2020 Season: Week 15 Mailbag

Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer

To do something different this week, we reached out to the Twitterverse to see what questions people had going into Week 15. Because Twitter is a bit more conversational and direct, these questions have been edited slightly for readability. This was a blast, and we look forward to doing another one soon!

Week 15 (And First Ever) Mailbag!
Question #1: Jalen Hurts or Ben Roethlisberger? - @AcropolizArmee

Who should I start this week in a four-point passing TD league? Eagles QB Jalen Hurts against the Arizona Cardinals or Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger against Cincinnati?

CH: At this point in the season I really want some safety. What Jalen Hurts brings to the table is just that for fantasy purposes. I'll usually pick the QB with the rushing floor every time assuming they don't have a noodle for an arm, and I don't believe he does. Plus me being a Steelers fan makes me want to tell you to stay as far away from that shit show of an offense as you possibly can. Thankfully, you had the wherewithal to pick up Hurts and for that I applaud you. My pick is start Jalen Hurts.

MM: Look, if there could be a perfect team for Big Ben to have a bounce-back game against, it would be the Bengals. In Pittsburgh against the Bengals in Week 10, Roethlisberger put up 29.3 points and was the QB3. Unfortunately, since then he has nosedived, sitting at QB16 from Week 11 to Week 14 with 16.48 PPG over four games. He also has at least one interception over each of those games and has thrown more picks since Week 11 than he did the entire season before then. Given one of those dud performances was at Jacksonville, Cincy is not guaranteed to provide an environment where Ben will dominate. Plus with all the drops in Pittsburgh, Ben needs his receivers to bounce-back as well to push him into low-end QB1 territory.

That is why I prefer Hurts. Yes, he is a rookie. Eventually, defenses are going to catch up with him and he will need to adjust. Nobody is the exception to that rule, it is simply a matter of when, and how well do you bounce back. But do we really think Arizona is going to be the defense that gets that done? They are a middle-tier matchup for Hurts, not good, but not quaking in your boots scary. However, they allow the sixth-most yards to QBs on the ground, and we saw last week just how much damage Hurts can do on the ground. I think 50+ yards on the ground is not going to be a stretch, putting Hurts into the 16-21 point range for me this week. Given that Ben has been in the 16-17 point range lately, I want that rushing floor from Hurts that gives him the higher upside. Give me Hurts against the Cardinals.

Question #2: Jalen Hurts or Justin Herbert? - @McLateralFF

Who should I start this week? Eagles QB Jalen Hurts or Chargers QB Justin Herbert? Does your answer change if it is a six-point passing TD league?

CH: Potentially no Keenan Allen or Mike Williams at WR? I don't really care how bad the Raiders are on defense. On a short week without his top two wideouts, I'm good. I'm once again sticking to starting Jalen Hurts.

MM: So this came from the conversation I had with @AcropolizArmee, since he was debating between Hurts and Ben, and I had Hurts and Herbert. I initially told him that I believe in Hurts so much this week that I am starting Hurts over Herbert, and in a standard four-point passing TD league I still would go with Hurts for all the reasons I mentioned when talking about Hurts vs Roethlisberger. That rushing floor is just so good, and a six-point rushing TD would really give Hurts the edge towards finishing as a top-12 QB. Especially with the injuries that the Chargers are dealing with at WR.

But then I remembered that I have Herbert in a six-point passing TD league, which helps to equalize him against Hurts. Especially since the return of Ekeler in Week 12 seems to have killed any value Herbert added with his legs. In fact, there is some concern that the return of Ekeler has hurt Herbert's value through the air too, and the numbers seem to back that up. However, Keenan Allen is still the most targeted WR in the league, and with 40-50 passing attempts per game, the chances for Herbert to throw a couple TDs remain high. If Keenan Allen is healthy, I am rolling with Herbert. If Allen looks doubtful to play, I am going with Hurts.

Question #3: Which Two QBs to Start? - @BGFSports

I need to pick from four QBs for a two-QB league: Mitchell Trubisky (CHI), Justin Herbert (LAC), Gardner Minshew II (JAC), Baker Mayfield (CLE). Who are you picking?

CH: Start Herbert and Trubisky. Same things I said before about Herbert still apply but, well, you don't have a Jalen Hurts to turn to. Plus this is two-QB and that's different. Why am I saying all of this? This isn't helpful. Anyway, I could see a case for Mayfield if you're uncomfortable with the Chargers' current situation with injuries. I think it's a valid enough reason to pivot if you're trying to play it safe. I think it depends on how ballsy you need to be, but I'll stick to my guns. Let's just hope Herbert can manage success with... hmm... probably RB Austin Ekeler as his top target? That feels weird to think about. But hey, they're playing the Raiders who are very bad.

