It’s playoff time… hey! hey!
Last week’s article came up a bit short on some predictions as a few Thanksgiving QBs showed out (Dak, Josh Allen, Trubisky, heck even David Blough), just not the one I wrote up (Drew Brees). Jared Goff and Carson Wentz likely propelled many into the fantasy playoffs if they dared to stream them. Ultimately both Monday night QBs (Russell Wilson & Kirk Cousins) came up slightly short although both were top-15 options.
Here is how I will breakdown the QBs heading into Week 14:
Four-Sures: 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 the top-12 including the Ballers “Stream of the Week” options 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.
***IMPORTANT NOTE*** There are 15-20 viable QB starts each week. If you don’t see your guy listed on here, that’s ok. This article is about predicting the top-12 not necessarily who is safest. I’d strongly advise you to follow Andy, Mike, and Jason’s advice for where they have QBs ranked for Week 14.
Lamar Jackson @ BUF
Over his last four games, Jackson has 13 passing TDs and has completed 72.6 percent of his passes, the highest among all QBs. This matchup ain’t easy by any means as the Bills have allowed four top-12 QB performances since the beginning of 2018. Yikes. Buffalo is allowing just 203 passing yards per game and the lowest passing TD percentage on the season. Throw out the stats as LJax can be a top-5 QB with less than 150 passing yards in any given week. He’s averaging 11.2 rushing attempts per game and 74 rushing yards per game. With that rushing floor, he’s basically “adding” 185 passing yards if you want to view it that way. In other words, 150 passing yards plus his rushing is 300+ “passing yards” a week. Multiple TDs is the norm so expect nothing less. No-one has been able to stop him.
Aaron Rodgers vs. WSH
After his 4-TD game against the Giants, Rodgers now has four weeks as a top-3 QB but only one other top-12 performance to his credit. That means that 7-of-12 weeks Rodgers has been outside our QB1 group. Rodgers’ target distribution is interesting as his WRs have the highest % of targets behind the line of scrimmage and the 2nd highest % of targets over 20+ yards. In other words, its been feast or famine because Rodgers is not targeting his guys on intermediate routes as they rank 26th and 31st between 0-9 yards and 10-19 yards, respectively. Regardless, he looks like he’s a safe play at home at Lambeau against a Redskins defense that just allowed Kyle Allen to register three total TDs. Washington has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing QBs over the last month and the Packers are 13-point favorites with a 27.5 implied total, 3rd highest of the week.
Patrick Mahomes @ NE
For two weeks in a row, Mahomes has looked human totaling 178 and 187 passing yards. However, based on the tough road matchup against the Chargers and the horrible, windy weather against Oakland, let’s give the MVP a pass. Yes the Patriots matchup is scary but a talented, young QB named Deshaun Watson just went ham on these Patriots this past week. In an epic 43-40 loss last year in Week 6, Mahomes put up 352 passing yards and 4 TDs in New England. The ceiling might be lowered on the road but this game has the highest over/under (49) of the week. I personally can’t see Tom Brady keeping pace and running up the score this year. But you’re starting your stud in the fantasy playoffs.
Russell Wilson @ LAR
Wilson is just straight money. Beyond the game-breaking ability of Lamar Jackson, I might trust Wilson more than any other QB in the league. He leads the league in passing TDs, 4th quarter comebacks, and game-winning drives. He’s averaging the most passing yards per game (264.8), highest QB Rating (111.1), and lowest INT rate (1.0%) of his storied career. He lit up these Rams in Week 5 for 268 passing yards and four TDs when he was the QB4 on the week. In fact, Wilson has 10 TDs in his last three games versus the Rams along with 124 rushing yards. The floor is so safe.
Deshaun Watson vs. DEN
Count me among the doubters this week as Watson played out of his mind against the Patriots including adding a “receiving TD” from DeAndre Hopkins. The matchup looks somewhat intimidating as Denver has allowed the 5th fewest passing yards on the season. Their season-long stats look stout as they hadn’t allowed a top-12 week until after their bye in Week 10. Since then, Kirk Cousins was the QB8, Josh Allen the QB10, and old-washed up Philip Rivers finished as QB14. Over the last month, they’ve allowed the 7th most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Trust the incredibly talented and driven star QB with a 25.5 team-implied total.
