Fantasy Football QB1 Primer: Week 9 (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:
From this point on, I’m going to 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 60% success rate, which is a marked improvement from the previous week’s total dud. However, there are a few caveats to consider.
One, Drew Brees was questionable to play last week, and I ranked Bridgewater as a HIT, assuming he would start. Had I known Brees would play, I would have listed him instead of Bridgewater as a top-10 play. I did not foresee Matt Schaub being able to step in and throw for 460 yards and a score against Seattle. The lesson here is that both Atlanta’s inability to establish the run and their weapons in the passing game provide a higher floor than most quarterbacks. Daniel Jones had a quality matchup against Detroit, but the game was still on the road, and Jones had not thrown multiple touchdowns since Week 3. In fact, coming into Week 8, Jones had a thrown seven interceptions and just four touchdowns in his last four starts. In great matchups, Jones has top-10 upside. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see another one until Weeks 14-15 (PHI and MIA).
Coming off his worst two-game stretch as a starter, Gardner Minshew threw three touchdowns for the first time in his career against the Jets, while Derek Carr threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns of his own as he took advantage of his best matchup to date. High winds in Buffalo deflated the downfield passing game for Josh Allen, while Russell Wilson only attempted 20 passes in an easy victory over Atlanta. Ryan Tannehill made me look foolish for trusting him, and Tom Brady wasn’t bad, but far from spectacular with 259 yards and two scores in a win over the Browns.
On to Week 9…
10. Sam Darnold (QB – NYJ) at Miami Dolphins
Darnold has not done much to justify this ranking, but the matchup is too enticing to pass up here. Receiver Robby Anderson has the seventh-best matchup in the league this week against Miami corner Ken Webster, according to PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart. Expect Darnold to take multiple deep shots to Anderson, especially when you consider that Miami has allowed an 18.1% success rate on passes of 20-plus yards (most), seven touchdowns (second-most), and a 118.5 passer rating (fourth), per PFF. Darnold should also have few problems hitting Jamison Crowder and Demaryius Thomas underneath with ease. Further bolstering Darnold’s stock is the chance that tight end Chris Herndon finally returns from a suspension and injury that has already cost him half of the season.
9. Derek Carr (QB – OAK) vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions have become a sieve in the secondary in recent weeks, allowing a league-high 289.7 yards through the air to opposing signal-callers, and they just sent Quandre Diggs to Seattle via trade. Tyrell Williams is finally healthy again, and Derek Carr has posted his two best fantasy outputs in the last two weeks, throwing for over 280 yards and multiple scores in both. Carr could not have a better matchup to make it three in a row.
8. Philip Rivers (QB – LAC) vs. Green Bay Packers
This might be a bold call given that Los Angeles fired offensive coordinate Ken Whisenhunt this week, and it’s unclear exactly how the offense will evolve moving forward. It’s likely the Chargers will want to establish the run more, as Melvin Gordon has yet to eclipse 32 rushing yards in any of the four games he has played since his return. That said, Green Bay is firing on all cylinders on offense right now, and there is a good possibility that the Chargers will spend most of the day playing from behind, forcing Rivers to take to the air once more. Green Bay’s defense has not been as consistent as it was to open the season, falling outside of the top-10 in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA. The Packers have only forced six three-and-outs in the last five weeks compared to forcing 10 in their first three games of the season. With Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and Mike Williams healthy, there is shootout potential in LA this week.
7. Gardner Minshew (QB – JAC) vs. Houston (in London)
Minshew’s play has made the impending return of Nick Foles rather controversial. Last week, Minshew carved up the Jets for 279 yards and three touchdowns. He has also carried the ball a minimum of eight times in each of the last two games, totaling 76 yards on the ground in his best Josh Allen impression. The Houston Texans are explosive enough on offense that Jacksonville will likely have to keep throwing the ball to stay competitive despite their desire to control the clock with Leonard Fournette. Houston’s defense is currently in shambles after losing star defender J.J. Watt for the season last week and shipping out Jadeveon Clowney via trade earlier in the season. It also helps that receivers D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook (assuming he plays) both have top-12 matchups against burnable corners Gareon Conley and Cornell Armstrong, according to PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart for this week.
