DFS Roundtable: Banking on Elite Quarterbacks

The DFS team discusses deciding between elite quarterbacks and elite matchups

Seven quarterbacks have 10+ passing touchdowns through the opening month, not including Drew Brees (eight), Aaron Rodgers (seven), and Tom Brady (nine). Andy Dalton is one of the more surprising names on the list. How does this general 'rising tide' of NFL passing production alter your DFS lineup-building mindset on a weekly basis? Is it about focusing on the high-flying offenses? Or can you pivot to a middling offense who gets an even worse defense?

James Brimacombe: I think it comes down to value at the quarterback position if you can find that quarterback that has 3 touchdowns and 300+ yards potential at a lower salary you take the savings and build around your running backs and wide receivers. Andy Dalton has been a perfect example of this through four games. We can also start looking at trends after four weeks of data and looks for the bad passing defenses through these four weeks and key up any of the top plays from there based on salary savings. This week you could look at a guy like Blake Bortles who has a dream matchup against the Chiefs who have shown they give up fantasy points to the quarterback position.

Phil Alexander: The answer here is both. It's possible and preferable (at least it has been so far) to build your core around the chalk plays in the best passing offenses while looking for contrarian opportunities against the worst passing defenses. With all the attention focused on the five main slate games with an over/under beyond 50 points, it might slip past the crowd how awful the Eagles have been defending receivers on the perimeter. Philadelphia has been smoked by Julio Jones, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Corey Davis thus far. The matchup sets up especially well for Stefon Diggs in a week he should fly under the radar.

Dan Hindery: One of the interesting aspects of the explosion of numbers this season is that we haven’t seen a corresponding explosion in the numbers of #1 wide receivers. Most of the increased production is going to teams’ #2 and #3 receivers. More than ever, the top passing offenses are spreading the ball around to multiple guys. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been every bit as big a part of the Pittsburgh pass offense as Antonio Brown. Both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are top-10 wide receivers through four games. Tyler Boyd is actually leading the Bengals in receiving yards over A.J. Green. It seems like every week a different wide receiver goes off for the Rams.

In terms of DFS strategy, it feels less necessary than in past years to pay up for elite wide receivers. When guys like Ridley, Boyd, Cooper Kupp, and Taylor Gabriel have proven capable of massive fantasy performances, we can still find plenty of GPP upside focusing on #2 receivers in great matchups. The salary savings at wide receiver allows us to pay up for running backs like Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon III, and Ezekiel Elliott.

Will Grant: I went into this season feeling like the top fix or six quarterbacks were about equal overall from a season perspective and it was going to be key match-ups that determined when to start them. The fact that so many have blown up makes that even more the case. Take Mitchell Trubisky last week – He’s looked downright awful at points this season, but last week against Tampa Bay he was the quarterback to have over all the guys that were mentioned here. You’ve got to look for these type of matches every week and consider them as part of your lineup.

Kansas City has played three road games in their first four weeks, including a late game come-from-behind victory over Denver. This week they go home and face the Jaguars. The Chiefs are averaging 328 yards per game through the air and have given up 8 passing touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. Blake Bortles should be on your radar this week as much as Andy Dalton should be.

Justin Howe: As usual, I still open every lineup build looking for a stack. And, yes, I have more options now than ever before. But even with this barrage, DFS exposure still seems pretty constant – focused heavily on one or two chalky names each week. Using Vegas totals and projections – plus a healthy dose of Steve Buzzard’s weekly Exposure chart – helps me find the chalky-but-not-really-chalky candidates week after week.

I’m growing less and less interested in defensive matchups in general. There are just too many avenues for a Deshaun Watson or a Patrick Mahomes to post big numbers to just ignore them.