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Quarterbacks to Own for the Playoff Stretch


Before the season started, I gave readers a list of quarterbacks who could be drafted based on their fantasy playoff matchups. These picks were obviously based on the stats of the defenses from 2017, as games had not yet been played.

Now that the season is half over, I decided it was time to go back and see if these are still good plays as well as some additional QBs who are promising based on this season’s outcomes.

Let's take a look at which quarterbacks could have the most value throughout the playoff stretch.

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QBs with Great Playoff Schedules

In the preseason edition of this column, I listed three quarterbacks who had enticing playoff matchups. Those players were Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning. While I am still completely confident in Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger, I am ready and willing to concede defeat when it comes to Manning.

Who knew Eli could get even worse than last season with a better offense around him? Instead of his offensive weapons raising him back up, he has dragged them closer to him. It is maddening. He looks like a deer in the headlights and he is so scared behind his terrible O-line, he looks like a rookie backup and not at all a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

 

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Playoff Matchups: @ Falcons, @ Chiefs, vs Tampa Bay, @ Chargers, vs Browns

The playoff matchups look even better now than they did before the season started. Starting with a game in Atlanta against a defense which is just ravaged by injury, the Ravens offense should have a field day. They will need to perform well offensively since the Falcons offense could put up quite a challenge.

In the following two games in Weeks 14 and 15, the Ravens play two more teams with high octane offenses and low octane defenses. Starting in Week 14, they will have to travel to Arrowhead Stadium and face the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs in a game sure to be high scoring as the Chiefs will most likely be fighting for a first-round playoff bye and possibly the division. In the following week, Tampa Bay and their putrid defense come to Baltimore for a cold mid-December game in the northeast. Currently ranked last in the NFL in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends, even with the firing of Mike Smith, this does not look to get much better by season's end and with the Ravens hoping to make the playoffs of their own, this could be a mismatch the likes of Ravens against Buffalo in Week 1. Yeah, that bad. Oh, and if you do ride Flacco to the championship week? Your reward is to play in the warm sun of Los Angeles against the Chargers and a defense which has not been nearly as good as advertised this season. Can you say Ka-Ching?

As for some players who were not talked about in the previous article who we can now see will be good playoff options, three names come immediately to mind.

 

Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears

Playoff Matchups: @ Giants, vs Rams, vs Packers, @ 49ers, @ Vikings

After starting off the season slow, Mitchell Trubisky has proven me wrong on one thing I stated in the preseason: Trey Burton may not be the best quarterback on the Bears. Now that I have cleared my guilty conscience with that confession we can get to the heart of the matter when it comes to Trubisky and the Bears - the playoff matchups. The only thing uglier than me in a bathing suit are the Raiders and the Week 13 opponent for the Chicago Bears, the Giants. Like the Raiders, the dismantling of the Giants has begun with the trades of Eli Apple to the Saints, although they could have tanked better by letting him play in New York instead of giving my favorite team their problem child and Big Snacks Harrison to the Lions. The Giants defense is miserable and with Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard sharing the backfield workload, the wide receivers will be able to roam free and make plays for Trubisky allowing him to have a solid game away from Soldier Field.

The following two games not only pit the Bears against two great offenses but also bring them into Soldier Field where the quarterback has played much better than on the road in his career so far. The Rams come in first, sporting the best offense in the NFL, scoring over 30 points per game. Like most teams with high scoring offenses, their defense also concedes a lot of points and this should be the case again when they come to Chicago. The Bears offense is at least as good as the Seahawks and the Rams gave up 30 to them on the road, the Bears should do similar in this game meaning Trubisky should get another game with three touchdowns.

Ah, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. We know this is going to be a bloodbath, we just have to hope the Bears can keep up with Rodgers in the scoring department. Rodgers owns the Bears no matter the season or the stiffness of the competition and the Packers defense has not gotten much better under the tutelage of Mike Pettine Jr. The Bears again will be able to use the receiving skills of Cohen as well as Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton and a hopefully healthy Allen Robinson to dice up the weak Packers secondary and hopefully lead you to a championship game matchup in which the Bears will be taking on the 49ers.

