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 four teams were on their bye this week, this week will be the Top 26 rather than 32.
Russell Wilson notches up yet another dominant performance, completing 26 of 42 pass attempts for 258 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception Which on their own would be fine numbers, but 86 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown that gives him a great boost. Wilson also had a fumble this game, but a two-point conversion cancelled it out for fantasy purposes.
This game was a very mixed bag as far as on the field performance, even if it netted owners an excellent fantasy day. It’s not a major surprise that the Seahawks ultimately lost the game. Matt Ryan may have had a much less explosive game, but it was one that didn’t have the major mistakes that Wilson made. It’s a testament to Wilson’s ability as a player that he was able to salvage his own day, but a quarterback needs to be better than he was to win the game.
As far as future fantasy value, I’m actually going to take a little bit of a step back on Russell Wilson, in spite of the number one performance he put up today. He’ll still likely be a strong starter the rest of the season, most likely landing somewhere in the top five, but the spot at the top I had thought he’d claimed seems in doubt. The injuries to the Seahawks “Legion of Boom” severely limited their defense, picking up just one sack and a fumble recovery for a passable four points of scoring.
A bad defense means it’s much more likely a quarterback has to air out the ball, which can in of itself lead to a good amount of garbage time points, but for someone who can also run the ball like Wilson it could actually hurt his floor. A good defense is great for a rushing quarterback, it gives them time to work the clock and make big plays, but Wilson’s arm is good enough that it shouldn’t necessarily kill him. I’m just saying it would be smart to temper expectations away from these frequent amazing showings.
Big Ben seemed to have the number one spot locked up through Sunday night, but then Russell Wilson happened once again, so he’ll have to be content with number two. Which, for someone, a lot of people — including himself — were losing faith in, is pretty fantastic.
Roethlisberger’s ultimate stat line looks pretty good. He completed 30 of 49 passes for 299 yards and 4 touchdowns, picking up 10 yards on his sole rush of the game. While his ground game, or lack thereof, kept him just out of first place, I do think Roethlisberger played the most technically proficient game of the week, especially for an older quarterback who isn’t expected to make those sorts of plays.
There’s been a lot of chatter surrounding Roethlisberger’s schedule in protest to his underperforming play. 5 of his last 7 games are at home, including this one, and Roethlisberger really lets the ball loose when he has the home field advantage. And it’s worth noting that the Steelers are still an 8 and 2 team in spite of Roethlisberger underperforming in away games. With that in mind, I’m going to take back my early indictment of Roethlisberger, and give my updated take.
I think Roethlisberger has no floor and a questionable ceiling. I think we can absolutely expect explosive games for him going forward, and we can absolutely expect dud games going forward. Picking which ones to start him in could be as easy as delineating the home/away games, but he is worth a pick-up if the other people in your league see this as an aberration. I do, however, stand by the stance of not using Roethlisberger as an every week start, because the lack of consistence needs to be taken into account.
Kirk Cousins had another good week, completing 22 of 32 pass attempts for 322 yards and 3 touchdowns, as well as 11 yards on the ground over 3 carries. Cousins isn’t always going to get those rushing touchdowns to really pad his score, but he showed he could be effective in the air against a defense many thought – myself included – would be able to shut down a team like the Redskins, who were sitting at a 4-5 record.
While Cousins ultimately lost the game on the back of an incredible last minute drive from the New Orleans Saints that would force the game into overtime, it was still a great performance against a great time. Heading into a game against the New York Giants I see Cousins as a must start, even if the Giants had an admirable defensive effort in this week’s win against the Kansas City Chiefs, allowing no touchdowns in their 12-9 win. Picking up Cousins at this point is probably overpaying, although it’s worth noting the Redskins have one of the more attractive rest of season schedules.
Another day, another great performance from Tom Brady. Brady completed 30 of 37 pass attempts for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns, more than earning himself a spot in the top five for the week. Brady, outside of a poor opening performance, really excelled in the beginning of the season, but has struggled through the middle in spite of the victories. (Although, it’s worth noting that struggling for Tom Brady never falls in the single digits.) It’s nice to see him having a return to form, albeit against teams with less than stellar defenses.
This will be his situation for most of the rest of the season. The only really difficult week he’s going to have is against the Steelers in week fifteen, but with the disintegration of the Buffalo Bills defense and their utter circus at quarterback, I don’t see them hurting the Patriots that much. It’s a tough time to trade for Tom Brady given his name value, so he’ll most likely stay on the roster he’s on unless you’re willing to pay a lot for a high-end quarterback.
