Even without Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton taking snaps in Week 7, five quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards. We would anticipate having Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, and even the 2015 version of Andrew Luck to be among those signal callers. But we would not expect Kirk Cousins and Teddy Bridgewater to join them in that group. And as always, Week 7 brought us performances that will have owners feeling optimistic about their quarterback situations, while other disappointing efforts will lead to less pleasant emotions. Throughout it all, owners will now prepare for Week 8. That includes bye week planning for some of you, as four more quarterbacks will be unavailable. The absence of Blake Bortles will be the most impactful, as he has recently ascended into QB1 consideration. Sam Bradford had risen into that category earlier this year, but the fantasy points that he generated in passing yards, have been overshadowed by inaccurate throws and interceptions. Tyrod Taylor can be a starter if the matchup is favorable, and his health is intact. While even with his performance in Week 7, Cousins should only be owned in deeper leagues. In addition to their absence, there is much to examine concerning the signal callers that will be under center, and the Week 8 quarterback rankings and matchups will help you determine who to employ in your lineups. They will include updates on where the signal callers reside in the most basic statistical categories, to help owners avoid the sometimes dangerous tendency of overreacting to the latest results. Because that can obscure the reality of how effective your starters actually are. Enjoy this week’s games, and good luck to everyone.
Bye: Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins
Top 25 Rankings
1. Tom Brady vs. Dolphins
Brady faced his most formidable opponent in Week 7 when the Jets’ second ranked pass defense arrived in Foxboro. But his ongoing exhibition of excellence continued, as he generated 355 yards and two touchdowns against a formidable unit that had entered the matchup allowing just 187 YPG. Brady’s production was even more impressive, considering that Gang Green had not permitted an opposing signal caller to exceed 250 yards, and had surrendered more than one touchdown only once this season. Brady has now assembled over 300 yards in four of his last five contests, and has accumulated multiple scores in all six games. Brady and the Patriot offense will face a rejuvenated Dolphin defense on a short week, but Miami will not prohibit him from reaching 300 yards, and delivering multiple scores.
2. Philip Rivers at Ravens
Rivers has been prolific during his 12th season, which includes the exploitation of defenses that are susceptible to the pass. He was presented with that opportunity against Oakland's 31st ranked unit in Week 7. While he did assemble 336 yards and three touchdowns, much of the yardage and all three scores occurred after the Raiders had built a 37-6 lead. He did not perform with his usual precision during the contest, and also threw two interceptions. Still, owners will embrace the fantasy points. Rivers remains the NFL leader in yardage for the season (2,452), has surpassed 300 yards five times, and has generated multiple scores in six games. He should supply high quality numbers this week against Baltimore's burnable pass defense.
3. Carson Palmer at Browns
After facing a tough Ram defense in Week 5, followed by an improved Steeler defense in Week 6, Palmer and the Arizona offense appeared primed to take full advantage of an enticing match up against Baltimore's 29th ranked pass defense in Week 7. While the 33-year old signal-caller efficiently connected on 20 of his 29 passes, the 275 yards that he amassed did not average of 290 YPG. However, he did throw for two scores, which was his fifth multiple touchdown game of the year. Palmer still remains third among all quarterbacks with 2,012 yards for the season, even though 12 quarterbacks have launched more attempts. He is also tied with Brady for the NFL lead with 16 touchdowns. He should accrue excellent numbers this week, versus a Cleveland pass defense that has yielded 11 touchdowns.
4. Andy Dalton at Steelers
The reconstituted Dalton has transformed himself during his fifth year as Cincinnati's signal caller, which has propelled a similar adjustment in our perceptions about him. In the past six weeks, he has risen dramatically from the label of untrustworthy, and ascended beyond a matchup based QB1 into a dependable, locked in starter. Before his bye, Dalton was second among all quarterbacks with 1,761 yards, fifth with a 294 YPG average, and tied for second with 14 touchdowns. Plus, he has thrown just two interceptions. He is now a dependable resource for owners, and possesses a potent arsenal of weapons to maintain his season-long success. NFC North rival Pittsburgh is permitting 277 YPG through the air, and Dalton will deliver respectable numbers this week.
5. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bengals
Roethlisberger was second among all quarterbacks with 720 yards, after amassing 351 at New England, and 369 against the 49ers. Then, the unfortunate hit to his knee forced him from the lineup, and decelerated what is normally a high octane Pittsburgh offense. Now, he is primed to return. And not only should his owners rejoice, but anyone who drafted Antonio Brown, then watched in horror as his extraordinary talent was wasted in Weeks 4-6, should also exult Roethlisberger’s return. He will benefit from a favorable matchup when division rival Cincinnati visits Heinz Field. The Bengals rank 21st against the pass, while yielding 262 YPG.
