Fantasy Football: Decoding the Top 12 QBs in Week 4
What a week! Week 3 was an absolute homerun as last week’s decoder ring gave us 9-out-12 correctly predicted.
Along with the NO-ATL shootout, the top-rated options all held their own. We did get an outlier performance from Josh Allen of all people, who was the consensus QB32 out of 32 starting signal callers going into Sunday.
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.
Aaron Rodgers vs. BUF
Rodgers looks hobbled but Rodgers on 1 leg still is a top-5 QB. The Packers have the 5th highest team implied total (27.3) and they’re playing at Lambeau. He’s an auto-start although some might temper their expectations after Buffalo’s defensive onslaught against Kirk Cousins last week. The Bills are allowing a 74.2 completion percentage, the 2nd highest mark in the league. Discount double-check, yes please.
Drew Brees @ NYG
Brees murdered the Falcons including an unforeseen spin move TD run for 6 total TDs on the day. He’s in another barn-burner on the road against a Giants team that gave up the 2nd most passing yards in the league in 2017. Through 3 weeks, their DVOA against the pass ranks 24th. The Saints have a 26.8 team implied total so sign me up.
Patrick Mahomes @ DEN
This is truly the toughest test to date for the early league MVP. Mahomes has been on fire throwing for 13 TDs, breaking Peyton Manning‘s former record. He did have his first start in a meaningless Week 17 game last year in Denver when he threw for 284 yards and no TDs. While this Denver defense is still ferocious, the weapons Mahomes has at his disposal are elite. Travis Kelce will be used as the Broncos’ “funnel defense” gives up yards to the TEs, ranking 29th in DVOA against the position. The game total is at 55 so roll with it.
Matt Ryan vs. CIN
Ryan and the Falcons offense exploded for 5 TDs against the Saints as it looks like this team is regaining some of their 2016 SB form. He’s an auto-start at this point and gets a fine matchup at home as a 5.5 point favorite in a game Vegas set the total at 48.5 points. The Bengals have given up the 6th most fantasy points to opposing QBs this year.
Tom Brady vs. MIA
I get it. The entire Patriots team fell flat against the Lions on Sunday night. Brady and the offense sputtered to get much going in the passing game although that could change at home and with the probable debut of Josh Gordon. The Pats have the 4th highest team implied total (47.5) and although the Dolphins have a highly rated defense for 2018, they certainly have yet to play anyone with playoff aspirations in the first 3 weeks. Miami gave up the 2nd most fantasy points to TEs in 2017 so expect a Gronk smash or two.
Philip Rivers vs. SF
Rivers and the Chargers fought back admirably last week against the Rams in the “Battle for Los Angeles”. What should be encouraging is that Mike Williams (aka “My Guy for 2018″) has stepped up to be a viable, big-bodied red-zone option. The Chargers currently boast the 2nd highest team implied total (28.5) of the weekend. He should trounce this 49ers defense that ranks 27th in passing yards allowed and 29th in Pass DVOA. He’s a strong bet for 250+ yards and 2-to-3 TDs.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. BAL
Big Ben has spun together a ridiculous run since Week 9 of last year as fantasy’s #1 QB. He faces a stiff challenge from division rival Baltimore. CB Tavon Young is among the lowest rated in the league and has been torched all year long by slot receivers. Expect Juju to eat. Last time these 2 teams met, Antonio Brown torched them for 13 catches on 18 targets for 213 yards. With 27 point team implied total, the Steelers and Big Ben should cruise to major passing volume.
Andy Dalton @ ATL
For all the hate this guy receives, he’s thrown for multiple TDs in every game this year as we’ve seen a resurgence of Cincinnati actually resemble an NFL offense. The Falcons were just obliterated by Drew Brees and now rank 26th in passing yards allowed and 25th in Pass DVOA so far this season. They’ve given up the 4th most fantasy points to opposing QBs and are especially prone to pass-catching RBs, so fire up some Gio Bernard. Dalton is Mike’s “Stream of the Week” so full stream ahead!
Deshaun Watson @ IND
Watson seems to have been an afterthought thus far as the Texans are 0-3 and not going anywhere soon. However, he aired it out last week for 385 passing yards and 2 TDs en route to a QB1 week. This seems like another blowup spot against a lowly Colts defense that ranks 23rd in DVOA against the pass. With the 40 yards he’s averaging on the ground, you’re basically starting the day with a TD already under your belt.
Case Keenum vs. KC
Keenum has been an upgrade from the previous Denver signal callers yet not perfect by any means. It’s his tendency to force the ball that actually helps fantasy owners especially in Vegas’ highest total game going up against Pat Mahomes and his wrecking crew. The Chiefs are plain bad on defense. Bad as in allowing the most passing yards, 3rd most fantasy points to opposing QBs, and 31st overall in defensive DVOA against the pass. Keenum has always been Jason’s boy so it makes sense he’s his “Stream of the Week“.
Eli Manning vs. NO
While recommending Eli makes me cringe even seeing his name, this is the time to scoop him up and roll the dice at home against the Saints. You know how bad this team has been: giving up the MOST fantasy points to opposing QBs, the most TD passes, the highest passer rating, and most importantly, only ONE turnover all year. This game has the 2nd highest over/under (50) of the week and Brees will force Eli’s hand(foot?) to stay on the pedal all game long. Eli and ODB should be cooking in this one…. or I banish “the other Manning” from my existence forever.
Joe Flacco @ PIT
As much as I hate to say it, Flacco has been a better than average QB thus far averaging almost 300 yards and 2 TDs per game. The Steelers have given up the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing QBs and rank 25th in overall defensive DVOA. Their 10 TD passes given up is tied for the most. In other words, if we believe in Big Ben putting up totals this week at home, there’s a chance Flacco and his improved offense can somewhat keep pace. This game has a 51-point over/under so points are on the board for taking.
Ryan Fitzpatrick @ CHI
We started to see some of the magic run out in the first half of last week’s game against the Steelers as Fitz threw 3 INTs. He led a valiant albeit mostly empty calorie yard effort and still finished with 400 yards and 3 TDs. However, there’s no chance I’d be willing to start him on the road against Khalil Mack and fantasy football’s best defense thus far. The Bears rank 4th overall in defensive DVOA with the 2nd highest adjusted sack rate (13.9%) in the league. No thanks.
Jared Goff vs. MIN
Thursday night people are usually on my bad list. Goff has been nothing but incredibly efficient with the entire offense humming along. But this Vikings defense is still something to shy away from. This seems like a Gurley game for me and the 49.5 total seems high. I expect the Rams to win this one but won’t have the guts to recommend Goff on a Thursday night.
Kirk Cousins @ LAR
Brush. Rinse. Repeat. Cousins faces an intimidating Rams defense that has given up only 2 passing TDs on the year, tied for lowest in the league. Even without Aqib Talib, Cousins will have his work cut out for him. Last week was a complete meltdown and arguably one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. It will take a week or two for Captain Kirk to earn my trust and for us to set his phasers to stun.
Josh Allen @ GB
Don’t try to get cute and chase last week’s points. His rushing attempts (2nd most in the league for QBs) give him an unusual floor on a crappy team. But I found this little stat nugget that put things into perspective: Josh Allen has a passer rating of just 41.5 with 4-6 yards to go this season — worst of 31 Qualified QBs in NFL. The league average is 96.4. Teams will take away the rushing and deep ball and dare him to beat them in the short game. Playing at Lambeau smells like a pooped in his big boy pants coming.
Previous Week’s Record: 9/12
2018 Overall Percentage: 58.33%