Earlier in the summer when I was ranking pitchers over on the baseball side, there was a moment early in the baseball season when less than 60 starting pitchers had played; the rest were injured or quarantined or got caught at the club and sent home. The starting quarterback landscape is increasingly looking that way: tons of injuries are taking their toll, and the NFL has a baffling Covid policy where they’re punishing teams for practicing during the week yet still marching teams out every Sunday rather than delaying the games. Was Tuesday Night Football really that bad? I mean, other than screwing up the fantasy scoring systems for like two weeks. ENYWHEY. Outside of Dak Prescott, most of the injuries and quarantines haven’t affected the bulk of fantasy managers playing in standard leagues. Those who are in deep leagues, dynasty leagues, or superflex leagues, however, are probably in massive frustration mode. Here’s how I’m seeing the QB landscape unfold.
Ben Roethlisberger — Big Ben was last week’s quarterback highlight and he definitely hit, with 306 yards and 3 TDs. If you’re reading the news wire, you’re probably seeing a lot of talk that BB is having the best year of his career (taking a year off and losing AB can definitely help that), but that definitely applies more to real life football than fantasy football. In our fantasy world that we love to shout about, Big Ben has finished in the top 10 QBs on a per week basis only 3 times this year. BB’s racking up TDs at a 6.3% clip, tied for second best in his career. However, in a year where quarterbacks are enjoying unprecedented success in quieter stadiums, BB is well into the bottom half of the league in passing yards, and he doesn’t rush whatsoever. These factors limit his upside. Update: Big Ben will be quarantined for Covid-19 after teammate Vance McDonald tested positive for the virus. If you’re thinking about BB as a bye-week fill in, you might want to wait until next week.
Mason Rudolph — If Big Ben can’t play in Week 10, Mason Rudolph would be the natural option to fill in, assuming he’s not under quarantine as well. Rudolph spent time as the Steelers’ starter last year and would basically be a streaming option in the event that Big Ben can’t play next week. The Steelers are top 10 in passing attempts this year, and like Jake Luton below, Opportunities + receivers = upside.
Matthew Stafford — Stafford had been on a tear recently and faced the atrocious Vikings secondary last week. However, early in Week 9, Stafford’s family came into contact with a known positive Covid carrier, and the Lions’ franchise QB went into quarantine. He followed team practices via virtual meetings, and after repeated negative tests, he took the field on Sunday. Starting out strong, Stafford put up 211 yards and a TD before entering concussion protocol in the third quarter. Although Stafford showed no signs of a concussion, Lions’ backup QB Chase Daniel finished the game with less than stellar results against one of the worst secondaries in the league. Keep an eye on Stafford’s health, and if he continues to start, he’s got some easy matchups ahead of him. Stafford was putting up over 300 yards per game since Week 5 and was on pace to match that against the Vikings before getting hurt, so he could be a cheap source of QB points in deeper leagues. His TD pace in that time span was pretty paltry, though, so his upside as a DFS GPP QB (holy acronyms, Batman!) is slim.
Justin Herbert — I’d like to say I started the trend on Herbert being ranked in the top 5 rest of season projections, but there’s a lot of rankers with higher bona fides than me who will take credit for that. Damn you Dalton Del Don! Herbert put up 326 yards against the Raiders last week with 2 TDs and a controversial call at the end of the game that could have made it 3 TDs. In addition to huge passing games, Herbert’s been putting up sneaky 20+ rushing yard games over the past three games, including 66 yards and a TD in Week 7. Although talk around Twitter certainly puts Chargers’ head coach Anthony Lynn’s job in question, what’s not questionable is whether Herbert is a contender for a top 5 QB spot in next years’ drafts. Although I’d like to say that Herbert is off the waiver wire in most leagues, he was still FAAB’d in a couple Razzbowl leagues two weeks ago, so…if he’s on the wire in your league…seriously, find a more competitive league.
Jake Luton — Making his first career start in place of the injured Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton completed 68% of his passes for 304 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and rushed for another TD. As I wrote last week: “Opportunity + receivers + ability to throw downfield = sneaky upside.” Reports are indicating that Minshew will miss Week 10, and might be ready for Week 11. However, Minshew was already rumored to be on the cusp of losing his job, and it’s well known that the Jaguars aren’t sentimental about moving on from players. A good week 10 from Luton could mean a change in the Jaguars’ depth charts. Luton put up good numbers in the PAC-12 last year and was close to Justin Herbert’s adjusted passing yards, so he’s worth watching for a breakout.
Tua Tagovailoa — Tua came out and played like a grown ass man, and he put on a show that set the internet ablaze. Problem is, for fantasy purposes, he put up a lackluster game, with 248 passing yards, 2 TDs, and another 35 yards on the ground. Don’t get me wrong, that’s nice if he puts up those numbers every week for the rest of the season. However, that performance that was so exciting to watch on TV amounted to QB16 overall, trailing Nick Foles and Jake Luton. Additionally, the Dolphins got suddenly thin on offense: they traded breakout receiver Isaiah Ford, running back Miles Gaskin hit IR this week, and Preston Williams might miss next week. Tua’s probably a better fantasy play next year, but a healthy Dolphins team at the end of the year might be a sneaky play for your fantasy playoff run.
