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Quarterback Player Rankings – Week 16
Quarterbacks (Updated: Sunday, Dec. 23 - 11:31AM CT)
1. Tom Brady (at Jax) – This is usually the time of year when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England Patriots turn up the juice in order to be in high-gear for the playoffs. However, it’s not very often when the Pats are fighting for something as important as a first-round bye at this point. To make it happen, the 10-4 Patriots not only need to win out, but also need the Peyton Manning-led Broncos to lose at least one of their final two games as well. All Brady can do is take care of own, which he most certainly will. No amount of analysis here can change the simple fact that Brady and Belichick will be out for blood after their embarrassing loss to the 49ers on national TV last Sunday night.
2. Robert Griffin III (at Phi) – If Robert Griffin ends up playing this Sunday—which I believe he will—then make sure you find a way to watch the game because you won’t want to miss your chance at witnessing a man whose sole purpose in life will be to destroy his opposition. Kirk Cousins did a spectacular job of filling in for RGIII and the Redskins last weekend, but you can tell the whole situation was sort of surreal to Griffin and that it was eating him alive as he watched. He clearly HATED not being a part of the victory and it seemed he could sense a collective questioning as to whether or not his services were truly needed for this to be a winning team. If he suits up this weekend, beating the Philadelphia Eagles to stay atop the NFC East and proving his superiority as the Redskins unquestioned starting quarterback will be goals 1a and 1b for Griffin—just not necessarily in that order.
3. Cam Newton (vs. Oak) – The only reason why Cam Newton didn’t end up with top-five fantasy stats last weekend is because Mike Tolbert deserved the two 1-yard touchdowns the Carolina coaching staff gave in the first quarter going up against his former team (San Diego Chargers). That’s it. Otherwise, Newton had another fine fantasy showing and is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league right now. In fact, Newton hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 10 against the Broncos, a span of just over five games. The Panthers will be at home this weekend where Cam tends to feel a little more pressure, but with the lowly Raiders in town and the playoffs out of reach, I expect him to let loose and somewhat selfishly go for the best possible stats he can. In real life, I truly wish he wasn’t that type of guy—but the proof is in the pudding and let me tell ya, no silky goodness ever tasted so sweet to a fantasy owner looking for a championship.
4. Aaron Rodgers (vs. Ten) – The Packers may have clinched the NFC North and a playoff spot with their win over the hapless Chicago Bears last weekend, but they still need to win their final two games to have a shot at a first-round bye. Thank goodness for Aaron Rodgers’ fantasy owners, because last season when the Pack had nothing to play for at this point, coach Mike McCarthy decided to ignore/screw millions of fantasy players out there and sat Rodgers for the final game of the season. Booooo! That won’t happen this time around. What’s even better is that Rodgers will play in the comfy confines of Lambeau Field this week against a below average Tennessee pass defense. A Jordy Nelson return would be icing on the cake, but either way, Discount Double Check will be a high-end QB1 for fantasy championship games this weekend.
5. Matt Ryan (at Det, Saturday night) – The Falcons needed Matty Ice to come up big for them against the defending Super Bowl champs last weekend, and boy did he come through. In fact, it might have been Ryan’s best/most complete performance of the season as he tossed up three touchdowns and no interceptions while missing on just five passes all afternoon (23-of-28, 82.1 percent). This Saturday night he’ll be traveling up to Detroit to take on a Lions team that has completely fallen apart losing their last six games in a row. Their defense is in shambles, so Ryan should be able to pick them apart, but he has a few other things going for him as well. First, the game is in a dome so not only will it make him feel at home, it also makes Ryan one of the few quarterbacks who will be unaffected by weather this weekend. Second, Ryan is a better fantasy player away from home as he’s averaged 22.6 fantasy points on the road as opposed to 14.6 in Atlanta. Third, a Falcons win will seal a first-round bye, so with all the motivation in the world this weekend, I expect Matty Ice to come through for his owners one more time. Final Statistics: 25-for-32 – 279 yards – 4 TDs – 0 INTs // 2 rushes - 25 yards - 0 TDs
6. Drew Brees (at Dal) – One thing you can say about Drew Brees is that he’s definitely not a quitter. At 6-8, the Saints have only the slightest of chances to make the playoffs this season, but as long as they’re still alive, Brees will give more than his all to win a game. Not that I believe he would quit if the Saints were eliminated, but the coaching staff may choose to check out a few rookies in Week 17 if New Orleans can’t stay alive this weekend. Playoff scenarios aside, Cool Brees will not disappoint his fantasy owners this Sunday despite the Cowboys above average pass D. If Dallas gets rookie CB Morris Claiborne (concussion) back in their secondary this week, it might be a little more difficult for Brees to put up huge fantasy points, but like I said—the former Super Bowl MVP won’t go quietly and you can bet the farm he goes down throwing.
