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Fantasy Football: QB matchups, streamer of the week, Week 9 rankings and more

Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) throws the football during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

  • Tagovailoa is dealing: Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa has emerged as one of the league’s most-efficient downfield passers despite his obvious limitations in the arm strength department
  • Lawrence's struggles: Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence has struggled to be anything other than a mediocre quarterback for all but two games this season
  • Fields feasting on defenses: Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields has ripped off four consecutive top-12 fantasy finishes thanks to his robust rushing workload
Estimated reading time: 18 minutes

Week 9 is here, so it’s truly a great day to be great. Today’s goal is to break down the week’s key fantasy football questions facing the quarterback position before producing the group’s specific ranks. Updated rankings throughout the week from myself and the rest of the PFF Fantasy crew can be accessed with PFF+.


It’s P.J. Walker’s world, we all just live in it

Walker has given this Panthers offense a spark that simply wasn’t there with Baker Mayfield under center, posting vastly superior marks in yards per attempt (7.7 vs. 6.3), adjusted completion rate (67.5% vs. 65.9%) and PFF passing grade (75.9 vs. 53.3) alike.

Most impressive has been the reality that Walker has done so much of this in style. Overall, the XFL HOF signal-caller has posted a league-high 10.8% big-time throw rate — no other quarterback has even reached 7.5% this season.

Nobody has been happier to see Walker thrive under center than No. 1 WR D.J. Moore, who has gained 222 receiving yards and scored twice over the last two weeks after totaling 204 receiving yards and just one trip to the end zone in Weeks 1 to 6 combined.

Up next is an injury-ravaged Bengals secondary playing on a short week after their disappointing Monday night loss to the Browns. Vegas doesn’t seem to think this is overly sustainable – Carolina is implied to score the fifth-fewest points in Week 9 – but at a minimum, the Walker-led Panthers have maintained a far higher level of competitiveness than pretty much anyone might have thought.


Man, this Philadelphia Eagles offense is pretty damn good huh

This Eagles offense has been awesome all season, although the passing game hit a bit of a lull before their Week 7 bye. Overall, Jalen Hurts averaged just 199 passing yards per game with two passing scores in Weeks 4-6. Philly was still winning games rather convincingly, just not as much through the air.

Fast forward to the present day and A.J. Brown looks closer to a God than a mortal following his three-touchdown explosion against the Steelers. Consider that Brown has 659 receiving yards this season compared to 658 for every Titans wide receiver combined. Obviously, AJB has benefited from some beautiful deep balls from Hurts, as it’s been an incredibly productive marriage for all parties involved through eight weeks.

This league’s 27th-ranked offense in pass-play rate in non-garbage time situations is still capable and willing to simply grind out wins on the ground, but this downfield passing attack gives them a different element than last season. Nobody has a higher passer rating than Hurts (135.4) when throwing at least 20 yards downfield this season (min. 15 dropbacks) while only Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa have been more efficient in terms of yards per attempt.

Only the Bills and Chiefs are implied to score more points than the Eagles this week, but don’t be surprised if Houston can't slow down this well-balanced offensive attack that has managed to work as the league’s second-ranked offense in EPA per play through eight weeks of action.


Arm strength is overrated

At least when Tyreek Hill is so far behind the defense anyway that he has time to come back and make the catch. I agree with the general sentiment that Tua Tagovailoa has left a lot of meat on the bone when it comes to getting the ball to his speedy playmaker deep downfield, but just realize it hasn’t stopped the third-year signal-caller from working as one of the game’s most-efficient deep-ball passers.

Tua on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield
  • PFF passing grade: 92.7 (No. 6 among 30 quarterbacks with at least 15-such attempts)
  • Passer rating: 111.1 (No. 6)
  • Yards per attempt: 20.3 (No. 2)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 70.8% (No. 1)

Hill has nearly 100 additional receiving yards (389) over second-place receiver Stefon Diggs (290) in terms of total yardage picked up on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield. Tagovailoa slanderers have to admit that Hill didn’t fully help his own cause last week when he dropped what would have been a 60-yard deep strike.


At one point can we stop blaming Urban Meyer for everything that goes wrong with Trevor Lawrence?

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