As we inched ever closer to the fantasy playoffs, the leaders in yardage and TDs for Week 12, Drew Brees topped the group of seven QBs that surpassed 300 yards and was the only signal caller to exceed 400. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning's four TDs tied him with Tony Romo for the most among all QBs.
Now we move to Week 13, which contains the final regular season matchups in some fantasy leagues, and represents another installment before playoff pairings are established in others. Hopefully, your team will be participating in the postseason. But regardless of your record, and even if you are simply attempting to create the best possible lineup for the sake of pride and the integrity of your league, the information in this week’s rankings will assist you. It also contains detailed analysis of the QB1s, followed by this week’s best and worst matchups.
Top 25 Rankings
1. Andrew Luck vs. Redskins
In two encounters with Jacksonville this season, Luck has generated 623 yards and five TDs, which includes the 253 yards and lone score that he amassed in Week 12. His output was boosted significantly by a 73-yard scoring connection with the dynamic T. Y. Hilton in the third quarter, as Jacksonville provided more resistance than was originally expected. In Luck’s first game without Ahmad Bradshaw, he attempted 32 throws, which was below the 43 that he averaged heading into the contest. But he remains the league leader in passing yards (3,641) and is third with 29 TDs. This week's matchup with Washington will not derail his season-long momentum, as the Redskin pass defense has already surrendered 21 TDs.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. Patriots
From Week 4- Week 11, Rodgers had averaged 293 YPG, and thrown 23 TDs. The only game in which he failed to generate at least 255 yards during that span occurred in Week 5, when Minnesota limited him to 156. He did amass three TDs in that contest, but his diminished production against the Vikings during their Week 12 rematch becomes more plausible when reviewing both of their 2014 matchups. Which is certainly something that Bill Belichick and staff will do extensively this week. New England has the personnel to create matchup nightmares, but Rodgers’ consistently high production throughout the season should not be dismissed. Nor should his insane ratio of 30 TDs/3 INTs.
3. Tom Brady at Packers
The Lions entered Week 12 as the NFL's top ranked defense, allowing just 290 YPG. They were also permitting the fewest points (15.6 PPG), and were fifth versus the pass (222 YPG). However, New England's offensive strategy contained a heavy emphasis on their passing attack, and Brady dissected the normally stout Detroit defense for a whopping 349 yards and two TDs. He has now generated at least 330 yards in four of his last six contests, and has manufactured 20 TDs during that span. He will face a second consecutive NFC North defense this week, when the Patriots travel to Green Bay. Although the primary concern for his owners could be Brady's time spent on the sidelines while Rodgers and the Packer offense remain on the field.
4. Peyton Manning at Chiefs
In the past two weeks Manning has been confronted with injuries to critical components within his offense, and a pair of opponents that were capable of delivering sustained pressure. While his Week 12 encounter with Miami’s second ranked pass defense provided the latest test in this sequence of difficult matchups, Manning rebounded sizably from his 1 TD/2 INT performance in Week 11, by generating four TDs against the Dolphins. He now leads the NFL with 34 TDs passes for the season, and is second among all QBs with 3,558 yards. Another difficult encounter awaits on Sunday, as Manning will line up against Kansas City’s top ranked pass defense.
5. Drew Brees at Steelers
Heading into Week 10, Brees owners could look forward to a stretch of five home games in seven weeks, where his career record, TD/INT ratio, completion percentage, YPA average, QBR and numbers in nearly every other statistical category are better than they are on the road. His critical interceptions were turning points in two of the three losses that occurred during that span, yet his output during those games still benefited his owners. Particularly in Week 12, when he generated a season high 420 yards, and three TDs. It was the third time that he has produced three scores, and all have taken place in his last five contests. Another productive outing should result from this week's matchup against a Pittsburgh pass defense that is yielding 242 YPG.
6. Tony Romo vs. Eagles
Romo amassed a season best four TDs in Week 12, which was the third time in four games that he has manufactured at least three. He has also thrown at least two TDs in seven of his last eight contests, and this week’s favorable matchup provides an opportunity to accomplish that once again. Romo will be facing another division rival on a short week, and even with their continued reliance on the NFL's second best rushing offense, it will behoove the Cowboys to attack Philadelphia's 30th ranked pass defense, which has already been torched for 24 TDs. Romo will have to contend with the NFL's second best pass rush (38 sacks), but should still deliver excellent results.
7. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Saints
Roethlisberger entered his bye week with the NFL's third most passing yards (3,270), which were accumulated on the strength of five games with 300+. He was also fourth among all QBs with 24 TDs, enabling him to join a prestigious group of signal callers in the top five - Rodgers, Luck, Manning and Brady. He also has an excellent chance of surpassing his current season high - 32 - and should collect at least two more during this week's appealing matchup. The New Orleans defense hardly resembles the unit that ranked second against the pass in 2013, and have tumbled to 24th in that category.
8. Matthew Stafford vs. Bears
If Stafford owners could somehow have known that their QB would enter Week 13 trailing 17 other QBs with a mere 13 TD passes, then they would never have used their valuable early round pick on him during their drafts. He has yet to exceed two TDs in any contest this season, and his 10 INTs make his numbers even more unattractive. However, this week’s encounter with Chicago’s 29th ranked pass defense should jump start a prosperous sequence for Stafford owners. He will face the burnable Bears twice within the next four games, with matchups versus the Buccaneers and Vikings sandwiched in between.
9. Mark Sanchez at Cowboys
He has passed for over 300 yards in all three of his starts as an Eagle, after he generated 307 against Tennessee in Week 12. He also connected for one score, although it was the first time since he ascended into the lineup that he has not produced multiple TDs. Despite the potency of Philadelphia's fourth ranked passing attack, achieving a fourth consecutive 300-yard performance is not a given versus a 19th ranked Dallas pass defense that permits 248 YPG. However, the Cowboys will have an extremely short turnaround after playing on Sunday Night.
10. Ryan Tannehill at Jets
The third-year signal caller continues to establish himself as a legitimate, albeit low end QB1, after producing three TDs against the Broncos in Week 12. It was his sixth multiple TD performance in the last nine games. That expanded his season total to 20, which places him 10th among all QBs. He is also 10th in yardage (2,582), and should continue his recent success as the result of this week’s excellent matchup. The Jets have surrendered a league worst 25+ TDs through the air, and have only produced three INTs. Expect 250 yards and another multiple TD performance from Tannehill on Sunday.
11. Matt Ryan vs. Cardinals
After throwing for 448 yards in Atlanta's season opener, averaging 310 YPG and producing 10 TDs from Weeks 1-4, Ryan’s output declined significantly. The low point occurred between Weeks 7-10, when he averaged 225 YPG. But after accumulating 273 yards in Week 12 against Cleveland, he has now amassed 268+ in his last two games. He also generated multiple TDs for just the second time since Week 4, by tossing two versus the Browns. Arizona ranked either dead last or adjacent to that dubious distinction slot throughout most of the season although this unit has become sturdier in recent weeks. Still, this matchup should enable Ryan to produce 250 yards and two TDs on Sunday.
12. Jay Cutler at Lions
While Stafford's exceptional matchup is discussed at length in this column, there is every reason to believe that his NFC North counterpart will endure a much more challenging experience. The Lion defense experienced their worst outing of the season against the Patriots in Week 12, and should be extremely motivated to become the same imposing that they had been in previous weeks. This does not bode well for Cutler, who managed a season low 130 yards and one TD in Week 12, versus what had been the NFL’s 30th ranked pass defense. Any owners who feel compelled to start him due to a dearth of better options, should temper any lofty expectations.
13. Eli Manning at Giants
14. Andy Dalton at Buccaneers
15. Russell Wilson at 49ers
16. Zach Mettenberger at Texans
17. Colin Kaepernick vs. Seahawks
18. Philip Rivers at Ravens
19. Brian Hoyer at Bills
20. Joe Flacco vs. Chargers
21. Cam Newton at Vikings
22. Kyle Orton vs. Browns
23. Josh McCown vs. Bengals
24. Alex Smith vs. Broncos
25. Drew Stanton at Falcons
Andrew Luck vs. Redskins
During a week in which a cluster of the most enticing matchups belong to QBs that cannot even be recommended to owners in deeper leagues, Luck's encounter with an inconsistent Redskin defense is noteworthy. Washington has supplied several respectable performances against difficult opponents, including their Week 12 versus the 49ers. However, their 2014 resume it rampant with disappointing efforts. As a result, they have slid to 20th in points allowed, and are now surrendering 25 PPG. They have also permitted 21 TDs, yet have only collected four INTs. That ties them for the NFL's lowest total / is the NFL’s second lowest total, and their inability to generate big plays becomes even more problematic considering their penchant for allowing them. Worse, in their last three contests, DC Jim Haslett's unit has yielded 256 yards to Kaepernick 288 yards to McCown, and 268 yards to Teddy Bridgewater. All of which provides abundant evidence that Luck will continue his season long roll.
