Are Aaron Rodgers owners done mourning his season-ending injury yet? No, probably not. Week 6 was a rough one at the top. Rodgers broke his right collarbone, ending his season, and both Tom Brady and Drew Brees looked like mortals despite each having a plus matchup. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there, WITH A NEW COLLARBONE! Sorry Aaron, didn’t work. Stepping in under center in Green Bay is the incredibly uninspiring Brett Hundley. No thanks.
We only have two QBs on a bye this week but one of them happens to be the alpha dog of fantasy QBs this year, Deshaun Watson. Does fantasy football still happen when Watson is on a bye week? The fantasy football gods don’t want us to have any fun this week I guess.
On a brighter note, we only have Watson and Matthew Stafford on byes this week so there are plenty of QB options to pick from. Outside of the top five or six options, there is a slew of QBs that can be thrown in the QB1 discussion this week. Determining who should start comes down to which QB has a good defensive matchup and who’s got a tough game ahead.
On a Bye (2): Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Defensive Matchup: San Francisco 49ers (Road)
When you look at fantasy points per game, there’s only been one QB better than Dak Prescott this season. Yes, of course it’s Deshaun Watson. Who else would it be? Through five games, Prescott has thrown for 1,192 yards, 11 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He’s been solid on the ground too, adding 126 yards and a pair of scores there. The Ezekiel Elliott re-suspension would’ve been a decent boost to Prescott’s fantasy value, but after another sparring match with Roger Goodell and the NFL, Elliott will suit up this weekend. Even with Zeke in the lineup, this is still a plus matchup for Prescott.
This 49ers defense is a far cry from what it was just a few short years ago. They’ve allowed the 4th most passing yards and the 7th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. After starting the season strong, this defense has begun to trend in the wrong direction over the last month or so. San Francisco has allowed over 300 yards passing three straight weeks and it would have been four straight if Jared Goff had thrown for eight more yards. Coming off the bye week, expect Prescott to continue his strong play and carve up this Niners defense. He makes for a strong QB1 this week.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Matchup: Cleveland Browns (Road)
When you look at this Cleveland Browns defense, you come to two conclusions. First, they’re stout against the run so far this season, allowing only 3.0 YPC. But, and you knew a but was coming, they’re so bad against a pass, Tim Tebow could come in and torch this secondary. Yes! I finally worked Tebow into an article! Ok, moving on. Opposing QBs have completed 71.6% of their passes when playing Cleveland while racking up 14 touchdowns against only four interceptions. Only that joke of a defense up in New England has allowed more fantasy points to opposing QBs then Cleveland has.
After coming into the season with high expectations, Marcus Mariota has been a mixed bag so far. However, after sitting out week 5, he returned last week with his first 300-yard passing game of the season. What better way to continue that momentum than a meeting with the Browns’ swiss cheese secondary? This week has a distinct possibility of being Mariota’s strongest performance to date this season. He’s been a borderline QB1 most of the season, but feel confident firing him up as a QB1 this week.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Defensive Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Home)
Coming into the season, Tyrod Taylor was a popular sleeper pick amongst quarterbacks. He hasn’t necessarily been bad but has contributed very little with his legs. During the 2016 season, he scored six rushing touchdowns and averaged 38.7 yards per game on the ground. Those rushing contributions made up for 34% of his fantasy value last season. This year, he’s down to 24.2 per game this year and he’s yet to run one in. When you break those stats down on a per game basis for fantasy statistics, that’s a 59% drop this season. Not good. Not good at all.
This week, Taylor has a great opportunity to get back on track. The Buccaneers have given up the 4th most points to opposing QBs so far through the first six weeks. Quarterbacks have thrown for 10 touchdowns on Tamps Bay’s defense compared to only four interceptions. Another bright spot is that the Buccaneers have also allowed four rushing touchdowns in five games. He likely won’t be a top-10 option this week but he makes for a strong starter in DFS or as a QB2.
