In the aftermath of last week's wicked reintroduction to bye weeks, owners were forced to deal with the absence of players from a whopping six teams. Fortunately, this week's bye week challenge is comparatively tame. Only the Raiders and Dolphins will be unavailable from the Week 5 schedule, and that should not affect your preparations at the QB position. However, the information in this column definitely should. As always, the top 25 signal callers will be ranked, with updated information regarding this week's QB1s. All of which will be followed by this week's best and worst matchups, including viable options for deeper leagues.
Top 25 Rankings
1. Andrew Luck vs Ravens
Many Luck owners have vaulted to the top of their league standings as a result of his exceptional numbers during the past four weeks. He leads the NFL in yardage (1,305) yardage per game (326) and TDs 13, and will keep the yardage flowing against a Baltimore pass defense that is beatable at CB (beyond Jimmy Smith). The Ravens rank just 24th, while yielding 260 YPG.
2. Philip Rivers vs. Jets
Since Week 1, he has averaged 306 YPG, and has amassed eight TDs. That includes the season high 377 yards and three scoring throws that he generated against the Jaguars in Week 4. He will benefit from another favorable matchup this week by scorching the Jets.
3. Drew Brees vs. Buccaneers
Brees assembled a cluster of fantasy points after the Saints trailed 31-3 in Dallas, and saved what was shaping up to be a woefully deficient outing. He is among three QBs that have exceeded 1,200 yards, and is one of just three to attain a 300 YPG average. He could easily surpass those numbers when he lines up against a Tampa Bay's pass defense that has surrendered eight TDs.
4. Peyton Manning vs. Cardinals
After three games in 2013, Manning led the NFL in yardage (1,143) and TDs (12). While his production this season has not been disappointing, it lags behind last year's results. Manning headed into his bye with eight TDs, which was second to Luck, and was also sixth in yardage (814). He will return to face a fifth ranked Arizona pass defense that will present a challenge for the 16-year veteran.
5. Aaron Rodgers vs. Vikings
Those four TDs against Chicago, expanded his season total to nine, and represented the kind of production that owners had been yearning for. While replicating that output on a short week might be problematic, he should deliver his third 300-yard performance of the year, along with multiple TDs.
6. Matthew Stafford vs. Bills
Stafford owners weren't expecting him to produce a rushing TD against the NFL's premiere run defense, but were undoubtedly hoping that he would approach 300 passing yards, while connecting on multiple TDs. He accomplished all of that against the Jets, is now averaging 294 YPG, and has generated five TDs. He should supply desirable numbers again this week by exploiting Buffalo’s 25th ranked pass defense.
7. Ben Roethlisberger at Jaguars
After generating 314 yards and three TDs against Tampa Bay in Week 4, Roethlisberger has amassed 300 yards twice this season, and has produced five TDs in his last two contests. That momentum should continue this week, as Jacksonville has surrendered 321 YPG through the air, which is 45 yards more than any other team. The Jaguars have also yielded a league worst 11 TDs, and will supply Roethlisberger with an opportunity to deliver an excellent outing for his owners.
8. Matt Ryan at Giants
Ryan trails only Luck with 1,263 yards, a 316 YPG, and 10 TDs, and is rewarding owners consistently for their confidence during the draft process. He is a must start, and will provide respectable results. But the resurgent Giant defense will limit him to under 250 yards, and two TDs.
9. Nick Foles vs.Rams
Eagle fans can hope that Lane Johnson’s return will bolster the offensive line significantly, as that unit’s struggles have squeezed a sizable degree of productivity from Philadelphia’s attack. The 49ers limited Foles to just 195 yards in Week 4, which was the first time that he failed to generate 300 yards this year. He was also his first game without a TD pass, and his first performance that did not include multiple INTs. Now he will face a St. Louis defense that was able to utilize an additional week of preparation for Chip Kelly's offense.
10. Jay Cutler at Panthers
He is tied for second with 10 TDs, has launched at least two in every contest, and has already surpassed 1,000 yards. He will now face Carolina, which is not the arduous task that it once appeared to be. The Panthers have already surrendered eight TDs through the air, after only allowing 17 throughout the entire 2013 regular season.
11. Tony Romo vs. Texans
After manufacturing only two TD passes in his first two contests, Romo has generated five in the past two weeks. Three of which occurred last Sunday Night, when he completed an impressive 76% of his passes, while accumulating 262 yards. While he has exhibited vast improvement since an underwhelming season debut, owners should not expect him to pass extensively. The Cowboys currently possess the NFL’s premiere rushing offense (165 YPG), and lead the league with 130 attempts.
12. Eli Manning vs. Falcons
The resilient Manning makes his debut in this season's top 12 after amassing an even 300 yards and five TDs in Week 4. His ascension will continue against an Atlanta pass defense that ranks 31st, and is permitting 276 YPG.
13. Colin Kaepernick vs. Chiefs
That perplexed look on Kaepernick’s face after his poor pass was returned for a TD by Malcolm Jenkins in Week 4 was eerily similar to the expression that has been visible on his owners far too often this season. He is now only 15th at his position with 912 yards, and his 228 YPG places him a woeful 21st. He has averaged 47 YPG on the ground, and 59 YPG in his last three contests. But his numbers will once again be modest in this matchup, against a resurgent pass defense that now ranks third.
14. Russell Wilson at Redskins
Seattle's offense will not be going airborne with extreme frequency any time soon, but Wilson has been adept at maximizing his opportunities when asked to pass. Even though 22 quarterbacks had attempted more passes than Wilson heading into his bye, yet his six TDs still placed him among all signal callers. Expect that efficiency to continue on Monday, when he faces a Washington defense that redefined helpless in Week 4.
15. Cam Newton at Bears
16. Andy Dalton at Patriots
17. Mike Glennon at Saints
18. Carson Palmer vs. Broncos
19. Blake Bortles vs. Steelers
20. Tom Brady vs. Bengals
21. Joe Flacco vs. Colts
22. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Cowboys
23. Alex Smith at 49ers
24. Brian Hoyer vs. Titans
25. Kyle Orton at Lions
Matthew Stafford vs. Bills
Buffalo defense has been stout versus the run, as just two teams are allowing fewer yards on the ground. However, opponents can achieve success by attacking the same unit through the air, as the Bills are yielding 266 YPG. They have attained that lowly ranking even though they have been presented with favorable matchups versus Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick in two of the first four contests this season. In their other two encounters, Jay Cutler torched them for 349 yards and two TDs in Week 1, while Philip Rivers amassed 256 yards and two scores in Week 3. Stafford should approach Cutler’s numbers, and at a minimum should garner his second 300-yard game this season.
Philip Rivers vs. Jets
The Jets' imposing run defense continues to lead the NFL, allowing an amazingly low 63 YPG. Conversely, they have been extremely susceptible to opposing QBs, having already allowed nine TDs through the air. Care to guess how the Charger offense will attack Gang Green? It will be important for Rivers to release the ball quickly, in order to avoid a ferocious pass rush that has already registered 14 sacks. But Mike McCoy will design an approach that enhances Rivers' chances to succeed against this very burnable secondary, and owners will reap the benefits.
Russell Wilson at Redskins
Wilson and the Seahawks will be well rested for their eastward journey to Washington, as opposed to their increasingly beleaguered opponents. The Redskin pass defense has been thoroughly dismantled while yielding 625 yards and seven TDs in the past two contests, as DeAngelo Hall's injury has exposed the inadequacies of his teammates within the secondary. While Wilson will not be asked to launch an endless aerial onslaught, he will produce multiple TDs in this encounter.
Matt Ryan at Giants
Ryan has been a source of high quality production, having exceeded 285 yards three times, and launching three TD passes in each if those contests. The lone time in which he did not attain those results occurred in Week 2 against Cincinnati, and this week's matchup will provide a similar challenge. The Giants defense have pilfered a league high seven passes, including seven in the past two contests. They also forced six Washington turnovers in Week 4, have already registered nine sacks and have permitted just four TDs. Owners should not expect Ryan to achieve mammoth results this week.
Colin Kaepernick vs. Chiefs
The fantasy points have not exactly been overflowing from the third fourth year pro, and he must now attempt to manufacture them against a Kansas City pass defense that just smothered Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady only managed 159 yards, threw two INTs, and could not locate the end zone. That performance lowered the Chiefs' YPG against the pass to 224 which is the NFL's third best average. They will make it difficult for Kaepernick to reach his 228 YPG in this encounter.
Tom Brady vs. Bengals
Brady is now just 28th among all signal callers with 211 YPG, and has plummeted from his traditional status as an unquestioned QB1. He has also been sacked seven times, while absorbing hits with greater frequency. That should combine with his disturbingly poor performance in Week 4 to concern owners heading into this daunting matchup. Cincinnati's fourth ranked pass defenders have allowed just two TDs, produced six sacks, and collected seven INTs in their first three games.