Week 9 Quarterback Rankings

1. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Oak – 10
With a game under his belt, Ben Roethlisberger is poised to dominate a really bad Oakland secondary. The Raiders have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in every game but one, including two to the horrific Geno Smith last week.  And they're even worse against the pass, allowing the second-most yardage, 312 per game. This game figures to be a shootout, and Roethlisberger is will throw copiously to keep pace, especially with Le'Veon Bell out for the year.

2. Tom Brady vs. Was – 10
Tom Brady has the most passing touchdowns and the most passing yards per game, and he faces a Redskins defense that is easier to pass against than run against. Five straight opposing quarterbacks have topped 250 yards, and four of the five threw multiple touchdowns.  The Redskins have seen exactly one accomplished passer (Matt Ryan) all year, and Tom Brady will challenge Washington's secondary in ways they haven't seen all year.  Even if cornerbacks Deangelo Hall and Chris Culliver are able to return from injury, Brady is an elite start.

3. Philip Rivers vs. Chi – 9.75
You never have to worry about volume from Philip Rivers. He leads the NFL in pass attempts, and his running game has shown no signs of life.  What's more, Chicago is a good run defense (just two touchdowns allowed) and a pretty wobbly pass defense (16 touchdowns allowed).  So, the Chargers gameplan should skew heavily toward the pass, even without Keenan Allen.  Why is volume so important to Rivers? In games in which he gets at least 37 attempts (six less than his per game average), here is Rivers' average game: 381 yards and 2.4 touchdowns.

4. Andy Dalton vs. Cle – 9.5
For reasons that I cannot explain, the Browns are Andy Dalton's kryptonite.  Over the past two seasons, he's scored zero touchdowns in three of his past four games against Cleveland.  And even more remarkable, he's been held to less than 117 yards in three of four. How is that even possible? That's a pretty sizable blemish against a player who has been otherwise rock solid this season.  Dalton has scored touchdowns in every game this year, and he's doubled up 117 yards in six out of seven games.  The Browns secondary is in tatters with Joe Haden playing poorly, and Buster Skrine gone. They just allowed Carson Palmer to throw four touchdowns (without John Brown) last week. So, despite Dalton's crappy track record against the Browns, he's still a strong start.

5. Eli Manning @ TB – 9.5
There's little worry about Eli Manning falling back to earth against a horrible Tampa secondary that's been hammered over the past three games as Blake Bortles, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins have averaged 339 yards and three touchdowns. If Oprah were to attend this game, she'd be crying out, "You get a touchdown, and you get a touchdown…you all get touchdowns!" Manning's receivers, Randle, Harris and Beckham, have each got favorable matchups against Verner, Banks and Jenkins.  What's more, the Bucs' run defense has reverted to being an elite unit, holding four straight opponents under 88 yards and scoreless, including Devonta Freeman last week. 

6. Drew Brees vs. Ten – 9.0
I won't be forgetting Drew Brees' 511-yard seven-touchdown performance any time soon, particularly because of Eli Manning's valiant attempt to rally the Giants to a victory. But, there's a real chance that he'll Brees will fall on the other side of spectrum this week against a much tougher secondary. Before you're blinded by last week's crazy numbers, remember Brees had thrown one touchdown in four games this year, and prior to last week, he was averaging just 1.2 touchdowns per game. The Titans are allowing the third-fewest passing yards per game, just 214.  Brees will easily top that yardage number, but he'll likely fall five touchdowns short of last week's number.

7. Derek Carr @ Pit – 9.0
Coming into this season, I was ready to believe that Derek Carr would take a step forward, and start beating other bad teams.  Frankly, I didn't expect him to dominate solid defenses, and post meaningful fantasy stats in virtually every game.  Over the past two weeks he's hammered two accomplished pass defenses, the Chargers and Jets, for seven touchdowns. The only team that's held him in check is Denver (249-1-1), and they're looking like one of the best defenses of the decade. The Steelers secondary isn't good, but they're improved from their many early-season woes. Over the last three weeks, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith have scored one, one, and one touchdown. Still, they're giving up 284 passing yards per game, and Carr his wideouts are a mismatch for the Steelers' shaky secondary.

8. Cam Newton vs. GB – 9.0
Every week, Cam Newton finds his way to fantasy relevance. Even if he's playing in a monsoon with the league's worst receivers.  He's scored multiple touchdowns in every game since the opener.  I'm not about to doubt him this week against the Packers. Against Green Bay last week, Peyton Manning just played, by far, his best game of the year.  The week before, Philip Rivers threw for 500 yards against the Packers.  What's more, the two rushing quarterbacks to face the Packers had giant rushing totals: Russell Wilson ran for 78 yards and Colin Kaepernick ran for 57.  The Packers have only allowed seven passing touchdowns, and Newton hasn't thrown for three in a game in 12 starts. So, his upside is capped, but I don't see much downside either. 

