The Week 15 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Dec. 20, at 1 p.m. ET.
In this piece, I highlight quarterbacks who stand out in our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically our FantasyLabs Models. While the Models are built for daily contests, this is an all-purpose fantasy article with actionable information for all formats.
As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections, where players rate in our Models will change. For updates, visit the Models directly.
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Top Quarterbacks in the FantasyLabs Models
There are four quarterbacks atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek), Ryan Hodge and I have constructed.
Here’s where they place within our Week 15 fantasy football rankings (as of Tuesday evening).
- Lamar Jackson: No. 4
- Kyler Murray: No. 5
- Ryan Tannehill: No. 9
- Matt Ryan: No. 18
Of these four, the two who stand out most to me are Murray and Tannehill. The other guys I will highlight as needed in the section on players with week-winning upside.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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Kyler Murray: Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (48.5 Over/Under)
For the first 10 weeks of the season, Murray was maybe the best player in the NFL. He was certainly the best fantasy producer, ranking No. 1 among all quarterbacks with 32.4 fantasy points and +9.7 fantasy points over expectation per game (per RotoViz NFL Player Statistical Summary).
- Week 1 (at SF): 26.3 fantasy points | 230-1-1 passing | 13-91-1 rushing
- Week 2 (vs. WAS): 32.1 fantasy points | 286-1-1 passing | 8-67-2 rushing
- Week 3 (vs. DET): 21.7 fantasy points | 270-2-3 passing | 5-29-1 rushing
- Week 4 (at CAR): 23.1 fantasy points | 133-3-0 passing | 6-78-0 rushing
- Week 5 (at NYJ): 26.3 fantasy points | 380-1-1 passing | 9-31-1 rushing
- Week 6 (at DAL): 28.9 fantasy points | 188-2-0 passing | 10-74-1 rushing
- Week 7 (vs. SEA): 37.1 fantasy points | 360-3-1 passing | 14-67-1 rushing
- Week 9 (vs. MIA): 37.9 fantasy points | 283-3-0 passing | 11-106-1 rushing
- Week 10 (vs. BUF): 29.9 fantasy points | 245-1-1 passing | 11-61-2 rushing
During this span, Murray’s consistency was unrivaled: In every game he finished as a fantasy QB1 (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
His consistency in large part derived from his Konami Code running ability: In his first nine games, Murray was an obscene 87-604-10 rushing.
But in the first quarter of Week 11 he suffered a shoulder injury, the impact of which has been apparent in his performance over the past month (per RotoViz Game Splits App).
Since Week 11, Murray’s passing production has declined significantly and his rushing production has dropped perilously: In Weeks 1-10, Murray averaged 9.7 carries per game, but in each of Weeks 11-13, he had only five carries.
It’s not a coincidence that Murray’s four worst performances this year have all come over the past four games.
But last week I think we saw Murray return to form. As a passer, he had his best game of the past month with 7.54 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) — a mark nearly identical to his Weeks 1-10 AY/A of 7.57 — and as a runner he had his second-highest carry total of the season with 13.
In the words of Michael Scott: “It’s Britney, bitch, and I am back.”
Murray doesn’t have an elite matchup, but it’s also not prohibitive. The Eagles are No. 26 with a 43.8 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus), and the two quarterbacks with eight-plus carries against them this year have done well.
- Lamar Jackson (Week 6): 28.2 fantasy points | 186-1-0 passing | 9-108-1 rushing
- Daniel Jones (Week 10): 22.2 fantasy points | 244-0-0 passing | 9-64-1 rushing
As long as Murray truly is back to his former self, he should be able to produce against the Eagles.
In full disclosure: I’m betting against the Cardinals this weekend. I just can’t help myself. As dynamic as the Cardinals are, they have woefully underperformed with head coach Kliff Kingsbury as home favorites.
But my betting interest should not be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm for Murray, who actually happens to be on the positive side of his splits (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool).
- Home (14 games): 24.2 FanDuel points | 78.6% Consistency Rating
- Away (15 games): 19.7 FanDuel points | 66.7% Consistency Rating
- Favorite (nine games): 24.9 FanDuel points | 88.9% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (20 games): 20.5 FanDuel points | 65.0% Consistency Rating
The sample is small, but in his five games as a home favorite Murray has dominated with 29.3 FanDuel points per game and a 100% Consistency Rating.
Murray is a top-six QB1 in season-long leagues and the No. 1 quarterback in the Bales, Koerner, Raybon, SportsGeek and Hodge Models for FanDuel, where he has a position-high three Pro Trends.
Ryan Tannehill: Tennessee Titans vs. Detroit Lions (Off the Board)
This game is off the board at most sportsbooks because Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (ribs) is uncertain to play.
#Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s status is in doubt for Sunday against the #Titans, but he hasn’t been ruled out yet, per me and @TomPelissero. Stafford is tough and has played through a lot, but he was in a ton of pain last night after his rib injury. Chase Daniel would step in.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 14, 2020
But this game is available at Bet365, where the Titans are -10.5 favorites and the over/under is 51.5.
With these lines, the Titans have a slate-high 31-point implied Vegas total: They should put up points.
