QB Tiers & Rankings: Week 13 (Fantasy Football)
This is a column about quarterbacks.
Not the most inspiring intro, but it’s true, it’s all I have time for, and I know you just skip to the bold names anyway. Last week of the fantasy regular season in any self-respecting league, so let’s get to the Week 13 QB tiers.
Cam Newton (CAR): @ Tampa Bay
Patrick Mahomes (KC): @ Oakland
Jared Goff (LAR): @ Detroit
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Andrew Luck (IND): @ Jacksonville
Matt Ryan (ATL): vs. Baltimore
Cam Newton is an easy pick for QB1, you don’t need me for that. This just seems like a good time to recognize what an incredible year he’s having. His completion percentage is 10 points above his career average, and it hasn’t come at the expense of yards per attempt (7.5, also above his career average). His interception rate (1.9%) is also at a career low. In the past, he’s been more of a boom/bust player. This year, he’s hit 20 points in eight of 11 games and hasn’t dropped below 14 all year. Stud.
Coming off a big win in the best game ever, Jared Goff gets a Detroit pass defense allowing the 3rd most net adjusted yards per attempt (8.1) in the league. Detroit has also been a fairly good run defense since bringing in Snacks Harrison, which should push the Rams’ attack to the air. After a mid-season touchdown dip (three touchdowns between Weeks 5-7), Goff has been fantasy’s top quarterback over the last four games. He’s in line for another big one on Sunday.
Andrew Luck hasn’t scored fewer than 21 fantasy points since Week 3. Week 3! I think we were still doing Gangnam Style back then. Despite this hot streak and the fact he already hit Jacksonville for 285 yards and three touchdowns (21.2 fantasy points) a few weeks ago, he’s only QB9 on ECR. I do think you’re starting him if you’ve got him, but I’m also less bullish. This game is on the road, it’s their second match-up, and while the Jaguars have not been a bad match-up for fantasy quarterbacks (17.4 points per game, 17th most in the league), the underlying numbers still say this Jaguars defense is really, really good. With T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron both banged up, Luck may be fine but I don’t think he hits his ceiling.
This feels like a turning point for Matt Ryan’s fantasy season. Last week’s loss essentially eliminated the Falcons from playoff contention. Do they pack it up and spend the rest of the season going through the motions? Or do they toss aside an ineffective running game and let Matt Ryan (on pace for 5,368 passing yards, 120 yards off Peyton Manning’s single-season record) and Julio Jones (on pace for 1,897 receiving yards, 66 yards off Calvin Johnson’s record) chase greatness? Fingers crossed.
Aaron Rodgers (GB): vs. Arizona
Deshaun Watson (HOU): vs. Cleveland
Jameis Winston (TB): vs. Carolina
Carson Wentz (PHI): @ Washington
Philip Rivers (LAC): @ Pittsburgh
Russell Wilson (SEA): vs. San Francisco
Tom Brady (NE): vs. Minnesota
Kirk Cousins (MIN): @ New England
Baker Mayfield (CLE): @ Houston
Lamar Jackson (BAL): @ Atlanta
Is Aaron Rodgers still an every-week starter? He’s among the elite quarterbacks for sure, but as a fantasy option, I can’t keep ranking him as an elite, no-brainer start. He’s been solid, but hasn’t thrown more than two touchdowns in a game since Week 5 and isn’t winning weeks like he used to. This week is a tough one. The Cardinals have been a pretty good pass defense, and are allowing the 4th fewest points (15.4) to opposing quarterbacks. On the other hand, the Packers are 14-point home favorites, which both portends a big week for the Packers and also suggests it’ll be Aaron Jones time early. Rodgers is QB10 on the year, and that’s kind of how I view him this game. A safe starting option, but not likely to go off.
Deshaun Watson has four games with 25 or more fantasy points and four games with 11 or fewer fantasy points. It’s been more good than bad, and the ceiling is so strong you almost have to start him, but he hasn’t been as consistent as the elite tier. This is somewhat a gut call, but I think he struggles this week against the Browns. They have a strong defensive line that could overwhelm Houston, and Denzel Ward can at least make DeAndre Hopkins sweat. The Browns have allowed just 5.9 adjusted net yards per attempt, 6th lowest in the league. They’ve given Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger trouble. On a short week sandwiched between key division games, this could be a trap game for the Texans.
Carson Wentz bounced back from Week 11’s disaster with a decent performance in a win against the Giants. The fantasy points weren’t there, but he completed over 70% of his throws and averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. I’m pretty bullish on him heading into a key divisional match-up against the Redskins. Washington just got torched by the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and I think that defense is about to get unmasked now that the offense can’t play keep-away with Colt McCoy under center.
Seattle is 11-point home favorites to an abysmal 49ers team. Is this the week Russell Wilson’s low volume finally catches up to him? Probably not…dude is a wizard.
