Even though six quarterbacks were unavailable in Week 9 as a results of their byes, nine other signal callers still generated over 300 yards through the air, led by Blake Bortles with 381. 16 quarterbacks also produced at least two touchdowns, with Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota leading the way with four each. The most unfortunate development during last week’s contests, was the ankle injury suffered by Ben Roethlisberger. As of this writing, the best case scenario for his return is Week 12, which is immediately after Pittsburgh's Week 11 bye. This situation is clearly inopportune for owners, who have already endured his four-week absence in Weeks 4-7. After this column was originally written, we also learned that Andrew Luck will be also sidelined for multiple weeks due to a lacerated kidney. The initial reports are estimating an absence of 2-6 weeks, which creates both a massive and unexpected challenge for his owners.
However, other options do exist. One enticing alternative can be Tony Romo. He continues to progress toward his long-awaited return, which still appears set for Week 11. If he currently remains available on your waiver wire, any Luck owners should strongly consider adding him before you finish reading this paragraph. As should anyone who is less than enthralled with their situation at quarterback, or is simply uneasy about their current starter’s schedule during the fantasy postseason.
The unwanted topic of bye weeks must now be addressed further, although the good news is that only two of them remain. Then it will no longer be necessary to discuss them or plan for them. The less favorable news, is that eight quarterbacks will still be impacted. You can find them listed directly below this paragraph. Including the four signal callers that will be out this week. The absence of Philip Rivers will create the most consternation, as owners cannot seamlessly replace the NFL leader in passing yardage (3,033), who is also tied for third with 19 touchdowns. Matt Ryan has been a predominantly low end QB1 throughout the season, which has been disappointing to those who expected more. But he still has been a consistent producer, who must be replaced. Meanwhile, Luck owners can hope that his return will occur closer to the two week side of the potential timetable.
Of course, there are 26 other signal callers that will be under center. These Week 10 quarterback rankings and matchups will help you determine who to employ in your lineups, and will include updates on where they rank in the most basic statistical categories. This helps owners avoid the sometimes dangerous tendency of overreacting to the latest results. Because that can obscure the reality of how effective your starters are actually performing. Enjoy this week’s games, and good luck to everyone.
Remaining Bye Weeks:
Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Josh McCown
Top 25 Rankings
1. Tom Brady at Giants
Brady and the Patriot offense have been essentially unstoppable while engaging in an unremitting assault against opposing defenses. While he did not quite maintain the level of production that he has attained throughout most of the season, he did amass 299 yards and two scores against Washington's undermanned pass defense. While his yardage total fell short of the 344 YPG average that he had achieved prior to the matchup, he still has accumulated the third most yards among all quarterbacks. Brady has also assembled at least two touchdowns in all eight of his games, and his 22 this season leads the NFL. Brady certainly does not require an excellent matchup in order to stockpile fantasy points, but he has one this week nonetheless. He will produce outstanding numbers against a Giant unit that ranks a feeble 31st against the pass.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. Lions
In 2014, the 11-year veteran delivered another exception season, including 10 games with multiple touchdowns, and eight with over 300 yards. But throughout much of 2015, injuries at the wide receiver position, and several formidable opponents, have conspired to keep his production below last year's standard. Primarily, in terms of yardage, as Rodgers entered Week 9 having manufactured 300 yards in just one contest. Fortunately, Rodgers rallied from an excruciating start to generate an impressive 369 yards and four touchdowns against a Carolina pass defense that entered the contest ranked seventh. Even with that output versus the Panthers, he is still just 17th overall with 1,937 yards for the season and is just 23rd with a 242 YPG average. That trails Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins among others. This week, his output should be among the weekly leaders, when the Packers line up against NFC North rival Detroit.
3. Andy Dalton vs. Texans
Owners were hoping that Dalton would rebound significantly in Week 9, following his worst performance of the season in Week 8. During that disappointing outing, he manufactured the second lowest yardage total of the season, one touchdown, and multiple interceptions for the first time this year. Which ignited conversation among analysts and owners that a massive meltdown was impending, similar to what we had grown accustomed to during his Dalton’s initial four seasons. That speculation should vanish after he connected on 21 of 27 throws for 234 yards and a trio of touchdowns to Tyler Eifert against Cleveland. He has now amassed multiple touchdowns in six of his eight contests, while constructing an excellent 18:4 TD/INT ratio. This week, Dalton will supply excellent numbers against a Houston pass defense that has surrendered 16 touchdowns.