6. Josh Allen (QB – BUF) vs. Washington Redskins
Allen’s performance was a letdown at home last week against what looked like the perfect pass-funnel defense in Philadelphia. However, 30+ mph winds kept Buffalo’s passing offense mostly grounded, and the Eagles are tough against the run. This week, Allen gets a Washington defense in the bottom-10 of Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA. Halfback Devin Singletary’s increased involvement in the passing game gives Allen another weapon to complement Cole Beasley’s ability underneath and John Brown’s skill stretching the field. The matchup, plus Allen’s ability as a runner (over 30 yards rushing in each of the last two games), puts him squarely in the mix for a top-10 finish this week. Buffalo’s offensive line has struggled through eight weeks, so Allen will likely have to use his legs to keep drives alive.
5. Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) at Los Angeles Chargers
Sadly for the Chargers, even their home games often feel like road games. This may be the case against the Packers this Sunday, as Aaron Rodgers draws a pass defense allowing a 103.1 passer rating (8th best in football) to opposing quarterbacks. Rodgers has posted an average passer rating of 143.6 in his last two games with eight touchdowns, no INTs, and 734 total yards. Settling into head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense, Rodgers has been on fire despite missing his best playmaker in Davante Adams. LaFleur’s utilization of tailbacks Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones on the field at the same time, with Jones sometimes taking the role of a slot receiver, has kept the offense fresh and unpredictable. The best part is that Davante Adams has returned to limited practices this week, and he might be available this weekend.
4. Dak Prescott (QB – DAL) at New York Giants
While the Giants continue to be a frisky opponent, there is always the chance that the Cowboys ride Ezekiel Elliott in a pivotal divisional tilt. However, with a healthy Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup back in the fold, Dak Prescott is primed for a big week. The Giants are allowing opposing signal-callers to average 264.4 yards per game. In his last two matchups against New York (Week 17 last year and Week 1 this year), Prescott has thrown for 792 yards and eight touchdowns. Prescott should have no problems picking on the Giants’ secondary with cornerbacks Deandre Baker and Grant Haley delivering two of the best matchups for wide receivers across the league this week, according to PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart.
3. Matthew Stafford (QB – DET) at Oakland Raiders
Stafford is currently a top-12 quarterback in fantasy thanks to four huge performances in Weeks 1, 4, 7, and 8. However, it’s notable that two of those performances have come in the last two weeks since star tailback Kerryon Johnson was lost to IR. In both of the last two games, Stafford has thrown for over 340 yards and at least three touchdowns. This week against Oakland actually marks the last great matchup for Stafford until he draws the Bucs in Week 15. Oakland is currently ranked 28th in Football Outsiders defensive DVOA, settling in as a bottom-five unit. If you have been streaming Stafford to help you through the bye weeks, he should be able to deliver one more big performance.
2. Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU) at Jacksonville Jaguars (in London)
Watson has thrown ten touchdowns in his last four games and 1,293 yards through the air (an average of 323 yards/game). No quarterback is as hot as Watson right now, and he gets the Jaguars on neutral ground across the pond. Jacksonville has only allowed 504 total yards in the last two weeks, but they played two anemic offenses in the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins. The Jags still pose a tough matchup, but Watson is getting it done through the air and with his legs these days, making him matchup-proof.
1. Russell Wilson (QB – SEA) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The recipe here sets Wilson up for a huge week. Tampa Bay has the best defense against the run in football (3.0 yards/attempt and 68.6 yards/game, both league-low totals), but they are a pass-funnel for opposing quarterbacks. Wilson hasn’t quite been able to replicate the same highs that he had when Will Dissly was still in the lineup, but after watching Matt Schaub grease his rusty arm to throw for over 400 yards against Seattle’s defense, it’s safe to assume head coach Bruce Arians will force Wilson to keep taking to the air if the Seahawks want to win. With center Justin Britt now lost for the season, Seattle’s run blocking took a big hit, and it likely falls on Wilson to carry the offense again. However, this ranking does not come without risk. It’s entirely possible that Jameis Winston continues to throw picks, causing the Seahawks to capitalize with an early (and sizable) lead. If so, Seattle will still pound the rock against a tough front, if only to kill the clock.