Shuffle Up and Pass: It’s good to be the Griffin

We're going to merge two features in the Shuffle Up today; first I'll run through how I rank the quarterbacks for the next four games (Weeks 13-16), and then we'll run through the Strength of Schedule for quarterbacks over that same period.

See the SOS Table for what it is - something to consider. Some will take it seriously, some will ignore it completely. I firmly believe in the importance of analyzing matchups, but it's a fluid thing, a constantly-changing landscape. And obviously the worth of a quarterback in a vacuum matters more than the matchup he faces. We're not looking for reasons to bench Aaron Rodgers, or hunting down reasons to trust Brady Quinn.

But first, the shuffle. Here's how I'd attack the QB position if I were drafting a four-week team right now. I've left Brees and Ryan were I initially had them slotted; I know the Thursday game was a fantasy killjoy, but we have to live with the outliers, too.

Quarterback comments and wide receiver and tight end shuffling will follow shortly.

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Robert Griffin III
3. Peyton Manning
4. Drew Brees
5. Tom Brady
6. Matt Ryan
7. Matthew Stafford
8. Andrew Luck

One of the many terrific things about Griffin is the rushing backboard you get; even if he doesn't post a big passing day for you, he can make you happy on the ground. … Luck, oddly, has turned into a similar player, though it's mostly about goal-line scorer with him. Luck doesn't shine in the efficiency stats, but heavy volume has kept his value afloat. … Stafford is the runaway leader in pass attempts per game, and he might end the season as the all-time leader in that category. The loss of Titus Young is nothing to be concerned about — Ryan Broyles can play.

9. Cam Newton
10. Eli Manning
11. Josh Freeman
12. Andy Dalton
13. Tony Romo
14. Colin Kaepernick
15. Matt Schaub

Freeman won't have a free ride in Denver this week, but after that the schedule opens up nicely (Philly, New Orlean, St. Louis). Freeman has shut down his running this year (just 92 yards, no scores), but the puzzle pieces in this offense keep his value going (Jackson and Williams have been terrific, Dallas Clark isn't done yet, and Doug Martin is a dynamite receiver). … Romo's another quarterback who's getting there on volume (456 pass attempts), but the likely return of DeMarco Murray might result in a more balanced offense going forward. … The lofty Kaepernick rating is also a vote of confidence to the surrounding parts. I have a ton of faith in Jim Harbaugh, for starters. The Niners clearly have the best offensive line in football, too.

16. Jay Cutler
17. Jake Locker
18. Ryan Fitzpatrick
19. Carson Palmer
20. Joe Flacco
21. Russell Wilson
22. Chad Henne
23. Ryan Tannehill
24. Philip Rivers
25. Sam Bradford
26. Ben Roethlisberger

I wanted to go higher on Henne, but okay, it's just two games. I do like the triplets he's playing with (Shorts, Blackmon, Lewis), and obviously he's throwing the ball with a ton of confidence right now. I don't trust Jacksonville's pass blocking, however. … As if Rivers didn't have enough to worry about, look at his upcoming schedule: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Carolina and the Jets. And the Chargers don't have a reliable tackle protecting the blind side. … In one-quarterback leagues, there's no reason to play wait-and-see on Roethlisberger. Timing doesn't always return right away.

27. Christian Ponder
28. Brandon Weeden
29. Mark Sanchez
30. Michael Vick
31. Kevin Kolb
32. Brady Quinn
33. Nick Foles
34. Ryan Lindley
35. Alex Smith
36. Charlie Batch

And here's your Strength of Schedule (easy slates listed first). All the usual disclaimers apply. Take it for whatever you like. I'm judging the QB-friendliness of the schedules on this list, not the players tied to them.

1. Buccaneers: @DEN, PHI, @NO, STL
2. Texans: @TEN, @NE, IND, MIN
3. Falcons: NO, @CAR, NYG, @DET
4. Redskins: NYG, BAL, @CLE, @PHI
5. Colts: @DET, TEN, @HOU, @KC
6. Saints: @ATL, @NYG, TB, @DAL
7. Giants: @WAS, NO, @ATL, @BAL
8. Browns: @OAK, KC, WAS, @DEN
9. Dolphins: NE, @SF, JAC, BUF
10. Jets: ARI, @JAC, @TEN, SD
11. Eagles: @DAL, @TB, CIN, WAS
12. Jaguars: @BUF, NYJ, @MIA, NE
13. Rams: SF, @BUF, MIN, @TB
14. Titans: HOU, @IND, NYJ, @GB
15. Bills: JAC, STL, SEA, @MIA
16. Patriots: @MIA, HOU, SF, @JAC
17. Broncos: TB, @OAK, @BAL, CLE
18. Niners: @STL, MIA, @NE, @SEA
19. Cowboys: PHI, @CIN, PIT, NO
20. Packers: MIN, DET, @CHI, TEN
21. Panthers: @KC, ATL, @SD, OAK
22. Vikings: @GB, CHI, @STL, @HOU
23. Bengals: @SD, DAL, @PHI, @PIT
24. Bears: SEA, @MIN, GB, @ARI
25. Chiefs: CAR, @CLE, @OAK, IND
26. Ravens: PIT, @WAS, DEN, NYG
27. Lions: IND, @GB, @ARI, ATL
28. Raiders: CLE, DEN, KC, @CAR
29. Steelers: @BAL, SD, @DAL, CIN
30. Cardinals: @NYJ, @SEA, DET, CHI
31. Seahawks: @CHI, ARI, @BUF, SF
32. Chargers: CIN, @PIT, CAR, @NYJ

And here are your wideout ranks, Week 13-16.

