Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 5 (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:
This was without question my worst week thus far with just a 50% success rate, though I suppose there is something to be said for being right no less than half the time during the first quarter of a season. Matt Ryan finally avoided throwing any picks, but he couldn’t find the end zone despite throwing for 397 yards. Deshaun Watson struggled to find anything downfield against Carolina’s coverage schemes as the Panthers limited him to a paltry 160 yards passing with no scores. Russell Wilson fell victim to handing it off to a rebounding Chris Carson as the Seahawks defense held Arizona’s “Air Raid” in check, reducing any need for Wilson to throw. Dak Prescott couldn’t get into a rhythm with Michael Gallup still out and Amari Cooper nursing a sprained ankle that allowed Marshon Lattimore to lock him down. Patrick Mahomes put up over 300 yards again, but the running game and defense took care of all the scoring in a 34-point effort. Worst of all, I faded Jameis Winston entirely in what I figured would be a tough road matchup for a highly inconsistent quarterback playing behind a suspect O-line against a defense that had chewed up and spit out the Cleveland Browns just a week prior.
With a less than stellar success rate in Week 4, I won’t even bother listing the virtues of the calls I made that were right. Sometimes, you just have to wear it, even when it looks bad. The NFL is notorious for occasionally making a mockery of even the soundest predictions, no matter how rooted in stats, context, and matchup advantage they might be. It’s a reminder to all of us that this is still a game played by humans that are capable of overcoming odds (or buckling under the pressure) and surprising us when we least expect it.
On to Week 5…
10) Russell Wilson vs Los Angeles Rams
Wilson is completing 73.3% of his passes, best in the league. The Rams feature a top-1o defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, but they’ve been slightly better against the run than the pass. Tyler Lockett‘s elite route running, DK Metcalf‘s field-stretching ability, and emerging red-zone weapon, Will Dissly (4 TDs in his last 3 games), give Wilson options to threaten every level of the defense. Backed by what should be a raucous home crowd, it’s possible Wilson can approach something similar to the multiple touchdown performance we saw with Jameis Winston in Week 4. Expect the team to feed bell-cow Chris Carson, but Wilson has been playing stellar football and should have the attempts in what figures to be a higher scoring game against a potent Rams offense.
9) Jared Goff @ Seattle Seahawks
Goff’s last games have featured a 13:14 TD:INT ratio with an additional 12 fumbles. His YPA average has dropped along with the touchdowns and yards. That being said, Goff threw for 517 yards last week against Tampa Bay, and he has at least two touchdowns in his last two games (though he’s also thrown at least two picks in each of the last two games as well). The Rams’ offense hasn’t been the same since Todd Gurley hasn’t been the same. Goff should attempt close to 40 passes in this game, and that should provide ample opportunity to rack up enough stats for a top-10 performance.
8) Jameis Winston @ New Orleans Saints
Week 4 may have been the week where Jameis Winston finally acclimated to Bruce Arians’ offense. He threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns against what looked like a difficult matchup on paper in the Rams on the road last week. Winston is surrounded by elite pass catchers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and OJ Howard. Ronald Jones has begun to give the running game life, taking some pressure off Winston. The Saints effectively shut down the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football last week, but the Cowboys were playing without Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper was nursing a sore ankle. The Saints defense has stepped up since Drew Brees went down, but they’re still allowing 279.2 yards per game through the air and a 100.2 quarterback rating to opposing passers through four weeks, tenth highest in football. Expect more bumps in the road – it’s still Jameis Winston, after all – but he’s becoming almost impossible to sit since you never know when he will erupt for 300+ yards and three or more scores like he has done in each of the last two weeks.
7) Carson Wentz vs New York Jets
Wentz seems to play with reckless abandon, and you can’t help but brace yourself every time he takes a hit, hoping you didn’t just lose him for the season. However, he has thrown for multiple scores in all but one of his first four games this season. The yardage totals have not been consistent (313 yards in Week 1 but only 160 yards last week), but a matchup with a Jets secondary allowing 286.7 YPA, the fifth-highest rate in football, should lead to a productive day. Philadelphia ranks ninth in Football Outsiders Adjusted Sack Rate (5.2%), a metric that rates sacks per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent. The Jets have just five sacks on the season thus far, the second-lowest total in football. Wentz should have ample time to throw and pick the Jets’ secondary apart this Sunday.
