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QB Tiers & Rankings: Week 12 (Fantasy Football)

by Scott Cedar | @scedar015 | Featured Writer
Nov 23, 2018

Things I learned yesterday: Golden Tate is the best receiver in the league, Derek Carr is the worst quarterback in the league, my cousin married a foreign national in a secret wedding earlier this year, my other cousin has been waiting to tell me in person that she’s pregnant…for eight months, and Drew Brees plus three receivers off the street is still the best offense in the league. It’s shaping up to be weird Week 12. Let’s get to it.

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Every-Week Starters

Andrew Luck (IND): vs. Miami
Cam Newton (CAR): vs. Seattle
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): @ Denver
Carson Wentz (PHI): vs. New York Giants
Aaron Rodgers (GB): @ Minnesota

Ben Roethlisberger’s performance on Sunday is why I don’t check my fantasy scores until Monday. Stuck in negatives for most of the day, he exploded for 23.9 fantasy points in the final 16 minutes of the game, finishing as QB7 on the week. Having by far the best fantasy season of his career, Roethlisberger has now beaten two of the top passing defenses, on the road, in the past three weeks. He’s an every week starter with a great rest-of-season schedule.

Carson Wentz couldn’t do diddly-poo on offense against the Saints on Sunday, generating a fantasy point. If you round up. Haters are going to hate after he cost them a week, but I’m just going to shake (shake shake shake shake) that one off. He had 18 or more fantasy points in six straight before that dud. This week brings a Giants team that has been a neutral match-up for quarterbacks (allowing the 17th most fantasy points), but I think their pass defense is built on a house of cards. The G-Men rank dead last in sack percentage and are bottom five in QB hits. They’ve survived thanks to a high interception rate and low touchdown rate, but the talent doesn’t suggest either is sustainable. With all day to throw, I see a big game coming for Wentz in a must-win game for the defending champs.

Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown more than two touchdowns since Week 5. He’s just QB9 on the year, and QB13 over the last month. He faces a Vikings defense that is top five against the pass and already held him to 16 fantasy points (30/42, 281 yards, one touchdown) at home in Week 2. I still think he’ s too good to sit, but if for some reason you’re carrying a second quarterback they’re probably worth consideration.

QB1s

Deshaun Watson (HOU): vs. Tennessee
Tom Brady (NE): @ New York Jets
Philip Rivers (LAC): vs. Arizona
Russell Wilson (SEA): @ Carolina
Kirk Cousins (MIN): vs. Green Bay

I think Deshaun Watson is a really good play. I’m just not convinced he’s still a must play without Will Fuller. As Ian Hartitz notes, Watson has been notably better with Will Fuller. Watson excels as a deep ball passer, and without Fuller the vertical element is not there for the Texans. Demaryius Thomas certainly isn’t that guy anymore, and while Keke Coutee can stretch the field he hasn’t been asked to do so. I’m also concerned about his rushing. The ground game is critical to Watson’s fantasy success, and I expected it to come back on Sunday with the benefit of two full weeks to rest his rib injury. It didn’t, with Watson rushing just three times for seven yards. All that said, Watson remains a strong QB1 play with upside against an average Titans secondary.

Coming off a shellacking in Week 11 in which he barely completed over 50% of his passes and didn’t find the end zone, Tom Brady is QB21 over the last month. His yards per attempt and touchdown rate are at five-year lows, and looking at the receiving corps I don’t think this is necessarily bound to regress. In the most crucial part of the fantasy season, I can’t preach patience and say he’s an every-week starter anymore. I still love him this week against a Jets defense that just gave up 17 fantasy points to Matt Barkley.

The Chargers are massive home favorites (-11.5) against the Cardinals, but the Arizona pass defense is one of the best in the league. It should be another fine, low-ceiling game from Philip Rivers, fantasy’s perennial QB12.

Russell Wilson has a low implied team total (21.75), can barely get to 25 pass attempts, and isn’t giving you much rushing. But I say that every week, and he’s still a borderline starting quarterback (18.7 ppg, tied for QB13). So against a Panthers defense allowing the 8th most points to opposing quarterbacks, I guess we’re shrugging our shoulders and rolling him out there again.

I have a hard time sitting Kirk Cousins given his receiving corps and the nearly non-existent run game in Minnesota. But boy am I nervous to put him against a Packers defense leading the league in sack rate (9.5%). We just saw Minnesota’s offensive line get their butts handed to them by the Bears’ pass rush. This passing game can be elite, but only when it has time to function.

Streamers

Baker Mayfield (CLE): @ Cincinnati
Jameis Winston (TB): vs. San Francisco 
Lamar Jackson (BAL): vs. Oakland

Baker Mayfield looks like a different quarterback since being freed from the Hue Jackson/Todd Haley slappers only fight that undermined the early part of the season. He’s been QB9 over that two-game span, completing 74% of his passes with a 5/1 touchdown to interception ratio. He’s at home against Cincinnati this week, and there are a couple of reasons to like this matchup. First, the Bengals’ defense has been a train wreck, allowing 31.2 points per game (2nd most in the league). Second, the Bengals’ solution to this problem was to bring in the aforementioned Jackson to help on defense, even though he’s an offensive “specialist” whose offenses aren’t even good.

