Things get tricky each week as narrowing the field from 32 QBs to 12 is painful. Realize that every week there are 15+ startable and serviceable QB performers with a couple vomit worthy performances (Matthew Crapford and his brother Sam Crapford).
Here were last week’s top 12 in 6-point passing leagues:
Not a bad start for the year. Last week’s decoder ring produced a 50% success rate in an industry where 60% is god-like status over the course of a season. Alex Smith hitting on low-end QB1 numbers was the most daring call on the road in Arizona. If you were among the 3% of fantasy owners who had Fitzpatrick on their roster and started him, kudos to you my friend.
Just a reminder how I categorize decoding the top-12 list each week.
Four-Sures: Top 4 for the week and definite must-starts.
Com-Four-table: Four QBs with relatively safe floors with added upside to be a solid top-12 choice.
Four In the Door: Four QBs who could sneak into the top-12 including the Ballers “Stream of the Week” options and at least one daring dart throw.
Four-Get-About-It: Four QBs I’m fading this week and projecting to finish outside the top 12. Often this includes some higher profile QBs with tougher matchups that could underperform.
Drew Brees vs. CLE
Brees didn’t disappoint in Week 1 with 439 yards and 3 TDs despite the Saints falling under the spell of Ryan Fitzmagic and the Bucs. Keep rolling with him as he gets to play at home again against a Browns’ defense that ranked 19th in passing yards allowed and 26th in Pass DVOA. With the highest team implied total (29) of the week, he’s a slam dunk.
Deshaun Watson @ TEN
Watson has a bad taste in many people’s mouths after last week’s stinker in Foxboro. But if you spent the high draft capital to get him, it’s because of weeks like this. Perhaps your forgetting he annihilated Tennessee last year with 5 total TDs en route to a 57-14 romp. The Titans ranked 25th in passing yards allowed and 24th in Pass DVOA last season. Watson is the Ballers’ consensus QB2 this week.
Cam Newton @ ATL
Newton had 13 attempts on the ground including a TD but not much through the air in a grind-it-out win against the Cowboys last week. He’ll play his divisional rival in a dome as a 6 point underdog. I feel like that line is way too low considering the Falcons defense will be without Pro-Bowlers Deion Jones and Keanu Neal for the rest of the year. The Falcons gave up the most rushing yards (351) to opposing QBs in 2017 including 86 and 59 in the two games against Cam Newton last year. Newton will utilize Christian McCaffrey in a big way this week.
Philip Rivers @ BUF
Rivers did his thing last week with 424 yards and 3 TDs while his counterpart Pat Mahomes did that much better with 4 TDs. This is another dream matchup although they will have to travel cross country. The Chargers have a 25.3 team implied total and they could easily see the over after what Joe Flacco and company did to these poor Bills last week. Until further notice, this is a team we will prey on like the QB predator we are until things change.
Tom Brady @ JAX
Brady gets a slight bump down in terms of tiers for me simply because of the daunting matchup against “Sacksonville”. Remember he still threw for 290 yards and 2 TDs against them in last year’s playoffs. With the RBs seemingly all injured besides James White, the short passing game is going to get utilized. The Pats still are road 1.5 point favorites so you don’t have to squint too hard to see 275 and 2+ TDs.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. KC
Big Ben looked rough in the rain but forget what you saw. He’ll be at home with the third highest implied team total (28.75) of the week and facing an exploitable Chiefs secondary. They ranked 29th in passing yards allowed and 23rd in pass DVOA last year. This game showcases the highest over/under (52.5) of the week. He’s Andy’s “Start of the Week” so have some confidence in Week 2.
Alex Smith vs. IND
Smith came through last week and now gets an even better home matchup against a trash defense. Last year, the Colts ranked 28th in passing yards allowed and dead last in Pass DVOA. The best part about Smith is his rushing ability which allows him to maintain a safe fantasy floor each week. In the Ballers’ premium projections, Smith is ranked as high as QB5 this week! He is Jason’s “Stream of the Week”.
