Throughout every regular season, we are reminded that no matter how extensively we examine the statistics, inspect the career splits, assess the extreme details of every matchup, and watch the performances that have occurred to that point of the season, we still are destined to witness surprising results every week.
That principle was in full effect once again in Week 2, as Philip Rivers manufactured 284 yards and three TDs against Seattle’s seemingly impenetrable pass defense, Kirk Cousins connected with Niles Paul on eight passes for 99 yards after they were thrust into Washington's lineup, and Jay Cutler exceeded the expectations of most observers by tossing four TD passes, and spearheading Chicago's impressive comeback in San Francisco.
Of course, many of the QBs delivered numbers that were much more aligned with what had been predicted, and the Week 3 version of this column will be designed to provide that same degree of accuracy. As always, this week’s rankings will be followed by the best and worst QB matchups. And those of you who play in 2QB and Superflex leagues will not be neglected.
Top 25 Rankings
1. Aaron Rodgers at Lions
He led all QBs with 346 yards in Week 2, and could surpass that total versus a Lion defense that surrendered 281 yards to Cam Newton last Sunday.
2. Drew Brees vs. Vikings
The 14- year veteran overcame an excruciatingly slow start to amass 237 yards and two TDs against Cleveland in Week 2. 27 of the 14- year veteran’s 39 TD passes were generated at home last season. This week will be his first opportunity to shred an opposing defense inside the Superdome, and he will deliver his best output so far this season.
3. Tom Brady vs. Raiders
Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie's third consecutive failure to craft a competitive NFL roster has enabled Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick to guide their respective offenses down the field with limited difficulty. Brady will expand upon their success with ease, and would top the rankings if not for the threat of a run oriented approach against Oakland's league worst rush defense, which is permitting an amazing 200 YPG.
4. Matthew Stafford vs. Packers
It will behoove Detroit to exploit Green Bay's 31st ranked run stoppers. But the offense will remain highly dependent on Stafford, who is third among all QBs with 637 yards, and has averaged 40 attempts per game.
5. Jay Cutler at Jets
Chicago can garner a road win by attacking the Jets' vulnerable secondary instead of challenging the NFL's top ranked run defense, and will rely heavily on Cutler.
6. Andrew Luck at Jaguars
He is still forced to overcome questionable play calling on too many occasions. But Luck possesses enough talent to rise above that challenge, and should have an excellent performance against a struggling Jaguar unit.
7. Matt Ryan vs. Buccaneers
Ryan's Week 2 output represented a precipitous plunge from his franchise record performance in Week 1, as Ryan accrued 231 yards, with just one TD and an unsightly three INTs. However, a return to the Georgia Dome should help him rebound significantly, providing that Roddy White’s hamstring does not preclude him from performing.
8. Peyton Manning at Seahawks
Philip Rivers adeptly executed an excellent game plan, and unveiled the fact that Seattle's defense is mortal after all. But expect a focused, inspired bounce back effort from the Seahawks at home, making it difficult for Manning to reach his season average of 256 YPG.
9. Cam Newton vs. Steelers
The script is unfolding much more favorably than it originally appeared during the offseason, as Newton's receiving weapons are arguably better than last season. He should connect with them regularly against a Steeler defense that has surrendered over 26 PPG.
10. Nick Foles vs. Redskins
Foles was not particularly sharp on Monday Night, and his 58.5% completion percentage is just 31st best among all QBs. Still, his 327 YPG average is the NFL’s second highest, and the weaponry within Philly’s relentless attack will help him amass impressive numbers in this week’s matchup.
11. Tony Romo at Rams
After two weeks, Romo is tied for 19th with an average of 229 YPG, and has managed just two TDs. Do not expect healthier numbers this week, against the league’s fifth ranked pass defense.
12. Colin Kaepernick at Cardinals
His abundant athleticism and mammoth playmaking ability are being undermined by his mistakes. His division rivals are well aware of these tendencies, and will be primed to force more miscues.
13. Philip Rivers at Bills
Considering what Rivers accomplished during San Diego’s impressive Week 2 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions, it is reasonable for owners to anticipate a productive outing in Buffalo. The Bills have generated six sacks, and won’t make it easy on Rivers. But they also rank 28th against the pass, while yielding 276 YPG to opposing passers.
14. Russell Wilson vs. Broncos
If you focus on his modest total of passing attempts, it can create hesitation. But he has produced two TDs in both of Seattle's contests to this point, and has not tossed an INT. Plus, he should be given the latitude to exploit Denver's 30th ranked pass defense (301 YPG).
15. Andy Dalton vs. Titans
A.J. Green has been a mainstay in Cincy's lineup, making his sudden departure a massive obstacle for Dalton. But inventive OC Hue Jackson will help Dalton, by creatively employing the Bengals' other weapons into their aerial attack.
16. Kirk Cousins at Eagles
It is doubtful that he can supply owners with viability as a QB1, but can produce adequately for anyone in deeper leagues.
17. Ben Roethlisberger at Panthers
There will be games in which you can confidently use him as your QB1. But this week's encounter with the forbidding front seven of Carolina certainly is not one of them.
18. Joe Flacco at Browns
19. Ryan Tannehill vs. Chiefs
20. Alex Smith at Dolphins
21. Geno Smith. vs. Bears
22. Jake Locker vs. Bengals
23. Josh McCown vs. Falcons
24. Eli Manning vs. Texans
25. Ryan Fitzpatrick at Giants
Tom Brady vs. Raiders
Despite having the most cap space of any team during the offseason, Reggie McKenzie has somehow constructed the worst roster in football. The disparity in talent between both teams should allow owners to receive the best numbers that Brady will deliver this season. The degree to which New England opts to run the ball at Oakland's 32nd ranked unit will be the primary factor in determining his output.
Andrew Luck at Jaguars
Jacksonville’s anemic offense is dead last in total offense (227 YPG), which has created an additional burden upon the overworked Jaguar defense. That scenario will continue, paving the way for Luck to accrue yardage through the air and on the ground.
Cam Newton vs. Steelers
The script is unfolding much more favorably than it originally appeared during the offseason, as Newton's receiving weapons are better than last year's stable of options. He should connect with them regularly against a Steeler team that has been outscored 50-9 over the past six quarters, in great part due to a defense that has not been capable of generating turnovers or sacks.
Peyton Manning at Seahawks
Rivers adeptly executed an excellent game plan, and unveiled the fact that Seattle's defense is mortal after all. But expect a focused, inspired bounce back effort from the Seahawks at home, which will build a low ceiling above Manning's production.
Ben Roethlisberger at Panthers
In Week 2, Carolina sacked Matthew Stafford four times, held him to less than 300 yards, and only yielded one scoring pass. They currently rank fifth overall, are second in points allowed (10.5 PPG), and have accumulated seven sacks. There is no shred of a silver lining for Roethlisberger owners to cling to, and he should be anchored to all benches this week.
Tony Romo at Rams
St. Louis is permitting just 173 YPG through the air, has limited both opposing QBs that they have faced this season to less than 180 yards, and has only allowed two passing TDs. Even though neither Matt Cassel or Josh McCown possess Romo’s proficiency, the Rams are very capable of restricting Romo’s output when they line up inside the Edward Jones Dome.