1. Philip Rivers vs. Oak – 9.75
Coming off a 500-yard (!) passing game, you'll be hard pressed to find a reason to bench Philip Rivers with a very favorable matchup this week. He's hammered the Raiders throughout this career, throwing touchdowns in 15 consecutive matchups. Wow. Meanwhile, the Raiders have allowed the 3rd-most passing yards, 308 per game, and four of five opposing quarterbacks have thrown for exactly two touchdowns. I fully expect Rivers to notch no less than two scores, in part because we know the volume will be there. The Raiders are absorbing the 5th-most passes per game (41), and Rivers is attempting more passes than any other quarterback, 42 per game.
2. Carson Palmer vs. Bal MNF – 9.75
You can make a pretty compelling case that Baltimore has the worst pass defense in the NFL. In the past two weeks, the Ravens have made Colin Kaepernick look like Steve Young and Josh McCown look like Otto Graham. They rank 29th in passing yards allowed and 27th in passing touchdowns allowed. And here comes Carson Palmer, the guy with the second-most touchdown passes. So, it's another great matchup for Palmer who should rebound nicely from last week's surprising dud. Four of the last five quarterbacks to face the Ravens have thrown for more than 340 yards and multiple touchdowns. And, had they not played Mike Vick three weeks ago, those stats would all say "five out of five".
3. Drew Brees @ Ind – 9.75
Everything is starting to fall into place for Drew Brees. Willie Snead is emerging as a reliable target. He's gained confidence in Ben Watson. His running backs are all healthy. And he's unlocking the potential of Brandin Cooks. All this, just in time to face a really bad secondary, Indianapolis. Sure, the Colts secondary was just riddled by Tom Brady on Sunday night. But it's not just superstars who are having their way with the Colts. Just two weeks ago the crusty combo platter of Mallett/Hoyer combined for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Before that, Blake Bortles topped 300 total yards. Before that Marcus Mariota put up 367 yards and two scores. Unless the Colts figure out how to clone Vontae Davis between now and kickoff, Brees will have his way with Indianapolis.
4. Andrew Luck vs. NO – 9.5
Andrew Luck just played his best game of the year, but it still wasn't a dominating performance, like we've seen in the past. There's room for growth, and this game could be his best of the year because of the opponent, the Saints. ProFootballFocus ranks New Orleans as the 25th pass coverage defense, and the 30th pass rush defense. Much of Andrew Luck's statistical troubles relate to his lousy offensive line, but the Saints represent a very winnable matchup for them. 13 straight opposing quarterbacks have thrown for touchdowns against the Saints. This year, four of five opposing quarterbacks have scored two or more times. They've also given up two quarterback rushing touchdowns this year, and five rushing touchdowns Week 8 of last year. Remember, Andrew Luck is a good runner.
5. Blake Bortles vs. Buf (London) – 9.25
Blake Bortles has been on fire for two weeks, throwing for seven touchdowns as he's tried to keep pace with his horrible defense. Teams are passing on the Bills at a higher rate than any other team. And that won't change against the Jaguars. Blake Bortles has topped 50 (!) attempts twice in the past two weeks, and he's thrown the third-most passes in the league. Add in TJ Yeldon's groin injury, and you can feel confident that Bortles will have a ton of volume in this game. And with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns playing extremely well, there's little reason to think that Bortles won't dominate a Bills defense that has allowed the third-most passing touchdowns.
6. Tom Brady vs. NYJ – 9
The only team that can honestly lay a claim to routinely slowing down Tom Brady is this week's opponent, the New York Jets. In their four meetings over the past two years, Brady's average game against this division rival is 214 yards and 1.25 touchdowns. That's it. And now, Darrell Revis has returned to the Jets, and his impact has been predicable. The Jets ranks No. 1 against the pass, allowing just 198 passing yards per game, and they're No. 3 in interceptions with 8 already. In fairness, they've faced some really bad quarterbacking. But even by the standards of Bradford/Tannehill/Manziel/Cousins, they've played even worse than normal when facing the Jets. Obviously, Brady has elite upside in any matchup, even this one, but this will one of his toughest matchups of the year.
7. Ryan Fitzpatrick @ NE – 8.5
Ryan Fitzpatrick is averaging two touchdowns per game, which puts him in the same company with recognized big hitters Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers. #StewBeard has scored touchdowns in 15 of his last 16 games, and this year, he's scored twice in every game but one. And the swagger of this week's opponent, New England, doesn't phase him. His last four games against the Patriots have been monsters: 340 yards per game, and 2.5 touchdowns per game. Opposing quarterbacks almost always end up with very good numbers against New England, even if they're from garbage time.
