The fantasy playoffs are now four weeks away for most people. Of course, you first have to make it there, but if you have the luxury of making deals, it makes sense to position yourself to give your team the best chance possible.
Today, we’ll start by looking at the quarterbacks, their matchups, and results. Much like I would put together a weekly set of rankings, I am putting those rankings together for weeks 14 to 16, so that you can make assessments about which quarterbacks you may want to have.
This is, of course, tentative. Injuries can happen. An opposing defense may collapse due to injury and make them a much better matchup. Still, we have a half-season worth of info to try to assess which ones you might want to play.
I looked at both the quarterbacks, and the defenses in terms of points allowed to quarterback, and adjusted for opponent. Buffalo’s pass defense, for example, ranks among the league leaders in fantasy points allowed. They’ve also played the worst collection of quarterbacks, in terms of average fantasy points, and are exactly league average once you adjust for QB’s faced. Oakland, meanwhile, has given up way more points, but has also faced lots of the top quarterbacks, and are near average in points allowed after adjustment as well.
Okay, so put all that together, get a projection for each week, and make slight human judgments on players (based on comfort that it’s a good or bad matchup, how confident the QB will be good still in four weeks, etc), and here is what I have:
STARS TO TRADE/AVOID IF POSSIBLE
Which big names should you seek to maximize in a trade, because the matchups diminish their value in the playoff weeks?
I’d start with Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers. Luck’s matchups in weeks 14 and 15 aren’t particularly enticing, playing Houston and Minnesota. The Oakland matchup in week 16 is not bad, but you have to get there.
Rodgers, meanwhile, plays Seattle in week 14 and Minnesota in week 16, sandwiched around a good matchup at the Bears. The Vikings have allowed less than 240 yards and less than 1 touchdown pass per game to the four best QBs they have faced (Rodgers, Newton, Eli, Stafford). I would look elsewhere.
I know it is blasphemous to suggest trading Tom Brady, but you might want to position your backup QB spot so that you have a great matchup to make a call for week 15, when he plays Denver. The Broncos are the #1 defense to avoid, moreso than Minnesota. Carson Palmer (vs the Saints) would be a good insurance target for week 15.
QUARTERBACKS TO TARGET
Philip Rivers with matchups against a Carolina team that has been surprisingly vulnerable to top pocket passers, followed Oakland and Cleveland, has a good set of matchups.
Dak Prescott is riskier because of the Romo factor, though we suspect it’s his until he collapses. If you can find someone else for an average matchup in week 14, Prescott has two great ones (Tampa Bay and Detroit) in weeks 15 and 16.
Jameis Winston plays New Orleans twice, in both weeks 14 and 16, so you could roll with Winston and find a week 15 pairing.
In fact, here are the best QB pairs that you might be able to put together for relatively cheap (if you have one, get another in trade) to get quality top end production across matchups.
By my weekly rankings, all those pairings would give you a better, or similar, outlook than just rolling with Aaron Rodgers having to play Seattle and Minnesota over that span.