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QB Tiers & Rankings: Week 14 (Fantasy Football)

by Scott Cedar | @scedar015 | Featured Writer
Dec 7, 2018

Well, that didn’t go according to plan.

Week 13 is only the most critical week of the fantasy season. So, of course, Drew Brees, leading the top-scoring offense in the league, bombed with a mere 127 passing yards and 7.3 fantasy points. Matt Ryan, who was on pace to challenge for the season-long record for passing yards, barely topped Brees with 131 yards. Jared Goff, QB1 over the prior month, completed 50% of his passes and scored 8.1 points. Aaron Rodgers needed 50 passes to get to 15 fantasy points in losing at home as a two-touchdown favorite. Cam Newton threw four interceptions against one of the league’s worst defenses. Andrew Luck was shut out.

There’s only one thing you can say after a week like that: “Playoffs?!?!”

But yes, we’re talking about playoffs. Hopefully, for those of us who survived Week 13, those shenanigans don’t carry over into Round 1. Let’s get to it.

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Every-Week Starters

Patrick Mahomes (KC): vs. Baltimore
Drew Brees (NO): @ Tampa Bay
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): @ Oakland
Andrew Luck (IND): @ Houston
Deshaun Watson (HOU): vs. Indianapolis
Matt Ryan (ATL): @ Green Bay
Cam Newton (CAR): @ Cleveland
Jared Goff (LAR): @ Chicago

Baltimore may have the best pass defense in the league (allowing a 57.9% completion rate and 5.1 net yards per attempt, both lowest in the league), but Patrick Mahomes has proven to be match-up proof. He’s averaging over 27 points per game in six games against top-10 pass defenses (h/t RotoViz).

Brees killed you last week, but you obviously go right back to the well against a Tampa defense allowing the highest completion percentage (72.4%), 2nd highest net yards per attempt (7.4), and 3rd most fantasy points to quarterbacks (21.5)  in the league.

Ben Roethlisberger was already pacing the league in passing attempts (43 attempts per game). Now the Steelers are without James Conner and suddenly desperate for a win. It’s a good time to air it out, facing an Oakland pass defense that gets zero pressure (2.8% sack rate, lowest in the league). That won’t work against Roethlisberger, who ranks 4th in deep ball attempts (h/t and is flanked by two of the top receivers in the league.

Expect Andrew Luck to bounce back from last week’s shutout in Jacksonville. For all the talk of the Jaguars’ demise, their defense has remained mostly dominant if you look beyond fantasy points allowed. Houston’s the opposite. They’re bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks (15.9) but have played one of the easiest schedules in the league. They do have a good pass rush to cover up for deficiencies in the secondary, but there’s just one problem…no one takes fewer sacks than Luck.

A few weeks ago I noted how Deshaun Watson had played considerably worse without Will Fuller, but that appears to have been a small-sample mirage. Since Fuller went down, Watson has a 72% completion rate, 8.3 yards per attempt and six passing touchdowns. Volume is a concern (he’s averaging just 24.6 passing attempts Weeks 6-13, compared to 38.4 attempts/game in Week 1-5), but the rushing appears to be back (nine and seven attempts in his last two games). Plus, the low passing volume has largely coincided with a nine-game winning streak against mostly garbage opponents. I like the Colts to put up points here, forcing Houston to take more to the air.

Matt Ryan has two stinkers in his last three games, but Dallas and Baltimore were both tough matchups. Green Bay isn’t, ranking 20th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA. Plus, we get two teams with Super Bowl aspirations now running out the clock on lost seasons. I love the potential for this game to turn into a don’t give a flip shootout between Ryan and Aaron Rodgers.

Cam Newton was real-life horrible last week but didn’t kill you in fantasy with 15.3 points (QB15). At Cleveland is not an easy matchup, and the lingering shoulder issue is a concern, but Newton has scored at least 20 points in eight of 12 games. Unless you have a strong option from the next tier, this is a dance with the one who brought ya thing.

The Rams’ offense is good enough that everyone remains a starter even facing one of the best defenses in the league. Still, the Bears are allowing just 14.6 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, 2nd fewest in the league. Of the every-week starters, Goff is the guy I’m least comfortable using this week, and there are a number of QB1s I’d consider over him.


Aaron Rodgers (GB): vs. Atlanta
Jameis Winston (TB): vs. New Orleans
Philip Rivers (LAC): vs. Cincinnati
Russell Wilson (SEA): vs. Minnesota
Tom Brady (NE): @ Miami
Mitch Trubisky (CHI): vs. Los Angeles Rams

You know that feeling when you get out of a bad relationship? Aaron Rodgers is going to have that in spades, finally freed from Mike McCarthy’s decade-plus reign of error. It’s pure narrative street, but I think we see a massive game. (Plus the Falcons defense…not good.)

Jameis Winston now has two consecutive games without an interception. Either he’s playing better or he’s due for another four-turnover, benched-at-halftime game. The Saints defense is no longer a joke (allowing 12.7 points per game over their last four), but this game also has shootout potential with the highest over/under of the week (55.5). The ultimate boom/bust play.

