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Updated 12/26 at 11:45 AM ET.
Week 16 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: The QB1 by average points over the past five weeks, Aaron Rodgers is playing his best football of the year. Now he is getting a COVID-decimated Browns team that will be on a short week after playing Monday afternoon. Rodgers has the fewest question marks of this week’s high-end options. We just hope the Packers have to throw enough. … Facing the Chiefs’ elite defense, Justin Herbert nevertheless emerged as Week 15’s QB3. Now he gets the Texans, who punch above their weight, but are not a stay-away unit. With the QB1 ranks riddled with Week 16 red flags, Herbert is a safe top-three option. … I’m not sure what we can do other than burn Kyler Murray’s Week 15 box score. It doesn’t make any sense. The Colts are tougher than the Lions vs. the pass but surrender plenty of aerial production. I’m considering Week 15 an aberration. … It is gut check time for Josh Allen against the Patriots after the Bills’ Week 13 humiliation. No team is surrendering fewer QB fantasy points than New England. The Pats are most beatable on the ground, but the Bills don’t have the personnel, or the will, for that. Continually finding his way to big fantasy days even when his real life performance isn’t that crisp, Allen can be trusted for the fantasy semifinals.
One of the hottest players in football over the past month, Matthew Stafford encounters a Vikings pass defense surrendering the third most QB fantasy points. Stafford will be on unusually short rest, but that is not enough of a reason to fade him down the ranks. … The Giants are not the world’s best matchup for Jalen Hurts, but Mike Glennon/Jake Fromm ensure they will be far from the worst. The G-Men can’t sustain drives, which will keep Hurts and Philadelphia on the field. … Everything changed for Tom Brady in Week 15, where he lost Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette to injury. Godwin is done for the season, while the latter two are week to week and seemingly doubtful for the fantasy semifinals. This being the Bucs, they have an ace up their sleeve in the form of a returning Antonio Brown. AB’s conditioning will be a question mark after nine weeks on the shelf, but he has cleared 90 yards in 3-of-6 2021 appearances. Brady also has one of the better second strings in the league with Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard all available for targets.
Coming off a QB2 day and one of his best starts of the year, Patrick Mahomes could find himself as high as QB3 or as low as QB9. It all comes down to Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill’s health. If they “test back in” to Week 16, it will be vs. a Steelers defense that is holding up better through the air than on the ground but isn’t holding anyone down. … The healthy return of Dak Prescott’s supporting cast has been enough to get him back on track in fantasy. The QB14 by average points over the past five weeks was the QB19 in Week 15. Fantasy managers can expect a run-dominated slog with Washington. There is little path for a Prescott ceiling effort. … The Bengals are going ever more run heavy, but there are reasons to expect a reversal for Week 16, beginning with Joe Mixon’s (minor) ankle issue. Beyond that, the Ravens are difficult to run on and easy to burn with the pass. A top-10 day is squarely in play. … Becoming something of a run funnel over the past month, the Dolphins profile as a decent matchup for dual-threat Taysom Hill … is what I wrote before Hill landed on the COVID-19 list. Ian Book is not superflex relevant.
As Denny Carter highlighted on this week’s podcast, the Niners were willing to adjust their run-heavy approach when facing the pass-funnel Bengals two weeks ago. They have another pass funnel in the Titans. Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the safer options on this week’s QB1/2 borderline. … Lamar Jackson (ankle) will slot into the top 6-7 if he gets the go-ahead vs. the Bengals’ permissive pass D. If he’s forced to sit again, Tyler Huntley will have low-end QB1 juice. Running just a hair less than Jackson, Huntley is converting more checkdowns. That provides floor while making ceiling outings a realistic possibility, as evidenced by his QB1 finish in Week 15. … Kirk Cousins embarrassed himself in Week 15, averaging 3.6 yards per attempt against a defense starting practice squadders at cornerback. Hopefully the likely Week 16 return of Adam Thielen (ankle) can get him back on track vs. the Rams, who will be on a (very) short week on the road. Kirk Cousins vs. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey does not inspire confidence, of course. … Not even nightmarish Matt Nagy play-calling could keep Justin Fields out of the top 10 for Week 15, though he needed the garbage time touchdown to end all garbage time touchdowns to do it. It will be close to impossible for Fields to finish outside the top 18 in Seattle.
Tua Tagovailoa was a tough Week 15 watch without Jaylen Waddle (COVID-19). Tagovailoa’s security blanket is back for a matchup where the Dolphins will be forced to rely on their quarterback’s arm against a defense that erases the run. … Cam Newton was awful in Week 15 — and the QB5. He has found the end zone on the ground in all five of his Panthers appearances. You can’t fight dual-threat city hall. Newton’s benching risk has not subsided with Sam Darnold (shoulder) returning, but his rushing production is a dictionary-definition lifehack. … It’s been five weeks since Ryan Tannehill provided more than one touchdown and seven since he threw for more than one. A.J. Brown’s (chest) expected return isn't enough to make Tannehill a priority streamer vs. the 49ers, but Julio Jones (hamstring) is also somehow suiting up. Tannehill is at least a top-20 option again. … No Brandin Cooks (COVID-19), no Davis Mills superflex. … Jake Fromm appears poised to put Mike Glennon out of his misery. Fantasy managers’ misery will remain, however. … In a week full of bad quarterbacks, Drew Lock will arguably be the worst to take the field in Teddy Bridgewater’s (concussion) absence.
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