Decisions, man. They’re usually hard, which sucks because I like easy things.
The fantasy football decisions you’ve been making every week are about to overtake your life. Or maybe they already were, because if fantasy football hasn’t ruined at least one relationship, you’re not doing it right. Also, if you haven’t randomly woken up in a Vegas ditch with a white tiger because of fantasy football, you haven’t lived.
Week 12 officially begins in a few hours, which means the crunchiest time is upon us and the immense weight of your weekly decisions will cause cold sweats. That’s why going forward we’re going to spotlight one possible lineup decision a sizable chunk of worried souls are facing, and try to determine the best course of action, or at least the one that will result in less mental anguish.
First up: Joe Flacco vs. Mike Glennon.
This is a likely conundrum out there in Week 12, and selfishly, it’s the specific conundrum that I’m dealing with in a 20-team office league battle to the death. For those who took the late-round quarterback approach back in August but whiffed on ideal target Tony Romo, Flacco became a nice, safe landing spot. There’s nothing overly impressive about him as a fantasy option, but after (in theory, at least) loading up at other positions where scarcity was a greater concern, you’ll gladly take Flacco’s average of 12.4 fantasy points per game in the 10th round.
But since you desire some higher upside at a minimal cost during the playoff push, you just put a wavier claim in on Mike Glennon this week after his 17 fantasy points on 231 passing yards and two touchdowns against the absolutely horrid Falcons, and he now draws the Lions Sunday and their also incompetent secondary. So, what’s the problem? The Jets and their near-equal crappiness, that’s what.
Both the rookie and Flacco, the overpaid champ, are facing horrible secondaries, with the Lions giving up 283.8 passing yards per game (30th), and the Jets better but only marginally at 250.8 (23rd). In fact, go ahead and pull out pretty much any of the fundamental metrics commonly used to measure a pass defense, and I’ll show you a near even draw.
- Yards allowed per attempt: advantage Jets, 7.1 to 7.5
- Completion percentage allowed: advantage Lions, 60.6 to 60.1
- Passing touchdowns allowed: tied at 19
- Opposing passer rating: advantage Jets, 93.0 to 88.2
- Receptions of +20 yards allowed: advantage Jets, 33 to 36
- Receptions of +40 yards allowed: tied at 10
But while in many ways there’s a mirror between the opponents Flacco and Glennon will be chucking against this weekend — and therefore also one on their Week 12 fantasy values — two major distinctions remain. Let’s go exploring.
Mike Glennon @ DET
Very little is scary about the Lions’ secondary, and that’s been especially true over the past four weeks, a stretch of woe in which they’ve given up 12 passing touchdowns with 1,257 yards allowed (an average of 314.5 per game), and they’ve taken the opposing quarterback down only four times while generating just one takeaway. This is why the hype-o-meter is churning out Glennon love, including around these parts where I gave him my own personal man shug earlier this week. Glennon earned the esteemed title of “waiver gem” and yet even with this highly appealing matchup he’s still available in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues.
But taking the long view, despite all the yards they’ve given up and all the touchdowns allowed and just generally all the chunks upon chunks of field recently surrendered by the Lions, there’s still something to be leery about, at least in this conversation and the Flacco matchup showdown: interceptions.
The Lions have generated 11 of them, five of which have fallen into the hands of linebacker DeAndre Levy, who had all of five picks over four seasons prior to this year. Levy is tied for the league lead in interceptions, and he’s also among the league leaders in passes defensed (15).
Levy’s presence and his picking prowess is at least moderately concerning given Glennon’s frequent high volume of short-to-intermediate passes, which is surely a designed approach to give a rookie quarterback an abundance of high-percentage throws. Of Glennon’s 154 completions, 9.7 percent of them have gone for 20 yards or more. That’s not at all horrible, but for some perspective, it’s still a far distance behind Ben Roethlisberger, who’s tied for the league lead with 46 pass for more than 20 yards, and that accounts for 12% of his completions.
This week, though, Glennon’s passing focus could and should shift downfield due to a key ingredient: time. The Lions’ pass rush, in a word, stinks. Despite the presence of Ndamukong Suh and a recent draft focus up front between Ziggy Ansah and Nick Fairley, they’ve totaled only 16 sacks, the third worst output in the league. Ansah’s return after missing a week with an ankle injury will help, but Glennon should still have plenty of time to find Vincent Jackson deep. Glennon’s deep looks may be a little more infrequent, but he’s perfected the “hey Vincent, I left a ball way up in the sky for you…can you go catch it with one hand about 50 yards away? Kay thanks”. He’s thrown four passes for +30 yards, and two of them have been on deep heaves to Jackson for 53 and 59 yards.
What’s also encouraging is the care Glennon has shown with the football despite an absurdly high throwing volume. Glennon attempted 181 pass attempts over his first four games, which was a record, and the worst kind. Mercifully, that pace has slowed since (less than 25 attempts over his last three games), but it’s still quite remarkable that since Week 7 Glennon has attempted 162 passes, and only one of them has ended in an interception.
Joe Flacco vs. NYJ
The Jets’ secondary redefined disarray last week. Not even a bye week and an extra seven days to prepare for the Bills could save them from themselves.
Both of E.J. Manuel’s touchdown passes were the result of massive mental blunders. On the first, rookie Dee Milliner simply lost track of the football — a pretty important object — in the air, and a ball that was underthrown by about five yards ended in T.J. Graham’s hands 34 yards later for seven points. Milliner was torched again by Graham for 40 yards, and then one play later Antonio Cromartie rolled all over himself during Marquise Goodwin’s 43 yard touchdown.
Little good happened when balls were thrown deep, and just like the Bills with their mach-19 (that doesn’t exist) speed between Goodwin and Graham, Flacco has Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. They’re very much the opposite of slow, especially with Smith averaging 17.1 yards per catch. But time will be a problem for Flacco.
Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson are mean men. Combined they have 10.5 sacks, a significant chunk of the Jets’ overall 28.0 QB throw downs. The entire Jets pass rush has gone relatively silent of late, though, with only four sacks over their past three games. That gives Flacco hope in his desire to find Smith deep and to do so often, but this doesn’t: the creakiness of the Ravens’ offensive line, a unit that’s watched their quarterback get crunched 33 times (26th), including five games with at least four sacks allowed.
Give me…Glennon: Each macthup here is appealing, as both Glennon and Flacco have a Week 12 opponent with a glaring weakness (just simply horrible, horrible secondaries) ripe to be pounced on, but they’re compensated for at least somewhat by, well, something (the Lions with their takeaways, and the Jets with their pass rush). Glennon’s advantage lies in his care with the ball, and therefore his ability to overcome the Lions’ constant hawking of balls, whereas Flacco’s avoidance of the large and fast men who want to hurt him is much more out of his control.