Taking a look at the various QB options for the upcoming weekend and categorizing them based on upside, salary and matchup.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
Cream of the Crop
Cam Newton, Carolina (at NO) – $7400
I can’t imagine there will be many players who don’t have Newton ranked as their top quarterback. The struggles of the Saints’ pass defense are real, as they’ve now allowed an absurd 9.5 points per game above expected over the past year. Newton’s success is a little less tied to defensive strength than some other passers, but he’s still in a dream spot. The Panthers are also the top-projected offense by more than three points.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, NY Jets (at NYG) – $5200
Generally speaking, Fitzpatrick has been able to take advantage of poor pass defenses. He doesn’t have a ton of upside in this offense—at least not a consistently high ceiling, if that makes sense—but he is underpriced here. I do think he’s at least in the conversation in cash games.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at DET) – $7200
Rodgers’ salary dropped another $200 and he’s now $800 cheaper than the start of the season. There’s definitely something wrong here—Rodgers isn’t playing well combined with a lack of elite targets—but I think we have plenty of evidence to suggest Rodgers is an elite quarterback who won’t continue to post low-end QB2 numbers. The price and opponent are right for me to take the chance. One problem is you might have a lot of others doing that as well since Rodgers plays on Thursday, where ownership is inflated.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami (vs BAL) – $5300
Even though I hate Tannehill’s receivers, he still has three games with at least 27 points this season. Those games actually came against the Jets, Texans, and Jags, so there’s some fear Tannehill turns it “off” versus lesser competition. Still, the Ravens’ pass defense is horrendous and I don’t think there’s a good reason to think Tannehill should be expected to produce less against weaker opponents.
Middle of the Pack
Carson Palmer, Arizona (at STL) – $6700
Even in a down game last week, Palmer still matched his salary-based expectation with 17.4 points—his lowest total all season. A lot of people will be scared away by this matchup, but the Cards are still projected well and they’re going to need to rely on Palmer and the passing game with their banged-up backs.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at CLE) – $6400
The Browns have a bottom-five pass defense over the past year after adjusting for opponent salaries. Dalton has managed over 20 points in three of his past four games, and the Bengals are currently projected at 25.5 points. It is possible Dalton gets some of his fantasy upside poached from his running game, especially given the potential game script.
Tom Brady, New England (vs PHI) – $8000
Brady would probably be the top quarterback for me if he had Gronk. Without him, he’s a totally different player. I think you could actually argue he should be lower, but I still have Brady ranked this high due to the opponent and sheer number of plays New England could run.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs GB) – $6100
Stafford scored fewer than 17 points in the teams’ first meeting, and defenses are generally better against quarterbacks the second time around. However, the Packers have allowed 3.4 points per game above expected to opposing quarterbacks, and the game script here should be decent for Stafford to rack up some attempts at home.
Rest of the Field
Russell Wilson, Seattle (at MIN) – $5600
I think Wilson is going to be ranked a lot higher for some other people, but here’s why I don’t want to fall victim to the recency bias: although the price is attractive, the Vikings have a quality pass defense, ownership is going to be high, and the Seahawks are projected at just over 21 points in a game with a total of 41.5 points.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (vs ATL) – $5300
Winston has exceeded his salary-based implied point total in every game of his career so far. Some of that has to do with his cost, but he hasn’t yet turned in a true dud performance. I don’t love him in this matchup, especially since Atlanta does a great job of taking away opponents’ outside receivers, which is where Tampa Bay thrives.
Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs CAR) – $6900
The Panthers’ defense is obviously legit, and the Saints are projected poorly at just over 21 points. We know Brees has the potential to beat anyone, but his weapons are lackluster. He’s listed here because he’s at home and will likely need to throw often.
Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, and most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Follow him @BalesFootball.