Carson Wentz vs. NYG
Wentz came back with vengeance with three red-zone passing TDs as Alshon Jeffrey’s return helped immensely. Fire him up again for this Monday night NFC East matchup. The Giants just surrendered four TDs to Aaron Rodgers in the snow and they’ve been bad all year long. Other than a Case Keenum 4-point stinkfest in Week 4 and a 7-point Kyler Murray letdown in Week 7, the Giants have given up a top-10 performance every single week. Apart from those two weeks, they’ve allowed 24.3 fantasy points per game on average. To put that number in perspective, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson are tied at the QB2 in scoring at 22 fantasy points a game. The Eagles have the 2nd highest team implied total (27.8) so follow the points and tilt your face off with me as I’m starting him in my home league playoffs.
Kirk Cousins vs. DET
Coming off a solid primetime game in Seattle, Cousins should be a trustable asset heading into the first round of the fantasy playoffs. This divisional matchup at home should be the kind of opportunity to snag a guy off the waivers and start him against the Lions secondary that has allowed the 3rd most passing yards. Apart from Dwayne Haskins’ dud in Week 11, Detroit has allowed QB1 performances in nine of their last ten games. In fact, if we throw out a Philip Rivers poopfest in Week 2 and that Haskins game, the Lions have allowed 23 fantasy points on average to opposing QBs. (Maybe you see a theme that Redskins QB games kill fantasy point averages). Cousins is currently ranked as the Footballers Consensus QB8 with Andy being the highest at QB5 for Week 14 with the Vikings coming in as 14-point home favorites.
Jameis Winston vs. IND
If you were among those who started Winston last week (me!), you likely were shocked that the Tampa Bay Defense and Peyton Barber were the most valuable fantasy commodities for the Buccaneers. Forget last week and realize Winston is still the QB8 on the season. He had totaled 17+ fantasy points in nine straight weeks so a home matchup versus the Colts shouldn’t scare you off. The Colts are a “bend-don’t-break” defense funneling targets towards the middle of the field so I’m all about Chris Godwin in this one. With the 3rd highest over/under (47.5) of the week, the Bucs should put up points as 3-point home favorites.
Baker Mayfield vs CIN
Baker was an obvious sit last week in Pittsburgh but he needs to be on the radar this week at home against the hapless, albeit on a 1-game winning streak Cincinnati Bengals. Mayfield torched them last year going 258/4 and 284/3 in his two matchups. The Bengals have allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing QBs and rank 31st in pass DVOA. The only thing that could keep him from getting there is the ground game. Nick Chubb could run all over these Bengals who have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL. Nevertheless, with a 25 team implied-total at home should make you feel comfortable starting Baker.
Jared Goff vs SEA
Goff was a capable streamer last week exposing the sleeping Cardinals (who must’ve chilled out all bye week) for 424 passing yards and two TDs. He is hyper-targeting Robert Woods which was a major part of his success in 2018. I don’t mind him again in Week 14 at home in this divisional matchup. The Seahawks have allowed the 4th most passing yards and the 4th lowest sack rate. If Goff gets a clean pocket, his “on-target” rate of pass attempts jumps almost 30 percentage points. A healthy 46.5 Vegas total tells me the Rams are going to have to keep up with Wilson via the air.
Ryan Tannehill @ OAK
The Titans rode Derrick Henry and their defense to a tough AFC South divisional victory last week. But remember this guy has been a top-5 QB over the last six weeks and you can stream him again this week even on the road. The Raiders have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing QBs and rank 30th in pass DVOA according to Football Outsiders. Expect big plays from A.J. Brown as Oakland has given up the most 20+ yard passing plays (55!) on the year. Tannehill is Andy’s Stream of the Week and the Footballers’ Consensus QB10.
