Each week on Wednesday, Ray Flowers will break down the quarterback position. There are a handful of signal callers who you always can feel confident in starting. We know the names. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a handful of quarterbacks you should never be starting. We know that as well. It’s the twenty quarterbacks in the middle that really matter. Ray will review the entire position each week, letting you know which quarterbacks should be started and/or avoided on a weekly basis…
Each week on Wednesday, Ray Flowers will break down the quarterback position. There are a handful of signal callers who you always can feel confident in starting. We know the names. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a handful of quarterbacks you should never be starting. We know that as well. It’s the twenty quarterbacks in the middle that really matter. Ray will review the entire position each week, letting you know which quarterbacks should be started and/or avoided on a weekly basis.
NOTE: Players are listed in the table in order of their weekly ranking (#1 is the best play of the week). Not all players will have a write up below, so to find out how they are being profiled for the week, check out the order they are listed in the tables. The numbers listed for the quarterbacks are their per game averages.
*To see the odds for game action this week, be sure to visit our NFL Odds Page.
**DEF Rank: The lower the number, the better the matchup (#1 is the best matchup while #32 is the worst).
***DEF vs. QB: The lower the number, the better the matchup (#1 is the best matchup while #32 is the worst).
****Again, not all players have a write up below. See list above for ranking, from top to bottom.
*****All the “best/worst” stuff below is from Pro Football Focus.
******DYAR, or Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement. This gives the value of the quarterback’s performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.
*******DVOA – Football Outsiders Defense adjusted Value Over Average. The lower the number, the better the defense and the worse the outlook for the signal caller.
********Red Zone data from Pro Football Reference.
Patrick Mahomes (IND) – Looking at his season in four-game segments, his final segment (Games 13-16) was his worst, though, he still averaged 294 yards and 2.3 touchdown passes an outing. In each of his last 11 outings, he threw at least two passing scores at an average of 3.3 an outing. According to Football Outsiders, the Colts faced the worst offensive competition this season, and now they face the dynamic Chiefs offense. They still ranked just 16th in PFF defense; DVOA was much kinder, though, they did fall to 20th in DVOA pass defense. Mahomes was better on the road this season, but he was still pretty darn impressive at home with 305 yards and 2.4 touchdown passes an outing. The Colts run a ton of zone coverage, and Mahomes wasn’t picked by a team that primarily runs that setup this season.
Andrew Luck (@KC) – The Chiefs need to get pressure on Luck. The Colts have allowed a league-low 18 sacks, though, the Chiefs had 52 sacks to tie for the league lead so it should be a good battle of strength on strength. Eric Berry just can’t seem to get/stay healthy, and that’s an ongoing issue for the Chiefs, who will attempt to shut down the Colts diverse/impressive passing offense. An issue for the Colts is that T.Y. Hilton (ankle) is continually beat up and that he did nothing after the first series last time out. Still, he continues to shoulder on. During the Colts five-game winning streak, Luck has thrown for at least two scores four times, and the Chiefs were often beaten through the air this season at 273 yards through the air (second worst) while allowing 30 passing scores.
Drew Brees (PHI) – The last four games against the Eagles, teams are averaging 47 pass attempts and just 14 rushes (per Mike Clay). Ted Ginn returned to action to give the team a deep threat, and the secondary of the Eagles is a certain weak spot (they allowed the third most passing yards this season). The Eagles do rank 1st in pass rush (PFF), though, the Saints rank 9th in pass blocking to help combat that. Brees has struggled of late (three passing scores in four games and an average of 214.3 yards an outing), though, he was predictably dynamic at home this season (an average of 322 passing yards and 3.0 touchdowns per game while throwing a total of one pick). He also torched the Eagles for 363 yards and four scores back in Week 11 when the Eagles were throttled 48-7.
