Each week FFSpin will analyze the match ups and provide our take on which quarterbacks you should start and which should be sitting on your fantasy pine. We take several variables into account including match ups, injuries, potential weather problems, arrests, baby mama trouble, etc.
With half of the 2011 season in the books, it is clear that this is a passing league. There are eight teams whose passing games average more than 270 YPG including New England, New Orleans, Green Bay, San Diego, Carolina, NY Giants, Dallas and Pittsburgh.
The following defenses have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs (more that 23 FPG): New England, Denver, Green Bay, Miami and Indianapolis. Matt Cassel is a low end QB2 despite the favorable matchup with a Denver defense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Mark Sanchez faces a porous New England pass defense, but only tossed for 166 yards in the Week 5 match up (although he did have two TDs).
The top defenses at defending the pass in 2011 are Pittsburgh, NY Jets, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston. Both signal callers in the AFC North showdown (Pittsburgh at Cincinnati) could have a difficult time moving the ball through the air.
For this article, we will operate under the premise that you are starting your studs unless they face elite pass defenses. Revis Island will host Tom Brady on Sunday night. Brady is a an obvious must start and tossed for 321 yards with one TD in the Week 5 win over the Jets. The steel curtain travels to Cincinnati in a battle for first place with rookie Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Dalton is averaging 212 YPG and is not an advisable start this week against an angry Steelers' defense.
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UPGRADE: Matt Ryan (vs. New Orleans)
Ryan has been somewhat of a disappointment for fantasy owners as the fourth-year signal caller from Boston College has only two multiple TD games in the first half of the season. On the plus side, he is on pace for a career-high 3,916 yards (245 YPG). In week 10, Atlanta has an NFC South showdown with the Saints in a game that has shootout potential. Rookie WR Julio Jones' return to the lineup in Week 9 paid immediate dividends, as he hauled in two 50+ yard TDs in a blowout win over the Colts.
We preach caution with Ryan, as his first half schedule included numerous difficult matchups, while the second half schedule softens up and he shouldn't face weather concerns in any of the final eight games. New Orleans pass defense ranks 14th (228 YPG) but they have yielded 14 TDs while only snatching four INTs through nine games. Ryan is a borderline QB1 this week in a game that Vegas believes will be one of the more high scoring matchups of the week (over/under 50 points).
Joe Flacco (@Seattle)—Seahawks have 18th ranked pass defense (242 YPG)
Mark Sanchez (@ New England)—Pats' pass defense allowing league worst 314 YPG.
DOWNGRADE: Josh Freeman (vs. Houston)
The Buccaneers lack of vertical receiving options (Mike Williams continues his sophomore slump) significantly limits Freeman's upside. The third year QB has only eight TDs and currently leads the NFC South with 10 interceptions. In Week 10, the Bucs host a Houston defense that is allowing the second fewest passing yardage (183 YPG), while yielding 10 TDs with 11 INTs through nine games. Freeman is averaging 250 YPG, but is a low-end QB2 in a very difficult matchup this week. With no teams on bye this week be sure to explore all options before inserting the Tampa QB into your starting lineup.
Tarvaris Jackson (vs Baltimore)—Ravens' pass defense allowing 193 YPG and have only given up six passing TDs through eight games.
Jay Cutler (vs Detroit)—Lions sixth ranked pass defense allowing 193 YPG (only 16 fantasy PPG to opposing QBs). Cutler passed for 249 yards with one TD in the Week 5 matchup with Detroit.
SLEEPER: Carson Palmer (vs. San Diego)
Palmer has been a turnover machine in his first two games in silver & black, tossing six INTs in less than six quarters of action. On the plus side, he completed 19-of-35 passes for 332 yards with three touchdowns in the Week 9 loss to Denver. The Raiders have dropped two divisional games the past two weeks with Palmer at the helm and this week travel to San Diego in a battle for the division lead.
The 31-year-old Palmer continues to battle concerns with arm strength and lack of mobility but will likely be forced to pass early and often as San Diego has a good chance at topping 30 points against a Raider defense allowing 27 PPG. The Chargers' defense ranks an impressive fourth in passing yardage allowed (191 YPG), but have allowed 15 passing TDs (only four teams have allowed more TDs through the air). With a solid corps of young explosive WRs (Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward Bey), Palmer could surprise on Thursday night Football.
SLEEPER Potential: Matt Cassel (vs Denver) - Broncos allow league high 25 fantasy PPG to opposing QBs
Christian Ponder (@ Green Bay) - Packers allowing second most passing yardage (300 YPG). Ponder had 219 yards with two TDs and two INTs in his first career start against Green Bay in Week 7.