Quarterback start ’em, sit ’em decisions will be tough for more than a few fantasy football owners this week. The byes take away a few borderline options (Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Joe Burrow, Carson Wentz), but it’s tough matchups for several stars, including Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes, that will have many checking our Week 9 fantasy QB rankings and wondering if they should play a sleeper over their beloved studs.
Jackson (@ Colts), Rodgers (@ 49ers), and Mahomes (vs. Panthers) are generally considered “must-starts,” but depending on who’s available, it’s at least reasonable to consider other options this week. Chances are, you will still start them, which is probably smart given how high their respective floors are, but the ceilings for Jackson and Mahomes have been a bit lower than expected this season.
WEEK 9 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Justin Herbert (@ Raiders), Derek Carr (vs. Chargers), Ben Roethlisberger (@ Cowboys), and Matthew Stafford (@ Vikings) have QB1 upsides in any given week, and this is the type of week where all should be started. Kirk Cousins (vs. Lions) and Cam Newton (@ Jets) are also in good spots, though both come with low floors that make them tough to trust over any of the QBs mentioned above.
WEEK 9 PPR RANKINGS:
Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Several other borderline QBs are in tough spots this week. Drew Brees (@ Buccaneers), Teddy Bridgewater (@ Chiefs), Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. Packers), and Ryan Tannehill (vs. Bears) are below-average plays, and if you’re in need of deeper sleepers to replace them, you can consider Drew Lock (@ Falcons) and Nick Foles (@ Titans). Tua Tagovailoa (@ Cardinals), Kyle Allen (vs. Giants), and whoever starts for the Jaguars, be it Mike Glennon or Jake Luton (vs. Texans), are all tempting options, but they should be limited to starts in two-QB leagues.
Again, you’re probably going to stick with Jackson, Rodgers, and Mahomes, but there are other high-upside options available this week. At the very least, you shouldn’t automatically keep someone like Brees or Tannehill in your lineup. Always explore all your options, and don’t be afraid to make some bold moves if you’re in a must-win situation.
Note: Check back throughout the week, as we’ll continue to update our QB rankings up until kickoff based on the latest news and injury updates.
Week 9 Fantasy QB Rankings
These rankings are for four-point passing TD leagues.
Josh Allen, BUF vs. SEA
Deshaun Watson, HOU @ JAX
Russell Wilson, SEA @ BUF
Justin Herbert, LAC @ LV
Kyler Murray, ARI vs. MIA
Lamar Jackson, BAL @ IND
Derek Carr, LV vs. LAC. Carr had been on a roll until the high winds and nasty weather in Cleveland slowed him down in Week 8. In the five games prior, Carr averaged 297.4 yards and 2.4 TDs per game. The Chargers entered Week 8 giving up the fourth-most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to QBs and then allowed Drew Lock to throw for three scores against them, so Carr is in a good spot to bounce back.
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT @ DAL. Big Ben has been a relatively high-floor, low-ceiling QB this year, but Dallas remains one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Cowboys have allowed at least two QB touchdowns in six of the past seven games, and Roethlisberger has at least two scores in all but one game this year. It’s almost a lock you’re getting 250 yards and two scores from Roethlisberger, and the upside is there for much more.
Matthew Stafford, DET @ MIN. Stafford has looked like the old Stafford over the past two games, at least in terms of yards. He’s posted 340 and 336 yards, respectively, the past two weeks and tied his season high with three touchdowns last week. Minnesota continues to get torched by QBs, having allowed at least three passing touchdowns in each of the past three games. Stafford has a lower ceiling if Kenny Golladay (hip) doesn’t play, but the Lions still have good enough pass-catchers for Stafford to pay off in this matchup.
Tom Brady, TB vs. NO. Brady accounted for three touchdowns when these teams met in Week 1, and this time around, he’ll have Antonio Brown available to throw to. It’s unclear if Chris Godwin (finger) will be back, but either way, Brady has the weapons to put up big stats against New Orleans’ defense that entered Week 8 allowing the sixth-most FPPG to quarterbacks.
Aaron Rodgers, GB @ SF. The 49ers grade out statistically strong against QBs, but they’ve inflated their ranking by beating up on some bad signal-callers (Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones, post-COVID Cam Newton). Kyler Murray, Carson Wentz, and Jared Goff all put up multiple TDs against the 49ers despite modest yardage totals, while Ryan Fitzpatrick (350 yards, three TDs) and Russell Wilson (261 yards, four TDs) went off. Rodgers has a higher floor in this game than you might originally think, and his ceiling is always high.
