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Week 17 lineup calls: Quarterbacks
It’s a bittersweet clacking of the keyboard for me this week.
The dust is starting to settle on the championship glory or agony experienced by most fantasy owners in Week 16. For the remaining head-to-head leagues and “Total Points” leagues, it’s the final countdown.
I’m always excited to hear of leagues finding a way to incorporate the final week of the regular season into their leagues, though I certainly understand the myriad reasons why most leagues choose to forego its inclusion. The early list of injuries and speculation about which starters may or may not suit up for their respective finales is enough to drive you mad.
(Other than Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees)
Matt Schaub vs. Jacksonville
Schaub and the Texans aren’t winning games, but the big early deficits have led to strong fantasy performances. He’s topped 300 passing yards in four consecutive games with eight touchdown passes and six turnovers. He has the chance to help eliminate the Jaguars from the playoffs, and I suspect that we see another top-tier fantasy performance in the finale. Schaub passed for 314 yards with two touchdowns and 14 rushing yards in the first meeting between these teams. He’ll produce, even if top receiver Andre Johnson is held out again.
Matt Ryan vs. Carolina
As expected, the Falcons’ offense struggled against the Saints in the hard-fought Week 16 matchup. Ryan was limited to 148 passing yards and a touchdown, though he did add 26 rushing yards. I expect a much better offering this week against the Panthers as the Falcons fight to preserve home-field advantage following the Vikings’ stunning win over the Eagles. Ryan passed for 227 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the first meeting with the Panthers. The running game will be far more effective in this game, giving Ryan ample opportunities to make plays downfield.
Ben Roethlisberger at Cleveland
Roethlisberger posted his first 300-yard game since Week 10 in the Steelers’ Week 16 win over Carolina, although he has passed for at least 246 yards in seven consecutive games. He has not passed for multiple touchdowns since Week 11, but this is a chance to close out the AFC North crown against the Cleveland pass defense. Roethlisberger passed for 257 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against the Browns in Week 6, his first game of the 2010 season.
Shaun Hill vs. Minnesota
Hill has been a strong replacement in place of Matthew Stafford for the Lions and for fantasy owners this season. He’s averaged 281 passing yards in the eight games that he’s completed with five multi-touchdown performances. The Vikings allow 1.6 passing touchdowns and 207.8 passing yards per game. Hill passed for 237 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Vikings in Week 3.
Eli Manning at Washington
Manning has been maddening this season. He’s racked up a total of 30 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the NFL, while throwing 24 interceptions. In fact, he’s thrown at least one interception in 11 games this season (has eight multi-interception games, including the four-interception debacle of Week 16) to offset his total of 11 multi-touchdown games to some degree. He’s averaged 250.6 passing yards per game.
Manning faces the 31st-ranked Washington pass defense that allows 262.9 passing yards and 1.5 passing touchdowns per game. He was a virtual bystander in Week 13 against Washington as the running attack went wild. Look for him to be more involved in this battle for the playoffs against a divisional foe.
Sam Bradford at Seattle
Bradford ended a three-week scoring drought with a touchdown pass to Laurent Robinson in Sunday’s win over the 49ers (he had scored a rushing touchdown in Week 14). He’s averaged 223.8 passing yards per game this season. Bradford passed for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the first meeting with Seattle. His receiving corps is healthier than it has been this season, and Steven Jackson remains a battering ram.
Kerry Collins at Indianapolis
Collins has an opportunity to throw a wrinkle into the playoff race in the AFC South this week against the Colts. He led a frenzied comeback that fell short in Week 14, passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns in the narrow loss. He’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in three consecutive games while averaging 238.7 passing yards per game. Throw it up to Kenny Britt!
Joe Flacco vs. Cincinnati
Flacco hasn’t been putting up huge passing numbers, but he’s been efficient with his opportunities. He’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in three consecutive games while averaging 170 passing yards per game. The Ravens can still lay claim to the AFC North title with a victory and Pittsburgh loss. As such, I’m anticipating a much stronger effort than we witnessed in Week 2 when he was intercepted four times by the Bengals (154 passing yards and a touchdown). With the running game back at the forefront of the offensive attack of late, Flacco won’t load up a huge yardage total. He will, however, see several red zone opportunities.
