DFS Roundtable: Chasing Quarterbacks?

Rank the top main-slate QB plays while considering both matchup and value, then give us your favorite value QB of the week.

At first glance, this looks like the ideal week to pay up for a quarterback in cash. Most of the top-salaried guys face advantageous (albeit road) matchups, and none come salaried higher than $7,600 on DraftKings, while only the Falcons-Patriots QBs break the bank on FanDuel. Rank the following main-slate QBs as cash-game plays while considering both matchup and value:

Drew Brees @ GB ($7,600 DK / $8,300 FD)
Dak Prescott @ SF ($7,300 DK / $8,400 FD)
Marcus Mariota @ CLE ($6,900 DK / $8,200 FD) 

...then give us your favorite value QB of the week, keeping your focus under $6,000 on DraftKings and $7,500 on FanDuel.

Danny Tuccitto: I'll put Prescott first, followed by Mariota and then Brees. That's because, in cash, we're looking for low variance (i.e., consistency), and Prescott has achieved 3x on DraftKings – where I play – in 16 of his 21 career games (76%). For comparison, Mariota's rate is 50%, while Brees' rate is 44%.

That said, I'm a bit leery of all three quarterbacks because my picks system selected the home underdogs they're facing. If those picks come in, then it probably means San Francisco, Cleveland, and Green Bay slowed down the pace with their running games, which therefore means fewer than the normal number of plays for Dallas, Tennessee, and New Orleans.

In that case, I'll be using Tyrod Taylor as my value option. The combination of a $5,100 salary and projection translates to a 52% probability of achieving 3x, and Taylor's actually achieved 3x in 62% of his games with Buffalo.

Alessandro Miglio: Game script was a huge problem for Drew Brees last week, whose fantasy output was neutered by a ridiculously fluky defensive performance from his team. The defense might be able to keep the Packers from scoring too much now that Aaron Rodgers is out for the year, but I would expect the offense to actually have to do most of the heavy lifting in scoring points. Green Bay's secondary is a M.A.S.H. unit, so I expect a great day for Brees, whom I like in cash.

I seem to be lower on Prescott than most people. The 49ers are a pretty good matchup, but I kind of expect the Cowboys to pound the rock with Ezekiel Elliott on the road this week. Prescott has great production this year, but thanks in large part to shootouts or garbage time. I don't think he'll be a bad start by any means, but I like Brees and Mariota better.

Now that DeShone Kizer is back in the driver's seat, I like him as a low-cost GPP option going up against a Titans defense that has been mostly bad this season. The over-under for this game is middle-of-the-road at 46.5, but it could be a barn-burner considering how bad both defenses have been.

Dan Hindery: Each of these three quarterbacks has a great matchup against a below-average pass defense and against three secondaries that have struggled mightily in recent weeks. The only potential concern is game script, because each of the three opposing offenses face major questions. Green Bay (Brett Hundley) and San Francisco (C.J. Beathard) have young quarterbacks making their first starts of the season. Cleveland (DeShone Kizer) has a struggling rookie returning to the starting lineup after being benched last week.

Of the three, Prescott is my top-ranked. He has been the most consistent of the trio and should benefit from a high-paced game; San Francisco’s offense has been the fastest-paced in the league this season. Mariota is my second-ranked of the three. Cleveland is a textbook example of a defense that funnels the opposing offense toward throwing the ball. The Browns rank 3rd in DVOA against the run and 32nd against the pass. The Titans should have to lean on Mariota to move the ball. Brees is also a good option despite ranking lowest of this group, as the Saints have a very solid implied team total of 26.5 points. The concern with Brees is that the Saints defense has been very good in recent weeks, and if Hundley struggles, the Saints could lean on their defense and run game if they jump out to an early lead.

The pay-down options at quarterback are ugly this week on DraftKings. Below $6,000 there isn’t a single passer I would consider in cash games. C.J. Beathard ($4,900) is potentially worth taking a shot on in GPPs, however. He faces a Dallas defense that has allowed the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing passers. As mentioned above, the 49ers are the highest-paced team in the league, so the snaps and passing volume should be there. We’ve seen Brian Hoyer put up a number of solid fantasy weeks in this offense and Beathard can’t be much worse. Beathard is also a decent athlete who rushed for 10 touchdowns in his career at Iowa.

