DFS Roundtable: Digging For Quarterback Value

Fill us in on your favorite low-dollar quarterback option. Why should we trust this guy? And what would his best stacking opportunity be?

It's hard to like the week's quarterback pricing. We're seeing massive salary (over?)corrections due to recent events, with Jared Goff (fresh off a masterpiece and facing the ultra-vulnerable Texans), Tyrod Taylor (after a season-high in both passing yardage and DFS output), and Matthew Stafford (he plays the Browns) suddenly costing us far more than speculative budget space. It probably makes the most sense, of course, to merely hold our noses and roster one of the top-salaried guys in cash games. We don't want to rely on Case Keenum's floor, after all. But for GPP play, fill us in on your favorite low-dollar quarterback option (let's keep it under $5,300 DK / $7,000 FD). Why should we trust this guy? And what would his best stacking opportunity be?

Justin Bonnema: The answer on both sites is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Former-team narrative notwithstanding, he has a solid matchup this week and is only $6,100 on FanDuel.  He came off the bench and dropped 22.6 points on the Cardinals in Week 6, and the 18-plus points he needs to hit tournament value is well within his range of outcomes. He hit that mark (or better) seven times in 2015 before falling off a cliff last year. The Jets secondary has given up multiple touchdowns in every game but two this season, and their offense ranks 11th in points scored, which means we could have a sneaky shootout in store. If only Mike Evans were around, since he'd be the obvious stacking partner. Instead, Cameron Brate looks like the best option. And for a super cheap stack, Adam Humphries is only $4,800. Together, Fitzpatrick and Humphries need to combine for only 33.6 FanDuel points to hit tournament value. That's about as cheap as you can go and still keep a reasonable floor.

The combo is even better on DraftKings, where Fitzpatrick is only $4,900 and Humphries is near site-minimum at $3,100. Even in lineups where I don't have Fitzpatrick, I'll probably chase Humphries, since all he needs is 6 catches for 64 yards to hit the 4x multiplier. That, of course, is well above his season average, but it shouldn't be all that hard to accomplish with Evans sidelined.

Keith Roberts: The case for Fitzpatrick is strong this week, and I won’t disagree with the positive takes on him here, as I will be all over him as a value option in GPP lineups. The other name that stands out to me in this price range on both sites is Eli Manning. While his receiving weapons are depleted and his offensive line has struggled, Manning is still in a great matchup against the 49ers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks. His matchup is arguably even better than that of the aforementioned Fitzpatrick, as the 49ers rank 27th against the pass using DVOA, while the Jets rank 21st. There has been a ton of heat placed on Manning by the media after their blowout loss to the Rams last week, as many are questioning his capability to continue starting for the Giants – even with suggestions that Geno Smith could overtake the starting role. (Wow...) Manning is confident in his own abilities, and he wants to show that he still has some gas left in the tank. He has a couple of very viable targets in Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard, and Orleans Darkwa looks to finally be establishing some level of consistency for this Giants backfield. This 49ers defense is one that he should be able to put up big numbers against this week, and a few Manning/Shepard stacks will be in my future come Sunday.

James Brimacombe: Fitzpatrick is the lone name I will be looking at from this range, as the Buccaneers get a Jets defense who has been the worst against opposing quarterbacks over the last five weeks (See Austin Lee's Normalized Strength of Schedule report). The Jets have allowed at least two touchdowns to quarterbacks over the last five games with Tyrod Taylor, Matt Ryan, Matt Moore/Jay Cutler, Tom Brady, and even Kevin Hogan doing so. The one downside with Fitzpatrick is that Mike Evans will be suspended and won't play this week, giving him one less weapon to beat the defense with. Fitzpatrick filled in for Winston back in Week 6 and looked good as he threw for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns. For the savings this week, I like Fitzpatrick best of all the options, and 250+ passing yards and a pair of touchdowns almost feels like his floor in this matchup against the Jets.

Chris Feery: I concur with the guys that Fitzpatrick looks to be the best choice for those that choose to go bargain shopping, but I’ll be paying up at quarterback this week. I’m just not sold on any of the cheaper options, and that includes Fitzpatrick. While his salary makes things awful tempting – especially with a matchup against a beatable secondary on the docket – a closer examination of things gives me pause.

Things are not right on the Buccaneers ship. The club has lost 5 games in a row, and that culminated with last week’s 30-10 thumping at the hands of the Saints. Winston is on the shelf, and Evans has the week off due to the fact that he felt the need to act like a Neanderthal last week. Do any of those factors point to a team that will come out raring to go with a backup quarterback at the helm?

