For this week’s quarterback rankings, there are no byes, remember. We’re skipping a week before they finish up in Week 11. That means you play all of the Holy Five: Rodgers, Brady, Vick, Brees and Newton — regardless of matchup. This makes picking the next five best QBs extremely difficult because they’re all available. Here’s how I rank them six through 10 for Week 10.
6. (Tie) Philip Rivers vs. OAK and Carson Palmer @ SD. Check out my blog from Monday on quarterback performances in the first Thursday games of the season since they started three years ago. Everyone not named Alex Smith had huge games through the air. Yeah, this is going to be more of the same. In short weeks, running backs don’t recover as quickly, meaning the onus is on the QBs to produce. Rivers finally has his two top targets healthy (Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates), and Sunday’s explosion was no coincidence. Palmer has a better grasp of the Raiders’ offense, and while he’s still figuring things out, he’ll have another dangerous week throwing downfield to Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore and maybe more than once to Darrius Heyward-Bey. I think Rivers and Palmer are both good for 300 yards and multiple TDs.
8. Matthew Stafford @ CHI. The Bears are coming off a short week of their own, and the Lions are coming off a bye. While he’s not a weekly 300-yard performer (he hasn’t been there since September), Stafford is more a version of the 2010 Matt Ryan — where you can write him in for between 225 to 275 yards and at least two TDs every week. This is one of those weeks.
9. Tim Tebow @ KC. Maybe the road is the best place for Tebow. You can say the Chiefs will be mad after getting carved up by Matt Moore, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happened. Kansas City is in the bottom third of the league in pass and run defense. While the Chiefs are sure to nab a couple of Tebow turnovers, the Broncos will be able to move the football pretty easily. Expect at least 10 fantasy points rushing from Tebow and another 10 passing.
10. Matt Cassel vs. DEN. OK, I think I was a week early on Cassel. One thing we know about the Broncos? They give up points. A ton. And mainly in the passing game. Opposing QBs are averaging 258 yards per game through the air. How about this being the best week ever to play all your AFC West QBs?
*Narrowly missing this list are Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, despite the huge seasons they’re putting together. They’re must-starts, but they rank just a bit lower this week. Why? After an incredibly emotional win, Manning is flying 3,000 miles to take on the 49ers, who won’t let the Giants run the football, thus making his job just a little bit harder than normal. I expect a bounce from New York this week. And Roethlisberger is in Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that has given up more than 20 points in a game only once this season. Plus, Roethlisberger has had all sorts of problems against Cincinnati in his career. I see this as a low-scoring game in the 17-14 mode.
See Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy Live, airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Red Zone Channel, and Tuesday through Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and midnight ET. 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.