9. Matt Ryan @ 49ers – 8.75
Matt Ryan shook off some of his statistical rust last week with a 400-yard, two-touchdown game, and he's got a decent chance to keep his mojo going against a bad San Francisco secondary—if he's allowed to. My worry is that this game will go much like the last two games the Niners have played, in which Marshawn Lynch (122 yards) and Todd Gurley (133 yards) simply ran ball to an easy victory. Devonta Freeman has proven himself capable of doing the same, and the Falcons have zero hesitation in giving him a monster workload.

10. Tyrod Taylor vs. Mia – 8.5
The Miami pass defense has fallen apart of late, and it won't get any better with the loss of elite rusher Cameron Wake. In the past three weeks, the quarterbacks from Tennessee, Houston, and New England have passed for 304 yards and 2.6 touchdowns per game.  I'm lukewarm on Tyrod Taylor's passing ability, but he's already hammered this defense, throwing for 277 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3. This Bills offense should be healthy, with Sammy Watkins and Karlos Williams expected back. If that's the case, I see Taylor guiding this offense to a lot of points, like he did in Week 3, when the Bills rolled up 41 on the Dolphins.

11. Peyton Manning vs. Ind – 8.25
Peyton Manning just played his best game of the year, with just eight incompletions and 340 yards.  At this point, he's just a spot starter, but this is probably one of those spots.  The Colts are allowing the 6th-most passing yards, 288 per game. Every opposing quarterback has scored, and five have scored more than once. And wobby corners Greg Toler and Darius Butler are very exploitable—there's only one Vontae Davis to go around.  Of note, Manning was awful in this matchup in the playoffs last year, guiding the Broncos to just 13 points behind a paltry 211 passing yards.

12. Jay Cutler @ SD – 8.25
There's some legit talent in the Chargers secondary, but Jason Verrett can only do so much, and Patrick Robinson may not be available as he works his way through the concussion protocol. Only Michael Vick and Teddy Bridgewater have failed to score multiple touchdowns and/or top 300 yards against the Chargers. Cutler is better than those guys, and he's finally got a healthy Alshon Jeffery to throw to. With Matt Forte out, Cutler will likely be asked to throw a few more passes than normal, but note that the Chargers' run defense is so bad that opposing quarterbacks only average 30 attempts per game, among the fewest in the league. That caps Cutler's upside in this game.

13. Aaron Rodgers @ Car – 8.25
Take away Aaron Rodgers' decimation of the Chiefs in Week 3, and here's his average game: 206 yards and 1.6 touchdowns.  The closest quarterbacks to his 206 yards per game are backups Colin Kaepernick and Johnny Manziel. His 1.6 touchdowns per game, and he's on par with Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick.  So, let's dispense with the notion that Rodgers is impossible to bench.  Especially against Carolina. Only two teams have allowed less than Carolina's one passing touchdown per game. Three straight passers have failed to top 239 yards against Carolina.  What's more, the Panthers are easier to beat on the ground, and it's possible that Packers game plan skews toward Eddie Lacy and James Starks.

14. Ryan Tannehill @ Buf – 8.25
Sure, Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins were humbled on national television last week.  But, Belichick and Brady will do that. Before you dismiss Tannehill, remember prior to that game, he had thrown multiple touchdowns in five straight, and had guided his team to 38 and 44 points after Joe Philbin departed. This week, he faces the same Bills team he saw in Week 3, when he threw 49 passes for 297 and two scores.  That kind of high volume is certainly possible again, as the Bills are seeing the 4th-most passing attempts 41 per game.

15. Jameis Winston vs. NYG – 8
Jameis Winston's development isn't taking a linear path, but broadly, he's very improved from the beginning of the season. I'm anxious to see what he'll do when he's got all three of his receiving weapons (Evans, Jackson and Sefarian-Jenkins) available in the same game.  I don't think that'll happen this week, with Jackson likely still out, but considering the opponent, it may not matter.  As you already know, the Giants just gave up seven touchdowns and 500 yards to Drew Brees.  And that game was no fluke, as the Giants had allowed over 260 yards in every game but one. Even if cornerback Prince Amukamara can return from his pec injury, it's still a solid matchup against a secondary that has allowed a touchdown in every game this year.

16. Kirk Cousins @ NE – 8
At the end of the day, pretty much every quarterback who faces the Patriots ends up with a very good box score.  With the exception of Brandon Weeden, every opposing quarterback has topped 300 yards  and/or thrown multiple touchdowns.  And, you don't have to be a Hall of Famer to post good numbers.  Tyrod Taylor scored four times.  Blake Bortles put up two scores. Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 300 and 2. Kirk gets his best receiver back, as DeSean Jackson is expected to play for the first time since Week 1, and Jordan Reed is actually healthy too. 

17. Marcus Mariota @ NO – 8
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Jac - 8
19. Blake Bortles @ NYJ – 7.75
20. Sam Bradford vs. Dal – 7.75
21. Andrew Luck vs. Den – 7.5
22. Teddy Bridgewater vs. StL – 7.5
23. Matt Cassel vs. Phi – 7.25

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