Patrick Mahomes, KC vs. CAR. Mahomes can put up 350 yards and four touchdowns against anyone, so the “bad matchup” here isn’t so much about what Carolina has done against QBs (fifth-fewest FPPG allowed); rather, it’s about how bad Carolina is against running backs. The Chiefs have shown us this year they’ll take what defenses give them, which is why Mahomes has had four games with fewer than 250 passing yards and four games with two-or-fewer TDs. Kansas City should be able to run all over the Panthers, and while Mahomes will still put up starter-worthy stats, we just don’t think his ceiling is quite as high this week as the guys in front of him.
Matt Ryan, ATL vs. DEN. Ryan has one or fewer touchdowns in five of his past six games, but he’s averaged just a shade under 290 passing yards and 17 rushing yards per game in that span. The lack of scores is a bit fluky, and some tough matchups in that span haven’t helped (Panthers twice, Bears, Packers). It’s also worth noting that Ryan had four touchdowns against the Vikings in that span, so he still has a high ceiling in any given week. Denver has allowed multiple-TD games to Justin Herbert, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Ryan Tannehill this year, and Ryan compares well to those quarterbacks.
Kirk Cousins, MIN vs. DET. Cousins yielded much of the offensive load to Dalvin Cook last week, but he was still sharp, completing 11-of-14 passes for 160 yards and a score. The Lions just allowed 262 yards and three TDs to Philip Rivers, so that should give you an idea of what Cousins’ ceiling is in this favorable home matchup.
Cam Newton, NE @ NYJ. Newton has still thrown for more than 174 passing yards just once all season, but his average of just under 50 rushing yards and one rushing TD per game still gives him a decent floor in fantasy leagues. The Jets have been killed by running QBs this year, yielding 149 yards and a pair of rushing TDs in three games against Kyler Murray and Josh Allen (twice). Newton should hit his season averages with ease, and he has the potential to post better passing numbers considering the Jets rank 29th in pass defense.
Drew Brees, NO @ TB. It’s tough to evaluate Brees without knowing if Michael Thomas (hamstring) or Emmanuel Sanders (COVID) are going to play. If both are back, Brees’ floor is raised. However, even when he had both in Week 1 against the Bucs, he managed just 160 yards and two scores. Tampa’s pass defense has remained strong all year, so Brees is nothing more than a borderline starting option, regardless of which Saints’ receivers suit up.
Teddy Bridgewater, CAR @ KC. It’s always tempting to look at the Chiefs and assume QBs will put up good numbers as they try to keep up with Kansas City’s high-powered offense or take advantage of garbage time. That sounds good in theory, but it hasn’t really materialized, as the Chiefs allow the ninth-fewest FPPG to QBs. That said, Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert, Derek Carr, and Josh Allen all posted multiple TDs against the Chiefs, so it’s not as if Bridgewater has no chance. With Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and likely Christian McCaffrey back in the fold, Carolina has the receiving weapons to help Bridgewater post decent numbers, and if this does turn into a shootout/garbage-time situation, Bridgewater is good enough to take advantage.
Drew Lock, DEN @ ATL. Atlanta entered Week 8 allowing the most FPPG to QBs, but it’s limited Matthew Stafford and Teddy Bridgewater to 516 yards and two TDs the past two weeks and CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring) is set to return. Lock had been terrible for 10 quarters since returning from an early-season shoulder injury, but he came alive in the second half last week against the Chargers, tossing three TDs, including the game-winner as time expired. Lock is the definition of a “boom-or-bust” QB this week, as he could just as easily see him putting up 350 yards and four scores as you could 180 yards, one TD, and three turnovers. If you feel you’ll need big points from your QB and don’t want a low-ceiling QB like Brees, Lock is your best pivot.
Nick Foles, CHI @ TEN. Foles showed some signs of life in a favorable matchup against the Saints last week, posting 272 yards and two TDs. Tennessee has little pass rush and has allowed at least two QBs in every game since the start of Week 2. Like Lock, Foles has a wide range of outcomes — and his ceiling probably isn’t quite as high — but it wouldn’t be crazy to start him this week.
Ryan Tannehill, TEN vs. CHI. Tannehill remains a safe bet for at least two TDs every week, but with fewer than 234 yards in three of his past four starts, his ceiling is lower than it seemed earlier in the season. Chicago remains the toughest team for quarterbacks to score again, and even though they’ve allowed back-to-back two-TD games from Jared Goff and Drew Brees, Tannehill has an uphill climb to even 18 fantasy points this year.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF vs. GB
Tua Tagovailoa, MIA @ ARI
Kyle Allen, WAS vs. NYG
Mike Glennon, JAX vs. HOU
Daniel Jones, NYG @ WAS
Andy Dalton, DAL vs. PIT
Philip Rivers, IND vs. BAL
Sam Darnold, NYJ vs. NE