After four weeks of the regular season, we have witnessed consistent excellence by a collection of quarterbacks, including four who have combined for a mind-boggling 56 years of NFL experience. 33-year-old Philip Rivers has ascended to the top among his peers in passing yards, which is a category that 38-year-old Tom Brady had led prior to his bye. 35-year old Carson Palmer is second in touchdowns, and fourth in yardage. And the performance by 36-year old Drew Brees in Week 4, demonstrated that reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Their efforts remind us of just how important the truly gifted quarterbacks are, in terms of talent, leadership, and possession of the intangibles necessary to guide their teams down the field. Particularly when it matters most. The absence of any signal caller who is among the league’s best can have a devastating impact on his team, as was evident with Pittsburgh after the loss of Ben Roethlisberger. Even an extraordinary talent like Antonio Brown can have his opportunities decline considerably, and play callers can make questionable decisions, once the signal caller who had been trusted implicitly is no longer available.
That perspective leads us to Week 5, where another bye week firmly occupies a portion of the weekly planning process. Four quarterbacks will be unavailable for use in your lineups. This affects those of you who have enjoyed watching Cam Newton accumulate 1,004 total yards and nine touchdowns, but must now search elsewhere for your starter. Ryan Tannehill owners will be spared the question of whether to use him this week, while they hope that adjustments will be made to boost his chances for success in upcoming weeks. And any of you in deeper leagues who have utilized Ryan Fitzpatrick and Teddy Bridgewater, must also pinpoint another option. But for every owner who is entrenched in their decision making process, these Week 5 rankings and matchups are designed for you. Enjoy this week’s games, and good luck to everyone.
Week 5 Byes: Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Top 25 Rankings
1. Tom Brady at Cowboys
With Brady's bye week securely in the proverbial rear view mirror, owners can resume the process of locking him into lineups, and watching the proliferation of fantasy points. In his first three games Brady generated an NFL best 1,112 yards, and his 371 YPG average still leads all signal callers. He also amassed nine touchdowns, which is the league’s third highest total, and has managed to avoid any interceptions. He should deliver one of the week's most productive outings in Dallas, versus a Cowboy pass defense that has yielded a combined 644 and four touchdowns to Matt Ryan and Drew Brees in their last two matchups.
2. Carson Palmer at Lions
Palmer entered Week 4 with nine touchdowns, but maintaining that level of success against the St. Louis defense proved to be a difficult task. The Rams entered the contest having yielded just two scores through the air, and decelerated Palmer’s impressive touchdown pace by limiting him to just one during their matchup. It was the first time this season that Palmer failed to produce multiple touchdowns, although he did generate 352 yards. That improved his season-long total to 1,155, which places him fourth overall. He was also sacked four times, but has still only absorbed five for the season. This week’s encounter with the shell-shocked Lions will present fewer concerns for Palmer, even though Detroit did perform more effectively in Week 4.
3. Matt Ryan vs. Redskins
Ryan owners normally will not be confronted with the prospects of a recessed floor, providing that Julio Jones remains in the lineup. Ryan’s primary target entered Week 4 as the NFL leader in receiving yards, targets and receptions, and the tandem’s success has helped Ryan attain the league’s second highest yardage among quarterbacks (1,202). However, they only connected four times for 38 yards against the Texans, as the Falcon rushing attack pounded Houston for 135 yards and three scores on the ground. The efficient Ryan did manufacture 184 yards by locating Leonard Hankerson and Devonta Freeman, as Atlanta’s fourth-ranked offense continues to excel under OC Kyle Shanahan. Expect Ryan to approach 300 yards against a Washington secondary that just allowed 270 yards and three touchdowns to Sam Bradford in Week 4.
4. Peyton Manning at Raiders
Manning could not generate a second consecutive 300-yard game in Week 4, nor could he produce multiple touchdowns for a third straight week, as Minnesota’s 12th ranked pass defense limited him to just 213 yards, and one score. He was also intercepted twice by the Vikings, to accentuate his worst numbers since Week 1. But he should rebound significantly this week, versus an Oakland pass defense that has been highly susceptible to ongoing aerial assaults. Their consistently leaky secondary, and the inability of their linebackers to keep tight ends from running downfield unchecked, has allowed opposing quarterbacks to generate huge numbers, and Manning should join the list this week.
5. Eli Manning vs. 49ers
Manning has been performing well this season, although his output has been negatively impacted by the inability of his secondary weapons to become proficient complements to Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ has been Manning’s only reliable target, as Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell have combined for just 29 receptions, and three touchdowns, while the anticipated return of Victor Cruz remains on extended delay. Manning did generate three scores against the Bills last Sunday, but was limited to 212 yards. That was his lowest output since Week 1, and Manning’s season-long yardage total of 976 places him just 13th among all signal callers. However, he will not encounter the same level of resistance that he faced from Buffalo, when he lines up against the burnable 49er defense. Making him an excellent option for owners in season long and daily leagues this week.