Tom Brady (LAC) – Can Rob Gronkowski contribute? At this point, the odds seem to be below the 50 percent mark. That’s a huge weapon to lose for Brady. Still, over his last six outings, Brady averaged 268 yards and two passing scores an outing (on the year, the numbers were 272 and 1.8). The Chargers have the #3 ranked secondary at PFF. Melvin Ingram led a dominant effort by the Chargers last week, don’t forget about the indomitable Joey Bosa, and if they are up to that level of play again, they will make life very difficult on Brady (it’s rather obvious that the Chargers won’t be able to play seven defensive backs and will actually have to deal with a coach who can scheme an offense around a QB that isn’t limited to running the ball as his only mode of creating offense).
Jared Goff (DAL) – He threw for six scores and six picks the last five games, as the Rams went 3-2. That said, he was filthy dominant at home this season, averaging 342 passing yards and 2.8 touchdown passes an outing (he also threw three picks in eight home games). Todd Gurley (knee) should be fairly healthy after getting that late-season rest, and adding him back to the offense obviously posses tons of problems for a defense. The Cowboys were ranked 6th in points allowed and rushing yards per game (including last week, nine times they have limited an opponent to under 80-rushing yards), and their linebacking corps is very active/athletic, which will pose a stiff challenge for Gurley. The ‘Boys allowed just 22 passing scores this season, and they rank 16th in passing DVOA, so they are a mid-level opponent through the air for Goff to attack.
Philip Rivers (@NE) – The Chargers are 8-1 on the road this season, including last week’s victory, while the Patriots were undefeated at home this season. The Patriots have the second best secondary according to PFF; they rank 14th in DVOA pass defense, but it’s possible that the Chargers size could be an issue. “The receivers are very good,’’ Belichick said. “They’re big, they’re fast, they’re strong after the catch, as are the backs. They get a lot of yards after the ball has been completed.” Both Williamses stand 6’4” while Allen is 6’2”, so you can understand the concern. Hunter Henry (ACL surgery) has also been added to the active roster, and if he can add anything to help stretch the field, the offense becomes that much more diverse. Including the playoffs, Rivers has thrown one score his last three outings while failing to hit 185-yards in any of the outings, as it’s been a while since he was a lock, statistically speaking. This will be the Chargers first game in the 30’s this season, so weather could be an issue for the team from California.
QUARTERBACKS TO AVOID
Nick Foles (@NO) – Foles has a 25-7 record, if you include the playoffs, the last five years. He is 4-1 in the playoffs by the way. Foles has had a “clean” pocket on 70 percent of his dropbacks the last four games, the 7th best mark in football, even though he’s faced four teams that are all in the top-15 in sacks. He’s constantly getting time to make reads, and the last three outings Foles has been picked four times, but he’s also thrown eight scores. The Saints have allowed the 6th fewest points to tight ends, and just five scores this season, which is a concern given Zach Ertz has been held under 40 yards in 3-of-5 outings. Additionally, the Saints allowed 84 rushing yards a game in the second half of the season, and the Eagles have grown increasingly incapable of beating teams on the ground as they turn away from Josh Adams, meaning that a lot of this game will rest on the shoulder of Foles.
Dak Prescott (@LAR) – The Rams rank 6th in PFF secondary scoring. Nickell Robey-Coleman is ranked as one of the better slot corners in the game, and Cole Beasley (ankle) is beat up, potentially removing a fall back option for Dak. Amari Cooper ran the second most routes out of the slot with the Cowboys, but only 16 percent of his snaps with the club, so his usage could increase but its not like he will become the slot guy if Beasley is out (Cooper figures to see a lot of Aqib Talib who has, historically speaking, had a lot of success in the matchup). Aaron Donald is a monster on the interior, and the Rams rank 1st in interior pressure rate in the NFL while the Cowboys rank 24th at stopping interior pressure. It’s a matchup that could cause a lot of issues for Dak, who also figures to have a difficult time using his legs against the Rams front seven. Only once in four games does Prescott have more than one passing score, and on the year, he had a total of eight passing scores in eight games on the road. One also has to figure that the Cowboys will want Ezekiel Elliott to touch the ball 30 times, again, to help to keep the Rams explosive offense off the field.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday-Friday, 8-10 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys).