Like a prophecy coming true, Carson Wentz was shipped out of Philadelphia on February 18, 2021, going to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2021 third round pick and a conditional 2022 pick. With January bringing football fans a trade of Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff, the Wentz trade marks the third major movement of a quarterback in 2021. Let’s take a look at both the real-life and fantasy implications of the Carson Wentz trade. 

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I woke up this morning, ice rain falling on my car. Three different densities of fog developed from my exhaling breath: one the usual, everyday fog representing my life force; a second the worried fog that danced a little more, caused by 2020 itself; the third, the devastated fog of living in the northern midwest that fell straight to the ground, caused by having Kirk Cousins stuck as the Vikings quarterback for the next three years. 

But if I’m wearing my fantasy forecaster hat, I really should be dancing in the ice rain: Kirk Cousins is bringing some teams to fantasy playoff glory. 

That’s the funny thing about fantasy sports compared to real life sports: there are inadequate real-life signal callers who are fantasy gold, and there are great real life quarterbacks who are absolute sleepers in fantasy. The midwest writers for The Athletic point out that Cousins is rigid in following his reads — he doesn’t innovate and he doesn’t deviate from his play call. He’s won less than 10 games against teams with winning records in nearly 80 career starts. He went 0-9 on Monday Night Football before finally grabbing his first career win this year. From a real-life standpoint, Cousins is about as exciting as owning a Toyota Camry: yes, you know he’s ready to go every week, but once you start going, you can’t help but look at every other “car” you could have had. And yes, I did avoid the Derek Carr pun there. 

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I woke up the other morning with visions of Flacco in my head. I went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. “You’re a Super Bowl winning quarterback with millions in your bank account, not the backup QB on a winless team that’s tanking! Go get ’em tiger!” I put on my Pumas and raced outside, not quite realizing it’s 15 degrees when I stepped out the door. Still, I ran. I ran like Rocky ran, sweat-banded and sweat-shirted. And when I cross the mile threshold, I told myself, “It’s three weeks until the fantasy championships! All your friends will validate you! They’ll say you’re handsome and smart and five years from now they’ll remember that Kirk Cousins brought you the fantasy championships!” I looked around, slightly crazed and slightly lost, and realized I was far from home. But aren’t we all. With Joe Flacco on my mind, I started to retrace my steps, one-by-one. Russell Wilson started strong. James Robinson was a fluke FAAB win that brought me to the playoffs. Derrick Henry surged through the defenses while Ryan Tannehill sliced secondaries. And all the while, Corey Davis grabbed first down after first down. There were so many Titans I couldn’t figure out if I was talking “Attack on” or “Remembering the.” But one thing stuck with me: it was the fantasy friends I made along the way. If I made you a fantasy friend of mine or the site, please show some love by getting an ad-free membership or checking in on the basketball or baseball sides and following the fantasy fun all-year round. 

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Well, well, well. Week 12. Do I need to introduce what ended up being one of the weirdest weeks in NFL history? From a fantasy perspective, we watched Patrick Mahomes chase the Chiefs’ record for single-game passing yards (held by Elvis Grbac, you Trivial Pursuit maniac), while also watching Denver Broncos practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton make his NFL debut as a QB. One of those situations did not end well. On top of all of that, we’re looking forward to Tuesday Wednesday Night Football. In case you forgot, when Tuesday Night Football that happened earlier in the year wreaked havoc on stats providers who hadn’t prepared for “Y2K,” and some fantasy providers went weeks without accurate scoring. And now we’ve got a WNF, which is also the name of my favorite Korean boy-band. SEW (<- not a boy band). I’m giving you the best information that’s available at the time of writing, and hopefully Week 13 will be a bit easier to navigate. Next week will be the final installment of the rest of season QB rankings, so if you’re hoping to follow me here at Razzball, I’ll ask you to navigate over to the basketball section, where I’ll be doing a weekly player highlight column. 

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If you’re familiar with the backstory of Donkey Kong then you know that Mario is the villain of the series. Mario’s an abusive owner in the game and tries to keep Donkey Kong caged up. I always knew there was something off about that Mario dude. On Monday night, Darius Slay was cast in the role of Mario, attempting to lockdown D.K. Metcalf. But the beast could not be contained, going off for 10 catches and 177 yards as he demolished Philly. D.K. didn’t find the end zone, but could easily have finished with three scores if it weren’t for a misfire from Russ, a tackle at the one yard line and a drop. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy football:

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Who’s ready for Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving means three things: Matt Stafford, the turkey and contentious political commentary. 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. 