8. Matt Ryan @ Ten – 8.25
Matt Ryan isn't fantasy football's most disappointing player, but he's probably the most inexplicably disappointing player. The Falcons rank 3rd in points per game and 4th in yards per game. Matt Ryan should be a top-five quarterback. But, in most scoring systems, he's around QB15. He's below guys like Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor. I'd like to say that this game has "turnaround" written all over it, but it feels like another Devonta Freeman game. The Titans have a lousy run defense, and their pass defense ranks No. 2, at only 203 yards per game. Still, every opposing quarterback has scored, and four of five have thrown two touchdowns. Ryan can certainly throw a couple scores, or the Falcons could just run their way to victory.
9. Russell Wilson @ SF – 8.25
Russell Wilson's horrible season is defined by this stat: He's scored one touchdown in 5 of 6 games. Fortunately, help is on the way. If Wilson can't get it done against the 49ers, there aren't going to be many other times when you can start him with any kind of confidence. San Francisco has been drubbed by Joe Flacco and Eli Manning the past two weeks, allowing 774 yards and five touchdowns. Earlier, they yielded monster games to Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger. The 49ers have allowed the most passing yards, and they rank 31st in pass coverage defense by ProFootballFocus. I'm not even calling for a giant game here, but how about two scores, Russ?
10. Cam Newton vs. Phi – 8.25
In a season when everyone (read: me) wrote off Cam Newton when Kelvin Benjamin went down, he's been a shockingly reliable fantasy producer. His productivity has come mostly thanks to his three rushing touchdowns, but even his arm has produced a decent eight passing touchdowns. This despite having the worst set of wide receivers in the league. (Take that as a compliment, Cleveland.) Cam faced these same Eagles less than a year ago, and pounded them for 306 passing yards and two scores. 306 yards would be a season high, so I don't expect that again, but the two touchdowns are certainly replicatable against a middle-of-the-pack Eagles secondary.
11. Eli Manning vs. Dal – 8.0
Combine Eli Manning's goose-egg performance against the Cowboys in Week 1 with a dispiriting game last Monday night, and only the brave will start him this week. But, there's some reason for bravery here. First, prior to last Monday night's dud, Eli put up for straight solid fantasy game. Second, while he sucked against Dallas in the opener, he historically dominates them, including crushing them in his previous four meetings (302 yards and three scores per game). If Odell Beckham is at full strength, consider Manning a better play than he feels.
12. Matthew Stafford vs. Min – 8.0
In this spot last week, I stuck my neck out for Matthew Stafford, and gave him a top-10 ranking, despite his benching the previous week. This time, though, I'm more nervous. He posted decent numbers when these teams met in Week 2 (286 yards and 2), but it took him a whopping 53 attempts to reach those modest numbers, and a lot of them came in garbage time. The real problem is that the Lions offensive line has been lousy, and the Vikings have a terrific pass rush with their front four. In the week 2 game, Stafford was absolutely hammered by a relentless Vikings rush that left him bloody and battered. He's not getting much better protection, and I worry that his upside is capped by a lack of time in the pocket.
13. Ryan Tannehill vs. Hou – 8
Ryan Tannehill just played his best game of the season, completing 76% of his passes, throwing for 266 yards, and scoring twice. And he did it on the road against a good Tennessee secondary. The matchup this week is much more favorable, at home against the Texans. Houston just gave up 331 yards and 3 scores to Blake Bortles last week, and they've ceded good games to other modest quarterbacks this year, like Matt Hasselbeck and Alex Smith. Only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than Houston.
14. Josh McCown @ StL – 8.0
Josh McCown has thrown two touchdowns in every game, but his streak will be challenged this week against a good Rams pass defense. Of the five quarterbacks St. Louis has faced, only Aaron Rodgers has managed more than one touchdown pass. And I worry about his ability to stay upright. He's already been sacked 17 times, and the Rams have a dominating front four that's generated 19 sacks. That's a big mismatch that McCown will need to overcome. Still, McCown managed to find his way to a pretty good game last week, against a tougher Denver defense, so he can't be written off.
15. Tyrod Taylor @ Jac (London) – 7.75
Tyrod Taylor should be able to start for the Bills in Ye Olde London Towne on Sunday. His MCL sprain is an issue, and it'll limit his running, for sure. But, he doesn't need to run to find some success against Jacksonville. The Jaguars pass defense, like usual, is lousy. Four of their past five opposing quarterbacks have topped 280 yards. If Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hoyer can post solid numbers against the Jaguars, why not Taylor? Working against Taylor is a dearth of receiving options, since Percy Harvin didn't make the flight, and Sammy Watkins (ankle) looks like he won't be available.
16. Derek Carr @ SD – 7.75
17. Landry Jones @ KC – 7.75
18. Sam Bradford @ Car – 7.75
19. Joe Flacco @ Ari – MNF 7.5
20. Colin Kaepernick vs. Sea – 7.5
21. Teddy Bridgewater @ Det – 7.5
22. Matt Cassell @ NYG – 7.5
23. Nick Foles vs. Cle – 7.5
24. Brian Hoyer @ Mia – 7.5