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Quarterback Player Rankings – Week 4
(BYE: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Quarterbacks (Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 26 - 6:06PM CT)
1. Tom Brady (@ Buf) – Is Tom Brady off to a slow fantasy start? Absolutely, but it really hasn’t been THAT bad if you look at the numbers. He’s thrown for 887 yards, good for sixth in the league and just 26 yards behind the number two guy, Joe Flacco. He also has the eighth-most passing attempts and fourth-most completions (79-118 for a 66.9% completion percentage), so it’s not like he’s throwing poorly, either. The only problem is that he simply hasn’t gotten into the endzone as much as usual (4 TDs), an epidemic that will change this weekend against the Bills. Last year when the Stetson man visited Buffalo, he came away with 387 yards and four TDs while back in New England, he nearly equaled the production by tossing for 338 yards and three TDs. If Mark Sanchez can throw for 266 yards and three TDs against the Bills and Matt Cassel can toss up 301 with 2 TDs so far this season, do you really think Brady will somehow do worse?
2. Peyton Manning (vs. Oak) – By the eye-test, he’s not the Peyton Manning we’re accustomed to seeing out there every Sunday, but his fantasy stats will do just fine for his first three games back from neck surgery. Almost 275 yards/game and five TDs while facing three strong defenses in Pittsburgh, Houston and at Atlanta is far better than most expected and will be even more impressive when he’s done ripping apart the Raiders beat-up secondary this Sunday. Willis McGahee (ribs) looks like he’ll suit up but will be at less than 100 percent, so look for a big game out of Manning en route to mid- to high-end QB1 stats.
3. Aaron Rodgers (vs. NO) – I usually hate sayings like this one because it has no form of factual evidence to be based upon, but Rodgers really is “due for a big game”. I didn’t figure on him turning his slow start around against an underrated, tough-as-nails Seattle defense last Monday night (and no, I will NOT talk about that last-second play here), but this week against the Saints, I absolutely do. Everyone knows by now how bad the Saints rush D has been this season, but their pass D really hasn’t been all that much better. Last year when these two teams faced off in Week 1 at Green Bay, Rodgers threw for 312 yards and three TDs on 77.1% passing. I see no reason why he won’t put those same numbers up again this weekend.
4. Drew Brees (@ GB) – Brees leads the league in passing attempts (137) for good reason—the Saints defense can’t keep opponents out of the endzone to save their lives! Not like they are a running team anyway, but Drew has had to do a little extra work so far in 2012 and though he’s still third in fantasy points, he’s looked bad in getting there. Not having Head Coach Sean Payton on the sidelines has obviously been the biggest problem, but for Brees specifically, you can’t ignore both the loss of WR Robert Meachem and that Colston is playing at less than 100 percent. The Saints are one of only two teams in the league at 0-3 (Browns) and need to right the ship quick, so even though I don’t think they’ll beat the Packers in Green Bay, I do believe they’ll let Drew Brees go nuts in an effort to pull off the unlikely victory. Last season in Lambeau, Drew threw for 419 yards and three TDs in a loss. Green Bay’s pass defense is WAY better than last season so I don’t expect THOSE numbers, but he’ll still come away with QB1 fantasy points.
5. Robert Griffin III (@ TB) – Griffin still leads the league in fantasy points after three weeks of action and should be able to hold down his spot through the first quarter of the season this weekend. His best receiver, Pierre Garcon, was missing yet again last weekend and just like he did in Week 2, Griffin STILL found a way to put up top-5 QB fantasy points for the week. This Sunday, the Redskins face a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed the most passing yards in the league by far (1,096 yards – 365.3 yds/game!!!), though they’ve only given up four passing TDs. The Redskins defense has been awful as well, so Griffin should be passing the ball a bunch while possibly playing from behind.
6. Matthew Stafford (vs. Min) – First it was said to be a calf, then a hamstring, and now it’s supposedly Stafford’s HIP that’s got him all bothered. We won’t know officially until Friday what his chances are of playing this weekend, but all signs point towards his suiting up and giving it a go. He’s only thrown one TD in each of the first three games and averaged 287.7 passing yds/gm thus far, but he has the fourth-most attempts and the absolute most completions, so his fantasy turnaround is likely coming very soon. Last season Stafford averaged 302.5 yards and two TDs against this Vikings defense and though they seem to have gotten better against the pass, it’s only been a minimal improvement and won’t hamper the Lions normal passing attack. I’m expecting a real firm QB1 game out of Staff this weekend.
