Kirk Cousins’ toss to Pierre Garcon through the teeth of a whipping Washington wind last Sunday night acted as an exorcism. An hour before he asked the question to his boss, Cousins drew America close and screamed in our ear about his newfound vertical prowess: How you like me now?
Cousins is only No. 14 in my season-long rankings below, but that number is marred by a brutal first five weeks that lacked a single positive game. Since Week 6, he’s been a top-five quarterback in my hare-brained system, with his deep throws adding a missing piece to his profile. Cousins’ raw numbers were better down the stretch last season, but he’s a better quarterback during this streak.
I loved everything about Cousins joyously challenging his boss, general manager Scot McCloughan, with his postgame exultation. Yet the question remains unanswered: How does McCloughan like Cousins now?
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The next six weeks will go a long way in determining Cousins’ future. By continuing the hot streak, Cousins would put incredible pressure on the Redskins to give him a long-term deal — and the QB would have all the leverage, allowing him to only accept a top-shelf offer ($20 million-plus per season). He knows that big money would be waiting around the free agency corner, so don’t assume staying with the Redskins is a done deal yet.
In this week’s QB Index, I’ll look at what’s at stake the rest of the season for starting quarterbacks. For Cousins, it’s a boatload of cash and the ability to control the next phase of his career. Six weeks is an eternity in the NFL, plenty of time to prove his boss wrong cheap NFL jerseys again and again.
Those players will be joined by 2016 finalists such as Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis jersey, Terrell Owens, John Lynch and Don Coryell.Other first-year eligibles include safety Brian Dawkins, defensive end Jason Taylor and wide receiver Hines Ward.
Davis, the former Denver Broncos running back, has made the semifinalist list 11 times, the most of any nominee this year.
Davis, Warner, Owens and former Dallas Cowboys jerseys coach Jimmy Johnson will be interesting names to track when the debates heat up in January. Once the list is reduced to 15 finalists, those candidates will join Senior Finalist Kenny Easley and 2017 Contributor Finalists Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue when the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee meets to vote on the eve of Super Bowl LI.
Nothing is ever easy in fantasy football, and that’s what makes it fun. Whether the issue is injuries, poor matchups or underperformance it’s rare that we can count on starting the same players week-in-and-week-out. Sometimes we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for options in good spots that given week for a desperation play.
Here we will look at five candidates each week, one or two from each of the four fantasy-relevant positions that make good spot starts in their upcoming games. With the fantasy playoffs at our doorstep, these players should hopefully be sitting on the end of your bench, but whether by newfound opportunity or a good matchup, they present sneaky value for the coming week or even into the fantasy postseason.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
Taylor starts his end of season schedule facing the Raiders this week. Oakland is tied with the Colts for the highest yards per play allowed (6.2) so far this year and give up the most yards per completion. Buffalo wants to use a conservative game plan, but playing in Oakland against a high-powered offense should force them out of their shell. Taylor is a pristine deep ball passer, and now has the Sammy Watkins cheat code back in the lineup. Watkins brings the icing on the cake to Taylor’s deep ball and registered a whopping 23.4 air yards per target in his Week 12 return.
The added bonus of Taylor is his remaining rest of season schedule. After his duel with Oakland he gets the Steelers, Browns, Dolphins and Jets. All of those teams rank in the top-half of the NFL in yards per completion allowed to quarterbacks on the season. With Watkins back in the fold, Taylor looks like a league-winning quarterback play the rest of the way. The receiver did suffer a setback in practice this week, but even if he’s on the field for a limited amount of snaps like he was in Week 12, it’s a huge boost for Taylor.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
The Bengals defense has certainly taken a noticeable step back this year all around. One area where they’ve been particularly weak is at slowing down running backs, and not just on the ground. Opposing teams have targeted running backs 92 times against the Bengals this year, which only trails the Falcons’ whopping 114 targets allowed.
With inconsistent play at wide receiver and along the offensive line, the Eagles continue to scale back their offense. Carson Wentz threw only one pass that traveled farther than 20 yards in the air on Monday night, which was intercepted by Packers safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Conversely, Darren Sproles’ role continues to grow as an outlet receiver. Sproles has target totals of seven, nine, 10, one and seven over the last five games after averaging just 3.5 per game over his first six contests of the year. Whether Ryan Mathews plays or not, Sproles is in prime positon to absorb solid volume this week.
Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints
The Lions allow league-highs in completion rate (74 percent) and passer rating (106.4). Their pass defense has been picked apart all season, but especially in the short areas of the field and by quick passing games. Detroit gives up the third-highest passer rating (101.3) on passes where the quarterback had a time to throw of 2.50 seconds or less. That’s not a good mark in their ledger to carry this week, as they’ll face Drew Brees who gets the ball out of his hands with great quickness. Brees’ time to throw of 2.38 seconds is the second-lowest among NFL starters this year.
Slot receiver Willie Snead is the top short-area passing option on the Saints this year. Snead’s 7.1 air yards per target is the lowest among the Saints wide receivers and tight ends who have more than 20 targets on the year. If Brees is picking apart the Lions with quick-timing throws, his slot receiver could be his preferred target on the day. Snead has four or more catches in all but two games this season.