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.
Big Ben had another big week, completing 33 of 45 pass attempts for 351 yards and four touchdowns. Two picks hurt the numbers a bit, but he makes up for them with 25 yards on the ground and a two-point conversion, ending with the week at number one with the sole score above thirty points in standard scoring.
Roethlisberger has thrived at the end of his schedule, as many predicted, because of the home games. He’s been a startable asset these past two weeks because of that, placing 2 and 1 respectively over the past two weeks, and having a game against the Green Bay Packers of all teams made it doubly tantalizing. At the end of the day, however, Roethlisberger is ultimately a quarterback who’s dependent on other factors.
The home/away delineation is well documented, and a hot streak or not, I can’t recommend starting him against Cincinnati this upcoming week. It’s possible it works out, and if you’ve locked up you’re playoff spot and are just looking to build points for a possible championship bye week I can see the rationale in going for the high ceiling. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect, and I wouldn’t personally make the play.
Dropping Roethlisberger, since trades have ended in all but the laxest of league at this point, as a potential landmine for an opponent could be an interesting move. His two remaining home games are against the Ravens, one of the best defenses in the league, and the Patriots, who have shored about their defense over the last month. If you don’t believe he can sustain it and have other quarterback options, it could be a high-risk high-reward move, similar to starting him in your own roster.
Philip Rivers thrived against the Cowboys, who have seemingly dissolved due to a slew of missing players. Rivers completed 27 of 33 pass attempts for 434 yards and three touchdowns, the sole quarterback to break the 400 passing yards mark on the week. The discussion is whether Rivers had a good match-up or if there’s been a marked change in the Chargers offense, and I side with the former. For most of the season Rivers has been a low end QB1, usually ending up somewhere in the 16-8 range, sitting at 11 on the season after this week.
In fact, Rivers has broken twenty points exactly twice, including this week. Although the Chargers themselves have looked better – in particular Keenan Allen, who we’ll discuss in this week’s wide receiver round-up – I don’t see it as anything more than a temporary thing. Rivers was fine against the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys, two teams who have struggled offensively. I expect some regression this week against the Browns, who have been performing more and more competently each week. The Chargers will probably win the outing, but I don’t expect Rivers to feast.
Case Keenum lit it up this week, completing 21 of 30 pass attempts for 282 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 20 yards and another touchdown on the ground. The Vikings offense has really churned right along with him at the helm, and the fact that he could perform this well against a good offense in the Detroit Lions is what I needed to consider him a startable asset. Strong weapons don’t matter if you can get the ball to them regardless, and Keenum has turned an 8-8 team into superstars.
The worries about Keenum being benched for the guy everyone expected to start in Teddy Bridgewater, barring a major blow-out or similar loss, have abated, at least for me. Against an Atlanta Falcons offense that struggled to limit the Buccaneers of all teams, I expect big things for Keenum. Playing the match-up game with a back-up quarterback is always a risky play, but personally I’ve seen enough to be okay with it.
Josh McCown looked pretty good this week, even if the Jets ultimately lost the game. McCown completed 19 of 36 pass attempts for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns, as well as 28 yards on the ground. A fumble hurts his bottom line a little bit, but against a Carolina defense that has looked pretty good, most people – including myself, in one of my leagues – chose to sit McCown and were hurt by it.
Josh McCown, in spite of being a long-time veteran of the NFL, has never completed a full season of football as a starter. Barring an injury, however, I think it’s very likely that the 38 year old quarterback will finish off a season, which makes him a viable streaming option. He currently sits at #13 at the quarterback position on the season, and I would not hesitate to fire him up over a plug-and-chug type of guy if you really like his match-up, which Kansas City could very well be.
Carson Wentz continues to impress, completing 23 of 36 pass attempts for 227 yards and three touchdowns, picking up 29 yards on the ground in lieu to yet another Eagles victory. Wentz has looked electric this season, and while the yards weren’t exactly great this game, he continued to pass in the red zone and rack up the touchdowns. The Eagles are a pass offense first and foremost, and his floor is high as a result.
Wentz is not someone you need to worry about in any format. He’s young enough that the capacity for rushing touchdowns is always there, and he likes to pass the ball in the end zone so 6 point passing touchdowns work just as well. There’s no reason not to start Carson Wentz week in and week out, unless for some reason you have another elite performer you failed to sell off in time.
