Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 4 (2019)
All season long in this space, I will rank the top-10 quarterbacks for each given week based on a variety of factors. The primary consideration will always be the true talent and ability of the signal-caller. Other circumstances such as the scheduled matchup, surrounding talent, offensive line play, and advanced metrics are then weighed in to produce a weekly ranking.
Before we proceed, let’s review how last week went among the ten quarterbacks I ranked as the most likely to finish as the top overall fantasy producers at the position:
That’s a 70% success rate, marking an improvement from two straight 60% weeks. First, let’s add some context. Lamar Jackson threw for 267 yards with no interceptions and ran for another 46 with a rushing score, but that’s not quite a strong enough fantasy performance to qualify as a “Win,” given I had him ranked as the third most likely to finish the week as the top overall quarterback scorer. I wasn’t as high on Allen, but his interception mitigated his lone touchdown to some degree, and while he also ran for over 40 yards, the 243 yards through the air was rather pedestrian. Kyler Murray is probably up for debate. He met most league’s projections on the heels of 69 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but the low passing yardage total (173 yards) and two interceptions depressed what could have been a much bigger day. Depending on how many points your league penalizes for an INT, Murray could be considered a miss for me last week.
On to the Week 4 QB1 Primer…
10. Aaron Rodgers vs Philadelphia Eagles
Thursday Night Football matchups are always challenging for fantasy purposes. It’s not uncommon on a short week to see more run-heavy approaches from teams. Offensive coaches have less time to plan and install the passing attack game-plan. Since their defense is forced to play on a quick turnaround, running the ball more also keeps your defenders from having to spend more time on the field, as well. However, Philadelphia must win this game to avoid falling to 1-4. The Eagles are allowing 293.7 yards per game through the air, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL. At home in Green Bay, Rodgers should have little difficulty hitting Davante Adams at will and connecting with Marquez-Valdes Scantling deep. In what should be a highly competitive game, look for Rodgers to finish with a solid final line as Philadelphia arguably plays for its season (a 1-4 start could doom playoff hopes in a loaded NFC).
9. Matt Ryan vs Tennessee Titans
As good as Ryan has been, the Titans defense has been exceptional against the pass so far this year, allowing just 189.7 yards per game and a paltry 6.6 YPA. Despite that, Ryan has yet to throw for under 300 yards with multiple scores in a game thus far. The 8:6 TD:INT ratio is certainly concerning, but playing at home in a dome should give Ryan more of an edge. The Falcons have struggled to establish the run thus far (74.3 yards per game with just a 4.1 YPC average), meaning Ryan will have to keep airing it out to give Atlanta a chance to win.
8. Matthew Stafford vs Kansas City Chiefs
The Chief figure to put up points at home, so the Lions are going to have to throw to keep up. Expect them to try and establish the run in a tough road date with Kansas City at Arrowhead, but the Lions defense is unlikely to contain Patrick Mahomes and company. Stafford’s last two games have been somewhat disappointing, but Detroit had the benefit of not having to throw to keep themselves in the game. That won’t be the case on Sunday. Expect something closer to Stafford’s Week 1 performance, where he threw for over 40 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns.
7. Jared Goff vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Daniel Jones was able to shred Tampa Bay’s defense for 336 yards and two scores last week, imagine what HC Sean McVay can dial-up. The Rams offense hasn’t quite been the same without Todd Gurley dominating on the ground to set up the play-action, but the Rams have held their last two opponents to a combined 22 points. There is an admittedly lower floor here with Goff. It’s entirely possible that Jameis Winston goes full pumpkin in this one, and Goff won’t have to throw as much. However, the Buccaneers are only allowing 69.7 yards per game on the ground on a minuscule 3.0 YPC, making them a top-6 run defense in football through three weeks. Look for Los Angeles to maximize their opportunities through the air against Tamp Bay.
6. Deshaun Watson vs Carolina Panthers
Carolina has been good at limiting big plays (only one completion of 40+ yards allowed through three games), and they’ve limited opposing passers to 166.3 yards per game. So why the lofty ranking for Watson? The Panthers faced rookie Kyler Murray in Week 3 and an inconsistent Jameis Winston on Thursday Night Football in Week 2. In Week 1 against the Rams, Los Angles led the game through all four quarters, so Jared Goff had little need to keep challenging the Panthers through the air. Game script could easily derail projections for Watson, but Houston’s inability to stop the pass on defense (277.7 yards per game allowed ranks as the 10th highest in football) should allow Carolina to keep the pressure on even with backup quarterback Kyle Allen under center. On the road, Houston’s best chance at securing a victory is likely via Watson’s arm.
5. Lamar Jackson vs Cleveland Browns
Jackson predictably came back down to earth some in Week 3, though he was still highly productive. Cleveland actually poses the first real challenge after cakewalk matchups against the Miami, Arizona, and Kansas City defenses. The Browns rank as the 8th best defense, according to Football Outsiders DVOA. However, Jackson has taken strides as a passer since his rookie season last year, and his legs give him a solid floor even when he doesn’t attempt many passes. Playing from behind, Jackson attempted 43 passes in last week, completing barely over half of them. The Ravens were playing from behind, so they were forced to throw the ball downfield more often. The Browns’ offense has yet to gel this season, so expect Jackson to use his legs more to extend drives while the Ravens get back to their new identity as a team that beats you on the ground with volume and through the air with efficiency, a recipe that worked wonders in Weeks 1 and 2.
4. Dak Prescott @ New Orleans Saints
Prescott has been playing like an MVP through three weeks. However, interestingly enough, his numbers have steadily declined each week (yardage: 405, 269, 246; TDs: 4, 3, 2). Much of that can be attributed to Dallas getting Ezekiel Elliot back, but a matchup at the Superdome with New Orleans could be just the recipe Prescott needs. Dallas’ previous three opponents (Miami, Washington, and the New York Giants) hardly posed a challenge. The Saints on the road should be a different story, especially after what Russell Wilson was able to achieve against New Orleans last week. Saints DB Marshon Lattimore has continued his uneven play, allowing a league-high 341 yards receiving thus far, presenting Amari Cooper with a prime matchup. The absence of Michael Gallup limits Prescott’s upside somewhat, but the game script should keep him throwing the ball enough to post solid numbers.
3. Russell Wilson @ Arizona Cardinals
Wilson erupted for 406 yards passing, 51 yards rushing, and four total scores last week against New Orleans. Arizona ranks 22nd in defensive DVOA. The Cardinals are giving up an average of 286.3 yards per game via the air. Kyler Murray hopes one day to evolve into what Russell Wilson already is. Look for Wilson to post a big day on Sunday.
2. Philip Rivers @ Miami Dolphins
Let’s not overthink this. The Dolphins have become the premier matchup for just about every offensive skill position. They have allowed 59, 43, and 31 points in the last three weeks. They rank at the very bottom of the league in defensive DVOA and allow 291.3 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, including a league-high 10 touchdowns permitted. Rivers has the best chance of overtaking Patrick Mahomes for QB1 honors this week.
1. Patrick Mahomes @ Detroit Lions
It’s getting hard (and redundant) to keep singing the praises of Patrick Mahomes in Andy Reid’s offense. He has thrown for at least 370 yards and three touchdowns in every game so far this year. The Lions rank middle-of-the-road in as a team defense. Expect Mahomes to drop that ranking on Sunday.