Although Tannehill doesn’t play in a fast-paced pass-heavy offense, he has a big factor in his favor this week: His matchup. The Lions are bad, ranking No. 30 with a 25.8% pass-defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders), and even that feels generous — but, you know, I suppose the Jaguars and Jets are worse.
What really makes the matchup pop is the health status of the Detroit cornerback unit: The Lions are significantly injured at the position. No. 1 cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring, IR) and No. 3 overall pick Jeffrey Okudah (shoulder, IR) are both out, which means the Lions are highly vulnerable in the secondary.
In the absence of Trufant and Okudah, wide receivers A.J. Brown and Corey Davis have great matchups against cornerbacks Darryl Roberts and Amani Oruwariye.
Roberts is a subpar slot defender who has allowed a 71.1% catch rate this year and been forced to play on the perimeter because of injuries. He started for the Jets last year, which just about says everything.
Oruwariye is a second-year fifth-rounder who has allowed 9.5 yards per target for his career. Just last week, he yielded 5-106-1 receiving on six targets.
Against these corners, Brown and Davis on their own could gift 250 yards and two touchdowns to Tannehill.
Since last year, Tannehill is No. 1 among all starting quarterbacks with an elite 9.19 AY/A. Here are the top six (including postseason).
The top-six quarterbacks in adjusted yards per attempt since last year (including playoffs):
1. Ryan Tannehill: 9.19 👀
2. Patrick Mahomes: 9.13
3. Russell Wilson: 8.67
4. Deshaun Watson: 8.49
5. Aaron Rodgers: 8.48
6. Dak Prescott: 8.39 pic.twitter.com/6qCgbr78Nc
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) December 16, 2020
Pretty good list, yeah?
It’s easy to overlook Tannehill because he’s not the focal point of his offense, but in his 23 starts with the Titans, he has passed for 300 yards or accounted for multiple touchdowns in every game except for one.
Not once with the Titans has he been anything worse than a fantasy QB2.
On a week-to-week basis, Tannehill has a high floor.
And the same is true for Titans games in general. In Tannehill’s 23 regular-season starts with Tennessee, the over is 18-4-1 (58.6% ROI).
Against a defense that ranks No. 29 with 29.9 points allowed, the Titans could go off.
Tannehill is a low-end QB1 with upside in season-long leagues and the top option in the Freedman Model for FanDuel.
Quarterbacks With Week-Winning Upside
In this section, I highlight some quarterbacks I think will outperform expectations and whom I especially like as upside season-long and DFS tournament plays.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (-2.5) at Saints (50.5 O/U): The Saints are No. 4 with a -7.7% pass-defense DVOA, but Mahomes is in MVP form with 4,208-33-5 passing and 52-250-2 rushing. Mahomes leads all quarterbacks in our Models with his median and floor projections. Since HC Andy Reid joined the franchise in 2013, the Chiefs have been the league’s most profitable road team, going 39-22-1 ATS (25.8% ROI).
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (-13.5) vs. Jaguars (46.5 O/U): I’m highly tempted to bet against the Ravens, who have allowed road underdogs to go 12-6 ATS (29.1% ROI) in Jackson’s starts …
… but that doesn’t mean I’m down on Jackson or enthusiastic about the Jags. Even though he missed a chunk of the game, Jackson wiped the Browns last week with 163-1-0 passing and 9-124-2 rushing, and the Jaguars are No. 31 with a 26.9% pass-defense DVOA and without starting cornerbacks C.J. Henderson and D.J. Hayden (hamstring, IR).
Jalen Hurts, Eagles (+6.5) vs. Cardinals (48.5 O/U): He wasn’t perfect last week, but Hurts did a good 2018 Lamar Jackson/Josh Allen impersonation in his first NFL start with 167-1-0 passing and 18-106-0 rushing against a tough Saints defense. Of all the quarterbacks in the 2020 draft class, Hurts might have the highest fantasy upside: As a transfer senior, he was 3,851-32-8 passing and 233-1,298-20 rushing last year at Oklahoma, finishing No. 2 in Heisman voting. He has position-high +4.84 and +5.96 Projected Plus/Minus values on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Matt Ryan, Falcons (+5.5) vs. Buccaneers (50.5 O/U): No. 1 wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is uncertain to play, and the Bucs are No. 7 with a -5.5% pass-defense DVOA, but Calvin Ridley is basically another No. 1 receiver …
Calvin Ridley in 16 career games with 8+ targets:
7 receptions-146 yards-3 TDs
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 14, 2020
… and Ryan has position-high marks with nine Pro Trends and a 95% Bargain Rating on DraftKings. Since 2018, Ryan trails only Patrick Mahomes in 300-yard passing games with 22.
Nick Mullens, 49ers (-3.5) at Cowboys (45.5 O/U): Through 15 starts, Mullens is No. 3 in NFL history with 4,186 yards passing, right behind Patrick Mahomes (4,827) and Kurt Warner (4,212). The Cowboys are No. 28 with a 42.7 PFF coverage grade and might be without three of their top four cornerbacks in Trevon Diggs (foot, IR), Chidobe Awuzie (COVID-19) and Anthony Brown (ribs). Per Prince: “You don’t have to be rich to be my girl.”
The Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, Freedman is commonly called the Oracle & the Labyrinthian.
Pictured above: Kyler Murray
Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images