Week 17 Quarterback Rankings
Rankings, typos, and words by Paul Charchian
- Aaron Rodgers @ Det – 10
No matter what happens earlier in the day, the Sunday night game between the Packers and Lions will have playoff implications. If the Redskins beat the Giants earlier in the day, the ramifications are magnified because the game becomes a do-or-die event. So, among all the murkiness of Week 17, Aaron Rodgers is an elite, safe fantasy start. He threw four touchdowns in the earlier meeting, and he’s thrown multiple touchdowns in four straight against the Lions. The return of star cornerback Darius Slay would be little more than a bump in the road.
- Tom Brady @ Mia – 9.5
Tom Brady will be playing for home field throughout the playoffs, and that’s a huge factor for Brady. In his career, he’s lost nine playoff games; only three came in home games. Brady was suspended for the earlier matchup with Miami, but Brady played these same Dolphins in Week 17 last year, with almost identical stakes, and was upset. Brady threw for 134 yards and zero scores in that meeting, almost exactly one year ago. Still, the Dolphins secondary has been brutal since Week 10. In the 7 games since then, opposing quarterbacks are averaging 268 yards and 2.2 touchdowns. If I remove Jared Goff and Bryce Petty from those games, they’re averaging 296 yards and 3.0 touchdowns.
- Matt Ryan vs. NO – 9.5
The Falcons have a lot on the line for this game, because a win gives them the No. 2 seed, and a bye next week. A loss, combined with a Seattle’s upcoming thrashing of the hapless 49ers, means that they fall to the No. 4 seed. So motivation won’t be a problem for Matt Ryan. He threw for a modest 240 yards and two scores in the earlier matchup with the Saints, but he normally does much better. Since 2011, he normally averages 330 yards. He’s thrown touchdowns in every game this year, and multiple touchdowns in six of his past eight games. A healthy Julio Jones only helps matters.
- Russell Wilson @ SF – 9.5
The Seahawks have plenty to play for in Week 17. With a win (which should come easily against the Niners) and the Falcons loss (which is possible against the Saints), the Seahawks would vault into the No. 2 seed, and a vacation next week. The Niners secondary was already a disaster, and now it’s even worse with cornerback Jimmie Ward out. Only the Jets and Browns have allowed more passing touchdowns. Wilson didn’t do much in the September meeting with the 49ers, but his offensive line was worse at that time. With the Seahawks inability to get a running game going, Wilson should be the focus of the game plan.
- Carson Palmer @ LA – 9.25
Carson Palmer actually lost to the Rams in their September meeting, and threw for just 288 yards and one score. Since then, the Rams have completely unraveled. They’ve lost seven straight games, and 11 of their last 12 games. Their one win in that stretch? Against the Jets, and they scored nine points in that game. Here are the touchdowns Los Angeles has allowed opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks: 3, 3, 3, 1, 5. So, it’s a great opportunity for Palmer. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in five of the past six games, and he’s almost a lock to do so again here.
- Drew Brees vs. Atl – 9.0
Drew Brees can play spoiler against a divisional rival with a lot on the line. Brees hammered the Falcons secondary back in Week 4, with 376 yards and three scores. And that’s not uncommon. He’s topped 313 yards in five straight matchups with Atlanta. It’s a home game for Brees, where he’s usually very safe, averaging 346 yards and 2.5 touchdowns. But, let’s note that even without Desmond Trufant, the Falcons secondary has been pretty good. Since Week 10, they’ve allowed averages of just 234 yards and one touchdown per game.
- Kirk Cousins vs. NYG – 9.0
If you’re looking for a highly-motivated Week 17 quarterback, Kirk Cousins is your guy. With a win, he’s guided his team back to the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Giants have nothing to play for. They’re locked into the No. 5 seed. Normally, this would be a tough matchup against a difficult Giants secondary that has allowed just 14 touchdown passes all year, second fewest. Cousins is one of just three quarterbacks who managed even two touchdown passes. The Giants may rest a lot of starters for parts of this game, and it gives Cousins some upside he normally wouldn’t have in this matchup.
