After four weeks of NFL action it was time to update my quarterback rankings for 2-QB leagues and assess the quarterback situation up to that point. It was a good time to gauge the quarterback landscape in the NFL, and fantasy, and see how we could use the knowledge we learned to better our 2-QB teams.
The plan wasn’t to re-rank the quarterbacks until after Week 8, but with injuries, demotions, and effective/ineffective play, the NFL quarterback landscape has changed since my last rest of season rankings prior to Week 5. With that in mind, going over the rankings, and re-arranging them, seemed like a smart idea.
Just look at what has happened between Week 4 and Week 7: Matt Ryan lost Julio Jones, Thaddeus Lewis proved to be a capable replacement for EJ Manuel, Josh Freeman is starting again, Matt Schaub lost his job to injury, and could have lost it eventually even if he wasn’t injured, and the Eagles have two really good quarterbacks for their system.
Those are all a few story lines in the NFL that have made an impact in the world of fantasy football, and especially in leagues that start two quarterbacks.
Below you’ll my rest of season quarterback rankings for 2-QB leagues, with strength of schedule chart created with the help of Patrick Thorman of Pro Football Focus Fantasy.
Here is the color coding legend for the chart:
ORANGE=Tough match-up/Avoid if possible
YELLOW=Potentially bad match-up
LIGHT GREEN=Good match-up
DARK GREEN=Must start match-up
The biggest shake up in the QB1 tier is that Matt Ryan and Colin Kaepernick have both fallen out of it. Losing Julio Jones for the season, not having a healthy Roddy White to throw to, and playing behind a dreary offensive line are all causes of concern for Ryan owners. If you have Ryan on your team, you’re going to start him, unless you can trade him, but that might be harder said than done.
Dropping Kaepernick into the QB2 tier was trickier, and done more so because of how much more comfortable I would be with Jay Cutler or Russell Wilson as my QB1, than anything else.
Kaepernick didn’t have a great Week 5 showing, and even though he finished Week 6 as QB15 in standard scoring leagues, it was mainly the Vernon Davis show. Half of Kaepernick’s completed passes and 180 of Kaepernick’s 252 passing yards were caught by Davis. There’s not much pass catching help in San Francisco right now. When the return of Mario Manningham is supposed to make things better, you get a feel for how dire the situation is. With his rushing attempts down, Kaepernick is more QB2 than QB1 at the moment.
If you’ll remember, Wilson was originally ranked in the QB1 tier by me in the pre-season, then pushed down into the QB2 tier in my last set of rest of season quarterback rankings, and now he’s back in the QB1 tier.
Since Week 4, he has strung together three quality starts, including Thursday Night’s Week 7 three passing touchdown performance. Even though the passing volume isn’t there with Wilson, he’s made up for it in the rushing department. In his last three games he has rushed for 102, 61, and 29 yards. The extra points that come from rushing the ball vaulted Wilson back into the QB1 territory.
Also, moving up into the QB1 tier was Jay Cutler. The Bears and new Head Coach Marc Trestman had a plan in place, and that was to become a much more efficient passing offense, and that has certainly been the case. Cutler’s 66.1 completion percentage is sixth amongst quarterbacks with a minimum of 200 passing attempts, and he also sports a QB rating of 95.13.
Those numbers might not matter for fantasy football purposes, but what does matter is that Cutler has scored 108.32 standard fantasy points through the first six weeks of the NFL season, and that puts him at QB6 for the year. He has also put up QB1 fantasy numbers the past two weeks.
Looking at his rest of season schedule, you see a player that has match-ups versus the Redskins, Packers (twice), Vikings and Eagles. It’ll be a shock if Cutler doesn’t continue to perform as a QB1 in fantasy football for the rest of this year.
One quarterback situation to monitor closely is the Philadelphia Eagles. I still have Vick ranked fourth, but Foles has creeped into the QB2 tier, at QB19. Foles is the current Eagles quarterback, and if he continues to play the way he has in Chip Kelly’s system, Vick’s hamstrings issues will be the least of his worries.
I’m still of the belief that Vick will regain his starting job once he’s fully healthy, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. If Foles, not Vick, were to start at quarterback for Philadelphia for the rest of the season, I would move Foles up to QB13, at minimum. If you’re a believer in Foles, and think Vick won’t be getting his job back, now’s the time to trade for Foles, because his price tag won’t be any cheaper than it is now, with Vick still in the picture.
Josh Freeman is now the starting quarterback in Minnesota, and while it’s not set in stone that he’ll be starting every week going forward, it’s doubtful the Vikings go back to Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder. The rest of the season with Freeman at quarterback gives the Vikings a chance to see if they have a future franchise quarterback, and for fantasy purposes, Freeman’s rest of season schedule has the makings of a very soft one.
Houston, Buffalo, Tennessee have all dealt with quarterback injury issues, which have clouded the quarterback picture in each respective city. We know Matt Schaub won’t be playing in Week 7 versus the Chiefs, with the Texans announcing Case Keenum as the starter for the week, but will that be just for one week or the rest of the season? Until we know for sure, don’t drop Schaub, but you can only consider him a QB3 for the time being.
Reports out of Tennessee seem extremely positive for the return of Jake Locker, as he has been cleared for contact. The best case return to action scenario for Locker is a Week 9 return, which would be after the team’s bye week. However, reports this weekend surfaced that Locker could be starting for the team this week. Before he was injured, Locker had three really strong performances, and was playing as a high end QB2/low end QB1.
The Bills gave us an update on EJ Manuel’s injury status, and it looks like the earliest we’ll see him play is Week 11, but that’s no guarantee. Even if Manuel comes back healthy, the Bills might want to let him heal longer, and be ready for next season.
Manuel replacement Thaddeus Lewis, in his Bills’ debut, was QB5 in standard fantasy leagues, after completing nearly 60 percent of his passes, for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 17 yards on the ground and one rushing touchdown. If Lewis can perform at a respectable level, he could earn the starting quarterback job in Buffalo for the rest of the season, and perhaps weasel his way into the low end of the QB2 tier.
As for the rest of season rankings, in general, this is how I currently view the quarterback position in 2-QB leagues. Use the chart for start/sit quarterback line-up decisions, or to decipher trade values. Good luck!