Rent-a-Quarterback: Week 11 - Footballguys

Finding QB1 production from the waiver wire

Late-round quarterback drafter? Had an injury to your starter? In need of a bye-week replacement? This is the place to find your weekly quarterback choices. In this article, which is new to Footballguys this season, I'll highlight a couple of quarterback options likely available in most leagues (we'll use players rostered in fewer than 60% of Yahoo leagues) who could provide some punch at the quarterback position.

Unless most teams in your league carry a backup quarterback, there should be plenty of starting NFL quarterbacks on your waiver wire each week. Instead of starting a low-end QB1 facing an elite secondary, look to the waiver wire and play the matchups. Ideally, a player who appears in this space gets hot for multiple weeks and becomes an every-week starter. But if not, throw him back to the wire and come back here next week. Quarterback is one of the most predictable positions in fantasy football. Simply by using matchups, fantasy GMs can start a mid-to-high QB1 every week by using the waiver wire.

Disclaimer: this column will typically be written on Monday evenings. Should any relevant events occur on Monday Night Football that do not make it into the article, it will be edited after publish. Any post-publication edits will be noted.

Week 10 Results

Let's take a look at how last week's recommendations fared.

Baker Mayfield - vs. Atlanta

Mayfield said he woke up on Sunday feeling dangerous. He took that confidence and used it to put up perhaps his best game yet as an NFL player. That translated to the fantasy gridiron as well, with 216 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 24.8 fantasy points. Mayfield was a hit, finishing well within the QB1 ranks (QB8).

Alex Smith - at Tampa Bay

Smith failed us, accumulating only 178 passing yards and one touchdown. His 14.5 fantasy points yielded a QB22 performance. Using the benefit of hindsight, we probably should have seen this coming, even with the tasty matchup against Tampa Bay.

Washington was without three starting offensive linemen and lost wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr to Injured Reserve last week. They were relying on Maurice Harris and Josh Doctson as top targets. Tampa Bay's inability to score likely hurt Smith's performance, but the writing was on the wall here in the form of injuries and Smith's general lack of ceiling to begin with.

Deep Leagues Only

We also recommended Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota last week. Hopefully, some readers couldn't (or didn't want to) get Smith and grabbed one of these guys, both of whom finished as QB1s.

Week 11 Candidates

Here are the players available in at least 40% of typical leagues who could provide QB1 production this week.

Lamar Jackson* - vs. Cincinnati

Baltimore may be a mess at the moment, but their upcoming schedule is about as fantasy-friendly a stretch as there is. Because this column emphasizes the current week over any other, let's first look at this week before diving into the rest.

This Week

Whoever starts for Baltimore this week has a plus matchup. Cincinnati has allowed at least 319 passing yards in all but three games this season. Those games were:

  • Week 3 at Carolina: the Panthers got up early, and game script didn't demand much passing.
  • Week 5 vs. Miami: the Dolphins were leading throughout the game until a furious Cincinnati comeback; plus, Ryan Tannehill was the opposing quarterback.
  • Week 10 vs. New Orleans: the Saints pounded Cincinnati, leading to "only" 265 passing yards. Drew Brees did, however, pass for three touchdowns and rush for another.

In the six games not listed above, Cincinnati has allowed an average of 385 passing yards, 2.5 touchdowns, and 29.6 fantasy points. Jackson is a rookie who would be making his first start, and Flacco hasn't shown his ceiling to be that high recently. But even accumulating three-quarters of those stats would be fringe QB1 numbers.

If Flacco is back this week, he's a high-floor Rent-a-Quarterback option that won't sink your lineup. But if Jackson is the starter, the sky is the limit -- for this week and for the foreseeable future.

Going Forward

Baltimore's schedule over the next five weeks is what dreams are made of. They face four of the top eight friendliest teams to opposing quarterbacks on a per-game basis. One more poor week from Oakland, and it could be that Baltimore sees half of the top 10.

Week Opponent PassYds PassTDs FanPts PosRnk
11 vs. Cincinnati 323 2.3 28.4 1
12 vs. Oakland 258 2.2 22.6 12
13 at Atlanta 306 2.3 27.5 3
14 at Kansas City 311 1.6 23.4 8
15 vs. Tampa Bay 306 2.6 27.3 4
16 at L.A. Chargers 264 1.7 20.7 19

The prospect of Jackson facing this schedule is more tantalizing than Flacco. Fantasy GMs have seen what rushing quarterbacks can do for their teams.