A season that started off with so much hope has gone down the tubes quickly with the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn ACL. The team has tried to rally behind C.J. Bethard but the truth is the team was at least a year away to begin with. Going to Levi Stadium, much like going to the Stub Hub Center for the Chargers is, while technically a road game, is not the environment of a Seattle or Kansas City. With a playoff berth possibly being played for in this game for the Bears, they are not going to want to take any chances in handling business and should come out humming in this game. While not usually an explosive offense away from home, the Bears should score and score easily in this one.

The toughest matchup by far for the Bears would be if you play Week 17 games in which the Bears would have to travel to Minnesota and play the Vikings. But since I know none of you play in bad leagues who play Week 17, you won’t have to worry about this. So, no use in mentioning it any further.

 

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Playoff Matchups: vs Broncos, @ Chargers, vs Raiders, @ Browns, @ Steelers

In a scheduling quirk which benefits Dalton owners greatly, the Bengals will start the playoff weeks with three straight games against the AFC West. Starting with the Broncos behind Case Keenum in Cincinnati the Bengals will have a relatively easy defensive schedule. The best part of the Broncos defense is their mystic, and this will not get them very fat as we have seen in the last two seasons. Especially when you don’t have a quarterback. Currently, the Broncos are giving up 5.3 yards per rush on the ground and their secondary is not what it once was making A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd in line to have great weeks as well. The player getting them the ball will be Andy Dalton making him a solid top 10 play for the entirety of the playoff run. After the Chargers game in Week 14 in Los Angeles, the Bengals will return home to face a Raiders team who is getting picked on a lot and will continue to be so as long as John Gruden is their head coach. The team gave up on the season before it started by trading away Khalil Mack and further solidified this thought by trading Amari Cooper to Dallas to make sure they have no one good on their team. The defense was bad in 2017 with Mack. Without him in 2018? They have been even worse and the Bengals who should still be fighting with the Ravens and the Steelers for the division will take full advantage.

Week 16 and, if you play it, Week 17 brings tough divisional games against the Browns and the Steelers but luckily for us neither of these games is at night which means Dalton should be fine. Especially in Week 16 against the Browns, the Bengals could beat up on a Browns team who has overachieved this season and may be at their wit's end by this point in the season. In Week 17, which could be for a playoff berth or division title, the Steelers will host the Bengals, and this could be a shootout with both defenses seemingly being bad. The Steelers for the entire season and the Bengals becoming more so as the season has moved on. This is the scariest of the games for sure as the Steelers usually play the Bengals' extremely tough but luckily for us it is Week 17 and any league worth its salt is already done so just sit and relax and watch a great game.

 

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Playoff Matchups: @ Raiders, vs Ravens, vs Chargers, @ Seahawks, vs Raiders

Obviously the first choice out of any of these players, Pat Mahomes is listed last because unlike the other two quarterbacks, if you did not already get him on your team, he is long gone. I will be the first to admit I was wrong about how good Mahomes would be this season. Rookie struggles I thought would occur have been a non-issue and he has looked like one of the leaders of the new generation of play callers behind center in the NFL for many years to come. It's unlikely you find an owner willing to part with Mahomes but if he already has another solid player that was drafted as a QB1 and you are lacking consistency at the position, you may want to try swinging a deal.

Looking at his playoff matchups, they are made a little easier as the Chiefs are one of the teams to have a Week 12 bye meaning they will be refreshed for the playoff push. This bodes very well in Week 13 as they will come out of the bye week, yes Andy Reid after a bye is money, refreshed and ready to lay the smackdown on the Oakland Grudens. If the Raiders have a complete roster by this point it will not be a great one and this could be the first 50-point performance of the season for a team. The Chiefs are going to light up the Oakland Coliseum and the Raiders defense along with it.

The following two games are more difficult, especially Week 14 against the Ravens, but both of these games will be at Arrowhead making them easier to handle. The Ravens, although elite on defense, were pummeled by Andy Dalton for four touchdowns earlier in the season and with even better weapons in Kareem Hunt, Tyrek Hill and Sammy Watkins, not to mention Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes should throw for over 300 yards and have at minimum three touchdowns of his own in this game before moving in to a short week and a Thursday game against the Chargers.

In Week 16, championship week for most leagues, the Chiefs will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks who although better than expected on defense, have lost Earl Thomas for the year and are vulnerable to the deep pass. With the offense in Seattle coming around recently, Russell Wilson should be in his normal late season form and this could be a sneaky shootout in the Pacific Northwest. If you play a championship in Week 17, please don't tell me. If so, bring on the Raiders to Arrowhead.

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