Who’s ready for Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving means three things: Matt Stafford, the turkey and contentious political takes. Wait, what’s an Oxford comma again? OK, that was one thing. Hopefully you’ll be safe in your mansions this week. For the rest of us, let’s take a look at the thing keeping us hopeful: the upcoming fantasy playoffs and the quarterbacks that lead our teams through darkness.
Joe Burrow: First, Joe Mixon spent most of the year injured before going on IR in Week 11. Then on Sunday, Joe Burrow tore both his ACL and MCL and caused structural damage to his knee, and he will miss the rest of 2020 season and possibly some time in 2021 season. I told you to go grab Burrow around Week 3 of this season, and those who did were rewarded with a QB performance that hovered around the top-10 for most of the year. Unfortunately, Burrow stood behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league — basically the same OL that let defenders blast through the line of scrimmage and resulted in Mixon becoming the most elusive RB in 2019 and ending three-time Pro Bowler Andy Dalton’s tenure in Cincinnati. Burrow was “criticized” early in the year for taking too many sacks, and he took the complaints in stride. Now the Bengals turn to
Ryan Finley Brandon Allen (?!), who I talk about below. Dynasty managers should check on Burrow’s rehabilitation process. If you’re a dynasty manager looking for a future QB and there’s no contracts or Burrow is on a cheap contract, he would be a good “get” right now.
Ryan Finley — My buddy Son (and not my son, Buddy) summed up how excited we all are for Ryan Finley. Earlier in the year, we all wondered which NFL teams would be in the race for 1.01, and the Bengals are likely going to let Ryan Finley try to captain that sinking ship for the next month. Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor is too inexperienced as a head coach to appear on the career win% leaderboards, but with a 4-21 record and a .153 winning percentage, he would hold the lowest winning percentage among qualified NFL coaches in history. Regardless whether the conversation is about tanking or just not playing well, the Bengals are a mess and Ryan Finley isn’t going to step in to light up your fantasy scoreboard. As Son describes in his write-up above, the Bengals don’t have an enviable fantasy playoff schedule. Certainly Finley is worth one DFS GPP lineup when he faces the Cowboys because anybody who can take a snap can put up yards against them, but otherwise, Finley should remain on the bench in all formats. UPDATE: In a surprise move, the Bengals named Brandon Allen the starter this week, and Finley will backup Allen.
Brandon Allen — Call me Tinfoil Hat Man, but when one of the losing-est coaches in history says on Wednesday, “I’ll take the practice squad QB over the backup who’s been learning the system for the past two years,” it makes one wonder if tanking really is in the plans. In coach speak they’ll say, “we want to know Allen’s potential and see if he can spark the offense.” Or maybe they just prefer Ryan Finley and they want that porous O-Line to release blitzing linemen upon Allen first. ANYHEY (the name of my emo-country crossover band from 2009), it’s not like Allen is the least qualified QB candidate marching out there in 2020; he actually has more career passing yards as a backup than Taysom Hill, after all. After playing for Arkansas in his collegiate career, Allen worked his way through various third-string and practice squad situations while working through a back injury, eventually landing in Denver in 2019 and getting a couple starts. It’s worth noting that his start against Minnesota in 2019 showed some big air plays, with Courtland Sutton getting over 110 yards on 5 catches, with most of that yardage in the air. The Bengals have some nice receivers that might want to play 500 and catch some deep passes. So, I’m not telling you to roster Allen, but I am telling you to put that dime lineup stack together on DK when the Bengals face the Cowboys.
Taysom Hill — Donkey Teeth already wants to give Taysom Hill the reigns to the Saints offense, and I’m way more hesitant. First, yes, Jameis Winston should be starting. I will eat crow on that hill. Winston should be starting on most teams in the NFL. Really, Sam Darnold or Winston? Drew Lock or Winston? Nick Mullens or Winston. ENYWHEY. My internet friends Chris Towers and Heath Cummings at CBS say you should start Taysom Hill over [checks notes] Lamar Jackson for the rest of season. AND YOU THINK I’M NUTS. Those guys are on TV and they’re saying that! (Hi Chris!). ENYWHEY PART 2, REVENGE OF THE CURDS: Me, your lonesome QB bones reader, is — and I repeat — not thrilled over Taysom Hill’s stats. I was right on Justin Herbert, right on Ryan Tannehill, right on Baker Mayfield being crap, right on Lamar (the guy’s QB10 on the year, don’t get nostalgic), and right on Kyler. If Taysom is a better than Lamar for the rest of the year, I’ll make a song about Donkey Teeth and release it for the public. Sound fair? Fair. I’m keeping Taysom in the streamer tier and I wouldn’t chase him too hard on the waiver wire.
