The opposite is also true. If you have a quarterback (or can get one off the waiver wire) going up against an especially poor pass defense like the Arizona Cardinals’, it makes sense to roster that passer for a week, especially considering the Cardinals are yielding a league-high 24.7 fantasy points to quarterbacks. The same week Rodgers struggled against San Francisco, for example, Sam Darnold threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns against the weak Raiders pass defense.
While the stakes might be higher, the calculus during the fantasy football playoffs should remain the same. After all, you still want to score the most points possible, and the best way to do that is to use players in the most-advantaged matchups. And that could suggest including New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in your postseason plans.
Before you guffaw and close your browser, consider that Manning, who on Monday night will get another chance as the starting quarterback of the Giants, would be facing two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL during Weeks 15 and 16, weeks typically reserved for the final two weeks of the fantasy football playoffs, including the all-important championship game.
Big Blue will face off against the Miami Dolphins in Week 15 and the Washington Redskins in Week 16, two teams whose pass defenses rank 32nd and 20th, respectively, per Football Outsiders. Miami has allowed opposing quarterbacks to produce a 105.3 passer rating against it this season, the second-worst mark in the league, in addition to allowing a league-high 2.6 points per drive. Washington is allowing 2.1 points per drive (the seventh-worst rate) and an above-average passer rating against (96.0, 22nd).
In fantasy terms, in Weeks 15 and 16 the Giants’ quarterback, whoever that may be, will be facing two teams that have allowed a combined average of 39.6 fantasy points to quarterbacks, the NFL’s fourth-friendliest schedule for those two weeks. Only presumed starters Gardner Minshew II (Jacksonville Jaguars), Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (Miami Dolphins) are in a more enviable position.
Plus, Manning didn’t perform much worse this season than the injured Daniel Jones, who is owned in 60 percent of fantasy leagues. Yes, Jones scored more fantasy points per game than Manning (16.8 compared to 13.5) but Jones also played the 11th easiest schedule in terms of pass defenses faced, per Sharp Football Stats, while Manning faced the 11th toughest slate of games.
Quarterbacks at the other end of the spectrum, with difficult closing fantasy schedules, include Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams), Darnold or David Fales (New York Jets) and Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills).
Allen, owned in over 90 percent of fantasy leagues, is in a terrible spot. He and the Bills will travel to Pittsburgh in Week 15 to face the Steelers and then hit the road again the following week to face the New England Patriots. Pittsburgh is allowing the fifth-lowest passer rating this season (82.4) and the Patriots are allowing a passer rating of 57.3, not much higher than the passer rating a quarterback would get if he threw the ball into the dirt every play (39.6). A passer facing those two defenses back-to-back would be expected to score just 23 fantasy points total, not much more than Minshew, Winston, Fitzpatrick or Manning would be expected to score in just one of their upcoming games.
Should you actually pick up and start Manning, Minshew or Fitzpatrick? That probably depends on your other options. But it sure would be fun to brag for the next decade that Eli Manning won you a fantasy football title in 2019.
Read more on the NFL: