Each week, above our full fantasy rankings, SI.com fantasy writer Michael Beller and 4for4 writer John Paulsen will have a brief debate about some players they view differently. Scroll down for our full rankings at every position.
Michael Beller: Here we are in Week 5, John. In-season evaluation can be a challenge in the NFL, given the small sample size nature of a league with 16-game regular seasons, but I need you to explain your Kirk Cousins ranking to me. The No. 7 quarterback in standard-scoring leagues, you have him 14th this week with the Vikings in Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. Is it because of the matchup? I understand the problems the Eagles appear to present on paper, but they're ranked 18th in 4for4's quarterback aFPA (schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed). Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marcus Mariota both put up 30-plus fantasy points on this team. You don't think Cousins can handle them? I've got him much higher, slotting him at QB4 this week.
We're going to stick with me being the optimistic one in this week's rankings as we turn our attention to Phillip Lindsay. You've got him as RB34, whereas I have him at RB18. He delivered again last week, running 12 times for 69 yards and a touchdown, and catching two passes for 10 yards. There's definitely some concern with the backfield split, as Royce Freeman picked up 67 yards and a score on eight carries, but Lindsay has scored at least 11 points in standard leagues (13.73 PPG) and at least 12 points in PPR formats (15.4 PPG) in all three games where he didn't get ejected. The Broncos are small underdogs at the Jets, but, again, this is a matchup aFPA likes, with the Jets ranked 23rd against running backs. So why are you so low on a guy who has been consistent and shouldn't be held back by the matchup this week?
John Paulsen: I don’t disagree with anything you said, Michael. I have Cousins projected to score 18.7 fantasy points—307 yards, 1.75 touchdowns and 0.85 interceptions with a bit of rushing thrown in—and on a per-game basis that fantasy production would have been good enough to finish as the No. 2 overall quarterback last season. It just happens to be a week where there are a number of very good quarterback options. The Vegas line on this game is 44.5, which is one of the lower totals on the board, and the Vikings are three-point underdogs after losing to the Bills and Rams in back-to-back weeks. This puts the Vikings implied total at 20.75, which is on the low-side for all the quarterbacks in the QB1 range this week. As I’ve mentioned before, my rankings are pretty raw on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning due to all the work that goes into doing full projections each week. Cousins is likely to move up a few spots by Thursday.
You’re right about Lindsay’s production in non-ejection games. He’s averaging 97 total yards in the three games where he wasn’t tossed for fighting, so owners should be able to expect 60 to 80 total yards on Sunday. But Broncos-Jets has one of the lower totals on the board (42.5), so touchdowns are going to be at a premium for both teams. There’s nothing about Lindsay’s matchup that is particularly alarming, but he’s in a committee and doesn’t catch a lot of passes, which hurts his baseline in half-PPR scoring.
Beller: I hear you, John. Sounds like we’re generally in agreement this week, I’m just a bit higher on Cousins and Lindsay. I’d love to see what sort of odds I could get on Cousins being a top-five quarterback this week, but that’s another idea for another column. Good luck this week.