Fantasy Football: Decoding the Top 12 QBs for Week 5
As tweeted out by PFF’s Scott Barrett, we are seeing a renaissance of QB scoring across the board as signal callers are putting up video game numbers. We are seeing a record number of completions, completion percentage, yards, and passing TDs through the first 4 weeks. In fact, QBs are seeing a TD thrown once every 20 attempts. Check out the scoring this past week and how I completely whiffed on some of these high-end finishers:
I’d feel a lot worse about last week’s article except when you consider names missing from this list: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees. Whoa. This process of eliminating the majority of QBs to a list of 12 each week is becoming increasingly harder. I’ll continue to show my hits and misses and the prediction percentage at the bottom of the article each week to give you some transparency as I sweat it out.
Here’s your reminder how I categorize decoding the top-12 list each week. Remember this isn’t about predicting the order of the top-12 but who is likely to end up as a QB1.
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.
Matt Ryan @ PIT
As Graham Barfield recently tweeted out, Ryan has returned to his 2016 form with similar TD rate (7.1%) as well as averaging an even better 329 yards per game. He’s an auto-start with a dream upcoming schedule. The Steelers have given up the MOST fantasy points to opposing QBs this season at 33.1 per game. Set it and forget it even on the road.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. ATL
Big Ben disappointed at home against the Ravens but gets another shot against arguably the most injured and beatable defense in the league. The Falcons rank 30th in defensive DVOA and 25th against the pass. With a 29.8 team implied total, he could easily throw for 500 yards in this barn burner.
Drew Brees vs. WAS
Shake off last week’s road debacle against the Giants. Brees at home is lights out and this game has a 52 over/under. While Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram could have some success on the ground against a run defense ranked dead last in DVOA, you have to like Brees’ chances to rebound on Monday night.
Aaron Rodgers @ DET
Rodgers hasn’t showcased an incredible ceiling yet this could be the back-and-forth matchup fantasy owners have been waiting for. With a 26-point team implied total, Rodgers can work his magic on the road. The Lions are giving up the 10th most passing yards per game and rank 27th in DVOA against the TE. This could be a 2-TD Jimmy Graham game waiting to happen.
Tom Brady vs. IND
Brady returned with vengeance last week leading the Patriots to a home drubbing of the Dolphins 38-7. While he’s yet to get Rob Gronkowski fully involved, this is the kind of matchup to right the ship. The Patriots have the highest team implied total (31.5) of the week and Brady has been known as a Colt killer in his career. Indy’s defense has vastly improved from last year, but this is a Brady-led offense that returns Julian Edelman at home as 10 point favorites.
Patrick Mahomes vs. JAX
On the outset, this looked like a fade against this defense. The Jags are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs on the year. However, their schedule has included Tom Brady and a number of runts (an injured Marcus Mariota, Sam Darnold, and Eli Manning). Dating back to the beginning of 2017, the Jags are allowing 19.7 points a game in true road games (excluding London) while 15.7 at home. Mahomes has been QB1 perfection thus far and as the favorite in a game with a 51.5 over/under, now is not the time to try and get cute.
Cam Newton vs. NYG
After coming off their Week 4 bye, it’s easy to forget how consistent Cam has been including scoring over 30 fantasy points his last two outings. He’s running the ball like he did when he first entered the league and that’s good news considering this week’s matchup. The Giants have given up the most QB rushing yards (37.5 per game) in the league. The Panthers have a 25.8 team implied total and rank 24th in DVOA against the pass. Don’t forget about Newton at home as a 6.5 point favorite.
Philip Rivers vs. OAK
Rivers once again has flown under-the-radar while averaging 25.5 fantasy points per contest. He’s thrown for 11 TDs to only 2 INTs and completing 68% of his passes, the 2nd highest total of his career. He should have enough time in the pocket as the Raiders have the lowest adjusted sack rate (3.3%) in the league. This could be the Keenan Allen blow up spot as the Raiders rank 31st in DVOA against the pass. The Chargers have a top-3 team implied total (29.3) of the weekend so expect some points for LAC.
