Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 2
If you selected a quarterback at any point in the first 10 rounds of your draft, you were probably disappointed in Week 1. It was just an ugly, ugly week for offense. Emerging from the carnage was Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Trevor Siemian, and Carson Wentz…as of this moment, the top five quarterbacks in fantasy football.
This week looks a little better. We’ve got four elite quarterbacks facing off with two of the highest over/unders we’ll see all season and a host of home teams with favorable matchups. Hopefully, this will bring some normalcy to the quarterback position. Here are my predictions for the Week 2 QB1s (top 12 finishers).
(As a reminder, this isn’t a pure start/sit column-weird stuff happens every week, so there are a few far-fetched but plausible QB1 predictions sprinkled in.)
However you fill in that blank, you have to like Brady’s chances to bounce back from a subpar Week 1. Sure, Brady wasn’t great on opening night, but he wasn’t as bad as the stat line indicated either. A few pass interference calls on deep balls cost him some much needed points, and he just missed out on a touchdown to Gronkowski.
This matchup is obviously a lot more favorable than last week. The Chiefs’ defense was the 7th best passing defense last season according to Football Outsiders. The Saints, well, they were further down the list. This game has the highest over/under of the week (54 points), and if all goes to plan there will be a lot of fantasy points scored on both sides.
2) Matt Ryan (ATL): vs. Green Bay
The optimistic fantasy footballer would say Matt Ryan completed 70% of his passes and threw for 321 yards and a touchdown on the road against an underrated defense. His pessimistic counterpart would say Ryan picked up a lot of that yardage and his only touchdown on a busted coverage. It was an ok, not great, start for the reigning MVP.
Week 2 should be better. Ryan rolled at home last season, averaging nearly 23 points per game and finishing as a QB1 in six of eight games. That doesn’t include the 392-yard, four-touchdown performance against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. This game has the 2nd highest over/under of the week (53.5 points), and as the home favorite, Ryan is set for a big game.
3) Aaron Rodgers (GB): @ Atlanta
Rodgers wasn’t great on Sunday, finishing as QB13 on the week. Of course, “not great” for Rodgers means 311 yards against an elite defense. It’ll be smoother sailing on Sunday in Atlanta. The Falcons defense is on the rise, but they’re not Seahawks East just yet. And as noted above this one projects to be a shootout.
4) Drew Brees (NO): vs. New England
Brees had only 15.6 points against Minnesota in Week 1, as the Saints’ offense looked mostly out of synch on the road against one of the best defenses in the league. Week 2 will be a different story. He’ll be at home to face the Patriots-responsible for making Alex Smith the No. 1 quarterback in fantasy-in what could be one of the highest scoring games of the year.
It’d be nice if Brees had Willie Snead to exploit the Patriots’ suspect linebacking corps. Instead, he’ll have to rely on Coby Fleener in the middle of the field, which is kind of like when the waiter tells you they only serve Pepsi. Regardless, if Smith was able to connect on deep balls (plural!) against the Patriots, I like Brees’ chances to do the same.
5) Derek Carr (OAK): vs. New York Jets
Carr was efficient on Sunday, completing 68.8% of his passes and throwing two touchdowns with no interceptions en route to a QB8 finish. He should have no trouble rolling that over to Week 2. At home vs. the Jets is the best matchup you can get this season. The only concern is volume-will Oakland need to throw even 20 times in this game?
6) Philip Rivers (LAC): vs. Miami
I was not expecting a QB1 performance from Rivers in Denver, but three touchdowns and a sub-par offensive week across the league got him into the top 12. That’s a great sign for Week 2 when the degree of difficulty will be turned from All-Madden to Rookie in a home matchup against Miami. The Dolphins allowed the 4th most points to opposing quarterbacks last season despite playing one of the easiest schedules in the league, and they don’t figure to be much better in 2017.
7) Jameis Winston (TB): vs. Chicago
Winston starts his third season with a revamped cast of weapons and a decent matchup at home against Chicago. The Bears played well on Sunday, mostly containing 2016’s best offense outside of a blown coverage that turned into an 88-yard touchdown. Still, this Bears D is more “solid” than “imposing” and just lost its best linebacker. With a lot of games looking uncompetitive this week, I’m banking on the home quarterbacks to put up numbers.
8) Russell Wilson (SEA): vs. San Francisco
It was a rough start for the Seahawks offense in Green Bay. They managed only three field goals as their overmatched offensive line was repeatedly blown backward. That was a major problem last year and could be a problem going forward, but it’s not something to worry about in Week 2. The 49ers defense managed just two QB hits and zero sacks against the usually sackable Cam Newton last week. Wilson should have plenty of time to throw, allowing him to make some splash plays downfield to his trio of playmaking receivers.
9) Carson Palmer (ARI): @ IND
Maybe it’s savvy. Maybe it’s hubris. Whatever you want to call it, I’m going back to Palmer in Week 2.
Palmer had an ugly stat line against what looked to be a cake matchup, throwing three interceptions and putting up a meager 269 yards on 48 attempts. He lost his left tackle to injury, and maybe you heard David Johnson will be out as well. So why the optimism?
First, I don’t believe he’s just done. Palmer finished 2016 playing well, and Jonathan Kinsley laid out a good case that Palmer’s receivers played a big part in Sunday’s dud. Second, the Colts might have the worst defense in the league, as Jared Goff absolutely torched them in Week 1. They might have the worst offense in the league, too, setting up what figures to be an even more pass-heavy Cardinals offense in some favorable situations.
10) Joe Flacco (BAL): vs. Cleveland
On paper, it looks like the Ravens are going to wipe the floor with the Browns. Vegas has them as a 7.5 point favorite after their stout defense absolutely annihilated Andy Dalton and the Bengals in a Week 1 shutout. Flacco ended up having to throw just 17 times in that game.
I’m not so sure he’ll get off that easily in Week 2. The Ravens defense is going to crush once again, but that doesn’t mean a bunch of handoffs for Flacco. The Browns defense backed up a strong preseason with a really good showing in Week 1, allowing only 14 points to the Pittsburgh offense. Most importantly for our purposes, they totally bottled up the Steelers’ rushing attack, allowing just 35 yards on 17 carries. If the Browns could do that to one of the best running games in the league, they should be able to bottle up the Ravens subpar attack. That would mean much more passing for Flacco in Week 2. As a home favorite, that’s a good thing.
11) Alex Smith (KC): vs. Philadelphia
We’ve all been there…there are some things you just can’t force yourself to do until there’s an impending deadline and you absolutely cannot put it off any longer. That must be how Smith felt about throwing deep. The Chiefs put cannon-armed Pat Mahomes on the sideline and suddenly Smith is chucking deep balls all over the place.
If this is a trend, it comes at a perfect time. The Eagles have a strong front seven but not much in the secondary with CB Ronald Darby sidelined, forcing the Chiefs to rely less on Kareem Hunt and more on the passing game.
12) Tyrod Taylor (BUF): @ Carolina
Picking a road underdog with a low implied team total goes against all the rules of quarterback projecting. I don’t care, I can’t find a 12th quarterback I like this week so let’s get wild.
Taylor has a floor from his rushing (8 carries, 38 yards in Week 1), and looked better than I expected throwing to his new, ill-fitting cast of slot receivers (16/28, 224 yards, two touchdowns, one interception). Carolina’s defense looked closer to 2015 form in Week 1, but I don’t think we really learned much about who they are by watching them beat up an overmatched 49ers team. Maybe this game plays out differently than Vegas thinks. Even if Taylor is playing from behind, he’s the type of quarterback who can benefit from garbage time points.