If your team is competing for a fantasy championship this week, then you are to be congratulated for your diligence. It has helped your roster reach the threshold of accomplishing every owner’s ultimate goal. The extensive research and planning that you have devoted toward building and managing your lineups, has helped your team progress through nearly an entire season. And you now stand on the verge of securing a championship. While you should possess an enormous degree of satisfaction regarding your success, one last week of lineup management looms. However, these Week 16 rankings and matchups will help you in determining who to select as your starter at the quarterback position. Good luck to everyone this week. And remember to enjoy the experience.
Top 25 Rankings
1. Russell Wilson vs. Rams
After passing for multiple touchdowns just once in his first nine games, Wilson has now accomplished it in each of his last five. His season total has also skyrocketed from 10 to 29, and he has thrown for a total of 19 scores during that sequence. In the process of resuscitating his own season, he has produced a sizable number of fantasy points that have ignited late season success for many of his owners. In Week 15, Wilson continued his torrid pace by shredding Cleveland's pass defense for three touchdowns. He also amassed 249 yards versus the Browns, and has averaged 284 YPG since Week 11, after averaging just 235 YPG in Weeks 1-10. Wilson should maintain his timely momentum this week versus a St. Louis defense that has now dropped to just 21st versus the pass.
2. Cam Newton at Falcons
In his first seven games, Newton adeptly delivered big plays when the Panthers needed them, and preserved his fantasy value by averaging 41 YPG, and producing four touchdowns as a rusher. However, his resume as a passer was unappealing, as he only manufactured nine touchdowns, and tossed seven interceptions. But since Week 8, he has assembled an exceptional 24:3 TD/INT ratio, and has thrown a whopping 18 touchdowns in his last five games. That includes the three that he manufactured in his Week 15 encounter with the Giants, during which he also rushed for 100 yards. This week he will face the same overmatched Atlanta defense that he burned for 265 yards and three first half touchdowns before being pulled from the one-sided encounter. The only potential barrier that would prohibit him from replicating that degree of success, would be a decision by Ron Rivera to rest Newton once the Panthers establish an insurmountable lead.
3. Tom Brady at Jets
You already know how consistently Brady has dissected opposing defenses this season. Which was enabled him to accumulate exceptional numbers, and boost the championship possibilities for many of his owners. And there is no reason to expect any decline in production during Brady's matchup this week. Brady has now generated multiple touchdowns in 13 of his 14 games this season, after producing two against Tennessee in Week 15. That also increased his league leading season total to 35 for the season. Brady also amassed 267 yards against the Titans, which expanded his NFL best season total to 4,405. He has delivered high quality production essentially without fail throughout the season, and that should continue against a Jet defense that he shredded for 355 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7.
4. Ben Roethlisberger at Ravens
Roethlisberger owners who chose to utilize him during his Week 15 matchup with Denver’s top ranked pass defense, were rewarded with an exceptional performance that exceeded expectations. He generated 380 yards and three touchdowns against a Denver unit that entered the contest allowing just 188 yards, and had only yielded 13 touchdowns all season. It was his second highest yardage total of the season, and the fifth time that he has surpassed 350 yards. It was also the fourth game in which he has manufactured at least three touchdowns. Any owners who are still playing for a championship, can anticipate a significant number of fantasy points again this week. As the Raven pass defense will have no remedy for the damage that Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown will inflict.
5. Drew Brees vs. Jaguars
His 10th year as a Saint has unfolded with a cluster of hurdles for the 15-year veteran to contend with. He has battled back from an early-season shoulder problem, the loss of Jimmy Graham, injuries to his remaining receiving options, and the extra pressure of having to counteract the deficiencies of an extremely vulnerable Saints defense. In Week 15, he also was forced to fight his way through a foot injury, and overcame an extremely slow start, before ultimately generating 341 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions. It was the eighth time that he has thrown for at least 300 yards this season, and also his eighth game with multiple touchdowns. It was also the fourth time since Week 8 that he has amassed three scores in a game. If he can avoid being sidelined by the foot issue, he should deliver another high quality performance this week. Jacksonville’s pass defense has already allowed 25 touchdowns.
6. Carson Palmer vs. Packers
While the recent production of Newton and Wilson has propelled their overall numbers toward the league lead in season long categories, the 35-year old Palmer has been the one quarterback who has essentially matched Brady's productivity and consistency throughout the entire season. He has exceeded 270 yards in 12 of his 14 games, including Week 15, when he amassed 274 in Philadelphia. He has also generated multiple touchdowns 10 times, even though he was limited to one against the Eagles. His output allowed him to remain third in both yardage (4,277) and touchdowns (32). Navigating through the Packer’s 11th ranked pass defense can be problematic, but Palmer has been thoroughly matchup proof this season. That should eliminate any hesitation in cemented him into your starting lineup again this week.
