Fantasy Football: Decoding the Top 12 QBs for Week 8

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We are almost at the halfway point and the Decoder ring is churning out solid week after week. Here was last week’s top 12 (with the bold being correctly called) in standard 4 points per passing TD leagues…

Wentz, Carr, Prescott, Wilson, Smith, McCown, Cousins, Winston, Taylor, Brees, Goff, Brady

Wentz has been the poster boy of this article (and my starting QB in my 2 main leagues). The low-end streamers such as Taylor and Goff were major wins. However, sorry didn’t see Derek Carr, Alex Smith or Jameis Winston being able to blow up like that.

Each week 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 7.


Tom Brady vs LAC
With a 48.5 over/under and a 7.5 point home favorite, the Patriots should once again put up 4+ TDs. Brady is the top QB play once again. If I were to type more you would probably just roll your eyes and say “of course I’m starting him, move on Kyle“.

Dak Prescott @ WAS
Call him Mr. Automatic as Dak has continued his unbelievable and unbroken QB1 run to start the season. He now plays in the highest over/under (50.5) of the weekend at home. Guys, QBs that are home favorites in a high scoring game is basically a done deal. And with the way he’s been playing this year, this is easy.

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Drew Brees vs. CHI
Brees locked in a top 10 week last week on the road and now gets a chance at home as a 9 point home favorite. The Saints have the 2nd highest team implied total (28.5) of the weekend and despite the Bears defensive explosion last week, they only have 4 INTs on the year. Start him with confidence.

Carson Wentz vs. SF
Wentz has simply been unphased this year as he solidified his MVP candidacy on Monday night while he leads the league in TD passes. Not to be overlooked is the high floor he’s established averaging almost 30 yards on the ground per game. That helps. This 49ers defense that ranks fourth worst in pass DVOA and given up the eighth most passing yards per game. The Eagles have a 30 point team implied total, which is one of the highest of the year, against a 49ers team that was thrashed by Dak, Zeke, and Dez last week. #FlyEaglesFly


Kirk Cousins vs. DAL
This game should get your juices flowing for a number of reasons. Vegas thinks so with a 50.5 over/under, the highest of the weekend. This Dallas defense ranks 26th in defensive DVOA on the year and Cousins has ice in his veins. The guy has been a QB1 3 weeks in a row mostly against tough divisional opponents. We know the Redskins can’t run the ball effectively so 280 yards seems inevitable. If Prescott and the Cowboys get out to an early lead, Cousins will lean on Jordan Reed as the Cowboys rank 31st against the TE position.

Cam Newton at TB
Newton was god-awful last week against Chicago and most might still have a sour taste in their mouths. But this is the time to start him. The Buccaneers have allowed the 3rd most passing yards per game and they’ve allowed the third most fantasy points to QBs. They rank dead last in DVOA against the pass so don’t let this road matchup scare you off. Newton is my favorite GPP play of the week in DFS tournaments.

Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Philip Rivers @ NE
Rivers at this stage in his career is basically a volume play. He’s chucking it deep as much as ever as evidenced by Travis Benjamin‘s long TD last week against Denver. He’ll be dueling Tom Brady and a New England defense that has allowed the most passing yards per game. Rivers also has the fourth most passing attempts so expect 50 attempts especially if the Chargers find themselves in comeback mode early.

Tyrod Taylor vs OAK
Taylor was solid in last week’s win against the Bucs and should continue to showcase low-end QB1 numbers most weeks. He faces a Raiders defense that ranks 3rd worst in pass DVOA and that has given up the tenth most passing yards per game. With 30 yards on the ground per game, Tyrod is among the safest bets this week in the QB landscape. He is Andy’s “Stream of the Week”


Russell Wilson vs. HOU
Wilson was awesome last week in New York destroying the Giants for 334 yards and 3 TDs. This Texans defense looks much different without JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus so don’t let their defensive statistics fool you. The Seahawks have the 6th highest team implied total (25.5) as home favorites. You can trust Wilson this week as their running game is nonexistent.

Andy Dalton vs. IND
Dalton, who looked like he was on the JV squad in last week’s 2nd half against Pittsburgh, needs to be taken seriously in Week 8. He gets a home matchup against arguably the worst defense in the league. They rank 29th in defensive DVOA and have given up the 10th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. He’ll right the ship this week so stack him with AJ Green and reap the rewards. Dalton is Jason’s “Stream of the Week”

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Matt Ryan @ NYJ
I feel so conflicted with Ryan given his subpar start of the year as well as my Falcons fanhood. He has 7 TDs to 6 INTs, which is way off last year’s MVP pace. With so many teams on bye, he still looks like a worthy start against a Jets defense allowing the eighth most yards per game and the most passing touchdowns this season. The big breakout is coming.

Josh McCown vs. ATL
Ryan’s counterpart is the enigmatic but suddenly dependable QB1 starter. Other than his terrible 4th quarter INT, McCown was balling out last week against the Dolphins. He gets a Falcons defense at home that ranks 27th in defensive DVOA. If these defenses in this game decide to take a smoke break (as they do most weeks), this could turn into a shootout. He still feels like a dart throw. McCown is Mike’s “Stream of the Week”


DeShaun Watson @ SEA
On a giant bye week, I am not telling you to sit Watson if you have better options. Seattle is a death trap for rookie QBs. They are only allowing 15.7 points per game, which is tied for the best mark in the league, and rank 5th best in DVOA against the pass. This QB is not bulletproof and the turnovers will be coming in bunches soon.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Derek Carr @ BUF
Carr’s monster week against the Chiefs with sidekick Amari Cooper feels like way too long ago. 400+ yards is a bit hollow considering the number of ill-advised throws he took into double coverage. Sometimes those work out and other times they turn into INTs. The Bills rank 11th best in DVOA against the pass and forced 9 INTs this year, tied for 3rd best in the league.

Matthew Stafford vs. PIT
Stafford will most likely be without Golden Tate against a secondary that ranks 4th best in DVOA against the pass. This Steelers defense is shaping into form as one of the elite units and has registered the 2nd most sacks in the league. Sorry, Matty Snapback, not this week.

Ben Roethlisberger @ DET
Big Ben hasn’t cracked the QB1 pantheon since Week 2 with mostly average fantasy performances to his credit. He goes on the road against a Lions team coming off their bye and ranks 7th best in defensive DVOA on the year. They also know how to force turnovers with 9 INTs on the year, tied with the Bills for 3rd best in the league. I’m fading Big Ben this week.

Last Week’s Record: 7/12

2017 Overall Percentage: 58%

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