Consensus Rankings Analysis: Week 11
I’m going to go unconventional here and focus the first part of this analysis on one analyst who’s digressing from the norm this week: Mike Clay. Granted, it’s not on all QBs, but he has a number of differences from consensus which strike me as interesting. For starters, he has Matt Ryan at No. 9 (consensus No. 5) and Matt Stafford at No. 2 (consensus No. 7). I have a tough time with the Stafford ranking especially, despite playing a Green Bay defense potentially lacking Clay Matthews. The main reason for this has been Stafford’s inconsistency: two of his last three games have seen three touchdowns, but every other game this season has seen him score either zero or one passing TD through the air. Some of those have been against soft defenses such as Tennessee and Jacksonville (who he didn’t even score against). Stafford has been relatively mediocre this season, grading out 12th behind guys like Russell Wilson, Matt Schaub and Tony Romo in pass rating.
Matt Ryan is actually PFF’s top rated QB this season, putting up top-5 numbers in every meaningful statistical category like yards, touchdowns, QB rating, etc. He does play a decent Arizona defense, but it’s also a defense that’s beatable through the air (ask Brian Hartline), and Matt Ryan has been the opposite of Stafford in terms of consistency — Ryan only has two games on the entire season with less than two passing touchdowns. It’s also worth noting that Arizona is a reeling team after starting off 4-0, and their pass coverage and pass rush metrics now sit squarely in the middle of the pack. This is a beatable team, and after Michael Turner’s absolute joke of a rushing performance against a terrible Saints defense, the Falcons will need the air game clicking to win.
Surprisingly, most analysts besides Mr. Clay have very similar ratings for almost every ranked QB this week, which we rarely see. One dilemma we see pop up is the ‘new’ QBs: Nick Foles, Jason Campbell, Byron Leftwich and Colin Kaepernick. Foles is ranked consensus No. 20, and I completely agree he’s a better option than any of the other guys simply because of the weapons at his disposal. It’s worth noting that all of Jeremy Maclins eight catches and 93 yards came with Foles in the game, so it’s clear he knows how to use all his weapons rather than staring down Desean Jackson like Michael Vick tended to do at times. Although Campbell and Leftwich are ranked No. 20 and No. 22 respectively, I want nothing to do with them. There’s a reason they’re backups in the NFL, and both face tough matchups against the Niners and Ravens defenses. I think Colin Kaepernick does offer some upside in terms of running the ball for points, but again, the Chicago D makes me shy away. Look elsewhere for bye week woes.
Marques Colston is rated No. 12 by Mike Woellert, No. 11 by Mike Clay, yet checks in at consensus No. 6. His yardage totals have indeed been down the last few weeks (63, 46, 26 yards), but he’s scored seven touchdowns in his last six games, and seems like a decent bet to score another one against a hapless Oakland squad. Any way you look at it, he’s a WR1 in all formats, but Woellert and Clay may be on to something in that if he doesn’t score his touchdown; his yardage might be soft. This week though, I’m guessing he still gets decent yardage.
We’re all over the place on Brandon Marshall. Mike Woellert has him at No. 16, Mike Clay at No. 2, Alex Miglio at No. 16, Austin Lee at No. 15, consensus at No. 8. I know he’s the clear No. 1 option in Chicago, but I’m going to have to side with the guys who have him ranked below consensus for two reasons. One, he plays San Francisco’s defense in San Francisco, and playing their defense is usually a recipe for a tough day unless you’re Danny Amendola. Two, Jason Campbell. He didn’t exactly look stellar last week against a similarly tough defense (94 yards on 19 attempts), and he threw exactly two passes more than 20 yards downfield and two more 10-19 yards down the field. Believe you me, look at Jay Cutler’s passing by direction on PFF. He throws it downfield a whole lot more than that. With a Kaepernick/Campbell fest, I won’t be surprised if both teams run it more than they pass it by a wide margin. Temper expectations.
Cecil Shorts checks in at No. 38 despite piling together a string of four solid performances, including 39 targets in those four games. I know he plays a tough Houston defense and his quarterback is Blaine Gabbert, but Jonathan Joseph is actually beatable in coverage this year with a +0.4 rating, and Gabbert is locked in on this guy. Some of the guys above him like Michael Crabtree, Donnie Avery, Malcom Floyd and Andre Roberts carry more risk in my mind, especially if this game turns into a garbage time fest like many of us expect It’s cases like these where you shouldn’t look at first glance scenarios and shy away. He’s a target hog, he’ll likely be playing from down, and he’s likely facing off against a cornerback who’s not having his best year. You can do the math, but I have no problem calling him a WR3 with really solid upside this week and for the rest of the season.
Ryan Mathews clocks in at consensus No. 12 despite having exactly 475 yards and one touchdown on the year. While he’s talented, nothing about his situation screams RB1 to me at this time. The Chargers offense isn’t clicking, he gets yanked on third downs, and to make matters worse, he didn’t get in full practices this week with a ‘questionable’ tag because of a neck injury he sustained on a helmet to helmet hit. Most people are starting him anyways because of running back depth, but if you’re lucky enough like me to have him on a team with guys like Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley and even Matt Forte, he’s an attractive bench option in favor of nearly any of those guys in my mind. Low-end RB2 at best this week in my mind (and Mike Clay agrees with me, ranking him at No. 18. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut.)
He was mentioned last week, and he’s worth mentioning again: Marcel Reece is going to get his. He saw 13 carries for a measly 48 yards against Baltimore, but also had a whopping seven catches for 56 yards as the Raiders were forced to air it out. Things are looking very similar against a Saints team this week who will likely start passing in spades as usual, and the Raiders will need to keep up. Unless something really weird happens, this actually has the potential to be a high scoring game, and if it is, Reece benefits. Don’t be worried about Taiwan Jones; our consensus No. 14 back this week is placed there for good reason, and I also have him in the RB2 range.
For the first time in awhile, Felix Jones has looked decent the last two weeks. He only got nine carries against Atlanta, but also put up five catches. Last week, he scored through the air and also compiled 71 yards on 16 carries and displayed some of the burst he used to be known for. Demarco Murray is out yet again, and though there’s a good chance he comes back in Week 12, Jones owners shouldn’t hesitate to plug Felix in as an RB2. The Browns aren’t the pushover they used to be, but they’re still in the bottom 3rd of the pack for PFF run defense as a team, and if you think the Cowboys will blow out the Browns (I don’t), there’s even more incentive to use Felix. Clocking it at consensus No. 18, he’s good to go as an RB2 as the ratings indicate in my mind.
You want a decent tight end play? How about Owen Daniels, who’s scored a touchdown in 5 of his last 6 games? He didn’t score early in the year against Jacksonville, but did rack up 9 targets, and has been catching his targets at a solid 70% rate this year. I’m not sure as to why Mike Clay has him at No. 12 and Jeff Ratcliffe at No. 10, but Daniels has quietly been a top 5 fantasy tight end this year.
Another tight end who’s been under the radar this year has been Heath Miller, who hasn’t had less than four catches in a game since Week 2 of the season and is tied for 3rd amongst all TEs with 6 touchdown catches. I’m 100% aware that Byron Leftwich is playing signalrunner for the foreseeable future, but tight ends tend to be trusted targets by quarterbacks given their size and intermediate routes. With Antonio Brown out and the Ravens pass rush a shell of its former self (-22.8 team rating), look for guys like Miller and Emmanuel Sanders to potentially benefit.