gotta take the risk, but I would be looking to trade for an upgrade personally.
Andy Dalton was straight up bad this week. He completed just 10 of an already small 18 pass attempts for 138 yards. He tried to get something going on the ground, but ended up with -1 yards on 3 carries. It was against the best defense in the league, the Jaguars, so I can’t blame Dalton all that much, but he’s shown he’s a match-up dependent type of guy. With that in mind he’s worth streaming consideration against the Titans, and I can’t hate the play given how picked clean waivers are at this point in the season.
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