Last week’s article came in clutch especially with low-end streamers Mayfield, Flacco, and Manning. 8-out-12 moves the decoder to nearly 56% on the year.
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 nor who is a safer option 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.
Patrick Mahomes vs. DEN
He’s locked-and-loaded as the QB1 at home. Yes, this Denver defense found some life last week against Arizona but Mahomes is at home in Arrowhead with a team implied total of 32.8. He’s the MVP right now and the QB1 every week until further notice.
Aaron Rodgers @ LAR
Coming off the bye, the Packers go on the road to face a challenging Rams defense that shredded the 49ers on Sunday. This game has the highest over/under of the weekend (56.5) and Rodgers is heating up. He’s thrown for over 400 yards and multiple TDs in back-to-back games, the first time he’s EVER done that in his career. Rodgers can actually keep pace with Sean McVay’s offense and this should be a fun one to watch.
Jared Goff vs. GB
Rodgers’ opponent also knows a thing or two about offensive prowess. Jared GARF has been uber-efficient with the highest yards per completion (14.0) and a stellar TD to INT ratio (14:5). The Rams have the highest team implied total (33.0) of the weekend against a defense that ranks 22nd in DVOA according to Football Outsiders. Follow the points and believe in Goff as a top-5 play this week at home.
Tom Brady @ BUF
Buffalo at home has been a strange matchup for opposing QBs on the year with some feast (Phillip Rivers’ 3 TDs) and famine (Marcus Mariota‘s 129 passing yards and Kirk Cousins‘ infamous implosion). But this is TB12 we’re talking about and he’s an autostart against a Bills defense that was torn up last week by Andrew Luck in the red zone.
Drew Brees @ MIN
In a rematch from last year’s breath-taking NFC Divisional matchup, Brees and the Saints are ready to exorcize their playoff demons on the road in Minnesota. The Vikings defensive name hasn’t held up this year as they rank 25th in DVOA against the pass and opponents are averaging 8.2 yards per completion, 5th worst in the NFL. The big plays are killing the Vikings as they’ve allowed 30 plays over 20+ yards (3rd most) compared to 35 such plays for all of 2017. Brees threw for 294 and 3 TDs in last year’s playoffs and he’s a strong start in a dome game even on the road.
Andrew Luck @ OAK
Honestly, I’ve doubted Luck for much of the beginning of the year as he returned from his injury and many of his weapons injured and out. He’s shoved it in my face to the tune of 20 passing TDs, 2nd most in the NFL, and 5 QB1 performances. He gets to continue this train with a healthier T.Y. Hilton against a trash Raiders team that ranks 31st in DVOA against the pass. Luck also should be safe in the pocket as the Raiders have registered only 7 sacks on the season, the lowest total in the NFL.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. CLE
Big Ben should be a solid start coming off the bye as an 8-point home favorite. The Browns have averaged 348 passing yards allowed on the road this year although they show up well on Football Outsiders metrics as 3rd best in DVOA against the pass. With the 3rd highest team implied total (29.5) of the week, the Steelers will score points. This should be a fast-paced game as well as both teams rank in the top 11 of pace of play.
Andy Dalton vs. TB
“Bad Andy” showed up last week in Primetime but it’s time to shake that feeling off. He gets a dream matchup against a Buccaneers defense that has allowed a top-12 performance every single week of the year. The Bengals have a generous implied total (29.3), will be playing at home, and did I mention how bad Tampa Bay is? They rank dead last in DVOA against the pass, given up the most passing yards per game (327.5), the most fantasy points to QBs and 18 passing TDs to only 1 INT. The Red Rifle is Andy’s “Stream of the Week”.
Four In the Door
Kirk Cousins vs. NO
Cousins leads the league with 210 completions and he can thank Adam Thielen for what it feels like half of those. This is a passing offense that we can continue to count on the volume against a New Orleans secondary that ranks 30th in DVOA against the pass. The Saints have given up the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs and 293.7 passing yards per game, 5th worst in the NFL. At home in a game that profiles as a shootout, Cousins is a solid start.
Russell Wilson @ DET
Wilson has nose-dived into fantasy forgottenness in Seattle as we’ve yet to see him go nuclear in a matchup this year. He’s still been solid with 3 top-12 QB performances and a 3-TD game last week. He might be called on more on the road in Detroit against a Lions unit that ranks 30th in defensive DVOA and 28th in DVOA against the pass. The Lions have faced the fewest passing attempts (30.5 per game) in the league so many of their counting stats look impressive but they’re not by any means an elite unit. Brock Osweiler had a top-12 week last week against them and Aaron Rodgers lit them up for 442 and 3 TDs the week before.
Matthew Stafford vs. SEA
Wilson’s counterpart will be at home in a tougher matchup as the Seahawks have allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs on the year. This is a volume-based play as I don’t think Kerryon Johnson will have the same success on the ground he had last week. With a 26.3 team implied total, I’m willing to roll with Stafford as a low-end QB1 option en route to 300 yards and 2 scores.
Derek Carr vs. IND
This is gross… I know. This team is completely depleted as there will be a steady dose of Jalen Richard check-downs, Jared Cook targets, and Jordy Nelson 5-yard outs. Carr might throw the ball 50+ times and if that happens, 300 yards is a guarantee with the added chance of finding the end zone twice. I’m willing to chase the volume at home against a Colts defensive unit that ranks 24th in DVOA against the pass. WARNING: this is not for the faint-hearted and Carr is not a strong redraft league start. He’s a DFS dart throw.
Cam Newton vs. BAL
This isn’t the worst of plays and I am starting Newton at home in a home league. However, you know how good Baltimore can be as they rank 2nd in defensive DVOA and have given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs on the year. His floor is always among the safest but apart from Andy Dalton‘s Week 2 performance, the Ravens haven’t allowed another QB1 spot.
Carson Wentz @ JAX (London)
The Jaguars aren’t their same fearsome selves from 2017 but they’re still pretty impressive allowing the 2nd fewest fantasy points to QBs and 7th best in DVOA against the pass. This game has the lowest over/under of the week (41.5) and I wouldn’t be excited to start Wentz as the team travels to London.
Mitch Trubisky vs. NYJ
For fantasy, Trubisky has been a revelation and a complete 180 turn from the first 3 weeks of the season. However, if you watch the games you’ve seen the horrible passes in double coverage and the constant bad decision making. I think it’s going to catch up to him against the Jets. They rank 6th in defensive DVOA and 7th in DVOA against the pass. I don’t see the volume needed for 300 passing yards in this one. If you want to start him per NBA Jam “on fire rules”, I get it.
Baker Mayfield @ PIT
As Mike mentioned on Tuesday’s show, this could be a trap game for Mayfield owners who have been living off the glory of OT games. The Steelers are top-3 in the league in adjusted sack rate and Mayfield has been sacked more than any other QB since he took over as the starter (although OT games will help pad that stat). He could get some garbage time numbers but I don’t trust the rookie on the road.
Previous Week’s Record: 8/12
2018 Overall Percentage: 55.76%