Just as they’re key to the success of their teams, quarterbacks are the key to success for your fantasy team. If your quarterback throws for 300+ yards and three or more touchdowns, it will set you up well for a win, even if one or two of your skill players has an off day.
All the same, if your quarterback throws for three interceptions, loses a fumble, and throws for only 200 yards, it’s going to be tough for your team to overcome that. So, it’s always wise to pay close attention to how well your QB matches up with the opponent, because you’ll only have yourself to blame if you knew how likely it was that he’d struggle against a certain team but started him anyway.
Which signal callers should be shelved this week, and which ones can be started with confidence? Read on the rundown, which might include a surprise or two.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at Tennessee): Roethlisberger is 287 yards away from eclipsing Terry Bradshaw as the Steelers’ leader in career passing yards, and if he doesn’t break the record tonight, he’ll come close, as he should have a big game in Nashville.
Last time he faced the Titans, in a 38-17 win last season, he threw for five touchdowns, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he repeated the feat tonight. The Titans are last in the NFL in completion percentage against (74.6%), tied for 28th in touchdown passes allowed (12), and 25th in passing yards allowed per game (279.6). Those numbers would make for good reading for a quarterback who was in need of a big game, but they should make for really good reading for Big Ben, who’s off to a good start this season, with 1,124 yards, nine touchdowns, and only one interception in four games.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. Oakland): Speaking of quarterbacks who are off to good starts, Ryan has arguably been the best in the business to date, as he’s flourishing in Dirk Koetter’s offense. After posting huge numbers in back-to-back weeks, Ryan is now averaging more than 300 passing yards per game, and he leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 13.
His run of big games will continue this week, as he faces a Raiders defense that has allowed nine touchdown passes, hasn’t intercepted a pass, and has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for an average of 283 yards per game and complete 71% of pass attempts. Atlanta’s last two games have been close, but this one will be over early.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia (vs. Detroit): Vick has had his struggles thus far, but he’s posted decent numbers in the last couple of weeks, completing 65% of his passes and not throwing an interception.
A big performance is only a matter of time, and the chances are high that big performance will be this week. The Lions haven’t given up a ton of passing yards, but they haven’t really been threatening against the pass either, failing to register an interception and recording only nine sacks. If Vick’s able to play without pressure, he’s going to make a lot of plays with his arm and his feet.
Carson Palmer, Oakland (at Atlanta): Palmer’s numbers indoors are impressive (1,687 yards, 13 touchdowns, six INTs in seven career games in domes), but he stands to struggle on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are second in the NFL in interceptions with nine, thanks in part to how well they’ve been able to pressure the QB (13 sacks in five sacks, which is tied for 12th in the league). Palmer’s been pretty good about avoiding mistakes this season, but he’s had to throw a lot of passes so far (162 in four games). And against a defense that likes to get its hands on the ball (14 takeaways, tied for 2nd in the NFL), the more he has to throw it, the more trouble it could lead to.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Houston): Rodgers is usually an auto-start, regardless of the opponent. But unless he gets a new offensive line between now and Sunday, this week could be trouble for him. The Texans, who have 15 sacks this season, should have their way with Green Bay’s offensive line, which has surrendered 21 sacks, the second-worst total in the league. And pressure often leads to inefficiency and mistakes, and the Texans tick both of those boxes, having held opposing quarterbacks to a 51.2% completion rate (best in the league) and picking off seven passes (tied for 5th). Some risks just don’t need to be taken, and this is one.
Tony Romo, Dallas (at Baltimore): Another risk that doesn’t need to be taken is starting Romo at Baltimore. He’ll be raring to get back on track after throwing five interceptions against the Bears last time out in Week 4, but if you’re looking for a bounce-back game, it’s highly unlikely to come against the Ravens on the road.