Drew Brees had a pretty good week, completing 29 of 41 passing attempts for 385 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Brees got to go back to his passing roots following a monstrous game in the rushing attack. (Which, it’s worth noting, I totally predicted in last week’s start/bench.) Mind you, his favorite receiver seemed to be running back Alvin Kamara, although wide receiver Michael Thomas could have had a big game with 11 targets.
I don’t think the Saints will need to consistently rely on the passing attack because, up until this game, they haven’t had to. Both of the Saints elite running backs still put up great games, and I do see them as a team that will thrive on the ground. It’s a week-by-week, match-up to match-up type of start, and it’s why I think trading him off one of his best weeks is the right move. The name value carries so much for a season where he hasn’t done all that much.
Carson Wentz falls just outside the top five of the week, but the the sophomore sensation continues to impress nonetheless. Wentz completed 14 of 27 passes for just 168 yards while also picking up 13 yards on the ground with 6 carries; this is some really shaky efficiency that I’m not exactly thrilled about. If it weren’t for two touchdowns and two two point conversions, he wouldn’t be in the top ten discussion on the week, but he did and he is.
The stats themselves add up to a decent fantasy score, twenty points exactly, which if taken as about where Wentz’s floor is going to be most weeks, is pretty solid. Wentz has done slightly worse in other weeks, but he’s had at least two touchdowns every game since week four against the Los Angeles Chargers. That consistency is nice, but the stat line on this week shows more of his rookie roots than the discussion surrounding him would have you believe. Don’t panic sell Wentz or anything, he’s still sixth on the week, but the hype surrounding him almost got out of control and I feel like the bubble’s bound to pop sooner or later.
A prediction I did not get right this week was Ryan Fitzpatrick, who – as many expected – had an explosive week, completing 22 of 37 pass attempts for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. It’s a very by-the-books stat line, nothing extravagant about it, but it’s about where the baseline of a game for a “good” quarterback should look like. If Fitzpatrick continues to deliver in the absence of Jameis Winston, the right call might be to keep Winston out.
Having said that, the Bucs will almost certainly return Winston to the starting position once he is healthy enough to be their starter. Because of that he should remain on your bench, especially in keeper leagues, while Fitzpatrick is most likely droppable after next week’s match-up. As far as his streaming viability versus the Atlanta Falcons, I think it’s definitely solid, but not a slam dunk success like what was expected versus the Miami Dolphins.
The back-up to the back-up delivered this week, completing 22 of 34 pass attempts for 257 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, with an additional 13 ground yards tacked on. The number of interceptions is probably indicative of the lack of on-the-field action he’s seen until this point, but the overall stat line is something Drew Stanton failed to do. Having said that, Gabbert ultimately lost the game, which could hurt his prospects of starting the rest of the season.
Gabbert will likely play again due to Stanton’s injury, and while I personally believe he’s the stronger quarterback, if Gabbert doesn’t get a win across two starts he’ll likely be headed right back to the bench for the Cardinals. This next week could prove disastrous if he offers up more interceptions than touchdowns to a breakout Jacksonville Jaguars secondary. I wouldn’t be picking him up anytime soon, and definitely not for this game.
Andy Dalton had a weird game, completing 15 of 25 pass attempts for just 154 yards, but nailing 3 touchdowns along the way. Dalton had very little air yardage, but managed to connect in the red zone en route to their 21-17 victory. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and one that mirrors the strange season Andy Dalton has been having.
Dalton has hit 300 yards once over the entirety of the 2017 season, against Buffalo in week five. The only time he is able to perform, from a fantasy perspective, is when he scores multiple touchdowns. Outside of one meeting with the Steelers where his lack of yardage really hurt him, Dalton needs to pick up two touchdowns to get any fantasy value. He’s a boom-bust option depending on the match-up, although he’s apt to boom next week against the Cleveland Browns.
Rounding off the top ten is Matthew Stafford, who narrowly squeaked out a 27-24 victory against the Chicago Bears. Stafford completed 21 of 31 pass attempts for 299 passing yards, one short of 300 yards and any associated bonus’, netting two touchdowns and a fumble along the way. Stafford has been operating at a pretty high level this season, although his top five appearances are more scarce than one might imagine.
Stafford is a good, consistent guy to plug into your roster. His floor this season is ten points, and outside of that his floor usually lies somewhere in the mid-teens. I personally traded off some depth to acquire him since my quarterback situation is somewhat desperate, and I’m happy with it. He has good match-ups remaining in the season making him an excellent spot-start, and if you need to plug it and forget it you should be fine, if not excellent, there as well.
