I’d write something filled with inspirational and rah rah language here to get the fantasy championship adrenaline shooting to every area of your body, but this is an occasion which calls for the unique brick punching words of Tony D’Amato.
Alright then, now that we have that out of the way, let’s explore one of the most vexing roster decisions many of you are facing. It goes by the name of Kirk Cousins.
For the purposes of this little exercise, Andrew Luck is squaring off against Cousins in a fierce last-minute decision donnybrook. But really, we could insert any quarterback who has significant name value, is widely owned, and has struggled of late. Luck is our weapon of choice here because he’s the union leader of quarterbacks who meet that criteria, and with Cousins recently taking over for Robert Griffin III while being stashed on fantasy benches, many owners trying to win a championship are currently wrestling with a decision between an intriguing quarterback in a great matchup, and a wayward one in a lesser matchup, but at least he’s given you much more of a sample size to observe and calm all nerves.
So here’s what I would consider if I was scrapping with this particular problem.
Kirk Cousins vs. Cowboys
About that sample size problem: it’s terrifying, especially now on the Sunday of championship week when every decision is a pretty big deal. It takes some seriously juicy grapefruits to trot out a quarterback who’s making only his third career start, and even more worrisome, just his seventh career regular-season game appearance.
That’s why under normal circumstances I wouldn’t recommend even considering this. But there are no normal circumstances against the Cowboys defense.
I don’t need to remind you of how difficult defending the pass has been for dem ‘Boys this season, but I’ll do it anyway, as they’re either last or close to it in every fundamental metric we use to gauge the effectiveness of a secondary.
- 297.4 passing yards allowed per game (32nd)
- 7.8 yards allowed per pass attempt (26th)
- 30 passing touchdowns allowed (31st)
- 64 completions allowed of 20 yards or more (32nd)
- 96.4 opposing passer rating (27th)
That’s pretty yummy, especially after Cousins chucked for 385 yards and at a pace of 8.5 per attempt with three touchdowns against the also horrible Falcons defense last week.
But he turned the ball over three times in that game too on some horrible and very expectedly rookie-like decisions from a guy who’s still essentially a rookie quarterback. And that game was played in pristine dome conditions. Reminder: FedEx Field does not have a roof…
Removing tarp as rain comes down harder. Could be interesting. pic.twitter.com/YuOuZcokw3
— Tim Cowlishaw (@TimCowlishaw) December 22, 2013
The rain is pounding down in Washington right now with 14-17 mph winds, making Redskins-Cowboys one of the handful of games effected by weather today, mostly because December. It’s unwise to overplay the weather, because Nick Foles’ +20 point fantasy day when Philadelphia turned into Antarctica is still fresh. But it’s a factor that should be considered.
Andrew Luck @ Chiefs
The Colts have an entirely different passing offense since the loss of Reggie Wayne. While it’s swell that Da’Rick Rogers has arrived to provide a presence opposite T.Y. Hilton, you can’t replace or quantify the connection a young quarterback has with a trusted veteran.
Since Week 7 when Wayne went down, Luck has thrown six of his nine interceptions this season, and he’s had three games when his completion percentage fell below 55.0. But the most concerning numbers for fantasy purposes are tied to his yardage volume, or a lack thereof. Luck’s yards per attempt has fallen below 6.5 in four of his last seven games, and he’s also failed to reach 250 yards overall four times.
Inevitably that’s led to a lack of scoring too, with a four-touchdown game in Week 14 very much looking like an outlier. Luck had a four-week stretch between weeks 10 and 13 when he threw only two touchdowns, and now all of this sputtering disappointment from both Luck and the Colts offense opposes the Chiefs, a secondary that will bend to allow yardage before sucking back takeaways (they have 20 interceptions, and an opposing passer rating of just 75.5).
Give me…Luck: This decision is far more difficult than Luck’s name value makes it seem. But despite the juiciness of Cousins’ matchup — in a vacuum, arguably the best quarterback matchup of the week this side of Jay Cutler vs. Philly — there’s just far too much raging chaos in Washington. That refers to both the clouds in the sky, and in the locker room.
Yes, Dumpster Fire Potential is a real and immeasurable thing.