Every week, one of these spots goes the exact same way. I pull up the schedule and ask myself, “Alright, who is facing Jacksonville this week?” Since the answer to that question this week is Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts, who shouldn’t be used in any format, we’ll have to find other guys to list here.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Defensive Matchup: Chicago Bears (Road)
I know what you’re thinking, but yes, the Bears serve as an unfavorable matchup for Cam Newton. Outside of a four-touchdown performance from Rodgers, no other QB has thrown for more than one score against this Chicago defense. Yes, they only had to deal with Case Keenum and Joe Flacco the last two weeks, but weeks 1-3 were against Matt Ryan, Roethlisberger, and Winston.
This has been an odd first six weeks for Newton. His first three games produced two touchdowns, four interceptions, and thankfully, not much dabbing. In addition, he couldn’t get anything going on the ground, rushing for only 46 yards and a lone score. After that type of start, many fantasy owners became critics of Cam’s and he was falling out of the QB1 discussion. My how things have changed. He’s still throwing too many picks, but Newton has been a top-5 QB in each of the last three weeks. This is the Newton we’ve come to know and love in fantasy. My colleague, Ryan Cook, has Newton ranked 4th this week at the position, but I have him a little lower than that. He’s still worth starting but this Chicago defense should limit Newton to more of a back-end QB1 this week.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Defensive Matchup: Buffalo Bills (Road)
Regardless if he plays or not, it’s probably best to just avoid Jameis Winston this week. He left last week’s game against Arizona early due to an AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder and this matchup isn’t doing him any favors. Buffalo has played five games this season and only allowed two passing touchdowns. Yes, just two. I can say it in several other languages and it will still be just two.
Before last week’s injury-shortened appearance, Winston had thrown for over 300 yards each of the last three games. Don’t expect that streak to start back up again on Sunday. This Buffalo defense is legit and should limit Tampa Bay to under 20 points. I wouldn’t trust Winston as a QB1 or DFS play this week. He should only be started as a QB2 if he even does suit up. He’s currently listed as questionable but is expected to play.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Defensive Matchup: Cincinnati Bengals (Home)
Saying that Ben Roethlisberger is having a bad season is a major understatement. At least as far as he’s concerned. Out of all quarterbacks that have started at least one game this season, Big Ben ranks 29th in fantasy points per game. Roethlisberger might be difficult to bring to the ground, but he is by no means a mobile QB that can gain yards on the ground. He has made his living through the air, slinging the ball to a laundry list of star receivers. He’s still been slinging the ball around, but currently has more interceptions (8) than touchdowns(7). Maybe it’s his age or maybe it’s the fact that he’s looked mentally checked out. Who knows. What we do know, is that this week won’t be any easier for him against a top-notch Cincinnati pass defense.
Through their first five games, the Bengals are allowing only 159.6 passing yards and one passing touchdown per game. This defense isn’t just good at limiting the pass, they’re also incredibly effective at getting pressure on the quarterback. According to Katherine Terrell, an ESPN staff writer, the Bengals have been getting pressure on the opposing QB a league-best 34% of the time. Big Ben better be on his toes this weekend. With this tough matchup, Roethlisberger should only be started as a QB2 in week 7.
Sleeper of the Week
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Defensive Matchup: Arizona Cardinals (Home)
After a lackluster rookie campaign, Jared Goff is finally starting to show why the Rams selected him 1st overall in the 2016 draft. Through six games, he has thrown for 1,484 yards, eight touchdowns, and only three interceptions. The drop in interceptions is surely a welcome sign for the Rams and fantasy owners as Goff threw seven picks in as many games last season.
This week he squares off against an Arizona defense that has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to the QB position so far this season. The game plan Sunday should be more of a pass-heavy approach as Arizona is only allowing 3.4 YPC which is the 4th best mark in the NFL. This isn’t an endorsement to start Goff as a QB1, but he makes for a strong QB2 and DFS play this week.
Thank you for reading this week’s quarterback matchup report on Fantrax. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question about a player not covered here? Ask in the comments below or follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there. Make sure you check back in next Friday as we break down quarterbacks for Week 8.