Devlin Hodges @ ARI
Quack, quack, quack Mr. Ducksworth. Let’s go a little off the board with this last QB1 for the week. Thus far in 2019, we have seen 37 QBs finish inside the top-12 including luminaries such as Matt Schaub, Jeff Driskel, Matt Moore, and Case Keenum. The only team yet to initiate their signal-caller into this illustrious group is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mason Rudolph got close (QB13 in Week 4) but the time is right for Duck Hodges to do his thing. The Cardinals are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs, the most passing yards per game (307.5), and rank 28th in pass DVOA. In other words, the way you beat the Cardinals is just throw whenever you want. He’s more a dart throw and an interesting QB2 in 2QB or SuperFlex leagues.
Note: With Sam Darnold’s rib injury up in the air and the status of safety Jamal Adams also questionable, the Dolphins/Jets matchup is an interesting one to take advantage from a streaming standpoint. At the time of publishing this article, there just wasn’t enough definitive injury information to make a clear call on one of these QBs making the top-12. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a wild card so if you need to shoot for the moon and you’re a giant underdog, heck let’s get nuts. Darnold is also in the conversation as the Dolphins defense is bad, bad, bad, bad… as in 32nd in pass DVOA bad.
Drew Brees vs SF
Last week Brees threw for a measly 184 yards and one score as it became the Taysom Hill show on Thanksgiving. He’s not the auto-start at anymore especially against top-tier defenses. Brees has benefitted from throwing all but one of his TDs inside the red-zone. He’s especially struggling on 3rd & long this year as his QB Rating is only 55! In other words, nothing is coming on the deep ball as the Saints have thrown the lowest percentage (7.4%) of 20+ yard passes in the league. The 49ers rank 3rd in pass DVOA and have given up the fewest passing yards per game (134). One-hundred & thirty-four. They are on pace to allow the fewest passing yards in a season since 1980. Its tough to bench the Hall of Fame at home but I’m looking at other streaming options.
Dak Prescott @ CHI
This is a tough one as Dak and the Cowboys played horrible last week but he got there fantasy-wise with some garbage time, empty-calories. He’s hard to fade given his consistency this year. But Dak’s three worst games on the year came on the road and playing against the Bears ain’t no walk in the park. They rank 4th in pass DVOA and 3rd in lowest yards per play. They also shut down the deep ball allowing the 2nd lowest 20+ yard attempts in the league. Maybe he can find a way through sheer volume but with a 42.5 total, I’m not thrilled. I honestly hate sealing my fate on a Thursday night with my QB but if Dak got you to the fantasy playoffs I understand. Mike is currently the lowest among the Footballers at QB12.
Tom Brady vs. KC
Brady and the Patriots have shown their age recently especially when it comes to the lack of speed on the offensive side of the ball. However, the Patriots offensive line is allowing the lowest pressure rate, the highest % of clean pockets and the 3rd lowest sack rate in the NFL. Brady also leads the league in “throw-aways” so if its not there he’s just not forcing it. Why am I bringing up these statistics? Because despite the clean pocket and keeping Brady off the turf, he’s been, dare I say, bad. Including last week’s garbage time-infused QB5 finish, he’s been the QB21 since Week 7 averaging the same as Philip Rivers and 0.1 total fantasy points more than Kyle Allen. You don’t want to be compared to those two guys. On the season Brady is completing 61.1 percent of his passes while leading the league in total pass attempts. The efficiency just hasn’t been there and even at home with a high total, I’m not willing to trust this offense against a Chiefs defense that ranks 6th in pass DVOA and the 2nd fewest WR fantasy points in the NFL.
Josh Allen vs BAL
Allen has been so safe all year long as a top-15 QB in eight straight weeks. He’s yet to bust according to our consistency charts aided by his 36 rushing yards per game. But I would pause and weigh whether you’re willing to go down with the ship and Allen. The Ravens allowed 43 combined rushing yards between the three most mobile QBs they’ve faced this year: Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson. Allen is going to need to hit that number against a team that ranks 5th in pass DVOA and given up only one top-12 performance all year long (Mahomes in Week 3). The Bills have a 19-point team implied total, which ain’t going to get it done.
Last week: 5/12
2019 Overall Percentage: 56%