PFW's late-week fantasy tips for quarterbacks:
Michael Vick will start against the Giants and would be a fascinating addition to a fantasy lineup, healthy and motivated to help resurrect his career with his (likely) final game in an Eagles uniform. He’s facing a Giants defense that has had its most success vs. Vick when the pass rush is cranked up — and now is not one of those times. Vick could be an intriguing play in the regular-season finale.
With the No. 1 seed in the NFC already locked up, the Falcons could afford to rest their starters this week. However, Falcons head coach Mike Smith has said his team will play to win Sunday vs. the Bucs, and the Falcons have not given any indication QB Matt Ryan will be inactive. If he plays, he is worth starting in most formats in a matchup with the league’s 32nd-ranked pass defense. Even if Ryan only plays in the first half or for three quarters, he still has the potential to out-produce most quarterbacks that play a full game.
The Colts and NFL fans alike rejoiced Monday as head coach Chuck Pagano returned to the team after a three-plus month absence undergoing treatment for leukemia. Fantasy owners of Andrew Luck can also rejoice, as Pagano made it clear that his rookie sensation will get the starting nod Sunday against the Texans, despite the fact that the Colts are already locked in as the AFC’s No. 5 playoff seed. Against a Houston defense that has not been its usual self over the past several weeks, Luck is a solid fantasy start in the regular-season finale.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton has thrown only three TD passes in his last four starts. Moreover, the Bengals are locked into the No. 6 spot in the AFC playoffs. While Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has indicated the team will not be resting starters, Dalton is nonetheless a shaky starting proposition in Week 17, given his recent play and Cincinnati’s circumstances.
The drama of the Jets’ quarterback carousel continued this week, as Mark Sanchez will return to the starting spot because Greg McElroy has a concussion. Consider Sanchez a sleeper in fantasy leagues. Against Buffalo in Week One, he completed 19-of-27 passes for 266 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, good for his best passer rating of the season — 123.4. Sanchez will be out to prove himself after being benched, and Buffalo’s defense has struggled in the past two weeks.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford needs 305 passing yards to become the first NFL player to throw for 5,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He’s averaging 356 passing yards in his seven starts at Ford Field this season. Stafford surely ranks as a fine starting option in Week 17 vs. Chicago.
The Broncos need to beat the Chiefs to secure a bye in the first round of the AFC playoffs, so don’t be afraid to start Peyton Manning vs. the Chiefs. It’s worth noting, though, that Romeo Crennel has had success vs. Manning and his defense rattled Manning early in the last matchup.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco gave the Bengals’ defense fits in the first meeting between the teams this season, throwing for 299 yards and two TDs in a Baltimore rout. However, Flacco has been a better passer at home than on the road, and the Bengals’ defense is much stronger now than it was when the teams first met in Week One. In short, there’s mixed signals with Flacco in Week 17.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger needs 290 passing yards for 30,000 on his career. He’s a solid play vs. Cleveland in Week 17.
If you are depending upon Browns QB Brandon Weeden for Week 17, you will want to make alternate plans. Weeden has a shoulder injury, as does backup Colt McCoy, and third-string QB Thaddeus Lewis is a candidate to start if Weeden and McCoy are out.
The Week 17 matchup between the Jaguars and Titans pits two teams that have very little stability under center. Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert don’t appear to be the long-term answer in Jacksonville and Jake Locker has declined sharply since returning to the starting lineup following a month-long absence with a shoulder injury. None of these QBs should receive starting consideration in Week 17, and their teams' QB situations will have to be monitored throughout the offseason before considering any elements in their respective passing offenses in next year’s fantasy drafts.