7. Peyton Manning (vs. Cle) – Peyton Manning has definitely slowed down as a fantasy quarterback in the second half of the season and has thrown just two touchdowns in the last two games combined, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a must-start this weekend. One reason is because of his fantasy numbers at home, which are far superior to his away numbers as he’s averaged 21.6 fantasy points at Mile High Stadium compared to just 16.5 on the road. The Cleveland Browns can be beat through the air as well, as shown by the Redskins rookie backup quarterback, Kirk Cousins, last Sunday in Cleveland. Add in the extra motivation of being able to secure a first-round bye with two more wins and there’s no doubt in my mind Peyton ends up with QB1 type numbers in Week 16.
8. Tony Romo (vs. NO) – While Tony Romo has been relatively average as a starting fantasy quarterback this season, he’s still thrown for eight 300-yard games, with his last one coming against the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend. He’s on a bit of a roll right now putting up the third most fantasy points in the league over the last five weeks, and with WR Dez Bryant playing out of his mind lately, I doubt his roll ends here. With a miniscule hope of reaching the playoffs still alive, I expect Drew Brees to come out firing this Sunday, so if the Cowboys want to stay with the high-flying Saints and keep their own playoff hopes alive, Romo will have to pass the ball as well. He’s always been a better quarterback at home, anyway, so feel free to start him against a bottom-tier Saints pass D in Week 16.
9. Andrew Luck (at KC) – Andrew Luck began his rookie fantasy campaign having a tough time putting up starter-worthy numbers on the road. However, after working out the kinks over the course of the season, he’s performed much better away from Indianapolis of late averaging 22.7 fantasy points in his last two road games. This week he’ll travel to Kansas City to face a Chiefs pass defense that actually allows more fantasy points to quarterbacks at home than they do on the road. Overall they allow the ninth most fantasy points to opposing QBs, so there’s no reason to think Luck won’t put up some nice numbers here. The only thing I can see getting in the way of Luck being a QB1 this weekend is if the Colts decide to take advantage of Kansas City’s bottom-tier run defense and run the ball more than usual. However, I highly doubt the Colts’ coaching staff puts the ball in Vick Ballard’s hands over Andrew Luck in a playoff-clinching game such as this.
10. Colin Kaepernick (at Sea, Sunday night) – It may have come against a weak New England Patriots secondary, but Colin Kaepernick’s arrival onto the fantasy scene last weekend was truly a thing of beauty. I can talk about my expectations of him as a force in fantasy leagues for years to come, but there’s never a more important fantasy game to play than the next one on the schedule, so I’ll leave that conversation for the off-season. This week will be a major test for the youngster going up against one of the best defenses in the league and inner-division rival Seattle Seahawks, but I believe he pulls through with QB1 numbers for a couple of reasons. First, though it looks like Richard Sherman's suspension appeal will be put off yet another week, Seattle will still be without one their top two cornerbacks, Brandon Browner. Second, their two backup cornerbacks, Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant, were both inactive with hamstring injuries last week and are iffy to play this weekend. Third, Seattle is one of the toughest teams to run against as is, so the ‘Niners may be forced to pass the ball more anyway. Basically, Kaepernick looks good for another QB1 type of day in Week 16.
11. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Cin)
12. Matt Schaub (vs. Min)
13. Matthew Stafford (vs. Atl, Saturday night) – Final Statistics: 37-for-56 – 443 yards – 0 TDs – 1 INT // 1 rush - 2 yards - 0 TDs
14. Eli Manning (at Bal)
15. Joe Flacco (vs. NYG)
16. Russell Wilson (vs. SF, Sunday night)
17. Josh Freeman (vs. StL)
18. Sam Bradford (at TB)
19. Nick Foles (vs. Was)
20. Chad Henne (vs. NE)
21. Carson Palmer (at Car)
22. Andy Dalton (at Pit)
23. Ryan Fitzpatrick (at Mia)
24. Ryan Tannehill (vs. Buf)
25. Jay Cutler (at Ari)
26. Jake Locker (at GB)
27. Philip Rivers (at NYJ)
28. Greg McIlroy (vs. SD)
29. Brandon Weeden (at Den)
30. Christian Ponder (at Hou)
31. Brady Quinn (vs. Ind)
32. Ryan Lindley (vs. Chi)
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