6. Aaron Rodgers at Broncos
In his first six games, Rodgers has generated multiple scores five times, which had elevated him into the NFL lead with 15 touchdowns for the season. That is impressive, and borders on amazing, considering the hurdles that have been thrown his way. He has been forced to guide the Packer offense without primary weapon Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams has been unavailable since Week 3 (ankle), and Randall Cobb's big play ability has been compromised by the lingering shoulder issue. The additional week of rest should propel Adams into the lineup, and certainly helped Cobb. While that will be beneficial, another massive challenge awaits Rodgers this week. As he must contend with Denver's top ranked pass defense.
7. Drew Brees vs. Giants
Since producing a season low 255 yards in Week 2, and missing Week 3 completely with an ailing shoulder, Brees had generated 310+ plus yards in four consecutive games, delivering 359, 335, and 312 in Weeks 4-6. But even though he launched 44 throws in Week 7 against Indianapolis, he could only match the aforementioned season low of 255, versus a Colt unit that had been yielding 289 YPG prior to their encounter. Even though Brees did not deliver massive production, his 312 YPG average is the NFL’s third best, and his recent output should be welcomed in view of the uncertainty that existed regarding his shoulder only weeks ago. He will have an opportunity to deliver a high quality performance this week, when he faces the 30th ranked pass defense of the Giants.
8. Matt Ryan vs. Buccaneers
Ryan’s yardage totals have been consistent this season, as he has surpassed 250 in every contest, but has eclipsed 300 only once. That process continued in Week 7, as he manufactured 251 against Tennessee. He also managed just one touchdown, which was the third time in his last six games that he has failed to deliver multiple scores. His uninspiring 9:6 TD/INT ratio should be a growing concern to his owners, as 13 signal callers have produced more scores through the air. It is not an overreaction to explore alternative options, unless Ryan’s matchup is extremely appealing. This week’s encounter with Tampa Bay could be placed in that category. The Buccaneers have surrendered 15 touchdowns through the air, and permitted 620 yards and seven touchdowns to Bortles and Cousins in their last two contests.
9. Cam Newton vs. Colts
Newton continues to deserve praise for directing the Panthers to wins despite only having one highly effective receiving weapon. But his passing numbers remain underwhelming nonetheless. He was limited to 197 yards and one touchdown through the air in Week 7, and he tossed a season high three interceptions. He has only produced 300 yards through the air once this season, and has now been limited to under 200 passing yards in four of his six games. But as always, it is Newton's duel-threat capabilities that elevate his value well beyond his potency as a passer. He also produced his fourth touchdown on the ground, which ties him for third among all players. This week's matchup is particularly appealing, as the Colts have already yielded eight rushing touchdowns.
10. Eli Manning at Saints
After averaging 306 YPG from Weeks 2-5, Manning’s production declined in Week 6, as he only manufactured a season low 182 yards and one touchdown. But owners were counting on him to rebound from that performance, when he faced Dallas in Week 7. However, he actually generated fewer yards against the Cowboys, managing just 170. Plus, he did not produce a touchdown. The diminished yardage totals should be somewhat disconcerting, along with the fact that he has now failed to produce multiple touchdowns in two consecutive contests. However, there is still reason for optimism. He will be presented with a favorable matchup this week, versus a New Orleans defense that ranks just 26th against the pass.
11. Ryan Tannehill at Patriots
Heading into his sixth game this season, Tannehill was 19th among all quarterbacks with 1,346 yards, his 269 YPG average was 11th, and his was 9:7 TD-INT ratio was undoubtedly very disappointing. But in Week 7, he shredded the disappointing Texans defense for 282 yards, along with a season high four touchdowns. All of the scores took place in the first half against Houston’s underachieving unit, and owners can now seize renewed hope that Tannehill can still become an unquestioned weekly QB1 option this season. The adjustments made during Miami’s Week 5 bye have clearly been beneficial. As better employment of personnel, and a noticeable increase in inspired play have boosted the outlook for Tannehill and Miami’s offense for the remainder of 2015. He has a moderately favorable matchup this week against New England’s 18th ranked pass defense.
12. Andrew Luck at Panthers
After averaging 251 YPG and producing five touchdowns in his first three games, Luck generated 312 yards and three scores in Week 6. That provided owners with hope that his output would finally begin to match the lofty expectations that existed prior to the season. But despite an enticing matchup with a very beatable New Orleans pass defense in Week 7, Luck was simply horrid in the first half, managing just 79 yards, and generating two costly interceptions. While he ultimately manufactured 333 yards and three second half scores, his overall performance only adds to what remains a disappointing season. He has been unable to reestablish himself among the league’s elite QB1s, and no statistical surge will be forthcoming this week. As Carolina’s imposing defensive unit will make sure that the excruciating season for Luck owners will continue.
