After an agonizing wait, you have finally consumed your first week of highly coveted NFL action, including the memorable debut of RGIII. And now you are strategizing your most effective rosters as we head into week two.
You have come to the right place for knowledge regarding your QB options, whether you were fortunate enough to have drafted one of the elite QBs, or if you chose to exercise patience, and selected your signal callers in the middle rounds. If you own any of the premier signal callers such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton, you are already starting them. But this column will still provide additional insight into their upcoming matchups. And if your QB options are not as straightforward, you will find facts and statistics to guide you toward the best decision.
The five QBs that will be discussed immediately below have the best matchups this week among those who merit consideration as a starter. It does not necessarily mean that they are the top five signal callers from a ranking standpoint, although that might actually be the case in certain weeks. With that, here are the five most enticing matchups, which are followed immediately by the top 20 rankings for week two.
5 BEST MATCHUPS
Robert Griffin III vs. St. Louis
RGIII completed his first eight passes, then ultimately threw for 320 yards and two TDs. Those were the second most passing yards ever for a QB in his NFL debut, and he looked like a seasoned pro in the process. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he collected another 42 yards on the ground. He should have gained even more confidence after delivering such a productive opening day performance, and is a force in fantasy even sooner than many observers believed that he would be. He should be in all lineups versus a Ram defense that surrendered more yardage through the air than any other unit in week one. They simply have too many deficiencies to neutralize Griffin’s ability as a passer and rusher.
Jay Cutler vs. Green Bay
The Packers allowed more passing yardage than any other team in 2011 (300 YPG), along with a whopping 29 TDs. Their inability to keep Alex Smith from carving them up with proficiency did nothing to suggest that their shortcomings in that area have even remotely improved. All of which bodes well for Cutler, whose reunion with Brandon Marshall was an enormous success. The same tandem that connected on 206 passes and 2,590 yards in 2007-2008, reconvened for nine passes, 119 yards and a TD against the Colts. Cutler’s owners will continue to benefit greatly from their ongoing connection, which will be supplemented with frequent targeting of RBs Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Chicago
When Cutler isn't busy escorting the Bears down the field against Green Bay, Rodgers should be slicing up Chicago’s shaky pass defenders in much the same manner. While the Bears remain one of the better defenses overall, they did allow Andrew Luck to amass 309 yards in his debut. That is consistent with the inadequacies that were displayed last season when they ranked just 28th in pass defense, while allowing 254 YPG. Rodgers burned them for 580 yards and eight TDs in their two encounters last season, and is 7-2 as a starter when these division rivals square off. His success should continue, as he disperses the ball to more weapons than Chicago can defend.
Cam Newton vs. New Orleans
And who is the only rookie QB to ever throw for more yardage than RGIII in his NFL debut? Newton. Which he accomplished last season (422 yards vs. Arizona). He certainly did not enjoy the same level of success in his opening game of 2012 although his 303 passing yards were respectable, given Carolina's complete lack of a rushing attack. But considering what RGIII was able to generate against the Saints, it is easy to envision Newton carving up the same unit, while simultaneously improving upon his disappointing numbers from week one. In two games against New Orleans during 2011, he threw for 382 yards and tossed three TD passes, while rushing for a total of 59 yards and a score. While those results will not overwhelm anyone, he should perform much better in the Panthers home debut.
Andrew Luck vs. Minnesota
Luck was forced to deal with the Bears in his NFL debut, but lines up against a far less daunting opponent this week. He first regular season matchup in Indianapolis will take place versus a Minnesota pass defense that appeared just as vulnerable against Blaine Gabbert last Sunday as they did in 2011. They permitted Gabbert to connect on 23 passes for a career best 260 yards and two TDs. And their struggles were eerily reminiscent of last season, when the Vikings surrendered an NFL worst 34 TD passes, and were also dead last with just eight INTs. Luck will deliver yardage, TDs and points to fantasy owners.
TOP 20 RANKINGS
1. Drew Brees (vs. Panthers)
Brees passed for 389 yards and five touchdowns in his last encounter with Carolina, and the Panthers
haven’t exactly undergone a major defensive transformation since that time.
