QB1 Primer: Week 4

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I can’t lie to you. And I hope no fantasy analyst out there will lie to you in saying they had Trevor Siemian as their QB1 for Week 3. In fact, I can’t find anyone out there suggesting Siemian as anything better than a low-end QB2 option. And yet the young Broncos QB decided to drop 4 TDs on the Bengals and make us all look dumb once again.

There were a number of young QBs who made the top 12 this past week including Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ dismantling of the Steelers, the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott. Heck, even the enigmatic Brian Hoyer made it into the list as QB11 revealing that almost any QB who is breathing, has a working arm and a starting position in the NFL is capable of being a QB1. (Note: Case Keenum is the lone exception. If he does end up as QB1, we’ll just all move to Canada.)

The best call I had from Week 3 was recommending that Cam Newton was not starter worthy, leaving him off the top 12 completely last week as he finished as QB19. I also hit on 3 of the top 4 but failed to cash in on DFS options… (Go away Marcus Mariota)

In our fourth weekly installment of The QB Primer, we look at the varying tiers of quarterbacks, assessing risk, home/away matchups, and realizing each week will have a bit of spontaneity. Remember this isn’t predicting order simply identifying who is likely to be among the top 12.

Moving into Week 4, we’ll try to shore up our list, learn from our past weekly mistakes and hopefully nail a couple of sleeper picks.

***Note: Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz were not considered as their respective teams are on bye.

“Four”-Sures

Cam Newton @ ATL
I’m calling a redemption game for Newton as the Falcons ended Carolina’s perfect season last year in Atlanta. The Falcons, for all their offensive firepower showcased, have given up the 4th most passing yards in the league to go with one of the worst pass rushes (3 sacks). With the added floor of his rushing yards, I can safely put Cam in this section once again.

Drew Brees @ SD
Does it seem like this guy is going to be involved in a shootout every single week? I almost feel like putting Brees in the QB1 conversation is just as much about the Saints’ flailing defense as it is his surefire 40 pass attempts. This game has Vegas’ highest total of the weekend at 53.5 and indication of another shootout.

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Philip Rivers vs. NO
Brees’ counterpart in this duel is Philip Rivers and the Chargers at home. Rivers has been efficient this year failing to throw a pick while maintaining a completion percentage near 70%. You know all about the porous Saints secondary that was annihilated in Week 1 against Derek Carr and punchless against Matt Ryan this past week. Don’t think twice. Start Rivers.

Matthew Stafford @ CHI
It seems like Stafford has graduated from the wild deep bomb gunslinger in his younger years to an almost weekly QB1 start. Don’t get me wrong… this guy still thinks he can make every throw on the field and sometimes tries to fit the ball in too tight of a window. But this offense with Marvin Jones Jr. looks like it will continue to accrue chunks of yards in the passing game. Stafford will pad those stats once again against a Bears beat up secondary. Chicago has looked helpless thus far although I think this one will be closer with the game at Soldier Field.

Com-Four-table

Andrew Luck @ JAX (in London)
I feel fairly optimistic about Luck’s chances (no pun intended) against the Jaguars in London. For those of us up early this Sunday morning, we have Vegas’ third highest scoring projected total (49.5) of the weekend. Luck has feasted on Jacksonville to the tune of averaging 284 yards passing and almost 2 TDs per game in his career. Start him with confidence across the pond and wake up to watch a potential top-5 performance in your PJs.

Andy Dalton vs. MIA
I usually like to shy away from Thursday night QBs as I have found myself Friday morning wishing I had simply waited for the weekend. Nevertheless, the “Red Rifle” beckons us in this juicy matchup. Dalton has been average thus far but the Dolphins secondary looked weak against the hapless Browns last week and I’m expecting a huge game from A.J. Green. Count me in for 270+ yards and 2 TDs.

Ben Roethlisberger vs. KC
Big Ben was not himself last week against the Eagles but you need to shake it off as the QB tends to have a couple vomit-worthy games per year. I like him to return to form this week at home against a Chiefs defense that looked unstoppable last week. Roethlisberger has shown the ability to turn it up a notch in high scoring contests as Vegas loves this matchup. I can see Big Ben, with the return of Le’Veon Bell, carving up the Chiefs at home for 280+ yards and 2 TDs.

