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Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 4

by Scott Cedar | @scedar015 | Featured Writer
Sep 29, 2017

Offenses finally woke up in Week 3, which was obviously good news for the quarterback position. Through the first two weeks, QB1s (top 12 weekly finishers) were averaging just 20.6 points per game. In Week 3, they averaged 26.8 points per game. In fact, seven of the top 10 QB performances this season came last week.

Yes, things are looking up as we head into Week 4. Here are my predictions for this week’s QB1s.

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.

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1) Drew Brees (NO): @ Miami (in London)
The London games have a reputation as slopfests, but as Justin Hartling noted, they actually tend to be high-scoring affairs (hitting the over in 10 of the last 13 contests). With the NFL exporting two of the worst passing defenses in the league, it’s not hard to imagine notching one more “over” this week.

After a two-week mini-funk, the Saints found their rhythm in a surprise road thrashing of the Panthers. Even after said thrashing Carolina is a top 10 pass defense per Football Outsiders. The Dolphins…aren’t. They rank dead last against the pass, actually, and have given up an average of 15.95 points to Philip Rivers and Josh McCown. Brees is just a smidge more talented than those two, and should have no problem posting big numbers across the pond.

2) Matt Ryan (ATL): vs. Buffalo
Three weeks in and we generally have a good idea how things are shaping up. There are always mid-season twists and turns, but for the most part we can at least see where things are headed by the time we hit October.

With that said, I have no idea whether the Bills defense is good. They’re Football Outsiders’ #2 defense after ranking 27th a season ago. Maybe excising the Ryans was all it took. Maybe they just haven’t been tested, having started the season by facing Josh McCown, Cam Newton, and Trevor Siemian. Whatever it is, it’ll be interesting to see how the Bills handle the Falcons in Atlanta. I think this defense is lacking talent, and their true colors start to show in Week 3. That means wheels up for Matt Ryan and the Falcons, always a safe bet at home.

3) Tom Brady (NE): vs. Carolina
Brady was the top overall quarterback last week on the strength of five touchdowns, and after a rocky Week 1 seems to be settling into post-Edelman life. I can’t decide if this game will look more like the Patriots’ last one (a shootout spurred by the Pats’ suspect D) or the Panthers’ last one (a blowout spurred by the Panthers’ suspect O), but either way Brady should produce. We shouldn’t discount the difficulty of this matchup-as noted above, Carolina’s defense is looking a lot closer to 2015 form after a down 2016-but I still trust Brady to put up his third consecutive QB1 week.

4) Aaron Rodgers (GB): vs. Chicago
I ranked Rodgers fourth heading into the Thursday night game, wondering whether it might be a trap. It took a season-high 56 attempts for Rodgers to score 23.74 points in their first meeting of 2016, and he managed just 11.98 points in their second matchup. Factor in the Packers playing without their two starting tackles and a Bears defense that already held its own against Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger and the spot didn’t seem quite as plum as suggested by his ranking atop the QB ECR.

None of that ended up mattering. It was a vintage Rodgers performance, notching 23.06 points on just 26 passing attempts. Had this game been competitive Rodgers might have had a monster week. Instead, he’ll have to settle for yet another very solid QB1.

5) Russell Wilson (SEA): vs. Indianapolis
Despite his QB2 finish last week, I’m not sure anything really changed for Wilson. The offensive line is still a disaster that can sink any game. Sometimes it’s best not to worry about everything that can go wrong and focus on what’s good. At home vs. Indianapolis (allowing the 3rd most passing yards in the league)-that’s very good.

6) Dak Prescott (DAL): vs. Los Angeles Rams
The only quarterback in the NFL to post a QB1 week in each of his first three games? Rayne Dakota Prescott.

At home vs. the Rams is a solid spot for Prescott. The Rams just gave up 26.18 points to Brian Hoyer, who had scored a combined 5.18 points in his first two games.

(While we’re here, why did Prescott decide to go with “Dak?” Rayne is so, so money.)