Russell Wilson looked pretty good this week, completing 20 of 34 pass attempts for 228 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He had some moves on the ground, picking up 25 yards on 7 carries as well as a rushing touchdown. Wilson is the #1 quarterback on the season, a full twenty points ahead of the second place Tom Brady, and I expect that sort of production to continue. If you have Russell Wilson, start him – the match-up doesn’t matter, the other options don’t matter, start Russell Wilson.
Blake Bortles as an objectively bad quarterback this week, completing 19 of 33 pass attempts for 160 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception. He was, however, a pretty good running back, going 6 for 62 yards and two touchdowns, which compose 18.2 of his 22.6 points on the week. It’s indicative of the paradox of Blake Bortles: what happens when you put a bad quarterback on a good team? The answer is, a lot of flip-flop weeks and confusion. Bortles is a viable spot-start, but he’s too inconsistent for me to want to try it.
Brett Hundley completed 17 of 26 passing attempts for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns in surprisingly good form, making for some excellent Monday Night Football against what was considered a great Steeler defense. What’s interesting is that he only had rushing attempt on the game, which Hundley has typically relied on for fantasy value. It’s possible that Hundley’s finally finding his rhythm with the Packers offense, it’s possible this is an aberration, so he’s worth a bench stash to see if he can perform during the playoffs.
Tom Brady was Tom Brady this week, completing 18 of 28 pass attempts for 227 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception, a fumble along the way hurting his stat line a bit. In four point passing touchdown scoring Tom Brady isn’t quite as valuable, albeit still a top two quarterback on the season, but the dude is even better in six point scoring. Love Tom Brady, must-start in that format, still a great start in other formats, play him if you have him.
I’m not sure what I’m supposed to make of Deshone Kizer making it this high on the list. He didn’t make many mistakes, completing 18 of 21 pass attempts for 268 yards and no interceptions, but there were no passing touchdowns either. He’s this far up because he had 39 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown, albeit on 9 carries. The Browns are looking like a better team each week, but I just don’t believe in Kizer as a consistent enough option. Stash him if you’re really curious to see if things can be righted, but I’m not going to.
Jared Goff did very well, almost surprisingly well, against a great team in the New Orleans Saints after a rough week against the Vikings. Goff completed 28 of 43 passes for 354 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, which is the kind of surprising yardage from a team that has Todd Gurley lighting it up most weeks. I’m not high on Goff, but he’s delivered most weeks and is in the Matthew Stafford tier of “plug-and-chug” in that he’ll probably average out as a low-end QB1 at the end of the season, albeit with a greater standard deviation rather than Stafford’s middling consistency.
Andy Dalton completed 18 of 28 pass attempts for 214 yards and two touchdowns. also picking up 26 yards on the ground. Andy Dalton has had a few good weeks recently, and normally it would be unthinkable to start him against what has been a really good Steelers defense. But that defense struggled against the Colts and the Packers, and if Dalton continues operating at this level he might be worth a stream. He’s not a consistent starter, but there re worse options for next week.
Cam Newton, much like Blake Bortles, did much more on the ground than the air this week. He completed less then half his passes, 11 of 28, for just 168 yards, although he did complete a two point conversion. He got a rushing touchdown off of a bootleg, although 9 carries for 28 yards isn’t exactly great either. It’s 17.5 points, which lands him squarely in the middle of the pack, which is a position that he’ll maintain so long as he can find a way into the end zone. He’ll never be a great pocket passer, but for fantasy purposes can usually deliver on the ground.
Blaine Gabbert led the Cardinals to victory over Jacksonville and had a pretty good game doing it, although it’s worth noting that he didn’t outscore Blake Bortles, who would’ve been a better running back than quarterback. Gabbert completed 22 of 38 pass attempts for 241 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, picking up 17 yards on the ground along the way. He also had a two point conversion, but a fumble makes it dead even. Gabbert should hold on to the starting job in Arizona, even after Drew Stanton recovers, although a match-up against the Rams might limit his ceiling this upcoming week.
Matt Ryan was a solid in the pocket this week, completing 26 of 35 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown, but if you’re going to be a pocket passer you need better stats then that to have an excellent game. The yardage is impressive, but the lack of touchdowns kept him a bit lower than one would hope – he’ll continue to operate in this 8-16 range for the rest of the season. He’s not an ideal starter, but he’ll put some decent stats up most weeks.