13. Russell Wilson at Cowboys
Here is some bonus analysis, since Luck and Wilson are essentially tied for this week's 12th spot. Wilson deserves credit for what he has accomplished with an offensive line that possesses alarming inadequacies, but his modest output remains less than what owners had hoped for. His numbers have not been stellar, but they have been extremely consistent. He has thrown for at least 206 yards in all seven games, never exceeded 287, with four games ranging between 235 and 251. And he has thrown exactly one touchdown in six of his seven contests. All of which results in underwhelming season totals, as 22 quarterbacks have averaged more YPG, and 19 have produced more touchdowns. His 271 rushing yards are still beneficial for owners, as is this week's favorable matchup with the Cowboys' burnable secondary. Those factors combine to maintain Wilson’s low end QB1 status.
- Matthew Stafford at Chiefs
- Jay Cutler vs. Vikings
- Ryan Fitzpatrick at Raiders
- Peyton Manning vs. Packers
- Teddy Bridgewater at Bears
- Derek Carr vs. Jets
- Joe Flacco vs. Chargers
- Marcus Mariota at Texans
- Brian Hoyer vs. Titans
- Alex Smith vs. Lions
- Josh McCown vs. Cardinals
- Jameis Winston at Falcons
Philip Rivers at Ravens
Even when Rivers is having the proverbial “off day” his production has been exceptional this season. He has generated at least 241 yards in every contest, and has exceeded 300 yards five times. He has tortured opposing defenses virtually without fail this season, and that should occur once again during this week’s matchup. The Ravens have been the second most hospitable defense toward opposing quarterbacks, surrendering a whopping 26 fantasy points in their first seven contests. They are also a lowly 28th against the pass, have allowed 283 YPG, and have yielded 13 touchdowns. Baltimore has also been gashed for at least 340 yards by four different signal callers, and has permitted multiple scores through the air five times.
Eli Manning at Saints
Manning’s output during Weeks 6-7 has forced owners to at least contemplate their alternatives. His yardage total in Week 7 alone was eclipsed by 23 other quarterbacks, and he also did not deliver a touchdown. However, it would be wise to proceed with Manning in your lineup this week, when he lines up against New Orleans. In addition to the Saints substandard ranking that was mentioned previously, they are permitting 276 YPG through the air, and have surrendered 14 touchdowns. They are also yielding the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and have allowed the following assemblage of quarterbacks to generate these yardage totals: Palmer (307), Newton (315), Bradford (333), Ryan (295) and Luck (333). If Manning fails to rebound during this favorable matchup, then his status should be reconsidered.
Cam Newton vs. Colts
Newton will be presented with a chance to deliver excellent overall production this week, as opposing signal callers have found the Colt defense to be consistently accommodating. Indianapolis is yielding 24 PPG to opposing quarterbacks, which is the sixth highest total among all units. Their vulnerable defense ranks 28th against the pass, and has surrendered 12 touchdowns through the air. As mentioned earlier, they have also been susceptible on the ground when their opponents are near the goal line. Plus, Luck’s ongoing struggles with turnovers should continue during this matchup, which will enable Newton and the Carolina offense to collect additional opportunities to generate yardage and points. This should be a rewarding week for Newton owners.
Aaron Rodgers at Broncos
Hopefully, the Packer offensive unit will return from their bye with improved health. But that does not diminish the cluster of problems that this week’s opponent can present. The Broncos return from their bye week as the NFL leader in pass defense, are yielding just 192 YPG, and are second in scoring defense (17 YPG). They have also permitted only five touchdowns through the air, which is tied for the NFL’s lowest total. Denver has also allowed the fewest points to opposing quarterbacks (15 PPG), and is second among all teams with 17 takeaways through the first six games. The additional week of rest will only fortify this unit, which presents an immense challenge for Rodgers. Owners should definite start him, but do so with tempered expectations.
Andrew Luck at Panthers
Luck’s head scratching ineffectiveness throughout much of the season continued in Week 7, as Luck was unable to take advantage of a highly vulnerable New Orleans pass defense for much of their matchup. That does not bode well for the fourth year signal caller when he lines up against Carolina this week. The Panthers ranks eighth against the pass, and have only allowed five touchdowns allowed through the air during their first five games. That ties them for the league lead in that category. Only five teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing signal callers than Carolina (19.8 PPG). They have only permitted one 300-yard performance, and have yielded multiple touchdowns only once. If that is not enough for Luck to contend with, the Panthers have also generated 12 takeaways, which is the NFL’s seventh highest number.
Jay Cutler vs. Vikings
After missing Week 3 with a hamstring issue, Cutler returned to the lineup, and delivered a noteworthy three game stretch with yardage totals of 281, 252, and 353. He also amassed five touchdowns, and resurfaced as a matchup-based starting option for owners facing bye, or injury challenges at quarterback. He now returns from his bye with a potent collection of weapons in Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, and Martellus Bennett, that many of his peers are lacking. He will meet resistance from a Minnesota defense that is only yielding 19 PPG to opposing quarterbacks. The Vikings also rank eighth versus the pass, and have only allowed eight touchdowns through the air. They have also produced 17 sacks, which is the league’s ninth best total. Cutler can be a productive starter, but this is not the week to expect him to deliver outstanding results.