Philip Rivers has a prime matchup. Even after Case Keenum’s Week 13 dud, Cincinnati is allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks (22.3). The only question is how hard Rivers has to try in this one, as the Bengals are a mess in all facets of the game.

Tom Brady had a strong game against Minnesota (24/32 for 311 yards), but finished with only 14.9 fantasy points. He had just one TD on Sunday, which has been a recurring problem. Over the past four games, Brady has just five passing touchdowns, while the Patriots have 10 rushing scores. I’d like to say this will revert to the mean, but we saw the same thing last season when Brady murdered your fantasy team with four touchdowns in the final month of 2017. The simple fact is Brady hasn’t finished better than QB16 since Week 7 and has topped 16 fantasy points just once in that span. The Patriots are massive favorites with a robust implied team total (27.5), but even against a weak Miami defense missing its top cornerback, it’s hard to trust Brady as anything more than a low-end starting option.

Mitch Trubisky looks likely to return after a two-game absence, but you might be better off leaving him on your bench. Putting aside his last game — a 165-yard, two interception atrocity, if you forgot — Trubisky has scored 25% of his points on the ground this year. I’m worried the Bears will limit his running in his first game back to keep that shoulder healthy for the playoffs. The Rams defense looked good out of the bye, and while Detroit can have that effect, it certainly helps to have Aqib Talib back opposite Marcus Peters.


Josh Allen (BUF): vs. New York Jets
Lamar Jackson (BAL): @ Kansas City
Allen and Jackson are here because they can run, which has propelled the rookies to QB8 and QB15, respectively, over the last three weeks. If they start connecting on passes — bound to happen eventually, we just can’t know when — the upside is massive. Until then, the rushing makes them viable, albeit uncomfortable, streaming options. I’d give Allen the slight nod because he’s at home, in the better matchup, and has a better frame to withstand a heavy running workload. Jackson definitely makes me nervous in Arrowhead, a notoriously tough place to play. I probably wouldn’t start either if I have one of the guys listed above and would consider the first four QB2s over them as well.


Kirk Cousins (MIN): @ Seattle
Carson Wentz (PHI): @ Dallas
Dak Prescott (DAL): vs. Philadelphia
Baker Mayfield (CLE): vs. Carolina
Eli Manning (NYG): @ Washington
Case Keenum (DEN): @ San Francisco
Ryan Tannehill (MIA): vs. New England
Derek Carr (OAK): vs. Pittsburgh
Matthew Stafford (DET): @ Arizona

Kirk Cousins is QB22 over his last four games. As the line in front of him crumbles, Cousins’ yards per attempt have plummeted (6.5) while his interception rate has spiked (3.3%). That’s not a great combination heading into Seattle. The Seahawks’ pass defense is just middle of the pack, but combine that with a slow pace and it’s been enough to limit opposing quarterbacks to 16.3 fantasy points (10th fewest). Even so, good offenses have done fine against the Seahawks, and while I’m not sure the Vikings are that, they do have an elite passing game at times. Cousins sits at QB14 on the season, so high-end QB2 feels about right.

Vegas is begging you not to play Carson Wentz, giving the Eagles a mere 19.5 implied team total. Throw in additional red flags for being on the road, in the second inter-division game, in a bad match-up (Dallas is allowing 18.6 points per game, 2nd fewest), and it’s hard to make the case for Wentz other than on reputation.

Baker Mayfield was snapped back to reality on Sunday but returns home in a strong bounce-back spot. Over the last month, Carolina has allowed QB2, QB10, and QB6 finishes. Only Matthew Stafford failed to post good numbers.

We just saw Case Keenum flop on the road despite a prime matchup. Do you really want to run that back, especially with Emmanuel Sanders (i.e., 23.8% of Keenum’s targets) out? The Broncos will do everything they can to limit Keenum (32, 28, and 21 pass attempts during their three-game winning streak), and Nick Mullens is unlikely to force them off script.

You know what Derek Carr does not do well? Handle pressure. You know what the Steelers’ defense does very, very well? Pressure the quarterback. Take it away, Pee Wee.


Mark Sanchez (WAS): vs. New York Giants
Sam Darnold (NYJ): @ Buffalo
Jeff Driskel (CIN): @ Los Angeles Chargers
Josh Rosen (AZ): vs. Detroit
Nick Mullens (SF): vs. Denver

Washington is home favorites with a 22-point implied team total, which is not good but far from benchwarmer territory. Vegas is probably right, I suppose, but I can’t make a case for Sanchez.

Sam Darnold returns from injury in the fantasy equivalent of a tree falling in a forest with no one around to hear. Not only is he on the road against a tough defense, but he sports the worst interception rate outside of Tampa and the 3rd worst completion percentage (barely topping the rookie Joshes, Allen and Rosen).

It would be very Detroit to shut down Jared Goff one week only to get torched by Josh Rosen the next.

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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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