7. Blake Bortles vs. Saints
Bortles has been the recipient of a staggeringly favorable schedule in recent weeks, and the production that he has generated during those contests is helping many of his owners secure fantasy championships. In Week 15, he generated 297 yards and a touchdown through the air, which was supplemented with 44 yards and an additional score on the ground. He did throw his 14th interception of the season, which is the league’s third highest total. However, he has also produced a touchdown in all 14 games this season, and has scored a rushing touchdown in two straight contests. Plus, his 31 touchdown passes place him fifth overall. This week, he should accumulate a healthy number of fantasy points versus the frequently overmatched pass defense of New Orleans.
8. Aaron Rodgers at Cardinals
Even with the inadequacies of Green Bay's offense this season, and the rare glimpses of mortality that we have occasionally seen in Rodgers, he is still seventh among all signal callers with 29 touchdowns. His ability to remain among the league leaders in that category has helped counteract his moderate yardage totals, which have been lower than expected. He is just 25th with a 241 YPG average for the season, and is averaging only 222 YPG in his last five games. He has also failed to exceed 218 yards in four of those contests. That becomes an even larger concern entering this week’s matchup with Arizona’s talented defensive unit. Rodgers will have difficulty exceeding 225 yards, and will struggle to produce multiple scores.
9. Matthew Stafford vs. 49ers
Stafford produced multiple touchdowns for the ninth times this season, when he burned the Saints for three quick scores in Week 15. Since Week 6, he has built a 21:5 TD/INT ratio, including a stellar 12:1 ratio in his last four games. He has also built a 13:1 ratio in his last six home games, and has averaged an even 300 YPG in those contests. He should deliver similar results again this week, when he lines up against San Francisco’s 26th ranked pass defense. The 49ers have surrendered 19 touchdowns, with 13 of those being yielded on the road. Their vulnerabilities away from home, will blend perfectly with Stafford’s success at Ford Field, to help Stafford deliver an excellent outing for his owners.
10. Kirk Cousins at Eagles
Cousins does not possess the brand name of most other viable options in Week 16, but the 16:2 TD/INT ratio that he has constructed at home should not be dismissed. Not should his 16:3 ratio in all contests since Week 7, regardless of the venue. That includes the four scores that he amassed during his Week 15 matchup with Buffalo. He also generated 315 yards against the Bills, which was his second consecutive game with at least 300. The momentum that Cousins and the Washington offense has established should be sustainable this week against a Philadelphia defense that allows the third most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. If you are uneasy about trusting your normal starter this week, you can do worse than Cousins as your alternative.
11. Derek Carr vs. Chargers
The second year signal caller has made massive strides in multiple facets of his game this season, and his numbers have improved significantly as a result. The recent emergence of Seth Roberts and Clive Walford to supplement primary options Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, has also enhanced his ability to generate favorable numbers. All of which has enabled Carr to build a respectable 30:11 TD/INT ratio, and establish himself as a potential low end QB1 during the majority of his matchups. That certainly applies this week, when Carr and the Raider offense face division rival San Diego. Carr shredded the Chargers for three scores and 289 yards during their Week 7 matchup in San Diego, and should exceed those numbers this week. If your league deducts points for interceptions, the one concern would be Carr’s five picks during Oakland’s last two home games.
12. Tyrod Taylor vs. Cowboys
The script for Taylor's recent performances has been extremely similar since Week 12. He connects on several downfield throws to Sammy Watkins, avoids interceptions, and collects rushing yards to supplement the respectable number of passing yards. That scenario continued in Week 15, as he combined with Watkins for two more scores, and 111 of the 235 yards that he accumulated against Washington. It was the third time in the last four games that Taylor has assembled multiple touchdowns through the air, and he has located Watkins for six scores during that span. Taylor also rushed for a season high 79 yards, and supplied owners with sufficient reason to utilize him as a low end QB1 this week. He will face a Cowboy defense that can be stingy, but has become overburdened due to the ineptness of the Dallas offense.
