DYNASTY OWNER: PLAYOFFS
WINNING TIME: Week 15 QB Rankings
Congratulations if you are still competing in your leagues for the title, this is the most exciting time for owners who can all but taste the glory of hoisting the trophy.
But before you get ahead of yourself celebrating, you need to make the right coaching decisions. As is the case every year in the fantasy playoffs (weeks 14-16) the landscape of the NFL is drastically different than the start of the season. Injuries, benchings, emerging stars, conserving players for the playoffs....it all factors in. This post should help you make your lineup decisions if you are suddenly staring at a void with one of these positions.
Because the decisions are so important this week, we will post our rankings on each individual position with separate posts and break down the match-ups thoroughly.
Quarterback Rankings - Week 15
If you have any of the top gunslingers (Luck, Manning, Brees, Rodgers, Brady) you are starting them without hesitation and you shouldn't be trying to get cute. And if you have a 2nd tier guy like Big Ben, Stafford, Ryan, Rivers, or Wilson you should be rolling with them as well. Go with what got you here. But in the event you have two guys from that teir, or maybe you are an unfortunate Cam Newton owner, this ranking should help you make your final lineup decision at QB.
Cam Newton Update
1). Andrew Luck IND vs. HOU: In week 6, Luck torched the Texans defense for 370 yards and 3TDs and figures to be the safest bet to go off in week 14 of all the QBs. He has been a little turnover prone of late, but that's note necessarily a horrible thing as it keeps the Colts opponents in the game late and Luck often racks up big points in 4th quarter. He's tied (with Drew Brees) for 2nd in the league with 9 fourth quarter TDs, behind only Big Ben who has 10.
2). Peyton Manning DEN at SD: If you have Manning and survived his shockingly disappointing week 14 game, then you have to be feeling pretty lucky. He only threw for 173 yards and 0 TDs with 2 INTs last week but should have a much more pass-friendly game plan against a competent opponent in the Chargers. Back in October when the two teams met Manning threw for 286 yards and 3 TDs, which is more inline with what we expect this weekend.
3). Aaron Rodgers GB at BUF: No QB has been more consistently dominant in the latter part of the season than Rodgers. Since week 8, there has been only 1 week where he hasn't eclipsed 300 yards passing and he's scored multiple TDs in all of those games. The only thing preventing him from being #1 on our list is a not-so-shootout friendly matchup against Buffalo, who has an effective defense and generally plays in lower scoring games.
4). Drew Brees NO at CHI: The matchup is golden as the Bears have the 30th ranked pass defense and they are as banged up as they have been all season. But Brees and the Saints are in turmoil of their own so this isn't quite the layup it would be otherwise. Still, we expect 300+ yards and 3 TDs out of Brees in this one.
5). Tom Brady NE vs. MIA: Tough matchup versus the 3rd ranked passing defense, but Brady is usually matchup proof as he showed last week against a stout Chargers 8th ranked DEF and threw for 300+ yards. He struggled a little in a week 1 matchup vs. the fins only throwing for 249 yards and 1 TD but the Patriots are notoriously slow starters and are a much different (better) team now than they were in week 1. A healthy Gronk, which they did not have in week 1, makes a big difference.
6). Ben Roethlisberger PIT at ATL: Big Ben is that QB who has surprised all year, consistently turning in top 10 showings, although his numbers are inflated with the record setting week 8 game where he had 522 yards and 6 TDs. However, he's no fluke as he's still hot. In his last 2 games he's thrown for almost 800 yards and 5 TDs. And against the worst pass defense in the league, Big Ben could have another top ranking showing this week.
7). Jay Cutler CHI vs. NO: This game projects to be a shootout simply because neither defense can stop anyone at this point. Cutler is a pretty risky play every week but more times than not he turns in fantasy friendly lines even though he's killing the Bears with his play. A matchup against a confused and shaken Saints Defense should yield a 300+ yard day.
8). Matt Ryan ATL vs. PIT: Ryan has been fantastic as a fantasy QB the last couple weeks, throwing for 360 and 375 yards in the last 2 games, with 6 TDs in that span. Pittsburgh's secondary is atrocious so the trend should continue in Pittsburgh this weekend.
