As the week moves along, we're getting a clearer picture of our cash game options. Quarterback pricing is tight, but we need one, so whom will you be trusting to head your portfolio?
Rank the following options for us from a cash-game perspective. How do you feel about their floors? Do their ceilings make up for any floor issues in your eyes? And what cheaper option(s) have I left out?
Brady – Of the group, he has the safest floor. And while I do have concerns about his ceiling given the Patriots' highly productive running attack and the fact the Bills may provide no competition, I think we can look back at the game against the Dolphins last week and rest easy.
Newton – Sort of the anti-Brady, Newton's floor isn't that great despite what he adds as a rusher. He has five games this season of 14.1 DraftKings points or less. But his ceiling might be the highest of the group; multiple rushing scores are always in play.
Brees – His ceiling is capped by the Saints’ dedication to running, so ranking him third is a bit risky. But it's still Brees, and the Saints are about to face one of the hottest offenses in football. He should be forced into more volume this week, especially with his defense banged up.
Goff – I wish I had more faith in the Cardinals' offense in this matchup. Regardless, over the last five weeks, their defense has allowed the ninth-most points per game to quarterbacks. Goff's floor is dangerous thanks to Todd Gurley, but I wonder if we see the Cardinals' defense focus on attacking the run game like they did against the Jaguars last week (held Leonard Fournette to 25 yards).
Rivers – People are going to look at Rivers' stats from his last game and apply them to the season-long stats of the Browns' defense. I think that's a mistake. The Browns have allowed 17.7 points per game to quarterbacks over the last five weeks, which is middle-of-the-road. Meanwhile, they've allowed the seventh-most points per game to running backs. Rivers will play well, but touchdowns may go to Melvin Gordon III and defense.
Cheaper Option: Tyrod Taylor ($5,400 on DraftKings) – I won't call it explosive, but with the Bills’ best trio of Taylor, LeSean McCoy, and Charles Clay regrouped, this offense can score points. Taylor's floor remains intact thanks to his dual-threat ability, and even though the Patriots defense has turned a corner over the second half of the season, I like Taylor in a high-volume situation at a discounted price.
I won't quibble too much with Bonnema's rankings, save for swapping Rivers and Newton.
Brady – The G.O.A.T. is as close to matchup-proof as the position offers, and this week is no exception as he takes on a division rival that is on the edge of irrelevance. This is the kind of game the Patriots typically dominate, and there's added incentive in that they're currently chasing Pittsburgh for home-field advantage. Brady has the highest floor at the position, but it comes with a nearly unrivaled ceiling, as well.
Rivers – I hear Bonnema call that Cleveland has been middle-of-the-road defensively, but I'm not buying it. There has been so much talk about the return of Josh Gordon along with Corey Coleman getting healthy, I think Cleveland is ripe to crash and burn yet again this week. The Chargers defense is at its best when the lineman can get pressure, and that shouldn't be a problem against the Browns offensive line (sans Joe Thomas). The game script sets up well for Rivers.
Brees – Brees hasn't lost a step, but his fantasy value has lost its luster to an extent thanks to a dominating one-two running back punch in the form of Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara. The offensive system remains capable of dominant passing statistics, and Brees' high completion rate and yardage give him a suitable floor for cash games.
Goff – Goff hasn't played well against top-tier defenses, but he has shown marked improvement overall and it's silly to think we've seen the best from him. Bonnema is correct in acknowledging Gurley as a risk to Goff's floor, but the game script should allow the Rams to produce on the ground AND the air.
Newton – I'm not a Newton believer this year. He's not making the right reads and he’s missing open receivers all the time. With Devin Funchess banged up, and Greg Olsen reinjuring his foot, Newton is going to have to make magic happen with his legs to justify use in cash lineups. It's entirely possible, but I won't be banking on it.
I'll be taking some shots with Jimmy Garoppolo this week as he's set to start his first game as a San Francisco 49er. The team has gaping holes up and down the roster, but Garoppolo should be able to spread the ball around and gets an easy matchup against the Bears.
Rivers – I’m highest on Rivers for several reasons, but the fact that he has been on fire of late gives me the most confidence. He has a cupcake matchup on his plate against the Cleveland Browns, and he should easily make value against this highly-beatable secondary.
Brady – You really can’t go wrong with rostering Brady, as he offers multiple-touchdown upside every time he sees the field. There’s nothing to suggest he won’t be able to do the same against the Buffalo Bills.
Brees – While Brees is no longer a plug-and-play option due to changes in the New Orleans Saints offense, he can still put points on the board in a hurry. He should be locked and loaded for an intriguing home date with the Carolina Panthers.
Goff – Is it possible for a second-year pro to win Comeback Player of the Year? Goff’s improvement has been one of the more fascinating developments to watch in the 2017 season, and the good times should keep on rolling against the Arizona Cardinals.
Newton – Newton gives me the most trepidation among the choices listed. While the game against the Saints offers up shootout potential, this isn’t the sieve-like Saints defense of years past. As such, my expectations are tempered on Newton’s output.