Jared Goff @ SEA
It’s hard to argue with efficiency and beauty as the Rams are steamrolling all of their opponents. Goff put on a clinic last week and this road matchup shouldn’t scare you off. Goff was actually a better road QB than home last year with a stellar TD/INT ratio (18:2), a higher completion percentage, and excellent QB Rating (109.8). The Rams have the 5th highest team implied total (28.3) as 7-point road favorites. The only thing that could trip this up is if the TDs fall in favor of Todd Gurley on the road. Still, this team has proven that you can’t stop what’s coming.
Alex Smith @ NO
The Saints have continued to plummet in every defensive metric possible. They rank dead last in DVOA against the pass, give up the highest 1st down %, and the 3rd most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. Coming off a Week 4 bye, Smith and the Redskins will have to keep pace with Drew Brees in the Superdome. The game has a 52 point over/under and I don’t think this is an Adrian Peterson game. Smith on Monday night in the dome can take his game up a notch especially with pass downs extraordinaire Chris Thompson.
Matthew Stafford vs. GB
Quietly, Matthew Stafford has somehow made 3 WRs fantasy relevant and remains a startable and streamable fantasy QB. The Lions O-Line (which was highlighted in an article, Forecasting Offensive Lines) ranks 1st allowing the lowest adjusted sack rate in the league. This Packers defense was propped up last week by Buffalo’s ineptitude but they still rank 27th in overall defensive DVOA this year. This is also a matchup to exploit as Stafford has averaged 298 yards and 2 TDs against Green Bay in his career. It’s easy for him to get lost in the midst constant 400-yard performers to start the year but Stafford looks safe this week.
Blake Bortles @ KC
Listen, you know if you’re riding with Bortles on the road you need to bring your parachute. This is the matchup you want to play him in a game with a huge over/under trying to go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs rank 30th in DVOA against the pass, are allowing the most attempts per game in the league, and the 2nd most passing yards per game. His rushing floor also needs to be noticed as he’s averaged 33 yards per game. Leonard Fournette‘s absence also helps his ceiling. Bortles is Mike’s “Stream of the Week”.
Andrew Luck @ NE
I don’t like the look of this. Yes, the Patriots defense isn’t perfect but coming off an emotional OT loss and now playing on Thursday night isn’t easy. If T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle aren’t available, I’m sorry I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror knowing Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers would be trying to bail out my fantasy starter. As 10-point road dogs, that’s not a good omen for success. There are too many other good options to possibly seal my team’s fate on a Thursday.
Deshaun Watson vs. DAL
This is going to be a somewhat contrarian take but stay with me. It’s simply a game flow and the fact Dallas ranks 27th in terms of pace of play. Zeke Elliott and the O-Line allows Dallas to slow the game down. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys are allowing the 9th fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs while also seeing with the 2nd highest adjusted sack rate (10.4%) in the league. The Houston O-Line was ranked dead last by PFF at the beginning of the season and it shows as Watson has been sacked the 2nd most (17) in the league. He could certainly get there because of his legs but I’m not seeing the ceiling this week.
Marcus Mariota @ BUF
Mariota and the entire Titans offense were fortunate enough to play in overtime and find enough volume to have a QB1 fantasy day. Although the Bills should be an easy matchup, I’m not confident starting Mariota on the road in a game with the lowest over/under (39) of the weekend. For all their suckage, the Bills are actually middle of the road (15th) against the pass. Not enough volume here for me.
Baker Mayfield vs. BAL
Don’t try to outsmart yourself. Baker will have his day but this just isn’t the matchup to try and exploit his talents. The Ravens rank 5th in defensive DVOA and 6th against the pass. The Browns have a subpar 22 point over/under so I’m not ecstatic about this one.
Previous Week’s Record: 5/12
2018 Overall Percentage: 54.17%