Congratulations are certainly in order if your team is still competing for a fantasy championship. Your ongoing commitment toward success began earlier this year, when you started the initial preparation for your drafts. Then, you continued the process by spending countless hours amending and improving your rosters.
Now, another week of planning awaits as you examine matchups, injuries, weather, and the other factors that will determine your starting lineups. Fortunately, this column will help you at the QB position, with the Week 15 rankings, followed by in-depth analysis of the QB1s, along with the best and worst matchups.
Top 25 Rankings
1. Andrew Luck vs. Texans
Luck narrowly missed exceeding 300 yards for the 11th time this season, when he accumulated 294 against the Browns in Week 14. In fact, he has failed to generate at least 250 yards just once all season, and that occurred back in Week 2. That has expanded his season total to 4,305 yards, which enabled him to maintain his NFL lead in that category. He has also produced multiple TDs in 11 games, after amassing two versus the Browns. That extended his total in that category to 36, tying him with Peyton Manning for the league lead. There is nothing about Houston's 28th ranked pass defense to suggest that the Texans will present any significant problems for Luck this week. He should assemble three TDs and 300+ yards against his division rival.
2. Aaron Rodgers at Bills
Rodgers has essentially run roughshod through every opposing defenses since Week 3, assembling 31 TDs, surpassing 300 yards six times, and exceeding 250 in eight of his last nine contests. As a result, he is now third among all QBs with 35 TDs, and sixth in yardage with 3,652. His output becomes even more impressive when you consider how he is maximizing his opportunities. He has launched just 416 passes, which is less than 14 other signal callers. The Bills will provide one of Rodgers' most daunting matchups this year. Buffalo ranks fifth against the pass, and just kept Manning from producing a TD in Week 14. But the Bills will not be as successful in limiting Rodgers’ output.
3. Tom Brady vs. Dolphins
He delivered yet another vintage performance in Week 14, carving up the Chargers for 317 yards, and two TDs. He has now accumulated 26 TD passes in his last nine games, while manufacturing at least two in each of them. Plus, he has exceeded 300 yards in five of his last eight contests. This week, he must contend with Miami’s third ranked pass defense. When they met in Week 1, Brady manufactured 249 yards and a TD. However, that occurred before Brady's relentless statistical surge, which began when Rob Gronkowski regained his health. He should deliver respectable numbers for his owners, but surpassing 300 yards will be difficult.
4. Ben Roethlisberger at Falcons
Entering Week 14, the disparity between Roethlisberger's numbers on the road versus his results at home had been significant, as only six of his 26 TDs were generated away from Heinz Field. Plus, his YPG of 244 was far below the 373.5 that had been constructed in Pittsburgh. However, his performance in Cincinnati last Sunday reversed the script, as he torched the Bengals for 350 yards and three TDs. The accuracy that was lacking during his Week 13 matchup with New Orleans improved significantly last Sunday, as Roethlisberger launched 39 passes with extreme precision. He should provide owners with another excellent performance this week, versus an Atlanta defense that is dead last against the pass.
5. Matthew Stafford vs. Vikings
He is now halfway through a favorable four-game stretch in which owners could realistically hope for high quality production from the same signal caller that provided disappointment far too often during the season. Fortunately, he has supplied only gratification by accumulating 701 yards and five TDs during his last two contests, including the 311 yards and three scores that he produced against Tampa Bay in Week 14. It was the first time that he has thrown three TDs in any contest this season, and two of this year’s four 300-yard performances have occurred during those same two games. He will attempt to continue that streak versus a Minnesota pass defense that allowed 254 yards and a TD to Geno Smith in Week 14. During their previous matchup in Week 6, the Vikings limited Stafford to 185 yards and one TD. But he should improve upon those numbers in this rematch.
6. Drew Brees at Bears
Owners have been anticipating the enticing matchups that Brees would experience during the fantasy playoffs, but his woeful performance in Week 14 abruptly concluded the postseason of many before it could get beyond the first contest. Halfway through the fourth quarter his paltry output – 64 yards, zero TDs and one INT – had long since evolved into an extended nightmare. Garbage time production expanded his final numbers to 235 yards with a late TD. But it was easily his lowest yardage total of the season, and just the fourth game in which he has failed to register multiple TDs. He will have an opportunity to rebound this week, when the Saints face Chicago’s 30th ranked pass defense. Although any results that he does provide will be inconsequential to many unfortunate owners.
