The fantasy football season is made up of 16 or 17 mini seasons, depending on your league format. During the offseason we spend countless hours researching stats and players so that we’re prepared on draft day. Then the season comes and we start the process all over again each week. It can be quite the grind at times, but if you’re not hustling every week you’re behind the pack.
You can’t rely on what you thought to be right or wrong in the offseason because once the whistle blows and the action starts you’re looking at a whole new set of data. Players you thought were in line for a breakout year (EJ Manuel) don’t break out. Players you left for dead (Eli Manning) come back to life. And players you never even heard of (Austin Davis) all of a sudden become very fantasy relevant.
It’s good to recharge and look at the fantasy football landscape with a new set of eyes every once in a while. I find the quarter-marks to be good times to take a stock of what’s happened so far, and see how we can use that information to our advantage.
One way to do that in 2-QB fantasy football leagues is to re-rank the quarterback position. Not only is this useful for start/sit lineup decisions, but it gives you a chance to see which quarterbacks you value the rest of season, and how you can use that to your advantage in improving your team. The best way to utilize quarterback rankings for 2-QB leagues is in trade talks.
Below are my current rest of season quarterback rankings for 2-QB leagues. I’ll most likely revisit them after Week 8 or Week 9. Beside each ranked quarterback is their schedule, which features strength of schedule analysis from Pro Football Focus’ Patrick Thorman.
Here’s a quick reminder on what the color coding means:
Red – Must Avoids
Orange – Avoidance Advisable
Yellow – Proceed with Caution
White – Neutral
Light/Neon Green – Favorable Foes
Dark Green – Surefire Shootouts
Some Notes on the Rankings:
*One thing we had always hoped for with Russell Wilson was more pass attempts. In his rookie season he averaged 24.6 pass attempts/game and finished the year as QB10 in fantasy. Last season his pass attempts per game average rose to 25.4 and he was fantasy’s QB8.
This season he’s averaged 27.75 and is on pace to attempt a career high 444 passes. That’s still not a lot of passes, and would have placed him only 19th in that category last season.
However, Wilson is making the most of his pass attempts, and leads the league in fantasy points/drop back, according to Pro Football Focus, with a rate of 0.67 fantasy points/drop back.
If you own someone like Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning as your QB1 it wouldn’t hurt to throw an offer out to the Wilson owner to see if you could get another piece back in addition to Wilson for Rodgers.
*When you exclude Eli Manning’s Week 1 dud vs. Detroit, you have the fifth-highest scoring fantasy quarterback from Week 2 to Week 5. During that timeframe, Eli is ninth in passing yards (1,011), has a 10:3 passing touchdown:interception ratio, and has completed 71 percent of his passes.
Other than Seattle in Week 10, Eli’s schedule looks pretty darn rosy the rest of the season. Including Week 6, he still has to face PHI and DAL each (twice), and WAS once. If you hadn’t done so already, look to see what it would take to trade for Eli in your 2-QB league. Be warned, his asking price is likely to go up each passing week.
*There are going to be a lot of rankings that will make you scratch your head, but I imagine you might think I’m pretty crazy for having Drew Brees at QB9.
On the season, Drew Brees is fantasy’s QB8, but the difference between QB8 and QB10 is only 0.6 fantasy points. Out of five games, Brees has one Top-12 weekly fantasy quarterback finish, and that was in Week 3 when he was QB8. However, he does have three QB13 finishes, so he’s been close.
From 2006 to 2013, Brees has been a Top-5 fantasy QB every year, minus 2010, when he was QB6. When you draft Brees high, you’re paying for his consistency.
Yes, we’re only five games into the 2014 season, but Brees has thrown fewer passing yards and touchdowns in the first five games of this year than he had through the first five games of any of the previous three seasons:
-Brees’ first five games stats in 2014: 1,574 passing yards, 9 TDs, 6 INTs (218 attempts)
-Three-year average from 2011-2013: 1,737 passing yards, 12.7 TDs, 5 INTs (219.7 attempts)
Can Brees turn it around and finish the season as a Top-5 fantasy quarterback in 2014? Of course. With his track record, I wouldn’t bet against him. But if I owned Brees and could trade him based on brand name value that would net me a decent starting quarterback plus a little something extra (like a RB2/WR3/Flex player) in return I’d have to consider it.
*If you’ve held on to Cam Newton this long and can withstand his next three games vs. Cincinnati, Green Bay, and Seattle, there might be no other quarterback with a more favorable rest of season schedule from Week 9 to the end of the season.
Most of Newton’s fantasy value comes from his rushing. From 2011-2013, Newton has averaged 121.3 carries, 677.33 rushing yards, and 9.33 rushing touchdowns. In 2014, he has 14 carries and 42 rushing yards in four games. Over a 16 game season that would equate to 56 carries and 168 rushing yards.
