Eight quarterbacks surpassed the 300-yard mark in Week 5, although only two of them had entered the week among the top 10 in yardage for the season. While Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer were not on this week’s list of 300-yard passers, Brian Hoyer, Blake Bortles and Josh McCown actually were. McCown also joined Eli Manning as the only signal callers to surpass 400 yards. And the fact that Bortles was the only quarterback to generate four touchdowns was equally unexpected. Although his performance could easily be a preview of what he might accomplish more frequently, provided that his shoulder strain is not serious.
On to everybody’s least favorite topic, as four teams will be on their byes in Week 6. The good news is that none of the unquestioned QB1s are among them. As only Derek Carr, Nick Foles, Jameis Winston, Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel will be sitting out due to the schedule. Carr had ascended from discussion of his merits as a potential QB2, to being ranked as a legitimate QB1 several weeks ago. But he has now been repositioned as a matchup based option. Foles and Winston are only semi-desperate considerations in deeper leagues, and Weeden probably will have relinquished the starting job to Cassel when Dallas returns in Week 7. But here are the rankings and matchups for signal callers who will take the field this week. It is noteworthy that the margin between the quarterbacks who were ranked from 10-16 was much closer than normal. Enjoy the games, and good luck to everyone.
Top 25 Rankings
1. Tom Brady at Colts
Brady promptly returned from his bye to resume the systematic dismantling of opposing defenses, by generating 275 yards and two touchdowns against Dallas in Week 5. His 347 YPG remains the NFL’s best, and his yardage total for the season (1,387) is the league’s fifth highest, despite having his bye. Brady has also connected for 11 scores, which ties him for third among all signal callers. Now, he can set his sights on the same Colt unit that yielded five touchdowns during their two matchups in 2014. Indy’s secondary has already been gashed frequently throughout this season, as receivers that are not being shadowed by Vontae Davis have been allowed to run freely through the secondary. Greg Tolar’s return will not deter that from continuing, and Brady will deliver exceptional numbers again this week.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. Chargers
Rodgers entered Week 5 with a sparkling 11:0 TD/INT ratio, but was confronted by a talented St. Louis defense that has only allowed one 300-yard passer all season, and is third overall with 19 sacks. He did manufacture two touchdowns, but after 587 consecutive throws without an interception, he was picked off twice. Rodgers only connected with primary target Randall Cobb three times, as Cobb was limited to a season low 23 yards. Rodgers still leads the league with 13 touchdowns for the year, and has generated nine of them in Green Bay. He will be performing far from Lambeau Field this week, against a San Diego defense that currently ranks 13th versus the pass, and is yielding 219 YPG. Expect Rodgers to locate Cobb with greater frequency during the matchup.
3. Carson Palmer at Steelers
A whopping 24 quarterbacks generated more passing yards than Palmer in Week 5, as he only accumulated 161 in Detroit. That total was a consequence of Arizona’s thorough domination of the Lions, as the Cardinals generated 187 yards and three scores on the ground. That negated the need for Palmer to dissect Detroit’s secondary with regularity, as he only needed 14 attempts to amass three touchdowns. That expanded his season total to 13, which ties him with Rodgers for the NFL lead. And despite that paltry yardage total, his 1,316 yards this season (1,316) is the sixth most among his peers. He will now face a Pittsburgh pass defense that had performed better in recent weeks but was burned for 365 yards by Philip Rivers on Monday Night.
4. Matt Ryan at Saints
Ryan entered Week 5 with the NFL’s second highest yardage total, was one of just two quarterbacks to average over 300 YPG, and was excelling in OC Kyle Shanahan’s new offense. But he did not perform with the same precision against Washington. He only connected on 24 of his 42 passes, manufactured 254 yards, and failed to produce a touchdown. Ryan also matched his season total by throwing two interceptions. Still, he should provide numbers that are among the league’s best this week, against an NFC South rival that he abused last season. Ryan torched the Saints for 770 yards and four touchdowns in 2014, and given the overly hospitable state of New Orleans’ defense to this point of the season, he should deliver another high quality performance. Particularly if Julio Jones remains in the lineup.
5. Drew Brees vs. Falcons
Brees has now surpassed 330 yards in three of the four games that he has performed in, after generating 335 at Philadelphia in Week 5. He also amassed two touchdowns for the second consecutive week, including a connection with Brandin Cooks as time expired. That provided a garbage time boost to owners, who will certainly embrace it unconditionally. Brees also turned the ball over three times, including twice on fumbles. However, his favorable production so quickly after dire reports about his shoulder, should be encouraging for owners. Brees should approach 300 yards once again on Thursday Night, versus a Falcon defense that he shredded for 646 yards in two matchups last season. While Dan Quinn has elevated the Atlanta’s level of play defensively, they are still allowing 288 YPG. Plus, the Saint offense will be in catch-up mode throughout the contest.
