QB Player Rankings – Week 5
(BYE: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington)
1. Aaron Rodgers (@ Atl) – Along with Tom Brady, Rodgers is as close to a sure thing in fantasy as there is these days. It doesn’t matter who the Packers face, Aaron “it out” simply gets it done. Including the playoffs, Rodgers faced Atlanta twice last season and averaged 355 yards, two passing TDs and one rushing TD against them. With the Green Bay QB hitting his stride and the Falcons being in the bottom third of the league in allowing QB fantasy points this year, I just don’t see how he doesn’t have a monster game this Sunday night.
2. Michael Vick (@ Buf) – This is exactly the type of game fantasy owners have been waiting for. Going up against a Buffalo defense that has given up the world to opposing QBs is just what Vick needs to open up his vast arsenal of unique talents. What’s even better is that the Bills offense has become a scoring machine as well, thus forcing opposing offenses to continue scoring all day long. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vick throw for 300 yards, rush for 100, and have four total TDs against a Bills D that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to QBs this season.
3. Cam Newton (vs. NO) – I can’t believe I am ranking a rookie QB in the top five this week, but Newton has proven to be a gamer and is without question one of the best athletes ever to work under center in this league. I truly thought the Bears would be able to contain him with their speed and Cover-2 defensive scheme, but clearly, I was wrong. I’ve underestimated his ability up until this point but I will not do so again. New Orleans has allowed a lot of fantasy action to opposing QBs this year and in a game where Carolina will likely be playing catch-up ball, Newton has the potential to do some serious damage.
4. Tom Brady (vs. NYJ) – Brady has averaged 275 yards and 1.75 TDs against the Jets in their last four regular season contests, numbers that would be nice for most QBs in the league. However, Brady is not like most QBs as he just passed the legendary Joe Montana for career touchdown passes with his 274th last weekend. The Jets, however, are as stingy as they come against the pass allowing the least amount of fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. Look for the Pats to mix it up all game long by taking advantage of a surprisingly weak New York rush D instead of unleashing the Stetson Man on them. He’ll be fine fantasy-wise, but I’m not expecting one of his monster outputs here.
5. Matthew Stafford (vs. Chi) – Stafford has quickly become one of the more lethal fantasy QBs in the game this season and should continue his onslaught against a weak Bears secondary this Monday night. All-World WR Calvin Johnson is basically unguardable, but even if the Bears try to take him out with double- or triple-teams, Detroit has so many other weapons for Staff to throw to in Nate Burleson, Jahvid Best, Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew that his stats shouldn’t take a hit. I expect the Lions to try to put their stamp on the NFC North this Monday night, an effort which should mean a whole lot of fantasy stats for Stafford.
6. Drew Brees (@ Car) – At first glance, this may look like an easy game for Brees to pile on the fantasy numbers for your team, but it’s not. In fact, though Brees has averaged 258 yards a game against Carolina during his career, he’s only thrown for 12 TDs in those 10 games. Opposing teams have thrown the ball the least amount of times against the Panthers this season because frankly, their rush D is a sieve, and the Saints will be no different. Brees may come away with some decent stats, but not enough to rank him in the top five.
7. Philip Rivers (@ Den) – Rivers averaged 273 yards and two TDs against the Broncos last season, numbers he should be able to at least equal this Sunday against a Denver pass D that has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. Antonio Gates will likely sit out again so Rivers’ fantasy potential is a bit capped, but I expect QB1 numbers this Sunday nonetheless.
8. Mark Sanchez (@ NE) – Supposedly Coach Ryan wants to go back to the “ground-and-pound” approach for the rest of the season, but I’m guessing that strategy will stay shelved for at least one more week. The Patriots can score in a super-duper hurry and if the Jets fail to keep up with them for even one series, Ryan and Sanchez will abandon the run game in a New York minute. The Patriots haven’t allowed less than 344 yards passing to a QB yet this year, so look for Dirty Mark to have a nice comeback fantasy game this week.