At his cheap salary, it doesn’t take all that much for Fitzpatrick to make value, but I’ll be spending my cap dollars elsewhere. Those that run multiple GPP lineups can certainly make room to have some exposure to Fitzpatrick, but those that keep things tight might be best served by spending up at the position. That will form the bulk of my strategy this week, and I’ll be looking at the opposing sidelines for one of my selections.

Josh McCown and the New York Jets have been a pleasant surprise this season, and they’ve been coming to play every week. The Buccaneers secondary has been quite challenged, and there’s nothing to suggest that McCown and company can’t find some success against them. Other high-priced quarterbacks on my short list include Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, and Jared Goff.

Moderator: I might point out that the other big downside to Fitzpatrick is that he’s terrible, but I’m notoriously pessimistic about bad quarterbacks. They’re people too, and they are capable of strong spot starts. Personally, though, I struggle to see the massive upside, especially in a week where the similarly-priced (and non-terrible) Andy Dalton faces the Titans, plus Blake Bortles is a home favorite.

Danny Tuccitto: Maybe I'm going to be completely wrong about this, but I don't understand the Fitzpatrick love I've been seeing all week in DFS expert circles. I mean, I comprehend the arguments, I just think they're either not valid or can be easily rebutted. For instance, that huge performance off the bench against Arizona in Week 6? While the fantasy point total doesn't lie, Fitzpatrick entered midway through the second quarter and did nothing until Arizona went into defensive indifference mode up 31-0 five minutes into the third quarter. (The touchdown to go up by that margin was set up by a Fitzpatrick interception, by the way.) So, yes, if we're expecting the Jets to stomp a mudhole and walk it dry in Tampa on Sunday, then I'm all for it.

Then there's the idea that missing Mike Evans gives Fitzpatrick one less weapon. No, it means he won't have his absolute best weapon, the straw that stirs the Buccaneers' passing game drink! Next up is the point Chris made: We can like Fitzpatrick's value all we want, but there's just something rotten in Denmark, so to speak. I agree.

Now, let's turn to arguments based on the Jets defense being a sieve for quarterback fantasy points recently. Well, last week Morris Claiborne, the player their pass defense depends on, didn't play. Also, Tyrod Taylor scored 9.5 of his 27.9 DraftKings points with his legs, is something I assume we're not expecting from a historically statuesque 36-year-old. Among the other quarterbacks that James listed, I'll return to my defensive indifference argument, this time for Matt Moore and Kevin Hogan, both of whom did the majority of their fantasy scoring when the Jets were ahead comfortably and time was on their side.

Which brings me to my final point: Fitzpatrick is not a good quarterback. The other two quarterbacks who did well against the Jets were Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. Fitzpatrick is no Brady or Ryan. I mean, how can we go years mocking Fitzpatrick as being #NotGoodAtFootball, but then start telling ourselves a story about him having tournament upside simply because the price is right? That's really my fundamental problem with using him in tournaments. I'm going to pin my hopes of a five-figure (or more) payout on Ryan Fitzpatrick? Nah. This isn't 2015.

Getting back to the question (finally!): the only $5,300-or-cheaper quarterback I'll be using in tournaments is Manning at $5,100. His value probability is a fifth-ranked 21%. He's going against a 49ers pass defense giving up the fifth-most points to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks according to Austin Lee's normalized stats. And there exists no contextual explanations for it a la Fitzpatrick's matchup. I'm a 49ers fan, and I do their game recaps for our site; they can't cover anyone. Yes, there's also something rotten in Denmark with the Giants offense, but San Francisco's defense is really, incredibly, stupendously bad.

Jason Wood: My colleagues have made the case for Fitzpatrick, and while it's valid, I won't have any shares of Fitzpatrick this week. Per your salary cutoffs, the only quarterback on my radar on FanDuel will be the embattled Manning. The Giants face a woeful 49ers team, and Manning hasn't suddenly forgotten how to sling the ball around just because the team is terrible. I see him putting up big numbers this week, regardless of which team wins.

On DraftKings, the pricing is a bit easier and I will strongly consider Bortles ($4,800), Manning ($5,100), Philip Rivers ($4,900) and Dalton ($5,300) in GPPs. All are capable of big days. Bortles' team is the best, and his ceiling is the lowest, but he'll also be low-owned and facing a bad defense. The other three are all veterans with long histories of 300-yard, multiple-TD games in losing efforts.