The PFW staff likes Josh Freeman and Peyton Manning to have big weeks, but cautions against starting Jay Cutler, in our late-week fantasy QB tips.
Bucs QB Josh Freeman is worth a start in just about all formats this week at New Orleans. Freeman threw for a season-high 420 yards and three TD passes (no interceptions) against the Saints in Week Seven, and he has thrown at least two TD passes in eight of his last nine games. He should be highly productive against the Saints’ 30th-ranked pass defense.
Peyton Manning owners may be nervous heading into their semifinal matchup, considering Manning faces the Ravens, arguably the best defense he has faced in two months. But Baltimore hasn’t been the Ravens defense we’re used to, as it ranks 23rd against the pass. In eight meetings with Baltimore in his career, Manning has a 6-2 record and has thrown 17 touchdowns to five interceptions. Manning has come up big in crucial games in his career, and Sunday should be no different in the Broncos’ biggest game to date.
Bears QB Jay Cutler (neck) says he will play Sunday vs. the Packers, but this is not a week to start him in fantasy leagues. He has a TD-interception ratio of 8-15 in his seven games against Green Bay since joining the Bears in 2009, and he is playing with a shaky offensive line and a receiving corps with little playmaking ability outside of WR Brandon Marshall. We don’t like this matchup for Cutler.
The Eagles have surrendered 25 TD passes in 13 games. Coincidentally, Bengals QB Andy Dalton has thrown 25 TD passes entering Week 15. Dalton is a solid play for fantasy owners in Week 15.
Texans QB Matt Schaub was terrible in Week 14, connecting on less than 60 percent of his passes for no TDs and an interception against New England. However, Schaub should be primed for a strong rebound Sunday against the Colts, the league’s 20th-ranked pass defense. Schaub has struggled throughout his career against the Colts, sporting a 7-10 TD-to-INT ratio, however.
If you have to play Ravens QB Joe Flacco in Week 15, note that the Broncos have surrendered 22 TD passes in 13 games. However, the Ravens have changed offensive coordinators, with Jim Caldwell replacing Cam Cameron. On the one hand, it’s possible the Ravens could use more of the no-huddle attack that Flacco prefers. On the other hand, any growing pains or setbacks with a new coordinator at the helm wouldn’t help Flacco’s fantasy value. Flacco looks like a mid-range starting option for Week 15 at best.
Browns QB Brandon Weeden’s fantasy stock gets a boost in Week 15. The Redskins are allowing 289.3 passing yards and about two passing TDs per contest. However, Weeden is still an option best used in big one-QB formats or leagues that start two passers. Weeden has thrown 13 TD passes in as many 2012 starts. Also, the Browns have scored just 13 TDs in 34 red-zone trips this season.
Titans QB Jake Locker has tossed five TD passes and seven interceptions (plus two lost fumbles) since rejoining the starting lineup in Week 10. He is too risky of a play Monday night against the Jets’ third-ranked pass defense, which has held opponents to fewer than 200 passing yards in five of the past six weeks.
The Redskins won’t make a decision on whether to start Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins this Sunday against the Browns until game day and unfortunately, the Redskins’ decision (gamesmanship?) could force you to pick up Cousins — or another QB, if needed — in case Griffin doesn’t go. Be ready.
Michael Vick is out for Thursday night’s game against the Bengals.