Week 5’s Decoder once again came through with some absolute bananas performances from the top 3 guys. Here were the top 12 QBs in standard 4 point per passing TD leagues:
Watson, Prescott, Wentz, Smith, Newton, Rodgers, Hoyer, Rivers, Winston, Brissett, Hogan, Palmer
If you had Browns backup Kevin Hogan as a top 12 start last week, please stand up. There always is a bit of randomness thrown into each week. We all get picks wrong and the goal is to be transparent as well as hopefully help fantasy owners and DFSers make better decisions at the QB position. In this business of predicting matchups with untold variables, anything above a 60% mark for the season is downright unbelievable. Each week we are whittling down 32 starting QBs (before bye weeks) and selecting just 12 to be a QB1. In other words, 20 guys will not be invited to our party each week.
Reminder: we look at the varying tiers of quarterbacks, assessing risk, home/away matchups, Vegas totals and realizing each week will have a bit of spontaneity. This isn’t about predicting order, but simply identifying who is likely to be among the top 12. Here is how I break up the decoding each week:
Four-Sures: My 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 that top 12 including a stream of the week option 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.
Check out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have their QBs ranked for Week 6.
Aaron Rodgers @ MIN
Rodgers has been bullet-proof as an every week QB1 with only Dak Prescott able to co-claim that incredible feat. Don’t be worried about this Vikings defense. Rodgers should remain entrenched in this spot of the decoder until kingdom come.
Drew Brees vs. DET
After a bye week, Brees and the Saints offense open as 4 point favorites in Vegas’ largest total of the week, a 51 point over/under. The Lions have given up the sixth most passing yards per game and Brees is at home. Don’t be surprised if 4 TDs is on your stat sheet.
Tom Brady @ NYJ
As a 9.5 point favorite, Brady still should be considered in this tier despite an actual subpar fantasy performance against the beatable Buccaneers last week. Alliteration aside, it’s encouraging to know the Jets have registered the second-fewest sacks (7) in the league and Brady should be good to go for 260+ and 2+ TDs.
Matt Ryan vs. MIA
One of our writers brought up a scary statistic to put Ryan’s season in perspective thus far: Matt Ryan and Blake Bortles have the same number of pass attempts, but Bortles has 2 more TDs and 1 fewer interception. Yikes! But coming off the bye as an 11 point home favorite and the highest team implied total (29) of the weekend can rectify many things. The Dolphins are allowing a 73.3 completion percentage, the 31st in the league. They also have ZERO INTs. Yes, that is putrid. This Dolphins defense that ranks fourth worst in pass DVOA and that has given up the 11th most passing yards per game. All of those stats are meant to pummel you over the head into believing Ryan will shake his early-season woes.
DeShaun Watson vs. CLE
Is it really staying in the flames if you’re facing the Browns? They’ve allowed the 4th most fantasy points to QBs, the highest completion percentage (74%), and rank second worst in pass DVOA according to Football Outsiders. Despite not starting until Week 2, Watson somehow ranks second in the league in passing TDs behind only Aaron Rodgers. He’s been a revelation and needs to be started until something changes.
Kirk Cousins vs. SF
Cousins and the Redskins are coming off a bye to face a 49ers team which ranks 25th in pass DVOA and the 7th most passing yards per game in the league. Cousins and the offense have looked more competent as he’s registered QB1 performances 2 out his last 3 contests. With a healthy 28.3 team implied total (3rd highest of the weekend), sign me up for Captain Kirk this week.
Carson Palmer vs. TB
There’s a lot to like in this matchup: Tampa Bay has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to QBs, 2nd most passing yards per game (309), and collected the fewest sacks in the league (4). He’s on pace for over 5,000 yards and gunning for Matthew Stafford‘s attempts record of 727. If there’s little pressure on the statue-esque Palmer, he will be able to pick apart this secondary especially with a healthy John Brown at his disposal. He is Jason’s “Stream of the Week”.
Jameis Winston @ ARI
Winston willed his way to top 12 finish last week against the Patriots despite looking lost for most of the first half. He’ll duel Carson Palmer and the Cardinals in the desert this week. Although they have Patrick Peterson, Arizona has given up the 7th most fantasy points to QBs this season and rank 24th in DVOA against the pass. Don’t be too scared of rolling Winston out there.
Marcus Mariota vs. IND*
This one comes with a caveat. Currently, Mariota is a game-time decision for a Monday night contest with the hapless Colts defense. They’ve allowed the most points scored per game (31.8) and the most plays over 20+ yards (30). It’s a slam dunk if he plays and an airball if Matt Cassel is at the helm. Fantasy owners will just have to wait and see.
Cam Newton vs. PHI
Newton has been in the groove and showing more of his former 2015 self as he’s had to spread the ball around with Greg Olsen out fo the lineup. These Eagles are allowing 2nd most passing attempts (39.4) in the league as they’ve sold out to stop the run. With a 24.5 team implied total on a Thursday night game, I think Cam can still get it done.
Philip Rivers @ OAK
Rivers has quietly turned in a couple QB1 performances despite their atrocious record. The Raiders defense ranks third-worst in pass DVOA and has shown little life all year. Rivers would be a great stack with Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen. There is no current line until we know the status of Derek Carr but Rivers has averaged almost 2 TDs per game in his career against the Raiders. At 38.8 attempts per game on the year, Rivers still has it in him to chuck it until something hits the wall.
Jacoby Brissett @ TEN
Brissett has now locked in 2 QB1 performances in 4 weeks as the starter with the added ability to rush for 30 yards a game. The Titans secondary is trash right now ranking 31st in defensive DVOA and tied with Patriots for most passing TDs allowed (12). If Mariota plays*, he will have an even higher ceiling. Beef Brisket is Mike’s “Stream of the Week”.
Josh McCown vs. NE
This is frightening as McCown looks destined to lose a leg on the football in injury from sheer determination and will. He’s a gamer and yet he’s also had his fantasy blow up moments in the past. McCown also ranks 2nd in the league in completion percentage. He goes against a Pats defense you know by now has grossly underperformed. They rank worst in DVOA against the pass at whopping 323 yards per game and given the most fantasy points to QBs this season. He’s more a cheap option in DFS than a season-long start. But if you are in a pinch, I don’t mind rolling him out there and crossing your fingers.
Carson Wentz @ CAR
This pains me but Wentz on the road in a Thursday night matchup lowers my expectations. The Panthers rank 12th best against the pass and have surprisingly surged to a 4-1 record and 1st place in the NFC South. Wentz will also be without OT Lane Johnson, which isn’t a good sign. According to our own Jason Moore, Wentz is 2-8 in his career with almost 3 times the INTs without Johnson in the lineup. He still has passing volume which could save his day but I wouldn’t recommend starting him with other options.
Alex Smith vs. PIT
I think it’s time for some regression to happen in Smith’s fantasy game. He’s facing the Steelers who are 4th best against pass DVOA and have allowed the fewest yards per game in the air (139.6) in the league. If the Chiefs are ahead in this game, expect Kareem Hunt to milk the clock.
Ben Roethlisberger @ KC
Woof I’m glad I recommended sitting Roethlisberger last week. 5 INTs was a killer! I think this matchup could get ugly defensively and I just can’t bring myself to start Big Ben in any format other than as a contrarian GPP play in DFS tournaments.
Kevin Hogan @ HOU
Don’t try to get cute and recreate what happened last week against a bad Jets defense. Hogan can deceptively get things done on the ground but faces a defense that ranks 9th in total defensive DVOA. His floor is basically a pile of poo so don’t try to overthink it.
Last Week’s Record: 7/12
2017 Overall Percentage: 56.5%