Each week we analyze the match ups and provide our take on which Quarterbacks you should start and which should be sitting on your fantasy pine. We take several variables into account including matchups, injuries, potential weather problems, arrests, baby mama trouble, etc.
Numerous injuries could have fantasy owners scrambling to the waiver wire. Big Ben gutted his way through a high ankle sprain but is less than 50/50 to play this week against St Luis (a Charlie Batch start would be dramatic downgrade for Steelers passing game). Kevin Kolb (concussion) and Sam Bradford (ankle) are major question marks but if you were relying on them your fantasy season likely ended months ago. Rookie Jake Locker could garner a start after an impressive performance in relief of an injured Matt Hasselbeck (calf) but the Titans appear to favor a higher draft pick over a playoff berth and are expected to start the one foot in the grave brother of Tim Hasselbeck. Those looking for an injury replacement should take a look at our Week 16 Waiver Wire Recommendations.
In this article we go under the premise that you are starting your studs unless they face elite pass defenses. Eli Manning will look to rebound from his week 15 three INT sticker against Revis Island and is just a borderline QB1. Joe Flacco is not an advisable option could against the Brown’s #1 ranked pass defense.
As refs continue to throw flags when a DB blows a kiss to an opposing WR - the trend continues that this is a passing league. There are eight passing games averaging more than 270 YPG including New England, New Orleans, Green Bay, San Diego, Carolina, NY Giants, Dallas, and Pittsburgh.
The following defenses have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs (more than 22 FPG): New England, Minnesota, Denver, Green Bay, Oakland and Buffalo.
On the flip side, the top defenses at defending the pass in 2011 (allow less than 17 FPG) are Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and the NY Jets.
UPGRADE: Matt Ryan (@New Orleans) – Matty Ice has been on fire in the 2nd half of the season and has nearly reached career highs in yardage and TDs with still two games remaining on the schedule. The first overall pick in the 2008 draft is averaging 264 YPG with 26 TDs and 12 INTs and should produce solid QB1 numbers on Monday night against a Saints pass defense that ranks 28th against the pass (256 YPG). With the dynamic duo of Sharod White and Julio Jones back to full strength the Falcons passing game should be firing on all cylinders in a game that Vegas has as the highest over/under of the week (52 points). In the week 10 meeting in the Georgia Dome, Ryan tossed for 351 yards with two TDs and one INT – a similar line is well within reach in a favorable matchup inside the SuperDome.
Plus Matchups: Cam Newton (vs. Tampa Bay) - Bucs 26th ranked pass defense (248 YPG) has allowed 25 passing TDs. Mark Sanchez (vs NY Giants) - G-Man injury riddled secondary ranks 29th against the pass (258 YPG) and have allowed 25 passing TDs.
DOWNGRADE: Joe Flacco (vs Cleveland) – The 4th year QB from Delaware has had an up and down season and might have to show improvement if he expects to get an extension once his rookie contract expires after next season.
Flacco is averaging 239 YPG with 17 TDs and 11 INTs and the Ravens would be wise to lean heavily on Ray Rice this week against a Browns defense that ranks 31st against the run. In the week 13 meeting with Cleveland, the Ravens signal caller tossed for only 158 yards and was held without a TD pass. With shutdown CB Joe Haden likely shadowing WR Anquan Boldin - Flacco should remain on fantasy benches unless you are in a 20 team league.
Not so Fast: Eli Manning (@ NY Jets) - Jets 7th ranked pass defense has allowed just 13 TDs through the air (16 INTs). Carson Palmer (@ Kansas City) - Chiefs 9th ranked pass defense (210 YPG) has been solid and made A-rod look pedestrian in week 15.
Over nine starts this season, the 27-year-old Oregon St Beaver alum is averaging a pedestrian 189 YPG with 12 TDs and 6 INTs. However with Brandon Marshall , Davone Bess, and Reggie Bush at his disposal – Moore could be a deep league option this week in the best possible matchup for a QB. In the week 1 meeting with the Patriots, Chad Henne passed for 416 yards and two TDs. Moore could very well approach 300 yards in a game that the Dolphins will likely be trailing from the opening kickoff.
Sleeper Potential: Kyle Orton (vs Oakland) – Raiders 23rd ranked pass defense has allowed 27 passing TDs (2nd most in NFL). Rex Grossman (vs Minnesota) –Vikings 30th ranked pass defense (261 YPG) has allowed a league high 31 passing TDs. Andy Dalton (vs Arizona) – Cardinals 22nd ranked pass defense is susceptible to the big play. Make sure that AJ Green (shoulder) is playing before considering Dalton.