9). Matthew Stafford DET vs. MIN: Frustrated Stafford owners are finally getting their money's worth late in the season as he's dismantled bad defenses in each of the last two weeks. Minnesota's passing defense is actually surprisingly formidable as they rank 6th in passing yards allowed, but with a healthy Calvin Johnson back in the mix Stafford and the Lions appear to finally be hitting their stride as an offense, and at the perfect time for fantasy owners who survived his disappointing middle stretch of the season.
10). Tony Romo DAL at PHI: Each week you wonder if the back will hold up but he's still gutting it out. This is the spot in the rankings where inconsistency becomes a real concern and all the next 10 QBs are risky. This is a big game for playoff positioning vs. Philly so we think a shootout is on deck, and Romo should turn in a 3+ TD game.
11). Philip Rivers SD vs. DEN: It feels like ages ago that Rivers was being hailed as the best fantasy QB in 2014, but that was the case for the first few weeks of the season. But since week 8 he's thrown for multiple TDs just one time and has thrown for under 200 yards three times, which would be a season killer at this stage. The matchup is ideal, and there's almost no way he'll be throwing less than 35 times in this game.
12). Russell Wilson SEA vs. SF: The risk with Wilson is always that he takes a back seat to the Defense and running game (although he's often part of that) but the 49ers defense is reeling after an embarrassing loss to the Raiders. These two teams hate one another so don't expect Seattle to ease off the gas at any point, and that should mean Wilson should continue the success he's had against SF in the last few match-ups.
13) Mark Sanchez PHI vs. DAL: This is a tricky one, as last week Sanchez threw for under 100 yards. Granted it was against the Seahawks D, but we'd like him to have a little more momentum coming into Dallas this week. Still, he's worth starting if you have anyone ranked after the top 12, and he's a good bet for 275 and 2 TDs on the lower end of his upside.
14). Eli Manning NYG vs. WAS: Eli absolutely abused the Skins secondary in week 4, throwing for 300 yards and 4 TDs in about 2 and a half quarters. We expect 300 yards and 2TDs, though we are a little worried that the Giants are going to be able to run the ball down the Skins throats and manage the game that way limiting Eli's effectiveness.
15). Cam Newton CAR vs TB: Temporarily slotted here but all but ruled out for week 15. Derek Anderson is the play unless you have a guy in the top 15 as a backup option.
16). Ryan Tannehill MIA at NE: This was supposed to be the year Tannehill vaulted into the top 12 of QBs but it's looking more and more like he just might not be that guy and he's more of a game manager in the mold of Alex Smith. He is a bit safer as he throws for more yards but he's just as likely to have a 0 TD game as he is a 2 TD game and that's a tough QB to start when in the playoffs.
17). Johnny Manziel CLE vs. CIN: Johnny Football finally gets his shot to prove what he can do, and he has a decent matchup against a vulnerable Bengals secondary that ranks 21st against the pass. We can't think of many scenarios where a team still alive would have to turn to Manziel but he's going to an interesting play with his potential to scramble. We like him to throw for about 225 yards and 1 TD and also rush for 40 yards and a TD.
18). Joe Flacco BAL vs. JAC: Baltimore seems content to just let Flacco hand the ball off and occasionally air it out to keep the defense honest against a cupcake opponent like Jacksonville, but then again he was unleashed versus Tampa Bay so that's always a possibility. It should be noted that he's not thrown for 3+ TDs since that week 6 game and has only eclipsed 300 yards once so it's tough to see Flacco carrying your team into the title game.
19). Kyle Orton BUF vs. GB: Orton is ranked relatively high simply for the garbage time component, which he showed last week against the Denver Broncos that he's capable of capitalizing on that by throwing for 355 yards and scoring 2 total TDs. He should be in a similar situation with the Packers coming to town, but that always has a chance to backfire if you play a marginal QB on the hopes that he'll be chucking it.
20). Andy Dalton CIN at CLE: Dalton is facing a defense that forces a lot of turnovers and just gave Andrew Luck problems so we don't like playing Dalton in this critical week. We'd support any owner who wanted to take a flier on Orton playing from behind or Manziel, though it's a gamble.
