Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 10 (2019)
All season long in this space, I will rank the top-10 quarterbacks for each 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:
It felt good to nail Wilson as the week’s QB1, while the others delivered on their matchup potential. However, as mentioned last week, I include the players who posted top-10 performances that I did not call in my projections and list them in parentheses so we can see which players took the place of quarterbacks I missed on the previous week. Based on the players I projected last week, I produced a 50 percent success rate on my picks, which is a step back from the previous week’s 60 percent. Let’s take a moment to see where things did not go according to plan.
Few offenses were as hot as Green Bay heading into Week 9, but the Packers came up lame in a great spot against the Chargers. Rodgers completed 23 passes for just 161 yards and a single score as defensive end Joey Bosa wreaked havoc on Rodgers’ offensive line, and Los Angeles pounded the run to keep him off the field. Josh Allen didn’t play poorly, but the Bills are playing ball-control offense right now, which limited Allen to 160 yards passing and just 12 yards rushing last week. That said, his two touchdowns saved what would have been an otherwise poor statistical output. Gardner Minshew’s performance led to his benching in favor of Nick Foles this week. Philip Rivers looks washed, and he spent most of the day handing the ball off as the Chargers moved to establish the run more. Sam Darnold continues to flounder in the Jets’ sinking offense. I probably shouldn’t have doubted Lamar Jackson, even against an elite New England defense. San Francisco’s run-heavy offense and stifling defense made it rather hard to predict a Thursday Night Football breakout from Jimmy G against the Cardinals. We all know what Jameis Winston is now — the matchups moving forward are all great, but he’s just as likely to implode as explode. I bet the under on him in Seattle and lost. Fitzpatrick’s gun-slinging ways are capable of a top-10 showing given how Miami can’t run the ball and usually has to play from behind. Ryan Tannehill surprised with 331 yards and a score plus 38 yards rushing and another touchdown on the ground against what had been a formidable Carolina pass defense.
Key takeaways: Tannehill and Fitzpatrick have streaming appeal with the Titans’ signal-caller a strong candidate in two-quarterback leagues. Winston should be started every week as a top-10 play given the upside. We just have to accept the risks. Lamar Jackson continues to thrive in an offensive scheme built around his strengths, and he should also be considered a top play for the remainder of the season. The other misses are most likely just matchup plays.
On to Week 10…
10. Josh Allen (BUF) at Cleveland Browns
Josh Allen has produced low-end QB1 numbers through this matchup-friendly stretch, but he has yet to truly boom as the Bills emphasize the running game, and their defense keeps them in mostly positive game scripts. While the same will likely be true against Cleveland, the Browns do possess enough firepower on offense to put Buffalo in an earlier hole and force Allen to throw downfield and use his legs more. This is still a quarterback with four games over 90 yards rushing and 12 scores on the ground just a season and a half into his career. Cleveland ranks in the bottom half of the league in both passing and rushing defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. This week against Cleveland and next week against Miami represent Allen’s final two matchups that could be characterized as prime before a gauntlet of stout passing defenses.
9. Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) vs. Seattle Seahawks
This is the first time Jimmy Garoppolo makes an appearance on this list. Last week his defense showed some cracks, and the 49ers needed to rely on Jimmy G’s arm to win. Garoppolo responded with his best game of the season, completing 75 percent of his passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns. Seattle ranks 21st in passing defense DVOA, and they’re allowing 278.1 Yds/G to opposing passers, the fifth-highest rate in the league. With as well as Russell Wilson is playing right now, there’s a good chance that the Niners won’t be able to stifle the Seattle passing attack and control the clock with the run. In that case, they will be relying on Garoppolo to play like a franchise quarterback again. With Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle offering reliable targets, the return of left tackle Joe Staley, and pass-catching threats coming out of the backfield in Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida, you can expect Garoppolo to deliver another big performance in a Monday night showdown that promises fireworks.
8. Matt Ryan (ATL) at New Orleans Saints
Matt Ryan returns for a divisional matchup on the road. The Falcons have only won one game this year, but coming off the bye, Ryan should put together a better showing than what we saw against the Rams in Week 7 (16 completions for 159 yards and zero touchdowns). Before that clunker, Ryan had thrown for over 300 yards in all six of his first games and 15 total touchdowns. New Orleans plays solid defense (top-12 in passing defense DVOA and top-six overall), so the matchup is far from ideal. However, Ryan has historically been better in a dome than outdoors. The Falcons sent Mohamed Sanu to New England, but Ryan still has weapons in Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Austin Hooper. Atlanta’s offensive line has been under siege all season, effectively killing their run game and leaving Ryan to big hits. Expect Ryan to target Devonta Freeman on check-downs to keep drives alive if New Orleans forces everything in front of them, but the Falcons had two weeks to find a way to get Ridley, Hooper, and Jones open in Week 10.
