David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Better than Usual
Baker Mayfield, CLE (vs. CIN)
Mayfield won’t finish the season as a top-12 fantasy quarterback, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that he’s been a useful fantasy quarterback if you’ve been playing the matchups. Over the last four weeks, he is QB12 at 16.4 fantasy points per game. That’s even with Andrew Luck and better than Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Jared Goff.
This week, Mayfield should be a preferred option when he faces the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland. When these teams met back in Week 12, Mayfield completed 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns, which was good for 25.9 fantasy points. The Bengals have been an average matchup for quarterbacks over the last month, but for the season, they’ve allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game (270.6).
With the Browns still in contention and the matchup in his favor, Mayfield has top-10 potential for Week 16.
Jared Goff, LAR (at ARI)
The Los Angeles Rams have been NFC West champions for weeks, yet it doesn’t feel like the team is still in position to earn a first-round bye. Consecutive losses to the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles following a less-than-inspiring performance against the Detroit Lions has Goff owners worried about how he’ll perform in the most important week of the season.
Goff needed 53 pass attempts to throw for 339 yards against the Eagles, but he failed to throw a touchdown. Over the last three games, he has one touchdown to six interceptions while completing just 72 of 130 passes (55.4 percent). He’s been miserable for fantasy purposes, and if you’ve survived his poor play, it’s fair to wonder if he’s worth a spot in your lineup.
In Week 16, Goff and the Rams hit the road to face the Arizona Cardinals. They’ve been the 12th-easiest matchup for quarterbacks over the last month. Back in Week 2, Goff got the Cardinals for 354 yards with one touchdown and one interception on 24-of-32 passing. That feels like ancient history considering how bad he has been since the Week 12 bye. He’s not a lock for starting lineups.
Cam Newton, CAR (vs. ATL)
If you haven’t learned by now, players have a tough time truly getting over injuries suffered during the season. Despite limited practices in recent weeks, Newton hasn’t been on the final injury report heading into the last two games. His shoulder injury is a clear problem, so his injury designation hasn’t told the whole story.
On Monday night, Newton had just 131 yards with no touchdowns and an interception on 16-of-29 passing. He has just two touchdowns to six interceptions in his last three games. He has at least one interception in six straight games, and nine of his 13 interceptions on the season have come in the last six games.
According to Steve Reed of the Associated Press, head coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t “speculate” on Newton’s status for this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. Even though the Carolina Panthers haven’t officially been eliminated from the playoffs, Rivera’s lack of commitment to Newton indicates the concern is real. You should look elsewhere if Newton has been your starting quarterback.
Editor’s Note: Since publish, the Panthers have confirmed that they will be shutting down Cam Newton for the final two games.
Josh Allen, BUF (at NE)
Allen’s worst rushing performance of the season yards-wise was still good enough for the No. 4 spot at the quarterback position for Week 15. That probably more of an indictment of how bad the other performances were around the league, but that shouldn’t take away from Allen’s fantasy dominance over the last month.
He connected on just 13 of 26 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown. He added just 16 rushing yards on nine attempts but ran in a touchdown for the third time in four games. He’s the top fantasy quarterback since Week 12, so the sample size is big enough to believe in him as a legit starter.
When the Buffalo Bills faced the New England Patriots in Week 8, Allen wasn’t active, so this will be his first crack at the defending AFC champions. The Patriots have been an average matchup for fantasy quarterbacks in the last four weeks, but they’ve allowed the 10th-most passing yards per game at 256.5.
Obviously, much of Allen’s value is tied to his legs, so even if he has another pedestrian day through the air, he can make up for it on the ground. He is a low-end starter for Week 16.