QB Player Rankings – Week 4
1. Tom Brady (@ Oak) – Until someone knocks him off this tear that he’s on, I simply can’t take him out of the number one slot. His fantasy numbers thus far are unprecedented and don’t look to be slowing down, especially with the Patriots scoring at will the way they are (104 points in three games!). Brady is now only one passing TD shy of tying Joe Montana for ninth on the all-time list and 28 shy of tying John Elway for fifth all-time with 300. Hard to believe he was a seventh-round pick, isn’t it? That means every team in the league outside of New England not only missed out on him once, but they all failed to draft him at least SIX TIMES!!! Just unreal.
2. Aaron Rodgers (vs. Den) – It’s hard to believe that Aaron Rodgers has already thrown for eight touchdowns and is averaging almost 306 yards a game and yet is still just sixth in QB fantasy points this season. We all know it won’t end up that way, but it’s kind of crazy regardless. The Broncos weren’t too hot against the pass in 2010 and are already allowing a 106.8 passer rating to opposing QBs so far this year. With Champ Bailey still nursing a hamstring injury, it won’t improve this week, especially up in Green Bay where Rodgers normally rules.
3. Matthew Stafford (@ Dal) – Stafford has been out of this world through three games this season, though there were many of us who expected it. The Cowboys rush D is good enough to force teams to pass, so against the Cowboys this weekend, if he can avoid DeMarcus Ware enough to get off 35-40 passes, he should be able to pick apart a very beatable Dallas secondary and maybe match his average game this year of three TDs and 325 yards.
4. Drew Brees (@ Jax) – So I guess Brees and the coaches were right; it really doesn’t matter who they put in there at wide receiver, the Saints are a machine that can pass at will on pretty much anybody. Even without his top WR Marques Colston, Brees has put up three touchdowns a game along with an average of 353 yards through three weeks of the 2011 season. Jacksonville may have been pretty stingy so far with their pass D in terms of yards allowed (just 196 yards/game), but they were awful last year and haven’t faced anyone the caliber of Drew Brees as of yet. Expect another phenomenal fantasy game from Cool Brees this Sunday.
5. Philip Rivers (vs. Mia) – Miami’s pass D is better than their current rank of 30th in the league so far this season (mostly due to Tom Brady’s demolition in Week One), but Rivers should be able to toss the ball around on them pretty well regardless. It’s unclear whether or not Gates will play, but even if he doesn’t, Randy McMichael has proven to be a decent backup in his stead. Either way, with Patrick Crayton back, he’ll at least have a full WR corps to throw to. Last season at home, Rivers had three 300-yard games and three others with three-plus TDs; both numbers he might be able to reach come Sunday.
6. Ben Roethlisberger (@ Hou) – Roethlisberger certainly has his good games and his bad, but I believe this will be one of his good ones. Houston has been a lot better against the pass this season after finishing last in the league in 2010, but after holding Kerry Collins and Chad Henne in check, Drew Brees proceeded to throw all over them last weekend putting up 370 yards and three TDs. I’m not going to go so far as to say Big Ben will do the same, but he’s averaged 314 yards/game so far, so it is possible.
7. Michael Vick (vs. SF) – Obviously this placement of Vick is dependent on whether or not he plays on Sunday, but since his right (non-throwing) hand wasn’t broken and only bruised, I’m betting he will. He’s more of a competitor than most in this league, so with that in mind, I believe he makes a huge effort this weekend to show the sporting world he can still do what he does best out there and stay healthy doing it. San Fran has a pretty nasty rush D, so the Eagles will need Vick to pull off some magic with his arm to win this one as they should. When it comes to Vick, I happen to believe in (fantasy) magic.
8. Ryan Fitzpatrick (@ Cin) – I’m still not 100 percent sold on Fitzpatrick, but it’s getting pretty darn close. After three weeks of action, Ivy League Ryan sits at fifth for the most QB fantasy points in the league, with his worst point total coming last weekend against New England when he tossed up 369 yards and two TDs. Last year Fitz threw for 316 yards and four TDs in Cincinnati and though I don’t think he matches those lofty numbers against an improved Bengals pass D, I’ll no longer be shocked if he did.
9. Eli Manning (@ Ari) – Very few of us expected Eli Manning to do much of anything against that vaunted Eagles secondary last weekend, but boy did he shut us up. Just when you least expect it, Manning Jr. tosses up four TDs and over 250 yards without his WR2 (Mario Manningham) in the lineup and finally decides to join the 2011 fantasy passing brigade. Arizona’s pass D was near the bottom of the league last season WITH CB Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie and are now even further down the list without him. Manningham is back; Victor Cruz is a beast; Hakeem Nicks is ridiculous; book it. Eli is going to have a little fun with this one.
10. Matt Ryan (@ Sea) – Seattle looks to have a pretty good defense this year and with as bad as their offense is, they sure do need it. Nevertheless, the reality is they can’t get to the quarterback, a fact that will get them torn apart against the likes of Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. With the Seahawks rush D actually being pretty formidable, I can see Ryan throwing the ball a good 30-35 times which is all he’ll need to chalk up 250-300 yards and two or three TDs.
