Week 8 Quarterback Rankings

1. Philip Rivers @ Bal – 10
Whether he's up early, in a nail-biter, or just getting garbage time stats, one way or another Philip Rivers always ends up with great fantasy numbers. He's thrown touchdowns in an absurd 40 of his last 42 games. He's topped 336 yards in five games and thrown multiple touchdowns in six. In almost every scoring system, he's a top-three quarterback. And now, he faces his easiest opponent of the year. Baltimore's lackluster secondary has allowed 321 passing yards per game and 2.2 touchdowns since the opener.

2. Andy Dalton @ Pit – 9.75
At this point, you need a damn good reason to bench Andy Dalton, and Pittsburgh surely isn't one of them. Dalton has thrown multiple touchdowns in three straight meetings with the Steelers, and that was before he was playing at this year's incredible level. In 2015, he's averaging 2.6 touchdowns per game, second only to Tom Brady. It's helped that all of Dalton's weapons are healthy at once, a luxury he hasn't had in years. The three good quarterbacks to face the Steelers have absolutely hammered their sagging secondary. Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, and Tom Brady averaged 358 yards and 2.3 TDs per game.

3. Tom Brady vs. Mia – 9.75
Tom Brady is the only quarterback averaging three touchdowns per game, and he'll probably hit that mark this week too. After all, Brian Hoyer just scored three times against Miami, and Tyrod Taylor did it earlier this year. Speaking of those two guys, Miami has played an incredibly easy schedule of quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick is probably the most competent passer they've seen. So, I'm not convinced that their middle-of-the-pack defensive rankings is legit. Brady should have no trouble with this team, but I'll note that he hasn't topped two touchdowns against Miami in seven straight meetings.

4. Carson Palmer @ Cle – 9.75
The only thing standing in the way of a monster game for Carson Palmer is Chris Johnson. The Browns have the worst rushing defense in the NFL, and Bruce Arians could choose to give his quarterback the day off. Fortunately, even if Palmer's passing volume is down, he can still find his way to a great fantasy game. In his two lowest volume games, he scored three times on just 14 attempts against Detroit, and scored four times on just 24 attempts against Chicago.

5. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cin – 9.5
If Ben Roethlisberger can play, he'll face a Bengals secondary he handled last year, and one that doesn't seem as dominating this year. Cincinnati has allowed some unusually big games, including: Joe Flacco posting 362 yards and two scores, and Alex Smith throwing for almost 400 yards. And don’t forget, before his injury, Ben was on pace for a gigantic season. His two game totals were 720 yards and four touchdown passes. And that was before he had Martavis Bryant at his disposal. Presuming he's close to 100%, his upside is hard to ignore.

6. Matthew Stafford @ KC – 9.5 (London)
It's possible that no quarterback has faced a tougher schedule than Matthew Stafford, with five very difficult matchups in seven games. In his two easier matchups, he's performed very well, with 651 yards and six touchdowns. This game is the easiest he'll get all year, as he faces a secondary that has allowed the second-most passing touchdowns, 15 already. Kansas City is just what the doctor ordered for new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who has agreed to stop working on the General Lee's leaky manifold for Sunday's game. The gameplan here is pretty simple, and it fits what the Lions already do: The league's worst rushing offense shouldn't bother running against KC's very good run defense. Just let Stafford pass his way to a victory.

7. Drew Brees vs. NYG – 9
The problem isn't yardage. Drew Brees ranks third in yards per game, at 312. The problem is scoring, even though Brees has thrown a touchdown in a whopping 42 straight games. More precisely, the problem is that he's thrown exactly one touchdown in four of six games this year, and half of his games over the past 15 games. Sadly, that's exactly how this one figures to play out. The Giants are giving up a ton of yards (297 per game, 4th worst), but not a lot of touchdowns, just 10 in seven games. So, if you like yards, without all of those pesky touchdowns, this looks like a typical start for Brees.

8. Ryan Fitzpatrick @ Oak – 9
If Brandon Marshall had held on to an easy touchdown catch last week, it would have put Ryan Fitzpatrick on a three touchdown game. As it stands, he's still thrown multiple touchdowns in five of six games, and coincidentally, the Raiders have allowed multiple touchdowns in five of six games. So, let's put Fitzpatrick safely into the two touchdown category. But it doesn't end there. #StewBeard has some unusual upside because the Raiders have given up some monster yardage games. In half their games, they've allowed more than 336 passing yards. With Chris Ivory nursing a quad injury, the gameplan could shift to Fitzpatrick.

