Week 10 did not have the usual number of QBs generating over 300 yards. Nor did we see as many signal callers produce at least three TDs. Josh McCown was easily the most surprising member of the foursome who exceeded 300 yards, which also included Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Ben Roethlisberger. Also, only four QBs managed to throw three 3+ TDs, although Rodgers and Manning combined for 11 on their own.
Now we must focus our attention on Week 11, as we inch ever closer to the fantasy postseason. Those of you who own Andrew Luck, Tom Brady or Philip Rivers will now have them available once again. And even though the reviled byes will conclude after Week 12, that does not help Tony Romo owners who will be faced with using another option this week. As will anyone who was considering Joe Flacco or Michael Vick in deeper leagues. Fortunately, the information in this week’s rankings will help anyone who is searching for an alternative starter regardless of the reason. It also contains detailed analysis of the QB1s, followed by this week’s best and worst matchups.
Top 25 Rankings
1. Andrew Luck vs. Patriots
One of the constants throughout a season that has been bursting with surprises has been Luck's name occupying the leadership position in the primary passing categories. That remained the case entering his bye, as he was the NFL's only 3,000-yard passer (3,085), had thrown more TD passes than any other QB (26), and also topped the league with a 343 YPG average. Luck is currently on pace to establish a new single season yardage mark, and has thrown at least three TD passes in seven of his nine contests. His exceptional production should continue this week, versus a New England unit that plummeted from second to 14th against the pass, after yielding 438 yards to Manning in Week 9.
2. Peyton Manning at Rams
Since joining the Broncos, Manning has now shredded Oakland's perennially burnable pass defenders for 1,628 yards and 16 TDs in just five different matchups. That includes the 340 yards and five TDs that he amassed in Week 10, after recovering from a surprisingly slow start. He has now seized the league lead in passing TDs from the idle Luck by expanding his season total to 29. He has also accumulated 2,912 yards, which is the NFL’s second highest total. His latest ongoing assault against opposing defenses will how shift to the Rams, who do not possess the personnel to suppress Manning and his collection of relentlessly dangerous weapons.
3. Aaron Rodgers vs. Eagles
Rodgers returned from his Week 9 bye and immediately resumed his ongoing success against the Bears by lighting up Green Bay's division rival for six first half TDs. He has now amassed 31 TDs with just eight INTs during 14 career contests with Chicago, which is the most impressive ratio that he has achieved among all teams that he has faced. Rodgers trails only Luck and Manning with 25 TDs for the season, despite the fact that 19 other QBs have made more attempts. He should that amount during this week's matchup versus a Philadelphia defense that can be very opportunistic, but has yielded 19 TDs through the air.
4. Tom Brady at Colts
Some fortunate owners (like myself) were able to snatch Brady from the waiver wire after he averaged just 198 YPG, and generated four TDs during his first four contests. Since that time, he has erupted for 1,601 yards (320 YPG), yards and 18 TDs in his last five games, while eliminating all conversation regarding his supposedly diminished skill. His recent surge has vaulted him to fifth among his peers in passing yardage (2,392), and his 22 TDs tied him for third in that category. His enormous momentum will continue against a 27th ranked Colt pass defense that has performed reasonably well in some contests, but did allow the record setting 522 yards and six TDs to Roethlisberger in Week 8.
5. Drees Brees vs. Bengals
The 49ers set up the game winning FG by forcing Brees to fumble in Week 10, but their third ranked pass defense could not keep Brees from generating 292 yards and three TDs during their matchup. The 14-year veteran has now produced multiple TD passes in eight straight contests – including his goal line dive in Week 9 – while also amassing at least 290 yards in seven consecutive games. He should preserve both recent streaks during this week’s encounter with Cincinnati, as the free falling Bengals now rank just 27th in total defense, and have surrendered over 360 total yards to the Browns and Jaguars in their last two outings.
6. Philip Rivers vs. Raiders
Owners who rode the crest during Rivers' wave of highly productive outings earlier this season have been forced to persevere in recent weeks as his numbers bottomed out. From Weeks 2-6 Rivers averaged 304 YPG, and manufactured 14 TDs. But since that time his YPG average dropped to just 198, as he only managed five TDs, and tossed six INTs. Owners can take solace in the sizable success that he attained against Oakland in Week 6, when he generated 313 yards and three scores. And he will return from his bye to face the same Raider defense that is forced to remain on the field far too often, due to the perpetual struggles of the Oakland offense. They were just torched for 340 yards and five TDs by Manning in Week 10, and Rivers should provide excellent numbers against them this week.