7. Peyton Manning at Chargers
After being limited to a season low 179 yards in Week 13, Manning actually generated less yardage in Week 14 (173), after launching just 20 passes. He also failed to produce a TD, which ended a streak of 51 games in which he has manufactured at least one. Worse, he also tossed two INTs, as Buffalo's formidable defense was a factor in his substandard performance. But Denver's shift toward a run oriented approach should be the primary concern of Manning owners, as the Broncos have averaged 36 attempts in their last three contests. This week, he will lead their offense into San Diego, for a rematch with the Chargers. He amassed 286 yards and three TDs against his division rival in Week 8, but that was before C. J. Anderson and the ground game played such a significant role. Manning should assemble 200 yards and a TD in this rematch.
8. Tony Romo at Eagles
In Week 14, Romo took full advantage of a 30th ranked Chicago pass defense that became increasingly helpless as their game progressed. That enabled him to connect on 21 of his 26 attempts, while dissecting the Bears for three TDs. He has now amassed at least three scores five time this season, and has accomplished that in three of his last four games. Sunday, Romo will face a defensive unit that supplies a far greater challenge for the second time in three weeks. During his matchup against the Eagles in Week 13, he failed to generate 200 yards for just the second time all season, and he did not produce a TD for the first time this year. Expect a more favorable output in their rematch.
9. Russell Wilson vs. 49ers
Wilson does not have a receiving weapon that creates sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators and corners. And his 210 YPG average places him 22th among all current starters at QB. But his overall production has hopefully eliminated all hesitation among owners when contemplating whether to start him. In Week 14, he rewarded those who did by amassing 263 yards and two TDs, and has now assembled multiple TDs in seven different games. Plus, he continues to accrue significant yardage on the ground, as his 7.2 YPC average leads the NFL. He continues to pace all QBs in rushing by a considerable margin, and his 727 yards place him 15th overall among all players. That includes the 48 that he collected in Philadelphia, along with his fifth rushing TD of the year. This week, Wilson remains worthy of QB1 status when he faces the same San Francisco defense that he dissected for 271 total yards and a TD in Week 13.
10. Matt Ryan vs. Steelers
After averaging 316 YPG in his first five games, Ryan's production diminished considerably, with the low point taking place between Weeks 7-10 (225 YPG). But in Week 14, he supplied owners with his best performance since opening day by shredding the Packers for 375 yards and a season high four TDs. He has now exceeded 360 yards in two consecutive games, and has generated eight TDs in his last three. Ryan will return to the Georgia Dome on Sunday, where he has averaged 312 YPG, and has tossed 13 TDs. The availability of Julio Jones will greatly impact Ryan's ability to deliver a high quality performance versus the Steeler’s 23rd ranked pass defense. But if Jones is unable to go, do not immediately bail on Ryan. He will still find success connecting with Roddy White and Harry Douglas. Plus, Pittsburgh has allowed 26 TD passes, including seven in their last two contests,
11. Jay Cutler vs. Saints
Despite an enticing matchup with Dallas in Week 14, many owners utilized Cutler with high trepidation. Because a lingering fear remained that an ultimate implosion would finally occur, and endanger their chances of winning this week's playoff matchups. Fortunately, Cutler stockpiled a sizable number of fantasy points during garbage time, as he produced 350 total yards, two TDs through the air, another on the ground. He has now manufactured multiple scores in nine different contests this season, and exceeded 340 yards three times. This week, Cutler will possess his usual potential for turnovers, but should also supply owners with 250 yards and two TDs versus the Saints rank 29h ranked pass defense. Anyone who is concerned about the absence of Brandon Marshall, should be reminded that he had only surpassed 50 yards once in his last three games, and five times all season.
12. Mark Sanchez vs. Cowboys
Sanchez was presented with a sizable challenge against Seattle in Week 14, and the NFL's top ranked defense. While his performance did not degenerate into the multiple turnover meltdown that some observers and owners have been expecting, he only managed 96 passing yards against the Seahawks’ relentless unit, in what was easily his lowest total since ascending into Philadelphia's starting lineup. Sanchez did manufacture two TDs, and had now produced 10 since lining up under center in Week 9. He will face a far less daunting task this week when the Eagles meet NFC East rival Dallas for the second time in two weeks. Sanchez may not completely replicate the proficiency that he exhibited during their Week 13 matchup, but should deliver respectable numbers.