9. Cam Newton vs. Ind – 9.0
There are few quarterbacks harder for fantasy owners (and experts) to evaluate than Cam Newton. His arm isn't bad, but you really want a rushing touchdown from him. And guessing which game will feature a rushing touchdown is nearly impossible. For what it's worth, Indianapolis hasn't allowed a quarterback rushing touchdown in 25 consecutive games. Although we could say that about a lot of teams Cam has scored against. The good news is that Newton faces a lousy Indianapolis secondary that ranks 28th in passing yards allowed. They've also allowed the 8th-most passing touchdowns. Newton is a wobbly passer, completing an awful 56% of his passes, and failing to reach 200 yards in four of six games. Fortunately, every opposing quarterback has thrown a touchdown, and other wobby passers, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota, and Brian Hoyer each threw two touchdowns.

10. Aaron Rodgers @ Den – 8.75
It's not out of bounds to wonder how well Aaron Rodgers will perform on the road against the toughest defense in the NFL. Despite having had its bye already, Denver has registered the most sacks (25) and the second-most interceptions (9). They've allowed the fewest passing touchdowns (5) and the third-fewest passing yards per game (220). And, to my eyes Aaron Rodgers hasn't looked like his normal infallible self. He's topped 255 yards once. He destroyed the worst secondary in the league, Kansas City, but aside from that game, he's averaging the same two touchdowns per game that Ryan Fitzpatrick is scoring, but with 14 fewer yards per game. His legendary accuracy is waning, as evidenced by completion percentages of 63 and 55 the last two weeks. Any time Aaron Rodgers plays, he's capable of a big game, but this will be his biggest challenge of the year.

11. Matt Ryan vs. TB – 8.5
The easy answer for Matt Ryan's pedestrian fantasy numbers is the emergence of Devonta Freeman. But that's not the only issue. Freeman isn't eating into Ryan's pass attempts; he's averaging 38 passes per game. His wideouts have been healthy this year. None have missed a start, so that's the not the problem. Where the Falcons are killing Matt Ryan's production is inside the 10-yard line. In the team's 34 trips inside the 10, Ryan has thrown just 15 passes. Worse, he's completed just seven. I'd like to tell you that it's going to change, but Freeman has been very effective, scoring on 50% of his carries inside the 10, so the Falcons don't have any reason to change up their goal-line gameplan. Maybe Tampa will help. Of the 38 plays opponents have run inside the Tampa 10-yard line, they've only surrendered three rushing touchdowns, while opposing quarterbacks have thrown nine touchdowns. That radio works to Ryan's advantage. The last two quarterbacks to face Tampa, Blake Bortles and Kirk Cousins, both topped 300 yards, and they scored four and three touchdowns respectively.

12. Eli Manning @ NO – 8.25
With back-to-back games with less than 190 yards, and just one combined touchdown, Eli Manning owners are going to be hesitant to press the "submit" button, even with an easy matchup on the docket. Manning isn't playing well, but neither is the Saints secondary. New Orleans is allowing the 7th-most passing yards per game, 291. Only five teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Saints. Particularly bad is starting cornerback Brandon Browner, who mans one side of the field. The Giants need only put Odell Beckham on Browner's side of the field for an instant mismatch.

13. Andrew Luck @ Car – 8.25
I'm nervous about Andrew Luck this week, as he faces a very good Carolina defense. The only other opponent he's seen this year of Carolina's caliber was the Jets, and the Colts generated seven points of offense in that game. Luck's offensive line has been a disaster, and I'm not excited about his chances of staying upright against the team that's recorded the fifth-most sacks, including five last week and four the week before. The Panthers have allowed the fewest passing touchdown in the league, just five all year. In fairness, Luck is the best quarterback they've faced all year. Working in his favor are his past two games, in which Luck has thrown for 645 yards and six touchdowns. But it took him 50 and 44 attempts to get to those numbers.

14. Jay Cutler vs. Min – 8.25
The Vikings aren't an easy opponent. Their secondary hasn't allowed a 300 yard passer, and only Matthew Stafford has managed more than one passing touchdown against Minnesota. What more, they're only giving up 186 passing yards per road game. But, there's reason for hope for Jay Cutler. First, he's hammered the Vikings at Soldier Field where he averages 265 yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game. The Vikings have never beaten Jay Cutler in Chicago. Last year, he posted 330 and three scores in this meeting, and to my eyes, Cutler is playing better this year than last. He's scored in every game, and his receivers are finally at full strength.

15. Russell Wilson @ Dal – 8
16. Brian Hoyer vs Ten – 8
17. Alex Smith vs. Det – 8 (London)
18. Ryan Tannehill @ NE – 8.0
19. Teddy Bridgewater @ Chi – 7.75
20. Joe Flacco vs. SD – 7.75
21. Peyton Manning vs. GB – 7.75
22. Josh McCown vs. Ari – 7.75
23. Derek Carr vs. NYJ – 7.75
24. Jameis Winston @ Atl – 7.75

 

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