With 10 weeks of the 2015 regular season complete, there are familiar names among the league leaders in all passing categories, along with some new signal callers who have emerged as a result of their consistent output. We have also seen a statistical decline that has necessitated a regression in value for recognizable names such as Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford. One major consequence of these developments, is that many owners will be entrusting quarterbacks as their starters during the fantasy playoffs for the first time ever. Even though some of these signal callers didn’t begin the season on their rosters.
This is just another reason why it is extremely critical that you examine your Week 14-16 matchups. Now is the optimal time to determine if you have the quarterback that has a legitimate opportunity to provide a sizable number of fantasy points throughout the postseason. Blake Bortles owners should eagerly anticipate his upcoming encounters with the Colts, Falcons and Saints during that span. Ryan owners who are already disenchanted with his disappointing fantasy production, should decide if his two daunting matchups with Carolina in Weeks 14 and 16 create sufficient reason to search elsewhere for a more favorable option. And even though Derek Carr has been essentially matchup proof, his owners still must determine if they truly want to utilize him in Week 14 against Denver's top-ranked pass defense.
With that recommendation now firmly established, we will transfer our attention toward decisions that are specific to Week 11. Which brings us to the final installment of byes for 2015. While we are on the verge of eliminating that topic from this weekly discussion, anyone who has been dependent upon Drew Brees or Eli Manning, must endure a week without their services. After Ben Roethlisberger’s unexpected relief appearance in Week 10 matchup, his owners will be spared any anxiety that might otherwise have existed regarding his ability to recover quickly from the Week 9 ankle injury. Fortunately, there are a collection of viable alternatives for anyone whose regular starter is unavailable, or is facing an unfavorable matchup. These Week 11 quarterback rankings and matchups will help you determine who they are, and will include updates on where the signal callers 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.
Bye Week: Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Johnny Manziel
Top 25 Rankings
1. Tom Brady vs. Bills
One of the most consistent sections of this column has been the updates extolling the effectiveness of Brady on a weekly basis. His proficiency, his impressive accumulation of yardage, and his ongoing collection of touchdowns have all benefited his owners greatly, while elevating him into the league lead in passing yards (3,043) and touchdowns (24). His performance in Week 10 provided the latest installment in his weekly collection of fantasy points, as he dissected the Giants for 334 yards and two touchdowns. However, he also turned the ball over twice, and lost a vital weapon when Julian Edelman broke a bone in his foot. While that will create a challenge, it will not prohibit Brady from locating his receivers, regardless of who joins him in the lineup. Expect another high quality outing versus long-time rival Buffalo.
2. Carson Palmer vs. Bengals
One of the most intriguing matchups of Week 10 occurred in Seattle, as Palmer and Arizona’s fourth ranked passing attack faced the Seahawks’ second ranked pass defenders. The results were eye opening, as Palmer supplied one of this season's best quarterbacking performances. He dissected Seattle for 363 yards, which was the most yardage that the Seahawks have surrendered this season. He also produced three touchdowns, which matched the number that Seattle had yielded from Weeks 3-9. Palmer has now surpassed 300 yards in six contests, and thrown for multiple scores in seven. This week he will face a Bengal pass defense that has not surrendered multiple touchdowns since Week 3.
3. Philip Rivers vs. Chiefs
He has been forced to overcome a barrage of injuries to his offensive linemen, performed without Antonio Gates until Week 5, lost Stevie Johnson in Weeks 5-6, and now perseveres without primary weapon Keenan Allen. Yet, the 33-year old Rivers is second among all quarterbacks with 3,033 passing yards, and his 337 YPG average is the league’s second highest. He has also produced multiple touchdowns in seven of his nine games, while forging a 19:7 TD/INT ratio. It is logical to be concerned whether he can maintain his previous level of production without Allen. However, his 390 attempts lead the NFL, and he will continue to launch the ball with extreme frequency. He will supply respectable numbers this week, despite a challenging matchup versus an improving Kansas City pass defense. The Chiefs have forged a 4:11 TD/INT ratio in their last four games.
