Predicting the Top-12 QBs for Week 15 (Fantasy Football)
If you’ve made it this far in your fantasy playoffs, chances are your QB is Lamar Jackson or you were on the right side of an onslaught of 90 total TDs on Sunday, a new record for a single day of NFL football.
Last week’s article was bushwhacked by three of the top four QBs (Mahomes, Rodgers & Wilson) all turning in subpar performances. While Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill balled out, not believing in Drew Brees killed me.
Here is how I will breakdown the QBs heading into Week 15:
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 15.
Lamar Jackson vs NYJ
After an early week injury scare, Jackson says he’s good-to-go against the Jets. As 14.5-point home favorites and the highest team implied total (29.5) of the week, the Ravens are going to roll on Thursday night. Since Week 7, this team has trailed for a total of 6 minutes and 12 seconds. I don’t need to berate you with any more statistics proving his insane floor. Shake off any injury worry and roll with THE QB1.
Patrick Mahomes vs DEN
Over his last three weeks, Mahomes has only three total passing TDs as the QB16, 12, and 20. Not exactly a differentiator especially when fantasy owners need him most. Mahomes was injured against these Broncos earlier in the year but last year went over 300 passing yards in both games with five total TDs. Denver has been beatable as of late allowing the 6th most fantasy points to QBs over their last four games. As a 10-point home favorite, lean on Vegas and Mahomes’ raw talent over his recent mortalness.
Drew Brees vs IND
Count me among the doubters who were timid when staring down the supposed “defensive” matchup versus the 49ers. Brees balled out at home for six total TDs and still lost. Fire him up again against a Colts defense that was just decimated by Jameis Winston on the road. The Colts have allowed the 8th most fantasy points to QBs and the most to WRs over the last month. They were a bend-don’t-break defense for the beginning of the year but now Indianapolis has been exposed with a lack of talent in the secondary. The Saints are 9-point home favorites on Monday night and should propel many owners to the fantasy championship.
Deshaun Watson @ TEN
After beating the Patriots in Week 13, it looked like the Texans were on their way for a deep run in the playoffs as a team no-one wanted to play. Instead, Watson and the Texans were steamrolled last week against the Broncos but he still strung together a top-5 fantasy week. His floor is so high but the ceiling is still unbelievable. Watson has seven top-5 finishes, one less than Lamar Jackson. The AFC South is on the line here although these teams play each other again in Week 17. The Titans rank 23rd in pass DVOA and allowed the 8th most passing yards in the league. In three career games versus Tennessee, Watson has five, two, and three TDs along with 46 rushing yards per game. He’s as trustworthy as they get.
Dak Prescott vs LAR
Dak is the QB3 on the season but just the QB15 over his last three games. He’s still averaging the most passing yards per game (317) and is adding three fantasy points per game on the ground per game. That’s an obviously high floor to work with especially against a Rams team that is allowing the 2nd most plays run against them in the NFL. The Cowboys work quickly ranking 1st in pace of play and 1st in Yards per Play (6.46). In a pick’em game with the 2nd highest over/under (48.5) of the week, Dak will need to press on the gas if the Cowboys want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Russell Wilson @ CAR
If you somehow have withstood Wilson’s mediocrity and you are still alive in your fantasy playoffs, congrats. Wilson has been QB16 or worse in six of his last eight games. He still is tied for the 2nd most TD passes and can be trusted on the road against a surprisingly inept Panthers defense. Beyond rushing the passer, they have been destroyed all season long especially on the ground ranking dead last in rush DVOA. Carolina ranks 23rd in defensive DVOA and has allowed the 12th most yards per play in the league. The volume might not be there but efficiency-wise Wilson is still among the best.
Ryan Tannehill vs HOU
Tannehill and the Titans are on a roll and now face the Texans with the AFC South division crown at stake. He is completing 73 percent of his passes (2nd highest in the league), ranks 1st in yards per completion at 13.4 and is the QB3 since taking over for Marcus Mariota. This post-Miami Tannehill is elite folks. It helps that Houston has given up a QB1 performance in seven of their last nine games. These QBs aren’t just barely scratching the top-12; every one of them put up 300+ yards and three TDs. The Texans rank 27th in pass DVOA and allowed the 5th most schedule-adjusted fantasy points on the season to opposing QBs. Oh yeah, this game also carries the highest over/under (50.5) of the week. Tanny is Jason’s Start of the Week.
