Fantasy Football: Decoding the Top 12 QBs for Week 3
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We brought this up on the Week 2 Studs & Duds podcast Monday as good friend of the show JJ pointed out:
We've got five quarterback with 30-plus fantasy points this week alone. In fantasy-relevant weeks last year (Weeks 1 through 16) we saw just 17 TOTAL 30-plus point performances.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 16, 2018
In other words, we’re dealing with a resurgence in fantasy scoring specifically at the QB and WR positions. Through the first two weeks, we’ve seen an insane amount of high-end performances which has almost led me to change the title of my article to “Decoding the Top 20 QBs”. Honestly, check out last week’s bananas numbers for the top 12 in 6-point passing leagues:
Last week’s decoder ring gave us another 50/50 week which is all you can ask for. While pegging Blake the Snake Bortles as a valuable streamer makes the column look good, missing out on Mahomes at the top definitely stings. I’ll take my lumps with Fitzmagic and tip my cap to the Thursday night duo (Dalton and Flacco) who were not on my radar.
Here’s your 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.
Tom Brady @ DET
Week 2 was a rough one on the road in Jacksonville. But this Sunday night affair is guaranteed to change those fortunes. As 6.5 point favorites in a game with a 52.5 over/under, Brady is set up for success whether freshly acquired Josh Gordon suits up or not. The Lions rank 30th in DVOA against the pass and have been exploitable against the likes of Sam Darnold and Jimmy G thus far. If you drafted Brady, get ready to reap the rewards as he’s safely in the discussion for 250+ yards and 3 TDs.
Aaron Rodgers @ WAS
Rodgers was a recommended sit last week against Minnesota for other streaming options but once again finds himself in a good spot to rebound. The Packers are 3-point road favorites in a game with a 47.5 over/under which bodes well. I expect some Jimmy Graham action as the Redskins ranked 6th worst in fantasy points allowed to the TE position last year. Rodgers is the Ballers’ Consensus QB3 for Week 3.
Drew Brees @ ATL
The Saints have gotten off to a slow start getting trounced by the Bucs and barely inching out a victory against the Browns thanks to Zane Gonzalez. (Poor Guy) Brees finds himself in another dome matchup against the divisional rival Falcons in a 53 point over/under. Michael Thomas is unguardable at the moment and Alvin Kamara should eat in this one. The Falcons rank 26th in DVOA against the pass and have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to pass-catching RBs for 2 years in a row.
Patrick Mahomes vs. SF
Does it get any better? One of our writers, Keaton Denlay, put it best “someone accidentally left the Madden difficulty setting on ‘rookie’. This is absurd video game numbers.” He’s also seen 5 rushing attempts each game so there’s some added upside on the ground he’s yet to fully tap into to. Mahomes gets a dream home matchup against San Francisco and Vegas’ highest implied total (30.8) of the weekend. The 49ers rank 26th in DVOA against the pass and Mahomes is locked in as a top-5 play until further notice.
Ben Roethlisberger @ TB
Last week Big Ben played catch-up all afternoon against the Chiefs and put together a monster game with 60 attempts, 453 passing yards, and 4 total TDs. Don’t worry about any “road woe” naysayers this week. The Bucs rank dead last in defensive DVOA and 31st in DVOA against the pass. They also have allowed the highest completion percentage (77.4%) in the league. Those numbers are atrocious and should give you the confidence to start Big Ben on the road on Monday night.
Cam Newton vs. CIN
Newton was the Carolina offense last week falling short in Atlanta but still finishing with 33.6 fantasy points. He’s rushed for 100 yards in the first two games as he’s basically starting each week off with such a cushion to walk into a fantasy matchup each week. The Bengals gave up the 9th most fantasy points to opposing QBs last year. Newton is the Ballers’ Consensus QB4 for Week 3.
Kirk Cousins vs. BUF
Poor Buffalo. Not only do we not want to roster any of their players but their own players (Vontae Davis) don’t even want to play for them. This is a defense that garners auto-starting a QB against all year. Buffalo is a mess and will be on the road against Captain Kirk who just threw for over 400 yards and 3 TDs last week. With the 3rd highest team implied total (28.3) of the weekend, Cousins is a QB1 waiting to happen.