1. Calvin Johnson
2. A.J. Green
3. Demaryius Thomas
4. Brandon Marshall
5. Dez Bryant
6. Reggie Wayne
7. Julio Jones
8. Roddy White
9. Vincent Jackson
10. Andre Johnson

While Johnson and Schaub have been terrific of late, I don't regret ignoring AJ on my board this summer. He's still scored a mere three times, and too much of his production has come in a few isolated games. A consistent player is more useful in our fake-football numbers racket. … A common and fair critique on Bryant into this year: he doesn't finish games well. Looks like we can scratch that off the list now. All six of Bryant's scores in 2012 have come in the second half, along with 61 percent of his yards. I guess this is growing up.

11. Victor Cruz
12. Wes Welker
13. Eric Decker
14. Marques Colston
15. Hakeem Nicks
16. Jordy Nelson
18. Steve Johnson
19. Cecil Shorts
20. Randall Cobb
21. Pierre Garcon

Imagine if Shorts had an elite quarterback throwing him the ball, or a club that realized his value back in the summer. But at least Henne is a significant upgrade over Gabbert. … I'm still giving Cobb a solid ranking even with the Jennings return, considering how poorly the Packers run the ball. When this team scores, it's through the air. And until Jennings plays a full and productive game, I'm going to keep some healthy skepticism tied to his value. Show me, No. 85.

21. Torrey Smith
22. Lance Moore
23. Larry Fitzgerald
24. Denarius Moore
25. Steve Smith
26. Danario Alexander
27. Malcom Floyd
28. Michael Crabtree
29. Sidney Rice
30. Greg Jennings
31. Percy Harvin
32. Miles Austin

Harvin's a Top 12 guy when healthy, at minimum, but he's obviously out for Week 13 and no one knows when he's coming back. … There's no right answer for Fitzgerald. I wish I had one. I hate to see his talents wasted like this. No player outworks him.

33. Justin Blackmon
34. Mike Williams
35. Mike Wallace
36. Ryan Broyles
37. Josh Gordon
38. Golden Tate
39. Dwayne Bowe
40. T.Y. Hilton

Robert Griffin made a plea for Gordon back in the spring, but the Browns ultimately made the supplemental play. While Gordon has left plenty of points on the board this year with his raw routes and occasional problems with drops, the biggest weight on his value is the Cleveland quarterback. Gordon still runs by defensive backs every week.

41. Jeremy Kerley
42. Brandon Lloyd
43. Brian Hartline
44. Jeremy Maclin
45. Brandon LaFell
46. Chris Givens
47. Kenny Britt
48. Darrius Heyward-Bey
49. James Jones
50. Davone Bess
51. Anquan Boldin
52. Danny Amendola
53. Antonio Brown

I won't be starting Wallace or Brown until Roethlisberger comes back. The game film from last week's Pittsburgh-Cleveland game should be destroyed. Batch is a helluva guy, but he shouldn't be playing for a contending ballclub.

54. Brandon Stokley
55. Nate Washington
56. Andre Roberts
57. Julian Edelman
58. Kendall Wright
59. Donnie Avery
60. Santana Moss
61. Mario Manningham
62. Donald Jones
63. Brandon Gibson
64. Riley Cooper
65. Emmanuel Sanders

I wanted to rank Edelman higher, but he's playing for a team that never wants to tell us much about their injured players. That won't be an issue in Week 13 since the Pats play early, but New England has prime-time games in Weeks 14 and 15.

And for the heck of it, here are some bonus tight-end ranks.

1. Jimmy Graham
2. Tony Gonzalez
3. Jason Witten
4. Owen Daniels
5. Aaron Hernandez
6. Jermaine Gresham

Although Daniels has done plenty of spiking, it's not like the Texans go overboard trying to feed him from in close. He has a modest seven red-zone targets and just two at the goal line. Comparitively, Gronkowski and Miller both have 17 red-zone targets and eight at the goal.

7. Greg Olsen
8. Brandon Pettigrew
9. Kyle Rudolph
10. Dustin Keller
11. Antonio Gates
12. Brandon Myers
13. Heath Miller

I hate ranking Miller this low, but it's the Big Ben card again. Such a shame, as Miller looked like a Pro Bowler back in the good old days. … Olsen has been a Top 5 tight end over the last month, and the braintrust in Carolina loves to incorporate the tight ends. I bet Jay Cutler rues the day the Bears lost Olsen.

14. Vernon Davis
15. Martellus Bennett
16. Marcedes Lewis
17. Scott Chandler
18. Dallas Clark
19. Jared Cook
20. Jermichael Finley
21. Brent Celek
22. Dennis Pitta
23. Rob Housler

I can't promise you any end-zone visits for Housler, but he had a sneaky eight catches for 82 yards last week (on 11 targets), and he also topped 50 yards in Weeks 7 and 9. … And to think, I was thrilled to land Vernon Davis in a handful of leagues back in August. He could go for 157 yards and two scores at St. Louis and he could toast another bagel. Nothing comes as a surprise. One thing we have to accept: the Niners don't go out of their way to design big plays for Davis, nor will they force the ball to him even when the coverage is decent. It's a shame, because from a skills perspective, Davis is easily one of the Top 5 players at the position.

24. Jacob Tamme
25. Dwayne Allen
26. Joel Dreessen
27. Zach Miller
28. Tony Moeaki
29. Ben Watson
30. Rob Gronkowski
31. Anthony Fasano

I dropped all of my Gronkowski shares when he got injured, and I'll be shocked if he returns before Week 17. But it's not like the Patriots have me in their inner circle; they're not telling anyone the plan. In the meantime, I'll continue to play for today.

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