Just as quickly as Haley’s comet, Aaron Rodgers is gone again. He’s not injured or anything, but with Green Bay now eliminated from the playoffs, the Packers have decided to shut their superstar franchise QB down for the rest of the season. If you own Rodgers in fantasy and are playing for a championship this week, it sucks. But it’s a smart move for the Packers to make.
Luckily, there are a lot of good QB matchups again this week. So if you need to make a move at QB to get you that league championship, we got you covered with this week’s QB matchup report.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
Defensive Matchup: New York Jets (Road)
The cross-country road matchup deterred me from recommending Philip Rivers at first, but then I remembered he’s facing the lowly Jets secondary and got over that in a hurry. When you look at Rivers’ home/road splits this season, they actually aren’t as bad as expected. In seven road games, he’s thrown for 14 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and averaged 260.9 yards per game. Those are slightly down from his home numbers, but still very respectable.
The Jets, per usual, are having some difficulties in 2017 and are limping toward the finish line with no playoff hopes in sight. They don’t give up many huge fantasy days, but the Jets just can’t hold anyone down. Tyrod Taylor’s two best games, and arguably his only two good games, of the season have come against the Jets. Overall, they’ve allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the QB position and have to face Rivers this week and Tom Brady in Week 17. Look for Rivers to get back on track this week after tossing a trio of picks last week against Kansas City. He’s a strong QB1 and borderline top-five option this week.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Defensive Matchup: San Francisco 49ers (Road)
I hit the nail square on the head last week recommending Bortles, so let’s go for two in a row. Over the last three weeks, there haven’t been many better fantasy QBs than Bortles. He’s averaged 301 passing yards per game with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Furthermore, only the man listed directly below has put up more fantasy points over the last month than Bortles. But still, people aren’t trusting him. His poor play last season turned him into fantasy football’s equivalent of what Nickelback is to the music industry.
With a juicy matchup this week, Bortles has a great chance to keep this mini hot streak alive. The 49ers have allowed 2+ touchdowns in eight of their last nine games and a total of 25 on the season, which is the eighth-highest total in the NFL. Two of those 2+ touchdown games were against Drew Stanton and T.J Yates, too. Additionally, they’ve picked off only seven passes this year, which is the fifth-lowest total in the league. With Jimmy Garoppolo under center, I expect the 49ers to keep this close, which is great for anyone using Bortles this week. Consider Bortles a strong QB2 again and borderline QB1 for Week 16.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Defensive Matchup: Houston Texans (Road)
The loss of Antonio Brown obviously is a massive blow, but it won’t matter much this weekend against Houston. It’s not like Roethlisberger will have nobody to throw to. The trio of Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, and JuJu Smith-Schuster are still around and, honestly, Roethlisberger could torch this Houston secondary with Mike Tomlin running routes.
Here’s a fun little stat. The Texans have allowed 300+ passing yards AND 3+ passing touchdowns in five games this season. Included in that is Bortles’ 326 yards and three touchdowns last week. Roethlisberger himself is on quite a little tear also, with six straight multi-touchdown games. Big Ben should sleepwalk through this game and put up 300 yards and a few scores. Don’t let the loss of Brown scare you away. Roethlisberger is a top-five option this week and could easily end up as the overall QB1 of Week 16.
Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Matchup: Green Bay Packers (Road)
Earlier in the season, this was actually a pretty solid passing defense. Not anymore. The Packers have allowed as many passing touchdowns in the last four games (13) as they did in their first 10. That’s alarming, to say the least. Maybe they were playing over their heads to start the season and this is the real Packers defense rearing its cheese-covered head. Who knows.
This week, they square off with divisional foe Case Keenum. The Vikings keep rolling along with Keenum under center and are still battling for a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the NFC. Keenum himself has been playing extremely well of late with four straight multi-touchdown games and only two interceptions in his last five games. Green Bay hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown in the last four games, but they have allowed two receiving touchdowns to running backs in that span. All in all, this should be a pass-first approach for Minnesota this weekend, putting Keenum in the QB1 discussion.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Defensive Matchup: Seattle Seahawks (Home)
This has just as much to do with Ezekiel Elliott’s return as it does with the matchup. First off, yes, Zeke is back. A week too late for some of us, though. Not that I’m bitter or anything. The Cowboys offense had some trouble moving the ball without Elliott in the lineup, and that all started with the man under center. Dak Prescott is a very good QB in this league and has a bright future ahead of him. However, he’s not the type of QB that can do it all himself like Russell Wilson.
If you look at his splits with and without Elliott in the lineup, the difference is astonishing. When Elliott was in the lineup, Prescott’s fantasy scoring output was 71% higher than it was during Zeke’s six-game suspension. Additionally, seven of Prescott’s eight top scoring efforts have come with Elliott lined up behind him. These all might sound like great reasons to start Prescott this week. Sorry if I misled you, but I’m not recommending him this week outside of 2-QB leagues. With Elliott rested, and Seattle’s tough passing defense, I expect Dallas to go with a run-heavy approach and feed the ball to Zeke early and often.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Matchup: Los Angeles Rams (Home)
Russell Wilson has had only three bad games this season. Can you guess who two of those three were against? That’s right, the Los Angeles Rams. Wilson has been held below 200 passing yards in both meetings with the Rams and has only one touchdown in each contest. Only Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, and Brian Hoyer have put up big numbers against this Rams defense this season. Yes, I said Brian Hoyer. He’s actually the only QB this season to eclipse the 300-yard mark against the Rams.
When it comes to touchdowns, only four men (Wentz, Eli Manning, Prescott, Hoyer) have thrown for multiple scores, and the only QB rushing touchdown came against, you guessed it, Hoyer. The moral of the story here is that the Rams defense is pretty damn good unless they have to square off with Hoyer. Yeah, I don’t get it, either.
I’ve detailed Mariota’s struggled several times this season. He had a decent game last week but has a much tougher opponent this week. My colleague, Ryan Cook, ranked Mariota 23rd in his Week 16 rankings yesterday, and I couldn’t agree with him more. Mariota is barely even on the QB2 map this week.
Sleeper of the Week
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Defensive Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars (Home)
Mark it down. The 49ers are going to take down the league’s best defense this weekend, and it will all be thanks to Jimmy Garoppolo. Yes, I know this is Jacksonville we’re talking about, but hear me out. Firstly, Jimmy G is really freaking good, you guys. He performed so well in six quarters last season during Brady’s Deflategate suspension that people up here in New England actually thought that getting rid of Brady was the best course of action.
Secondly, there might be a tiny crack in the armor with this Jaguars defense. They shut down everyone and everything to start the season, but they have allowed seven passing touchdowns in the last four games. That’s not a huge number, but it shows that they can be scored upon with the right QB under center. And this weekend, Garoppolo is that guy. Start him with confidence in 2-QB leagues.
Thank you for reading this week’s quarterback matchup report on Fantrax. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question about a player not covered here? Ask in the comments below or follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there. Make sure you check back in next week as we break down quarterbacks for Week 17.