Jimmy Garoppolo @ KC
Jimmy G was solid if unspectacular last week as he only attempted 26 passes which led to 2 TDs and a 49er win. He’ll be needed a lot more this week to keep up with Pat Mahomes and company in what profiles as a high scoring affair. The Chiefs defense has given up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs so far this year and ranks 30th in defensive DVOA. He’s an unbelievable start with a ceiling to end up as THE QB1 in Week 3.
Deshaun Watson vs. NYG
Watson has looked rough to start the year but willed his way to 26.8 fantasy points last week against Tennessee and a top-12 finish. He has a blow-up spot here against a Giants defense that surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing QBs in 2017. He’s averaged 42 yards on the ground so far this season so rest on the fact your floor is there with an obvious ceiling. He’s Andy’s QB “Start of the Week”.
Matt Ryan vs. NO
Ryan put it together last week for 4 total TDs while exorcising some of his red-zone demons. Fire him up this week as the Saints rank dead last in DVOA against the pass. Stack him in DFS with Julio Jones, who averages almost 90 yards a game against the Saints in his career including 98 & 148 last year with Marshon Lattimore covering him. With the 4th highest team implied total (28) of the weekend, points are projected to be scored in bunches.
Jared Goff vs. LAC
The Chargers have allowed the fewest completed passes (33) in the league yet have given up the 11th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. In other words, the volume isn’t what is needed here as Goff and the Rams have showcased since Sean McVay came in that they can be a high-efficiency offense. He ranks 3rd (behind the utter insanity of Fitzpatrick & Mahomes) in yards per attempt (9.0) and a solid 64.6 completion percentage. With a 28 point team implied total, Goff is a solid streaming option.
Blake Bortles* vs. TEN
Let’s go back to the well. Everyone’s favorite fantasy peria gets another solid shot to win the hearts of the masses as he plays at home against a Titans’ defense that ranked 25th in passing yards allowed and 24th in Pass DVOA last year. Bortles is Jason’s “Stream of the Week” and shockingly has averaged over 20 fantasy points per game at home in his career. *If Leonard Fournette plays, Bortles falls outside the top-12 for me and is replaced with Matthew Stafford.
Matthew Stafford* vs. NE
After a Week 1 disaster, Stafford bounced back nicely with 30.68 fantasy points and a top-10 finish. In order to keep pace with Tom Brady this week, Stafford could see 50 pass attempts, which is what we’re chasing in a QB1 week. The Lions are at home as underdogs in a game with a healthy 51.5 over/under. Stafford is the Ballers Consensus QB12 for Week 3.
Philip Rivers @ LAR
I had to make this decision in my main home league and Rivers was given a Viking funeral as I dropped him over the waiver wire cliff. The matchup obviously is scary as the Rams have demolished their first two opponents including a Week 2 shutout of the Cardinals. The “Battle for Los Angeles” is intriguing for those on narrative street but Rivers should be sat in fear of that defensive line and shutdown corners. This is a Melvin Gordon game and the Chargers will ride him.
Carson Wentz vs. IND
Listen, I loved Wentz last year and rode him to a fantasy championship. I’m just not ready to crown him an every week starter given his insane TD rate last year which is due for regression. His weapons are bare with Alshon Jeffrey, Jay Ajayi, and Mike Wallace all out. I know this Indianapolis defense is bad but there are SOOOO many good options this week at QB that I’m taking a wait-and-see approach with Wentz.
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. PIT
One of these weeks the wheels have to fall off right? It pains me to put FitzMagic here and I totally get it if you’re willing to roll the dice once again. But we know who this guy is… he’s a gunslinger willing to take risks and also has shown he has accuracy problems. The over/under sits at 52.5 and so far these Bucs have smashed the over in both their games without even thinking about trying to run the ball. Regression will hit and I’m calling for Week 3.
Russell Wilson vs. DAL
Wilson and this Seahawks offensive line frighten me as he’s been running for his life through the first 2 weeks. He’s on pace for a league record 96 sacks. Not good considering the Cowboys have the second most sacks in the league. I expect this to be a slow-paced grind-it-out game. If Dallas jumps ahead, expect them to clock kill with Ezekiel Elliott on the road. Until Doug Baldwin comes back, I find it best to bench Wilson despite his rushing floor.
Previous Week’s Record: 6/12
2018 Overall Percentage: 50%