Four of the top five fantasy football quarterbacks heading into Sunday of Week 9 are threats to run the football from their position on the field. For three of them, their primary appeal in fantasy football revolves around their legs.
Fantasy owners tend to get rewarded more (on a per-yard basis) by quarterbacks running the ball rather than passing it. Therefore, NFL signal-callers that are adept at gaining yards on the ground—and frequently do so—have a higher fantasy baseline than pocket passers.
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins are two up-and-coming passers that fit the above description. They’ll face off against one another’s teams on Sunday afternoon, and each should be a top-five fantasy QB in Week 9.
Before getting into where the two rank this week, here’s a look at 10 of the players that didn’t make the cut.
6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
7. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at Jacksonville Jaguars)
8. Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Dallas Cowboys)
10. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (vs. Buffalo Bills)
11. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at Tennessee Titans)
12. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Miami Dolphins)
13. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Oakland Raiders)
14. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at New York Giants)
15. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (at Atlanta Falcons)
Aaron Rodgers has a bad matchup on paper with the Arizona Cardinals defense on Sunday. Arizona has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in ESPN standard scoring (10.5 fantasy points per game).
Yet, that number can be explained away by the quarterbacks it has faced. The Cardinals have only squared off against one top-10 fantasy passer this season: the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady. Furthermore, Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers threw for 232 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers (and one incompletion) against the Arizona defense in Week 8.
Imagine what Rodgers could do.
Rodgers is currently fantasy football’s No. 2 quarterback. He’s thrown 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last three games.
As fantasy football’s top scorer entering Week 9, Robert Griffin III will see a Carolina Panthers defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes only once this season (three to Matt Ryan). That shouldn’t scare you off, since RGIII has only thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game twice.
Griffin’s fantasy upside rests with his rushing prowess—a trait that the Panthers haven’t seen all season. Quarterbacks against Carolina have combined to rush just 20 times for 45 yards and a touchdown in seven games.
Griffin has rushed 70 times for 476 yards and six touchdowns in eight games.
Peyton Manning draws the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9.
Cincinnati is 19th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but has only faced two fantasy QBs—Robert Griffin III and Ben Roethlisberger—that rank in the top 18 at the quarterback position through eight weeks.
Manning, meanwhile, has thrown for over 300 yards in each of the last five weeks, three touchdowns in each of the last four weeks and has thrown just one interception since Week 2.
The only thing limiting Michael Vick from taking over the No. 1 spot in this week’s rankings is his season-long struggle with turnovers. Still, his matchup with the New Orleans Saints is simply too good to pass up.
Vick has had four turnovers in his last four games, but two of them were turnover-free. Even if he coughed the ball up once or twice to the Saints defense—assuming he doesn’t get benched because of it—he should be able to muster enough yardage to be a top fantasy quarterback.
New Orleans has allowed a staggering 349.5 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks over its last four. Additionally, the Saints surrendered 12 passing touchdowns (against two interceptions) in that same span.
Vick’s ability to run the football is beneficial for his fantasy prospects against New Orleans as well.
Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III have each faced off against the Saints defense, combining for 22 rushes, 113 yards and a touchdown.
It’s safe to expect a big game from Cam Newton.
His Week 9 opponent, the Washington Redskins, have allowed an average of 341.7 passing yards and seven total touchdowns per game at home this season. They have intercepted four passes during those games, and Newton has thrown four picks on the road, but he threw zero in Atlanta earlier this season.
He threw two against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (with Aqib Talib and Eric Wright) and two against the Chicago Bears, who are riding an eight-game interceptions streak.
They pick off everybody.
Additionally, Washington hasn’t faced any big-time fantasy running quarterbacks. Opposing signal-callers have just 19 total rushes for 61 yards against the Redskins this season. Newton has 51 attempts for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
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