6. Andy Dalton at Bills
Dalton’s ascension from a quarterback whose productive outings left you waiting for an impending meltdown, to a trustworthy weekly QB1 has been impressive. It is emblematic of his career advancement that he is now second in passing yards with 1,518, and is tied for third with 11 touchdowns. While he had benefited in previous weeks from two matchups against teams in the bottom four among pass defenses (Chiefs, Raiders), and only one unit that ranked within the NFL’s upper half, his performance against Seattle’s fourth ranked pass defense should remove any remaining trepidation about starting Dalton. He accumulated 331 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks, and had a 72-yard scoring connection with A. J. Green that was wiped out by a holding penalty. Owners should keep him affixed to their starting lineups against the 24th ranked Bills pass defense this week.
7. Eli Manning at Eagles
Entering Week 5, the Giants were ninth in scoring, while averaging 25.5 PPG. Yet, only Cleveland had a lower red zone efficiency, as Big Blue had labored to an unsightly 30.7% success rate. However, their attack was more proficient last Sunday, versus a 49er pass defense that has now surrendered 1,121 yards and eight touchdowns in three road matchups. Manning shredded San Francisco for a season high 441 yards, and three scores on Sunday Night, while leading the offense to 50% red zone efficiency. Manning has surged to fourth overall with 1,417 yards for the year, and is tied for fifth among all quarterbacks in with 10 touchdowns. He will have another favorable matchup this week, versus Philadelphia's 26th ranked pass defense.
8. Philip Rivers at Packers
The return of Antonio Gates to the Charger lineup in Week 5, provided Rivers with a much-needed target to overcome the absence of Stevie Johnson from the lineup. The tandem connected nine times for 92 yards and two touchdowns, as the 13-year veteran resumed his role as a vital weapon for Rivers and the Charger passing attack. Rivers also generated 365 yards, which was the third time this season that he has produced 350+. That improved his season total to 1,613 which leads the NFL, He has also thrown at least two touchdowns in four of his five games this season. This week’s matchup will not be easy, as he must contend with the sixth ranked Packer pass defense. Green Bay has only yielded five touchdowns through the air, while allowing 186 YPG.
9. Andrew Luck vs. Patriots
Luck’s troublesome shoulder has sidelined him for two consecutive weeks, and has added to the distress of owners who drafted him before any other quarterback. That lofty investment has currently yielded a signal caller who resides 18th in YPG (251), and is tied for a meager 25th with five touchdowns. His situation must be monitored again this week. But he should be highly motivated to enhance his resume against New England, providing that he has healed sufficiently to take the field. The last time that Luck lined up against the Patriots, his numbers were beyond horrific - 12 of 33 for a paltry 126 yards. He also failed to register a touchdown, tossed two interceptions, and was left with an unsightly passer rating of 23. Between his adverse health situation, and his discouraging production in Weeks 1-3, owners certainly do not have much basis for optimism.
10. Peyton Manning at Browns
All indicators pointed toward Manning delivering exceptional production in Week 5. He was facing Oakland's 31st ranked pass defense, which had been torched for 311 YPG and eight touchdowns through the air by opposing quarterbacks this season. Regrettably for his owners, Manning could only amass 255 yards, failed to produce a touchdown for the first time since Week 1, and was intercepted twice. He is currently 21st among all signal callers with a 247 YPG average, and is tied for 16th with just six touchdowns. He is maintains a ranking of 10 primarily because of another favorable matchup this week against Cleveland’s 18th ranked pass defense. But the 2015 version of Manning is not a lock to reach 250 yards, or deliver multiple scores in this contest.
11. Cam Newton at Seahawks
He was a mid-round draft selection during the summer, amid tangible concerns about Carolina’s troubling lack of weapons, which was only exacerbated with Kelvin Benjamin’s season ending injury. But he has excelled as a multi-purpose threat, and entered his bye week among the top six quarterbacks in fantasy points. While his 202 YPG average in passing yards barely reaches the top 30, his 48.8 YPG average on the ground currently leads all signal callers. At his current pace, Newton would be allotted nearly 50 more rushing attempts than in any of his previous four seasons. But expectations should be tempered for this week’s challenging matchup in Seattle.
12. Russell Wilson vs. Panthers
Wilson's season of unexceptional production continued against the Bengals in Week 5, as he manufactured 234 total yards and one touchdown. He only amassed 213 of those yards through the air as Wilson launched just 23 passes, while connecting on 15 of them. Thomas Rawls was impressive in gashing the Bengals for 169 rushing yards and a score, but Wilson still needs a healthy Marshawn Lynch in the lineup to fully propel the Seahawks ground game. He also needs Seattle's offensive line to protect the pocket from total collapse with more regularity, and it is an understatement to write that this unit has not performed effectively. Another matchup with a difficult opponent looms this week when the Panthers invade CenturyLink Field.