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Frank Reich is a fine man. A good man, even. Sometimes, I sit around daydreaming, wondering what it would be like if he were my father. He would no-doubt instill many wholesome values in me, his son, and be a great fishing partner. He simply has that look about him — the one that comes with a Geppetto-eque twinkle in one’s eye — that exudes wisdom and level-headedness. Personally, I believe he’s a tremendous football coach, perhaps one of the most underrated in the entire league. The Indianapolis Colts are incredibly fortunate that Josh McDaniels spurned their head coaching offer back in the February of 2018 to remain with New England, leading to Reich landing the job as a sort of second choice candidate at the time. Since then, he’s done wonders with the team and carries many strengths as the man in charge, but he’s largely been a fantasy enemy to this point — especially as it relates to the running back position. That’s because he treats his backfield like a true father figure would: he believes in all of his backs, especially the young Jonathan Taylor, and is always willing to give dish out a second chance. The issue is… it’s hard to predict when those second chances are going to come. Heading into the week, Nyheim Hines was one of the highest risers up most rest-of-season rankings after receiving 12 carries in Week 10, rushing for 70 yards and one touchdown in addition to his typical receiving workload: five receptions for 45 yards and another touchdown. Jonathan Taylor saw just seven carries in that game, to which he translated to a mere 12 yards, which came on the heels of a Week 9 game in which Reich gave Taylor a measly six carries. Fast-forward to Week 11: Taylor rushed 22 times for 90 yards, also catching four passes (on four targets) for 24 yards. Those 22 carries equated to 68.8% of running back carries (22/32), as his 26 total touches were by far the highest amongst the Indy trio. Jordan Wilkins (four carries, 21 yards; one reception on one target, 15 yards) touched the ball just five times, while Hines (six carries, two yards; three receptions on four targets, 31 yards) registered nine touches. It’s certainly encouraging to see Taylor so involved in a crucial, competitive game that the Colts ultimately won in exciting fashion — but what can we expect from him moving into the home stretch of the 2020 fantasy football season?

After sinking to RB30 overall in my rankings last week, Taylor is back up into RB2 territory thanks in large part to an incredibly easy schedule from here on out. The only truly difficult matchup remaining for Taylor will come in Week 16 against the Steelers, which isn’t ideal as it’s when most fantasy championships will occur, but until then he’ll go up against the Titans, Texans, Raiders and Texans, again. There are certainly RB2 options with safer floors, but Taylor is once again trending up and represents a much more attractive Flex play than he did one week ago.

There’s a lot more to dive into this week, so before getting to the rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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When Covid isn’t flattening QBs and teams left and right, massive windstorms have completely shut down QBs several times this year. In Week 10, another Vortex Giant (CR25 for you nerds) stomped into many stadiums, leaving giant killers like Nick Chubb and [checks notes] Ben Roethisberger (hmmm) to save the villagers. I’ve asked fantasy managers to be proactive about rostering useful streaming QBs, if not to provide options in case of Covid or weather, but at the very least to deprive your opponents of a starting QB. This last week, your opponents would have gotten useful streaming games from bottom-tier QBs like Alex Smith, Kirk Cousins, and Philip Rivers. Now, I’m not applauding their games. But when other QBs are facing off against sustained 25MPH winds, gusts to 50MPH, and rain/sleet, those fair weather QB streamers look awfully nice. 

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THUMP. That was Week 10 crushing us in the face. It was unpredictable, I know, but let’s begin the conversation about the running back position this past week with a look at some of the names that finished inside RB1 territory, with their overall rank listed: RB3 Nyheim Hines, RB4 Ronald Jones, RB5, D’Andre Swift, RB6 Devontae Booker, RB7 Rex Burkhead, RB8 Antonio Gibson, RB10 Wayne Gallman, RB11 Malcolm Brown and RB12 Salvon Ahmed. That’s three-fourths of the past week’s RB1 finishers going to running backs that were likely all drafted outside of the first five rounds in your fantasy draft and at least three, maybe four players who may not have even been rostered in your league as of Sunday night. Next, let’s move over to RB2 territory: RB14 J.D. McKissic, RB15 Boston Scott, RB17 Kalen Ballage and RB23 Alex Collins. Overall, that’s 12, or half, of Week 10’s RB1-2 crop going to names that likely required very little draft capital to make your roster. Some of those names are less surprising, like Swift and Gibson, but for the sake of argument, both running backs finished outside the top-28 running backs drafted in 2020. It’s already been a miraculous year at the position — for some, perhaps heart-breaking is a more fitting adjective — and the madness ensued in Week 10, to put it lightly. Fortunately, we can at least say we did not see the same absurd number of running back injuries as we’ve grown accustomed to.

Even so, it was a truly unpredictable week. Before you begin beating your forehead against the keyboard and your boss yells at you (or partner/child/parents/etc. for those still stuck at home) for disrupting the workplace over fantasy football for the umpteenth time since the onset of September, remember this: we’re all in it together. We’re all playing the same game, with the same weekly uncertainty factored in and with the same information at our fingertips. That’s reason for composure. That’s reason to keep fighting the good fight because, as you may have heard me say many times before, the grinders beat the whiners. I’ve actually never said that before, but you get the point.

It’s time to get to the rankings, but before we do, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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Earlier in the summer when I was ranking pitchers over on the baseball side, there was a moment early in the baseball season when less than 60 starting pitchers had played; the rest were injured or quarantined or got caught at the club and sent home. The starting quarterback landscape is increasingly looking that way: tons of injuries are taking their toll, and the NFL has a baffling Covid policy where they’re punishing teams for practicing during the week yet still marching teams out every Sunday rather than delaying the games. Was Tuesday Night Football really that bad? I mean, other than screwing up the fantasy scoring systems for like two weeks. ENYWHEY. Outside of Dak Prescott, most of the injuries and quarantines haven’t affected the bulk of fantasy managers playing in standard leagues. Those who are in deep leagues, dynasty leagues, or superflex leagues, however, are probably in massive frustration mode. Here’s how I’m seeing the QB landscape unfold. 

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