QB1 Primer: Week 15
I wish there was an accurate way to describe the absolute wasteland the QB position turned into last week. Across the board, some of the top prospective performers (Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston) all decided to collectively poop their pants at the same time. The one shining pick for me last week once again was a recommended sit (Ben Roethlisberger) although it did not differentiate me much from the fantasy community. Everyone had a bad week and one of the worst opening fantasy playoff weeks in recent memory.
Let’s turn the page and turn our attention to Week 15 which displays some of the lowest over/under totals of the entire year. We are going to have to dig deep to find who can end in the top 12. Just a weekly reminder: Here at the QB1 Primer, 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 predicting order, but simply identifying who is likely to be among the top 12. There are some great options available in the 13-18 range that I had to unfortunately cut. So if you don’t see your guy, please note that I’m not asking you to bench Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers or Dak Prescott. I just simply don’t have them statted out as finishing as a top 12.
Want to see where Andy, Mike, and Jason have each QB ranked? Check out their Week 15 QB Consensus Rankings.
Aaron Rodgers @ CHI
It’s impossible for me to move ARod off the QB1 pedestal as he’s now sported 8 QB1 starts in a row, an impressive streak tying Marcus Mariota (Weeks 5-12) for the longest string of the season. He’s thrown for 22 TDs over the last 8 games and has also shown a penchant for running averaging 26 yards on the ground in that span. Even if the weather is abominable, don’t overthink it.
Matt Ryan vs SF
Ryan has been a dominant QB1 force this season as the Falcons are fighting for their playoff lives with the upstart Buccaneers. They have a cushy home matchup against a 49ers pass defense ranked 30th overall and 29th in DVOA versus the pass. Atlanta has the highest team implied total (32.5) of the weekend. The only negative factor is if the Falcons jump out to an early lead and coast on the ground, as the 49ers are easily the worst defense in the league. Still, Ryan is in the top tier of QB1 starts regardless of whether Julio Jones starts or not.
Kirk Cousins vs CAR
If you haven’t realized what an automatic start Cousins has become down the stretch, it’s time to lock him into start mode. Cousins has averaged 22.6 fantasy points per game over the last 4 weeks, the highest in the league at the QB position. In other words, he’s been THE QB1 of late and faces off against a Carolina pass defense ranked 30th in the league at 272.4 ypg. The Redskins also have the 2nd highest team implied total (28.5) of the weekend. Stay in the flames with Captain Kirk my friends and let him propel you into the fantasy championship like 2015.
Russell Wilson vs LA
Wilson laid the ultimate dud last week with 5 INTs versus the Packers. Yuck! But now it’s time to dust yourself off if you somehow withstood his ineptitude last week and start him at home against the Rams. LA was obliterated last week against Atlanta and I like Wilson to do the same. The Seahawks have a healthy team implied total (27.3), 3rd highest of the weekend slate of games. The Rams rank 20th in DVOA against the pass while their 6 INTs rank tied for 30th in the league. I like Wilson to get back on track as a top 5 performer.
Ben Roethlisberger @ CIN
Despite a poor showing in the snow, it is clear that Big Ben is weekly in the QB1 conversation. Cincinnati’s defense has had some rough sledding this year giving up the 10th most fantasy points to the QB position. Roethlisberger also torched his rival for 259 and 3 TDs in Week 2. The Bengals rank 19th in defensive DVOA and have not looked like their dominant past selves this year. Count on 250+ yards and 2 TDs from the big guy.
Andy Dalton vs PIT
Since Week 5, Dalton has cruised to 6 QB1 starts out of 9, an unspectacular yet solid performer. As Big Ben’s dueling mate this week, I love his outlook especially if A.J. Green returns from his hamstring injury as the Steelers rank 30th in DVOA versus WR1s. Dalton threw for 366 yards in the first matchup that ceiling is possible again if the weather holds up. He is Andy’s “Stream of the Week” and a solid Week 15 start.
Eli Manning vs DET
Eli let me down last week in a low scoring Sunday night game against a Cowboys team he’s now beaten twice on the year. His matchup this week at home against the Lions presents us once again with some intriguing fantasy appeal. The Lions rank 30th in DVOA against the pass and a ridiculously high 72.9 completion percentage, highest mark in the league. Detroit has given up the 8th most fantasy points to the QB position on the season. He’s always a roll of the dice, but the ceiling is most definitely there for 3 TDs.
