Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 5
Now four weeks into the season, we’re still dealing with small sample sizes, but they’re also meaningful sample sizes. Here’s the leaderboard at the quarter mark:
|Player||Average Weekly Rank||Fantasy Points||Points Per Game||Top 24 Finishes||Top 12 Finishes||Top 6 Finishes|
Brady and Rodgers at the top…just as we expected. Alex Smith and Dak Prescott right behind them…not so much. Trevor Siemian or Deshaun Watson are the other major QB1 surprises four weeks in. We’ll see if they can keep pace.
Also notable are those not pictured: former studs Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan are nowhere near the top 12 after disappointing starts. I still have faith in Ryan (buy low!), but have my doubts on the other two.
Now that we have the new lay of the land, let’s get into the QB1 predictions for Week 5.
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.
1) Tom Brady (NE): @ Tampa Bay
This game had the highest over/under of the week, which should be a common theme for New England. Heading into Week 5 their offense had scored the 2nd most points in the NFL, while their defense had allowed the 2nd most points. With figuratively every Buccaneers defender out injured, Brady appeared primed for a big Week 5.
It didn’t quite materialize. He was an efficient 30/40 for 303 yards, but managed just one touchdown along with an interception and also a lost fumble. A disappointing outing against this defense.
2) Aaron Rodgers (GB): @ Dallas
For years Dallas has been a secretly bad matchup for opposing quarterbacks, using an elite offensive line and running backs to grind out games and limit the opposing quarterback’s time on the field. It appears the days of hiding the defense are over, as Dallas ranks just 20th in average time per drive. With the defense exposed, teams are attacking them relentlessly through the air: Dallas has faced 154 passing attempts, 2nd most in the league. As a result, they’ve allowed the 8th most points to opposing quarterbacks through four weeks.
It’s all very good news for Rodgers. He’ll have 10 days rest coming off his most impressive game of the season, in which he amassed 23.1 fantasy points on just 26 throws. He’s set for a big, big game on Sunday.
3) Dak Prescott (DAL): vs. Green Bay
Somehow Prescott, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, perhaps the most marquee role in sports, is being overlooked. Prescott, Mr. Consistent, is the only quarterback with four QB1 weeks.
Last year he did it with otherworldly efficiency. This year he’s actually getting decent volume, with 143 passing attempts (9th in the league). After a tough opening to the season (Giants, Broncos, Cardinals, and Rams), the schedule opens up, starting with a home matchup against Green Bay. The Packers have actually been a negative matchup thus far, allowing just 11.1 points to opposing quarterbacks, but that’s largely due to facing a mere 115 pass attempts through four games. With the second highest over/under of the week (52.5), I don’t expect that to continue in Week 5.
4) Russell Wilson (SEA): @ Los Angeles Rams
Wilson has racked up consecutive monster weeks and is now averaging 21.2 points per game (4th in the NFL). I like his odds for a third consecutive blowup.
The Rams have been just a neutral matchup for quarterbacks (allowing 16 points per game), but those numbers don’t tell the full story. They’ve faced just 121 passing attempts this year (5th lowest), but are allowing 7.8 passing yards per attempt (8th most in the league). After shutting down Scott Tolzien in Week 1 (congratulations…), the Rams have allowed 27, 39, and 30 points. I think the Seahawks put up another big day on this defense, and with the Seahawks’ running game injured and sputtering, I think they do so through the air.
5) Jameis Winston (TB): vs. New England
New England’s dumpster fire defense had been a get-well spot, helping Deshaun Watson and Cam Newton find their footing in recent weeks. It took Winston until the 4th quarter, but he eventually got there. On the strength of 200 passing yards in the final period, Winston finished with a respectable 18.46 fantasy points, his second best outing of the year. He won’t end up QB5 but should be a fringe fantasy starter this week. Still, I expected a little more in this game. The myriad of weapons added this offseason haven’t translated to a major step forward in Winston’s third season.
6) Deshaun Watson (HOU): vs. Kansas City
I think folks are waaaaay too eager to anoint Watson to Canton after the last two weeks. Sure, he’s looked incredible, but those games came against the Patriots and Titans, literally Football Outsiders’ worst and second-worst defenses. Tougher times are ahead, but his Sunday night matchup with Kansas City is another decent spot. The Chiefs are allowing just 14.9 points to opposing quarterbacks, but that’s largely been luck. They’ve given up only four passing touchdowns despite allowing the sixth most passing yards.
7) Alex Smith (KC): @ Houston
I’m not sure there’s much to say about Smith at this point. He’s second in points scored this season, and the Chiefs offense is absolutely rolling. It somehow doesn’t feel like it’s going to last, but at this point I think you’re starting Smith until he proves otherwise. The one potential hiccup here is Smith’s sack rate, which at 11.7% is highest in the league. That could cause problems against the Texans’ pass rush, one of the best in the league.
8) Carson Wentz (PHI): vs. Arizona
Vegas sees this game as a blowout, with Philadelphia 6.5 point favorites over Arizona. I’m inclined to agree (side note: stream Philly’s D/ST). I think Philly’s front seven hounds Palmer all day while the dreaded West Coast Team Travelling East for a One O’Clock Game factors in, putting Wentz in favorable situations all day. I also think Arizona’s defense, while still good, is a far cry from the dominant unit of a season ago. It’s a good spot for Wentz to post his third QB1 finish.
9) Eli Manning (NYG): vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Technically I’m not advocating you start Eli Manning, I’m advocating you start Odell Beckham‘s Quarterback. After averaging just 9.2 points in the two games Beckham was injured, Manning has erupted for 22.6 and 27.7 points since Beckham got right. That outburst has pushed Manning to 11th among quarterbacks in fantasy points. Take a moment to let that sink in.
Alright, welcome back. Despite a dislocated finger, Beckham will be good to go on Sunday, putting Manning in a nice spot against a disappointing Chargers defense now without star cornerback Jason Verrett. As with Alex Smith, I’m a little bit concerned about the Giants’ offensive line matching up against the Chargers defense (12 sacks, 3rd most in the NFL). The home game plus the Chargers traveling cross country give me comfort, to the extent I can be comfortable starting Odell. I mean Eli.
10) Matthew Stafford (DET): vs. Carolina
Stafford hasn’t been great to start the year, finishing 17th, 18th, and 22nd over the last three weeks. The matchup is nothing special either. Carolina is playing strong pass defense, allowing just 13.8 points to opposing quarterbacks. But in a weak week for quarterbacks, the home favorite is a safe fallback.
11) Jacoby Brissett (IND): vs. San Francisco
Brissett lit up the Browns in his last home start, scoring 27.76 points and finishing as QB4 on the week. He gets a similar matchup in Week 5 against a San Francisco defense allowing the 10th most points to opposing quarterbacks. Brissett has looked highly competent this season, even in a tough matchup in Seattle last week. At home against softer competition, I like his chances for a nice game.
12) Jay Cutler (MIA): vs. Tennessee
I should know better…after nearly being shut out by the Jets and actually being shut out by the freaking Saints, Cutler is nearly impossible to trust. And yet, it’s a home game against the Titans, who’ve allowed a whopping 23.9 points per game to opposing quarterbacks. In redraft, I think you need to find someone safer. In DFS, he’ll be a super-low owned quarterback with significant upside. And isn’t it just like Cutler to go off when you least expect it?