Oct 3, 2011
::RANKINGS UPDATED AS OF OCTOBER 8, 2011::
We’ve reached the quarter pole of the fantasy season, and quarterbacks continue to dominate the headlines. Aaron Rodgers delivered a performance for the ages at Lambeau Field, and just down I-94E Cam Newton solidified his status as an every-week fantasy starter in Chicago. Eli Manning channeled his Super Bowl heroics in his return to Arizona, and Matthew Stafford saved the day for fantasy owners with a valiant fourth quarter effort. Tarvaris Jackson delivered the best fantasy performance of his career in Seattle, while former Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck continued to defy age and logic in Cleveland. Finally, Michael Vick used his good hand to set a new personal-best for passing yards in a disappointing loss to the 49ers.
Unfortunately, all was not sunshine and scoring in Fantasyland. We witnessed the inevitable statistical correction to several early-season overachievers (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rex Grossman, Jay Cutler), and Mark Sanchez’ performance in Baltimore was—in a word—negative. Ben Roethlisberger wrote a new chapter in his nightmarish season, Matt Schaub lost one of the game’s best weapons, and preseason darling Sam Bradford has just about earned a trip to the fantasy unemployment line.
With bye weeks officially upon us, let’s sort through the madness and break down our Week 5 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings.
Pass TD: 4 points | All Other TDs: 6 points
25 Passing Yards: 1 point | All Turnovers: -2 points
10 Rushing Yards: 1 point | 10 Receiving Yards: 1 point
1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) @ Atlanta
Already a consistent fantasy stud, Aaron Rodgers took it to a whole new level against the Broncos. After averaging 305 passing yards in his previous four games, including 11 touchdowns and just one interception, Rodgers carved up the Denver secondary for 408 passing yards and four touchdowns. As if that weren’t enough, he added another 36 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. Last week Atlanta’s struggling pass defense surrendered 319 yards and three scores to Tarvaris Jackson, and in last season’s playoff matchup Rodgers torched the dirty birds for 366 yards and four total touchdowns. Like most weeks, Rodgers is an excellent play.
Point Projection: 27 points
2. Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles) @ Buffalo
Michael Vick came into last week’s game with a chip on his shoulder, and despite another discouraging Eagles’ loss, he reeled off a career-high 416 passing yards (including two scores and one interception). Vick added 75 yards on the ground, and after consecutive early exits, the performance was without question the best-case scenario for Vick owners. Now healthy (enough), Vick’s reestablished himself as an every-week starter. No team has tallied more than Buffalo’s eight interceptions, but that’s where the positivity ends for the Bills. Tom Brady’s already torched them for 387 yards and four scores, and Jason Campbell and Andy Dalton each topped 300 total yards and accounted for multiple scores (including a rushing score for each). This matchup appears tailor-made for Vick.
Point Projection: 23 points
3. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) @ Carolina
Drew Brees averaged 353 yards and threw for three scores in each of his first three games this season, so while his 351 yards in Jacksonville were right on par, his one-touchdown, two-interception final box score was a bit of a downer. Only Tom Brady has thrown for more than Brees’ 1,410 yards through the first month of the season, and while Carolina rolls out an above-average pass defense, Brees should get back on track with multiple scores in his first divisional showdown against Cam Newton.
Point Projection: 22 points
4. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) vs. New York Jets
Shockingly, Tom Brady looked mortal last week against the Raiders. Brady threw for 11 scores and averaged over 442 passing yards through his first three games, so last week’s 226 yards and two scores looked like a halftime box score, and should be viewed as his fantasy floor. With Darrelle Revis limited in the opener, Tony Romo found plenty of success against the Jets, but they’ve since returned to their dominant form. Brady squared off three times against this same unit last season, totaling eight touchdowns, three interceptions and a 291-yard average. There’s no love lost between these two teams, and a motivated Brady will seek vengeance for last season’s home playoff loss.
Point Projection: 22 points
5. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) vs. New Orleans
Pop quiz: Cam Newton has now posted outings of 440 total yards with three scores, 485 total yards with two scores, 185 total yards with one score and 409 total yards with three scores. Which performance doesn’t belong? (Hint: it’s the one that was played in a torrential downpour.) Newton continues to annihilate all of our preconceptions about rookie quarterbacks. His 1,386 passing yards are a rookie record through four games, he’s averaging over 33 yards on the ground and he’s scored four times with his legs as the Panthers’ goal line back. Both Aaron Rodgers and Matt Schaub eclipsed 300 yards and threw for three touchdowns against the Saints, so one way or another, the freakish rookie should do the same as Carolina tries to keep pace on the scoreboard.