Joe Flacco vs. OAK
This has become the weekly recommendation for the QB1 column: start your guys against the Raiders. Although they looked more respectable last week albeit against the Titans, the Raiders still are giving up the most passing yards per game (340) as well as the most plays of 20+ yards (16). In 2015, Flacco absolutely gutted the Raiders going for 384 yards and 2 scores. I’ll take Flacco and Steve Smith in DFS stacks this week.

Last Four In

Derek Carr @ BAL
Flacco’s opponent this week presents a fairly healthy QB1 resume thus far. Carr has looked pretty consistent and the offense as a whole has shown that it can get it done in a variety of ways. Carr has completed a healthy 66% of his passes while averaging 289 passing yards per game, both top 7 marks to start the season. Vegas thinks this game has an above average scoring total (46.5) with the added caveat that the Raiders are underdogs. Carr, over the last year, has averaged over 40 attempts per game in contests the Raiders were presented as underdogs. Count me in again.

Kirk Cousins vs. CLE
Cousins has certainly not panned out for fantasy owners hoping he could build off of last season’s late year magic. The Browns are 24th against the pass and despite all his tomfoolery last week, they made Ryan Tannehill into a QB1. I like Cousins at home to take advantage as the Redskins have a “pass-first” approach attempting the 4th most passes in the league. Cousins at home seems to tip the scales for me although I still feel like I can’t move him into the “Com-Four-table” section.

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Alex Smith @ PIT
At a 47.5 game total, I want a piece of the pie and I think Alex Smith is due for a return to the QB1 mantle. The last time Smith played in Pittsburgh was 2014 when he attempted 45 passes en route to 311 passing yards. The Steelers secondary looked exploitable last week against Philadelphia as they’ve now given up 323 passing yards per game, 2nd worst in the NFL. They also have registered the fewest sacks in the league with only one! Smith to Maclin and Smith to Kelce should be a thing this week.

Brian Hoyer vs. DET
Whether you like it or not, Hoyer was a QB1 last week. In fact, last year, Hoyer had a stretch where he was the QB4 over a five week period continually peppering DeAndre Hopkins with targets. This year he’s decided to do the same with Kevin White after chucking 51 passes in last week’s garbage time loss to the Cowboys. He’ll be playing against a Lions secondary that has allowed the most fantasy points (24.2 per game) to QBs this season per NumberFire. And yet all this adds up to Hoyer sneaking once again into the top 12 on sheer volume. It could be ugly but it also could pay off especially in GPPs as a cheap option.

Four-get About It

Matt Ryan vs CAR
As the resident Falcons fan and Atlanta native, it does pain me to banish fantasy’s No. 1 QB to this section, but I fear a blow up game ensuing for Ryan. He looked versatile and elite in his decision making on Monday night against the Saints. However, Ryan has struggled against Carolina in his career and this defense made him look lost last year. Even with though questionable injury tag he has should be lifted, I’m steering clear of Ryan this week.

Brock Osweiler vs. TEN
Thus far, Osweiler has finished only as high as QB19 despite having bountiful offensive downfield weapons in Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins. And yet, despite being a home favorite, I don’t like the Brockness Monster’s chances against a Tennessee secondary that has allowed a 56.5 completion percentage, 2nd best in the league. Vegas also has this as the lowest total (40.5) of the weekend so I’d stay away from this field goal-fest.

Trevor Siemian @ TB
Coming off a week as THE QB1, I expect Siemian to come back to earth and crash hard. The Bucs had a poor showing against the Rams last week but still are allowing just 33 pass attempts per game and a 59.6 completion percentage, both bottom 12 totals in the league. Vegas also doesn’t project this as a high scoring affair (44) and I don’t like the youngster’s chances two weeks in a row. I could look like a fool but I’ll be fading a return to QB1 territory.

Dak Prescott @ SF
With Dez Bryant likely out this week, I can’t foresee Prescott forcing the ball to anybody other than the low upside options of Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. San Francisco has played better than advertised as a defensive unit forcing 8 turnovers, tied for second best in the league. On the road, I expect Dallas to lean heavily on the run and cap Prescott’s upside.

Last Week’s Record: 5/12 = 50%

2016 Overall Record: 44% (Yikes.. I’m way off last year’s 56% pace)

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