Week 4 Quarterback Rankings
Aaron Rodgers is the only top-tier quarterback (with the exception of Matthew Stafford who was injured on the way) who has not put up a high quality game thusfar. It is easy to see that so far the Drew Brees owners are the only ones who are really happy with their decision to take a quarterback in the first round. That being said, it's been possible to find a top-5 QB on waivers pretty much every week this season. The good defenses are able to stop the pass regardless of how good the offense is, and this is a huge improvement over last season. This week Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger are both on BYE weeks, so the QB pool is a little more shallow than normal. This is the first week I've written reasons behind my rankings, so I hope you enjoy.
1. Matt Ryan vs CAR - Matt Ryan has probably been the single most successful quarterback this season when you look at statistics and team record. It is good to see that the hype about a player heading into the season can actually be underblown. If we knew he would be this good coming in he could have been a first round pick, and this week he plays the weak Carolina defense. Basically every Falcons player deserves a play this week, and you have to hope that the Panthers can do more against this defense than the Chargers did so that Matt Ryan can keep his foot on the peddle for at least 3 quarters.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs NO - This is an absolutely must-win situation for the Saints and the Packers. If the Packers don't win they fall to 1-3 and to the bottom of the NFC. They have won their only division game which would keep them afloat, but it would be a tough, uphill battle. Rodgers hasn't performed well this season, but McCarthy is going to find the right game plan against the reeling Saints and Rodgers is in-line for a big game. If he doesn't do it this weekend he might not do it all season.
3. Tom Brady @ BUF - Brady finally woke up from his slump last week and put out an amazing performance. This week against Buffalo should be nearly as good, even though the Bills have a good set of safeties. This means that Gronkowski and Welker will probably be bigger assets than Lloyd, but it doesn't really matter who catches the ball as long as Brady is slinging it around. I fully expect him to do that. Everyone who touted the NE run game was proven completely wrong against the Ravens; the game against the Titans was a fluke based on the weak Titans run defense. This team is still all about the pass.
4. Drew Brees @ GB - Just like I predicted in the offseason, this defense is atrocious and Drew Brees is benefiting from it. The Packers have actually been playing pretty good pass defense when the refs aren't calling phantom pass interference and awarding erroneous touchdowns, so Brees falls to the 3rd spot this week. The pass rush should be able to force a few mistakes from Brees, but the Packers have trouble with excellent tight ends so it should all balance out.
5. Peyton Manning vs OAK - Last week the matchup against Oakland vaulted Ben Roethlisberger to 6th on my QB list and he even outperformed that ranking (all other major rankings groups --ESPN, NFL.com, etc. overwrite their rankings each week so you can't see how poorly they did). Needless to say, the matchup here is spectacular for someone as great as Peyton Manning. The Raiders organization has let their two best corners -- Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt -- get away in the last few seasons and is seriously paying for it this year.
6. Robert Griffin III @ TB - Griffin has been great so far this season and the Bucs don't represent a huge hurdle. They have been surprisingly good on defense for the most part (they did fall apart against the Giants at the end of the game), and Griffin has been struggling to some degree without Garcon around. He should still be a great play this week.
7. Cam Newton @ ATL - Steve Smith was absolutely right to call out Cam Newton last weekend, because he has a terrible attitude when he's losing or playing poorly. He should feel bad, but that should make him try harder...not hide his head on the bench. This Falcons defense has been great against the pass but not great against the run, so Newton should be able to put up decent numbers. Oh yeah, and the Panthers defense is pretty terrible so he's better put up points or this is going to be a blow out.
8. Joe Flacco vs CLE - I'm a little worried about putting Flacco this high, but he definitely has earned it. He is playing well and this offense is better than I remember it ever being. The got a lucky win against the Patriots in a sense, but they should breeze past the Browns.
9. Andy Dalton @ JAX - Is Andy Dalton the 9th best QB in the NFL? He certainly isn't. Fortunately for his fantasy owners, the Bengals defense is much worse than advertised for a number of reasons which means Dalton is slinging the ball all over the field. He's lucky to have A.J. Green who can always find space and Andrew Hawkins who is a big play machine (reminds me of Percy Harvin with fewer touches).
10. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs NE - The Patriots defense is better than last season, but Fitzpatrick should still be able to put up good numbers. He is just as good as he was at the beginning of last season, and without C.J. Spiller he is going to have to carry more of the load (don't tell me that Fred Jackson -- 31 years old -- is going to be amazing coming off a 4-6 week injury after 3 weeks). I look for a good game out of Fitzpatrick this week, and I've been flipping he and Dalton back and forth all week.
11. Josh Freeman vs WAS - Welcome to the top-12 Josh Freeman, you get a free ticket thanks to the Washington Redskins defense. They're terrible so distribute your fantasy points accordingly. Without Orakpo and Carriker this defense just doesn't pack a punch.
12. Tony Romo vs CHI - Romo is wearing on my last nerve. He played so well the first week that I started expecting great things from him, but the Chicago defense is the same hard-nose style that has stymied him for the last two weeks and I have difficulty seeing why he is going to rebound against Julius Peppers. He isn't bad, but they really need to get the run game going.
13. Christian Ponder @ DET - Ponder should be congratulated for beating the 49ers, but that has nothing to do with this ranking. Remember what Jake Locker did to this defense? Ponder is just as good and Percy Harvin should have a field day.
14. Michael Vick vs NYG - I'm upset that so many places distance themselves from their rankings every week (why should I believe them if there is no longitudinal consistency?), because I doubt most of them had Michael Vick as low as I did against the Cardinals. The Giants should be able to make Vick uncomfortable with their pass rush and Vick is on pace to break all sorts of turnover records, but he should still make some plays against this secondary. I mentioned exactly why Vick would do poorly last week in my Saturday Injury Report.
15. Blaine Gabbert vs CIN - Gabbert always lives up to my expectations, even if he does it with an 80-yard pass play to end the game. He has been consistently where I rank him every week (top-10 in Week 1, unranked in Week 2, and then top-16ish in Week 3). This week he gets the pushover Cincinnati defense, but he should give up some ground to MJD in the same way he did last week. The injury to Laurent Robinson (whose performance is actually above what I anticipated) could inhibit him to some degree.
16. Eli Manning @ PHI - Manning always proves me wrong, but I can see this being a frustrating game for him. The Eagles have the pass rush to fluster him and the defensive backs to make him pay. I think he will have a terrible first half, and then not quite as good a second half as he did against the Bucs. Those 2-3 turnovers will bring him down here. He just doesn't have great ball security which hurts his team. Not to mention the terrible Eagles run defense and the Giants have two solid running backs healthy in Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown.
I think the top-16 is plenty of reasoning for QBs. There are only 30 starting this week. My Sleeper for this week is Shaun Hill.