- Jameis Winston vs. Car – 8.5
Technically, the Buccaneers are mathematically still alive for the playoffs, but realistically, their hopes died with painful losses over the last two weeks. And Winston should shoulder some of the blame for those losses, considering that he threw five interceptions, and completed only 57% of his passes. The Panthers certainly represent an opportunity for a decent game for Winston, but probably not an explosive one. The Panthers have allowed 0-2 touchdowns in eight straight games. And when Winston met this same secondary in Week 5 (when they were playing much worse), he only managed 219 yards and one score.
- Andy Dalton vs. Bal – 8.5
Andy Dalton hasn’t done much the past two weeks, but maybe it doesn’t matter. In the last three weeks (sans Jimmy Smith), the Ravens secondary has been hammered by Tom Brady (406, 3) and Ben Roethlisberger (280, 3), and Dalton could be next, particularly if the Bengals are crazy enough to play AJ Green in this meaningless game. Without Green and Tyler Eifert, though, Dalton doesn’t have the weaponry for an explosive game.
- Andrew Luck vs. Jac – 8.25
Man, did the Colts crap the bed last week. Most of the blame goes to the defense, though, not Andrew Luck. He’s thrown exactly two touchdowns in three straight games, and in five of the last seven games. He threw two touchdowns in his earlier meeting with the Jaguars, but they’ve become a terrific secondary. Since Week 9, the Jaguars have allowed average passing games of just 208 yards and 0.9 touchdowns.
- Cam Newton @ TB – 8.0
After another disappointing game last week, Cam Newton’s fantasy season limps to the finish line with 0-1 touchdown passes in nine straight games. He hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown in a month, and over the last six games, he’s averaging 15 rushing yards per game. Compounding matters, the Bucs secondary has been terrific. Over their last seven games, opposing passers are averaging just 236 yards and 0.7 touchdowns per game.
- Matthew Stafford vs. GB – 8.0
It’s been a highly disappointing fantasy season for Matthew Stafford, but he’s got a chance to salvage your season in the finale against a bad Green Bay secondary. He hammered the Packers in their first meeting, throwing for 385 yards and three touchdowns. And, those numbers aren’t uncommon for the Packers defense. Stafford, meanwhile, has been brutal for fantasy owners. He’s scored one touchdown over his last three games, and only eight touchdowns in his last nine games. I’m stunned that you’re actually reading this, because your Stafford-led roster has no business being in a championship week.
- Blake Bortles @ Ind – 8.0
- Eli Manning @ Was – 8.0
Locked into the No. 5 seed, the Giants have nothing to play for on Sunday. Their opponent, the Redskins, need a victory to advance to the playoffs, so the motivation is entirely on the other side of the field for Eli Manning. If he plays four quarters of meaningful ball, Eli is a terrific start. The Redskins secondary is a wreck (aside from Josh Norman), and Eli has thrown touchdowns in nine straight games against Washington. Washington has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five of the past seven games, and they’ve allowed 300+ passing yards in six of the past seven games.
- Sam Bradford vs. Chi – 7.75
- Philip Rivers vs. KC – 7.75
Philip Rivers would like to salvage some dignity after last week’s embarrassing loss in Cleveland. And in doing so, he’d also (very possibly) bid adieu to San Diego in style. But, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The Chiefs have a lot on the line. Their possible playoff outcomes range from the No. 2 seed down to the No. 6 seed. So they’ll be plenty motivated to stop Rivers. Plus, Rivers’ track record against the Chiefs is dreadful. Over his past four games, he’s thrown one touchdown. Total. And worse, over the past four games, the Chiefs have allowed one passing touchdown. Total.
- Colin Kaepernick vs. Sea – 7.5
- Carson Wentz vs. Dal – 7.5
- Matt Barkley @ Min – 7.5
- Alex Smith @ SD – 7.5
- Matt Moore vs. NE – 7.5
- Joe Flacco @ Cin – 7.25