7. Matthew Stafford at Cardinals
After being reunited with a truly functional Calvin Johnson for the first time since Week 3, Stafford was able to create late game magic in Week 10, while fortifying his owners' scoring totals in the process. Stafford generated 280 yards against Miami's second ranked pass defense, which he accomplished by utilizing Johnson extensively (seven passes for 113 yards), while also continuing to employ Golden Tate repeatedly (11 passes for 109 yards). That enabled Stafford to attain 280 yards for the third consecutive game, after averaging only 239 YPG from Weeks 4-7. He has also produced multiple TDs in three straight games, after manufacturing two against the Dolphins. While his overall numbers remain far short of exceptional, and his TD to INT ratio is still just 13/8, he should continue to supply start-worthy output against Arizona's 30th ranked pass defense.
8. Ben Roethlisberger at Titans
After Roethlisberger shredded the Colts and Ravens for 12 TDs and 862, he soared into second among all QBs in yardage for the season, and third in TDs. While completely replicating that level of production would be unlikely regardless of the circumstances, a matchup with the Jet secondary was expected to boost his chances for a sizable output. Somewhat shockingly, Gang Green's pass defense that had allowed the most TDs of any team managed to limit Roethlisberger’s output to just one. And that was collected with only 1:16 remaining in the contest. That 80-yard connection with Martavis Bryant boosted his yardage total to 346, in what had otherwise been a disappointing outing. Still, another enticing matchup awaits this week, as Tennessee's pass defenders will not be able to contain Pittsburgh's explosive trio of wideouts.
9. Jay Cutler vs. Vikings
Cutler's propensity for turnovers continued in Week 10, much to the horror of his owners. Eight of his 10 INTs have been generated during Chicago’s last six games, and are of particular concern in leagues that deduct points for each wrongdoing. His history with the Packers is especially sobering, as Cutler’s 21 career INTs are by far the most that he has accumulated against any NFL franchise. That now includes the four that he has tossed in both of their encounters this season. He has also produced just 14 TDs in 11 games versus Green Bay, and must immediately prepare for another NFC North rival. The Vikings' fourth ranked pass defense has already generated 30 sacks, and will be focused upon extending Cutler's recent miserly.
10. Matt Ryan at Panthers
Even though he generated a franchise record 448 yards in Week 1, and torched opponents for 310 YPG and 10 TDs from Weeks 1-4, an increasing number of Ryan owners had benched him during his significant statistical regression in Weeks 5-8 (261 YPG, five TDs). And some trepidation remained, concerning whether he could be a trustworthy starter in Week 10, despite the fact that he would line up against a Tampa Bay pass defense that he had already shredded in Week 3. Those who did place their faith in Ryan were supplied with modest numbers that hardly resembled his previous encounter with the Buccaneers. He barely exceeded 200 yards (219), manufactured one TD, and has now failed to produce multiple TDs in four of his last five contests. Despite all recent disappointment, he maintains his occupancy among the top 12 due to his prolific history against the Panthers’ defense, which is struggling mightily this season.
11. Colin Kaepernick at Giants
His exceptional potential as a duel threat fantasy point producer keeps him within the ongoing discussion of low end QB1s. But even when he is presented with a favorable matchup, he has often disappointed. He always has the capacity of delivering highlight reel passes or eye opening forays through defenders on the ground. And he can also deliver favorable performances, as he did in Week 6 when he shredded the Rams for a season high 343 yards and three TDs. He will have that chance when he lines up against the Giants this week. New York has now plummeted to a ranking of 25th versus the pass, and is yielding 260 YPG. If you are searching for a starting option, he has been bestowed with an opportunity to deliver for you.
12. Cam Newton vs. Falcons
Newton’s situation is extremely similar to Kaepernick’s in that he possesses the capability of taking over a game, yet often supplies inconsistent or simply underwhelming performances. Giving some responsibility to his offensive line is appropriate, but Newton is also accountable for his own shortcomings this season, and for his substandard production. He has only tossed 10 TD passes, which become even more unsightly next to his eight INTs. And his 233 YPG average is hardly exceptional. Plus, he has exceeded 41 yards on the ground just once all season. Still, in a week in which other low end QB1 candidates are facing unfavorable matchups, Newton’s encounter with the NFL’s worst pass defense should not be ignored. The Falcons have surrendered 281 YPG, and supply Newton owners with legitimate hope.
13. Mark Sanchez vs. Packers
14. Ryan Tannehill vs. Bills
15. Russell Wilson at Chiefs
16. Robert Griffin III vs. Buccaneers
17. Kyle Orton at Dolphins
18. Alex Smith vs. Seahawks
19. Brian Hoyer vs. Texans
21. Eli Manning vs. 49ers
22. Josh McCown at Redskins
23. Andy Dalton at Saints
24. Teddy Bridgewater at Bears
25. Zach Mettenberger vs. Steelers
Matthew Stafford at Cardinals
Stafford has only surpassed 300 yards twice this season, but has an excellent opportunity to accomplish that again this week. Arizona had been dead last versus the pass before a Week 11 matchup with the Rams' substandard aerial attack enabled then to rise slightly from that dubious distinction. But they still rank a lowly 30th, and have surrendered 274 YPG. And even though the Cardinals did pick off Austin Davis twice in Week 10, their shortcomings against opposing signal callers have been massive throughout the entire season The Cardinals have garnered 14 INTs, but had only managed eight sacks in their first eight contests, before manufacturing six in their matchup with St. Louis. Since Arizona’s stellar rush defense is only permitting under 79 YPG, the Lions will be reliant upon Stafford to attack through the air, which will only bolster his chances of delivering the aforementioned 300 yards.