4. Cam Newton vs. Redskins
Newton amassed less than 220 yards through the air for the fifth time this season, when he manufactured 217 against Tennessee in Week 10. Of course, it is his exceptional duel threat ability that propels the Panther offense, and delivers fantasy points for his owners. After rushing for a touchdown against the Titans, he has scored six times on the ground this season. That not only leads all quarterbacks, but ties him for second among all players. The significance of that accomplishment cannot be emphasized enough. He has also assembled 366 yards on 82 attempts, which leads all signal callers in both categories. He should garner sizable opportunities to stockpile numbers as a runner in the upcoming weeks, including the highly coveted red zone touches. Newton should also deliver a highly productive outing this week, versus a Washington defense that ranks 21st in total defense, and allows 370 PPG.
5. Tony Romo at Dolphins
The 12-year veteran appears primed to return for his first snaps since a broken left collarbone sidelined him in Week 2. While owners should not be shocked if he isn’t 100% efficient after the protracted absence, he still possesses the acumen and weaponry to provide acceptable numbers upon his return. Romo amassed 356 yards and three touchdowns during his one complete game of the season in Week 1, while the Cowboys’ passing attack declined significantly during his absence. Brandon Weeden averaged just 186 YPG and managed only two touchdowns in four starts, while Matt Cassel averaged 202 YPG and produced just four scores in five contests. Romo will be facing a 20th ranked Miami pass defense that has only allowed one signal caller to reach 300 yards, but has surrendered 17 touchdowns.
6. Derek Carr at Lions
Carr entered Week 10 having generated an excellent 19:4 TD/INT ratio, while establishing himself as a consistently productive signal caller. He has supplied high quality results regardless of the strength of his opponent or the venue in which he is performing. But last Sunday, he encountered a stingy Minnesota pass defense that employed zone coverage to negate Oakland’s big play potential through the air. While Carr was able to produce two touchdowns, he also tossed two interceptions for the first time this season. Still, his 21 touchdowns tie him for third among all quarterbacks. He also generated over 300 yards for the third consecutive week, after assembling 301 against the Vikings. Carr should connect repeatedly with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree this week, versus Detroit’s 23rd ranked pass defense.
7. Blake Bortles vs. Titans
Bortles has joined Carr as a second year starter who has elevated into weekly QB1 status. That will not change, providing that he can take advantage of the extremely enticing matchups that exist throughout much of his remaining schedule. Unfortunately, he failed to fully capitalize on a prime opportunity in Week 10, when he only managed 188 yards against a Baltimore pass defense that entered the game surrendering 284 YPG. He did manufacture two touchdowns, has now produced multiple scores in seven games, and has also accomplished it in each of his last five. This week, he will face a Tennessee defense that has surrendered the fourth worst scoring percentage to opponents within the red zone, yet is ranked third in pass defense with a respectable 214 YPG average.
8. Aaron Rodgers at Vikings
After navigating through a treacherous two game stretch with matchups against the Broncos and Panthers, it was reasonable to expect Rogers and the Packer passing attack to torture Detroit's vulnerable defense in Week 10. While he ultimately produced 333 yards and two touchdowns, much of the yardage and both scores were generated in the fourth quarter. It was the second consecutive week in which he had to overcome an excruciating start to rescue owners from enduring extremely low numbers. However, the Week 9 struggles against Carolina are far more understandable than what occurred versus Detroit. Rodgers is now tied for third among all quarterbacks with 21 touchdowns for the season, although 13 of his peers have exceeded his yardage total (2,270). He will encounter a more daunting matchup this week, when he lines up against the eighth ranked pass defense of long-time rival Minnesota.