4. Drew Brees at Redskins
Even a quarterback with the acumen of this future Hall of Famer would have difficulty replicating the 511 yard - 7 touchdown masterpiece that he delivered in Week 8. However, he still delivered high quality production against Tennessee in Week 9, by shredding the Titans for 389 yards and four touchdowns, including three through the air. Brees has thrown for over 300 yards in six of the eight contests in which he has played, including five of his last six. That has vaulted him into second among all quarterbacks with 2,763 yards for the season. He has also amassed 18 touchdowns, on the strength of the 10 that he has generated in the past two weeks. In his final matchup before the Week 11 bye, Brees should deftly exploit a Washington pass defense that has allowed multiple touchdowns in five of their last six contests.
5. Cam Newton at Titans
He entered Week 9 just 25th in passing yards among all quarterbacks, and 14th in passing touchdowns. But Newton was able to improve upon his season averages in both categories, while maintaining his weekly presence as a dynamic threat on the ground. He burned Green Bay for 297 yards through the air, which was his second highest total this season. He also accrued a season high three touchdowns, which was the second consecutive week in which he has produced more than one. Newton also ran for 57 yards and a touchdown, and now leads all signal callers with five scores on the ground. He should supply favorable numbers again this week, even though Tennessee’s numbers against the pass remain respectable.
6. Carson Palmer at Seahawks
Those of you who waited until the later rounds of your drafts to secure Palmer as your quarterback, have been provided with an exceptional return on your investment. He entered his Week 9 bye in a tie with Brady for the NFL lead with 20 touchdowns, after generating at multiple scores in six games, and accumulating at least three in four of those contests. He was also fourth with 2,386 yards, and fifth with a 298 YPG average, on the strength of five games in which he has surpassed 300 yards. With the opportunity to execute Bruce Arians' full throttle passing attack, Palmer should continue his torrid pace throughout most of the upcoming weeks. However, this will not be one of his prolific outings, as a matchup with the formidable Seahawk pass defense looms.
7. Blake Bortles at Ravens
Bortles has attained weekly consideration as a legitimate QB1 through a blend of his growth, the productive tandem of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, plus the mammoth number of opportunities that he is allotted to locate them. Those factors benefited owners last Sunday, as Bortles amassed a season high 381 yards against a Jet defense that was expected to be highly focused after being shredded by Carr for 33 yards and four touchdowns in Week 8. Bortles has now eclipsed the 300-yard mark in three of his last four contests, although anyone who plans to utilize him should also be prepared to endure interceptions. As he has now thrown 10 this season, including the two that he tossed in New York. However, his remaining schedule is extremely favorable, and Bortles could easily lead many owners to fantasy championships. He is a definite must start this week, versus a Baltimore pass defense that has been gouged repeatedly during the season.
8. Derek Carr vs. Vikings
The second-year signal caller has averaged 308 YPG, while assembling an impressive 11:1 TD/INT ratio in his last three games, after dissecting the Steelers for 301 yards and four scores in Week 9. He has cemented his status as a weekly QB1 by amassing over 300 yards in four contests, and generating multiple touchdowns in six. Carr has also produced at least three touchdowns four times, and is tied for third among all quarterbacks with 19 touchdowns for the season. His ongoing collaborations with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should keep him highly productive in upcoming weeks, even when the matchup isn’t necessarily favorable. That will be the case this week, when he contends with Minnesota’s sixth ranked pass defense.
