Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 7: Planning Ahead for Tough Calls at Quarterback

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 07:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after a fourth quarter touchdown against the New York Jets during their game at the Georgia Dome on October 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The quarterback position is nowhere near as deep as everyone figured.

Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck were also supposed to morph into fantasy gold, causing every expert with a keyboard to advise against drafting a quarterback early.

Well, the plan has worked fine if you grabbed Matthew Stafford or Tony Romo. Otherwise, you might be angry you didn't just grab a stud.

That means selecting your starting quarterback is not entirely a sure thing, as not every squad is fortunate enough to own a worthwhile option. Looks like that gives us some work to do, folks.

If you own Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, this is where I play the role of Officer Barbrady and tell you to move along. OK, people, nothing to see here.

But what if you have Drew Brees on his bye week? Or a big-name quarterback who suddenly must truck on without all of his pals? Let's take a look at some interesting quarterback conundrums for Week 7. 


Andrew Luck (vs. Denver Broncos)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 06: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts looks for a pass during a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

Andrew Luck hasn't been that special of a fantasy football quarterback.

The second-year starter ranks 10th among ESPN's scorers at the position, but he sits slightly ahead of Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, who have already had their bye week.

Luck ranks 25th with 224 passing yards per game while 16 passers have generated more than his seven passing touchdowns. For all the hype around him as a future star, Luck has simply served as a game manager for the Indianapolis Colts this season.

Look for that all to change against the Denver Broncos, who rate last with 338 passing yards per game. They saved Tony Romo's serviceable numbers into a sterling top-five option by helping him earn 506 yards and five touchdowns during a Week 5 loss.

Nobody is saying Luck will throw for 500 yards and five touchdowns, but he's going to need to throw much more than his current 31 times per game to keep up with Peyton Manning.

The easy counterargument is that the San Diego Chargers boast the AFC's second-worst pass defense, yet Luck managed a measly 202 passing yards and zero touchdowns against them. Well, that's a valid point, but let's hope the receivers can hold the ball this time around. 

Verdict: Start 


Matt Ryan (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

And so begins a new, murkier stretch for owning Matt Ryan.

Formerly a top signal-caller most managers could ride with confidence, Ryan is now a borderline starter with many of his weapons hurt. Steven Jackson's absence has made the Atlanta Falcons one-dimensional, averaging just 78.4 rushing yards per contest. Now that one element is severely threatened.

Julio Jones will miss the remainder of the season after requiring foot surgery. Roddy White has played through pain but not well. The veteran has caught just 14 passes for 129 yards on the season and can now add a hamstring injury to his list of ailments.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter, White's status this Sunday remains in doubt after missing Tuesday morning's practice.

That leaves Ryan with Tony Gonzalez and a cast of fill-ins against a Tampa Bay squad that ranks in the middle of the pack with 248 passing yards allowed per game.

I can say "Start" or "Sit," but it truly depends on your alternatives. You're not sitting him for Ryan Tannehill or Alex Smith, but he's worth benching for Jay Cutler or Nick Foles (assuming he starts).

It all depends on your circumstance, as many owners probably don't have the luxury of benching Ryan. Just be warned that he is unlikely to post gaudy numbers.

Verdict: Sit


Jay Cutler (at Washington Redskins)

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 10: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears drops back to pass as defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka #94 of the New York Giants puts pressure on during a game at Soldier Field on October 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by J
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Is Jay Cutler now a legitimate starting fantasy quarterback?

He threw for 262 passing yards and two touchdowns on Thursday night against the New York Giants, giving him five multi-touchdown games on the season. With exception to a clunker against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cutler has provided some value every week, and there's no reason anyone in a one-quarterback league would play him at Pittsburgh.

Free from Lovie Smith's conservative approach, Cutler has attempted 36 passes per game, up from his 29.5 average from the previous three years. He's also working on setting a career best with his 65.9 completion percentage.

Washington ranks 24th with 272 passing yards per game and has generated just three interceptions this season. With Alshon Jeffery forming a dynamic duo alongside Brandon Marshall, Cutler should have ample opportunity to pick apart the porous secondary on Sunday.

Verdict: Start