Jimmy Garoppolo vs. DET
I recommended him as a sit last week as Jimmy G and the rest of the 49er offense sputtered against the Vikings. He now gets a Lions’ defense that ranked 27th in passing yards allowed last year and looked a fool against rookie Sam Darnold and co. With Kyle Shanahan’s pace of play among the highest in the league, I’m hoping for sheer attempts and volume to carry Jimmy Handsome. The Ballers agree as he’s their consensus QB6 for the week.
Four In the Door
Tyrod Taylor @ NO
Taylor snuck his way into the QB1 ranks last week mostly due to his legs as he completed only 37% (barf) of his passes against the Steelers, albeit in the driving rain. He gets a juicy matchup against a New Orleans defense that was thrashed by Ryan Fitzpatrick. They are particularly susceptible to dual-threat QBs. In 2017, the Saints gave up the 4th most rushing yards (307) to QBs including the highest yards per carry (6.8) in the league. Tyrod is Andy’s “Stream of the Week” and a solid floor Week 2 option in a game he’ll have to keep up with Drew Brees.
Matthew Stafford @ SF
I’m not ready to abandon Stafford after his porous performance in Week 1. This is a veteran who is a lock for 4,000 yards and 25 TDs. He’ll rebound against a 49ers’ defense that ranked 22nd in passing yards and 28th in Pass DVOA in 2017. With a 48-point over/under, this is the type of high scoring affair that I would want to buy into even on the road.
Case Keenum vs. OAK
Keenum showed he was a gunslinger last week hitting Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders for TDs while also finding the electric Phillip Lindsay. Now he gets to play at home again against John Gruden’s Raiders. This is a defense that ranked 26th in passing yards allowed and 30th in Pass DVOA in 2017. Keenum is Mike’s “Stream of the Week”.
Blake Bortles vs. NE
Let’s get nuts. It’s that time of the year to remove exercising caution, pull up your bootstraps, and stop operating that heavy machinery. Blake Bortles is set up to go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady in what Vegas has at a 45 point over/under. He threw for 293 yards in last year’s playoff heartbreaker and could see the type of volume we’re chasing in fantasy. He’s my dart throw of the week and a definite DFS tournament play if you find the right Jags WR to pair him with.
Patrick Mahomes @ PIT
There’s definite upside with Mahomes and that cannon he carries with him every week. I’m not ready to crown him an elite play just yet as playing on the road in Pittsburgh gives me some trepidation. The Steelers defense boasts the highest sack rate (10.5% of pass attempts) in the league since the start of 2017. Mahomes is a high-variance player and we saw his ceiling last week on only 15 completed passes. This week I think we’ll see not quite the same efficiency with Tyreek Hill. Mahomes was also Andy’s “Pump-the-Brakes” on Wednesday’s show.
Aaron Rodgers vs. MIN
It pains me (and Aaron Rodgers’ leg) to put him here especially after his Herculean effort last week to rescue the Packers’ season. I’m not telling you to sit THE QB1 but simply give you the reality check that his top-5 weekly ceiling needs to be confronted. You know that this Vikings defense is a top-ranked unit that gave up the fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs in 2017. Injuries aside I would’ve had some red flags come up. But based on the news that will develop this weekend on his condition, regardless, I’m not confident about seeing him in the top-12.
Andy Dalton @ BAL
It’s Andy Dalton… in a primetime matchup. Run now. After putting up a solid Week 1 performance against the hapless Colts, this is not a spot I’d want to rely on the Red Rifle especially this early in the week. Thursday night affairs are notoriously sloppy and this Ravens defense had six sacks and 3 INTs last week, albeit against the Bills. Last year the Bengals were a top-10 play for opposing defenses so I will steer clear of this one.
Russell Wilson @ CHI
Wilson is basically going to have to carry this team the entire year as injuries and a lack of overall WR talent will limit his weekly upside. He’s always in play because of his legs but this game is on the road on Monday night against Khalil Mack and company. With only a 20-point team implied total, I’m not ecstatic about Wilson’s ceiling. I expect this to be a low-scoring affair.
Previous Week’s Record: 6/12
2018 Overall Percentage: 50%