Rent-a-Quarterback: Week 15 - 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 14 Results

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

Lamar Jackson - at Kansas City

Jackson continues to overcome mediocre passing stats to be in the QB1 conversation. This week was a high watermark for him, ranking 17th among pre-Monday night quarterbacks in passing stats with 147 yards but 2 touchdowns. He ranked third in rushing production, though, yielding a QB12 performance overall.

Jameis Winston - vs. New Orleans

Winston had a solid but unspectacular game. His defense didn't provide the shootout type of game where we have seen the high-end QB1 ceiling that the Tampa Bay quarterbacks have provided us at certain points this season. But perhaps we should have seen that coming considering they were playing at home and have been better there (more on that later). Winston finished the week with 213 yards passing and 2 touchdowns. His week was also elevated by rushing production, gaining 47 yards on the ground. Winston is the week's QB13, pending Monday night.

This week's regret: We should have listed Dak Prescott in last week's column. He was in the "Deep Leagues Only" section, but he should have been a true recommendation with all of the injuries to Philadelphia's secondary.

Week 15 Candidates

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

Baker Mayfield - at Denver

Note: Mayfield is rostered 1% below our 60% cut-off. It's likely he's not available, but if he is, he's the top candidate this week. Denver allows 285 passing yards per game, fifth-most in the NFL, and 7.9 yards per attempt, sixth-most. On top of that, Mayfield is one of the hottest players in the league.

As you can see, Mayfield has been on fire lately. There are more reasons than simply the Hue Jackson firing (as Rich Hribar details in a tweet subsequent to the one above), but regardless of the reasons, Mayfield is playing with confidence. He could have had an even bigger day in Week 14 has Rashard Higgins not dropped a touchdown.

Dak Prescott - at Indianapolis

Coming off the most prolific game of his young career, Prescott gets an indoor game against an Indianapolis team that, heading into Week 14, was allowing 21% more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than other teams were to the same opponents. That percentage was third-highest in the NFL heading into last week.

Josh Allen - vs. Detroit

Can you name the overall QB1 since Week 12? He's averaging fewer than 200 passing yards per game in that span, he only has three passing touchdowns, and his name is not Lamar Jackson. Allen's 335 rushing yards (with two 100-yard games!) and two rushing touchdowns since Week 12 have "cheat-coded" him into an elite fantasy football quarterback.

If you don't have the stomach to start Allen in your fantasy semifinals, it's understandable. But his recent three-game stretch would merit mention in this space any other week of the season. So we must trust the process and mention him here. In fact, he should have at least made the "Deep Leagues Only" section last week.

Lamar Jackson / Joe Flacco - vs. Tampa Bay

This selection is tough because a) we don't know which player will get the start, and b) we aren't sure if that player will have the entirety of the snaps for the game. But if some clarity is gained before Sunday, "Baltimore QB" is the top Rent-a-Quarterback candidate of the week. If you're hesitant to roster Flacco due to the lack of rushing upside we've been discussing with Jackson over the past month, consider that his passing volume is likely to be significantly higher than Jackson's.

In neutral situations (the game is within seven points either direction and the play is starting between the 20-yard lines), Baltimore's pass rate is night and day depending on its quarterback:

  • Percentage of passing plays called in Weeks 1-9 (with Flacco): 64.6% (9th-highest percentage)
  • Percentage of passing plays called in Weeks 11-14 (with Jackson): 40.9% (lowest percentage)

And that volume will be against the Tampa Bay defense. We alluded to Tampa's home vs. road defense in the section above. Let's look at the difference.

Venue Pts/Gm Total Yds Pass Yds
Home 20.6 357.1 240.0
Road 39.8 423.8 301.8

Jackson's rushing upside combined with what should be an uptick in passing efficiency against the traveling Tampa Bay defense offers the best upside. But Flacco is a viable candidate in this matchup as well, especially considering that if he plays, the team obviously has a high level of confidence that he's back to full health.

Deep Leagues Only

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

  • Jeff Driskel - vs. Oakland: The Raiders just expended what might have been their most effort all season to gut out a home win over Pittsburgh. Now, they have to travel cross-country and play a 1:00 pm EST game against another bottom-dweller. If that's not enough, consider that they've allowed at least 20 fantasy points to all but two quarterbacks since Week 3 (one of whom is Josh Rosen).
  • Josh Johnson - at Jacksonville: This isn't for the faint of heart, but Johnson is mobile and showed some life in limited action last week. A road game will be tough, but he faces a Jacksonville team that looks to have given up on its season.

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.

  • Dak Prescott - vs. Tampa Bay: As long as he's under 60%, we'll be dissecting this matchup in fantasy Super Bowl week.
  • Marcus Mariota - vs. Washington: the only limiting factor here could be that Tennessee won't need to pass much to beat Washington handily.

Questions, comments, suggestions, and other feedback on this piece are always welcome via e-mail hester@footballguys.com