13. Eli Manning vs. Redskins
14. Philip Rivers vs. Broncos
15. Ryan Tannehill vs. Patriots
16. Alex Smith vs. Raiders
17. Kyle Orton vs. Packers
18. Andy Dalton vs. Browns
19. Joe Flacco vs. Jaguars
20. Jake Locker vs. Jets
21. Blake Bortles at Ravens
22. Teddy Bridgewater vs. Lions
23. Ryan Fitzpatrick at Colts
24. Johnny Manziel vs. Bengals
25. Derek Carr at Chiefs
Andrew Luck vs. Texans
Nobody who is reading this had any plans to bench Luck this week, since he just happens to lead the NFL in passing yardage, and is tied for first in passing TDs. Nevertheless, here are some facts to cement the belief that he is the recipient of a tremendous matchup. He is 4-1 against Houston during his career, and his excellent 12 TD/2 INT ratio during those contests has played a large role in his success against Indy's division rival. He generated 370 yards and three TDs during their Week 6 matchup in Houston, and should supply even better numbers on Sunday. The Texans rank 28th against the pass, and have surrendered 264 YPG. They have also given up 23 TDs through the air, even though they have also collected 16 INTs. Luck will navigate the Colt offense successfully, while amassing sizable yardage, and three TDs.
Drew Brees at Bears
Knowledgeable owners had eagerly awaited the cornucopia of fantasy points that his desirable schedule would provide during Weeks 14-16. But the disastrous lack of production throughout most of his Week 14 encounter with Carolina left his output far below expectations. And his late game completions could not salvage the season for many of those who had been depending on much better results. If you are among the more fortunate, who did not have you hopes torpedoed by Brees, he will have an opportunity to achieve excellent production this week. Chicago has surrendered 30 TD passes, and is yielding 29 PPG. The Bears have also allowed six signal callers to surpass 300 yards, including Geno Smith. They have been shredded for 365 yards by Brady, 319 by Rodgers, 301 by Josh McCown, and 383 by Stafford. Brees could add his name to that list, if he performs with the proficiency that we had become accustomed to.
Ben Roethlisberger at Falcons
When Roethlisberger launched three TD passes in Week 14, it was the fourth time that he accomplished that feat this season. And it was achieved versus a Cincinnati defense that had permitted just 11 TD passes all season. He has also surpassed 300 yards in seven different contests, including five of his last six. The potential is great for Roethlisberger to deliver more high quality production, as Antonio Brown remains virtually unstoppable, and Martavis Bryant has become an explosive presence with increasingly frequency. This week’s opponent certainly will struggle to contain Roethlisberger and his primary weapons. The Falcons have been affixed to the dubious ranking of 32nd in pass defense, and are permitting 288 YPG. They have allowed seven different signal callers to generate over 300 yards, including Teddy Bridgewater and Brian Hoyer. Considering that they will be operating on a short week, it is difficult to envision the Falcons suddenly presenting significant resistance to Roethlisberger on Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers at Bills
His phenomenal TD/INT ratio has been a frequent topic in this column, and deservedly so. It now stands at 35/3 after he dismantled Atlanta's 32nd ranked pass defense for 327 yards and three TDs. Since Week 4, he has accumulated at least three TDs in seven games, and has produced multiple TDs in all 10 contests. During that span, he has also been matchup proof, generating a mammoth number of fantasy points on a weekly basis. This week’s opponent will test that consistency, as Buffalo is permitting just 213 YPG. The Bills have yielded only 14 TDs all season, which is tied for the league lead. Plus, their tenacious pass rush has already registered an NFL best 48 sacks. As mentioned previously, they just stifled Manning in Week 14, Rodgers will overcome the obstacles that Buffalo will present, and produce 300 yards and multiple scores once again.
Tom Brady vs. Dolphins
Brady’s output has increased significantly since he lined up against the Dolphins in September, as he is now sixth among all QBs with 3,560 yards, and fourth with 30 TDs. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have maintained a steady presence among the league leaders in pass defense, and retain a lofty ranking of third heading into Week 15. They have not allowed any signal callers to reach 300 yards against them, and they have yielded 20 TDs through the air. This does not mean that starting Brady is a perilous decision, as he remains matchup proof. Plus, the Dolphins have given up numbers on several occasions, as Rodgers generated 264 yards and three TDs against them in Week 6, and Stafford produced 280 yards in Week 10. A final output of 275 yards and two TDs appears safe to expect.
Russell Wilson vs. 49ers
A number of this week’s most difficult matchups will involve QBs that you have no business starting during the fantasy postseason. Therefore, Wilson's return engagement with the 49ers will be included in the worst matchup list. This is not a suggestion that you should avoid starting him, as he has performed capably in recent weeks. After accumulating 311 total yards against Philadelphia in Week 14, he has now averaged 267 in his last six contests, Plus, he did have reasonable success during his Week 13 encounter with these 49ers. However, San Francisco's defensive unit remains formidable. And it would be unwise to totally dismiss them in the aftermath of their Week 14 loss to Oakland. They are third in total defense, allowing 308.5 YPG, and are fourth against the pass, permitting just 211 YPG. Plus, the intense rivalry between these two teams should elevate their level of play even further. Wilson should ultimately deliver 250 total yards and a TD. But the 49ers will not make it easy for him.