We're down to the final week and some of the studs like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have justified their high draft picks, but Eli Manning, despite a great season, reverted back to form. It's still mind-boggling how analysts seem to want to put Eli on a pedestal and point to this year as validation. The love for the Manning clan, I assume, but fantasy owners know the truth and will point to his last two weeks in their belief he's overrated. As I said last week, if your fantasy QB has a subpar week, it's difficult to win; so make sure you know how strong or weak the matchup is and how well they're playing before inserting them into your final starting lineup.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had a spectacular championship finish for his fantasy owners and lived up to his lofty draft status from start to finish. He threw for 283 yards and a whopping five TDs with no interceptions. He is five away from tying Tom Brady's record of 50 TDs, but he and head coach Mike McCarthy are hinting the team may rest their players in Week 17. Watch for updates but look to grab backup Matt Flynn, who is auditioning for a chance to move on and compete to start.
Eagles QB Michael Vick is an embarrassment to some analysts. Some really believed that he alone could take you to a championship game. That happens at times with not only Vick but other players in the past, such as Peyton Manning after his record-TD season. Regardless of whom, one player won't win you your league and you're foolish to believe that. Vick threw for 293 yards and two TDs while also chipping in with 3-10-0 in Week 16. He ends most fantasy owners season with a per game average of 247.3 passing yards, 1.3 TDs with 1.1 interceptions and 6.3 carries for 48.8 yards. His legs failed fantasy owners this year and at the age of 31, he's slowed down like most scrambling QBs, partly due to age and learning the nuances of being a passing QB. He still warrants fantasy consideration against the Redskins in the season finale.
Giants QB Eli Manning decided to become the Manning of old the last two weeks. He threw for 225 yards, one TD and one interception on Saturday. However, he makes a must-start in Week 17 for many as he has positive historical data against the Cowboys.
Patriots QB Tom Brady pulled a Tim Tebow or Cam Newton — take your pick. He threw for 304 yards and one TD with no interceptions but chipped in 9-17-2 on the ground. That's an even bigger day than he normally produces, as rushing TDs are six points in most leagues versus four points for passing TDs. He's always a must play for those heading into the final week of the season.
Panthers QB Cam Newton ends the season like he started it, with a bang. He only went 12-of-17 for 171 yards but had three TDs and no interceptions and also went 6-65-1 on the ground. Despite all the talk about Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler and the rest of the breakout candidates, he outperformed them all. He has a per game average of 259.5 passing yards, 1.3 passing TDs and 1.1 interceptions with eight rushes for 44.9 rushing yards and 0.9 rushing TDs — elite numbers. Facing the Saints this week means a huge edge for his owners.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers ended most fantasy owner's championship games with disappointment and a probable loss after throwing for 299 yards and only one TD with two interceptions. He had a resurgence from Weeks 9-14, but wasn't able to sustain it the last two weeks when owners needed him most.
Gaining fantasy value or holding steady
Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ends the season for most fantasy owners on the bench and for good reason. He threw for 196 yards, no TDs and no interceptions to help fantasy owners lose their championship games. Against the Patriots next week, he has fantasy value but is so inconsistent, he's tough to trust, but they are the Patriots, so give him fair consideration.
Vikings QB Joe Webb came in for an injured Christian Ponder (concussion) and threw for 84 yards and two TDs with no interceptions and also chipped in 5-34-1 and is a fantasy stud in the making. In limited play in Week 14 he threw for 84 yards, one TD and no interceptions and rushed 7-109-1. Ponder (concussion) left the game and did not return. He has not played well the past three weeks before going down and Webb could start in Week 17. I for one am not sold that Webb is only an NFL backup QB. If players like Tim Tebow and Cam Newton are given opportunities, it makes one wonder what it is about Webb the team doesn't like, as he's shown playmaking ability. Too raw is a possibility, but this team is in rebuilding mode and that's when you want raw players to play. The team is likely going to have a competition next year, but it makes you wonder what the brass was thinking last year if they now view Webb as the potential future?
Chiefs QB Kyle Orton in his third game, but really second with one snap taken in Week 13, threw for 300 yards, one TD and two interceptions. A serviceable fantasy performance, and going against his former team this week you can expect that he wants a little payback. He warrants fantasy consideration in larger or two-QB leagues as he does have a two-game average of 299.5 yards.
Minimum or diminishing fantasy value
Dolphins QB Matt Moore, as expected, had a great fantasy game for the few that played him. He threw for 294 yards, three TDs and one interception. However, he was a matchup play, and faces a Jets team that held him to 204 yards and no TDs with two picks in Week Six. He's facing a difficult task next week and it will be difficult to justify starting him.
Broncos QB Tim Tebow is regressing, completing 13-of-30 for 185 yards, one TD and four interceptions. He was able to rush for 10-34-1, but it wasn't enough to help fantasy owners out. He now has a two-game average of 189.5 passing yards and 0.5 passing TDs with two interceptions and 11 rush attempts for 63.5 yards and 1.5 TDs. While still serviceable, he's not someone you want to take a chance on outside larger leagues.
Bears QB Josh McCown, making his first start for the Bears, completed 19-of-28 for 242 yards and one TD with two interceptions to create fantasy value for the receivers. While I don't expect Jay Cutler to play, it's a situation to avoid anyway.
Cardinals QB John Skelton waited until the end of the game, but came through for fantasy owners with 297 yards, two TDs and three interceptions. There's no indication if Kevin Kolb (concussion) will return in Week 17, but with the team out of the playoffs, they could very well rest him. Concussions have become a serious issue with the NFL, so the team will be cautious. Skelton faces an outstanding Seahawks defense, making him a tough fantasy play.
Steelers QB Charlie Batch did a little worse than what fantasy owners were expecting, but did exactly what the Steelers needed him to do — minimize mistakes. He went 15-of-22 for 208 yards and no TDs with one interception. Look for the team to continue using him as a game manager next week if Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) can't go. Batch does lower the value of the WRs across the board.