Fantasy Football: Decoding the Top 12 QBs for Week 9

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It’s midseason and time to focus on what the QB landscape is really like. The batteries must still be working on our Decoder ring as we are hovering near 60% on the season. Here was last week’s top 12 (with the bold being correctly called) in standard 4 points per passing TD leagues…

Wilson, Watson, Dalton, McCown, Stafford, Brady, Keenum, Wentz, Taylor, Brissett, Ryan, Kizer

7-for-12 is another solid week although fading Watson against Seattle definitely hurt. It’s nice to see the low-end streaming options come through such as Dalton, McCown, and Taylor.

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 9.

Four-Sures

Deshaun Watson vs. IND
Watson is basically lighting the world on fire and we are all watching it burn. He’s scored at least 24 fantasy points in five consecutive games. As a 13 point home favorite against arguably the worst defense in the NFL, this is a done deal. The Texans have the highest team implied total (31) of the weekend. 
(Updated: Friday AM after news of Watson’s ACL tear. See Matthew Stafford below)

Russell Wilson vs. WAS
You have to love Wilson at home especially as a 7 point home favorite. The Seahawks are on pace to shatter Wilson’s previous career high attempts as the run game is nonexistent. Wilson has scored over 25 fantasy points in 4 of his last 5 games. The ceiling is there, especially if Kirk Cousins can counter and make this game into a shootout.

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Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Dak Prescott vs. KC
Dak at home without Zeke seems like a no-brainer. This Chiefs defense that has allowed the fifth most passing yards per game and the most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Stack him with Dez in DFS and reap the rewards. With the highest over/under of 51.5, take this alley-oop and slam it home.

Drew Brees vs. TB
Brees has been a bit underwhelming as a fantasy option but is definitely due for a big game against the lowly Buccaneers. This Tampa Bay defense ranks dead last in pass DVOA and that has given up the third most passing yards per game. The Bucs also have the lowest adjusted sack rate in the league according to Football Outsiders. Brees at home as a 7 point favorite in a game Vegas currently has the total at 50: Wow!

Com-Four-table

Alex Smith @ DAL
Ok, Smitty can’t keep this up forever but this is a phenomenal spot for him.  He matches up with a Cowboys defense that ranks 13th worst in pass DVOA in a game with a current over/under of 51.5. He’s second in the league in passing yards and is tied for throwing the third most pass TDs. The Cowboys rank 25th in defensive DVOA and 29th against the TE position so expect big things from Travis Kelce.

Carson Wentz vs. DEN
As good as this Denver defense is, they’ve surrendered QB1 weeks in 4 of their 7 weeks so let it be known that they aren’t invincible. Wentz has been on fire as he leads the league in passing TDs. He’s finished as a QB1 in 5 of his 8 starts. The Broncos rank 27th in DVOA against the TE position and given up the 3rd most fantasy points so consider the Wentz to Ertz combo elite once again.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Derek Carr @ MIA
Carr and the Raiders offense fell back down to earth last week in Buffalo and now travel south to visit the Dolphins. Miami’s secondary is allowing a 103.1 QB rating, 31st in the league and 28th overall in DVOA against the pass. I like Carr, Cooper, and Crabtree in this matchup to pay dividends and end his day as a comfortable QB1 option. Their 23.5 team implied total is enough to buy into.

Jameis Winston at New Orleans
Winston looked lost last week and is a risky play each week. This week could be a shootout in the dome against Drew Brees with a 50 point over/under. Winston has averaged 2 TDs against his division foe during his career. I’ll roll the dice in hopes of Winston trying to stay in step with Brees.

“Five”-in-the-Door

Cam Newton vs. Atlanta
Newton is an enigma for fantasy owners and I’m hoping this is the week I end up on the “right foot”. This Falcons defense that ranks eighth worst in pass DVOA and sixth worst in run DVOA. What should be in encouraging is the 11 rushing attempts last week so he could present a relatively safe floor. He’s scored a rushing TD against Atlanta in half of his 12 career games against the division rival. I’ll take the risk coupled with the week-winning upside.

Jared Goff @ NYG
Goff has some sneaky streaming appeal this week in a road matchup that isn’t as tough as you would think. The Giants have allowed the sixth most passing yards per game and quietly allowed 7th most fantasy points to the QB position. Janoris Jenkins is suspended for this game, which means the Sammy Watkins could break free of his doldrums. Fire him up.

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Tyrod Taylor @ NYJ
Taylor has a new weapon we like to call in football…the WIDE RECEIVER position. Newly acquired Kelvin Benjamin gives Taylor something he has yet to have with a huge target near the red zone. The Jets rank 24th in DVOA against the pass and have allowed 27 ppg over the last month. I like Taylor as a low-end streamer even in a Thursday night matchup.

Matthew Stafford @ GB*
Last week the Lions all but gave up on any semblance of a running game as Stafford threw for over 400+ yards against a vaunted Steelers secondary. Stafford has had recent success against the Pack as he averaged 366 yards and threw for five touchdowns against them in 2016. Their 22.6 team implied total is enough for me to believe in the right arm of Stafford to carry himself to a QB1 finish.

*Matthew Stafford added Friday AM after Watson news*

Jacoby Brissett @ HOU
Brissett has now quietly been a QB1 on 3 of his 6 starts on the year. This Texans defense has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs this season. They rank 22nd in pass defense. I’d consider him the strongest of dart throws for the week especially paired with a cheapened TY Hilton in DFS.

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Four-Get-About-It

Marcus Mariota vs. BAL
The Ravens have shut down opposing QBs ranking 2nd in DVOA against the pass. They’ve also allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to Quarterbacks this season. I want little part of this game.

Kirk Cousins @ SEA
He could dink-and-dunk his way to a QB1 finish or this entire offense can turn into a pile of poo. The Seahawks defense looked in shambles last week but I’ll give most of that credit to Watson who was able to make plays outside the pocket and elude their pass rush. The Seahawks still rank 7th in DVOA against the pass so I’ll be fading Captain Kirk.

Matt Ryan @ CAR
The Falcons on the road in Carolina presents a major challenge. Although Ryan finish as the QB11 last week, he still hasn’t showcased much upside. The Panthers 7th in DVOA against the pass and given up the 4th fewest fantasy points to Quarterbacks this season. Even as a Falcons homer, it’s not this week my friends.

Brett Hundley vs. DET
Hundley looked not ready to shoulder the load in his first week throwing for a measly 87 yards against the Saints. After a bye week, the Packers face a Lions defense that has allowed only 1 QB1 performance (Cam Newton in Week 5) on the year. They rank 8th best in DVOA against the pass and with a 43 point over/under, there’s just not enough for me to get excited.

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Last Week’s Record: 7/12

2017 Overall Percentage: 58%