The regular season is winding down, and for fantasy football owners lucky enough to be alive in their league’s playoffs, choosing the right quarterback to play in Week 15 could be the difference between winning your league and having to wait until next year to earn bragging rights.
At this stage of the fantasy playoffs, owners must pay close to attention to the injury reports and which players have the best matchups. This is not the time to take a lot of risks.
Let’s take a look at some of the toughest quarterback decisions ahead of Week 15.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Start vs. Washington
Ryan has been a frustrating player for fantasy owners this season, but he’s raised his performance of late with an average of 265 passing yards over the last four weeks. He’s also thrown five touchdown passes in that span.
The Falcons quarterback has a fantastic matchup in Week 15 against a Washington defense that ranks 27th against the pass and hasn’t given up fewer than 24 points since Week 4. The Redskins have also allowed the third-most passing touchdowns (25) and rank 28th in opponents’ completion percentage.
Ryan should have one of his best games of the year on Sunday, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he threw for over 300 yards and added a few touchdowns.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins: Start vs. New England Patriots
Tannehill didn’t play great against the Patriots in Week 8, but New England’s defense is battling so many injuries and Sunday’s matchup is in Miami with the Dolphins still in the mix for an AFC Wild Card playoff spot.
The second-year quarterback should be able to move the ball down the field consistently against a Patriots defense that ranks 16th against the pass and allowed Cleveland’s Jason Campbell to throw for 391 yards and three touchdowns in Week 14. Over the last four weeks, Tannehill has thrown for an average of 277 yards with a total of seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s also picked up at least 20 yards rushing in that four-week span.
If the Dolphins are able to establish their running game against a New England defense that ranks 31st versus the run, Tannehill should be able to connect on some big plays down the field with receivers Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline.
The Patriots have also given up 24 or more points in each of their last five games.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Start vs. Houston Texans
Luck played exceptionally well in Week 14 against a strong Bengals defense with 326 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Colts lost 42-28, but Luck’s performance earned him a lot of trust from fantasy owners going into his Week 15 matchup against the Texans, a team that has lost 11 straight games.
Houston has allowed two passing touchdowns per game over the last five weeks, and in Week 9, Luck passed for 271 yards and three touchdowns on the Texans defense. Luck’s recent resurgence, the emergence of young receivers Da’Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill in the Colts passing game, and the fact that Indianapolis is still chasing the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs make starting Luck a smart move.
Eli Manning, New York Giants: Sit vs. Seattle Seahawks
Manning hasn’t thrown for more than 300 yards since Week 5, and he was unable to produce quality numbers (259 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) in Week 14 against a Chargers defense that ranks 29th against the pass.
He also has a terrible matchup on Sunday against an elite Seahawks defense that ranks No. 1 against the pass.
Quarterbacks are completing just 58.3 percent of their passes against the Seahawks defense, which doesn’t bode well for Manning, who’s completed 58.3 percent of his passes and is tied for the NFL lead with 20 interceptions. Seattle also has the third-most interceptions (17) and has given up the third-fewest touchdown passes (14).
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals: Sit vs. Tennessee Titans
Palmer has been much better over the last six games than he was early in the season, but he has a difficult matchup on Sunday against the Titans. Tennessee’s defense, which ranks 11th against the pass, has allowed the fewest passing touchdowns (12) and only seven yards per pass attempt.
The veteran quarterback was limited in practice this week with an elbow injury, which is a real concern for fantasy owners because at this stage of the season, it’s important to play the healthiest players with the best matchups.