7. Drew Brees (NO) vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are in a freefall right now, and now they go to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints. Brees returned to action last week to complete 34 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Coming off a bye week, it’s entirely possible that New Orleans jumps out to an early lead and lets Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara salt away the clock. Much of this depends on whether Matt Ryan plays for Atlanta. The game has a 51.5 over/under, so many expect it to be a high-scoring affair. If Ryan plays and excels in a dome as he usually does, the game should be closer, and Brees will be more likely to reach lofty expectations at home playing under a dome.
6. Matthew Stafford (DET) at Chicago Bears
The Lions can’t run the ball. The Lions have become quite effective at passing the ball. In Matthew Stafford’s last three games, he has thrown for over 340 yards in each (including over 400 yards last week) and ten touchdowns. As much as the Lions wanted to run the ball more under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, injuries have decimated their backfield, and the offensive line simply isn’t getting enough push off the ball. The Bears are a top-10 passing defense according to DVOA, and they have only given up eight touchdowns through the air this season. Stafford should have little trouble finding T.J. Hockenson against coverage liabilities in linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith, especially after Zach Ertz torched them for 9/103/1 last week. If the young tight end becomes the focal point, Chicago may roll coverage his way and free up perimeter monsters, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. The lack of an effective rushing attack necessitates the Lions find a way to keep Stafford upright and throwing all day to give the Lions a chance at winning, all of which makes a good recipe for fantasy success.
5. Russell Wilson (SEA) at San Francisco 49ers
Wilson had his best game of the season against the Buccaneers’ sieve of a passing defense last week, completing 29 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns. The Seahawks have not been able to run the ball with as much authority in recent weeks, and their offensive identity has shifted after losing safety valve Will Dissly and center Justin Britt for the year, just as offensive linemen Duane Brown and D.J. Fluker were returning after battling injuries of their own. Seattle added Josh Gordon to bolster a receiving corps led by Tyler Lockett and featuring the dominant-but-raw rookie D.K. Metcalf, a clear sign that the offense will start to run through Wilson again. The 49ers’ defense has emerged as one of the best in the league this year behind an improved pass rush and solid play in the secondary, but a similar quarterback (Kyler Murray) completed 70 percent of his passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns last week while adding another 34 yards rushing, as well. Wilson is what Murray hopes to become one day, so expect Wilson to challenge San Francisco on a far more competitive level on Monday Night Football.
4. Jameis Winston (TB) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Winston continues to be a maddening start for fantasy owners, but the poor decision making that has defined his career isn’t something that will be fixed, even with head coach Bruce Arians at the helm. That being said, Wintson has never been surrounded by more talented weapons in his career than he is right now. He has thrown multiple touchdowns and topped 300 yards passing in five of his last six games, and the Cardinals present a highly exploitable matchup. Arizona allows 287.1 Yds/G to opposing quarterbacks, and the 24 touchdowns permitted through the air leads the league. This game has legitimate shootout potential.
3. Patrick Mahomes (KC) at Tennessee Titans
Arguably the game’s most talented quarterback, Mahomes should make his return this week against the Titans. The matchup isn’t ideal, as Tennessee fields a top-12 defense in terms of overall defensive DVOA. However, much of that ranking stems from their strength against the run. The Titans sit at just 20th in the league in passing defense DVOA, and they just lost starting cornerback Malcolm Butler for the season. Mahomes has feasted on much stronger units. With Tyreek Hill healthy, plus Travis Kelce and other weapons in the passing game at his disposal, Mahomes looks poised to announce his return in striking fashion. Consider that Mahomes has yet to play a full game with Hill out wide this season.
2. Kyler Murray (ARI) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Murray looked impressive against a stout 49ers defense last Thursday, posting a passer rating of 130.7, his highest rating of the season. Much of his success can be attributed to an 88-yard touchdown to Andy Isabella that should have been a 38-yard gain had it not been for atrocious angles taken by DBs Richard Sherman and Jimmie Ward. Regardless, Murray continues to develop chemistry with his cast of young receivers, and he should have both Kenyan Drake and David Johnson available as outlets out of the backfield. The Buccaneers are nowhere near the defense San Francisco fields, as they allow 293.5 Yds/G to opponents, the second-highest mark in football, while their run defense permits a league-low 78.1 Yds/G on the ground and a paltry 3.1 Yds/A. Tampa is the definition of a pass funnel defense, and Murray should be able to carve them up.
1. Lamar Jackson (BAL) at Cincinnati Bengals
Lesson learned. Jackson dismantled what had been statistically the best defense in football last week (New England). It will be nearly impossible to not rank him inside the top-five for the remainder of the season, regardless of matchup. Baltimore offensive coordinator Greg Roman has done a masterful job tailoring an offense around Jackson’s game, funneling most his passes inside the numbers where his lack of accuracy is mitigated, and designing runs and screens to capitalize on his elite traits as a runner. Jackson ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 163 yards and another score against defending Super Bowl winners in New England. The Bengals are in the running for the first overall pick in next year’s draft and possess the third-worst passing defense DVOA. You do the math here.