DFS Roundtable: Second-Tier Quarterback Derby

Rank the second-tier quarterback salaries in terms of cash-game viability, taking into consideration floor, ceiling, and value.

Quarterback pricing has relaxed a bit this week, leaving us with a large cluster of high-upside options at similar salaries. But in cash games, of course, we also have to be mindful of floor. Rank the following options in terms of cash-game viability, taking into consideration floor, ceiling, and value:

Ben Roethlisberger
Matthew Stafford
Jameis Winston
Derek Carr

And overall, who's the cheapest QB - not necessarily from the above list - that you'd even consider plugging into a cash lineup?

James Brimacombe: I see all four of these guys in similar spots this week. All four have potential for putting up big games, but this week all of their matchups are average and maybe even on the difficult side. You have Roethlisberger on the road against division-rival Ravens, Stafford playing on the road against a very good Vikings defense, Carr on the road against a tough Broncos defense, and lastly Jameis Winston against a decent Giants secondary but he does get the home matchup. Out of those four, I would go with Winston as my favorite, as I see the Buccaneers as a team that will be hungry at home after getting embarrassed by the Vikings 34-17 last week. I would go with Stafford next, followed by Roethlisberger and Carr.

My cheap option at quarterback would be Andy Dalton, as he had a strong showing against the Packers last week and I expect him to improve on that for his biggest game of the year against the Browns. Cleveland is the 7th-worst team against the quarterback position through 3 weeks, allowing 246 yards and 1.7 touchdowns through the air and 0.7 touchdowns on the ground. Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Jacoby Brissett have all had multi-touchdown games against this Browns defense, so it’s hard to not see Dalton finding the end zone at least twice.

Justin Bonnema: As much as I hate to ignore what the numbers tell us, I think sometimes we overthink things. Roethlisberger on the road is a thing, but he has the best offense around him, so I'd take him first. 

Next, I'll go with the guy that's playing the best and to me, that's Stafford (QB7 on the season). If not for a low-scoring game in Week 2 against the Giants, where the Lions absolutely dominated and ended up running the ball 32 times, Stafford's yards per game would be much higher. He had only 21 attempts in that game. He's eclipsed 40 in both of his other contests while averaging 278 yards. He also has seven touchdowns (ranking fifth in touchdown percentage) to just one interception on the season despite ranking 11th in attempts (tied with two other quarterbacks). The Vikings defense is tough but they've allowed the fourth most passing yards to quarterbacks. As of now, the line is not posted on this game but I'll take Stafford in a potentially high-volume situation. 

Final rankings of the four would be: Roethlisberger, Stafford, Winston, Carr. I honestly have little interest in the last two.

Moderator: Great points on Stafford, Bonnema, who I also think has looked great thus far. Let’s not forget, he was only inches from another touchdown last week.

Bonnema: For cheap guys, I'm going right back to Deshaun Watson. He has looked clumsy both as a runner and a passer, but that's not shocking considering he only has two starts under his belt. He gets his first home start against a division rival that has allowed the fourth-most yards, second-most touchdowns, and third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Russell Wilson destroyed them last week and though it may have been an outlier, I think it demonstrated just how vulnerable that secondary is. And, as always, where Watson might fall short as a passer he more than makes up for with his legs. He hasn't even played three full games and leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards. I'll be taking advantage of his salary again, particularly in GPPs.

Jason Wood: I'm not touching Roethlisberger this week for a few simple reasons:

1) It's a road game
2) It's a divisional road game
3) It has one of the lowest totals of the week (42)
4) The Steelers are projected as the 15th-highest scoring team
5) Roethlisberger doesn't project as one of the better values at his cost on either DraftKIngs or FanDuel this week, according to our staff's analysis

Going into the season, I was incredibly high on both Winston and Carr, and I remain so. However, both are in suboptimal situations this week. Oakland is projected as the 17th-highest scoring team this week (21.75 points) and is on the road against an excellent Broncos defense reeling from an embarrassing defeat. Carr hasn't been sharp, and Michael Crabtree - his top target - is hurt. Winston is slightly more enticing, as his Buccaneers are 11th in projected scoring and are playing at home. However, the Giants defense is robust (even if the YTD stats aren't reflective of the talent) and this game has the makings of a slow-paced affair. Neither Winston nor Carr project highly in our DFS projections or H-Value

That leaves Matthew Stafford. There's not currently a spread or implied total on the game because of the uncertainty in Minnesota, although we expect Case Keenum to start. Both teams have solid defenses and yet the Lions can't run the ball effectively, so Stafford will see a high volume regardless of the opponent. If I had to choose one of this quartet, it would be Stafford. But I'm passing on all four players.