9. Peyton Manning vs. Chiefs
Manning has assembled at least 26 touchdowns in each of the first 15 seasons that he has performed during his illustrious career, including 33+ in each of those years from 2009-2014, and 59 as recently as 2013. Which made his 7:11 TD/INT ratio entering Week 9 extremely difficult to fathom. Yet, Manning had regressed to that unfamiliar level of production in 2015. But he did amass multiple touchdowns for the first time since Week 3, by producing two during last Sunday’s encounter with Indianapolis. Manning’s viability as a starter will be matchup dependent for the remainder of the year, although he does have a favorable one this week. He generated a season high three touchdowns against Kansas City when they met in Week 2, and should locate Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders with sufficient frequency to deliver acceptable numbers during their rematch.
10. Jay Cutler vs. Rams
After 10 years of optimism that each new offensive system would boost Cutler’s chances for consistent success, only to watch the situation degenerate into yet another installment of disappointment and failed potential, one can make the argument that Adam Gase’s offense is finally the one that is most advantageous for Cutler. While he isn’t manufacturing astronomical results, Cutler is proficiently leading Chicago’s offense, supplying acceptable fantasy point totals, and providing owners with a viable starting option. He has now thrown for over 250 yards in four of his last five games, and multiple touchdowns in three of his last five. Injuries and disappointing output have created lineup concerns for many of you, which has allowed Cutler to reemerge as a reasonable alternative. If you choose to employ him against the Rams, remember that Chicago will be operating on a short week, and contending with a formidable defensive unit.
11. Eli Manning vs. Patriots
As Brees entered Week 9 facing the virtually impossible task of duplicating his epic production from Week 8’s matchup between the Saints and Giants, Manning was being confronted with a similar undertaking. While it was unlikely that he would deliver another six-touchdown performance, Manning owners could realistically anticipate excellent output during his favorable matchup with Tampa Bay. However, he only manufactured two scores against a Buccaneer unit that had already surrendered 17. He also managed just 212 yards, and has now failed to reach 215 in four of his last six games. Owners who are already planning the fantasy postseason, must determine whether Manning can be entrusted as a weekly starter. His mission this week could be daunting, as New England’s defensive game plan should be centered on neutralizing Manning’s essential weapon Odell Beckham Jr.
12. Ryan Tannehill at Eagles
After manufacturing 309 yards in Week 9 versus Tennessee, Tannehill has now reached 300 yards in two consecutive weeks. However, he also failed to generate a touchdown during both of those contests, resulting in a stagnant and unimpressive 13:9 TD/INT ratio for the year. He still has not exhibited the growth that many (including myself) were expecting this season, which has decreased the motivation to start him. Unless his matchup is outstanding, which is not the case this week. The opportunistic Eagles defense is tied for the NFL lead with 20 takeaways, and is not a favorable draw. However, several factors combine to keep Tannehill ranked in this slot. Even though Philadelphia can create problems for Tannehill, they are allowing the ninth most points to opposing quarterbacks (22.6). Plus, the bye week and injuries have depleted owners' options. And, other potential low end QB1s are either facing more daunting tasks - Marcus Mariota, Brian Hoyer, Tyrod Taylor, Matthew Stafford - or lack the weapons to fully exploit their favorable matchups - Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins. That propels Tannehill into this week's top 12. Albeit barely. He will provide supply reasonable output, but do not expect anything beyond 250 yards and two touchdowns.
13. Brian Hoyer at Bengals
14. Joe Flacco vs. Jaguars
15. Kirk Cousins vs. Saints
16. Landry Jones vs. Browns
17. Tyrod Taylor at Jets
18. Matthew Stafford at Packers
19. Sam Bradford vs. Dolphins
20. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Bills
21. Russell Wilson vs. Cardinals
22. Marcus Mariota vs. Panthers
23. Teddy Bridgewater at Raiders
24. Jameis Winston vs. Cowboys
25. Matt Cassel at Bucccaneers
Tom Brady at Giants
You obviously weren’t wavering on keeping Brady in your lineups. But here is additional justification for owners to eagerly anticipate his output this week. Only the Raiders have allowed more yardage through the air than the Giants, whose futility is best illustrated by the thorough scorching that Brees administered while accumulating the nearly unfathomable 511 yards and seven touchdowns in Week 8. Big Blue has allowed over 260 yards to seven of the nine quarterbacks that they have faced, while being gashed for over 300 in four of those contests. They have also yielded 17 touchdowns, and are permitting third most fantasy points to opposing signal callers (24.7 PPG). This unit is not capable of suddenly performing with more proficiency, and Brady owners will enjoy the results.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Lions
His four-touchdown performance in Week 9, and the three scores that were generated during his second half comeback, should help owners’ collective degree of optimism heading into this week’s matchup with Detroit. Rodgers has already assembled a glistening 22:5 TD/INT ratio during his career versus the Lions, and should build further on that impressive output this week. Detroit is yielding 24 PPG to opposing quarterbacks, which is the sixth most among all teams. They have already been gashed for sizable yardage total by Rivers (404), Cutler (353), Peyton Manning (324), Wilson (287), and even Bridgewater (316), who is averaging a meager 209 YPG overall. They have also permitted five of the eight signal callers that they have faced to produce multiple touchdowns, and have managed just four interceptions all season. Rodgers could easily generate season best numbers this week.