Newton’s already missed one full game this season, and he’s not the same Newton we’ve been lucky enough to watch up to this point due to injuries and offseason surgery. He’s not fully healthy, and might not be for a while, but if his health picks up, and he becomes the dual-threat quarterback we have grown accustomed to then he could be a steal if you buy low on him in a trade.
*Mike Glennon isn’t a fantasy quarterback that exudes confidence, but so far in his return to the role of starting Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback he has thrown for 551 yards and sports a 4:2 passing touchdown:interception ratio in two starts. He also has two back-to-back weeks of being the QB15 in fantasy scoring.
Looking at his rest of season schedule when Tampa returns from a Week 7 bye, the Bucs face MIN, CLE, ATL, WAS, and CHI from Week 8 to Week 12. Those five teams, other than Minnesota, are in the Bottom-15 of fantasy points allowed/game to opposing quarterbacks, with Washington currently giving up the most fantasy points/game to the position.
Glennon was mostly like a QB3 bench stash or Josh McCown handcuff when he was given the starting job, so there’s a chance you might be able to trade for him at a reasonable price. If Glennon is the starter the rest of the year he would make for a fine QB2 streamer, at the very least. *CORRECTION* CLE-Week 9 should be shaded as a neutral matchup, not LIGHT GREEN.*
Those plans were quickly dashed once Sam Bradford was lost for the season during the preseason and Shaun Hill suffered an early season injury himself.
Enter the undrafted third-year Davis, who has started the last three games at quarterback for the Rams and looks to hold onto the job the rest of the year.
During his past three starts, Davis has averaged 312 passing yards and two touchdowns. He’s thrown only two interceptions during that span, and has also rushed for 29 yards. In Week 3 he was QB6 in fantasy scoring, and last week he was the third-highest scoring fantasy quarterback.
That’s the good.
There is also the bad with Davis, and it has to do with the players protecting him. Sean Tomlinson did the heavy lifting for us in this Bleacher Report article that shows the poor job the offensive line has done protecting Davis.
In 14 quarters of play, Davis has been sacked 10 times, and has been sacked four times in a game twice. The next four opponents for Davis? San Fran (twice), Seattle, and Arizona. There might be more sacks coming Davis’ way in the upcoming future.
While the 49ers, Cardinals, and Seahawks only have a combined 15 sacks so far this season, the Chiefs have 15 (with league leader Justin Houston accounting for six on his own), and the Broncos (11) and Chargers (12) both have double digits in sacks.
You look at Davis’ rest of season schedule and either think it’s tough and want to stay away, or that it’s manageable for QB2 streaming purposes, with a few favorable matchups on the horizon in KC, ARI, OAK, and WAS.
“If you took the name off his back and you just watched the two games on tape, and you wanted to talk about decision making, understanding the offense, where to go with the ball you would say that Austin Davis was really good. But he’s not a great thrower by any means, he’s not a bad thrower, and we don’t know what he will be, obviously in this league there’s been lower picks that could play.”
We don’t know much about Davis or whether or not his offensive line can protect him, but his play so far has been impressive. If you believe in him, you should be able to pry him away relatively cheap. If you don’t, you can either stash him on your bench, or offer him up to a team in need of a quarterback for a relatively affordable sum. Oh, and he has big hands, if you’re into that sort of thing…
Austin Davis averaged 8.5 YPA in preseason. Averaging 8.0 YPA in regular season. A follower pointed out his hand size is massive (10.4 in).
— Jonathan Bales (@BalesFootball) October 1, 2014
*If we were guaranteed a healthy Carson Palmer the rest of the season he would have cracked the Top-12. In the one game he played in this year he finished as a Top-5 fantasy signal caller, and he has a fairly favorable rest of season schedule.
These rankings will change throughout the course of the season, and it’s best to remember that they’re my rankings. Your rankings might be different. The strength of schedule analysis might not match up to yours either. There are plenty of other sites and tools that provide top notch SoS-type analysis. 4for4’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed and Hot Spots by Player Level SoS is one such great resource.
Some Parting Words…
Rankings are subjective to begin with. We all value players differently. However, it’s good to keep a pulse on the fantasy landscape to see which quarterbacks have seen their values spike high or dip low.
Ranking Eli Manning above Drew Brees to start the season would have been considered outlandish, and while it may seem absurd now, it’s not so crazy to at least consider it.
Whether you agree with the rankings or disagree with the rankings, let me know in the comments section. Hopefully they can help you in the immediate future to read the fantasy quarterback tea leaves, and make start/sit decisions and draw up some trade offer ideas.
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