Tyrod Taylor got benched for a man we’ll talk about in a very special section, but in one half managed to get a lot of damage done. Taylor completed 15 of 25 pass attempts for 158 yards and a passing touchdown, as well as netting 38 yards and a rushing touchdown. A fumble hurts his bottom line a bit, and the Bills still lost horrendously, but Taylor is not the quarterback the Bills should be blaming for their loss. Taylor might be a good sneaky addition at this point, since the circus surrounding the Bills quarterback situation hurts his perceived value but has seemingly abated at this point in time.
It’s a bit strange that in a game where the Chargers scored 54 points that Philip Rivers would not only not be a top ten quarterback, but be outscored by the quarterback of the team they blew-out. Football can be weird like that, however, as Rivers completed 20 of 32 pass attempts for 251 yards and two touchdowns, a technically fine performance albeit underwhelming considering the circumstances. Philip Rivers should be a solid starter going forward, nothing special but nothing disastrous either.
Case Keenum lessened fears that he would be benched following another great performance, completing 27 of 38 pass attempts for 280 yards and a touchdown, with a cool 20 yards on the ground padding out his points a bit. Keenum has been leading the Vikings to success, and I really like the upside he provides he has on this high-powered offense. It may be too late to pick him up after another great performance in the Thanksgiving games, which we’ll go into more detail on in next week’s column, but if you can make it happen I would.
Matt Ryan, as I discussed in the Russell Wilson entry, played a great game of real life football, even if his numbers aren’t quite as flashy as one would hope. Ryan completed 19 of 27 pass attempts for 195 and 2 touchdowns, picking up 12 yards on the ground over 3 carries. Matt Ryan will rarely have a terrible game, having just one game with single digit points on the year. He hasn’t been the high-powered Matt Ryan that he was last year, but he has been reliable if nothing else.
A concussion took out Jay Cutler and Matt Moore managed to make some magic happen in the meantime, putting up a respectable 17 completing on 28 pass attempts for 282 yards and a touchdown. While the Dolphins ultimately weren’t able to make the comeback, Matt Moore was at least capable. Having said that, he’s been know to bust hard in games past, so I’d pass on him as a streaming option against a Patriots defense that has been steadily improving.
Marcus Mariota had an oddly high-scoring performance in spite of a lot of failures in the passing department on virtue of his legs and passing yardage. Mariota completed 22 of 33 pass attempts for 306 yards, a touchdown, and four – yes, four – interceptions. A rushing touchdown keeps his numbers from slipping further, but Mariota was hurt severely by a strong defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think this is more a match-up thing than a Mariota thing, and if you can buy low on him heading into a match-up against the worst defense in the league in the Indianapolis Colts, I would.
Osweiler put up a competent showing, completing 23 of 42 pass attempts for 254 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. 24 yards on the ground pad it out a bit, but not enough to stop him from losing his starting job to Paxton Lynch. Osweiler isn’t even the back-up for Lynch at the moment, that honor goes to original starter Trevor Siemian. The Broncos gave Osweiler his chance, but continuous losses mean they’re heading in a different direction, and that direction holds zero fantasy value for Osweiler.
Mitchell Trubisky completed 18 of 30 passing attempts for 179 yards and a touchdown, picking up a nice 53 yards on the ground. A fumble hurts him a little bit, but Trubisky still put together a passable 14.5 points. While it was a decent week, returning to the ground game after a week with nothing, Trubisky continues to underperform relative to where he was picked up in the draft at second overall. His fantasy value is essentially nonexistent, and outside of two quarterback leagues he shouldn’t be on your roster.
Tom Savage has a last name that is the antithesis of his football play, which has been meek since he took back starting duties for the Houston Texans. This week was more of the same, Savage completed 22 of 32 pass attempts for 230 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, fumbling the ball along the way. He does have a win under his belt now, and I’m happy for him as a person, but there’s no way in hell that he should be touching anyone’s roster outside of the deepest two quarterback leagues.
Derek Carr completed 28 of 49 pass attempts for 237 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, netting a two point conversion along the way. Carr had high expectations coming off a bye and into a relatively week Patriots defense, but they held the Raiders to one score and part of that blame has to go on Carr’s shoulders. I’d be tempted to possibly buy low at this point, but the Raiders have been somewhat boom-bust throughout the season. Investing in Carr for match-ups where you need the quarterback to deliver high gains is worth it, so long as you’re willing to accept the risk that weeks like this will happen.
