Thursday, December 24, 2020

Week 16 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, Jalen Hurts is listed below as a "start" for Week 16. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 16 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

In other words, if you own both Patrick Mahomes and Hurts, you should start Mahomes and, in turn, bench Hurts.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings. Instead of making those direct comparisons, the goal here is to highlight players that we like, or dislike, for the week.

[Note: This will be our final Start'em, Sit'em of 2020, but we will post Week 17 rankings.]

Week 16 Fantasy Football QB Start'em

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (at DAL)

Even better in the second NFL start of his career, Hurts finished Week 15 as fantasy's top-scoring quarterback (37.82). Hurts completed only 54.5% of his pass attempts against the Arizona Cardinals, but he threw for 338 yards (7.68 Y/A) and three touchdowns and added 11 carries for 63 yards and another score.

It was an unusual week as three quarterbacks scored at least 37 fantasy points, but there were zero 35-point performances in the previous five weeks (Weeks 10 to 14). In fact, there have been only nine 37-point performances all season.

Since becoming the starter in Week 14, only Lamar Jackson has scored more fantasy points than the second-round rookie out of Oklahoma (via Alabama). In addition, no quarterback has more rush attempts (29) or rush yards (169) in that two-game span.

As noted earlier, scoring 37 fantasy points is uncommon, so it would be unreasonable to expect better or even a repeat of last week's numbers.

That said, this week's matchup against the Dallas Cowboys offers little resistance when it comes to fantasy scoring. No team has allowed a higher TD% than the Cowboys (6.73%) and only five teams have a lower INT% (1.57%) this season.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (at GB)

The Green Bay Packers limit opposing quarterbacks to the fifth-fewest fantasy points, but Tannehill remains a starter (top-12 option) in Week 16.

While Aaron Rodgers battles Patrick Mahomes as the two favorites for the MVP award, Tannehill has been playing as well as any quarterback himself recently. The past five weeks have featured both easy and difficult matchups, but Tannehill has finished as the QB6, QB9, QB3, QB19 and QB3, respectively.

Including his rushing scores, Tannehill has multiple scores in all five of those games. During that span, Tannehill has thrown 11 touchdowns and rushed for three more.

When throwing less than 30 pass attempts, Tannehill has the third-most QB1-level (top 12) peformances (four). Only Lamar Jackson (six) and Cam Newton (five) have more such games. The point of that is that his efficiency has helped him have strong outings in low-volume games. Even though this matchup is difficult, it shouldn't be a 21-of-27 type of game for Tannehill. In other words, more volume should compensate for any reduction in efficiency.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (at NYJ)

Another week, another strong performance by Mayfield. Although the New York Giants were dealing with some injuries in their secondary, Mayfield completed 27-of-32 (84.4%) for 297 yards and two touchdowns to score 20.98 fantasy points. That was good enough to be the week's QB12.

Since Week 12, the Browns signal-caller has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback every week -- QB12, QB4, QB2 and QB12, respectively. Mayfield has thrown multiple touchdowns in all four of those games and has averaged 308 passing yards while accounting for 11 total touchdowns (10 passing and one rushing).

Only Buffalo's Josh Allen and Tannehill have scored more fantasy points over that stretch. In addition, Mayfield was the only quarterback with four top-12 performances over that four-week stretch.

Even though the New York Jets pulled off a stunning upset of Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams to get their first win of the season, they offer Mayfield (and his fantasy managers) a dream matchup in fantasy championship week. Only the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

SLEEPER - Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears (at JAX)

Trubisky has alternated between strong three-TD fantasy performances and one-TD duds since being reinserted as the team's starting quarterback in Week 12. In last week's game against the Minnesota Vikings, Trubisky threw a season-low (as a starter) 21 pass attempts and that includes a game where he was benched earlier in the season.

Facing the one-win Jags in Week 16, the Bears are favored by more than a touchdown so there is some potential concern about volume. In addition, David Montgomery has been playing like a man possessed and gets an ideal matchup himself. If he runs wild, there is a chance that hurts Trubisky.

With that being said, only the Falcons have allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Jaguars this season. No team has allowed more Y/A (8.28) or passing touchdowns (31) to opposing quarterbacks. The QB12/QB13 debate features Trubisky and the guy listed as a "bust alert" below.

Week 16 Fantasy Football QB Sit'em

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. IND)

No quarterback has thrown more pass attempts than Roethlisberger (559, 39.93/G) this season. In fact, Big Ben has averaged a whopping 44.71 pass attempts per game over his past seven games. Paraphrasing what Gisele Bunchen once famously said about her husband (Tom Brady), Roethlisberger can't throw and catch his own passes as Pittsburgh's pass-catchers have had a case of the dropsies.

Roethlisberger began that seven-week stretch with a pair of 25-point fantasy performances, but he has scored less than 20 fantasy points in five consecutive games with an average of 14.72 fantasy points. In those five games, he has thrown nearly as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns (eight).

Losers of three consecutive games, the once 11-0 Steelers are home underdogs this week to the Indianapolis Colts and only six teams have a lower implied total this week. In addition, the Colts have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. TB)

It's been an up-and-mostly-down season for Stafford. To be fair, he's been playing through injury (ribs) and has been without stud receiver Kenny Golladay for what feels like the entire season. At this point, the assumption is that Golladay, who hasn't played since Week 8, won't be out there for Week 16 either.

Over his past seven games, Stafford has had a couple of big games -- QB6 in Week 10 and QB5 in Week 13 -- and four games where he finished as fantasy's QB24 (or worse).

Cam Newton, New England Patriots (vs. BUF)

The key to Newton's (fantasy) success is what he does as a rusher. Only Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook have more rushing touchdowns than Newton (11). After all, Newton has thrown twice as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (five) this season. In fact, Newton has more QB1 weeks (seven) than he has passing touchdowns.

One of those no-TD (passing) and top-12 fantasy weeks happened in the first matchup against the Buffalo Bills in Week 8. That week, Newton completed 15-of-25 for 174 yards, but he ran nine times for 54 yards and a score.

Newton is little more than a (Rush) TD-or-bust option in championship week.

BUST ALERT - Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. LAR)

Wilson was "cooking" in the first half of the season and was the favorite for MVP at that point. Through Week 9, Wilson had finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in seven of eight games and five of those games were top-five weeks. During that eight-game stretch to start the season, Wilson threw 28 touchdowns and rushed for another.

Since that point, Wilson has been much less prolific. Wilson has thrown nine touchdowns over his past six games. While he had multiple passing scores in each of his first eight games, Wilson has two-plus pass touchdowns in only two of his past six games. During that six-game span, Wilson has finished as fantasy's QB19, QB12, QB19, QB21, QB8 and QB28.

The QB19 performance during that span was against the Los Angeles Rams. Not only did Wilson throw multiple interceptions in that game, but it was the only game in which he did not throw a touchdown. Few quarterbacks find success against the Rams, who have allowed a league-low 14.15 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

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