Fantasy Football: Decoding the Top 12 QBs for Week 16

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Here was last week’s top 12 (with the bold being correctly called) in standard 4 points per passing TD leagues…

Newton, Manning, Winston, Foles, Osweiler, Bortles, Taylor, Rodgers, Flacco, Keenum, Garoppolo, Smith

5-out-12 again is acceptable but once again there’s a few on here which tripped us all up. Osweiler(?!)… he wasn’t even starting the game. Taylor was a game-time decision. It was nice seeing Rodgers play, albeit for one week.

Each week we look at the varying tiers of quarterbacks, assessing risk, home/away matchups, Vegas totals and realizing each week will have a bit of spontaneity. This isn’t about predicting order, but simply identifying who is likely to be among the top 12. Here is how I break up the decoding each week:

Four-Sures: My top 4 for the week and definite must-starts.
Com-Four-table: Four QBs with relatively safe floors with added upside to be a solid top 12 choice.
Four In the Door: Four QBs who could sneak into that top 12 including a stream of the week option and at least one daring dart throw.
Four-Get-About-It: Four QBs I’m fading this week and projecting to finish outside the top 12.  Often this includes some higher profile QBs with tougher matchups that could underperform.


Russell Wilson at DAL
Take last week and delete it from your memory. He’s still the QB1 overall on the season and should be started in all formats for this championship week matchup. In a game with a current over/under of 47 points, he faces a beatable Cowboys defense that ranks 11th worst in pass DVOA. Dallas has given up the 12th most fantasy points to QBs this season.

Tom Brady vs BUF
It has been frustrating recently if you are a Tom Brady owner as he’s averaged 11 fantasy points over his last 3 games including an 8 pt stinker against Buffalo in Week 13. He’s still a top 5 weekly play especially at home. The Patriots have the highest team implied total (29.5) of the weekend slate. If you’ve survived the playoffs inspite of him, there’s no way you’re benching him now.

Cam Newton vs. TB
Newton came through last week with a monster 31 point effort against Green Bay to knock them out of the playoff picture. He’s creeped into the top 5 for season-long scoring which is saying something after a rough start to the season. His ceiling once again is juge against a putrid Buccaneers secondary that ranks second worst in pass DVOA and has allowed the MOST passing yards on the season. With the 3rd highest team implied total (28.3) of the weekend, Cam could win some fantasy owners some championships this weekend.

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Ben Roethlisberger @ HOU
Since Week 10, Big Ben has averaged 23.7 fantasy points per game, the highest in the league. The injury to Antonio Brown definitley hurts his ceiling but this matchup is just too good. The Texans made Blake Bortles look like a world-beater last week as they’ve now given up the 2nd most fantasy points to QBs this season. He’s a safe play even on the road.

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Drew Brees vs. ATL
Brees deserves his place as a top 5 play this weekend despite a somewhat disappointing fantasy season. He’s the QB9 on the season yet only has 3 games above 20 fantasy points on the season and NONE over 22 points! And yet the Saints have a 29 point team implied total at home as favorites. With a healthy Alvin Kamara, trust Brees to get it done in the Superdome. Atlanta made Jameis Winston a top 3 QB last week so why not Brees at home?

Alex Smith vs. MIA
The Dolphins have been particularly inept at defending running QBs giving up monster QB1 performances to Cam Newton in Week 10 and a suprise game from Tyrod Taylor last week. Smith and the Chiefs are 10 point home favorites with a 26.8 team implied total. Miami ranks 26th in DVOA against the pass and 28th against the TE position. Travis Kelce is gonna eat so stack them together in DFS and reap the rewards.

Dak Prescott vs SEA
Listen it’s been and up-and-down season with Dak. However in the 8 games he played with Zeke Elliott, Dak averaged 21.5 fantasy points per contest. He was an automatic QB1. This game’s total (47) gives us more than enough. Seattle’s defense is injured and much maligned after last week’s shelacking at home against the Rams.  I’ll be starting Dak in a championship final so sweat it out with me!

Tom Pennington/Getty Images Sport

Jared Goff at TEN
Despite Todd Gurley‘s game last week, Goff has still managed to produce with four straight multi-touchdown games. He ranks ninth in the league in passing yards and is tied for seventh in pass TDs. The Rams are 6.5 point road favorites with a 27 point team implied total. With Robert Woods now back, he has a favorable matchup against a Titans defense that ranks tenth worst in pass DVOA and that has allowed the eighth most passing yards on the season. Goff is a top 10 play for me this week.


Nick Foles vs. OAK
Foles gets another gift matchup after a heart-pounding victory and 4 TDs last week against the Giants. The Raiders rank DEAD LAST in DVOA against the pass, like as in it doesn’t get any worse.  The Eagles are 9 point home favorites in a game with a 47.5 over/under. If you believe in an Eagles victory, Foles is a worthy streamer even on championship weekend.

Matt Ryan at NO
Ryan will be dismissed especially by owners sick of waiting to find a “break-out” game. Ryan hasn’t eclipsed 20 fantasy points or 3 passing TDs in a game yet this season. In other words, there’s room for positive TD regression. The Falcons, although on the road, still have a 23.8 team implied total in Vegas’ highest over/under (53) of the weekend.

Blake Bortles at SF
Blake Bortles is on a roll. He’s thrown for at least 268 yards and two TDs in three straight games and now gets a matchup against a 49ers defense that ranks fourth worst in pass DVOA, has allowed the 14th most passing yards on the season, and has allowed the third most passing yards per game over the past five weeks. And to put the cherry on top, San Francisco has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to Quarterbacks this season.

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Joe Flacco vs. IND
Let the number 3 hypnotize you into believeing in Joe Flacco….Joe Flacco has thrown for at least 269 yards in THREE straight games and has two TDs scored in all THREE contests as well. Now, he gets to play at home against a Colts defense that ranks THIRD-worst in pass DVOA and that has allowed the THIRD most passing yards on the season. So yea… Flacco is a viable emergency starter if you lost Carson Wentz or Aaron Rodgers recently.

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Jimmy Garoppolo vs JAX
Not too complicated. Jacksonville has given up the fewest passing yards per game and the fewest fantasy points to QBs this season. Sorry Jimmy G. Even you and your good looks can’t get you out of this.

Philip Rivers at NYJ
I’m going to go against the grain and fade Rivers this week. Rivers struggled last week against Kansas City and although the matchup looks good on paper as New York has allowed 4th most fantasy points to QBs, a deeper dive shows that the Jets’ numbers were skewed by some monstrous performances against running QBs (Tyrod Taylor, Cam Newton, Kevin Hogan, Alex Smith). Other than those opponents, NYJ has given up less than 14 fantasy points on average. They have excelled against pocket passers. If you don’t have better options, I totally understand. But I’m projecting him outside my top 12.

Jameis Winston at CAR
Don’t try to get too cute here. Winston’s 25 point fantasy game last week was mostly due to playing catchup against a mediocre Falcons defense. Playing at Carolina is a death trap. The Panthers rank 7th best in DVOA against the pass and know how to get after the QB. No thanks.

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Case Keenum at GB
The road matchup on Saturday night scares me off a bit. I know some will be trotting Keenum out in their fantasy championships but my expectations are a bit lower. Consider him more in the top 15 than top 12.

Last Week’s Record: 5/12

2017 Overall Percentage: 55%

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