DFS Roundtable: Mining the Second Quarterback Tier for Value

Give us your top two plays from the second salary grouping at quarterback, and clue us in on any other affordably dynamic options

For the most part, quarterback pricing has relaxed this week, and we get solid salary relief with a handful of guys we're used to paying up to $1,000 more for. With Deshaun Watson injured, there’s a top three that looks clear-cut (Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Drew Brees) but cheaper, diversifying talent up and down the board. Give us your top two of the following plays, and let us know if I've left out any other dynamic yet affordable options:

Cam Newton ($6,300 DK / $7,600 FD)
Matt Ryan ($6,200 DK / $7,600 FD)
Carson Wentz ($6,100 DK / $8,000 FD)
Marcus Mariota ($6,000 DK / $7,800 FD)
Kirk Cousins ($5,700 DK / $7,500 FD)

James Brimacombe: Quarterback is such a tough position this week after Wilson, Prescott, and Brees. With this list of quarterbacks, I would say Cam Newton and Kirk Cousins intrigue me the most but they would be GPP options only. Both of these quarterbacks are in tough matchups with Newton against the Falcons and Cousins against the Seahawks. My hope would be that Newton gets into a back-and-forth game against the Falcons. If I roster him I am pairing him with Devin Funchess, with Julio Jones on the other side, and looking for touchdowns from both receivers.

My hope with Cousins is that he will sling the ball like Deshaun Watson did last week against the Seahawks. With offensive line issues for Washington, Cousins is another risky GPP-only type of play and has completed at least 25 passes in the past three games. The same number should be expected this week. I think the safe thing to do is to look at the top three quarterbacks in Wilson, Prescott, and Brees and not worry about the headache of who to roster from the rest of the bunch.

Justin Bonnema: I honestly don't like any of these options. I don't trust Newton or the Panthers' offense in general. Ryan has failed to throw more than one touchdown in all but two games this season (in seven tries) and comes into Week 9 ranked as QB20. Wentz is in the so-called "no-fly zone," and with the Broncos riding Brock Osweiler, it’s hard to see that game being worth chasing. Mariota was a huge flop a couple of weeks ago in a darling matchup; I am somewhat tempted to go his way again, especially with Corey Davis practicing, but the Titans may just ground-and-pound the Ravens. And Cousins, as James mentioned, has to go to Seattle with a busted offensive line and string of mediocre performances. So, if I had to choose two, I'd go Mariota and Newton since they offer rushing upside.

Like James, I'm much more interested in Wilson, Prescott, and Brees. All of them have good-to-great matchups and a ton of tournament-winning upside.

John Mamula: I agree 100% with James and Bonnema. For cash games, I have no interest in any of the five listed. In cash, it makes more sense to pay up for a safe option such as Prescott, Wilson, or Brees.

For GPP tournaments, I have mild interest in Mariota and Wentz. The Titans have a chance to come out of the bye strong against an average Ravens defense. The time off should have helped Mariota and DeMarcus Murray with their injuries.

To my surprise, the Eagles have the fourth-highest projected team total of the weekend at 25.75 points. Wentz will draw his lowest ownership percentage of the season as most will be scared of the Broncos’ "no-fly zone" defense. Currently, Footballguys’ Steve Buzzard has Wentz at 5% ownership. Wentz may be matchup-proof as he has 13 touchdowns over his past 4 games. There is no need to risk playing Wentz or Mariota in cash games, but each of them could pay huge dividends in GPP tournaments.

Jeff Pasquino: There are only two guys on that list I have any interest in:

Newton – I think Cam's in play for cash, as he is averaging 55 yards a game rushing the past three weeks, so there is your first level of a floor. Now, some may be discouraged that his WR1 is off the table with Kelvin Benjamin traded away, but Christian McCaffrey and TE Ed Dickson form a very solid WR2 option with Devin Funchess moved up to WR1 status. I think Newton-to-McCaffrey will be a fantastic combination this week as the Falcons give up over nine targets and six catches to running backs per game, which matches McCaffrey's average. Newton's completion rate remains high due to short passes to McCaffrey, and I see his value continuing to rise. Newton is a solid cash option this week on both sites.

Wentz – How can you not like Wentz in any format?  He's been stellar all season long and Zach Ertz gets yet another strong matchup against Denver this week. Jay Ajayi will need more time to become a lead back for the Eagles, and maybe then the run game becomes more of an option, but until such time I'm going to continue to go back to the Wentz well.

Now, I will say that there are SAFER options for which you can pay up, but if you are pressed for cap space and need to spend down, Newton and Wentz are very viable options. (I also think that Joe Flacco on DraftKings for $4,700 has a reasonable case to be made as well this week, but that's another discussion entirely). If Flacco lights up that terrible Tennessee defense (and if there is one thing Flacco can do it is throw deep –  hi there, Mike Wallace), Marcus Mariota can be looked at to put up a big number as well.

Danny Tuccitto: For cash games on Draftkings, here's how the five quarterbacks rank with respect to their probabilities of achieving 3x value:

Carson Wentz (53%)

Kirk Cousins (49%)

Cam Newton (46%)

Marcus Mariota (45%)

Matt Ryan (35%)

Putting math aside, the only change I would make subjectively is to swap Cousins and Newton, for a couple of reasons. First, all else equal, I'll take a home quarterback over a road quarterback every time. Second, per DVOA, Atlanta's pass defense ranks 24th in tight end targets and 21st on running back targets. With Carolina trading Kelvin Benjamin this week, Christian McCaffrey and Ed Dickson figure to see an uptick in volume. The Falcons' defense also ranks 29th in power success, allowing a 75% success rate in short-yardage and goal line situations. Bottom line: I like Newton's floor this week.

Justin Howe: I’m not especially interested in Mariota or Ryan, both of whom are wildly inconsistent and haven’t boasted much in terms of ceiling. And Wentz looks like no more than a GPP stab – the Broncos simply don’t allow passing production, almost invariably, so his value comes from the chance he tosses a few short touchdowns.

I do, however, have an eye on Cousins and Newton, both of whom come too cheaply for their ceilings. Cousins has feasted on some weak pass defenses for his numbers, but the Seattle pass defense is reeling itself right now. Two of their top three cornerbacks are providing shaky downfield coverage, and Earl Thomas isn’t quite himself. Deshaun Watson shredded them in Week 8, and Cousins has potential to do the same. He’ll also have garbage-time potential as a seven-point underdog. Newton is always a ceiling play, given his tendency to add 2-14 points on the ground. And Danny makes a great case for why Atlanta’s defense could provide a setup for a Good Cam Week.