6) Tom Brady @ Washington Redskins
Brady probably won’t have much reason to throw in this one, as the Patriots should be able to build a comfortable lead and put it on cruise control after half-time. However, that should be enough to post top-10 numbers this week. Washington has given up 10 touchdown passes to opposing passers through four weeks, tied with Arizona for second-most in the NFL behind only Miami (12). It would be a surprise if Brady didn’t throw for multiple scores on the road this week, especially after Buffalo largely held New England’s offense in check during Week 4.
5) Kyler Murray @ Cincinnati Bengals
Murray has come back down to earth the last two weeks, throwing for 241 scoreless yards last week after tossing two picks and two scores with only 173 yards the week before after back-to-back 300-yard performances to begin his career. A road matchup with the Bengals’ middling defense should offer a get-right game for Murray this week. Cincinnati has given up eight touchdowns in the season’s first four weeks, and they allowed Mason Rudolph to complete 24 passes and two scores last week. Expect the Bengals’ offense to be better at home against Arizona’s barely-there defense than the listless performance they posted last week on the road in Pittsburgh, which should keep the Cardinals from just running the ball to kill the clock in a blow out as the Steelers did in Week 4. Last week’s 32 attempts were the first time all season Murray has attempted less than 40 passes in a game, and much of that can be attributed to Seattle controlling the clock for most of the game. This game in Cincinnati actually has some shootout potential.
4) Lamar Jackson @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Jackson continues to make hay with his legs (66 yards rushing last week after 46 yards and a touchdown the week before). He rebounded with 247 yards passing and three touchdowns last week, but he also threw two interceptions in a game the Ravens lost 40-25 to the division-rival Browns. Pittsburgh feasted on the Bengals’ O-line last week, sacking Andy Dalton eight times. They won’t be so lucky this week against a Baltimore line that ranks second in football in Adjusted Sack Rate (2.6%). Jackson’s rushing ability gives him a solid weekly floor, but he should not have too much trouble adding enough production through the air to post another big week. The Steelers are allowing an opposing passer rating of 100.8, the eighth highest rating in the NFL so far.
3) Matt Ryan @ Houston Texans
The Falcons do not have a great offense right now. Their offensive line is banged up, and their run game is barely functional. Those factors have led to Matt Ryan throwing for over 300 yards in every game this season. Last week was the first game he didn’t throw multiple touchdowns, as Tennessee took away Atlanta’s downfield passing game, forcing dump-offs to Devonta Freeman and Austin Hooper as they refused to get beat deep. Will Houston deploy the same tactic? Perhaps. It still didn’t stop Ryan from throwing for nearly 400 yards. Atlanta may very well be playing from behind on the road for much of this game, which should result in yet another 300+ yard day from Ryan, likely with a return to multiple touchdowns as well. Houston has only allowed five touchdowns this year, but in two of their four games, they faced Kyle Allen and Gardner Minshew.
2) Deshaun Watson vs Atlanta Falcons
Watson has alternated stellar outings with clunkers through four weeks thus far, with his last game resulting in a disappointing 160 scoreless yards. Had he not scored his third rushing touchdown of the season, it would have been an abysmal showing against a tough Carolina front seven that took away the deep passing game, forcing Watson to adjust and settle for shorter and intermediate throws. Predictably, the Texans’ offense stalled, but Atlanta’s defense is unlikely to dictate anything on Sunday. The Falcons have registered just five sacks through four weeks this season. In fact, this is a game where we likely see both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller go off after a rather slow start for both. If you can acquire either for less than what they cost on draft day, this might be your last chance to do it.
1) Patrick Mahomes vs Indianapolis Colts
Mahomes continues to carry this offense, and as one half of the game’s best offensive coach-quarterback duo with HC Andy Reid, he has thrown for over 300 yards in every game so far. Last week was the first one he didn’t throw for at least four touchdowns, as the Detroit Lions did an outstanding job of keeping Mahomes out of the end zone entirely. Not to be silenced, Mahomes ran for an uncharacteristic 54 yards, effectively producing the equivalent of a score in fantasy with his legs. The Indianapolis Colts rank 31st in football in Defensive DVOA, allowing a 113.0 rating to opposing passers (4th highest in the NFL). To put things in perspective, Indy allowed Derek Carr to complete 68% of his passes last week and two scores. Imagine what Mahomes can do this week.