Congratulations, Cam Newton. You have graduated. The Panthers rookie now joins the ranks of the Holy: the quarterbacks you start every week regardless of matchup. So now that list is officially Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Newton. Yes, there was a big ceremony and we gave Newton a laurel. One thing though, you can’t start him this week because he’s on a bye. No, it’s never easy. *Sigh*. So with that in mind, here are my top ten QB rankings for Week 9 – keep in mind we’ll also be replacing Matthew Stafford with the Lions off as well.
5. Eli Manning @ New England: Seriously, is there more of a no-brainer than this? The Pats are the worst team in the NFL against the pass and Eli is red-hot, with four 300-yard games in his last five (including one 400-yard game) and 11 TD passes over the same period. This trend will likely continue. Eli should be over 300 yards again with three touchdowns – potentially long ones at that, as the emergence of Victor Cruz has made this offense dangerous.
6. Philip Rivers v. Green Bay: He had a big night Monday — fumble and not getting in the end zone notwithstanding. 369 yards is still 369 yards, and with the Chargers running back situation up in the air with injuries (Gary Anderson may start this week), he’ll have to throw the ball to keep up with Rodgers. He’s a great play this week.
7. Matt Cassel v. Miami: Here’s how QB’s have fared against the Dolphins this year. Let’s work backwards from last week. Eli Manning: 349 yards and two TDs. Tim Tebow had two TDs and a 2-point conversion. Mark Sanchez: 200 yards and two total TDs. Philip Rivers: 307 yards and a TD. Colt McCoy: 210 yards and two TDs. Matt Schaub: 270 yards and two TDs. Tom Brady: 517 yards and four TDs. Stars, wannabes and hype machines have all been carving up the Dolphins. Cassel could throw for 300 with three scores.
8. Ben Roethlisberger v. Baltimore: I know, this is crazy right? The Ravens defense! You should talk about them in all caps. THE RAVENS DEFENSE. But Ben Roethlisberger is operating at such a high level right now, it doesn’t matter. Over 700 yards passing and five touchdowns in the last two games, as Pittsburgh has become a pass-first team. They’ll do it again, because Antonio Brown has become a legit star to support Mike Wallace. The Ravens shut Roethlisberger down in Week 1 but he still went for 246 yards and a TD. This will be better. He should break the 300-yard barrier with at least two total TD’s.
9. Matt Ryan @ Indianapolis: The Colts have allowed the most TD passes this season and are in the bottom three of every passing statistic known to man. We recommended Matt Hasselbeck last week and he came through. Same goes for Ryan, who gets back on track from his disappointing season. If you can’t throw it on Indianapolis, who can you throw it against? QBs are completing an average of 72 percent of their passes against the Colts. Expect somewhere near 250 yards and a couple of scores.
10. Carson Palmer v. Denver: I know, you thought Tim Tebow was going to be the guy in this game. Forget it. Palmer’s had an extra week to learn more than the 15 plays he did for his debut. Opposing QBs have an average rating of 107.2 against the Broncos. Denver has allowed 14 TD passes and has just three INTs on the year. Palmer should have a nice day to the tune of 200-plus yards and two TDs.
See Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy Live, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Red Zone Channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.