Am I going to have a 4th kid just so I can name him/her Baker Mayfield Cedar? I can’t rule it out. That’s how I’m feeling about the number one overall pick after the clinic he put on in Cincinnati (19/26, 258 yards, four touchdowns), capped off by some epic post-game shade on former head coach Hue Jackson. Mayfield is the QB6 since ridding himself of Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and he gets a chance to move even higher against the Texans’ injury-riddled secondary. The Texans have been a tough match-up, but that’s more a function of who they’ve faced (Derek Anderson, Blake Bortles, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum, Alex Smith, and Marcus Mariota in their last six). If the line can hold up against Houston’s pass rush-a big if-Baker will keep rolling this week.
I love rushing quarterbacks, but I’m not totally buying Lamar Jackson even against a weak Falcons secondary. His rushing volume predictably came way down in his 2nd start (11 carries) and his passing got worse (56% completion rate and two interceptions vs. one touchdown). And that was in a prime match-up against Oakland, one of the league’s easiest defenses. Things ended up alright after a disastrous first half, and Jackson’s a QB1 this week, but he needs to play better if this ride is going to continue.
Marcus Mariota now has over 21 fantasy points in three of his last four starts, with the only miss coming when he left mid-game with a stinger. He’s completed 77% of his passes with a 6/1 touchdown to interception ratio in that span. The Jets haven’t been a great match-up for quarterbacks-mostly because they’re getting blown out every week-so this may not be a ceiling week for Mariota. Given how he’s playing, he still presents a safe floor if you need a fill-in.
I hate streaming Case Keenum, especially on the road, but Cincinnati can’t stop anybody. In three games following their bye, they’ve allowed the QB3, QB13, and QB5. After getting torched by Baker Mayfield for four touchdowns on Sunday, they’re now allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (23.3), as well as the 2nd most passing yards and 2nd most passing touchdowns. I guess at some point I should talk about Keenum, too. After throwing an interception in each of his first eight games, he’s put up three straight clean sheets. He still has only 13 touchdowns all season, and ranks 19th in yards per game (254), so there isn’t a ton of upside here. At this point in the season you really should have a better option, but if you’re in a pinch, Keenum should be fine in this prime match-up.
Chase Daniel fared pretty well on Thanksgiving considering he was jumping in during an extremely short week. It was a low-risk, low-reward attack, with over 1/3 of his attempts going to running backs and just 6.2 yards per attempt. But it got the job done-18.4 points, good for QB17 on the week. The Bears are a top-five scoring offense, and if you’ve been paying attention you know that’s a lot more about the system than the quarterback. That makes Daniel a low-end streaming option in a decent match-up against the Giants.
Matthew Stafford (DET): vs. Los Angeles Rams
Ryan Tannehill (MIA): vs. Buffalo
Cody Kessler (JAC): vs. Indianapolis
Colt McCoy (WAS): @ Philadelphia
Derek Carr (OAK): vs. Kansas City
Eli Manning (NYG): vs. Chicago
Josh Allen (BUF): @ Miami
Jeff Driskel (CIN): vs. Denver
Ryan Tannehill returned last week for an uninspiring 204 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. In his time in Miami, Adam Gase has shown no interest in having Tannehill throw for any kind of volume. Facing a much tougher Bills defense, it’s a “no” from me. I keep trying to move him lower, but this tier is atrocious.
Cody Kessler takes over for the Jaguars, and it’s an interesting spot. On the one hand, he’s exactly what they need. A smart, safe option who won’t turn the ball over. On the other hand, their receiving corps is filled with big-time athletes. What is Kessler’s noodle arm supposed to do with that? It’s hard to know what to expect, but the Colts defense (allowing a 71.*% completion rate, 2nd highest in the league) are kind of a perfect match-up for Kessler to dink and dunk on. Low ceiling, but he should get to double-digits.
Because I’m a nerd, I actually read every book assigned to me in high school. Except Pride and Prejudice. Couldn’t do it. So imagine my horror when I went to get the movie from Blockbuster (I’m an old nerd), only to find out it was a five hour miniseries. That’s kind of how I feel about the Redskins moving from Alex Smith to Colt McCoy. “Here’s something different…it’s still really boring.”
Josh Allen is here and not the tier below because he can run (13 carries, 99 yards, and a touchdown last week) and the Dolphins defense is not good. That can work for fantasy. Allen also has the worst completion percentage in the league, and a 1.9% touchdown rate, which I did not know was possible. I’m not sure Miami can get a lead against this Bills defense, but if they can force Allen into a situation where he has to throw, it’s going to be ugly.
Jeff Driskel…ditto. Relieving an injured Andy Dalton, Driskel completed under 60% of his passes on Sunday while averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. That’s bad. Considering it all came in junk time, that’s even worse. But, like Allen, putrid throwing can be saved by running, and Driskel is quite an athlete. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the combine in 2016 and is an 89th percentile SPARQ score per playerprofiler.com. A.J. Green’s likely return is a bonus.