Fantasy Football Week 14: Start or Sit Jameis Winston, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen
It’s the first week of the fantasy football playoffs in most leagues, and that means, statistically, fewer people than ever should be reading this article. Nevertheless, if you are reading this, congratulations on the playoffs! Our weekly start or sit articles hope to help you make some informed decisions in your league every week, and we start by highlighting three quarterbacks with good matchups this week. You ready to eat some W’s this week?
Start or Sit Jameis Winston at New Orleans
Don’t look now, but the YOLO Jameis Winston seems to have taken a backseat to a version that we’ve never seen before: a cautious Jameis who doesn’t want to bomb it out for forty yards each play. In the last three games, he has just one turnover (an interception). That pick came against the Giants on the heels of a stretch of ten interceptions in four games. He’s definitely evened out, as well, averaging 253 yards with two touchdowns per contest. The high variance Tampa Bay Quarterback situation seems to have calmed itself, at least for now. He’s put up two-straight contests of at least 22 fantasy points against the Niners and the Panthers. The Niners put up almost no fight, and the Panthers did their best to slow it down, so Jameis had only thirty passes.
This week, however, he gets a quality Saints defense that tends to have teams churn fantasy points against them in a meager effort to keep up with the Saints offense. Since their week six bye, they’ve allowed five games of 20+ quarterback fantasy points. Carson Wentz cratered against them, and Dak wasn’t interested in doing anything but chewing clock last week, so there’s really only been one bad QB performance against them. The question to start or sit Jameis Winston is one that the Buccaneers seem to have to ask themselves every week, but if you’re in a particular bind, he’s not a bad play to start this week.
Start or Sit Josh Allen versus the New York Jets
It’s been a long and winding road, but it finally seems to be the Josh Allen Era in Buffalo. They trimmed the proverbial and literal fat in their receiving corps this week, surprisingly cutting wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. That doesn’t seem to be a big problem for Allen, who targeted Benjamin just 4.4 times per game in his starts. The passing will do a lot to buoy Josh Allen’s fantasy production this week, as he takes his blistering 52.9% completion percentage and 5:7 TD: INT ration into the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium to take on the New York Jets. However, the real joy in starting Josh Allen is that he has quietly become what fantasy football pundits hoped Lamar Jackson would be. If you exclude his kneel down in week twelve against Jacksonville, Allen has 100 rushing yards in two straight games. That powered him to the #4 and #2 finishes at QB in the last two weeks, giving him more top-five games in the last two weeks than Tom Brady has all season.
The Jets, on paper, are a neutral-to-bad matchup, as they allow the twelfth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. That mostly comes from low yardage totals (from short fields) and their blistering hot TD: INT rate through week six. At that point, they had nine interceptions and had yielded just eleven touchdowns through those six games. Since then, they’ve allowed multiple QB touchdowns in five-of-six games and notched just one interception in that span. The Bills have had a hard time deciding whether they should start or sit Josh Allen in his rookie year, and they’ve had no choice but to let the rookie bomb it out so they can see what they have going. This week, if you need a high-upside play (say you’re the #6 seed against the #3 seed), then Josh Allen is a good start. Almost good enough to forget he’s Josh Allen.
Start or Sit Baker Mayfield versus Carolina
If you think that Baker Mayfield is my favorite fantasy football quarterback to write about, you are correct. It’s fun to write “start or sit Baker Mayfield” pieces. He’s rolling on a big heater and has lit the league on absolute fire. That is, until last week, when he ran into the fantasy football buzz saw that is the Houston Texans defense. Last week, I recommended those debating whether to start or sit Mayfield to sit him. He ended up with one touchdown and three picks, which is more interceptions than his five previous games combined. He salvaged his day with 297 passing yards, making those who started him feel better than those who started Drew Brees on TNF. I’m incredibly excited to see what he can do next year, and beyond. I’m also incredibly excited to see what Baker can do this week against the Carolina Panthers.
These aren’t your daddy’s Carolina Panthers, with a stout defense that Cam rode to the Super Bowl. Four of the last five QBs to face them have at least 21 fantasy points in four-point passing TD leagues, and they haven’t picked anyone off since Ryan Fitzpatrick five weeks ago (which isn’t exactly a feat). It’s a great matchup for Baker Mayfield to bounce back from his first bad start since his hot streak began, and you can go back to slotting him in to start, with confidence.
These three quarterbacks haven’t been great starts all year, and starting them in the fantasy football playoffs takes some serious cajones, but if you need to decide between them, I would go with:
- Baker Mayfield
- Josh Allen
- Jameis Winston