7) Jay Cutler (MIA): vs. New Orleans (in London)
Week 3 was ridiculous in many respects. Among the craziest parts of the craziness was Cutler bombing against the Jets and the Saints’ defense absolutely dominating the Panthers. I’m leaving it all in the rearview mirror as we move to Week 4.

The Saints’ secondary is still one of the worst units in all of football. Cam Newton couldn’t challenge them with a bum shoulder, but Cutler can and will. As indicated above, the London games have tended to be high-scoring, and I like this one to end up in an entertaining shootout to start our Sunday.

8) Carson Palmer (ARZ): vs. San Francisco
The 49ers have 10 days to figure out how Jared Goff put up 41 points on them, but when the answer is “we suck,” I’m not sure there’s much they can do.

As for Palmer, he fizzled a bit after a hot start on Monday Night Football, but still finished with a strong 21.7 points. Arizona was already a pass-heavy offense, but with David Johnson out, they’ve been airing it out with no abandon (2nd in the league with 132 attempts). The potential fly in the ointment is a 49ers d-line that’s been beefed up by a few early round selections. They could cause havoc with the Cardinals undermanned, overmatched offensive line, which just gave up six sacks to a Cowboys defense that usually takes a month to hit that total. Perhaps I’m understating the risk for the Cardinals on a short week vs. the 49ers on a long week, but I think Palmer’s a strong play in both season-long and DFS.

9) Alex Smith (KC): vs. Washington
Here we are, heading into October with Alex Smith as the number two quarterback in all of fantasy. Smith hasn’t scored fewer than 15 fantasy points yet, and should keep the streak alive with a home game against Washington in which Kansas City has the second highest implied point total of the week. Washington’s pass defense is a bit underrated-quarterbacks have ranked 5th, 24th, and 31st against them so far, including Derek Carr‘s disastrous Sunday night performance-but I trust Andy Reid to keep the offense rolling.

10) Andy Dalton (CIN): @ Cleveland
I was a big Dalton proponent this offseason, but I have to admit I was spooked when he started the year looking like Rube Baker before he discovered Playboy. That was dumb. Before the season we knew Dalton would likely start slow, facing two of the best pass defenses in the league (Baltimore and Houston). If a slow start was expected, then I really shouldn’t have been scared off when he, you know, started slow.

Lesson learned. The Bengals’ offense looked much better under new coordinator Bill Lazor, and now gets a matchup with the team that just made Jacoby Brissett look like a god. Road matchup and common opponent are both concerns, but Dalton’s still a pretty nice option this week.

11) Philip Rivers (LAC): vs. Philadelphia
Philip Rivers was a QB1 in each of his first two matchups-bad matchups-so a home game against the Chiefs seemed surmountable. It wasn’t. Rivers had three interceptions, a troubling development considering how he played after a similarly good start in 2016 (throwing 21 interceptions in his final 13 games).

Trotting him out after a 3.48 point performance is risky, but so far Philadelphia’s secondary is the only thing that’s been able to make the Giants look like an NFL team. With a good front seven, the Eagles will look to bottle up Melvin Gordon, forcing the Chargers to the air. This one could go badly. Or, it could go like Week 3, when Eli Manning stole Monty Python’s not-dead-yet routine en route to 22.64 points and a QB11 finish.

12) Trevor Siemian (DEN): vs. Oakland
I admittedly missed the boat in Siemian to start the year, when he was a QB1 in both Weeks 1 and 2. I wasn’t tempted by a road matchup in Week 3, and that proved prescient. He looked like a different quarterback in Buffalo, completing just 24 of 40 passes with two interceptions and zero touchdowns.

Thankfully he returns to Denver in Week 4 with a nice matchup against Oakland. The Raiders have allowed the 5th most net yards/attempt through three weeks, picking up right where they left off in 2016 as one of the worst pass defenses in the league. There are a ton of good streaming options for season-long leagues, so you probably won’t need him there. But I’ll definitely be stacking Siemian and Demaryius Thomas in some DFS tournament lineups.


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Scott Cedar is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Scott, check out his archive and follow him @scedar015.

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