Do I start Deshaun Watson or Ryan Tannehill?
Congratulations on having both QBs on your roster for the playoffs. My QB model projects Tannehill to be the QB2 this week, and Watson to be the QB3, but the projections are less than 3% apart, so it’s very close. Watson is the better talent and has proven decisively that he can overcome a bad matchup and thrive, but this is so close that it merits a deeper look. Here is how each QB has fared at home and on the road this year vs. their opponent’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed:
Watson - +7.4 at home, +3.9 on road (season avg. is +5.7)
Tannehill - +4.2 at home, +2.9 on road (season avg. is +3.7)
Both have exceeded expectation away and at home, but the splits are material. Watson averages 2.7 points more at home vs. the opponent’s schedule-adjusted FPA than his season-long average, and Tannehill averages 0.5 more points at home than his season-long average.
My model uses their season-long averages vs. expectation and does not (currently) factor in these home/away splits. The splits are not always material and they require having several games of data both home and away to be meaningful, but in this case, all those conditions are present so it makes sense to consider. The game this week is in Tennessee, and if you adjust each QB’s projection for their splits compared to season-long averages, it takes Tannehill from being projected 0.8 points above Watson to Tannehill being projected 3.2 points above Watson. That is over a 12% gap, and, absent any other mitigating factors like a recent injury, swings it firmly to the Tannehill side for me. Even a 12% gap is well-within normal variance for even the most reliable fantasy players, but I’d go with the bigger projection here.
Since it’s a big game and I know this could be a popular question this week, and A LOT of people were burned sitting Watson vs. New England two weeks ago, I will say here again that I have no problem with the “Always play your studs” approach. Watson is clearly the better talent, and if you personally would not be OK losing with him going off on your bench, I totally get it. However, fantasy is about trying to predict the most likely outcomes, and the better talent does not always score the most points, which is one of the reasons we get late-season streaming gems like Tannehill and Fitzmagic every year. I’m looking for any edge I can find, especially in the playoffs, so if I have both of these guys I would start Tannehill this week given the home/away splits above. On a neutral field I might go Watson because it’s close, but not here. The good news is that both should be great plays.
My QB model is below for reference. Hope that helps. Good luck!
Please check out my Week 15 streaming post where I provide weekly and rest-of-season rankings, scoring projections and waiver recommendations for QBs, TEs and DSTs. Comments and feedback are welcome. Thanks!
Duuuude!!! Thanks for your input!!!
i have both Qb’s too and I think will fuller is listed as questionable too so that could be a factor too. Henry for the Titans is also as questionable. I need to win and i am going with my gut with Tannehill too. Due to him having a slightly higher completion rate
Good luck! I’m playing him again this week too, so I’ll be rooting hard for myself and especially all the folks who I recommended start him.
Did you win? im in the same boat again, my gut says watson with his easier matchup against Tampa bay but something else tell me tannehill isnt scared of drew brees and his crew. i need to outscore my opp. who has lamar jackson.
I did! Now I’m up against the team with the most points on the year, by far. I’ll be rolling Tannehill out again and probably need him to put up a huge game to have a shot. Not sure I’d be able to sit Watson against Tampa Bay (worst passing defense in the league). Both should be good again, though.
watson was a huge disappointment, i dont understand it bc he faced a harder team last time. those interceptions hurt too. So ill be with tannehill in the finals