Matt Ryan at Panthers
After achieving only moderate success last Sunday in Tampa, his viability as a QB1 remains a topic of debate. Yet, he is undeniably the recipient of an excellent matchup, and it will occur against a franchise in which has assembled repeated success. Ryan’s 20 TD passes when facing the Panthers exceeds his career total versus any other team during his career (20). And there is legitimate reason to believe that he will encounter success again, as Carolina has frequently been scorched defensively this season, while building unsightly yardage and TD totals. The Panthers are a lowly 25th in total defense, while allowing 377 YPG. Their 23rd ranked pass defense has surrendered 254 YPG, along with 21 TDs. They have also surrendered 28 PPG, with five of their last eight opponents assembling at least 37, while seven have scored 24+. Any owner who does not possess an outstanding option at QB can still consider Ryan for this appealing matchup.
Cam Newton vs. Falcons
Even though Newton accrued enough late game yardage to exceed 300 yards in Week 10, it was the first time that he had reach that number this season. In fact he had failed to attain 200 yards in his previous two contests, and his production has been deficient too often this season. While Newton does not have the same numbers of dangerous weapons that can be found on some rosters, he does need to utilize what he has more efficiently, and they must make plays for him when he does. He will line up against a highly exploitable foe this week, which provides Newton with the chance to deliver far better numbers than he has during most of his previous matchups this year. Atlanta is dead last in pass defense, and has also yielded a mammoth 28 PPG. That number was constructed in part by a brutal stretch in which they permitted 30 PPG between Weeks 4-8. The Falcons have also encountered great difficulty generating a pass rush, and have collected only 11 sacks in nine games. Newton and the Panthers should be focused on dramatically improving their performance after a thorough embarrassment last Monday Night, and have the perfect opponent with which to bounce back.
Ryan Tannehill vs. Bills
Tannehill's production since Week 4 has elevated him into the QB1 landscape, as he has surpassed 275 yards in three of his last six contests, thrown at least two TDs four times during that span, and rushed for at least 47 yards in four straight games before running into Detroit during Week 10. However, this week's Thursday Night matchup will be daunting for both signal callers, and the Bills' imposing defense should suppress Miami's attack while keeping Tannehill from supplying a desirable output. Buffalo ranks sixth overall, and their 20 PPG average places them seventh. The Bills also have the NFL's seventh best pass defense, and are permitting 225 YPG. Their tenacious pass rush should also concern Tannehill owners, as their 34 sacks lead the league. Add the fact that they have generated the fourth most INTs (12), along with the quick turnaround for Miami's offense, and it is wise to look elsewhere for your starter.
Russell Wilson at Chiefs
Wilson currently resides just 25th among all signal callers with 1,841 yards for the season, is an almost unfathomable 31st with a 205 YPC average, and is tied for 19th with only 11 passing TDs. While there might be games in which he can provide more than just modest numbers, this is not the week to plan for it. Last Sunday, Kyle Orton became the first QB since Week 2 to exceed 205 yards against the stingy Chief pass defense, and this unit remains the NFL's best statistically, allowing just 205 YPG. They have also limited five of the last signal callers that they've faced to just one TD. Plus, KC's defense has also made scoring a laborious task, as only the Lions allow fewer points per game than the 17.3 that Kansas City is yielding. Wilson might boost his owners' scoring somewhat by generating yardage on the ground. But this will be an underwhelming week overall.
Kyle Orton at Dolphins
In his first four games with the Bills, Orton averaged 262 YPG and had already amassed nine TDs. Then in Week 10, he essentially attained his season yardage average by accumulating 259. However, he only managed one TD against Kansas City's top ranked pass defense, which abruptly concluded his streak of three games with at least two. This week, he must contend with another formidable unit, as gaining yardage against Miami presents a daunting task. The Dolphins currently rank fourth in total defense (310 YPG), are 10th versus the run (211 YPG) and are second against the pass (99 YPG). Even though they allowed Stafford and the Lions to complete a game winning drive against them in Week 10, they have still not allowed an opposing signal caller to generate 300 yards against them all season. Orton has value in deeper leagues during the upcoming weeks, but should be avoided in this matchup.