The Redskins really controlled the game against the New York Giants, as we’ll discuss in our honorable mention section this week, but Cousins had a bit of mixed results. Cousins completed 19 of 31 pass attempts for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception that ended up becoming a pick six for the Giants. Cousins was expected to thrive against the Giants, but was more middle of the road. It’s not terrible, but it is disappointing on the back of two weeks, and a bit odd since he usually performs really well or a bit worse than this outing. Having said that, I expect him to light it up against the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football.
Derek Carr was pretty good considering he lost both of his top wideouts, completing 18 of 24 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. A fumble keeps him on the bad half of the list for this week, but it was a competent enough showing. Carr isn’t someone you want to start week-to-week, he’s more of a match-up type of guy, but an otherwise desirable outing against the Giants might be dicey without his top pass-catchers. I expect to the Raiders to lean on Marshawn Lynch, although if tight end Jared Cook gets involved against the worst tight end defense Carr’s fantasy outing could be salvaged.
Trevor Siemian knocks injured starter Paxton Lynch off the list for the week (Lynch completed 9 of 14 pass attempts for just 41 yards and an interception over the course of three periods) and in a pretty strong way. Siemian completed just over half of his pass attempts, 11 of 21, for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as 9 yards on the ground. Benching Siemian was a reactionary move, as he’s clearly the most talented quarterback currently on the Broncos team, but his results haven’t been absurdly good either. He’ll be the starter, but unless it’s a two quarterback league or you’re really desperate, I’d fade Siemian.
Drew Brees didn’t get it done against the Rams, completing 22 of 32 pass attempts for 246 yards and a touchdown. It’s not a bad performance, but Drew Brees hasn’t been the pass monster he was in previous years this week and there were a lot of difficulties getting the ground game going with Mark Ingram. Alvin Kamara was a superstar and helped the Saints tremendously, Brees’ passing touchdown went to him, but Brees himself just isn’t airing it out enough to be a consistent starter.
Tyrod Taylor had a middle-of-the-road week, completing 19 of 29 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, as well as 27 yards on the ground. Taylor didn’t perform excellently in the starting role this week, the Chiefs defense shut down a lot of their offensive work, but he did hold on to win the game and almost certainly keep the starting job. Tyrod Taylor is someone you can usually plug-and-chug, although this week it might be wise to look for a stream given he’s going against a recently solid Patriots defense.
Matthew Stafford was fine, not great, this week, completing 20 of 35 passes for 2 touchdowns and an interception. The interception, as well as a fumble, keep him from his usual middle-of-the-pack spot, although most week’s he won’t be playing the Vikings defense. He may not rebound this week against the Ravens, but stranger things have certainly happen – I don’t think the match-up is so bad that you necessarily need the streaming option, even if it may be ideal.
Alex Smith just isn’t getting it done, losing 5 of the last 6 games after a 5-0 start to the season. This game was more of that same abdness, completing 23 of 36 passes for just 199 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He got some work done on the ground, 35 yards is nice, but against another struggling defense Smith faltered. He’s lost his must-start status until he can right the ship; if the Chiefs aren’t winning, Smith isn’t worth a spot on your roster. I don’t expect great things against the New York Jets for the upcoming week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 44 passes for 283 yards, but couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. Twenty yards on the ground is nice, but in his swan song for the starting gig Fitzpatrick just didn’t have the magic. Jameis Winston is returning to the Buccaneers, making Fitzpatrick safe to cut at this point in the season. Even if Winston re-aggravates his injury, Fitzpatrick will almost certainly be waiting for you on waivers.
Joe Flacco put in another sub-ten point performance, completing 20 of 32 pass attempts for 141 yards. 42 yards on the ground salvage it from being utterly terrible, but Flacco just hasn’t been good this season. The Ravens have found success on the back of their defense, and to a lesser extent strong running backs – Flacco is mostly a competent game manager at this point. At any rate, he should not be on any fantasy roster, because the points have never been there.
Matt Moore wasn’t good, completing 23 of 34 pass attempts for 215 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Moore is showing why, even when he’s behind someone like Jay Cutler, he’s the back-up for a reason. Moore is dealing with a foot injury and Cutler is out of the concussion protocol, meaning he’s safe to cut even if you – for some utterly alien and bizarre reason – wanted the handcuff for a Miami quarterback.