6. Aaron Rodgers vs. Rams
Six days after torching the Kansas City secondary for five touchdowns in Week 3, Rodgers ventured westward to San Francisco during a short week. it certainly appeared that he had an opportunity to stockpile impressive numbers versus the aforementioned 49er pass defense, as they had surrendered five scores in their previous two contests. But Rodgers only tossed one touchdown pass, which represented his first game this season with less than two. However, that still boosted his league leading total to 11 for the season. Rodgers will be dealing with an NFC West defense that is considerably more formidable this week. As the stout Rams will deliver a relentless pass rush, that will be highly focused on restricting Rodgers’ touchdown total once again.
7. Philip Rivers vs. Steelers
After generating 403 yards in Week 1, Rivers had failed to reach 250 in his next two contests. But he torched the Browns for 358 yards in Week 4, despite losing Stevie Johnson and Malcom Floyd during the contest. That enabled him to seize the league lead with 1,248 for the season, and his 312 YPG is the NFL’s third best average. Rivers also tossed a season high three touchdowns, to improve his season total to eight. Injuries have also impacted San Diego’s offensive line, but Rivers managed to escape this matchup with just two sacks. Maintaining a clean pocket could be a challenge this week, as Pittsburgh is currently fourth with 14 sacks. The Steeler pass defense has also stiffened since being roasted by Brady on opening night.
8. Drew Brees at Eagles
Brees fought through his right shoulder issue to return in Week 4, guided the Saints to an overtime victory, and delivered a performance that exceeded expectations. Even though his ability to launch downfield has been compromised, it did not restrict him from completing 80% of his passes (33 of 41), and generating a season high 359 yards. He also connected for two touchdowns, including the game winning 80-yarder to C. J. Spiller, which provided a level of explosiveness that had been lacking with the New Orleans offense. That was the 400th career touchdown for Brees, whose ability to excel with a plethora of short throws should elevate the comfort level of his owners. Keep him affixed to your starting lineups for this week’s favorable matchup against Philadelphia’s 25th ranked pass defense.
9. Andrew Luck at Texans
Last Sunday, Luck owners woke up to the news that he would be sidelined in Week 4, which forced them to modify their lineups. It also delayed the opportunity to witness Luck attacking the Jaguars 26th ranked pass defense, which could easily have led to his first high quality production of the season. Instead, we continue to wait for a performance that emulates what was essentially a weekly event throughout most of 2014. After his first three starts last season, he had already generated 370 yards twice, and had constructed a 9:3 TD-INT ratio. But in three games this year, he has failed to exceed 260 yards, while tossing five touchdowns, and a league worst seven interceptions. Monitor his progress diligently during this short week, in hopes that he can line up against the Texans on Thursday.
10. Russell Wilson at Bengals
The Seahawks entered their Week 4 matchup ranked just 28th in red zone efficiency, while Wilson was just 30th among all quarterbacks in passing yards. However, a matchup with Detroit’s 27th ranked pass appeared to be the perfect tonic for Wilson and Seattle’s attack to generate sizable yardage. He did connect on 20 of his 26 passes, while generating 287 yards and a touchdown. But he also lost two fumbles after being stripped by the Lions, who returned the second Wilson miscue for a touchdown. He also rushed for 40 yards, to improve his season total to 177. While Cincinnati’s 21st ranked pass defense presents a favorable matchup, the Seahawks will be travelling on a short week. Plus, Wilson must contend with a Bengal pass rush that has already produced the sixth highest sack total (11).
11. Andy Dalton vs. Seahawks
During the first four seasons of Dalton's NFL career, he has consistently followed impressive performances with massive failures. Some could even be characterized as catastrophic meltdowns, which heavily penalized the owners who had believed in him. But something is different this season, as predestined disaster no longer seems mandatory in Dalton’s game scripts. He has now accumulated the league’s third highest yardage total (1,187), and is third with nine touchdowns, after generating 321 yards and a score against the Chiefs in Week 4. Dalton will be tested this week by a Seahawk defense that has steadily morphed into its customary state of stinginess. However, Dalton should be judged by the high level of proficiency that he has exhibited this season, and should have earned the trust of his owners.
12. Marcus Mariota vs. Bills
Mariota returns from his bye still tied for fifth among all quarterbacks with eight touchdowns. And even though four of them occurred during his NFL debut, the fact that he has thrown multiple scores in each of his first three games is impressive. He has also averaged 278 YPG, with a yardage total that has improved during each contest. He should garner several more scores when he faces a Buffalo defense that ranks just 29th against the pass. The Bills have surrendered 10 touchdowns through the air, which is the league’s second highest total. They are also yielding 298 YPG, while permitting 466 to Brady, 297 to Tannehill, and three touchdowns to Eli Manning last Sunday.