Jameis Winston @ DET
Winston is Mr. Magoo as he bumbles and stumbles his way through multiple turnovers each week to absolutely explode for fantasy purposes. He set a career-high with 456 passing yards last week with six total TDs and now possibly could lead the league in TD passes and INTs. The Lions defense is a hapless crew on so many levels. They’ve allowed the 2nd most passing yards per game, the 4th most 20+ yard pass plays, and the 4th lowest adjusted sack rate. Beyond Philip Rivers‘ Week 2 stinkfest, the Lions have allowed top-12 QBs at home every other week of the season. Winston, despite losing Mike Evans for the season, should give you the type of volume you want on the road. The Buccaneers carry a 25.5 team implied total as 3.5-point road favorites.
Jimmy Garoppolo @ ATL
Jimmy G has shown he’s more than a game manager going toe-to-toe with Drew Brees and emerging victorious in arguably the game of the year. Fantasy-wise he’s been a top-12 QB in four of his last six games including three of those as top-5. The 49ers have the 2nd highest team implied total (29) at home against a Falcons secondary that has been trash for years. Atlanta has allowed the 2nd highest pass success rate and the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Kyle Shanahan also wouldn’t mind sticking it to his old team.
Aaron Rodgers vs CHI
Rodgers and the Packers disappointed last week and he likely sunk your fantasy team against Washington. The Bears defense isn’t as formidable as we think allowing a floor of 15+ fantasy points to opposing QBs in six of their last eight games since their Week 6 bye. While they take away the deep ball allowing the 7th fewest 20+ yard pass plays, that really hasn’t been Rodgers’ mode this season. I’m leaning into Rodgers at home with a 23-point team implied total on this one.
Baker Mayfield @ ARZ
It’s been a bumpy ride for the Browns all season long even though somehow they have an outside shot at an AFC wildcard spot. Baker has been a top-10 QB only three times and ranks dead last in completion percentage at 59.2 percent. However, the Cardinals are a salve for fantasy QBs ranking 28th in pass DVOA and allowing the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points. They are on pace to give up 4,985 passing yards & 39 passing TDs. To put those numbers in perspective, that would be the 2nd most passing yards allowed and 3rd most passing TDs allowed… ALL-TIME. He’s a solid play even on the road.
Eli Manning vs MIA
Why not for old times sake? For the 1st half of last week’s game versus Philadelphia, Manning and the Giants were moving the ball with ease through the air. The matchup screams QB1 considering Miami ranks 32nd in pass DVOA, the 3rd most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing QBs, and the lowest sack rate in the league. Let’s have one last hurrah with Eli vs Fitzmagic, who have played each other four times in their careers.
Matt Ryan @ SF
Ryan has been worse than mediocre in the 2nd half of the season as the QB26 over his last eight games. That ain’t gonna get it done and this week he deserves a benching. The 49ers rank 1st in pass DVOA and 1st in adjusted sack rate, a lethal combo to be unleashed against a poor Atlanta offensive line. In a dynasty league semi-final, I’m forced to choose between Ryan and Eli Manning. SOS please help.
Josh Allen @ PIT
Allen and the Bills showed guts last week but ultimately were stymied by the Ravens. It could be worse this week. As noted in our DEF/ST Strategy article by Ryan Weisse, this Pittsburgh defense has been on a roll as the #1 fantasy defense since Week 9. Since Week 3, Steelers have allowed 12.4 fantasy pts per game to opposing QBs. The Steelers rank 4th in pass DVOA and own the 2nd highest adjusted sack rate. This has all the makings of a slug-it-out matchup won in the trenches with a ridiculously low 36.5 total.
Kirk Cousins @ LAC
Quietly this Chargers pass defense has shut down opponents allowing just ONE top-12 performance on the season, tied with the Ravens as the only defense to achieve that feat. Cousins on the road isn’t something I’d be willing to trust at this point in the fantasy season.
Carson Wentz @ WSH
Wentz looked rough on Monday night only making due thanks to the Giants basically not showing up in the 2nd half. With Alshon Jeffrey out for the season, the Eagles are down to a WR corp featuring Greg Ward Jr. and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Yes, Zach Ertz counts but the Washington defense isn’t actually a push-over. They held Aaron Rodgers to just 11 fantasy points last week and over their last eight games, they’ve allowed the 8th fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs.
Last Week: 6/12
2019 Predictions: 55(!) %