Drew Lock — Believe it or not, Drew Lock won a Draft Kings player more money for the Milly Maker DFS game than Lock himself will make this year. Lock was definitely a contrarian upside pick for Week 9: he was averaging about 9 fantasy points per game, was top 20% in the league in yards after catch (meaning he relied on his receivers for yardage production), and was generally in one of the worse QB situations in the NFL. Right now there’s a bunch of people pounding the table shouting “WHAT ABOUT NOAH FANT!?!” OK, calm down, sip on your White Claw, and just simmer. After the Falcons went up 27-6 on the Broncos, something clicked inside of Lock. Maybe he was tired of being the 32nd ranked QB on a list of Top 30 QBs. Maybe he looked at the Falcons DEF, which is on pace to allow more passing yards than any other DEF in NFL history (with the exception of the 2020 Seahawks), and Lock said, “I want some of that, too.” So with less than 30 minutes left in the game, Lock turned it into overdrive and, well, lost to the Falcons. But on his way to another loss, Lock put up over 300 yards passing, 47 yards rushing, and 3 combined TDs. Although MB put Lock on his “Steals” list this week, I’m going to err on the side of data and say that Lock should remain on fantasy benches. Again, the Falcons are historically awful as a pass defense this year, and Lock should have been taking advantage of that weakness. If you want to take a FAAB at Lock, be my guest, but it’s going to take more than garbage time against the Falcons to move my needle on Lock (heyo!).
No NFL team has ever allowed more than 4,800 passing yards in a season (Packers: 4,796 in 2011)
The Falcons are on pace to allow 4,964
The #Seahawks: 5,793 👀
— Vlad Sedler (@RotoGut) November 10, 2020
Alex Smith — Football Team’s Kyle Allen had a nasty ankle injury last week and will miss the remainder of the season, so Alex Smith continues his comeback journey as the new signal caller in Washington. Don’t ever let somebody tell you that it will take the failures of two other people to make your dreams come true! Obviously Dwayne Haskins did enough to piss off the brass in Washington that they decided it was a better option to go with the much older guy who suffered what some considered a career-ending leg injury. Certainly feel free to take a flier on Smith if you’re in a deep league, otherwise let him ride the bench until you see some fantasy relevance.
Garrett Gilbert — The Ben DiNucci experiment lasted one week, and reports are that Andy Dalton has healed enough from his concussion that he should be ready to go in Week 10. That said, the Cowboys are a disaster and their already weak secondary got weaker with an injury to Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys will be passing a ton, and it looks like they’re sticking with three-time Pro Bowler Andy Dalton as their guy for 2020. Watch the news for updates about Gilbert; if he ends up starting again, then feel free to stream him in deep leagues and superflex leagues.
Drew Brees — Every week, I look into Rudy’s premium rankings and spill the beans about one player that his system likes that you might want to stream. This week, I’m seeing a lot of interesting low-owned QBs show up in high rankings, but Drew Brees looks to be a nice play against what should have been a tough matchup against the 49ers. The 49ers are a bit of a mess right now, and their offense is so damaged that they struggle to stay on the field. Aaron Rodgers put up a monster game last week against the usually stout 49ers secondary, and Brees looks to repeat that success in Week 10.
I’ve tried leading with it, and I’ve tried bolding it, and the thing is, the information keeps
slipping being skipped over by readers. The point variance between QBs is pretty minimal, all things considered. There’s a clear Tier 1 with Russ/Kyler/Mahomes, followed by tiers that are nearly identical. If you’re in a 12-team league, there’s about 2.5 points/game that separate QB5 from QB12; if you’re in a 12-team superflex, there’s about 4 points/game that separate QB13 to QB 24. Ranking WRs and RBs are much more important due to the point variance; for QBs, there’s not a lot of meaning in seeing one QB ranked over another. Instead, it’s more effective to look at the QBs in their tiers for their fantasy utility, and I’ll be doing that from now on. This has the added benefit that I can include backups in the tiers, such as Jake Luton; if Luton keeps the job, you know he’s just as streamable as Gardner Minshew.
- PY/G = 2020 passing yards per game
- RY = Total 2020 rushing yards
- TTDs = Passing + Rushing TDs
- CAY/AT = Completed Air Yards per Attempt (Shows accuracy + Thrown Distance)
- YAC/C = Yards After Catch per Catch (Shows role of receivers in yardage)
- Bad% = Percentage of badly thrown passes (not including spikes/throwaways)
- FP/G = Standard League fantasy points per game (2020 season)
|Tier 1: The Undroppables|
|Tier 2: DFS GPP All-Stars and 10-Team League Starters|
|Tier 3: Last Starters in 12-Team Leagues|
|Tier 4: Bye Week Streamers, DFS GPP Matchups, and Superflex Starters|
|Gardner Minshew II||265||122||14||3.7||4.9||18.8||18.63|
|Tier 5: Desperation QBs and DFS Contrarians|
Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.