11. Rex Grossman (@ StL) – Oh Rexy. I have to admit I’m impressed with his 2-1 start (which could have easily been 3-0), but how much longer can he keep this up? He seems to have opposing defenses guessing by spreading the ball around real well, but with such mediocre talent surrounding him, I can’t help but think there aren’t many great fantasy performances left in him. That said, St. Louis and their injury-riddled defense just let Joe Flacco go ballistic on them in Week 3, so another one could be in the works this weekend.
12. Tony Romo (vs. Det) – Romo had enough charisma to pull off a win for the Cowboys on Monday night, but his fantasy stats were bland at best and you could tell he really misses his big gun in Miles Austin. Being an inter-division rival, Washington of course had a better bead on Romo and the Cowboys than maybe any other team in the league, so I don’t expect the Lions to bottle him up quite as well. Detroit obviously has a much improved defense this year, but they also haven’t faced a top-notch QB away from home just yet. Tony should at least be able to toss up a couple TD passes in this one.
13. Jay Cutler (vs. Car) – Even after facing rookie Blaine Gabbert in a monsoon in his first professional start, the Panthers are still allowing 240 passing yards a game and the highest passer rating in the league to opposing QBs (110.8!!!). Despite his continued troubles staying upright, Jay Cutler has put up three decent fantasy games so far and should put up another one on Sunday against this Carolina D. The Bears will likely run the ball more than they have all year, but doing that should open the passing lanes up quite a bit for Cutler to exploit throughout the game.
14. Matt Schaub (vs. Pit) – Despite the loss, Schaub has got to be flying pretty high right now after tossing up three TDs and 373 yards last weekend against the Saints. The best thing about his performance, however, is that he spread the ball around so well, something he’ll need to do a lot of if he wants to have a good showing against the Steelers pass D. Andre Johnson is once again at the top of his game, but it looks like Owen Daniels may also be back to form and this new weapon, fullback/tight end James Casey, seems to be a nice addition to Schaub’s repertoire. I’m not expecting the world here, but Matty has had some great games against tough defenses before.
15. Cam Newton (@ Chi) – Newton is a gamer and without a question one of the best athletes ever to work under center in this league. However, I expect a bit of a rude awakening for the rookie against the Bears and their Cover-2 scheme this weekend. It’s obvious Newton depends on throwing the ball to Steve Smith in order to succeed, a directive he had a real tough time accomplishing in the rain last weekend against the Jaguars. The Bears won’t let it happen either, so Cam may find himself trying to run a bunch, a choice that could get him into even further trouble against this speedy Chicago D. He might be able to get some decent yardage in this one, but the touchdowns will be hard to come by.
16. Joe Flacco (@ NYJ) – Flacco certainly showed off that monster arm of his last weekend, didn’t he. The pickin’s won’t be as easy to come by in this one, though, with the Jets sporting one of the better pass defenses in the league. In the first week of last season against New York, Joey threw for 248 yards in the rain but couldn’t come up with a TD. I’m expecting about the same yardage this weekend, but I think he hits paydirt at least once with Jets CB Antonio Cromartie at less than full health.
17. Jason Campbell (vs. NE) – Campbell may never rise this high in my rankings again if he can’t pull off some nice fantasy numbers this weekend against the Patriots. So far, New England has allowed the most completions, yards and fantasy points to opposing QBs, mostly due to teams having to play catch-up after Brady has already gone off. The Raiders will try to run at first, but like everyone else, they’ll have to turn to the pass to win. If Jacoby Ford comes back this week, he’ll lineup alongside rookie phenom Denarius Moore in what could end up becoming a lethal combination. Campbell could be at the start of something good here.
18. Kyle Orton (@ GB) – Denver will go down a couple of scores in the first half, if not the first quarter, and have to pass their way back into contention the whole rest of the game. This was basically the weekly scenario last season as well when Orton was putting up fantasy starter-type numbers, so don’t be shocked to see him with some nice stats by the end of this one. Green Bay also looks to be pretty darn beatable through the air this season, so we’ll see if last year’s superstar Brandon Lloyd and youngster Eric Decker can strut their stuff for Kyle and the Donkeys on Sunday.
19. Mark Sanchez (@ Bal) – Sanchez may be able to put up decent fantasy numbers in this one simply because the Jets won’t be able to run the ball. Either way, Mark has thrown two TDs in each of the Jets first three games while averaging 295 yards a contest, so it seems he’s becoming more depended on than he was in the past anyway. He was atrocious against them in Week One last season, but I expect a little better this time around… though maybe not much.
20. Josh Freeman (vs. Ind) – Freeman, as usual, has been extremely vanilla thus far in terms of fantasy and I’m not sure I expect much more from him in this one. Tampa should be able to shellac Indy all day this Monday night, with most of the pounding done on the ground. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Josh throw a couple of TDs, but somewhere around 225 yards and one TD should be enough for a Buccaneers victory.
Rounding out the rest of the league...
21. Kevin Kolb (vs. NYG)
22. Matt Hasselbeck (@ Cle)
23. Sam Bradford (vs. Was)
24. Chad Henne (@ SD)
25. Matt Cassel (vs. Min)
26. Donovan McNabb (@ KC)
27. Colt McCoy (vs. Ten)
28. Andy Dalton (vs. Buf)
29. Tarvaris Jackson (vs. Atl)
31. Blaine Gabbert (vs. NO)
32. Alex Smith (@ Phi)