MM: As I discussed before, I like Herbert about on par with Jalen Hurts, so for me, Justin Herbert is a no-brainer here. So what about the second QB? Minshew was useless last week against Tennessee, and despite Baker putting up the points on Baltimore last week, I am not expecting Minshew to have his bounce-back game come against the Ravens. One of the Jacksonville WRs will probably be fantasy relevant this weekend, but Minshew should finish as a mid-tier to bottom-tier QB2. So he is out.

Speaking of Baker, what about him? He finished ahead of Trubisky in Week 14 with 31.02 points at QB2. In fact, since Trubisky came back in Week 12, Baker has been QB2 and Trubisky has been QB11. But what about the matchups? Baker faces a much tougher matchup against the Giants, who are one of the better defenses against QBs. They do not give up many TDs either, whereas the Vikings have given up 26 passing TDs so far this season. Minnesota does not give up a ton on the ground, but that is because opposing QBs do not bother to run on them. Trubisky has a much better matchup, though Baker has the safer floor. Given you are already starting Herbert, I want the upside play from Trubisky.

Question #4: Marquise Brown or D.J. Chark? - @AcropolizArmee

Who are you starting? Ravens WR Marquise Brown or Jaguars WR D.J. Chark? [NOTE: This was before Brown was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a close contact. Obviously do not play Brown if he is out, but we answered this since he could still play this week.]

CH: The idea of writing about Marquise Brown makes me want to hurl given how much praise I threw his way this offseason. It's been incredibly disappointing, the targets are inconsistent, and his QB isn't the best at getting him the ball. I'd rather not start him if I don't have to. The only problem here is that I can literally say the exact same thing about Chark. YIKES! I'll stick with the guy who has been consistent with his QB at times in the past. D.J. Chark is the one you want to play.

MM: Chark sees over a target more per game than Brown, and it is tough to let that sit on your bench. In fact, Chark is in the top-24 for targets per game among WRs. Getting the ball thrown your way is an easy way to get receptions, though as we have seen with Chark, that is not always the case. Despite a FLEX-worthy 11.6 PPR PPG, Chark has one more single-digit performance (six) than double-digit performance (five).

The problem is Brown really is not any better. He has six single-digit performances, six double-digit performances, and a zero in Week 11 (yikes). Granted, Brown has at least been better over the past three weeks (WR14 vs Chark's WR108) and against similar opposition, so maybe he has turned the corner. However, Chark gets the edge for me for two reasons. One, one more target per game means one additional opportunity. Two, and more importantly, Jacksonville gives up plenty to RBs. Given that nobody passes as little as Baltimore and only New England runs it more, I worry that Baltimore's RBBC is just going to run all over Jacksonville and Brown barely needs to even lace up. Similarly, in favor of Chark seeing greater usage than Brown, nobody runs less than Jacksonville, and only five teams pass it more. Part of that comes down to the game script, but what about this matchup makes anyone think the game script will be anything out of the ordinary?

Question #5: CeeDee Lamb or Nelson Agholor? - @Jarron21

I need to pick a WR between CeeDee Lamb (DAL) and Nelson Agholor (LV). Who you got?

CH: Gimme Agholor all day. I don't want a Cowboys WR unless their name is Amari Cooper in my lineup.

MM: These two are about even in terms of targets per game since their respective bye weeks, with six for Lamb and 6.6 for Agholor. However, Lamb is the clear third option in his WR group, whereas Agholor's main competition is TE Darren Waller rather than WR Hunter Renfrow. Agholor also edges out Lamb in red-zone targets this season (14 vs 10), and the Chargers should be a slightly easier matchup for Agholor than the Niners will be for Lamb. I prefer Agholor as the first option on the Raiders than Lamb as the third option on the Cowboys.

Question #6: Rank the Kickers - @AcropolizArmee

Debating between Greg Zuerlein (DAL), Mason Crosby (GB), and Daniel Carlson (LV). Zuerlein is on my roster and Crosby and Carlson are on waivers if that makes any difference. How would you rank them?

CH: Carlson, Zuerlein, Crosby. I would also suggest Washington K Dustin Hopkins. Check out how well he's done over the last month. I have him over all three of these guys.

MM: Zuerlein, Carlson, Crosby for me. Crosby is just on too good a team to get enough opportunities, and it shows in his game logs. One field goal attempt per game is not enough. Carlson and Zuerlein both see around two attempts per game. Carlson is slightly more accurate but kicks from a slightly closer range. Zuerlein kicks slightly more field goals but fewer extra points. This week, I want that field goal upside that Zuerlein provides.

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