Matthew Stafford vs. Bears
Stafford’s Week 12 matchup with New England did little to alleviate concerns regarding his production, as he failed to generate a TD pass for the second consecutive week. He has not delivered a three TD performance since Week 4, and he has only surpassed 300 yards once since opening day. But better days are ahead, and will commence this week. As an enticing matchup with Chicago is just the first installment of an appealing four week schedule that gives Stafford a chance to lead his owners to fantasy championships. The Bears have already been torched for 25 TDs through the air, and they sandwiched their bye with a virtual rewrite of the manual on how to achieve complete vulnerability while being shredded for 11 TDs in just six quarters by Rodgers and Brady during their Week 9 and 10 matchups. Not only are their defensive backs incapable of eradicating Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate from Detroit’s attack, but Stafford’s most dangerous weapons should overrun the Bear secondary, and help him (finally) deliver excellent results.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Saints
Roethlisberger should able accrue excellent numbers this week against a New Orleans pass defense that has degenerated considerably, and exhibits their vulnerability on a regular basis. The Saints are now yielding 253 YPG, have permitted three QBs to exceed 300 yards, and have yielded three TDs to a trio of signal callers. They have also sunk to 30th in permitting third down conversions 45.7% after allowing just 34.7% last season. They will be traveling on a short week, while the well-rested Roethlisberger and his Steeler teammates will be primed to achieve significant production. And that should easily occur, as New Orleans cannot matchup with Roethlisberger’s trio of explosive wideouts led by Antonio Brown.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Patriots
Opposing defenses have seldom been successful in disrupting Rodgers this season. He has registered at least three scores in seven different contests, and has manufactured multiple TDs in nine games of his 11 games. He has also exceeded 300 yards five times, while surpassing 250 yards in seven contests. Plus, these numbers have been attained without any effort to pad his stats late in games like several other prominent signal callers. But this week's matchup will be highly problematic, as the Patriots have the personnel to create matchup nightmares for Rodgers and his primary weapons. They have also collected 25 sacks, and have garnered 12 INTs. New England has also allowed just two QBs to pass for 300 yards all season. However, that was accomplished by Manning and Luck, which should instill confidence in Rodgers’ owners that he too can attain that result.
Peyton Manning at Chiefs
While Manning was continuing to stockpile TD passes, he had also had thrown two INTs in three consecutive contests prior to his Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins. But not only did he avoid generating a turnover against Miami, but he tossed four TDs versus a unit that had only allowed 14 all season. After being forced to deal with formidable defenses in consecutive weeks, Manning will have yet another imposing unit on Sunday. The Chiefs possess the NFL’s stingiest pass defense, and are yielding just 199 YPG. They have also permitted just 17.7 PPG, and have generated the league’s fourth highest sack total (31). Kansas City did surrender 242 yards and three TDs to Manning and a full complement of receiving weapons when they met in Week 2. But that should give KC added resolve. They should also be extremely focused on delivering an excellent performance after 10 days of contemplation about their loss to the Raiders. And, if that isn't enough motivation, they will also be inspired to perform well to honor their teammate Eric Berry.
Russell Wilson at 49ers
Wilson's frequently underwhelming production has placed him perilously close to inclusion with untrustworthy duel threat QBs Kaepernick and Newton as a signal caller that should be avoided during most matchups. His 203 YPG average would have solidified his status on the wrong side of that ledger if not for his ability to manufacture yardage and TDs on the ground. But this week in particular, it is recommended that owners search elsewhere for their starter. Wilson has managed a grand total of six TD passes in six matchups with the 49ers, and his paltry 1 TD/ 2 INT ratio in two encounters in San Francisco creates additional cause for concern. It would be unwise to expect better results in this contest, as the Niners currently rank an impressive second in total defense (300 YPG), and are also second against the pass (207 YPG). They have also pilfered a league best 16 INTs, and attempting to overcome this unit will be an arduous task for Wilson.