Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 11 (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:
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. Matthew Stafford is an interesting case here. I assumed he would play when I wrote my Primer last week, but his backup, Jeff Driskel, posted a fine performance by completing 27 passes for 269 yards, a touchdown, and 37 yards rushing. Would I have still added Driskel as a top-10 play if I had known Stafford would miss the game against Chicago? Probably not. Thus, I hit on 50% of my picks instead of 60% from last week. Jimmy Garoppolo’s stock took a hit when George Kittle was declared doubtful, and then out, late in the week. It sunk even further when Emmanuel Sanders was knocked out of the game early. I don’t think anyone saw Drew Brees and the Saints laying an egg against the reeling Atlanta Falcons, especially with New Orleans coming off a bye and two weeks to prepare for that game. It borders on unfathomable. Did anyone see Mitch Trubisky and Sam Darnold coming last week? If so, I need proof. I actually considered Daniel Jones over Matt Ryan briefly, but with no Evan Engram or Sterling Shepard, I balked. Jones had one of his best games of the year anyway in a nice matchup against the Jets. Prescott and Cousins were worthy plays, but I liked the matchups of Brees, Garoppolo, and even Stafford more.
On to Week 11…
10. Kyler Murray (ARI) at San Francisco 49ers
Against San Francisco on Halloween night, Murray completed 17 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. He posted a 130.7 passer rating and 70.8 completion percentage. It was arguably his finest game as a pro, and it happened against the best defense in football at the time. Granted, much of that production came on an 88-yard touchdown strike to Andy Isabella, where the receiver caught the defense off guard and benefitted from poor tackling angles, but Murray still did his job by getting the ball to his playmakers. Since that game, Christian Kirk has found his footing as the new number one in Arizona, and Isabella’s game-breaking speed has garnered an increase in snaps. Arizona has slowed down its tempo some, but they’re still running over 50 plays per game. With so many offensive skill players banged up in San Francisco, expect the Cardinals to get the ball back often and run enough plays for Murray to hit some big gains downfield to his speedy receivers. The Cardinals catch the 49ers coming off of a punishing loss that has left them bruised and battered, and the last thing that San Francisco needs right now is an exercise in conditioning to keep up with Murray and the fast-paced Arizona offense. It would not be surprising to see an upset in Santa Clara this week.
9. Tom Brady (NE) at Philadelphia Eagles
The best way to attack the Eagles is through the air. They rank as a middle-of-the-road passing defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, while mounting a top-10 rushing defense. The Patriots have not been able to establish a consistent rushing attack, and their trade for Mohamed Sanu and release of Josh Gordon indicated a need to fortify the short-to-intermediate passing game as the bread and butter on offense. The Patriots are playing stout defense and moving up and down the field with short, quick passes. The strategy should work well against a Philadelphia secondary in a “get-right” game after last week’s disappointing loss to Baltimore.
8. Josh Allen (BUF) at Miami Dolphins
This will likely be the last week you can feel comfortable using Josh Allen in fantasy this season. After this week’s contest against the hapless Dolphins, Allen draws Denver, Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and New England to close out the season, with all being top-10 passing defenses in terms of DVOA except Dallas (18th). In Allen’s last game against Miami, he only attempted 26 passes for 202 yards in a game that was never truly in doubt, but he was able to score two touchdowns and run for 32 yards. Miami has played a bit better since then, winning two of their last three games. Buffalo’s run defense has sprung some leaks, so Allen looks poised to better his stat line from Week 7 in what should be a more competitive game on the road.
7. Derek Carr (OAK) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Before last week’s 218 yard effort against the Chargers, Carr had thrown for over 280 yards and multiple scores in three straight games. The Bengals represent what should be the easiest matchup Carr draws all year. They’re dead last in passing defense DVOA, and they’re allowing a league-high 9.0 Yds/A to opposing quarterbacks, setting Carr up nicely to connect downfield with Tyrell Williams. The only risk here is that the Raiders build up a big enough lead that head coach Jon Gruden opts to take the air out of the football and run out the clock in the second half.