9. Matt Ryan (vs. GB) – Green Bay’s pass D has been awful this season allowing the second most passing yards per game along with the most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. However, they did seem to have Ryan’s number last year as Matty Ice averaged just 192 yards and one TD against them in their two meetings (playoffs included). Again, though, that was last season. 2011 is a whole new ballgame as Julio Jones seems to be everything he was billed to be while Tony G. is tearing up the league in what could be his swan song. I expect a shootout here, especially on the main stage of Sunday Night Football.
10. Eli Manning (vs. Sea) – Eli has some serious weapons out there to toss the ball around to now with Nicks being Nicks, Manningham healthy and Victor Cruz living up to his 2010 preseason freak show. Seattle’s defense is a lot better than some thought it would be, but Manning will be able to carve them up for some good fantasy numbers… at least until the Giants get up by enough to run the clock out with Bradshaw and Jacobs. Expect a really nice stat line, but nothing spectacular.
11. Kevin Kolb (@ Min) – I’m going to say it again: What I like most about Kolb as a fantasy player this year is not his own ability as a QB or the option to throw it to Larry Fitzgerald every play if he wants, but rather the lack of ability shown on the Cardinals defensive side of the ball. Arizona will need to pass the ball quite a bit to get back into games, which is of course nice for Kolb and the rest of his fantasy receivers. Even better for this game in particular is that ‘Zona will find themselves having trouble running the ball against the Vikings front seven and need to pass to move the chains. Kolb could end up as a nice sleeper this Sunday.
12. Josh Freeman (@ SF) – Freeman did a little better than I expected last Monday night throwing for 287 yards and one TD while adding in his second career rushing touchdown. That being said, he’s still one of the more vanilla QBs in the league and I simply can’t trust him to put up fantasy points on a weekly basis. Last year Freeman tossed up two TDs against the 49ers but evened it out by only throwing for 136 yards. However, I’m tentatively expecting a decent game this Sunday as the ‘Niners pass D is terrible and the Bucs won’t be able to run against their rush D at all.
13. Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Phi) – After last week’s lame-duck effort against the Cincinnati Jailbungles, I find myself back in the un-sold department on Fitzpatrick. Ivy League Ryan may have been able to pick apart bottom-feeder pass Ds like the Chiefs, Raiders and Patriots, but the Eagles might have more talent in their secondary than those three teams combined. Still, Philly’s “Dream Team” hasn’t quite gelled yet and has allowed the most passing TDs in the league against them thus far, so there’s still some fantasy hope here for Fitz and crew.
14. Jay Cutler (@ Det) – The Bears kept true to their word and got back to the ground game last week against the Panthers, but Cutler will have to pass the ball in this one. Detroit is a completely different team than what Chicago is used to facing lately and they may find themselves down a couple scores early on Monday night. If so, look for OC Mike Martz to pull the same old crap and abandon the run-game for his “greatest show on turf” playbook. Cutler has always done well against the Lions, so there’s definitely some upside potential here.
15. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Ten) – Roethlisberger may be hobbled, but it’s not like he hasn’t played with injuries before, so I’m not so worried about that. The troubling thing is that the Titans have crept into the top tier of NFL defenses and hold opposing QBs to the fifth least amount of fantasy points per game. Still, there’s potential for a good game here as the Steelers may be forced to pass a bit more with possibly Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore sidelined.
16. Donovan McNabb (vs. Ari) – I said last week that if McNasty couldn’t do anything against a depleted Kansas City pass D, I wouldn’t suggest taking him off your bench for the remainder of the season. Well, he did toss up two TDs, which was nice, but only managed to eke out 202 yards in the process. I’m going to have to call it a wash and give Donovan one last chance to prove himself against an even worse Arizona pass defense. Don’t play him unless you absolutely have to, of course, but he might surprise a bit this weekend.
