NFL Fantasy: Start ‘em, sit ‘em playoff quarterbacks

Believe it or not, there are still folks wondering about these things as we head into quarterfinals week.

By this time of the season, league fantasy players should have a good idea who they are starting at most positions. Savvy players spent the past few weeks making roster adjustments, adding handcuffs where warranted and scouring the waiver wire for sleepers and upgrades. 

Unfortunately, even the best-made plans can blow up in your face. Carson Wentz is on a large percentage of playoff rosters. Josh McCown is on far fewer as he had terrible matchups for the next two weeks. Some folks were streaming around Aaron Rodgers’ injury. What happens if the doctors say he needs another week? 

Since we are in a playoff week and I want to offer start ‘em and sit ‘em advice to as many of you as possible, I am doing something a little different. I separated the names of all 32 starting quarterbacks into three lists. The first includes 12 quarterbacks I would definitely start. I shouldn’t have to tell you to start them, too. Ideally, each owner in a 12-team league would have one of these passers, but we all know there are teams with Aaron Rodgers and Case Keenum. 

The 13 are mostly the top 13 in the NFL standard scoring through Week 14, with a few exceptions. Aaron Rodgers is technically the 30th ranked quarterback on the season. Case Keenum is #15 and Blake Bortles is #14. They all made the “must start” list. 

The second list is ten quarterbacks I would not start in Week 15 under any conditions. Some are because of matchups. For instance, #3 quarterback Alex Smith made the list as Kansas City goes against the Los Angeles Chargers. Smith only garnered 11 NFL fantasy points against the Raiders. Versus the stronger pass defense of the Chargers, coupled with their weakness against the run, I don’t expect Alex to do much in Week 15. 

Others are listed as “don’t start against anybody!” Eli Manning is on this list. If he couldn’t get motivated and put up points on the emotions of last week and the standing ovation he got from the Giants fans, he will never be a viable passer again. 

The third list includes these ten quarterbacks I had to think about. This is what I decided about their prospects and whether I would start them or sit them. If your quarterback is not included here, you should be able to figure out which side of the start ‘em or sit ‘em line he is on. 

Start this guy: Jared Goff, LAR at SEA 

Jared Goff was firmly on the sit ‘em side of the table before injuries decimated the Seahawks’ defense. He is still a little risky as the Rams play more conservatively against good teams, but if Blake Bortles can have a good fantasy day against Seattle, so can Jared Goff. The return of Robert Woods to the lineup will help. 

Start this guy: Matt Ryan, ATL at TB 

Matt Ryan has been reduced to a matchup-dependent starting option. This week, the matchup is with Tampa Bay. Atlanta still hasn’t looked comfortable on offense this season, but Tampa’s weak pass defense should allow Ryan to throw touchdowns. 

Start this guy: Joe Flacco, BAL vs CLE

Cleveland has a deceptively solid defense, but they can be beaten. Joe Flacco put up 16 and 18 NFL fantasy points in his last two games against Detroit and Pittsburgh. With a solid running threat in Alex Collins and healthy set of receivers, 20 points is not out of the question against the Browns. 

Start this guy: Nick Foles, PHI at NYG

Nick Foles can be a quality quarterback again, just like Case Keenum and Jared Goff came back to life after escaping Jeff Fisher’s nightmare. His first test is against a familiar opponent playing out the string of a lost season. A successful start to Foles’ second go-around with the Eagles is in the works. 

Start this guy: Jimmy Garoppolo, SF vs TEN

San Francisco is 2-0 since Jimmy Garoppolo became the starting quarterback. The newest 49er has shown a command of the playbook, accurate passing, and confidence. All he needs to do now is throw touchdowns. There are few better teams to try that against than the Titans. 

Cautiously start this guy: Marcus Mariota, TEN at SF

Mariota is playing with a knee injury, according to his coach. His season has been much worse than the owners who drafted him as the QB-8 expected. He should be worth a look against the pass defense of the 49ers, but this is the same quarterback who managed single-digit fantasy scores against the Indianapolis Colts twice this year. He is a desperation start only. 

Probably should sit this guy: Blaine Gabbert, JAX vs WAS

After scoring 37 fantasy points in his first two games, Cardinals’ coach Bruce Arians told the world he is comfortable with Blaine Gabbert as his starter in 2018; but in his next two games, Gabbert has posted only 18 total points against the Rams and the poor pass defense of the Tennessee Titans. He faces a positive matchup against the Redskins, but I am not sure that really means anything at this point.

Sit this guy: Jameis Winston, TB vs ATL

Jameis Winston is still not 100 percent as the Buccaneers wrap up a lost season. There are rumors of a rift between the quarterback and coach. Winston’s receivers are healthy, but several are suffering through sub-par seasons, too. Winston and his teammates are reduced to playing spoilers the rest of the year, and it starts with the rival Falcons. Something is not right in Tampa. Winston has a high ceiling, but his floor is too risky to start him in a playoff. 

Sit this guy: Derek Carr, OAK vs DAL

Over the past two weeks, changes in the Cowboys’ secondary have proven effective at shutting down Kirk Cousins and… well, Eli Manning. But still, they practically shut out Sterling Shepard! Meanwhile, Derek Carr couldn’t get going against one of the league’s worse pass defenses last week. I don’t expect him to have a good Week 15, either. 

Sit this guy: Tyrod Taylor, BUF vs MIA

Let’s see. We have a quarterback playing injured, without his top two receivers, against a defense that just shut down Tom Brady and believes they are playoff contenders, in ice-cold, windy conditions and snow showers… yeah. I’d sit that guy. In case you’re wondering, despite his performance Monday night, Jay Cutler takes a seat in the cold and wind, too. 

Besides Alex Smith and Cutler, some other quarterbacks I’m sitting include DeShone Kizer and Mitchell Trubisky because the Lions and Ravens are not the Bengals and Packers. 

So that is this week’s extended quarterback start ‘ems and sit ‘ems. Situations can always change, so check back at RealSport constantly for all the latest NFL fantasy news and updates. 

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