The difference a match-up can make, eh? Beathard completed 22 of 38 pass attempts for 201 yards, scoring zero touchdowns and throwing a pick in the process. 21 yards on the ground keep him away from the bottom in a week where a lot of good quarterbacks underperformed, but he’s been benched for Jimmy Garoppolo at this point, who we’ll talk about in a few entries. Unless Garoppolo becomes the next Nathan Peterman, I don’t see Beathard getting back in the action for the 49ers and their lost season.
Marcus Mariota has been simply not good, completing 17 of 25 passes for just 184 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. His ground game was completely shut down, three carries for four yards, and when that happens his value is completely gone. Mariota has been terrible in the air, throwing interception after interception, and quite frankly I don’t want to be burned by him again. He’s too inconsistent to trust at this point, failing in what should be easy games.
Jacoby Brissett didn’t get much going this week, completing 17 of 29 pass attempts for 196 yards, picking up 16 yards and a fumble along the way. This is not the stat line you should be seeing from an NFL caliber quarterback, even one who’s not supposed to be starting like Jacoby Brissett – it’s his worst week since the season opener. Brissett can usually be good for ten points, but the risk of an even lower floor is always there, and he should be one of the last quarterbacks you consider starting.
Jimmy Garoppolo played for precisely one drive, and did better than four starters, three of whom played through the entire game. Garoppolo completed both of his passes for 18 yards, had a nice run for 4 yards, and threw a touchdown pass. The 49ers have made him a starter, and although he is a rookie I can see starting him as a second quarterback in a 2 QB league for the possible upside. There seems to be talent there, even if it likely won’t show next week against the Bears.
Tom Savage is…well, Tom Savage. Savage completed 22 of 37 pass attempts for 252 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions, fumbling along the way. No one owns Tom Savage, and if someone attempted to not only acquire him but START him I’d question their sanity. Savage’s upside is, at best a low-mid tier quarterback, but most week’s have been like this. He’s not an NFL caliber quarterback, and the fact that I have to spend time writing on his progress when we all know how it’s going to happen is an exercise in frustration. Don’t touch Savage or you’ll get savaged by your opponents.
Dak struggled again this week, completing 20 of 27 passes for 179 yards, no touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Removing a few pieces of the puzzle for the Cowboys has led to continual Dak-sacks, the saddest rhyme out there for Cowboy fans. I don’t think you should drop Dak, the talent is there, but he should be on the bench until he gets past whatever his issue is, whether it’s a mental block or the offensive line folding. I would not start him, however, over the vast majority of available quarterbacks.
Mitch Trubisky has either been able to get it done – well, in a loose sense of the phrase “get it done” – in the air or on the ground most weeks, but this time he couldn’t get either rolling. 17 for 32 and 147 yards, with zero touchdowns and two interceptions, is straight up bad. 4 carries for 12 yards, on top of that, is not enough to make up for it, unlike elite running back Blake Bortles. Trubisky’s floor fell and it fell hard this week – those who have rostered him in two quarterback leagues should be looking for other options. Those who have rostered him in standard leagues…well, frankly, I just don’t understand you.
I had two players I could write about in the honorable mention section this week, and Eli Manning was the obvious choice for a few reasons. One, the news has been a buzz about his benching is worth commenting on in some shape or form. Two, Paxton Lynch is injured, and likely won’t be fantasy relevant for the rest of the season. Finally, I’m a Giants fan, and the reactionary nature of the organization is frankly frustrating.
Manning completed 13 of 27 pass attempts for 113 yards and an interception, ending the week with a total of 2.4 points. In response to this, the Giants organization responded by putting Geno Smith into the starting role, benching Eli and breaking his 210 consecutive game streak. Manning undeniably had a bad game, although I would hesitate to outright cut him since if and when Geno Smith screws up, Manning will be brought back into the fold.
What’s so odd about the move, outside of the disloyalty to their long-time franchise quarterback in his twilight years, is that he was benched for Geno Smith. Eli Manning is a better quarterback than Geno Smith, whose role was and should have stayed as a career back-up. If they see Davis Webb as the potential future of the organization, benching Manning makes more sense, but it seems like an odd attempt to try to win in spite of the fault lying more with the wideouts and offensive line than Manning himself.
The silver lining for Giants fans is that, while their starting quarterback is benched, the chances of them winning are much, much worse. And for those hoping for a complete tank, to secure a high draft pick and the firing of the coaching staff. But for those who are fans of Manning, it is a bitter pill to swallow, prioritizing the future at the expense of someone who represents the franchise.
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