7. Joe Flacco (vs. Cle - Thursday Night) – Flacco made my top-10 QBs last week at No. 8 and did nothing against the Patriots to bump him in Week 4. I’m usually not a big fan of Thursday night games from a fantasy perspective because of the short week teams have to prepare an offensive game-plan, but I like Flacco for a few reasons in this one. First, on a shortened week, a team that’s playing well and putting up points may simply decide to go with whatever has been working. For the Ravens, it’s been Flacco taking control of their new no-huddle offense. Second, Cleveland has been pretty stingy against the run and is one of only five teams to not allow a rushing TD this season. Third, all three QBs the Browns have faced thus far have put up 21 or more fantasy points against them (Vick, Dalton and Fitzpatrick). I think we can all connect the dots here.
8. Matt Ryan (vs. Car) – Matt Ryan is still doing what I thought he’d do this season; which is carving up defenses with tremendous accuracy, increasing his TD percentage and putting up top-5 QB fantasy numbers. In fact, he currently leads the league in both completion percentage (72 percent) and QB Rating (114.0) and though Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez have a lot to do with it, Ryan and his mastery of the Falcons new offense deserves a ton of credit. I’m not the biggest fan of his matchup this week as team’s can run all day against the Panthers, but I have a feeling the Falcons will want to get ahead early on the arm of Matty Ice and then turn it over to Turner and Rodgers later on to seal the deal. Two and a half to three quarters of up-tempo offense should be enough to secure QB1 stats for Ryan this week and if Carolina can somehow keep the game close, Ryan could have a monster game.
9. Eli Manning (@ Phi - Sunday Night) – Eli Manning is the only QB with more than 1,000 passing yards (1,011) and leads the next highest total by almost 100 yards. Five years ago, I don’t think anyone would have called this type of ascension, but Eli has CLEARLY entered elite status not only as an NFL quarterback, but as a fantasy player as well. Last year when the Giants traveled to Philadelphia, Manning put up his lone four-TD game of the season, but only threw for 254 yards. Philly has been pretty close-fisted against the pass this season, though they DID just allow Kevin Kolb to pass for 222 yards, two TDs and no INTs against them so they’re obviously beatable. With Nicks, Cruz, Martellus Bennett and now Ramses Barden to trust in, I like Manning’s chances of success in what could be a crazy-ass game.
10. Michael Vick (vs. NYG - Sunday Night) – Vick has had a pretty crazy year thus far, but he does have the Eagles at 2-1 and put up two good fantasy games for his owners…except for all the interceptions/fumbles, of course. This week he’ll have Jeremy Maclin back in time to go up against the inter-division rival Giants and their sub-par pass defense. If the offensive line can keep Vick upright for a few seconds, it would go a long way towards his fantasy production as Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek overmatch the Giants secondary pretty healthily. I also expect LeSean McCoy to be used more this week after under-utilizing him in Week 3, a move which would force the Giants to bunch the line a bit and give the receivers more room to roam. As usual, Vick is definitely a high-risk/high-reward QB play this Sunday night.
11. Cam Newton (@ Atl)
12. Matt Schaub (vs. Ten)
13. Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. NE)
14. Christian Ponder (@ Det)
15. Philip Rivers (@ KC)
16. Carson Palmer (@ Den)
17. Josh Freeman (vs. Was)
18. Tony Romo (vs. Chi - Monday Night)
19. Matt Cassel (vs. SD)
20. Andy Dalton (@ Jax)
21. Alex Smith (@ NYJ)
22. Kevin Kolb (vs. Mia)
23. Jake Locker (@ Hou)
24. Jay Cutler (@ Dal - Monday Night)
25. Russell Wilson (@ StL)
26. Mark Sanchez (vs. SF)
27. Blaine Gabbert (vs. Cin)
28. Sam Bradford (vs. Sea)
29. Ryan Tannehill (@ Ari)
30. Brandon Weeden (@ Bal - Thursday Night)
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