QB Tiers & Rankings: Week 6 (Fantasy Football)
If you hadn’t noticed, quarterbacks were off to a blistering start in 2018. 20 points used to be a solid QB1 week, but in September that barely got you into the conversation.The top 12 quarterbacks averaged 26.0, 28.9, 27.6, and 30.6 points in Weeks 1-4. The top score each week was no less than 39 points. It was a welcome change from a very down year for passers in 2017.
Week 5 saw a return to normalcy, for better or worse. The top 12 quarterbacks averaged 22.7 points, with a high score of *only* 28.7. Much more in line with numbers from prior seasons. Is that a sign of things to come, or a blip on the radar? For this week at least, I think it’s the latter. There are a ton of great quarterbacks in great match-ups, setting us up for another high-scoring week. Let’s get to it.
Matt Ryan (ATL): vs. Tampa Bay
Tom Brady (NE): vs. Kansas City
Patrick Mahomes (KC): @ New England
Aaron Rodgers (GB): vs. San Francisco
Deshaun Watson (HOU): vs. Buffalo
Cam Newton (CAR): @ Washington
Jared Goff (LAR): @ Denver
I really hope you have a top quarterback because all of these guys are set up to smash this week.
Last week Ryan disappointed in a favorable match-up against Pittsburgh. He gets a mulligan this week in an even better match-up at home against the Buccaneers. The last time we saw Tampa’s defense it was Mitch-a-Palooza 2.0, as they gave up six touchdowns to Trubisky. Up the quad, through the gymnasium and into the end zone with ease. Things got so ugly that Dirk Koetter, perhaps lacking self-awareness, called for everyone to be fired. Has it really been that bad? I’m gonna go with yes…despite already having their bye, the Bucs still lead the league in passing touchdowns allowed and rank fourth in passing yards allowed. If you need further assurances, I’m facing Julio Jones in my two favorite leagues so I’m fairly confident this is his annual 200-yard, two-touchdown game.
Before you consider benching Jared Goff, ask yourself this: did the Denver defense give up three passing touchdowns to Sam Darnold last week? If the answer is yes, then playing Goff may be for you. In all seriousness, the Broncos still have some great players, but they haven’t been a shutdown defense since losing Wade Phillips. They’re in The Godfather: Part III stage of this saga: same characters, same franchise, but lacking that same mojo. As for Goff, he led the Rams’ offense to 33 points in a similarly difficult road game last week, even after losing two of his top receivers mid-game. Gurley caps his ceiling a bit, but Goff’s an easy start.
Kirk Cousins continues to overcome a shaky offensive line. He’ll need to do it again this week against an underrated Arizona front seven that ranks top 10 in QB hits and sacks, and number one overall in tackles for loss. We saw the Vikings faceplant in a similar situation against Buffalo in Week 3, but I don’t expect a repeat here. They have an implied team total of 26.75, one of the highest of the week, and with the Vikings’ run game still MIA it should be all Cousins.
Andy Dalton disappointed last week, but he’s still averaging a solid 19 fantasy points per game and has multiple touchdown passes in four of his five games. He’s been a different quarterback since last year’s mutiny against Ken Zampese (quick tangent…who do we think wrote his Wikipedia page? His mother? Wife? @AlVic40117560?). Dalton gets another favorable match-up this week at home against Pittsburgh. The Steelers have given up the most passing touchdowns in the league, and even after a good showing against Atlanta, have allowed a top-12 quarterback finish in four of five games. As the home favorite in a game with a high over/under (53), Dalton is a solid start.
Andrew Luck is on pace for 784 passing attempts, which would crush the NFL record. That volume has done a lot to overcome Luck’s pitiful 9.1 yards per completion (ahead of only Nick Foles and Sam Bradford), boosting luck to QB12 on the year. While we usually want quarterbacks at home in games where they’re favored, I think Luck’s dependence on volume may render him the exception to the rule. He threw only 31 times and scored 11.4 fantasy points in Indy’s lone win. If the Colts aren’t playing from behind, 30 attempts picking up six yards per clip isn’t going to cut it. This week the Colts are slight underdogs to the Jets, but you have to hope Darnold & Co. are good enough to create the kind of game flow Luck needs. For what it’s worth, the Jets rank 6th in DVOA, but they haven’t really played anyone yet.