Jared Goff, who had delivered several great performances in a row against weak defenses, faltered against the Vikings this week as many predicted. Goff completed 23 of 37 pass attempts for 225 yards and put up 8 yards on the ground, with zero touchdowns or interceptions to his name. There weren’t many mistakes to Goff’s play, but the success seems to come against bad teams. It’s bad for his playoff chances, and with a rough schedule coming up it’s bad for his fantasy value.
Joe Flacco continues his ongoing struggle to be a competent NFL starting quarterback, completing 22 of 28 pass attempts for 183 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. If you’re starting Joe Flacco you’re doing something wrong, his ceiling this season has been just 15.1 points. This game doesn’t change that, and Flacco should still not be rostered…well, anywhere. He’s low-ceiling, low-floor, no play.
Eli Manning might have won the game on the field, but it wasn’t on the back of incredible play on his end. Manning completed 19 of 35 passes for 205 yards, with zero touchdowns or interceptions. The Giants defense and special teams won them the game, with the sole touchdown of the game going to running back Orleans Darkwa. Manning has been technically fine this week, but the lack of a receiving corp has led to them focusing more on complimentary football and less on flashy, big value plays. Manning is streamable, depending on the match-up, but if you take that risk it’s worth noting the lack of floor.
A lot of people were high on Blake Bortles following a lot of pass attempts from him last week, but those shrunk as the Jaguars returned to the ground game. Bortles completed 17 of 30 passing attempts for 154 yards and a touchdown, fumbling it once along the way. The Jaguars ultimately won the game by a decisive 19-7 score, but it’s underwhelming compared to what one would hope for against the worst team in the league. Bortles likes to throw the ball sometimes, but sometimes he doesn’t, and if you’re starting him for his ceiling you should be prepared for the floor.
Alex Smith completed 27 of 40 pass attempts for 240 yards and two interceptions making up for some but not all of it with 27 yards on the ground. Smith was expected to thrive against a week Giants defense, but neither he nor their running backs could break into the end zone, scoring solely field goals over the course of the game. After their hot start the Chiefs have been a mess, and Alex Smith has suffered because of it. If they can’t right the ship, Alex Smith might lose the QB1 status he earned at the start of the season.
DeShone Kizer completed just half of his 32 pass attempts for 179 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Kizer also picked up 22 yards on the ground, but it just goes to show you how last week was a rare occurrence for Kizer. Occasionally, with the right match-up, he can put in a good showing, but it’s not consistent or predictable. For that reason, Kizer should not touch any roster, there are better options in all but the largest two QB leagues.
Brett Hundley is having trouble keeping what was once a good team churning, and this week was one of his worst yet. Hundley completed 21 of 36 for 239 yards and three interceptions. Nineteen yards on the ground are nice, but mitigated by a fumble wiping them right off the board. Hundley is struggling mightily, but the Packers don’t seem intent on replacing him anytime soon. That not only makes him unplayable, it hurts the Packers as a whole.
It’s same story, different day for Jay Cutler, who had to leave the game early with a concussion. His time in the game wasn’t exactly great, however, completing half of his 12 pass attempts for 83 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions. Cutler’s going to be out next week, but outside of his game against the Oakland Raiders he hasn’t been able to produce regardless. Maybe he’ll have some good game, but unless you’re truly desperate I don’t see a need to own Jay Cutler.
I can’t write the quarterback round-up without talking about the disaster that was Nathan Peterman’s starting debut. Peterman completed less than half of his pass attempts, going just 6 for 14 for 66 yards. Of the 8 missed passes, however, an astounding 5 were interceptions, leading to a net total of -7 points before he was pulled at the half. There’s bad, there’s really bad, and there’s historically bad: Nate Peterman was historically bad.
And it’s not all his fault. Peterman was a fifth-round pick thrown into a starting position halfway through the season after his starter had one bad game. Bills head coach Sean McDermott wanted to try something different in spite of still being in playoff contention, but benching a good quarterback is not the “something different” that is going to help the Bills. Petermn was a rookie quarterback who should have been pulled after the second interception, and his failures are on a coaching staff who made all the wrong calls.
The sole good thing that came out of this performance is that Taylor is set to resume starting duties, but I’m not going to applaud the Bills for realizing the mistake after they made it. It’s ridiculous to do, even if it’s more ridiculous to start an incompatible quarterback weak after week like the Texans or the Packers. At least they have the excuse that their starters are injured; the Bills have no such excuse.
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