DFS Roundtable: Approaching Quarterbacks

Will you be paying up for a top-dollar Week 3 quarterback, or saving money down the board? If the latter, give us a value quarterback you'd feel safe playing in cash, and another you'd like to chase upside with.

Quarterback pricing is tightening rapidly, especially at the top. The highest salaries, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, have crept up gradually but markedly since Week 1's soft pricing, leaving DFSers with a clear contrast of choices. We can spend up and hope a great matchup carries a high-level passer to a big week, or we can save a hefty chunk of salary and hope a middle-of-the-pack option overachieves. Which camp are you in for Week 3 cash and GPP contests? Will you be paying top-dollar for Brady's juicy matchup against the banged-up Texans, or saving money down the board? If so, give us a value quarterback you'd feel safe playing in cash, and another you'd like to chase upside with.

Jason Wood: Neither Tom Brady nor Aaron Rodgers is in my DFS plans this week. Brady is way too expensive, and even though it's at home and the Texans have injury issues, the Texans are still a prideful defense. I don't see enough value at Brady's cost to justify the selection. Rodgers is problematic because of the injuries to his teammates. We're unclear about the status of his offensive tackles and two of his top three receivers.

My top choice this week is Carson Wentz, who gets a home matchup against a shell-shocked Giants team. Even though the Giants defense has talent, the offense is woeful and Wentz should have favorable field position throughout the game. I'm also compelled by Derek Carr's price in a very winnable matchup versus Washington. Trevor Siemian and Ben Roethlisberger also figure into my short list.

Dan Hindery: I'm with Jason this week. I don't see a big enough advantage with Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers over cheaper passers like Carson Wentz and Matthew Stafford to pay up in cash games and hurt myself at other positions.

As Jason noted, the Packers offense around Rodgers is beaten up. Both starting tackles and a starting guard are injured. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are also listed as questionable. Plus, the Bengals pass defense ranks 9th in DVOA. There are plenty of areas the Bengals have struggled in over the first two weeks, but pass defense has been the biggest bright spot. If we get some clarity on Saturday or Sunday that most of the Packers injured players are good to go, then I can see a better case for Rodgers in cash. 

I like Brady quite a bit in GPPs, but he is too risky of an option for me to pay up for in cash games. The Texans are likely to struggle mightily to score points, and we've already seen a less talented Jacksonville team dominate Houston by pounding away in the running game. Would it be a shock if Mike Gillislee rushes for two or three touchdowns and Brady puts up an unspectacular stat line?

Wentz and Stafford are both at home in average to above-average matchups. Neither the Lions nor the Eagles have much in the way of running games, so you can safely project most of the scoring and yardage to flow through the quarterbacks. Plus, with relatively tight pricing (especially on DraftKings), the extra money available to boost your cash lineup in other spots is a big advantage.

Devin Knotts: I will have Brady, mostly because his upside is incredibly high against a secondary that people are going to think that is much better than what it is - especially now that Kevin Johnson is out. Many will look at the season-long stats and assume the Texans make for a tough matchup. The reality is that the Texans have played just two of the worst passing offenses in the NFL in Jacksonville and Cincinnati. 

As for other cheaper options, I like Cam Newton in a good matchup, even though he will be one of the more popular options. This secondary for the Saints is one of the worst we have seen in a long time, especially with P.J. Williams in. Rookie Marshon Lattimore is potentially their best cornerback and may miss this game as he has been limited in practice so far this week. 

Moderator: Anyone planning to split up their quarterback usage? It looks like there’s decent value even further down the salary chart.

Justin Bonnema: Yeah, the answer for me is both. I'll build quite a few lineups with Brady or Rodgers as my base. But I'll also diversify with a few cheap options. That paid off nicely last week with Trevor Siemian. This week is a little flatter and the matchups aren't particularly sexy. A couple of value plays, high-risk value plays mind you, are Andy Dalton and Deshaun Watson. Both options are gag-worthy and tough to justify, but allow me to try. 

Most of Watson's fantasy production last week came a one long touchdown run, but that's what he brings to the table. To borrow from Rich Hribar, Watson is our Konami Code (a throwback reference to playing mobile quarterbacks in fantasy football). He is the only player in college football history to have 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. We'll see how well that transfers to the pros. For now, he's locked into a high volume situation against the Patriots, whose defense has allowed the second-most points to quarterbacks this season. At just $4,700, he needs only 18.8 points to hit tournament value--or one more point than he scored last week. I'll gladly take a few shares. 

Dalton is a harder sell. Nothing we've seen from him this season indicates that he's worth starting anytime soon. In fact, there's already talk of him losing his job. I'll fade that group think this week and bet on a rebound in Green Bay. Bill Lazor is taking over as the offensive coordinator, which at least suggests a big change coming. And it's not like Dalton doesn't have weapons around him; he's just not hitting them like we've seen him do in the past. He's a risky play, but worth a shot given his $5,100 price tag. All it takes is a couple of deep balls to A.J. Green and he'll hit value.

Chris Feery: I’ll be doing the same as Justin this week. I’m sold on paying up for Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, and I’ll have a good amount of exposure to both of them. There are injury concerns at the skill positions for both clubs, but that makes them even more enticing to me. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out, but affordable stacks with two top quarterbacks are awfully intriguing for GPP purposes.

I’ll also be doing some bargain shopping this week. Kirk Cousins and Jay Cutler are two of the names I’ll be keying in on. The former has a potential shootout against the Raiders on the docket, while the latter will have the pleasure of picking apart the Jets' leaky secondary. I’m not one to roll with a ton of lineups, so I’ll zero in on my top cheap option by site, and then complement that with lineups anchored by the expensive options.

Jason Wood: Now that I've had a chance to review Steve Buzzard's amazing ownership projections, I'm layering in Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota lineups to go along with my aforementioned preferences. At 2%-3% projected ownership, I see those two young, transcendent players as intriguing even if they're up against reputationally good defenses.

Danny Tuccitto: I'm with Justin. I won't have Rodgers or Brady in a large proportion of my lineups, but I also won't ignore them completely. Here's why. If I look at my list of quarterbacks that have a greater than 25% probability of achieving 4x, it's almost all players who either lack a track record or don't inspire confidence: Deshaun Watson (36%), DeShone Kizer (36%), Josh McCown (30%), Carson Wentz (30%), Blake Bortles (29%), Trevor Siemian (28%), and Jacoby Brissett (26%).

Now, I'm willing to roll the dice with this group (esp. Wentz), but I also feel the need to "balance my range" so to speak; using the lower-risk Rodgers and Brady to protect myself against the higher-risk quarterbacks I'll be using more often.

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