9. Andy Dalton at Cardinals
And there it was. The game that Dalton's detractors were waiting for throughout this season, as he transformed into a top tier quarterback. He finally delivered an ugly performance, which occurred on the enormous Monday Night stage. For some observers and owners, the memories of previous years returned to the forefront, as he displayed significant accuracy problems throughout the contest. As a result, he only manufactured a season low 196 yards, and also failed to produce a touchdown for the first time this season. It is wise not to overreact to just one game, as Dalton has helped his owners frequently this season. The more genuine issue is this week's matchup in Arizona. He will be facing the stout Cardinal defense on a short week. Decrease your expectations if you use him, or find an alternative that has a less formidable opponent.
10. Matt Ryan vs. Colts
Ryan was fourth among all quarterbacks with 2,702 yards for the season prior to his Week 10 bye. But he was also 17th with just 12 touchdowns, and still has not produced three touchdowns in a game this season. Which explains why a growing percentage of disenchanted owners that originally entrusted him with the starting slot on their rosters, have either relegated him to a matchup based platoon role, or have chosen to keep him affixed to their benches. Atlanta’s dearth of dependable receiving weapons beyond Julio Jones has also created escalating concerns. Still, Ryan’s appealing Week 11 matchup should not be dismissed. The Indianapolis pass defense has yielded multiple touchdowns to six different signal callers, while also allowing over 250 yards six times.
11. Marcus Mariota at Jaguars
After returning from a two game absence in Week 9, Mariota gashed the Saints’ highly deficient pass defense for a season high 371 yards and four touchdowns While that compelled many owners to start him in Week 10, it was unrealistic to expect the rookie to deliver impressive numbers against a sturdy Carolina unit that had was tied for the league lead with 13 interceptions, and was fourth with 25 sacks. The Panthers limited Mariota to 185 yards, and the rookie was unable to generate a touchdown. It was just the second time that he has failed to deliver a score during his seven games this season. He does not have an extensive collection of dangerous weapons, which keeps him matchup dependent. Still, he is fully capable of performing the role of QB1 when facing a defensive unit that struggles to defend the pass. That will be the case this week, when he lines up against Jacksonville’s vulnerable pass defense.
12. Russell Wilson vs. 49ers
Wilson returns to the top 12 temporarily, due in great part to the absence of Brees, Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Andrew Luck. Plus, he is being presented with a tremendous opportunity when San Francisco travels to CenturyLink Field. The Niners have been particularly vulnerable on the road, surrendering unsightly numbers in during their four contests outside of Levi Stadium. To date, they have been shredded for 369 yards and three touchdowns by Roethlisberger, 311 yards and two scores by Palmer, and a whopping 441 yards and three touchdowns by Eli Manning. The Seahawk defense should overwhelm the 49er offense, forcing a San Francisco defense that ranks an anemic 28th against the pass to remain on the field extensively. Wilson has undoubtedly been a disappointment this season. But if you are ever going to use him, this is the week to do so.
- Matthew Stafford vs. Raiders
- Ryan Tannehill vs. Cowboys
- Jay Cutler vs. Broncos
- Matt Hasselbeck at Falcons
- Mark Sanchez vs. Buccaneers
- T. J. Yates vs. Jets
- Ryan Fitzpatrick at Texans
- Jameis Winston at Eagles
- Alex Smith at Chargers
- Tyrod Taylor at Patriots
- Joe Flacco vs. Rams
- Kirk Cousins at Panthers
- Teddy Bridgewater vs. Packers
Derek Carr at Lions
Carr has assembled a 21:6 TD/INT ratio during his breakout season, and has accomplished by being largely unencumbered when facing imposing pass defenses, and remaining hugely effective against units that are not. The latter scenario will apply this week, as the Lions are yielding 24+ PPG to opposing quarterbacks, which is the sixth+ highest among all teams. They have already relinquished multiple touchdowns to Palmer, Rivers, Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, Bridgewater, and Rodgers. Detroit has also been gouged for over 400 yards by Rivers (404), and has been gashed for 300+ by Rodgers (333), Cutler (353), Peyton Manning (324) and Bridgewater (316). The Lions have also managed just four interceptions this season, which ties them for dead last in that category. Carr should maintain his season long success this week.
