NFL Fantasy: Is Josh McCown a Week 8 must-start quarterback?

Josh McCown scored 44 NFL fantasy points in Weeks 6 & 7. More surprising numbers might make him a must-start in Week 8.

The New York Jets did everything they could to prevent Josh McCown from being their starting quarterback. They let him start the first preseason game. After one offensive series, which ended with a 53-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, the Jets handed the ball to Christian Hackenberg. The next time McCown touched a football in a game was opening day of the regular season after the Jets admitted they could not get Hackenberg or Bryce Petty to play at an NFL level. 

McCown got off to a slow NFL fantasy start, logging just 9.48 points on opening day. Jacksonville had a typical Jaguar day and held McCown under five points in Week 4. In between, he finished with some mediocre fantasy days before putting up 20-point games against the Patriots and Dolphins the past two weeks.

The Jets’ quarterback holds the QB-13 ranking through Week 7 making him a potential bye-week streamer. If you took away the Jacksonville game, he would be the QB-9 in points per game. In the past 4 weeks, he is the overall QB-6. His 44 combined points the past two weeks is third best in the league. 

What’s a guy gotta do to be a must-start quarterback in this league? 

How he’s done it

Many fantasy owners shrugged off McCown’s 20 points against New England because… New England. It just proved anybody can throw against what was the worst NFL fantasy defense against quarterbacks. 

Miami, however, came into last week’s game averaging only 14 fantasy points to quarterbacks. In fact, they held McCown to exactly that in Week 3. McCown topped that by halftime Sunday. Only a boneheaded decision at the end of regulation that led to an interception kept him from topping 25 points. 

The Jets’ offense is not exactly what they opened the season with, either. GM Mike Maccagnan has tinkered with the waiver wire and made a trade to bring some veteran wide receiver support and leadership to a unit full of young speedsters. Jerome Kearse and Jeremy Kerley, along with the return of Austin Seferian-Jenkins from suspension, gradually solidified the Jets receiving corps. These past two weeks, McCown started extending the field more to good effect. 

McCown also has solid receivers in the backfield in Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. On a team with no top-flight star power, the Jets have put together a nucleus of solid role players. 

Can he keep doing it?

Despite talk of tanking the season amid many flat-out weird decisions and events in New York, coach Todd Bowles and Josh McCown have the Jets playing hard and cohesively. They firmly believe they are one bad officiating call and one bad interception away from being a 5-2 team. Football analysts believe the Jets will compete for the top pick in the 2018 draft position based on their upcoming schedule, the hardest by current win percentage in the league. 

Fortunately, we’re not playing football. We play NFL fantasy football and we don’t really care what a team’s winning percentage is. We just want our quarterbacks to produce points. McCown is not a bad roster add based on that logic. He has a few tough matchups, but also a few easy ones and faces several mid-range fantasy defenses. 

Here are the teams McCown will face and their current ranking in NFL fantasy points given up to quarterbacks:  Atlanta (15), Buffalo (6), Tampa Bay (30), Carolina (12), Kansas City (29), Denver (13), New Orleans (17), LA Chargers (8) and New England (32). At the very least, you could play him every other week. Miami ranked #12 when he put 24 points on them in Week 7. 

It’s always possible that as real-life losses pile up, the team will lose some enthusiasm. So far, they have shown no sign of such a tendency. Kearse and Kerley are good veteran examples as is Matt Forte. I do not believe the Jets will tank even if their record falters. Management has already said it would take a disaster for Hackenberg to see playing time this season. 

So… is he or isn’t he a must-start? 

In any other year, this answer could be different, but the 2017 season has few stellar quarterbacks. The average passing yards-per-game and passing points are lower than last season. McCown has a good troupe of receivers to work with. He might even play with a chip on his shoulder about how his treatment in the preseason. 

This week against Atlanta, I believe the Jets will chase points. For that reason, Josh McCown is a good-streamer or must-start in Week 8. After that, I would start him every other week for the rest of the NFL fantasy season, sitting him for Buffalo, Carolina, and Denver unless I was truly desperate. 

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.