Fantasy Football: Start or Sit Marcus Mariota in Week Twelve?

The last time we saw Marcus Mariota, he was throwing four interceptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. That kind of prime-time meltdown is enough to have people second-guess their decision making when it comes to their fantasy football players. It’s easier to succumb to that type of bias when we get Madden Cam letting us see exactly how dumb his throws were at times. But here’s the crazy thing about fantasy football: when the dust settled, only eight QBs ranked higher than Mariota last week. Can you get back in the saddle with Marcus Mariota this week, or was the Steelers undressing of Mariota the start of a trend? Let’s look at this in three parts.

First, the Steelers defense, which likely had as much if not more to do with Mariota’s meltdown as Mariota did. Admittedly, they’ve yet to play a QB that would make that defense shake in its boots, unless you count Matthew Stafford, pre-regression Alex Smith or Jeff-Fisher-PTSD-addled early season Case Keenum. Still, they’ve allowed zero quarterbacks to end their day with twenty fantasy points, which is an accomplishment no matter how you slice it up. Ultimately, Mariota ended the game with 18.74 fantasy points, and is just the second quarterback to crack 18 fantasy points against the Steelers, joining DeShone Ki–

Wait, that can’t be right. Yeah. Carry the one, six points for the rushing touchdown. Hmm. Yeah.

Joining DeShone Kizer. Weird.

Anyway, let’s move on to Mariota. He’s been incredibly consistent this year on a fantasy points per game basis. He has just one game at fewer than fourteen fantasy points, and no games higher than 19.7. He has a nice, easy sweet spot at around 16-17 fantasy points per game. While you’re shooting for 20 to get into top-five territory, reliably getting a few points fewer than that is a good thing to bank. Why is Mariota so consistent? For one, he doesn’t really throw interceptions (his four last week are 40% of his year-long total). He also is second in QB rushing scores, and that can do a ton to buoy an otherwise bad performance, as we saw last week.

We’ve established he’s consistent and good, but what about the team he takes on this week? Well, the Colts are… not… those things. They allow the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year, including fifteen fantasy points already to Marcus Mariota. They lost Vontae Davis, but that was offset by the emergence of Rashaan Melvin. They’ve been better recently, but still not good or great. They’ve allowed 300 passing yards or multiple touchdowns to every QB they’ve faced this year except Thomas Savage, so halfway decent QBs can take them apart.

We saw Mariota’s putrid Thursday Night Football performance, but sometimes with fantasy football, perception isn’t reality. Even though that game was bad, it was more picks than he had thrown total in over a month. Mariota is incredibly consistent and has a top-ten matchup this week. If you have him, don’t stress. He’ll do just fine, but don’t expect a breakout performance. I’d stay away in DFS this week, too, as he doesn’t have much upside. He’s just going to keep you from having any sort of serious downside.

About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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