Blake Bortles at Ravens
Bortles will be given the opportunity to launch an aerial assault against an extremely vulnerable defensive unit this week, and it should lead to a sizable number of fantasy points for his owners. Since an impressive Week 1 performance against Peyton Manning, Baltimore’s pass defense has been extremely generous, which precipitated a decent to their dismal ranking of 29th against the pass. They have allowed the second highest number of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season (26 PPG), while being gashed for 16 touchdowns through the air. They yielded at least two in six of their eight contests, and surrendered three to Carr, Dalton, and Rivers in Weeks 2, 3, and 8. Baltimore’s highly challenged unit has also permitted over 300 yards in five different games, consisting of these specific totals: Carr – 351, Dalton – 383, Josh McCown – 457, Colin Kaepernick – 340, and Rivers – 301. Prepare to add Bortles to that growing list.
Carson Palmer at Seahawks
Here is further perspective on the exceptional numbers that Palmer has achieved during his initial eight games this season. He is on pace to easily surpass his current career highs in touchdowns (32), and passing yards (4,274). Palmer should assemble more high quality outings as the season progresses, providing that Arizona’s offensive line remains adept at keeping his pocket clean. That will enable him to continue locating Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd repeatedly. However, Palmer will not supply one of his most prolific outings on Sunday. Division rival Seattle’s second ranked pass defense is currently allowing 186 PPG, and has yielded just six touchdowns through the air. Only two teams have allowed fewer points to opposing quarterbacks, as the Seahawks have limited signal callers to just 17 PPG. They have only yielded 300 yards to one quarterback all season, and have surrendered multiple touchdowns twice. Palmer will encounter great difficulty exceeding Seattle’s season averages.
Jay Cutler vs. Rams
Cutler has not only benefitted from the installation of Gase’s offense, but has received a boost from the return of Alshon Jeffery in Week 7. He gashed the Chargers for 345 yards and two touchdowns in Week 9, which was the second time in his last three games that he has reached that yardage total. But it will be difficult to accomplish that again this week. The Rams currently rank sixth in both total defense and scoring defense, and are fifth against the pass. They have only yielded five touchdowns through the air, which is the fewest among all teams. Plus, their tenacious pass rush has generated 27 sacks, which is the NFL’s second highest total. And, they have collected 14 takeaways. If you have been platooning Cutler, this is a week to opt for your alternative signal caller.
Russell Wilson vs. Cardinals
Wilson will return from his Week 9 bye, and attempt to ignite a Seattle attack that ranks just 19th in total offense, with an anemic passing game that ranks just 28th. However, he will be facing a division rival that is equally rested after a bye, which should fortify what is already an imposing unit. Arizona’s defensive resume is excellent, starting with a ranking of third in total defense, as they are yielding just 313 YPG. The Cardinals also rank seventh in pass defense, while permitting 223 YPG. They are seventh in scoring defense (19.1 PPG), have collected a mammoth 17 takeaways, and are tied for the NFL lead with 13 interceptions. Owners should not expect Wilson to reach his current average of 235 YPG, and his dubious streak of games with just one touchdown pass will be extended to seven.