Derek Carr @ SD
Carr initiated the awful QB week last Thursday night against the Chiefs as it became clear his finger was affecting some of his throws as he completed a season-low 17 passes on 41 attempts. I’ll send in the Carr in this tough divisional road matchup as Carr shredded the Chargers defense earlier in the year for 311 yards and 2 TDs. I totally agree with the Raiders’ 26 point team implied total as the Chargers allow the 4th most points (26.7 per game) in the league. I like Carr as a mid-tier QB1.
Four in the Door
Jameis Winston @ DAL
Winston laid a stinker last week as he game managed his way to another Buccaneers victory, as fantasy owners everywhere screamed in agony. But we need to understand that this Dallas secondary has been beatable all year giving up the 5th most yards per game (267.8) while forcing the 2nd fewest INTs (5) in the league. I think the passing attempts owners wanted in past games for Winston will be there as Vegas gives this game 46.5 over/under. The Buccaneers have been road warriors this year winning 5 of 6 games so don’t let that “@ DAL” scare you off.
Tyrod Taylor vs CLE
Taylor has leveled off a bit since being a solid QB1 start in the middle of the year. However, this is the week to fire him up with a presumably healthy Sammy Watkins by his side. The Browns have given up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs in the league and 30 passing TDs, the most in the league. It’s also convenient that the Browns have registered only 21 sacks, the fewest in the NFL. Poor Browns… Tyrod is Jason’s recommended “Stream of the Week” and a worthy low-end QB1 start.
Cam Newton @ WAS
Newton has been as frustrating a player to own as anyone this season although I’ve read little about his failures from the media. He’s simply been abysmal completing 53.5% of his passes, the lowest among all starters. And yet I like Newton this week against the Redskins who allow the 4th highest completion percentage (67%) in the league while still missing out on team leader Luke Kuechly. The Redskins have been terrible against WRs this season ranking 28th in DVOA versus WR1s and WR2s. With a 50.5 over/under, I love the prospects of Newton and Cousins to have a shootout.
Alex Smith vs TEN
Smith is my “stream of the week” as a 5 point home favorite against Tennessee. The Titans have been murdered through the air in the 2nd half of the season and now allow the 2nd most passing yards per game (274.9) in the league. With a 23.5 team implied total, I expect Smith to be able to hit 2+ TDs and hopefully add 25 yards on the ground to boost his floor.
Tom Brady @ DEN
It’s a weird feeling to have confidence in players like Alex Smith over Brady but that is what happens when you play at Denver in a given week. The Broncos have given up only 2 QB1 performances on the year and the least fantasy points allowed to the QB and WR position. Yikes! I’m expecting a low scoring, hard-fought game that goes under the 44 point total Vegas is giving. I’m not saying bench the current MVP Brady… just that I’m not expecting top 12 totals for the weekend.
Matthew Stafford @ NYG
Stafford found a way into the top 12 last week thanks in large part to his rushing TD. The Lions somehow have found their way in the 2 seed in the NFC and will travel to the Meadowlands for a potential playoff matchup. Stafford hurt his throwing hand last week and had to wear a glove for the rest of the game. Regardless of his health, I don’t like his chances in Week 15. The Giants rank 4th in total defense and 5th in DVOA against the pass this season, a massive improvement from last season’s defensive debacle. Count me out.
Andrew Luck @ MIN
Luck and the Colts lost control of the AFC South after losing to their “rivals” the Texans on Sunday. Despite registering multiple TDs, Luck also threw 2 INTs and lost a fumble. He still has some turnover problems and I expect that to continue in Week 15. The Vikings rank 2nd in DVOA against the pass while also registering the 3rd most sacks (35) in the league. I don’t recommend Luck as a top 10 start for me this week.
Joe Flacco vs PHI
Big Joe has thrown the ball an incredible 99 times in the past two games as he’s made his money as a top 10 play on back-to-back weeks on sheer volume. I won’t be using Flacco anywhere this week against a Philly defense ranked 3rd in DVOA versus the pass and only a 61% completion percentage. He’s not a foreseeable starter for me in a game with only a 41 point over/under.
Last Week’s Record: 4/12 = 33% (lowest of the year in absolute trash bag of a week)
2016 Overall Record: 53%