13. Philip Rivers at Raiders
14. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Patriots
15. Alex Smith vs. Browns
16. Teddy Bridgewater vs. Giants
17. Eli Manning at Vikings
18. Sam Bradford vs. Redskins
19. Jameis Winston at Bears
20. Jay Cutler at Buccaneers
21. Matt Ryan vs. Panthers
22. Ryan Tannehill vs. Colts
23. Jimmy Cluasen vs. Steelers
24. Brock Osweiler vs. Bengals
25. Zach Mettenberger vs. Texans
Blake Bortles vs. Saints
Frequent readers of this column have grown accustomed to seeing the Saints included in this section, and there is no reason for that pattern to be altered. They currently rank 30th against the pass, and have surrendered a league worst 39 touchdowns through the air. That is a whopping eight more than the second worst pass defense. This unit has yielded multiple touchdowns to 11 different quarterbacks, and have been shredded for at least four scores by Eli Manning, Newton, Mariota, and Cousins. They have also allowed over 300 yards to eight signal callers, including five of the past eight that they have faced. Plus, only one team has intercepted less passes than the six that have been collected by New Orleans. The Saints will also be working on a short week, and Bortles should have no difficulty amassing impressive numbers against this highly deficient unit.
Ben Roethlisberger at Ravens
Roethlisberger just became the first quarterback to reach 300 yards against Denver, and will now benefit from facing a far more vulnerable defensive unit. Baltimore has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (23.5 PPG) this season, and has surrendered 28 touchdowns through the air, which is the league’s sixth highest total. Eight signal callers have registered multiple scores against the Ravens this season, with Wilson generating five in Week 14. The Ravens are also dead last with just four interceptions, and will not be able to keep Roethlisberger from locating Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and his secondary weapons continually in this matchup. Expect over 300 yards and three scores from Roethlisberger at a time when his owners can desperately use that level of output.
Kirk Cousins at Eagles
While his numbers have been better at home than they have on the road, that does not mean that Cousins should be avoided when the Redskins venture away from Fed Ex Field. He has generated over 300 yards in five of his last eight contests, and has also rushed for three of his five rushing touchdowns since Week 12. The Eagles now rank just 24th in pass defense, and have allowed 30 touchdowns through the air. Only the Saints and Dolphins have surrendered more. They have also yielded multiple touchdowns in eight contests, and have allowed eight quarterbacks to register at least 270 yards. The Eagles are also ranked 28th in scoring defense, and are permitting 26 PPG. Cousins and the Washington offense are fully capable of generating yardage and touchdowns against this unit, and will accomplish that this week.
Aaron Rodgers at Cardinals
Rodgers owners have already been anticipating a better overall season that what has occurred. And those who have managed to navigate their rosters into league Championship games will now find themselves dealing with one last week of less than stellar production during this matchup. The Cardinals have generated 29 takeaways, which is second only to Carolina. Their 18 interceptions are also the NFL’s fourth highest total. Arizona has also allowed only four quarterbacks to generate multiple touchdowns this season. That should create uneasiness for Rodgers owners, as his production has been largely dependent on his scoring connections, to overcome his less than desirable yardage totals. While Tyrann Mathieu’s absence is certainly a setback, Arizona will still provide a massive challenge for Rodgers. Owners should not expect his numbers to be among the scoring leaders at quarterback during this critical week.
Eli Manning at Vikings
This would have been a daunting matchup for Manning even if Odell Beckham Jr. had been in the Giants’ lineup. But without his lone explosive weapon, it will be extremely difficult for Manning to produce even moderate numbers. He will now be forced to rely on Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris and Will Tye as he attempts to attack a Minnesota defense that has remained sturdy despite the loss of several key starters. Plus, the Vikings have no reason to respect New York’s running game. The Giants rank just 24th in rushing, and have only scored four times on the ground all season. Minnesota ranks seventh against the pass, and is limiting opposing quarterbacks to 230 YPG. Palmer and Carr are the only signal callers to accumulate 300 yards against the Vikings, and only Wilson has thrown more than two touchdowns against this unit. Owners should find an alternative this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Patriots
During a week in which the league's most formidable pass defenses - Denver, Seattle, Carolina, Houston and (more recently) Kansas City - are all engaged with quarterbacks that you should not consider starting, the focus will now shift to Fitzpatrick’s matchup against New England’s eighth ranked unit. He has recently emerged as a low end QB1 option, in great part due to the collective presence of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. They have garnered 21 of Fitzpatrick’s 26 touchdown passes, although Bill Belichick and his staff will concoct a plan to make continuing that level of success exceedingly difficult this week. The Patriots are also capable of disrupting Fitzpatrick’s comfort level, as they are tied with Denver for the league lead with 47 sacks, and have also generated 20 turnovers. They will not permit fantasy points easily, as they rank sixth in scoring defense, and have surrendered only 19 touchdowns through the air. This is not a recommendation to bench Fitzpatrick. Just do not anticipate one of his most productive outings.