Week 15: fantasy 2QB leagues
Last week I stressed the importance of playing it safe at playoff time, of sticking with the guys that got you to the show and putting your best talent in the lineup regardless of matchups. A week deeper into win-or-go-home land, I'm struggling mightily with that premise at the most crucial position in football-real and fantasy. In two leagues - one in which I face my brother for a shot at the Super Bowl - I own Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. I've been fortunate enough to get into the semi's based on the strength of my other positions, but have barely won games as Rodgers has been outscored (significantly, I might add) in several weeks by Wilson on my bench. Now comes a meeting with a back-against-the-wall Bears team in Soldier Field, and I'm faced with an unthinkable decision on which my season may ride. To bench or not to bench Aaron Rodgers? That is somehow a legitimate question.
With just five touchdowns and four turnovers in his past four contests, Rodgers, an undisputable All-World talent, is begging to be benched. If your team has scratched it's way this far with him in your lineup, it's either stacked elsewhere or extremely fortunate. Chances are the competition at this point is too stiff to win with another line of 219 yards, one TD and one pick, which the reigning MVP has done twice - once three weeks ago in New York and way back in September against the very Bears he's about to meet again. One or two bad weeks is an exception, but four consecutive is a trend, and Rodgers is trending far enough down that he must be considered seriously for the bench, particularly given his rough matchup.
The Rodgers dilemma aside (and the Larry Fitzgerald tragedy), all other studs belong in the starting lineup. Don't expect Drew Brees to fall on his face for a third consecutive week with the Bucs' 32nd ranked pass defense - against which he tossed four touchdowns against in Week 7 - coming to town. It's one thing to be cute, and another to be crazy. Rodgers' problems are unique from most other quarterbacks, and his situation doesn't look to improve against an aggressive Bears defense that plays Cover 2 (which has killed Green Bay this year) as well as anyone.
1. Carson Palmer vs. Kansas City - Palmer is the king of garbage time. During the Raiders' six-game losing streak he's thrown for at least 270 yards and two scores in five of six contests. This week, he'll get to remember what it's like to play with a lead as he torches the last team Oakland defeated and the worst pass defense in the NFL in terms of yards per attempt and passer rating allowed.
2. Ben Roethlisberger at Dallas - Teams have had little trouble running the ball on Dallas the last three weeks, as the Cowboys have been rolled for 481 yards on the ground in that span. If the Steelers can get Jonathan Dwyer going on the ground that will set up Big Ben for play-action to his speedy deep threats and open up the middle of the field for Heath Miller to slip past linebackers pressing the box. With or without an effective run game, this must-win type of game is what Roethlisberger thrives on, so expect one of his sharper performances of the season now that he's proven his arm is healthy.
3. Russell Wilson vs. Buffalo (at Toronto) - Wilson's five-game streak of games with multiple touchdowns came to a halt despite Seattle hanging 58 points on the Cardinals last week, but that was more a result of the immense blowout nature of the game than Wilson's play, which was extremely efficient. The Seahawks aren't likely to find the same resounding success this Sunday despite a bad Bills opponent. Seattle is simply not going to dominate away from home, and though the Seahawks may run the ball a good amount versus Marshawn Lynch's former team, Wilson will still get his opportunities to score. Count on him getting in the end zone given the poor Bills defense and how easily the run will set up the pass.
4. Colin Kaepernick at New England - After seeing the Patriots decimate a very good Texans defense, it seems a safe bet they'll be able to move the ball on the Niners in Foxboro. If Kaepernick is forced to throw it more than usual he should be able to find the end zone for the first time in a couple games with his arm. And of course he always has those wheels to rip off chunks of yardage on the ground if New England lets him escape the pocket.
5. Matt Schaub vs. Indianapolis - Schaub will not have as difficult a time facing a Colts defense that will have to sell out much more than New England to slow Arian Foster and the Texans' run-heavy attack. That means the play-action will work this time around.
6. Brandon Weeden vs. Washington - The Skins are tied for the most passing scores allowed with 27 relinquished and have only limited division rivals Eli Manning and Nick Foles - the latter in his first career start. Weeden hasn't done much damage since a hot streak in October, but if you're hurting at QB and need to start two, you could do worse.
7. Chad Henne vs. Miami - If Cecil Shorts returns from his concussion, Henne is worth a look in deeper formats. Without his top weapon he struggled versus what is still a very good Jets pass defense, but drawing a 25th-ranked Miami unit gives him a nice shot to bounce back. Again, that's ONLY if Shorts suits up.
No. 2 QUARTERBACK RANKINGS
*Check injury status.
12. Carson Palmer OAK vs. KC
13. Ben Roethlisberger PIT at Dal
14. Philip Rivers SD vs. Car
15. Colin Kaepernick SF at NE
16. Tony Romo DAL vs. Pit
17. Matt Schaub HOU vs. Ind
18. Nick Foles PHI vs. Cin
19. *Joe Flacco BAL vs. Den
20. Brandon Weeden CLE vs. Was
21. Russell Wilson SEA at Buf
22. *Kirk Cousins WAS at Cle
23. Jake Locker TEN vs. NYJ
24. Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. Sea
25. Brady Quinn KC at Oak
26. Ryan Tannehill MIA vs. Jac
27. Mark Sanchez NYJ at Ten
28. Chad Henne JAC at Mia
29. Sam Bradford STL vs. Min
30. Christian Ponder MIN at StL
31. *John Skelton ARZ vs. Det
32. *Robert Griffin WAS at Cle
33. *Jay Cutler CHI vs. GB
34. Jason Campbell CHI vs. GB
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