17. Matt Schaub (vs. Oak) – Schaub is a talented QB, but not so much that he’ll be able to overcome the loss of Andre Johnson. With Arian Foster back, however, he may not need to. The Raiders have given up the fourth most rushing yards per game this year and allow a mind-boggling 5.9 yards/carry. Foster will go nuts in this one and while I don’t see Schaub hitting even the 200-yard mark on Sunday, I tentatively expect him to use the play-action pass in the red-zone for a couple of short TDs.
18. Kyle Orton (vs. SD) – It looks like Orton will get at least one more shot to turn the Broncos season around, but I just don’t see it happening. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get pulled at some point in the second half if he throws a couple of interceptions and/or Denver goes down by a bunch. Still, from a fantasy perspective, Kyle is averaging 236 yards and two TDs a game thus far, good for 15th overall in the QB rankings. It wouldn’t be a shock to see those same numbers from him come Sunday.
19. Matt Hasselbeck (@ Pit) – Hasselbeck has turned in a top-10 fantasy performance thus far and been an all-around great fit for this Titans team, but without playmaking WR Kenny Britt against the top-ranked pass defense in the league, you’d be better off looking elsewhere in Week 5.
20. Jason Campbell (@ Hou) – Campbell did as well as I expected last week against the Patriots tossing up 344 yards and a touchdown, but it won’t last. Not against a Houston defense that will put pressure on Jason all day long and force him into making mistakes. With Denarius Moore looking awesome, a healthy Jacoby Ford and an improved Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders receivers will at least give Campbell a shot at some success, but Oakland’s game-plan will more than likely be run-based with McFadden playing like a man possessed and the Texans being a little easier to run against than pass.
21. Matt Cassel (@ Ind) – Without even a remote threat of a running game, you can bet Indy will be playing the pass pretty hard in this one. That being said, they aren’t very good in that area so Cassel should be able to go for about 200 yards and a TD against them. If that floats your boat, go ahead and start him.
22. Andy Dalton (@ Jax) – Dalton has looked pretty darn good for a rookie QB, but he won’t become a fantasy starter at any point this season unless ten other starting quarterbacks around the league get injured. Jacksonville starter Blaine Gabbert may have been taken a round ahead of Dalton in the 2011 NFL Draft, but Andy will win this baby-battle simply because the weapons around him are better. Just don’t start him on your fantasy team because of it.
23. Alex Smith (vs. TB) – The former 2005 first overall draft pick had a surprisingly nice game against the Eagles last week, but the words “start”, “Alex” and “Smith” just don’t look right together to me. Alex is normally right on the edge of being playable in leagues where you can start two QBs and I’d have to say, that’s right about where he lands again this week against a mediocre Tampa pass defense.
24. Tarvaris Jackson (@ NYG) – Nice work, Tarvaris! I think you may have actually fooled some fantasy players with that 300-yard, three-TD performance last weekend! Not me, however. I know about Atlanta’s defense and how they can let guys who have no business doing well put up All Pro numbers against them; or how they haven’t had a single sack since Week One against the Bears league-worst offensive line. The Giants won’t let that happen. They’ll bring the kitchen sink at you and force you to make the mistakes you normally make. I’m not biting on your first career 300-yard game (actually, it was his first 250-yard game in 38 career games!).
25. Curtis Painter (vs. KC) – If it weren’t for the playmaking ability of Mr. Pierre Garcon, Painter would have put up his normal awful numbers last Monday night against the Buccaneers. Maybe throwing his first career TD pass jump-starts a Hall-of-Fame career for young shaggy-haired Curtis… or, maybe not.
26. Blaine Gabbert (vs. Cin) – If you really have to start Gabbert on your fantasy team, you should think seriously about another pastime… like crochet. It’ll be fun to watch the competitive spirit emanating from the rookie QB head-to-head matchup, but it might also be downright scary at times.