1. Aaron Rodgers @ SF – 10
The past two weeks, the 49ers defense has been exposed as being exactly as bad as expected, allowing 43 and 47 points in blowout losses. And now they face their best offense, Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers, fresh off a five-touchdown performance, has thrown the most touchdowns, and is the safest play in fantasy football this week. Rogers has thrown three or more touchdowns 11 times since the start of last year. He's more than a coin flip's chance of hitting the trifecta again here.
2. Matt Ryan vs. Hou – 9.75
If you've been underwhelmed by the Houston secondary to this point, just wait until Sunday. So far they've faced the lackluster passing attacks from Kansas City, Carolina, and Tampa Bay. Here comes Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Ryan won't be slowed by the Houston secondary. No. 1 receivers absolutely hammered the Texans last year, and it's continued this year, as evidenced by Mike Evans' game last week. Julio is very likely sitting on another monster game, and Ryan can't help but score points with him. He's thrown for 298, 363 and 285 yards so far. That's not changing.
3. Derek Carr vs. Chi – 9.5
It's back to back big games for Derek Carr, and another one is coming. In both of his full games, Carr has topped 300 yards and thrown multiple touchdowns. And those defenses were a lot better than the version that the Bears are trotting out. The Bears have allowed eight passing touchdowns, and frankly, it could have been worse: the Seahawks toyed with the Bears last week, and coasted to a shutout victory. Only one team has allowed more passing touchdowns. Chicago's futility has reached a point that the defense is shedding starters, (Bostic, Allen, Vereen) in a fully transparent effort to obtain the first selection in next year's draft.
4. Andy Dalton vs. KC – 9.25
In many scoring systems, Andy Dalton is fantasy football's No. 2 scoring quarterback. Just like we all expected. He has scored nine touchdowns, including four last week. Will it continue? Probably. Kansas City ranks 29th in passing yardage allowed, and dead last in passing touchdowns allowed. The Bears are looking at Kansas City's secondary and pointing and laughing. Two of the 10 touchdowns they've allowed have come via the Hoyer/Mallet combo platter in Week 1. If they can do it, Dalton can. The Chiefs secondary hadn't been the same without star cornerback Sean Smith, but Smith returns, that that dampens my expectations for Dalton (and AJ Green) a tad.
5. Russell Wilson vs. Det – 9
All of my preseason fears for Russell Wilson have materialized as his offensive line has struggled to give him enough time to throw downfield. His average game is pretty lackluster: 230 passing yards, 1.3 passing touchdowns, 45 rushing yards, and 0 rushing touchdowns. This is the plight of rushing quarterbacks. When you have to rely on their arm for fantasy points, they usually disappoint. Will this game be any different? Possibly yes. All three quarterbacks to face the Lions have posted multiple touchdowns. And the best rushing quarterback in the group, Teddy Bridgewater, scored a rushing touchdown. Also working in Wilson's favor is volume. He hasn't thrown fewer than 30 passes in a game this year, something that's only happened one other time in his entire career. The winless Lions look like a team with some quit in them. Wilson could capitalize.
6. Carson Palmer vs. StL – 8.75
I've talked extensively about Carson Palmer's easy early season schedule. They've all been a cake walk…except this game. The Rams can win games with the defensive line, and that's a matchup the Cardinals should fear. The Cardinals offensive looks amazing on paper, but they've faced three anemic defenses: New Orleans, Chicago, and San Francisco. This is a totally different matchup, as they now face the best defensive line in football. The average QB line against the Rams: 228 yards and 0.6666 touchdowns. And since joining the Cardinals, Palmer has struggled in this matchup, generating just one touchdown pass per game.
7. Eli Manning @ Buf – 8.75
The Buffalo defense has a lot of great personnel, but they've managed to allow opposing quarterbacks to find their way to strong box scores even when they're dominating opponents. Every opposing quarterback has thrown multiple touchdowns, and they're averaging 335 yards against. The Bills secondary has been stung by injury, and Leodis McKelvin and Aaron Williams aren't going to be back this week. So, Eli Manning looks like a safe start to reach the same kind of numbers he's posed the past few weeks: high 200s and a couple scores.
8. Tyrod Taylor vs. NYG – 8.75
Tyrod Taylor has passed every challenge he's faced, and he now gets his easiest matchup of the season. The Giants have allowed the most passing yards in the league, 345 per game. Even Kirk Cousins topped 300 yards. Taylor looks like a better quarterback than Cousins, and fantasy owners have loved eight total touchdowns this year. Only Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Andy Dalton have more touchdowns. He's also third among quarterbacks in rushing yards. It appears that Sammy Watkins will not play, however, and that limits his upside.
