Each week, above our full fantasy rankings, SI.com fantasy writer Michael Beller and 4for4 writer John Paulsen will have a brief discussion about some of the most intriguing rankings questions. Scroll down for our full rankings at every position.
Michael Beller: John, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have received our implicit trust in the fantasy world for their entire careers. No one ever asks if they should start Brady or Rodgers because they don’t have to. Of course you start Brady and Rodgers. Well, that implicit trust may finally be fading.
Rodgers is ranked 11th among quarterbacks in total points in standard-scoring leagues this season, and 14th in points per game. Brady, meanwhile, is 14th and 16th, respectively, in those two categories. Rodgers has been a QB1 just once in his last six games, topping out at eighth in that span. Brady has ranked 15th or worse at the position in each of his last five games, and has as many games inside the top 10—three—as he does outside the top 20.
The fantasy playoffs are here, and owners of Rodgers and Brady likely never thought the quarterback position would be an issue, yet here they are. Are you automatically started Rodgers and Brady if you own them, or are you considering your other options?
John Paulsen: Pending the weather, I think Rodgers is a good start this week at home against the Falcons, who are 30th against quarterbacks by our schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric, aFPA. There’s a decent chance that the entire offense looks a lot better now that Mike McCarthy is out of the way, even if it stems from the Packers’ offense having a degree or two more of unpredictability to it. I’d be leery about using him next week in Chicago, where both weather and a ferocious defense will make things difficult. Green Bay is on the road to face the Jets in Week 16, which is not a scary matchup, but the game will be even more meaningless than these next two, so I wonder how focused the team will be on winning. If the Packers are able to win their next two games, they’ll likely still be alive for the playoffs, so that’s something to monitor.
As for Brady, he threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns on these Dolphins back in Week 4, but has been a different quarterback on the road this season. He has averaged 14.9 fantasy points in six road games while posting 20 per game in six contests in Foxboro. I have him ranked on the QB1 fringe this week, but barring an offensive explosion on Sunday that restores some confidence in this passing game, he is likely to be lower next week at Pittsburgh, the sixth-ranked defense in quarterback aFPA. Finally, I think he’ll be startable in Week 16 in a home game against Buffalo, which is first in quarterback aFPA, but that Buffalo secondary is stingy. They’re yielding 187 passing yards per game and 6.4 yards per attempt, but since the game is in New England, Brady will still be usable.
So, to answer your question, I wouldn’t automatically start either of these quarterbacks over the next three weeks. It will depend on matchup, situation and weather. The Packers have been all but eliminated from the playoff hunt, and Brady is perhaps showing that Father Time is catching up to him, posting three-year lows in YPA, touchdown percentage and yards per game.
Beller: It’s crazy to think that Rodgers and Brady—who are still playing well, just for the record—could be on fantasy benches in the playoffs. Alas, that’s the pass-happy world we live in these days. With that said, I do think Rodgers is a slam-dunk start this week, and I’ve got Brady on the QB1/2 borderline.