The Buccaneers should just embrace what they have and operate like a tag team. When Ryan Fitzpatrick commits a turnover, Jameis Winston tags in and gets to play until he turns the ball over. They’re going nowhere and everyone-quarterbacks included-are losing their jobs. Let’s at least have some fun with this. Anyway, Tampa Bay is top five in passing attempts, yards, and touchdowns (and number one in interceptions…by a lot). They’ve been great for fantasy, when allowed to finish, and I think Winston should have a fairly long leash at least for his first game back as starter. He gets a San Francisco defense allowing 7.2 adjusted net yards per attempt, 6th most in the league. This game also looks like a shootout, with the 2nd highest over/under of the week. Obviously starting a guy who may not make it to halftime is a risk, but you’re also getting top-3 upside.

Lamar Jackson ran an insane 27 times in his first start, piling up over 100 yards on the ground. The air attack was low volume, but he was at least efficient, completing 68% of his passes and 7.9 yards per attempt. Even without a touchdown, that was good for 15.9 fantasy points, showing you the floor that rushing quarterbacks offer. I don’t think they can continue to run him 27 times per game, or even come close to it (the post-merger record is  Bobby Douglass’s 10 attempts per game back in 1972; neither Cam Newton nor Tim Tebow have ever hit even nine attempts per game). Still, the combination of rushing production and big-play ability against Oakland’s trash defense make Jackson a high-floor, high-ceiling play.

QB2s

Eli Manning (NYG): @ Philadelphia
Dak Prescott (DAL): vs. Washington
Nick Mullens (SF): @ Tampa Bay
Blake Bortles (JAC): @ Buffalo
Josh McCown (NYJ): vs. New England
Andy Dalton (CIN): vs. Cleveland
Case Keenum (DEN): vs. Pittsburgh
Ryan Tannehill (MIA): @ Indianapolis

We could go back to the well with Eli Manning as a streamer. After Sunday’s highly impressive performance (17/18, two touchdowns), he now has at least 17 fantasy points in three of his last four games. Manning’s rebound has also come against Atlanta, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay, three of the worst secondaries in the league. True, the Eagles’ secondary isn’t much better, allowing the 7th highest adjusted yards per attempt. My brain says yes, but my gut says no, and in honor of Thanksgiving I’m siding with the latter. I just don’t trust Manning on the road in the second inter-division game.

Some day, and that day may never come, we’re going to see Nick Mullens face a real defense. Until then, we can continue trotting him out there as a QB2. The 49ers have a strong implied team total (25.75), this game has the 2nd highest over/under of the week, and Tampa Bay has been torched by just about everybody they’ve faced. So, Nick Mullens is a solid start for your playoff push. Another one of those plays where I trust the situation and don’t ask too many questions why.

Does Blake Bortles make it to the end of this game? The Bills’ defense is pretty good, and Bortles was horrible in that Jaguars’ crushing loss to the Steelers. That team seems like they’re about at their wits end with him. Desperation play only.

Josh McCown was garbage in his first start, completing just 50% of his passes and throwing two interceptions. The supporting cast is just not very good in New York. Still, I kind of like him to bounce back to 2017 form against a Patriots secondary that has struggled to get pressure this season.

It looks like Ryan Tannehill will return on Sunday. I don’t mind the matchup-the Colts are a bottom-10 pass defense-but Tannehill isn’t very good even when healthy, and it’s hard to judge how he’ll play coming off a mysterious injury.

Benchwarmers

Marcus Mariota (TEN): @ Houston
Josh Rosen (AZ): @ Los Angeles Chargers
Derek Carr (OAK): @ Baltimore
Josh Allen (BUF)/Matt Barkley (BUF): vs. Jacksonville

Marcus Mariota left Sunday’s game injured, and his status for Monday Night Football is still up in the air. It’s a shame, as he was finally looking healthy and the offense was starting to click. Regardless, I don’t think you can roll with him in what would otherwise be a solid matchup. Beyond the risk that he can’t go, Mariota has been terrible when less than full strength.

Josh Rosen against a Chargers defense that hasn’t given up 20 points in five of their last six games and just got Joey Bosa back? No.

Derek Carr was ok on Sunday (19/31, two touchdowns), but it was the same ultra-conservative game we’ve seen from him all season (6.2 yards per attempt). It also seems like an obvious dead cat bounce from the Raiders in a season that is more than lost. Vegas agrees, giving the Raiders a 15.5 implied team total, lowest of the week.


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Scott Cedar is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Scott, check out his archive and follow him @scedar015.

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