Week 4 mailbag - What's the deal with those starry QBs?
You asked for it, so once again we present the FFToolbox mailbag, Week 4 edition...
All of our Facebook friends noticed that this week we asked everyone for their early season bust of the year candidates. Not surprisingly, Chris Johnson (a.k.a. CJ0K) ran away with the honors; I stopped counting once his vote tally starting veering toward 50 percent of the entire ballots cast. Up next, Aaron Rodgers and by a comfortable margin over other struggling passers like Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick and Jay Cutler.
All members of the preseason top 5 ( Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Newton, Stafford) received mention directly or as part of a generic "those star quarterbacks suck" -esque post. Many a question asked on Twitter or via email also raised concerns about these five suppossed stalwarts. Hey, as someone who suggested it was more than fine for owners to draft those first three guys early because of so much pre-draft uncertainty at running back, I feel your pain. Now the question is whether ache turns to throbbing or subsides courtesy of a touchdown pass or four this week.
First off, sure, the 0-3 Saints are struggling, but through three weeks, Brees ranks fourth among QBs and has produced at least 19 fantasy points per game. He gets a pass, at least from those of us who don't say "who dat" on a regular basis.
In the case of Rodgers - 22nd among QBs to date - , from what I can tell it's been all about the matchup. Well, that and as Mark Deming pointed out on Thursday's FFToolbox podcast, not having a healthy Greg Jennings; not only has Rodgers been without his main weapon, but Jordy Nelson is better suited as the complementary target, not an opposing secondary's main focus.
Green Bay's first three opponents (San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle) all rank among top 13 pass defenses (based on yards allowed). Their next five opponents, starting with New Orleans this week, do not. Start Rodgers with confidence. If you feel another owner is shaky about owning him (or any of the GB guys for that matter), pounce, pounce, pounce.
(One can make a similar argument for Brady; last two games went against Cardinals (9th) and Ravens with Hernandez out for parts or all of the losses)
As for Newton and Stafford, there are more reasons to be concerned, but not reasons to dump.
Though Newton had a monster Week 2 performance against the Saints, he combined for only 21 points the other two weeks. Clearly, defenses have adjusted to his methods after his hot start last year - passing numbers were on the decline even over the second half of last season - so Newton and the Panthers coaching staff must adjust. However, they will have to do so over the next five weeks against Atlanta, Seattle, Dallas and Chicago with a bye week thrown in.
Stafford also faces a tough slate of games, starting with the Vikings (8th) this week. In each of his opening three games, the Lions QB has thrown only one touchdown pass. Last season combined he had just four such games.
Should you be concerned about these two guys? Yeah, a little. Enough to trade them? Unless it lands me another top 10 passer (RG3, Ryan, Romo, etc), no. We know these guys can get it done and at a high level. A high enough level to win fantasy titles and that is the key. While at other positions it can be hard to sit through a slumping player's struggles, you can at QB since almost any of the top 20 or so can have a strong, matchup-dependant week. In other words, rather than take 75 cents on the dollar for Newton or Stafford, beef up your QB2 and if needed for peace of mind, sit the stars for a week. With that said, Deming projects a major week for Newton, while Stafford has a favorable matchup should he start. So, there's that. Now, the mailbag...