Marcus Mariota at Jaguars
This is the first of two encounters for Mariota against Tennessee’s division rival, which are sandwiched around Oakland to form a trilogy of highly favorable matchups. He has an excellent opportunity to begin that sequence of contests with high quality numbers, versus a Jaguar unit that ranks just 24th against the pass, and are allowing 264 YPG. They have yielded multiple touchdowns to Brady, Tannehill, Hoyer, and Fitzpatrick, and even surrendered a pair of scores to E. J. Manuel. Brady and Tannehill both generated over 350 yards against the Jacksonville, while Hoyer, Fitzpatrick, Manuel and Hasselbeck all amassed 270+. The Jaguars have only collected five interceptions, and will not provide sustainable resistance to Mariota during this contest.
Matthew Stafford vs. Raiders
There has been a proliferation of dysfunction and ineffectiveness both on and off the field with the Lions this season, and Stafford has underperformed at times during the process. His 15:12 TD-INT ratio is hardly inspiring. But that should not prohibit Stafford from assembling excellent numbers this week. Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie’s offseason decision to remain steadfast in his trust of highly deficient cornerbacks has enabled opposing quarterbacks to attain exceptional numbers. The Raiders have been shredded for over 330 yards by Flacco (384), McCown (341), Rivers (336) and Roethlisberger (334), and had yielded at least 265 to all eight of the nine signal callers that they had faced. Stafford owners can use him confidently during this matchup.
Jay Cutler vs. Broncos
Cutler continues to thrive in OC Adam Gase's offense, and has now constructed an 11:3 TD/INT ratio since Week 4. That includes the trio of touchdowns that he generated against a formidable St. Louis pass defense that had yielded only five scores all season before their Week 10 matchup. Cutler's task will be even more daunting this week, when he contends with Denver top ranked pass defense that allows the fewest fantasy points to enemy signal callers. The Bronco are permitting only 183 YPG, have allowed only two quarterbacks to generate multiple touchdowns through the air, and have yet to surrender 300 yards to anyone this season. Their relentless pass rush has accumulated an NFL best 32 sacks, and have pilfered multiple interceptions in four different contests. Cutler is an intriguing option in upcoming weeks, but should not be started during this encounter.
Andy Dalton vs. Cardinals
Dalton and the Bengals’ ranked passing attack will be travelling across country on a short week, in an attempt to rebound from an unsightly performance in Week 10. Once they arrive at University Of Phoenix Stadium, they will be confronted by a formidable Arizona unit that ranks third in total defense, and is sixth against the pass. They have not allowed a 300-yard passer since Brees accomplished that in Week 1, and have permitted multiple touchdowns through the air only three times. The Cardinals are also tied for the NFL lead with 14 interceptions, and are tied for fifth with 18 takeaways. Dalton’s TD/INT ratio of 9:3 during his previous four previous road games is certainly respectable. But he will be tested sizably during this matchup.
Kirk Cousins at Panthers
He has generated over 300 yards and in two of his last three games, while throwing eight touchdowns during that span. He also possesses his full arsenal of receiving weaponry, with which he overpowered New Orleans’ beleaguered pass defense for 324 yards and four scores in Week 10. What Cousins does not have is a favorable matchup this week. Carolina has delivered sizable difficulty to opposing passing attacks throughout most of the season, even though Luck and Rodgers both encountered second half success in their respective encounters during Weeks 8-9. The Panthers have permitted only 11 touchdowns through the air, and are tied for the league lead with 14 interceptions. They have yielded 300 yards to enemy signal callers in just two contests this season, and have permitted multiple touchdowns only three times. Expect them to constrain Cousins and the Redskin passing game on Sunday.