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 tables 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.
********Pace – Seconds per play, the lower the number, the more plays run.
*********Red Zone data from Pro Football Reference.
Colts @ Texans
Seahawks @ Cowboys
Chargers @ Ravens
Eagles @ Bears
Andrew Luck (@HOU) – In the red zone he was money with 33 passing scores and one pick (he has 19 passing scores inside the 10-yard line). He’s thrown for two or more scores in 3-of-4 games and he averaged 2.4 passing scores per outing this season. Luck had 10 picks in eight road outings and the Texans picked off 15 passes this season. Houston also allowed 28 passing scores, but they do rank as the second-best defense according to PFF. A key will likely be the health of Colts’ center Ryan Kelly who missed Week 17 with a neck issue as Kelly helps to anchor the Colts run game, an impressive unit when he’s on the field.
Deshaun Watson (IND) – He didn’t throw a pick in the red zone this season (with 20 passing scores). He’s using his legs too; he has three rushing scores in two games, and the last six he’s averaged 7.7 carries and 46 yards per contest, giving him a nice floor (Watson designed rushing attempts: Weeks 1-14: 24 Weeks 15-17: 17). In his six outings, he’s thrown for eight scores but hasn’t been picked while hitting on 73 percent of his passes. The Colts are a solid run defense, and though they have allowed just 21 passing scores that 71 percent completion percentage is elevated. In the Week 4 matchup, the Texans won 37-34 behind 375 passing yards and two scores from Watson who also had a rushing score. It even sounds like Keke Coutee (hamstring) might actually play this weekend, adding another weapon for Watson to play with.
Lamar Jackson (LAC) – Jackson is under 160 passing yards in seven starts, an in that time he’s thrown five scores. There’s precious little passing going on thanks to the Ravens ferocious rushing attack. Over those seven games, Jackson has four rushing scores while averaging 17 carries for 79 yards. He’s basically a high-end RB2 who also throws the ball. The danger, of course, is that if the Chargers can keep Jackson in the pocket. Given that this is a rematch of the December 22nd meeting, and that the 39 yards Jackson had in that meeting were his lowest total as a starter, you have to be a bit concerned if you’re planning on rolling out Jackson.
Russell Wilson (@DAL) – In eight games on the road this season, Wilson has thrown just four picks while tossing 18 passing scores, helping him to an impressive 114.5 QB Rating. Only once in five games has he thrown 30-passes, and at some point, the luck has to run out given the lack of volume, right? Obviously, the Seahawks will run the rock a ton, they have the most productive rushing attack in football, and with the game likely to be close it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Seahawks have to open up the offense. On the plus side, Pete Carroll is 6-0 in his first game of the playoffs since taking over as the Seattle HC.
Philip Rivers (@BAL) – Rivers obviously has a challenge this week against the #3 DVOA defense, a unit that ranks third against the pass (DVOA). The Ravens have allowed just 21 passing scores this season and a permit just 210 passing yards a game. The Ravens held Rivers to 180-0-2 in the Week 16 matchup (the only game this season that the Chargers didn’t score two plus touchdowns), and concerningly, Rivers then went 176-1-2 in the finale against Denver. Rivers has actually tossed two picks in 3-straight, and he’s been under 225 yards in 3-of-4 outings. He should welcome back, a potentially huge boost, Hunter Henry (ACL) this week, and it sounds like Melvin Gordon should be fine. This is a tough matchup, in Baltimore, for Rivers who led the Chargers to a 7-1 record on the road.
Nick Foles (@CHI) – He takes on the top-rated DVOA defense in football and the top-rated PFF team defense. The Bears are rank first in the PFF pass coverage metric and their 27 picks led football and are six more than anyone else. The Bears are also second in football with 50 sacks. The game is in Chicago, and Foles is dealing with that chest issue that he should play through. With the Bears allowing 66 rushing yards a game the last three, and the Eagles rushing attack in a bit of a neutral position, there will be a lot of pressure on the passing attack. Foles has been picked in 3-straight, and rather alarmingly he’s held Zach Ertz to under 25 receiving yards in 2-of-3 games.
QUARTERBACKS TO AVOID
Mitch Trubisky (PHI) – The last five games, Mitch has been picked five times while throwing just five touchdown passes. He’s also averaged a mere 184 passing yards an outing. Moreover, he didn’t score with his legs while averaging 20.2 rushing yards an outing. There hasn’t been any statistical success for Mitch in over a month. Trey Burton hasn’t hit 40-yards since Week 7, Allen Robinson (ribs) missed Week 17, Taylor Gabriel (shoulder) and Anthony Miller (shoulder – it appeared to be dislocated for the second time this season) are also beat up. The Eagles have allowed just 55 rushing yards the last three games, and if they can hold down the Bears ground attack it will put an awful lot of pressure on the shoulders of Trubisky.
Dak Prescott (SEA) – He threw 14 scores versus three picks at home with a 72 percent completion rate. His last four outing he’s averaged 302 passing yards and two passing scores. The Cowboys rank as the 11th highest passing team, game flow adjusted, the last eight weeks, so they aren’t sole a running team anymore either. However, with that passing success, he stopped running with 12 carries for four yards in the four outings. The Seahawks are a mid-level ranked defense that isn’t feared, but it is still one that can step up. After taking Week 17 off, Ezekiel Elliott will be ready to handle 25 touches, and though the Seahawks won a Week 3 matchup, Earl Thomas isn’t playing for the Seahawks and Amari Cooper has been added by the Cowboys. Still, he’s struggled in previous meetings with the Seahawks and he has some issues with zone D.
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).