- Jay Cutler at Chiefs
- Tyrod Taylor at Titans
- Derek Carr vs. Broncos
- Michael Vick at Chargers
- Sam Bradford vs. Saints
- Joe Flacco vs. Browns
- Matthew Stafford vs. Cardinals
- Josh McCown at Ravens
- Blake Bortles at Buccaneers
- Jameis Winston vs. Jaguars
- Nick Foles at Packers
- Kirk Cousins at Falcons
- Colin Kaepernick at Giants
Eli Manning vs. 49ers
Manning has managed to avoid throwing any interceptions so far this season, despite the limitations inherent with having just one reliable receiving option. To this point, inventive deployment of Beckham Jr. in multiple formations has effectively counteracted the sizable attention that he receives from opposing defenses. That has helped him sustain quality numbers, while boosting Manning's point total in the process. He will now attempt to join the succession of signal callers that have compiled massive point totals against the 49ers’ vulnerable pass defense. San Francisco's most recent sojourn to the eastern time zone resulted in a blowout loss to Pittsburgh in Week 2, as the 49ers were gashed for 369 yards and a trio of touchdowns by Roethlisberger. And in their two road games combined, they have been singed for 680 yards and five touchdowns by Roethlisberger and Palmer. It is unlikely that Manning can reach 400 yards, but he could easily surpass 300, while throwing for multiple scores.
Peyton Manning at Raiders
While Manning's output was underwhelming in Week 4, owners can anticipate the significant statistical upsurge that will occur this week. Oakland’s GM Reggie McKenzie eschewed the opportunity to improve the talent level of Oakland’s cornerback position during the offseason, and that decision has made the Raiders extremely beatable through the air. Opposing quarterbacks have exposed the Silver & Black’s 31st ranked pass defense at will, as the unit has been beaten for a combined 1,250 yards by Dalton, Joe Flacco, Josh McCown and Jay Cutler, while allowing two touchdowns in all four contests. They will be overmatched once again when facing Manning, who not only should connect repeatedly with his primary weapons, but can generate extensive yardage simply by throwing at Oakland’s ongoing liability D.J. Hayden. Manning should also be extremely successful while locating Owen Daniels, as the Raiders have already been torched for 388 yards and six scores by enemy tight ends. This should easily be one of Manning’s most productive outings of the season.
Carson Palmer at Lions
Palmer has already surpassed 300 yards in three games, and has also generated multiple touchdowns in three contests. He should replicate those numbers this week, versus a Detroit pass defense that enters the matchup ranked 27th, and will be dealing with a short week. The Lions were allowing 284 YPG through the air, and had surrendered a combined 727 yards and four touchdowns to Rivers and Peyton Manning in Weeks 2-3. But they were more formidable in Week 4, forcing three fumbles, and sacking Wilson six times. However, they also allowed Wilson to throw for 287 yards, and will be faced with a difficult turnaround after Monday Night’s demoralizing loss. Plus, their secondary will also have great difficulty containing Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd. Look for Palmer’s offensive line to keep his pocket clean, and for him to connect for big plays with his trio of wideouts.
Derek Carr vs. Broncos
The second-year signal caller was expected to deliver a third consecutive high quality performance in Chicago, but after throwing for 665 yards in Weeks 2-3, he could only manage 196 against a Chicago defense that has been overly at times during the season. Carr did manufacture two touchdowns, and has now generated seven in the past three weeks. However, his temporary emergence as a QB1 option will be placed on hold this week, as he faces his most daunting challenge of the season. The NFL’s top ranked pass defense will invade Oakland, and the Raiders passing attack will suffer during this AFC West showdown. The Broncos are yielding just 185 YPG, and have still only permitted two touchdowns through the air. They have also picked off six passes, have accumulated an NFL best 18 sacks, and provide sufficient incentive for you to keep Carr out of your lineups.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Rams
Rodgers has overcome injuries to his potential weaponry to come through for his owners again this season. In addition to his league leading touchdown total, he has connected on over 72% of his passes, and his 11:0 TD-INT ratio is beyond stellar. However, he will be presented with a legitimate challenge this week. The Rams have already confronted several high octane passing attacks, yet have yielded only three touchdowns passes. They did not allow Roethlisberger to find the end zone before he suffered his unfortunate injury in the second half in Week 3. And in Week 4, they held Palmer to one touchdown, which established a new season low. They have also permitted just one 300-yard passer, and their aforementioned proficiency at generating sacks should be a concern for Rodgers owners.
Matthew Stafford vs. Cardinals
Stafford has been subjected to a brutal sequence of matchups, having to contend with the Broncos in Week 3, the Seahawks on Monday Night of Week 4, then culminating with the sturdy Arizona defense on a short week. The Cardinals currently rank eighth against the pass, have collected an NFL best seven interceptions, and are yielding just 199 YPG. Since Week 1, they have allowed just 359 passing yards combined in their last three contests. Although the signal callers that they faced - Colin Kaepernick, Nick Foles and Jimmy Clausen do not elicit terror in the minds of opponents. Still, the Cardinals reside among the top tier of defensive units, and their presence renders Stafford as an option that should be avoided.