In the great words of Billy Shakespeare, “To stream or not to stream? That is the question.” I’m relatively sure he said that in like some British rom-com or something of the sort — I’m illiterate so me and books don’t mix.
But what I do know is that some of the top quarterbacks this week have some pretty unappetizing matchups. Not to mention high-end passing assets like Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray being on bye. Popular mix-and-match quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Philip Rivers are getting their week off as well.
As we are hurtling towards the playoffs, this could very well be a make-or-break week for you, so let’s dive into some matchups and projections and see if we can’t figure out your quarterback conundrum.
QUARTERBACKS WHO COULD UNDERPERFORM
Tom Brady vs. Dallas ($28 in Yahoo DFS)
In the three games Tom Brady has played against teams with then-winning records (BUF, BAL, PHI) he’s completed just 56 percent of his passes for 217 yards per game. He has more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (1) in those three games. For those of you keeping track at home, Julian Edelman has as many passing touchdowns in those three games as Brady ...
Well, guess what: The Patriots are hosting the Cowboys who have, you guessed it, a winning record.
And this doesn’t look like an easy fix as the entire Patriots offense has looked slow. The team lacks a reliable vertical passing attack while at the same time lacking an even league-average run game. Their 3.31 yards per carry average is the third-lowest mark in the NFL.
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are coming into town and the Dallas defense has been tough, allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing signal-callers.
I think Brady has a muted day and I’m projecting him for about 235 passing yards and just one touchdown, meaning he will underperform in season-long leagues but especially in DFS, given his price.
(By the way, I’m not worried about Dak in this matchup. New England’s FPA versus quarterbacks has been wildly inflated by the part-time car salesmen and future real estate agents they’ve played this year at quarterback. Over the last four weeks, the Patriots have allowed the 12th-most FPPG to quarterbacks. Dak won’t go nuts, but he’ll be fine.)
Aaron Rodgers @ SF ($31 in Yahoo DFS)
You know, if you take away his wild five-touchdown game against Oakland, Rodgers is averaging a very pedestrian 16.2 fantasy points per game in Yahoo standard. That would put him behind such quarterback luminaries as Daniel Jones and Andy Dalton.
This week he takes on a Niners defense that is allowing the second-fewest FPPG to quarterbacks. I’m projecting him for about 235 passing yards, a score, a pick, and 10 rushing yards.
It’s always tough to sit down Rodgers because great players can always put up great games, but he’s not a must-start by any means.
Jimmy Garoppolo vs GB ($25)
Speaking of that game, expecting another big game from Jimmy G feels very much like a trap. Look, I get it, over his last four weeks he’s been great, averaging 21.38 FPPG. But two of those four games came against Arizona, whose defense is about as tough as a wet cardboard box.
This week Garoppolo will have a tough matchup as Green Bay allows the 8th-fewest FPPG to opposing quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the Packers run defense has been suspect, allowing the 4th-most rushing yards to running backs this season. Opposing RB’s are averaging a very healthy 4.93YPC against Green Bay and we know that Kyle Shanahan would love nothing more than to bury his opponents with repeated long runs.
Both teams feature good pass defenses, both teams have been run on recently and both teams feature strong rushing attacks. This game has all the markings of a lower-scoring, run-heavy game, making the quarterbacks in it both bench-worthy.
I have Garoppolo down for 265 passing yards, a touchdown, and a pick.
Drew Brees vs CAR ($31)
Drew Brees got back on track last week, completing 80% of his passes and tossing three touchdowns. But that was against Tampa Bay, one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.
This week Brees takes on Carolina and the Panthers have allowed the 11th-fewest FPPG to quarterbacks this year. But my major concern would be less about the secondary and more about their leaky run defense. Teams are running roughshod on Carolina as the Panthers allow the 6th-most rushing yards per game. This feels very much like a Kamara/Latavius game to me.
I’m projecting Brees to post about 275 passing yards with just one touchdown.
QUARTERBACK STREAMING OPTIONS
Derek Carr @ NYJ ($28)
The Oakland signal-caller has been sneaky good over his last five games, averaging 275 passing yards per contest while also scoring two or more touchdowns in four of those five.
A big reason behind the Carr resurgence has been favorable matchups and his soft schedule continues this week against the Jets. Gang Green has allowed the 5th-most FPPG to opposing quarterbacks over the last four weeks.
The fact that Oakland has also been repeatedly gashed through the air suggests this could be a high-scoring game.
I have Carr projected at 19.4 fantasy points for Week 12, making him a solid bargain at his price.
Sam Darnold vs OAK ($26)
As the matchups have eased up for the Jets, Sam Darnold has come alive, like we saw last week when he put up an Abe Lincoln game — as in, four scores.
Expect that success to carry over into this week as he takes on a soft Oakland secondary that allows the 8th-most FPPG to opposing quarterbacks. Of note is the fact that the Raiders have given up the most yards and the most touchdowns on “deep passes” this year. The Jets have Robby Anderson and to a lesser extent Demaryius Thomas on the outside. The stats and the personnel suggest Darnold does have significant upside this week.
As stated above, the fact that the Jets secondary can also be exposed would indicate this game could be a higher scoring one than some are anticipating. That’s why I’m projecting Darnold to have about 265 yards with at least two scores. He should well outperform his DFS price tag.
Dwayne Haskins vs DET ($21)
Any of you lunatics want to get crazy with me and stream Dwayne Haskins against Detroit???
Now, before you roll your eyes, remember the Lions are giving up the 4th-most FPPG to quarterbacks and are the same team that recently gave up a three-touchdown performance to Mitch Trubisky. The 12 passing touchdowns they’ve allowed over the last 4 weeks are tied for the 2nd-most in the NFL.
And for Haskins’ part, he’s coming off of a two-touchdown performance where he threw the ball 35 times. It’s possible that head coach Bill Callahan is taking the training wheels off.
If you’re looking for a deep sleeper with good upside, Haskins could be your guy. I have him penciled in for 220 passing yards and two touchdowns — a good fantasy day and one that would outperform his cost in DFS, allowing you to stack up big names at other positions.
James Koh is a fantasy football analyst and an award-winning journalist. He’s probably wrong, but you never know. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDKoh.