Week Seventeen Analysis:
Andy Dalton has quietly powered teams into the playoffs, through the playoffs, and to championships. Over the last 10 games (and 10 games is lengthy sample size!), here's the average game for Andy Dalton: 280 yards per game and 2.6 touchdowns. That makes him a top five fantasy quarterback for two thirds of this year. Baltimore is a good, not great, secondary, and Rivers threw for a healthy 274 yards and two touchdowns against them when these teams met in week 10.
Week Sixteen Analysis:
For a guy nobody gives any respect to, in fantasy football or real football, Andy Dalton's fantastic second half of the season is absolutely powering teams. He's scored three times in more than half of his last nine starts. And here comes the Vikings, the team that's allowed the most passing touchdowns, 31. And a team that's allowed multiple touchdowns to eight straight sets of opposing quarterbacks. What's more, the Vikings were without their No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 cornerbacks last week, and that could be the case again this week. Dalton has already shown the ability to post big upside games. This is his best chance yet.
Week Fifteen Analysis:
People think of Andy Dalton as a humdrum, low-impact quarterback. But the reality is that he's got elite upside on a game by game basis. He's thrown three or more touchdowns in four of his last seven games. Three-touchdown games win you fantasy championships. But, can he do it against the Steelers? It's a tall order, especially since most of his big games have come against bottom-tier secondaries. In five career matchups with his divisional opponent, his average game is 194 yards and one touchdown pass. He put up 280 yards and one score in the earlier meeting this year. The Steelers remain a solid secondary, but they're showing some cracks, including Ryan Tanehill's snowy three touchdown game last week. Still, it's a tough matchup.
Week Fourteen Analysis:
I expected a lot more from Andy Dalton last week in an easy matchup, but I'm not ready to give up on a guy who has posted multiple touchdowns in five of his past seven games. Especially not in another seemingly easy matchup, this time with Indy. The Colts have allowed opposing quarterbacks to score multiple touchdowns in five of the past six games. The only guy they've shut down of late is backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. I see nothing to suggest Dalton can't have another solid game.
Week Thirteen Analysis:
Andy Dalton has been downright explosive this year, and especially of late. Over the last six games, he's averaging 290 yards and a Peyton-like 2.7 touchdowns per game. This, despite playing some very good pass defenses, and a game in awful field conditions two weeks ago. Now he faces one of the worst secondaries in the league, San Diego's. The Chargers rank dead last in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. No quarterback has thrown for less than 268 yards against San Diego in five weeks. And last week, Alex Smith posted a three touchdown game against them. Dalton has twice as many touchdowns as Smith, so if he's good for three, Dalton's got big upside.
Week Ten Analysis:
Andy Dalton is one of the week's toughest calls. Will we see the surgical field general who tore apart the Bills, Lions and Jets? Or the bumbler who cost his team a win last week with his many miscues? Here's what we know for sure, the Bills, Lions, and Jets are three awful secondaries. And this week's opponent, Baltimore is pretty good. Since the opener, only one quarterback has topped one touchdown against the Ravens. Inexplicably, it was Jason Campbell last week. I don't see Baltimore having another relapse, especially against a Dalton, a quarterback they've dominated throughout his career. In four lifetime meetings, Dalton is averaging 226 yards per game, 0.5 touchdowns, and no help via the ground. I'm a Dalton apologist, and he's proven to beat the odds in past games, but show caution here.
Week Nine Analysis:
Fantasy football's best quarterback over the past three weeks has been Andy Dalton. He's scored 11 times in those three games, and topped 325 yards in all three. Those are great numbers, and the Cincinnati offense looks like a force. But Dalton gets a serious test against a rejuvenated Miami secondary, a much tougher unit than the Jets, Lions, or Bills. Of Miami's seven opposing quarterbacks this year, only Drew Brees put up a good game. Andrew Luck threw one touchdown. Joe Flacco got shut out. Last week, Tom Brady threw for 116 yards and one score. That's it. And in their three home games, Miami has shut out two opposing quarterbacks. I love what Dalton has accomplished, but I'm showing some caution here.
Week Eight Analysis:
Will the real Andy Dalton please stand up? In a four week span, Dalton has gone from droppable in most formats to a near must-start. Weeks 4 and 5 he averaged 209 yards and threw zero touchdown passes in two games. But in the last two weeks he's averaging 354 yards and has had three touchdown passes in each game. I'm guessing Dalton's numbers land somewhere in the middle this week when the Bengals host the Jets. The Jets have been a Rex Ryan-style stingy defense again this season, giving up one or fewer touchdown passes to five of seven quarterbacks they've faced.
Week Seven Analysis:
Andy Dalton was one of fantasy football's best performing quarterbacks last week, with 337 yards and three touchdowns. But that performance came after getting shut out in back to back weeks. It goes to show the volatility of Dalton, especially when he plays good secondaries. He's a matchup starter. And this matchup is, well, murky. The 2013 Lions secondary is clearly improved from past iterations. They don't give up blowout games. No quarterback has more than two touchdowns against them this year. But they don't shut down opponents either, and Brandon Weeden just threw for nearly 300 yards and two scores. Let's call it a low risk, low reward game for Dalton.
Week Six Analysis:
Andy Dalton hasn't scored a touchdown in two weeks. But in fairness, he's battled some really tough defenses. He's faced Cleveland , Pittsburgh, and New England so far, and those three teams rank No. 1, No. 3 and No. 3 in passing touchdowns allowed this year. So, those teams are clamping down on everyone. And, last week, Dalton was battling in monsoon. So, there are your excuses for Dalton. And, now the schedule turns decidedly more easy. Buffalo ranks 20th in passing yardage allowed, and they had allowed multiple touchdowns to every opposing quarterback until last week when Brian Hoyer got knocked out of the game. Buffalo is still a hobbled secondary, quite possibly without Jarius Byrd, Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin again. Dalton should bounce back for those who haven't given up on him.
Week Five Analysis:
As I discussed last week, I didn't trust the New England secondary to stand up to their first bona fide passing attack, and Matt Ryan blew up for 425 and two scores against them. Andy Dalton isn't at Matt Ryan's level, but he's a whole lot better than Manuel, Smith, and Freeman, the Patriots first three opposing quarterbacks. Dalton got locked down by a very good Cleveland defense last week, but I see a very possible bounceback coming. The Patriots secondary isn't good, and he may be passing a lot in an effort to keep up with Tom Brady.
Week Three Analysis:
Normally, Andy Dalton is a safe play, without a lot of risk of a bad game nor the prospects of explosive output. But this week is different, as he faces a reeling Green Bay secondary that has yielded monster games to Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin. The Packers have allowed the third most passing yards and the second most passing touchdowns. Dalton threw a whopping 45 times on Monday night, proving that the Bengals are willing to air it out, when necessary. And, generally, games against the Packers have that necessity as teams try to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers. An unusually big game from Dalton is possible this week.
Andy Dalton deserves a little more love than he's getting. Here's a guy that nobody thinks of as a QB1, yet: he threw touchdowns 14 straight games last year; he posted seven (!) three-touchdown games; and he's got one of the NFL's best receivers in the game to play catch with; and he totaled 31 touchdowns last year. 31…way more than most people realize. I wish he had a better second receiver, but he's now got two quality tight ends, and new runner Giovanni Bernard has great hands. Dalton is the ideal answer for drafters who slough the QB position until the 10th round.
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