Drew Brees — Worth it to point out that Brees has 11 fractures in his ribs and is 41 years old. I’m 38 and I get winded lifting my glass of rum. Brees was “streamable” for most of the fantasy season and really shouldn’t be on the field for a while, but the Saints are gonna Saints and there’s talk of Brees taking snaps in Week 15. If you’re rostering Brees in redraft, I would drop him for another streamer. If you’re rostering Brees in dynasty, I would say that next year doesn’t look promising for the future Hall of Famer, and you should take whatever value you can get. Brees is undoubtedly one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Full stop. If it wasn’t for Tom Brady playing at the same time as Brees, there are people who would be whispering Brees’ name in the G.O.A.T. discussions. However, there’s a time and place to go out on top, and 2020 might be that year for Brees.
Kyler Murray — Murray’s been heads-and-tails the hottest QB over the past month, and just when he went up against one of the worst defenses in NFL history, Murray hurt his shoulder. Reports after the game keep repeating that Murray should be fine, but those who were watching saw Kyler wincing in pain. Trainers kept shoving hot packs under his pads to try to keep the joint warm during the game. Kyler’s been holding back on throwing during practice, too. Fingers crossed that his shoulder is fine.
Kirk Cousins — Cousins started the year on pace to throw nearly as many INTs as Jameis Winston did in 2019. When the Vikings began the year 1-5, the team looked in disarray, and analysts in the Minnesota market (my home market) were pointing to Cousins’ inflexibility in his reads as his downfall. Cousins came into 2020 with zero Monday night wins in his career and something like 6 or 7 total career wins against teams with a winning record. Since their bye week in 2020, the Vikings have won 3 of 4 games, and Cousins has put up 9 TDs to 1 INT. Some of this success is regression to career norms — he’s an accurate passer who doesn’t turn the ball over a lot — and some of it is weak strength of schedule (like two games against Dallas and Detroit). Part of the breakout has also been Vikings’ #1 receiver Adam Thielen having some stunning one-handed end zone catches. The Vikings are 15th in the league in expected passing points, meaning that there’s some fair amount of luck in Cousins’ results. However, he’s got an easy upcoming schedule, and the 22nd ranked Vikings’ defense has allowed enough points that three of the past four games had over 50 points total scored. One problem is that Thielen was placed on the Covid-19 list on Monday, meaning he may miss time and probably have a performance hit in the near future. I’d consider Cousins a streamer for the rest of the season, and top 12-fringe if Thielen is healthy.
Phillip Walker — PJ Walker was a last-minute start for the Carolina Panthers this week after coach Matt Rhule opted to sit Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater’s left knee was reconstructed in 2016, and he sprained the MCL in his right knee recently. Rhule played it safe with his new franchise signal-caller and brought in former XFL QB, PJ Walker. A lot of people were excited to see Walker start, but his fantasy numbers were less than thrilling against a Lions’ secondary that ranks in the bottom third in the league in all categories. Bridgewater should be good to go in the next game, but if he’s still ailing, Walker would be worth a superflex play.
Teddy Bridgewater — Just a quick note to point out that Teddy B_H20 is QB13 in terms of fantasy points. If he ran for 3 more yards he’d be QB12. If he had one less rushing TD, he’d be QB16. If he played in Week 11 and had an average week, he’d be a top 10 QB. If he had one less passing TD and one less rushing TD, he’d be QB 20. What does all this mean? There’s a huge amount of parity among the non-elite QBs. Don’t overthink it in head-to-head matchups. Start your studs if you have them, or grab a QB from the streamer tier if you don’t have them. Bridgewater and Carr were basically free in drafts this year, and they’re currently QB13 and QB16, respectively. Justin Herbert was undrafted in most leagues and he’s QB7 right now (QB5 in fantasy points per game). Really, don’t overthink QB. Look for upside and consistency among the streamers and have fun playing the game.
Daniel Jones — I gave Jones a writeup last week because he got promoted to the “streaming” category and he put up 300 total yards and a rushing TD against the Eagles. Not bad, but not great. Solid “meh” in my book.
Philip Rivers — Got the “deep recommend” from me last week thanks to Rudy’s premium rankings. Went for 288 passing yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT. Rivers has been pretty boom or bust this year, and is better suited as a DFS GPP play or best ball QB. If you’re using him regularly in head-to-head, you’re a brave soldier and I salute you.
