Roundtable: Paying Up at Quarterback?

What's your quarterback strategy for the week? Which high-dollar (and low-dollar) options are your favorites?

Most of the top-salaried quarterbacks boast strong Week 1 matchups, but there are juicy bits of value up and down the spectrum. What's your quarterback strategy for the week? Which high-dollar (and low-dollar) options are your favorites?

Jason Wood: It's hard not to like Cam Newton in theory since he's heading to San Francisco for the first game. I'm fading him, though, because of the shoulder surgery. I need to see him handle a full game effectively before I'm all in on the former MVP. 

It's difficult not to like Marcus Mariota against a questionable Raiders defense. Raiders/Titans has the makings of an offensive shootout, and Mariota has to be chomping at the bit to play with his retooled and restocked receiving corps.

I'm going to have some Carson Wentz shares against a bad Washington defense. Wentz has been precise throughout the summer and if there's ever a time to bank profits with him, it's in the first week when his offensive line and Alshon Jeffery are 100% healthy.

Among the less expensive quarterbacks, I will have a small share of Brian Hoyer. I think the 49ers' woeful 2016 finish and the Panthers reputation for elite defensive play will guarantee extremely low Hoyer ownership. Yet, I think Kyle Shanahan will have the 49ers playing well until injuries set in (the team has no depth). Hoyer can be effective and the Panthers still have questions in the secondary. 

James Brimacombe: The three names I have been building teams around so far at the quarterback position are Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, and Carson Wentz. All three play in games that look to be competitive back and forth and all have high Vegas totals. I also the fact that Seattle, Oakland, and Philadelphia have questionable running games heading into Week 1 will likely lead to more of a passing attack for all three of these quarterbacks.

Moderator: James, do you prefer Wilson to Aaron Rodgers in a vacuum? Or is that a value-based decision? I only ask because their salaries are so close.

James Brimacombe: I like fading Rodgers in Week 1, and it makes even more sense when he faces Seattle. I'm not doubting Rodgers has potential to be the top-scoring QB this week, but for the price I am not willing to take that chance. If both Wilson and Rodgers were priced evenly I would still side with Wilson.

Jason Wood: I prefer Wilson to Rodgers because of the respective defenses they're facing. Seattle's defense vaulted back into the #1 position for me after the Sheldon Richardson trade, whereas the Packers will be lucky to finish in the middle of the pack.

Moderator: That's fair, Jason. Rodgers did throw 3 touchdowns on these Seahawks when they met last year, but it was a wonky game - the Packers won by 28 - that we can't really project from. The Seattle defense remained stout for most of the year. And, as you point out, Richardson makes the unit look almost unfairly good.

John Mamula: For cash games, It makes sense to pay down at the quarterback position with either Carson Wentz or Derek Carr. Both of these offenses are in good spots, and these quarterbacks provide you with a safe floor for your cash game build. 

For GPP tournaments, I will either be paying up at quarterback or pivoting to a lower owned mid-priced option. On the high-end, Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger both have 3+ touchdown upside and will come with a low ownership percentage. As far as a mid-priced GPP option, Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer are two quarterbacks that have not been receiving much fantasy buzz but could pay dividends this week.

Justin Howe: I'm certainly on board with all of these rationales for lower-cost quarterbacks. I'm just not seeing the cost benefit I'm used to in these favorable types of weeks. If this was Week 9, and Rodgers was going for $8,400, then I'd typically scroll right past him myself. But he costs virtually the same as Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, and Derek Carr. These are guys who need specific game flows and happenstance to provide even Rodgers' midlevel projection. His matchup with Seattle isn't ideal, but it's not prohibitive, either.

Carson Wentz is a name I also like down the board, but only in cash play. His discount is strong, and his floor is good against this shaky Washington defense. There's just not much ceiling at play here. Wentz only returned GPP value once last season - a good-but-not-astounding 301-yard, 2-touchdown Week 3 - and even in this strong matchup, I'd be surprised to see him top 20 points or so.

Chris Feery: On the high end of the quarterback spectrum, it’s a toss-up between Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger for my money. I agree with the others that there’s risk to be mindful of with Rodgers facing off against the Seahawks, but that’s offset by the upside potential. Rodgers at home is typically a solid investment, and I’ll look for that to continue this week. The Seahawks may cap his upside slightly, but there’s no way they’re completely shutting him down.

Roethlisberger versus the Browns looks like a multiple-touchdown outing waiting to happen, and I’ll certainly be looking at having some shares of that. Further down the salary scale, Derek Carr and Carson Palmer are the two options that I find to be most intriguing. Both players could be heading into potential shootouts, and they have the skill position players at their disposal to make some serious noise.

Dan Hindery: Jason mentioned Cam Newton as a guy he is fading and the reasoning makes sense. However, I think a lot of other people are thinking the exact same way, which is going to really suppress Newton's ownership levels. He has been out of sight and out of mind throughout the preseason. At low ownership, I am always interested in Newton because his proven ceiling is as high as any quarterback's in the league.

As Jason also mentioned, this is a great matchup on paper. The Panthers are big favorites with a healthy implied team total. Newton has the deepest and most dangerous group of weapons he's ever had at his disposal with the arrival of Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, continued maturation of Devin Funchess, improved health of Kelvin Benjamin, and steady veteran presence of Greg Olsen.