21). Ryan Fitzpatrick HOU at IND: Much like Orton and the Bills will be playing from behind against the Packers, Fitzpatrick has some of that same appeal as they travel to Indianapolis. It's almost a certainty that Houston will be playing from behind for most of the 2nd half at a minimum. We wouldn't be surprised at all if Fitzpatrick ended the day with a big yardage total.
22). Alex Smith KC vs. OAK: If you are starting Smith and you are this far in your league, you must have some incredible RBs and Wrs. Although Smith actually flirted with his first 300 yard passing game of the season last week, something we never thought we would see out of him. There should be a lot of ball control and clock killing in this one.
23). Colin Kaepernick SF at SEA: Kaepernick can thank RG3 for taking some of the 'QB who forgot how to play' spotlight off him, but he's clearly struggling in every way right now. With 5 INTs and 2 TDs in his last 3 games, now is not a great time to see the Seahawks defense. Kaepernick hasn't thrown multiple TDs since week 6.
24). Josh McCown TB at CAR: This could be Glennon if he's named the starter so the Bucs can see what they have since their season is long but over. Either way, the TB QB slots here and shouldn't be relied upon.
25). Robert Griffin III WAS at NYG: We don't know who's starting but if it's RG3, he has a little more upside than Colt. And that's saying very little about his upside.
26). Jake Locker TEN vs. NYJ: It's always sad when a benched QB has to finish the year because the guy he got benched for goes down. Locker is still capable of a decent fantasy performance but his confidence is likely zapped at this point in Tennessee.
27). Derek Anderson CAR vs. TB: Ranked here but shoots up to around 19th if he is confirmed to be the starter. Has a really nice matchup against a fantasy turnstyle secondary, though we think the running game will be featured heavily in Cam's absence.
28). Teddy Bridgewater MIN at DET: Teddy Bridgewater is a rookie QB in every way and is about as inconsistent and unpredictable as they come. But as fantasy ceilings go, his has actually shown to be pretty high. He's coming off a 300 yard 2 TD performance last week, though we'd almost guarantee he won't match that total this week.
29). Blake Bortles JAC at BAL: The narrative for Bortles rookie season has been pretty consistent and predictable...he's going to score a TD and throw more than 1 INT, but his combo of rushing and passing yards usually totals around 250 per game. He's not a great option, even for Newton owners as we'd rather start Anderson.
30). Geno Smith NYJ at TEN: The Jets are desperate for any type of production from the QB position and Geno gave them at least a stomach able showing in the loss to the Vikings last week. He'll be playing and he'll likely be playing from behind, so he ranks here.
31). Shaun Hill STL vs. ARI: Effective but unspectacular, and that's what can be expected this week in what will most likely be a defensive battle (do those even exist in the NFL anymore?).
32). Colt McCoy WAS at NYG: Still unknown who will start at QB this week, but if it's Colt he's shown what most people in the NFL (other than the Redskins front office) knew, that he's not an NFL caliber starting QB.
33). Derek Carr OAK at KC: Carr put in a showing that nobody expected as he threw for 250 yards and 3 TDs against the suddenly terrible 49ers. KC is not nearly as dysfunctional as SF right now, ranking 2nd in the league against the pass. Carr should revert back to form as the guy who will cap out at about 175 yards and probably throw more INTs than TDs.
34). Drew Stanton ARI at STL: Stanton gets a hot defense fresh off a massacre of the Raiders and a shutout of the Redskins. Stanton has shown he can make the occasional throw but he's about as unlikely to have a big game stats wise as there is in the league.
35). Michael Vick NYJ at TEN: He always has a chance to play each week and so far this year he's been horrible with every showing. Only reason he isn't last is because he's one of the most likely backups to get time and some stats.
36). Brian Hoyer CLE vs. CIN: Fresh off a benching and a 5 week run where he was easily the worst quarterback from a TD:INT ration in the entire league, Hoyer only steps on the field if Manziel gets hurt.
37 Mike Glennon TB at CAR: McCown wasn't bad last week but with TB playing for draft positioning it's surprising they haven't turned back to Glennon. If that happens, swap Glennon with McCown's current slot as they both have about the same upside (or downside depending on how you look at it).