Yahoo’s top eight fantasy players to date are all quarterbacks, which speaks to today’s passing-focused offenses and the inconsistency of skill players this year. From injuries to ever-widening usage trees, fantasy’s running back and wide receiver positions have been as volatile as ever, and tight ends haven’t made our lives any easier this year, either.
Now that we’re three weeks away from the first round of fantasy playoffs in most leagues, let’s look at the playoff matchups to see if there’s anything concerning on the horizon for the signal callers that got us this far.
The top three quarterbacks in fantasy — plus the eighth-ranked —(per Yahoo!’s YTD 5X5 rankings) are all facing tough matchups just when we want championship-defining runs to start. Russell Wilson (No. 1 in Yahoo), Cam Newton (2), Carson Wentz (3) and Kirk Cousins (8) are each facing defenses in Week 14 that rank among the top 10 in fewest points allowed to opposing QBs.
Here’s the Week 14 slate:
Seattle at Jacksonville (fantasy points allowed to QBs: 7.7)
Carolina vs. Minnesota (14.1)
Philadelphia at L.A. Rams (12.3)
Washington at L.A. Chargers (13.9)
Wilson has the worst draw of all — after facing the NFL’s stingiest defense against fantasy quarterbacks in Jacksonville, the Seahawks in Week 15 host the Rams, who have been fourth-best against the position this year. Owning Wilson has been a joy — especially considering the draft price — but he might actually be a sit come playoff time.
It’s tough to imagine benching Newton with your season on the line considering Carolina’s stout defense and his red zone usage — he has half the Panthers’ eight rushing touchdowns this year. But in most leagues a middling quarterback will come available before the end of the month — Jameis Winston was heavily dropped last week and Philip Rivers hit the concussion protocol — and worth a stash just in case.
There could easily be a Jared Goff v. Wentz battle in L.A. between two top-four offenses when the Eagles visit the Rams Week 14. The Eagles’ rushing defense is giving up only 66 yards per game — bad for Todd Gurley but good for both quarterbacks. With Deshaun Watson out for the year, Goff is the QB waiver pickup of the season.
Cousins owners should consider their options when Washington visits the Chargers Week 14. San Diego is giving up just 6.6 yards per attempt, and its 29 sacks rank second in the league behind Jacksonville. Washington’s receivers have disappointed, and Jordan Reed is unsurprisingly banged up again.
Other top guys like Alex Smith, Dak Prescott and Tom Brady — ranked 4-7 in Yahoo, respectively — are paying dividends and set up nicely come playoff time. Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr, as inconsistent as they’ve been to date, have good to great playoff matchups.
For those inclined to bank streaming options now, a handful of widely available quarterbacks have solid matchups Week 14 and/or reason to wing the ball around throughout this year’s holiday and playoff season.
Josh McCown (38 percent owned) at Denver Week 14
What’s not to like about McCown? The journeyman has posted a QB rating over 100 in six of 10 starts, and he’s rushed for three TDs on the year. The Broncos defense is middle of the pack against QBs and super tough against the run.
Jay Cutler (25 percent owned) vs. New England Week 14
The Patriots are giving up 20.4 points to opposing quarterbacks and will surely be crushing the Dolphins. Miami is surprisingly still in the AFC Wild Card hunt. Cutty is working on four straight multi-TD performances.
Brett Hundley (9 percent owned) at Cleveland Week 14
The Browns have given up the third-most passing touchdowns on the season, along with two scores to quarterbacks on the ground. Even the hapless Bengals shredded them this year — Andy Dalton threw four TDs against Cleveland in early October, and he hasn’t thrown three in a game otherwise.
Jimmy Garoppolo (9 percent owned) at Houston Week 14
We need to see the 49er version of Garoppolo before giving league mates the opportunity to mock us for this move, but the Texans are giving up 20.1 points to opposing QBs on the year and their Tom Savage-led offense can’t stay on the field.