In Week 11, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins made a strong case to the franchise for a new contract and also to daily fantasy football owners around the country as a solid starter for the rest of the season. And by taking a quick glance at Cousins’ production, especially against some of the top defenses in fantasy, it's possible the 28-year-old signal caller is well worth consideration as the playoff race kicks into high gear and Week 12 approaches.
Now 6-3-1 following Cousins’ record-setting 375-yard, three-touchdown performance against a depleted Green Bay secondary, it's become quite clear that Washington’s success this season is deeply rooted in Cousins’ performance under center. In eight out of 10 games this season, Cousins has posted a passer rating of 85 or better and the Redskins have won six of those games and tied in one.
And each of the wins and the singular tie have largely come against some of the best defenses against quarterbacks according to Yahoo: the Giants (No. 3), Cleveland (No. 31), Baltimore (No. 9), Philadelphia (No. 6), Cincinnati (No. 28), Minnesota (No. 4), and Green Bay (No. 17).
To date, Cousins has 16 career games with 300-plus passing yards, a new Redskins record, and he’s now third in the NFL with 3,091 yards, tied for 11th with 17 passing touchdowns, 10th with a 98.8 passer rating, and he’s fifth in the league at 8.05 yards per completed pass. As of now, Cousins is the 10th highest-scoring player for the entire 2016 season, according to FantasyData.com.
For the rest of the season, Cousins will mostly face a similar slate of difficult pass defenses: At Dallas (No. 16), at Arizona (No. 5), at Philadelphia, vs. Carolina (No. 27), at Chicago (No. 15), and vs. the Giants.
In Week 12, Cousins and the Redskins have only four days off before a crucial and possibly NFC East altering matchup with a Dallas secondary that’s only No. 22 in passing yards allowed and a pass rush that’s generated a mere 20 sacks (tied for No. 19 in the league). The Cowboys have also forced only four interceptions, tied for the second-worst mark in the NFL, but one of those came off Cousins’ hand in a Week 2 victory.
This week, with so many better matchups for many of the league’s proven stars, Cousins doesn’t make our top five quarterback rankings, but in the coming weeks, he very well could be part of winning combinations in DraftKings and FanDuel leagues.
Below is our freshest rankings for Week 12 at every position.
1.Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
2.Eli Manning, New York Giants
3.Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
4.Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
5.Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
The Cardinals are struggling and so is Palmer with five interceptions thrown and 14 sacks taken in the last three weeks, but he could get back on track and will be a cheaper option against Atlanta’s bottom-dwelling work against quarterbacks this season. Manning’s tossed nine touchdowns to four interceptions in the last three weeks and now gets Cleveland’s No. 31 pass defense in fantasy allowing 2.5 touchdowns per week, which is actually worse than Atlanta. The Steelers have largely focused on the running game since Roethlisberger has come back but he could blow up against Indy, who’s fourth-worst in fantasy against QBs. Flacco also has a favorable matchup at home against the Bengals, who are barely a shade better than the Colts.
1.David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
2.Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
3.Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
4.Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
5.Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Johnson will be pricey but for a guy who just wrecked Minnesota’s No. 7 ranked work against fantasy backs, the No. 28 Falcons could be in trouble. Meanwhile, the Dolphins offense has trouble waking up until late in games, but Ajayi seems to be the most consistent part of that unit and he gets San Francisco’s last-ranked defense against RBs. Jennings appears healthy and has posted two straight games of 85 yards or better, and next gets Cleveland. Gore’s been a terror as a pass-catching back of late, and he faces a Steelers D that’s letting up 5.1 receptions and 59.1 receiving yards per game to backs. Gurley would be a tough sell since rookie passer Jared Goff has a huge target on his back, but he meets a Saints D that’s allowing 23.57 points per week to rushers.
1.Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
2.Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans
3.Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
4.Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
5.Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
Baldwin couldn’t reach the end zone in Week 11 but that should change against the Bucs, who are the second-worst in fantasy against WRs, allowing 27.02 points off 12.4 receptions and 175.6 yards per week. Matthews has the absolute best WR matchup in Week 12 with Chicago last in fantasy and he should be cheaper than most stars. Landry has had a disappointing season, but he could return to form in Week 12 with the 49ers barely a shade better against WRs than they are running backs. Beckham will be expensive but he does get the Browns, and Matthews could also have a huge day against freefalling Green Bay.
1.Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers
2.Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
3.Will Tye, New York Giants
4.Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders
5.Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Most of the star tight ends have risky matchups this week, so going with lesser-known TEs may be the way to save some salary cap. James had only one catch for five yards in Week 11, but he did have four targets, and Pittsburgh could exploit the Colts’ 10.03 points surrendered to TEs. Ertz has at least seven targets in the last three games and he’s made at least six catches in the same span. He next gets the Packers. Tye, like James, had only two catches for 12 yards in Week 11, but one was for a touchdown and the Browns are the worst in fantasy against the position.
1.Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
2.Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
3.C.J. Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks
4.Tajae Sharpe, WR, Tennessee Titans
5.Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders
Elliott’s down here because of his cap hit, but he does stand to light up a Redskins D that’s allowing 106.9 yards per week. Same goes for Miller as gets the Chargers, who ranked two spots below the Redskins and allowing 22.06 points per game to RBs. Prosise’s a dual-threat rusher who could pile on points on the road against Tampa Bay's seventh-worst work against RBs. And Sharpe’s an emerging and cheap commodity.
1.New York Giants
The Giants are No. 1 because the Browns can’t protect their quarterback or score much outside of Terrelle Pryor. Denver and Kansas City are a tossup in what figures to be an important real game and a low-scoring affair for fantasy purposes. Either could put up huge numbers in Week 12. Miami held the Rams’ league-worst offense nearly five points below its season average, and next faces a San Francisco squad that’s lost nine consecutive games. New England is on the road, but it also is on the road against the Jets, who are one of three teams to commit 20 or more turnovers. The Patriots are just No. 27 in the league in takeaways forced with only nine, but they are likely to improve that total against the Jets, who are bringing back Ryan Fitzpatrick.