2. Tom Brady (vs. Cardinals)
Arizona allowed just 153 yards and one TD to Russell Wilson in his NFL debut. But they will
surrender far more to Brady in his 161st career start.
3. Matt Ryan (vs. Broncos)
Ryan won’t have the benefit of performing against an injury hampered secondary. But the Falcons will
produce extremely well versus any defensive unit, because Dirk Koetter’s high octane offense is really
4. Jay Cutler (vs. Packers)
If Alex Smith can throw for 211 yards and two scores against the Packers, fantasy owners can hardly
contain themselves thinking about what numbers Cutler might produce.
5. Aaron Rodgers (vs. Bears)
His track record of success against the familiar division rival should provide an accurate forecast
toward how productive he will be on Thursday.
6. Robert Griffin III (vs. Rams)
Not a bad little NFL debut was it? Just imagine what RGIII is capable of against the league’s worst pass
7. Cam Newton (vs. Saints)
Navigating through the Saints defense will not be as challenging for Newton as his initial matchup
with a rejuvenated Tampa Bay unit turned out to be.
8. Peyton Manning (vs. Falcons)
That was a very familiar sight in Denver Sunday night, as he was masterful at running a fast paced
attack. If his return did not quite elevate him back to his previous spot among the league’s elite, it placed
him in the neighborhood.
9. Tony Romo (vs. Seahawks)
Despite his arsenal of potent weapons, Seattle's secondary will not be as charitable as the Giants'
injury ravaged unit was in week one.
10. Matthew Stafford (vs. 49ers)
Fantasy owners who utilized a late first round or early second round selection on Stafford were
understandably horrified by his three picks, which included two in the red zone. He did rebound by
throwing for a league best 355 yards, and leading the Lions’ game winning drive. Better days are coming.
Just not this week against San Francisco.
11. Eli Manning (vs. Buccaneers)
Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz will not be covered by the Tampa Bay CBs with the same precision
that the Cowboys’ corners exhibited. And for now, we’ll consider Cruz’s drops an aberration.
12. Matt Schaub (vs. Jaguars)
If only Schaub could line up against the Dolphins every week. The good news for owners, is that he has
thrown seven TDs with just one INT in his last four encounters with the Jags.
13. Philip Rivers (vs. Titans)
Has just enough weapons to generate sufficient production for his owners. When Ryan Mathews returns, the improved rushing attack will open up the passing game even further.
14. Andrew Luck (vs. Vikings)
Luck was forced to deal with the Bears in his NFL debut, but matches up against a far less daunting
opponent this week. The Vikings appeared just as vulnerable again Blaine Gabbert as they did last
15. Michael Vick (vs. Ravens)
DC Dick Jauron’s Cleveland defense forced Vick into four INTs and two fumbles. The harassment
will only intensify when he faces the Ravens, who allowed the fewest passing TDs in 2011. If Jeremy
Maclin is out, drop Vick down several more notches.
16. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Jets)
Fantasy owners can relax slightly, now that there is tangible evidence that Todd Haley’s offensive
strategy will still utilize a sizable percentage of passes. The lack of a dominant rusher will only enhance
Pitsburgh's emphasis on throwing the ball.
17. Joe Flacco (vs. Eagles)
Love how Flacco performed against Cincinnati. But it is best not to depend upon him when he matches
up with Philly’s formidable secondary, unless you are completely desperate.
18. Andy Dalton (vs. Browns)
Dalton was 2-0 versus the Browns in 2011, but was limited to a total of just 351 yards and 2 TDs.
However, the absence of Joe Haden changes the equation, and Dalton will combine with A. J.
Green to deliver much better numbers because of it.
19. Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Chiefs)
The loss of David Nelson hurts the Bills more than it might initially appear. But he should still have
a productive outing against a depleted and flawed Kansas City secondary. Short passes to C. J. Spiller
will also enhance his point total.
20. Josh Freeman (vs. Giants)
Anyone who witnessed the deficiencies within the Giants’ injury riddled secondary against Dallas,
knows that they remain extremely vulnerable for yet another week.