9. Andrew Luck @ Jac – 8.75
Andrew Luck's seven interceptions is the worst in the NFL, by a margin of two, no less. His erratic play, has certainly effected his fantasy numbers. Last year through three games, he had roughly twice as many yards and touchdowns, and half as many interceptions. Let's hope last week's comeback rally is the spark of a better season. The Jaguars will do their part. They're allowing the 7th-most passing yards, and have generated just one interception. Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill just posted back-to-back 350-yard, 2-touchdown games against Jacksonville. Last year, Luck topped 300 total yards in both games, and threw four touchdowns in one of them. I expect him to hammer the Jaguars, like he usually does.
Update: Luck has been deemed "legitimately questionable" with a shoulder injury, so you'll want to monitor this situation very closely and have a backup plan in place.
10. Sam Bradford @ Was – 8.5
I'm not a believer in this Redskins secondary. Yes, they got better with the offseason addition of cornerback Chris Culliver, but there aren't enough new faces to turn around last year's worst unit. In 2014, Chip Kelly's quarterbacks crushed the Redskins. Nick Foles threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Mark Sanchez threw for 374 yards and two scores. Kelly knows how to beat this group. But Sam Bradford's totals have been downright depressing so far, with just one touchdown in each game, and two games with less than 224 yards. It's a great opportunity for Bradford to break out, though.
11. Peyton Manning vs. Min – 8.5
The Vikings pass rush has been fantastic through three games. They rank fourth by ProFootballFocus, while generating seven sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 45 hurries. Granted, they've faced two straight wobbly offensive lines. But, the Broncos are in the same boat. Three-fourths of the Denver offensive line has been really bad: Tackles Ryan Harris and Ty Sambrailo, and guard Matt Pradis are putting Peyton Manning's career in jeopardy. If the Vikings hit Manning as hard as they've hit Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers over the past two weeks, Manning might explode into a mist of red, foamy vapor, with his entrails scattered across the field. Then again, if he's mostly untouched, he's still capable of giant fantasy performances. Even in a tough game last week, he still found his way to 324 yards and two scores.
12. Cam Newton @ TB – 8.25
When everything goes perfectly for Cam Newton, you get a game like last week. He runs in a touchdown, to punctuate a solid passing day. The end result is a massive fantasy line. And a repeat is possible as he faces a beatable Tampa secondary this week. You already know that Marcus Mariota hammered the Bucs for four touchdowns in Week 1. Since that time, they've only allowed two modest games, but they faced an injured Drew Brees, and a lousy Ryan Mallet. To be sure, this is a bad Tampa secondary, and Newton could easily put up solid numbers. Sure, Newton doesn't have many legitimate targets, but that didn't stop him last week.
13. Joe Flacco @ Pit – 8.25
Joe Flacco has been fantastic for two weeks, and now he gets to face the worst defense he's seen all year, Pittsburgh. The Steelers secondary was brutal in Weeks 1 and 2, before slowing the languorous Rams offense last week. We're likely to see them revert to their usual ways. Flacco was very good against the Steelers last year, seeing them three times, and throwing multiple touchdowns in every meeting. Flacco will be without tight end Crockett Gilmore, but Steve Smith still has the legs to beat a bad Pittsburgh secondary.
14. Philip Rivers vs. Cle – 8
As I've mentioned in the past, Philip Rivers has a tendency to be an all-or-nothing quarterback. This game figures to be more of an "all" than a "nothing", depending on the health of his offensive line. Last week, the Chargers lost center Chris Watt, left guard Orlando Franklin and reserve guard Chris Hairston to injuries during the game. And DJ Fluker entered the game hurt. If those guys can resume play, Rivers should be able to carve up a slumping secondary. Once-awesome cornerback Joe Haden has been awful this year. Donte Whitner has never been a good coverage safety. The Browns rank 23rd in pass coverage by ProFootballFocus, despite facing the Jets, Browns, and Raiders. Watch the injury report. If Rivers is going to be adequately protected, he's got "all" in this game. If not, look out for "nothing".
15. Mike Vick vs. Bal – 7.75
Mike Vick isn't much of a passer, but apparently you don't need to be great to beat the Ravens secondary. Derek Carr and Andy Dalton have exploded for 7 touchdowns in the past two weeks against them. At his disposal, Vick has the NFL's best receiver and (arguably) the best pass-catching running back. Even he can't screw this up, right? He hasn't run in a touchdown in over two years, but he could surprise us with some help on the ground. Dalton ran in a score against the Ravens last week.
16. Ryan Tannehill vs. NYJ (London) – 7.75
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick @ Mia (London) – 7.75
18. Colin Kaepernick vs. GB – 7.75
19. Drew Brees vs. Dal – 7.5
20. Matthew Stafford @ Sea – 7.5
21. Jay Cutler vs. Oak – 7.75
22. Brandon Weeden vs. NO – 7.75