Tua Tagovailoa — You probably heard that Tua got benched last week. If you’re a regular reader of my column (hey all three of you!), you know that I was pretty down on Tua compared to other rankers. Take that for what you like when I say I’m not thrilled by Taysom Hill! But for Tua, it sounds like he’ll be back out there in Week 12 after Ryan Fitzpatrick gave a “spark” to the Dolphins offense. The Fins are in 2nd in the AFC East right now — a position they haven’t been in for a while — and they have a pretty good defense. We know Fitzmagic is a capable QB and has been “sparking” the Miami offense for 2 years. If I had a crystal ball, Fitzmagic would be saying “WOW!” He would also be saying, “I see myself finishing the year as the Dolphins QB.” I would avoid the Dolphins streaming situation right now.
Carson Wentz — Yeah, he’s looking awful in real life. But, fantasy QB point parity being what it is, if Wentz had done one QB sneak for a TD, he’d be QB 14 over the past month. People are tired of Wentz in real life, but in the fantasy world, he’s going up against the historically bad Seattle DEF this week. Next week, Wentz faces the Green Bay Packers, who allowed Nick Mullens and Philip Rivers to each flirt with 300 yards. If you’re desperate for a streamer, Wentz is an OK option for the next few weeks. Also, I’m choosing Wentz as my “deep streamer” for the week, and Rudy agrees.
Mike Glennon — Monday night Blair: “I got most of this article written, just need to compile the data.” Tuesday night Blair: “Data’s done, thanks Rudy, I’m off to bed!” Wednesday morning Blair: “F-this.” Well, the Jake Luton experiment lasted two games. Clearly, the Jags weren’t thrilled. Luton was fine against the weak Texans DEF, mediocre against the Packers despite the Pack missing their top 2 CBs, and then Luton basically handed the ball off to the Steelers’ DEF. So, with Minshew still recovering from a broken hand and broken heart, the Jaguars are turning to Mike Glennon. Fun fact: since signing a $16 million contract with the Bears in 2017, Glennon has earned nearly $25 million over 4 seasons and thrown for 1,000 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INT, and 1 win. That’s about 2.5 games worth of stats from Justin Herbert, minus the interceptions of course. YASLINBEY, Glennon is mos def not worth getting excited about. He hasn’t started an NFL game since 2017. Who would win in a fight? A Jaguar or a Bengal (Tiger)? Let’s find out in Week 17.
Let’s change things up! For those of you who followed my pitcher rankings this year, you’ll know that I changed the ranking system as playoffs approached. Because we’re heading into Week 12 and most fantasy leagues end in Week 16, we’re in the final 25% of games that you’ll be playing. I simplified everything for ease of use, and as usual, I provide tiers with no ordered rankings within the tiers. QB point parity is so close in fantasy football that you’re well-served by using any of the QBs within the appointed tiers.
Fantasy Points per Game (FP/G) are simple enough: how many points has each quarterback scored per game played.
Ease of Schedule is a little metric that I created by combining two tools: 1) the easiest remaining schedule tool at Fantasy Pros, and 2) Rudy’s premium rest of season rankings. For my Franken-metric, 1 is the best and 32 is the worst.
I’ll say it out front: I’m not a huge fan of strength of schedule as the primary factor in people deciding who to start at the QB position. Strength of schedule is but one tool among many that fantasy managers can use to make decisions. By combining the above metrics, I hope to reveal more about the upside of streaming quarterbacks than to say negative things about starting quarterbacks. To reiterate what I said last week, elite QBs can go through tough patches, and when players buy too much into strength of schedule as a determining factor, they miss great games. Last week, Ryan Tannehill was QB6 going against Baltimore, Aaron Rodgers was QB7 going against Indianapolis, and Derek Carr was QB8 going against Kansas City. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray was QB11 going against Seattle and Ben Roethlisberger was QB15 going against Jacksonville. So, strength of schedule is but one tool that you can use to decide who to start, but a more complete picture is presented when you’re looking at multiple factors. I hope the “Ease of Schedule” metric helps owners see which QBs to grab off the waiver wire for the championship run. Good luck!
|Player||FP/G||Ease of Schedule|
|Tier 1: The Undroppables|
|Tier 2: DFS Captains and 12-Team Starters|
|Tier 3: Streamers and DFS GPP Dart Throws|
|Tier 4: Garbage Time Hail Marys|
Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.