- Jay Cutler at Lions
- Marcus Mariota vs. Dolphins
- Blake Bortles vs. Texans
- Sam Bradford vs. Giants
- Ryan Tannehill at Titans
- Colin Kaepernick vs. Ravens
- Joe Flacco at 49ers
- Tyrod Taylor vs. Bengals
- Teddy Bridgewater vs. Chiefs
- Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Redskins
- Michael Vick vs. Cardinals
- Matthew Stafford vs. Bears
- Alex Smith at Vikings
Tom Brady at Colts
Brady has now amassed at least 275 yards in all four of New England’s games this season, while also producing multiple touchdowns in each contest. Plus, he has not even thrown an interception. Meanwhile, the Colts have yet to demonstrate that they can supply sufficient resistance to deter him from having another tremendous outing this week. Indianapolis ranks just 28th against the pass, has allowed 287 YPG and have permitted opposing signal callers to average 7.8 yards per attempt. The Colts have also yielded eight touchdowns through the air, and have managed only six sacks through their first five games. Plus, they have surrendered just under 27 PPG to wide receivers, which is the NFL’s sixth worst average. Even with all of their shortcomings, the Colts have not allowed a tight end to score this season, in part because opposing signal callers have been so successful in targeting their wideouts. Expect Brady and Rob Gronkowski to break that streak this week, as part of New England’s aerial assault.
Matt Ryan at Saints
Even though Ryan’s production in Week 5 did not replicate his output during in Atlanta’s previous contests, he has thrived while spearheading Atlanta’s aerial attack. The Falcons currently rank third in total offense, and are seventh in passing. Plus, they are fourth in red zone efficiency, averaging 74%. While Ryan and the Falcons will be working on a short week, Atlanta’s attack should flourish against the shaky New Orleans defense. The Saints rank just 23rd versus the pass, allowed 273 YPG, and have already yielded nine touchdowns through the air. They have been scorched in their previous matchups with proficient QB1s, surrendering 307 yards and three scores to Palmer, along with 348 totals yards and three touchdowns to Newton. Ryan should approach 350 yards, and produce multiple scores, enabling owners to achieve an excellent start to their Week 6 scoring.
Peyton Manning at Browns
Manning is no longer an elite starter, and his status as a QB1 at any level is also in question. But that does not obscure the appealing nature of his Week 6 matchup with Cleveland. The Browns have already surrendered 10 touchdowns through the air, and have managed to secure just one interception. They surrendered an average of 406 total yards from Weeks 1-4, and were scorched for 672 yards through the air by Carr and Rivers in Weeks 3-4. Joe Flacco also managed to accrue 210 yards in Week 5, despite a complete dearth of receiving options. Manning owners can deploy him again this week, although the recommendation from here is to secure a trustworthy backup for the upcoming schedule.
Cam Newton at Seahawks
Newton’s modest passing numbers are easier for owners to accept, given his expanded usage as a rusher. Plus, his scoring opportunities in the red zone are especially easy to embrace. But he will face a daunting task this week when Carolina heads to the Pacific Northwest. Prior to last week’s trip to Cincinnati, Seattle had been second in total defense, and was allowing 279 YPG. This after yielding just 146 yards to the Cutler-less Bears in Week 3, and 256 to the luck- less Lions in Week 4, while permitting a grand total of 10 points during both contests. And that lone touchdown was scored by Detroit’s defense on a Wilson fumble. But even though Dalton burned them during that short Week 5, the Seahawks are still seventh in both total defense, and will cause Newton problems when he attempts to pass. He averaged 239 total yards and struggled to a 2:3 TD to INT ratio in two encounters with Seattle last season, and owners should expect a focused and formidable Seahawk unit to pressure him relentlessly once again.
Russell Wilson vs. Panthers
Wilson will be the most capable quarterback that Carolina has been forced to contend with this season, as the Panthers have only faced Bortles, Winston, Ryan Mallett, and Luke McCown. Still, this unit provides Wilson with an unfavorable matchup. They are tied for third in scoring defense (17.8 PPG), and rank 10th in total defense (339 YPG). Fourth-year cornerback Josh Norman was September’s NFC Defensive Player Of The Month, and has seized unquestioned shutdown status. Seattle is ranked dead last in red zone efficiency at 27%, and is a mere 22nd in passing offense. This not the week for Wilson owners to anticipate a sudden offensive explosion, as his output will not exceed the averages that he has achieved in previous games.
It is time to give the Titans credit for what they have accomplished defensively to this point of the season. Tennessee is currently permitting the fewest yards per game to opposing passing attacks this season, with a stellar average of only 167 YPG. The Titans are also third in total defense, while yielding only 283.5 YPG. Plus, only two defenses rank higher in 3rd down conversions, as they are limiting opponents to 31%. Miami’s offense has been a mammoth disappointment, and we will soon discover what the Dolphins did during the bye to enhance the proficiency of their attack. But any new elements will not change the reality that Tannehill will be faced with an unfavorable matchup this week.