Season Weeks Quarterback FP/GM Rk Pass FP Rk Rush FP Rk
2017 1-16 Cam Newton 5 20 1
2016 10-16 Colin Kaepernick 10 22 2
2011 13-17 Tim Tebow 16 33 2
2010 15-17 Tim Tebow 2 20 2
2010 1-16 Michael Vick 6 11 3
2006 1-16 Michael Vick 5 31 2

The table above shows a brief history of quarterbacks whose rushing ability surpassed their passing ability. Sure, some of this is cherry-picked data (i.e. some stretches are only a couple of weeks), but it shows that quarterbacks can be average-to-terrible passers and still be passable (or even elite) fantasy producers. It's worth noting that all of the per-game rankings include players who played in at least half the games in the sample. Some observations:

  • In the 2010 Tebow sample, he was 40-81 (49.4%) for 651 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns, and 3 interceptions over three games. Yet, he was the second-best per-game fantasy quarterback in that short stretch due to 199 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • In 2006, Michael Vick passed for 2,474 yards with a 52.6% completion rate and had 20 passing touchdowns against 13 interceptions. These numbers occurred in a full 16-game season. Remarkably, Vick only scored two rushing touchdowns on his way to the overall QB5 (points per game) finish. He rushed 123 times for 1,039 yards!
  • Just last season, Newton had one of the worst passing seasons of his career. His 3,302 passing yards were the second-fewest of his career and the fewest in a 16-game season. His 22 passing touchdowns helped make him a top-five fantasy option, but they didn't help nearly as much as the 754 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns did.

Jackson isn't going to be an elite passer right away. He may not even be an above-average passer. But his legs and his schedule make for QB1 potential.

The Recommendation

With doubt surrounding Flacco's status this week, the immediate action may appear unclear. But Jackson is worth the preemptive pickup right now due to his upside.

Worst case, Flacco starts this week and you keep Jackson on standby. If Baltimore loses, their playoff chances are next to none. That could mean a move to Jackson in Week 12, even if Flacco is healthy enough to play.

Best case, you have a QB1 going forward.

For what it's worth, or Dr. Jene Bramel suggests Flacco is doubtful for Week 11.

Marcus Mariota - at Indianapolis

Mariota is coming off his best game, suggesting his hand issues from earlier in the year are behind him. This week, Tennessee gets Indianapolis, a team that plays at a rapid pace, allowing more plays for their opponents. They just yielded the QB8 performance to Bortles in Week 10.

Dak Prescott - at Atlanta

It's hard to recommend a quarterback for a team that wants to run first and plays at a slow tempo. But the matchup vs. Atlanta is too tempting to pass up.

It should be an Ezekiel Elliott-centric game plan, but some of that production will come via the pass due to Atlanta's long history of yielding production to running backs in the passing game. Prescott is also coming off a QB10 performance in Week 10 and provides some rushing upside as well.

Eli Manning - vs. Tampa Bay

It's admittedly tough to rely on Manning at this point, but the process is sound here. Manning is playing at home, he's in a high-total game (the over/under is 51), and the Giants are not an underdog (the line is a pick-'em). Manning also has plenty of dangerous weapons, and Tampa Bay has only held one quarterback under 23 fantasy points this season. That quarterback was Smith last week, whose offensive line and weapons issues were documented above.

Deep Leagues Only

These selections are best saved for deeper leagues and/or 2QB/Superflex leagues.

  • Joe Flacco* - vs. Cincinnati: if he's the starter, he belongs here as opposed to the section above due to the lack of upside compared to Jackson.
  • Josh Rosen - vs. Oakland: it's not for the faint of heart, but Oakland hasn't been able to stop anyone lately. And this game provides Arizona with a rare opportunity to be the favored team.

Looking Ahead

If others in your league are also playing the "Rent-a-Quarterback" game, it might be wise to get a jump on next week's potential choices.

Questions, comments, suggestions, and other feedback on this piece are always welcome via e-mail