Jason Campbell at Kansas City
Campbell posted a solid, albeit unspectacular, effort against the Colts with a 231-yard, one-touchdown performance. He’s averaged 264.3 passing yards with four touchdowns and two turnovers in the past three weeks. Kansas City may rest a number of starters in this game, and the Raiders still have motivation to play this out full-tilt. They can sweep the division and finish the year at .500.
Carson Palmer at Baltimore
Palmer looked more comfortable under center this past week, and the results speak for themselves. He torched the San Diego pass defense for four touchdown passes to his youthful trio of Jerome Simpson, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. Palmer isn’t a huge play this week, but he does represent a solid plug-in option for those holding one of the many question marks for Week 17. He passed for 167 yards with one sack in his win over the Ravens in Week 2. The Ravens rank 15th against the pass at 219.6 passing yards and 1.4 passing touchdowns allowed per game.
Stephen McGee at Philadelphia
McGee nearly led the Cowboys to a come-from-behind victory against the Cardinals on Saturday night. He looked more comfortable in the pocket than could have been expected. McGee completed 11-of-17 attempts for 111 yards with a touchdown pass to Miles Austin and 19 rushing yards. McGee represents a nice deep flier play this weekend against the Eagles, a defense that may rest some of its starters and already struggled against the pass (223.7 passing yards and two touchdowns allowed per game).
Trent Edwards at Houston
Edwards stands in for the injured David Garrard in the glorious spot against the Texans. The former Buffalo starter has appeared in three games this season (one for the Jaguars). He’s obviously a longshot option, but this Houston defense has surrendered 277.1 passing yards and 2.1 passing touchdowns per game.
Tim Tebow vs. San Diego
Tebow produced a strong effort in Week 15 against the Texans, passing for 308 yards with a touchdown while running for 27 yards and a score. This isn’t an obvious play, but his ability to tuck the ball and run combined with the Chargers’ lack of motivation (they were eliminated from the playoffs this past week) make him an intriguing spot start option. San Diego has allowed 177 passing yards and 1.1 passing touchdowns per game.
Kevin Kolb vs. Dallas
Michael Vick’s availability for Sunday is in question after the fantasy superhero sustained a foot injury and absorbed several big hits against the Vikings on Tuesday night. Kolb might just guide your squad to a fantasy title after all. The Cowboys have allowed 251.4 passing yards and 2.1 passing touchdowns per game.
Joe Webb at Detroit
Webb performed beautifully in leading the Vikings to a huge upset over the Eagles in his first career start. Webb completed 17-of-26 pass attempts for 195 yards, adding 31 rushing yards and a touchdown. He’s on the board for a spot play this week against the Detroit secondary this week. Webb looked comfortable passing on Tuesday night and can obviously tuck the ball and run.
Josh Freeman at New Orleans
Freeman posted one of the top games of the year, a five-touchdown performance against the putrid Seattle pass defense. It was Freeman’s first multi-touchdown game since Week 11. He faces a much stiffer test this week against the Saints, a defense that has surrendered only 11 passing touchdowns this season (191.3 passing yards per game). Freeman passed for 219 yards with a touchdown in the first meeting with the Saints, a 31-6 defeat.
Rex Grossman vs. New York Giants
Grossman performed much more evenly in his second start for the Redskins, producing 182 yards with one touchdown and one interception in Washington’s win over Jacksonville. It was a far cry from his ridiculous 322-yard, four-touchdown effort against the Cowboys in Week 15.
I come to this week at the crosswords. Either the Giants rally from back-to-back debacles and apply pressure to Grossman all day with playoff aspirations still on the line. Or, they go belly-up and Grossman and the Redskins move the ball effectively. I’m leaning toward the former, with the Giants’ defensive front rallying to harass Grossman and force multiple turnovers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick at New York Jets
Fitzpatrick and the Bills were embarrassed by the Patriots in Week 16 and absorbed a resounding defeat. He was also shut out for the first time this season while throwing three interceptions. Even with the Jets expected to shut down multiple members of both the offense and defense, this is a difficult spot for Fitzpatrick to close out the season. Fitzpatrick has generated just one multi-touchdown game since Week 11.