Saturday, December 12, 2020

Week 14 Fantasy Football QB Start'em, Sit'em

The decision on which player to start, or sit, largely comes down to the options on your roster (and/or possibly the players available on your league's waiver wire).

As an example, Ryan Tannehill is listed below as a "start" for Week 14. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 14 with him as my starting quarterback.

Then again, Tannehill may be a "sit" for your team.

In other words, if you own both Russell Wilson and Tannehill, you should start Wilson and, in turn, bench Tannehill.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings. Instead of making those direct comparisons, the goal here is to highlight players that we like, or dislike, for the week.

Week 14 Fantasy Football QB Start'em

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (at JAX)

Falling behind early against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Tannehill threw 45 pass attempts for 389 yards, both of which were season highs, and three touchdowns. While this week's matchup won't quickly force Tannehill and the Titans into catch-up mode, there are several other reasons why Tannehill is a top-five option in Week 14.

Over his past three starts, Tannehill has finished as fantasy's QB6, QB9 and QB3, respectively. Last year's NFL Comeback Player of the Year had only three top-12 performances from Weeks 1 to 10 combined.

One of those three early-season top-12 performances was against the Jacksonville Jaguars. In that game, Tannehill was extremely efficient -- 18-of-24 passing (75.0%) for 239 yards (9.96%) and four touchdowns (16.67 TD%) and no interceptions.

While it's a great matchup for Derrick Henry as well, only the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks have a higher implied total based on Vegas odds than the Titans in Week 14. In addition, the Jags have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. ATL)

Typically, rookies have ups and downs. Previous to a couple of AFC East matchups against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, there were few downs when it came to the rookie's fantasy performances.

On the wrong end of a 45-0 shutout last week, however, Week 13 marked the first start in Herbert's career that he did not finish with either 300 passing yards and/or multiple touchdowns. Over the past two weeks, Herbert has thrown a whopping 105 pass attempts, completing only 54.3% (57) of his throws for 525 yards (5.0 Y/A). Not only did his seven-game streak of multiple passing touchdowns end, but he has thrown more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (one) the past two weeks.

Before his two-game dry spell, Herbert had finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in seven consecutive games. In fact, he had finished as a top-four performer in four of those seven. During that seven-game stretch, Herbert threw 20 touchdowns and ran for two others while throwing only four interceptions.

While the Atlanta Falcons have generally been playing better than they were to start the season, no team allows more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Falcons this season.

MORE: Herbert has the most favorable fantasy football strength of schedule in the playoffs

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints (at PHI)

With Drew Brees (ribs) on IR, Hill started the previous three games and it appears likely that he will get (at least) one more start as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport notes that Week 15 is a "more realistic target [for Brees] to play."

Even though Hill did not throw his first NFL touchdown until his third start of that stretch, he has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in all three starts. Along with Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Tannehill, Hill is one of four quarterbacks to perform as a QB1 in each of the past three weeks.

The Philadelphia Eagles have the league's seventh-ranked pass defense (217.2 YPG allowed), but Hill's ability to make plays with his legs -- back-to-back games with multiple rushing touchdowns in Weeks 11 and 12 -- are the key to his fantasy success.

SLEEPER: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (at TB)

If you've been streaming Cousins lately, you are undoubtedly happy with the results. Not only does Cousins have three consecutive 300/3 games with 22-plus fantasy points, but he has finished as a top-12 weekly quarterback in each of his past four games.

As much as the Vikings are committed to the run and feeding Dalvin Cook, it's a difficult matchup on the ground against Tampa's elite run defense. Not only have the Tampa Bay Bucccaneers allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but no team has allowed fewer YPC to running backs (3.04).

Tampa should be refreshed off their bye and fired up due to a pair of close losses before it, but game script could lead to more pass attempts (and fewer rush attempts) than usual with Minnesota installed as nearly a touchdown road underdog.

Allowing consecutive top-three weekly finishes to Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes, respectively, the Bucs have allowed 76-of-100 passing for 838 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in their past two games combined. In addition, they have allowed 20-point fantasy performances in four consecutive games and five of their past six.

Week 14 Fantasy Football QB Sit'em

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (at LAC)

When the team is at full health (relatively speaking), Ryan has one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL at his disposal with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. With Jones ruled out for Week 14, it moves Ryan down a bit in our rankings and limits his upside.

Either way, Ryan has been a disappointment since Week 3. From Weeks 3-13, Ryan is the QB19 and that's before we adjust to a per-game basis.

Over his past 10 starts (since Week 3), he has only two 20-point fantasy outings and three top-12 performances -- QB2 in Week 6, QB10 in Week 8 and QB12 in Week 9. Over the past three weeks, he's performed as the weekly QB26, QB17 and QB26, respectively.

This week's matchup is worse than it may appear as well. Although the Chargers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, it's partly due to the fact that they are tied for allowing a league-high six rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks. On the other hand, they have the league's fifth-ranked passing defense (214.4 YPG allowed). Excluding the 20-yard touchdown that Cole Beasley threw on them in Week 12, the Chargers Y/A to QBs (6.73) is the fourth-lowest in the NFL.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders (vs. IND)

Carr is coming off his best game of the season as he threw for 381 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while adding a rushing score to finish as Week 13's top-scoring fantasy quarterback (32.74). In what appeared to be an elite matchup the week before that, Carr scored 1.6 fantasy points against the Falcons in a 37-point loss. In other words, Carr has been up and down this season.

Week 14 sets up to be a down week for Carr. The Indianapolis Colts have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)

Mayfield is coming off his best (or second-best) game of the season where he threw for a season-high 334 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Titans in Week 13. A series of bad-weather games limited Mayfield and the team's passing offense, but two of his three QB1 performances this season have come in the past two weeks.

While the weather may not impact Mayfield's performance in Week 14, the matchup could. Three of the four QB1 performances allowed by the Baltimore Ravens have included a rushing touchdown by the opposing quarterback. The other QB was Mahomes. Baltimore has limited opposing quarterbacks to the second-lowest yards per attempt (6.37) and third-lowest passing TD% (3.51%) this season.

Mayfield opened the season with a 10.86-point fantasy performance (QB30) against the Ravens.

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