Friday, December 4, 2020

Week 13 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, Kirk Cousins is listed below as a "start" for Week 13. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 13 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

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

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 13 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 13 Fantasy Football QB Start'em

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (vs. JAX)

Topping our Week 13 quarterback waiver-wire rankings and available in 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues to begin the week, Cousins may be a plug-and-play option if Tom Brady (on bye this week) is your starter or you normally stream the position. Being double-digit favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars could lead to game script that delivers a body blow to Cousins' recent string of higher-than-usual volume of pass attempts.

Over the past three weeks, Cousins has thrown 36, 30 and 45 pass attempts, respectively, and that's his only three-game streak with 30-plus pass attempts this season. In fact, he has reached 30 attempts in only two of his other eight games this season.

Scoring 20-plus fantasy points in three of his past four games, Cousins has thrown 11 touchdowns and only one interception during that stretch. Cousins has finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks and a top-12 option in three straight.

As massive favorites in a game with a total north of 50 points, the Vikings have the second-highest implied total of the week. And even if there aren't as many pass attempts as fantasy managers would like from Cousins, the efficiency should be there as the Jags have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. NE)

While he didn't have his best performance against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Herbert still scored 17.44 fantasy points (QB14) and threw for 316 yards. Before the streak ended in Week 12, Herbert had seven consecutive top-12 performances.

Only four quarterbacks -- Kyler Murray (10), Aaron Rodgers (nine), Patrick Mahomes (eight) and Russell Wilson (eight) -- have more QB1 performances this season than Herbert (seven), who is tied with Deshaun Watson and Brady for fifth-most.

A late Hail Mary allowed Herbert to reach the 300-yard weekly milestone and the rookie now has thrown for 300-plus yards and/or multiple touchdowns in all 10 of his NFL games. Only two other quarterbacks (Mahomes and Rodgers) have 10 such games this season.

Even though the Week 13 matchup is a challenging one for any quarterback, especially a rookie, Herbert remains an every-week must-start for fantasy managers.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (vs. CLE)

The Titans are a run-first team. (And a run-second team.) Making a strong case for MVP, at least more so than any quarterback, Derrick Henry rushed 27 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns last week and he had 28/133/1 rushing the week before.

Force-feeding Henry has the potential to limit Tannehill's production, but last year's NFL Comeback Player of the Year has finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks and Tannehill is a top-10 fantasy quarterback year-to-date.

With the week's third-highest implied total, there may be enough to go around for both Henry and Tannehill to feast in Week 13. In addition, the Cleveland Browns are a top-10 fantasy matchup for opposing quarterbacks.

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints (at ATL)

We are about to witness Hill's third (and final?) act as a starting quarterback in Week 13. Through two NFL starts (and a career), Hill has yet to throw a touchdown and he completed just nine-of-16 for 78 yards against the Denver Broncos last week.

Even so, he's listed as a start here.

In his two starts combined, which includes a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11, Hill has 20 carries for 93 yards and FOUR touchdowns. Because of his rushing production, he has scored 24.22 (QB4) and 18.52 (QB11) fantasy points in the last two weeks, respectively.

Last week was an anomaly with the entire Denver Broncos quarterback room on the COVID-19/reserve list. Only favored by three points this week, Hill and the Saints will likely have to throw more than 16 times in Week 13.

Week 13 Fantasy Football QB Sit'em

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (at GB)

If you just look at Monday's numbers, Wentz had a good fantasy performance. It was his sixth game in the past seven with multiple passing scores and he ended the week as a top-10 fantasy quarterback. And while all plays count regardless of when in the game they occur, it took a 33-yard touchdown to Richard Rodgers (on a deflection) with 12 seconds to go for Wentz to score 5.32 (26.9%) of his 19.8 fantasy points.

Throwing for only 30 yards in the first half, Wentz finished Monday's game with 215. Keep in mind this was in a matchup against the league's most generous fantasy defense to opposing quarterbacks, although they had been playing better recently. Wentz now has 235 passing yards or less in each of his past four games. On the season, no quarterback has thrown more interceptions (15) or been sacked (46) as much as Wentz.

Starting Wentz this week will be somewhat of a Hail Mary move for fantasy owners. The Green Bay Packers allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. In addition, the Eagles have one of the week's lowest implied totals.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at CHI)

It's been an up-and-(mostly)-down season for Stafford. Through 11 games this season, Stafford has reached the 20-point fantasy mark only three times. As a comparison, Stafford did that in five of the eight games he played in 2019.

To be fair to Stafford, he's dealt with an injury-plagued receiving corps as the team's top receiver Kenny Golladay has managed to play in only five games this season. Two of his 20-point performances were in games that Golladay played.

At least to start the week, Golladay (hip) has been sidelined at practice. In a difficult matchup against the Chicago Bears, who have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Stafford is worth keeping on your bench.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO)

At this point, it's unclear if Julio Jones (hamstring) will return this week. With Jones sustaining the injury against the New Orleans Saints a couple of weeks ago, Ryan completed 19-of-37 for 232 yards, no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. While the Falcons may not have Jones, the Saints will have top corner Marshon Lattimore, who missed their matchup in Week 11.

In his past three games against the Saints, Ryan has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) and has averaged just 242 yards per game and 5.95 yards per attempt. That said, it's not just the Falcons that struggle against the Saints, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (at ARI)

Goff ended a three-game 300-yard streak in Week 12 with only 198 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12. Goff has now thrown multiple interceptions in three of his past four games. Outside of his three-touchdown performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he has only one passing score in the other three games combined in the month of November. The Arizona Cardinals don't provide the most difficult matchup, but they have allowed the sixth-lowest passing yards per attempt (6.83) this season.

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