Point Projection: 22 points
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6. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) vs. Chicago
Never count Matthew Stafford out. Just when it appeared that the Lions (and fantasy owners) were headed for certain defeat, Stafford found Calvin Johnson for a pair of scintillating fourth quarter touchdowns. Stafford’s now thrown for multiple scores in all four games, and despite his season-low 240 yards Sunday, he’s still averaging over 300 yards per contest. On paper, Chicago’s been extremely generous to opposing quarterbacks, but they’ve faced a slate of top-tier signal callers (Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton). Stafford belongs in that conversation, and Brees, Rodgers and Newton have all accounted for three scores in the past three weeks. Continue to stick with Stafford.
Point Projection: 21 points
7. Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) @ Denver
While Philip Rivers has topped 300 yards in three of four games this season, he’s still not producing the high-level fantasy numbers to be expected for his draft position. On the season he’s managed just five scores, and his six interceptions are nearly halfway to last year’s season total. While he’s unlikely to get Antonio Gates back this week, Rivers is still in line for his biggest box score yet. In the past three weeks Andy Dalton and Matt Hasselbeck have both topped 300 yards and thrown two scores against the Broncos, and last week Aaron Rodgers topped 400 and accounted for six touchdowns. Even if Champ Bailey returns, he’ll be less than 100 percent. This is the week that Rivers owners should get paid.
Point Projection: 20 points
8. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) vs. Green Bay
Matt Ryan was all over the board through his first three games, so his uneventful 291 yards and a score last week in Seattle against a suspect secondary was a bit sobering for fantasy owners expecting a splash. This week he gets a home matchup with the Packers in prime time, and no defense has been more charitable to opposing quarterbacks than Green Bay. They’ve allowed multiple scores to every quarterback they’ve faced, and in a game sure to feature a lot of scoring, Ryan should atone for his subpar performance against the Packers in last season’s playoff loss.
Point Projection: 19 points
9. Eli Manning (New York Giants) vs. Seattle
Last week Eli Manning was tremendously ordinary through three and one-half quarters, but his two late touchdown throws saved the day for fantasy owners. Manning’s 321 yards marked his highest total in his last 11 games, and he’s now tallied eight touchdowns against just one interception in his last three outings. Seattle’s secondary has made huge strides from last season, and in the past three weeks they’ve held similarly-ranked quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Kevin Kolb and Matt Ryan each under 300 yards with just one touchdown a piece. Still, when Manning’s rolling he has the ability to overcome a tough matchup.
Point Projection: 18 points
10. Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) vs. Oakland
Just when Matt Schaub was really starting to heat up, he lost Andre Johnson for the foreseeable future. However, the first half injury crippled Schaub’s fantasy day. After throwing for 373 yards and three scores two weeks ago in New Orleans, he managed just 138 and a touchdown against Pittsburgh Sunday. Despite holding Tom Brady in check last week, Oakland’s allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in three straight games. It’s a very nice matchup, but it’s hard to recommend Schaub without his fantasy lifeline.
11. Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo Bills) vs. Philadelphia
Just when we thought Ryan Fitzpatrick had ascended to QB1 territory, he came up lame against a beatable Cincinnati pass defense. After throwing for multiple touchdowns in each of his first three games and averaging over 280 yards, Fitzpatrick mustered just 199 scoreless yards in Buffalo’s first loss of the season. No team has allowed more than the 10 passing touchdowns ceded by Philadelphia’s high profile secondary, and all 10 have come in the last three weeks (Matt Ryan and Eli Manning each threw four, and on Sunday Alex Smith threw two). There’s a decent opportunity for Fitzpatrick and the Bills to right the ship at home against the shockingly susceptible Eagles.
Point Projection: 16 points
12. Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) @ New England
After a blazing start to the season, Mark Sanchez went to Baltimore and imploded. Assuming your league docks points for turnovers, you’d have been better served starting Mark Brunell than Mark Sanchez. The third-year pro threw for just 119 yards, no touchdowns, and his four turnovers resulted in negative fantasy points. Fortunately, he’ll have a golden opportunity to redeem himself this week against New England’s No. 31 fantasy pass defense. Sanchez threw for three scores in two of his three matchups with the Patriots last year, so while forgetting about Sunday night’s stinker is impossible, expect Sanchez to beg for fantasy forgiveness in Foxboro.
Point Projection: 16 points
13. Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) @ San Francisco
At this point Josh Freeman has pretty much locked himself in between 225-275 passing yards each week, with a touchdown and the possibility of a bonus rushing score. San Francisco’s allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in three of four games, and last week Michael Vick had no problem picking up chunks of yards both on the ground and through the air. Freeman should be a safe play against a 49ers secondary that is prone to the big play. If you own Freeman, feel confident about plugging him into your Week 5 lineup.
Point Projection: 16 points
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