To your other question about the least expensive "cash game" quarterbacks this week, I'll give you two: Trevor Siemian and Eli Manning. Manning gets a Buccaneers defense that just allowed 300 yards and three touchdowns to Case Keenum, while Siemian has a home divisional matchup against the struggling Raiders secondary.

Danny Tuccitto: In terms of my DraftKings value probabilities for cash games, here's how these quarterbacks rank:

Jameis Winston (48%)

Matthew Stafford (46%)

Ben Roethlisberger (42%)

Derek Carr (38%)

All four of them have probabilities higher than 33 percent, which is the threshold for cash game value (i.e., 1/3x), so one thing I like to do in this situation is to see how often they've actually achieved 3x in the past:

Winston (56%)

Roethlisberger (47%)

Carr (45%)

Stafford (43%)

What about floors and ceilings? Well, we can use these players' historical averages and standard deviations to figure those out. Sparing readers the math, Roethlisberger has the highest ceiling (26.7), while Winston has the highest floor (12.3). Focusing on their floor projections, here how these quarterbacks rank after converting the point totals into value multipliers:

Winston (2.1x)

Stafford (1.6x)

Carr (1.2x)

Roethlisberger (1.1x)

At the end of this statistical exercise, then, Winston is the clear choice.

With respect to the cheapest quarterback I'd consider in cash games, that would have to be Tyrod Taylor at $5300. His value probability is 58 percent and his floor is 10.7, which translates to a Winston-esque 2.0x multiplier.

Chris Feery:  Of the four, I’d feel most comfortable rostering Matthew Stafford. At first glance, the matchup against the Vikings doesn’t look all that appealing. As Bonnema already pointed out, those worries go away once you consider the fact that the Vikings have been struggling against the pass thus far this year. We know that the Lions are going to run a pass-heavy game plan in general, and the volume should be there for Stafford to have a safe enough floor for cash games. For the other three, I’d take Ben Roethlisberger first, Jameis Winston second, and Derek Carr third, but I’m not all that intrigued by any of them for cash game purposes. I would at least consider the first two, but I’ll take a hard pass on Carr against a tough Broncos defense.

As for cheaper options, the guys have mentioned three of my top choices in Andy Dalton, Eli Manning, and Trevor Siemian. I’ll add the name Jared Goff to the mix as well. The Rams offense has been one of the pleasant surprises of the early part of the season, and Goff has the privilege of facing off against a Cowboys secondary that is quite porous. New Rams head coach Sean McVay has made a world of difference in Goff’s development, and the second-year signal caller is showing a lot of promising signs. His confidence seems to be growing each week, and he has some solid weapons at his disposal. I’m comfortable plugging Goff in and using the savings to bolster the rest of my lineup.

Justin Howe: I don’t find this group very appealing either, but I do like the Stafford discount from the top options. He’s played quite well this year, boasting a solid 7.20 adjusted yards per attempt and a fantastic 6.5% touchdown rate. He’s stocked with dynamic pass-catchers, and he’s throwing well in the red zone, so he’s a strong weekly bet to throw 2+ scores. His matchup in Minnesota is not ideal, of course, but it’s not prohibitive – Drew Brees and Jameis Winston have both carved the Vikings up in garbage time.

Winston is rarely a great cash play because you never know when he’ll implode mentally. Over his 34 career starts, he’s landed below a 60% completion rate in 14 of them, which is worrisome because he’s fallen short of 20 fantasy points in 8 of those 14. That boom-or-bust nature makes him a tad overpriced for cash usage, especially fresh off one of his worst real-life games as a pro.

Neither Roethlisberger nor Carr has a matchup I’m interested in taking on, so they slip to the bottom here. Roethlisberger will not only tangle with the Ravens’ fiery pass rush and solid cornerback tandem, he’ll also be playing on the road, which is not kind to him. His home splits are noteworthy not only because he’s so great in Pittsburgh, but also because his mediocre road play creates a huge gap. Carr’s road date with Denver inspires even less confidence, especially with Amari Cooper floundering and a banged-up Michael Crabtree dancing with Aqib Talib for most of the day. Both these guys make decent GPP stabs, but neither is cash-viable.

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