Rivers – There are only two quarterbacks that I am considering for cash games this weekend: Rivers and Brady. I am ranking Rivers as my top overall quarterback based on the salary savings. Rivers has multiple touchdowns in each of his past three games and in four of his past five. His floor is similar to Brady’s due to the soft matchup versus the winless Browns.
Brady – Brady continues to amaze with 10 touchdowns over his past 3 weeks and 8 games with multiple touchdowns this season. It would shock me if Brady does not throw for at least two touchdowns again this week.
(tier 2) Brees – The Saints quarterback has had past success versus the Panthers’ zone-based defense. Brees passed for 3 touchdowns Week 3 and finished with 4 touchdowns in Week 6 of last season. The reason Brees is in my second tier of quarterbacks is that the Saints gravitate toward Kamara and Ingram for the heavy lifting.
Newton – Newton is much more attractive in GPP tournaments as compared to cash games. He has shown the tendency to finish with single-digit fantasy performances. Newton's floor is much lower than Rivers’ or Brady’s this week.
Goff – The reason that Goff falls to the bottom of the list is due to Gurley being the centerpiece of the Rams offense. Add in the fact that Robert Woods will miss this week’s game and it is hard to trust Goff's floor for cash games.
Geno Smith is in consideration for me strictly due to his DFS salary. He is priced as a backup quarterback and allows you to squeeze in some high-end running backs or wide receivers. It is realistic to envision Smith passing for 200 yards and 1 touchdown against the Raiders this week.
Danny Tuccitto: From my perspective, this kind of question is best served by consulting the math, so here's how I would rank these five quarterbacks:
Brady – He has a 40 percent cash game value probability on DraftKings. He's in the top quartile of the slate in three of my four quarterback "true" stats. His floor is 13.8 points.
Rivers – He has a 34 percent cash game value probability. He's in the top quartile in two of four "true" stats. He's at home. His floor is 10.9 points.
Brees – He has a 34 percent cash game value probability. He's in the top quartile in two of four "true" stats. He's at home. His floor is 10.2 points.
Newton – He has a 47 percent cash game value probability. He's in the top quartile of True aDOT, but in the bottom quartile of True Interception Rate. His floor is 12.3 points, which is supported by built-in rushing volume.
Goff – He has a 38 percent cash game value probability. He isn't in the top quartile of any "true" stats. His floor is 10.8 points.
The only cheaper option I would consider is Tyrod Taylor, who figures to be in a positive game script playing catch up against New England. In terms of the math, he has a 52 percent cash game value probability and ranks among the top quartile in two of four "true" stats. One problem, however, is his floor of 9.4 points, although the game script should attenuate that somewhat. And like Newton, he has built-in rushing volume. A second problem is that Sean McDermott has already proven once to have an irrational "bench Tyrod" itch that he feels compelled to scratch.
Brady – As the others have discussed, Brady is plug-and-play every week. You need not ever weigh the Vegas projections (hint: they’re always high) nor the defensive matchup (hint: it doesn’t matter). The Patriots are heavy favorites, and they’ll likely have the Bills in a hole by the third quarter, but (a) that’s no guarantee, as this is a crucial divisional game, and (b) if they do, it will probably happen on the backs of Brady touchdowns.
Rivers – I like the matchup, but I don’t love it. The Browns carry a reputation, but they boast two borderline-shutdown cornerbacks and have improved majorly against wideouts of late. Neither will likely stick to slot man Keenan Allen much, but they’ll limit Rivers’ upside with deep threats Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. Besides, I could absolutely see an outcome in which the Chargers repeatedly force turnovers, score early on a few splash plays, and coast on Melvin Gordon III’s legs with a 27-7 halftime lead. For those reasons, I’ll pass on the discount and play Brady ahead of Rivers.
Goff – I just like the way he’s playing, and the way the Rams are trusting him so (39.0 attempts per game over his last 3). We can worry all we want about Gurley, but we can’t forget that (a) Gurley’s receiving game is a sizeable part of the Rams offense, and (b) Gurley only took 11 and 16 rushes in the Rams’ last 2 blowout wins. This is a divisional matchup, so the Cardinals won’t lay down, and even if they do I like Goff’s chances to throw another 35+ passes (and multiple touchdowns).
Brees – I do like him this week, just not as much as the top three. Brees’ recent history aside, we all know what he’s capable of in a shootout, especially at home. And in the last 5 Saints-Panthers meetings we’ve seen total scores of 49, 79, 79, 43, and 47.
Newton – See above; this could turn into a true barn-burner. It’s just that Brees and Newton both have relatively volatile outlooks; either could crap out and give us 15 points. (Rivers does, too, but I’ll be able to ride the chalk with him.)
For cheaper options, I’ll be looking at both guys from the Buccaneers-Packers game. Both come cheaply: Jameis Winston costs far too little for a guy with such strong 275-yard upside, while Brett Hundley is fresh off proving he can at least turn volume into numbers in the right matchup. Both are much better GPP plays, though, of course. If I choose to use a cheap QB for cash (not likely, but conceivable) it will likely be either Winston or Taylor.
Moderator: That gives us the following tally:
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