6. Jameis Winston (TB) vs. New Orleans Saints
Winston continues to be a turnover machine, but the production usually outweighs the interceptions and fumbles. He has thrown for over 300 yards in six of nine games, and he’s on pace for close to 5,000 yards passing for the season. The last time Winston faced New Orleans, Marshon Lattimore blanketed Mike Evans, and Winston completed only 15 passes for 204 yards and two scores. Lattimore is questionable to play this week with a hamstring injury, and the New Orleans defense has taken a few steps back since propping up the team in Drew Brees’ absence earlier this year. Add in the fact that this game will be played at home, away from a raucous Superdome crowd, and Winston’s stock rises considerably. Over the last two weeks, Winston has completed over 62% of his passes, so he’s set up for a big game in this divisional contest. It’s almost a given that Winston will turn the ball over, but he should be able to post top-10 numbers again this week.
5. Drew Brees (NO) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coming off a clunker in last week’s loss to Atlanta despite having a bye week to prepare, expect Brees and the Saints to be motivated to execute on the road against Tampa Bay. Alvin Kamara emerged from that game healthy after missing a few weeks with an ankle injury. It’s well-documented that Tampa Bay is the ultimate pass-funnel defense (1st in rushing defense DVOA but a lowly 21st in passing defense DVOA). They allow 298.9 Yds/G to opposing signal-callers, the highest mark in the entire league. Michael Thomas is on pace to set an NFL record for receptions this year, and Brees has a full complement of healthy weapons at his disposal. With the Saints likely struggling to run the ball with much success and the defense not playing as well as they did earlier in the season, Brees looks set up to thrive.
4. Deshaun Watson (HOU) at Baltimore Ravens
Watson takes on Baltimore in what might go down as one of the most exciting matchups of the year. Watson isn’t the prolific rusher that Lamar Jackson is, but he has still run for at least 30 yards in each of his last five games, and 40+ yards in three of those five games. The Texans transitioned to more of a quick-pass offense to offset their struggles along the offensive line, and it has allowed Watson to absorb just seven total sacks in his last five games. The Ravens have totaled just 16 sacks this season, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. There is also a chance that Watson gets downfield threat Will Fuller back for this game as well. It’s highly unlikely the Texans contain Lamar Jackson in this one, so Watson will most likely have to keep his foot on the pedal for Houston to have a chance at a road win.
3. Dak Prescott (DAL) at Detroit Lions
Prescott has been having a darkhorse MVP season, and the Lions give up 272.4 Yds/G to opposing passers, the fifth-highest mark in football. Prescott has a passer rating over 100.0 in each of his last three games, including three touchdowns in each of his last two. The Lions have accumulated just 19 sacks, the sixth-fewest in the NFL, so Prescott is unlikely to feel much pressure on the road this Sunday. With Amari Cooper balling, second-year wideout Michael Gallup healthy and on pace for over 1,000 yards, and Randall Cobb adding an extra possession element to the passing game, Prescott is set up to exploit Detroit’s weakness.
2. Patrick Mahomes (KC) at Los Angeles Chargers
Mahomes returned last week after a month-long absence and completed 36 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns. He’s even got a good matchup this week: the Chargers rank 21st in passing defense DVOA. They only allow 207.8 Yds/G to opposing signal-callers but an unbelievable 71.7 completion percentage, the second-highest rate in the league. It’s hard to envision how Los Angeles will contain Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Expect Mahomes to remind everyone what a league MVP looks like.
1. Lamar Jackson (BAL) vs. Houston Texans
Jackson has quickly become a cheat-code at the quarterback position. He has 21 total touchdowns and over 700 yards rushing through just nine games on top of over 2,000 yards passing. He already has two games with a perfect passer rating, and he hasn’t run for fewer than 60 yards since Week 3. The Texans allow 277.3 Yds/G and have given up 2,496 yards through the air. They have even permitted three touchdowns in four consecutive games heading into Week 9. Cornerback Bradley Roby is questionable to play, and Jackson averaged 13.1 Yds/A last week against Cincinnati with Marquise Brown back in the lineup.