I would’ve dropped Wilson to the QB2 tier in just about any other match-up. But he has this match-up, against an Oakland pass rush that ranks dead last in sacks and QB hits. Wilson is still not running, Doug Baldwin still doesn’t appear healthy, and the offense still stinks. Despite it all, Wilson is still a QB1, at least for another week. With that said, he’s an unexciting QB1. I would easily start Winston ahead of him.
A shoulder injury and the Bucs’ general ineptitude covered the fact that Winston ended 2017 really strong. He averaged 317 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game from Week 12 to Week 17. As Ryan Fitzpatrick showed, the Buccaneers’ trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and DeSean Jackson can put up massive numbers in a hurry. As Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones showed, the Buccaneers are going to need to throw if they want to score. And as the Buccaneers’ defense has shown, they are going to need to score. Fortunately, Winston gets to make his first start of the season against a Falcons defense that’s hemorrhaging points to opposing passing games. Since Week 2, quarterbacks facing the Falcons have finished QB7, QB1, QB9, and QB5. I’m thinking QB3 would round it out nicely.
I love Baker every week, but I only like him as a streamer this week. The match-up is fine; at home against a Chargers defense that is supposed to be good but sits at 18th in DVOA and has allowed the 10th most fantasy points to opposing quarterback. Baker has been impressive for a rookie, and the 18-point outing last week against the Ravens shows he can beat a tough defense (although it did take overtime to get there). Still, he is a rookie. The turnovers (three interceptions, three fumbles in two starts) are both expected and problematic. Cleveland is also the underdog and this game has a low over/under, which is a red flag. I don’t think he’s a great option this week, but he’s a suitable one if you’re in need. Bonus points for the match-up against Tampa Bay next week, when he’ll be a strong option.
Philip Rivers (LAC): @ Cleveland
Derek Carr (OAK): vs. Seattle
Joe Flacco (BAL): @ Tennessee
Alex Smith (WAS): vs. Carolina
Mitch Trubisky (CHI): @ Miami
Blake Bortles (JAC): @ Dallas
Case Keenum (DEN): vs. Los Angeles Rams
Marcus Mariota (TEN): vs. Baltimore
Dak Prescott (DAL): vs. Jacksonville
Philip Rivers seems due for one of those four interception implosions that he’s good for every year. There’s no better spot than here. Coming off a big win, on the road, the West Coast Team Travelling East for a One O’clock Game thing, facing a defense that ranks first in the league in takeaways. Rivers might be fine — this is more gut call than anything, and if he can beat the Browns’ blitzes he could have a massive day — but I’m not excited to play him this week. If you’re one of those DFS people, sprinkle in a few Browns D/ST lineups.
The last time we saw Mitch Trubisky he threw for six touchdowns and scored 43 fantasy points, finishing as the top quarterback in Week 4. Maybe that was a sign of things to come. Maybe he’s settling into the new offense, in which case extra reps over the bye week can only help. But maybe, maaaaaybe, Tampa Bay’s secondary is just really bad. I’m going with the latter. Miami’s defense scares nobody, but we need to see it a second time from Trubisky before moving him anywhere higher than mid-range QB2.
Alex Smith, Blake Bortles, and Marcus Mariota were all so bad last week, and that was with favorable match-ups. It’s hard to trust any of them this week. At least Bortles knows how to turn garbage time into fantasy points. The Trashman completed just 33 of 61 passing attempts and threw four interceptions, but somehow still Macguyvered 20.4 fantasy points (QB11) in the most Blake Bortles performance of all time.
If you’re in a pinch, Sam Darnold is the best bet to do something good on Sunday. That doesn’t make him a *good* bet to do something good. Indianapolis’s defense is sneakily mediocre (aka, my life strategy), including the third-most sacks on the season. Protecting Darnold has been a major problem for the Jets so far. Still, the Jets are at home and have a decent implied team total (23.75). Just don’t fool yourself into thinking Sunday’s 18-point, three-touchdown game was a turning point for Darnold. He had just 10 completions and under 200 yards.
It’s nearly impossible for a quarterback to score a rushing touchdown and fail to hit double-digit fantasy points, so congratulations to Josh Allen for pulling this off in Week 5. Best of luck against J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.