On FanDuel, the low-priced options are more plentiful. Carson Palmer ($7,000) remains shockingly underpriced every week. He’s averaged 18.7 fantasy points per week over the past five weeks. Another similar performance would give him a very solid 2.5x multiplier at his price.

Chris Feery: Last week, if you told anyone that the Saints were going to drop 52 points while Drew Brees had a disappointing fantasy output, you would have received a lot of furrowed brows in response. While I don’t expect him to have a performance for the ages this weekend, there’s a good chance he’ll make up for it against a leaky secondary.

As Dan mentioned, the Browns have some serious problems against the passing game, and Mariota could have a field day as a result. Dak Prescott is interesting as well in a potentially fast-paced game against the 49ers, but I’m more sold on the other two choices. For value, I’ll be looking toward Brett Hundley and Blake Bortles.

While there’s a natural fear that the Packers offense will fall off of a cliff in the absence of Aaron Rodgers, I’m in the small camp that says that Hundley is up to the task. Will it amount to plug-and-play production? Of course not, but Hundley is a serviceable option that can hold down the fort with some impressive weapons at his disposal. If he couldn’t do that, wouldn’t the Packers have addressed the backup quarterback position before the season kicked off?

Bortles is certainly a risk, but he has the privilege of facing off against a Colts team that has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in half its games this season. He should be able to pull off that trick as well, and he comes in at a salary that will provide you with tremendous flexibility for the rest of your roster.

Justin Howe: Prescott is actually my pick as the week’s raw points leader, and to get him at a noticeable discount from Brees is quite nice. As Danny pointed out, Prescott is a cash-value machine; in a fast-paced matchup with a subpar defense, he should probably be priced above Brees. Not only does Prescott look like a lock to hit his cash marker, he’s also fully stackable with Dez Bryant and/or Ezekiel Elliott to commandeer virtually the entire Cowboys offensive outlook. I’ll be taking advantage on FanDuel, though I slightly prefer Russell Wilson’s similar ceiling and hefty discount on DraftKings.

Brees has a fine matchup, and I’m not worried about the Saints being road favorites. It’s actually a potential boon for Brees – if they indeed control the game in Lambeau, it’ll almost certainly be because they’re churning out points. But we saw last week that not even these Saints are immune to game script forcing the ball onto the ground. We also saw that the team still greatly values Mark Ingram II’s short-yardage game, and that Brees isn’t the lock for 3+ touchdowns that we all assume in this matchup.

Mariota looks like a strong play, but not quite to the point that I’ll take the modest discount for him. Prescott and Brees look like safer plays, so they’re better cash calls.

I mentioned Wilson a moment ago, which is honestly as low as I’ll probably go in cash games this week. I’m a little surprised Philip Rivers is priced down so heavily. It makes sense in terms of matchup: the Broncos have yet to allow even a 250-yard passer. But Rivers isn’t necessarily prohibited from success just from the matchup. He managed to throw 3 touchdowns in Denver in Week 1 –above cash value for that salary and for this week’s. And he managed to rack up 267 yards and 2 scores in their previous meeting. Don’t get me wrong: there’s little upside on the table here. But there’s a strong enough floor to say he was markedly over-discounted here.

Devin Knotts: Drew Brees is my top guy out of this group. When I play quarterbacks I value consistency, and at the end of the day, the lack of pass rush is a big deal as the Packers have only 11 sacks on the season. Give Brees time and he will pick you apart. Prescott is second, as this 49ers secondary is absolutely atrocious. The only concern is that Prescott has struggled so far, as his completion percentage has fallen from 66% last year to 62%. However, this is a get-right game against a defense that is allowing 262 yards per game, which is 27th in the NFL this season. Mariota is my third guy, and while I like him, injuries are a big concern. I just don't know how healthy he is, and he needs his running ability to be productive.

My value play this week is DeShone Kizer. I think he gets back to being the guy that we saw early in the year instead of the guy that we saw prior to being benched. He is facing a Titans defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Vegas is also high on Cleveland, as they have them projected for 21 points, and Kizer only needs two touchdowns to exceed value.

Moderator: Collaboratively, we get the following rankings from the panel:

 DannyAlex MDan HChrisDevinJustinAverage
Dak Prescott 1 3 1 3 2 1 1.83
Drew Brees 3 1 3 1 1 2 2.00
Marcus Mariota 2 2 2 2 3 3 2.33


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