ear-grin

- Written by Cory Steger
- Edited by Marc Caviglia
- Predictions are based on Staff Consensus


WEEK 4 RANKINGS  QB  |  RB |  WR |  TE |  K | DEF

At this point we feel confident in saying that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is an elite NFL quarterback. Up to this point he’s always been just good. Thus far Ryan has thrown for 793 yards with eight passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and just one interception. He’s also completing 71.9 percent of his passes and has the Falcons off to a 3-0 start. Where other big name quarterbacks are struggling, Ryan has made it look easy.

As we enter Week 4 it is important to note that we now start a long stretch of games with bye weeks. There are only two teams on bye this week - the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers - but next week there are four teams on bye every week until Week 12. As the player pool begins to thin because of bye weeks and injuries it’s more important than ever to evaluate properly you starters and bench players. Let’s get it started with our Fantasy Football Week 4 Quarterback Rankings.


::RANKINGS UPDATED AS OF SEPTEMBER 25, 2012::



1. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) vs. New Orleans

Look at the defenses the Green Bay Packers have had to face thus far and it’s no surprise that they’ve had some trouble moving the ball consistently. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has just three touchdowns and two interceptions in the first three weeks, but he needs better play from the guys around him. The line hasn’t given him the protection he’s needed, and the receivers and tight ends have not been as crisp with their routes or in catching the ball. The good news is the Packers get to play a New Orleans Saints defense this week that ranks 25th or worse in every major team defensive category. The Saints are giving up an average of 34 points per game, so expect Rodgers’ first big game of the season to happen this week.
Point Projection: 22 points


2. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) @ Buffalo

Steady would be the word to best describe New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady thus far. Brady has had solid and consistent fantasy production in all three games this season, but he is not considered an elite fantasy quarterback to just have solid and consistent production. We want to see elite production from Brady. So what better way for Brady to reach that kind of production than with a game against the Buffalo Bills. Brady has thrown more touchdown passes against the Bills (46) than other team in his career. Also consider the Bills are 19th against the pass and 23rd in points allowed, so expect better production from Brady and the Patriots in this game.
Point Projection: 22 points


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3. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) vs. Carolina

The changes the Falcons made to the offense heading into the season have had a tremendously positive impact on Ryan. Instead of using a ground and pound attack and asking Ryan to throw occasionally, Ryan is now the focal point of the offense. His stats have been amazing and the Falcons are off to a terrific start. Ryan will continue that hot start this week against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have only given up three passing touchdowns this season but they give up a lot of yards and have only forced two interceptions. No team has been able to stop or even slow down the Falcons yet, and it’s unlikely the Panthers will be the first team to do so this week.
Point Projection: 20 points


4. Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins) vs. Tampa Bay

We’re quickly running out of bad things to say about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin. The guy is simply amazing, as evidenced by his terrific fantasy numbers thus far. He’s like Cam Newton last year but without the interceptions. At this point the only negative you can say about Griffin is that he has yet to be face a good defense. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be the toughest defense Griffin has faced yet. Though the Buccaneers did give up over 500 passing yards to Eli Manning and the New York Giants in Week 2, they were stout against Newton in Week 1 and Tony Romo last week. In Weeks 1 and 3 the Buccaneers gave up an average of 12.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. So because of that we’re going to keep the expectations for Griffin in check, somewhat, this week.
Point Projection: 20 points


5. Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) vs. Oakland

It was good to see Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning bounce back from a terrible Week 2 performance to throw for 330 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions last week against a good Houston Texans defense. This week Manning has a terrific matchup against an Oakland Raiders defense that has been torched in the passing game, giving up 815 passing yards and six passing touchdowns while not forcing a single interception thus far this season. In fact the only reason we don’t have Manning higher up on the list this week is because Denver head coach John Fox will likely resort to a run-heavy offense once the the Broncos get the early lead.
Point Projection: 20 points


6. Matt Schaub (Houston Texans) vs. Tennessee

Though he was efficient in the first two weeks of the season Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was also unassuming. In those first two weeks Schaub had just one touchdown with no interceptions. The Texans simply didn’t need him with their terrific running game and strong defense. However, in last week’s win over the Denver Broncos the Texans leaned on Schaub and he produced, throwing for 290 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Expect some more big things from Schaub this week against a Tennessee Titans defense that’s given up an average of 37.7 points per game, and has forced just one interception.
Point Projection: 18 points


7. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Cleveland

If this game was two weeks ago we wouldn’t be too confident in Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The Cleveland Browns looked like a defensive powerhouse against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 forcing four interceptions and a fumble. Since then the Browns have been shredded by the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, respectively. Flacco was extremely impressive in throwing for 382 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in a comeback win over the New England Patriots. Those numbers were on the high end of what to expect from Flacco, however the Browns’ secondary is a mess and you can expect the Ravens to dial up the pass once again this week. Look for Flacco to continue to make a statement that it’s his team, and not Ray Rice’s.
Point Projection: 18 points


8. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) @ Green Bay

Well the New Orleans Saints are a mess but quarterback Drew Brees has continued to produce, at least from a fantasy perspective. Brees continues to rack up the yards and touchdowns, mostly as a result of the Saints being behind in their games. This week’s game with the Packers could easily turn into a shootout, or it could turn into a disaster of watching two recent Super Bowl Champions who are not playing well continue to struggle. The Packers defense has forced five turnovers on the season and has a defensive touchdown so we’ll keep the expectations for Brees in check this week. He does, after all, already have five interceptions in three games.
Point Projection: 17 points


9. Eli Manning (New York Giants) @ Philadelphia

Of course it was unrealistic to expect Manning to come anywhere close to the numbers he had in Week 2, but playing against a Panthers defense that isn’t that strong against the pass he should’ve done more than his 288 yards and one touchdown. The Giants got an early lead as well as a terrific game from backup running back Andre Brown, so there was no need to use Manning much. He will be more of a factor this week against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that, although it has forced some turnovers overall it had a hard time stopping the Arizona Cardinals and Kevin Kolb last week. This game could be close and as such the Giants will revert to their strength, which is Manning and the passing game.
Point Projection: 17 points


10. Matthew Stafford/Shaun Hill (Detroit Lions) vs. Minnesota

Any time Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is injured there is cause for concern given his injury history when he first came into the leg. So when Stafford left last week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans with a leg injury Lions fans and Stafford owners held their collective breaths. The good news is that Stafford is OK - the team is optimistic he will play against the Minnesota Vikings this week. Expect a solid performance but nothing great against a Vikings defense that was poor in the first two weeks but excelled against the San Francisco 49ers last week. If Stafford cannot go, and he may be a gametime decision, then expect Shaun Hill to start in his place. Hill is an OK spot starter, we’ve seen him produce in the past.
Point Projection: Stafford - 17 points; Hill - 15 points


11. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) @ Jacksonville

At the beginning of the season we predicted a slow but steady rise for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, with the reasoning being he was behind a bad offensive line and had an extremely young and inexperienced receiving corps. Yet in each of the last two weeks he’s gone over 300 passing yards and threw three touchdowns with just one interception. Although Dalton will play well this week, don’t expect him to replicate what he’s done the last two weeks. The Jacksonville Jaguars have only given up two passing touchdowns this season, with both of them occurring in last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Point Projection: 17 points


12. Carson Palmer (Oakland Raiders) @ Denver

Good defense or bad defense, it doesn’t really seem to matter to Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer has not scored lower than 16 fantasy points in a game this season, but he’s also not scored more than 18. Palmer did have three touchdowns in last week’s comeback win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but traditionally Palmer’s points with the Raiders have come from his yardage numbers, not his touchdowns. Don’t expect three touchdowns again this week against the Denver Broncos, who have only looked bad the last two weeks because they’ve faced two of the league’s best offenses in the Texans and Falcons.
Point Projection: 16 points


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13. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) @ Atlanta

Upon seeing Carolina quarterback Cam Newton post some big fantasy numbers in Week 2 he appeared set for a shootout with the high-scoring Giants in Week 3. Except the Newton that showed up was the one who threw three interceptions with no passing touchdowns. He did manage one rushing touchdown but it came late in the game and he over-celebrated following the 1-yard run. Now there is news from ESPN that says the Panthers are so concerned about Newton’s mental makeup that they’ve got him working with a mental development coach. Uh-oh. The sophomore slump could become a very real thing for the reigning offensive rookie of the year.
Point Projection: 16 points


14. Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles) vs. New York Giants

At this point it’s safe to say there is something wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles offense, and a lot of it starts with quarterback Michael Vick. Vick managed to go a game without throwing an interception, but he did lose two fumbles and the Eagles failed to score a touchdown. For those of you keeping track, Vick now has three touchdown passes, four total touchdowns, and nine turnovers. So even though the Giants rank just 21st in the league in pass defense, starting Vick at this point is way too risky given the Eagles struggles on offense and how turnover-prone he’s become.
Point Projection: 16 points


15. Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) @ Kansas City

After a huge performance against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers followed up with a dud in last week’s loss to the Falcons. Rivers three for 173 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. For a while he actually had negative points until he finally got more yards in the second half. That said, his matchup is favorable this week against the Kansas City Chiefs and those who like to gamble could roll with Rivers. The Chiefs defense/special teams unit had negative fantasy points in each of the first two weeks of the season, and they’ve given up an average of 33 points per game to opposing teams.
Point Projection: 16 points

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