Welcome to the NFL DFS QB Coach, where we identify optimal point-per-dollar quarterbacks for our lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel and SuperDraft!
Aaaaand away we go! The year 2020 has been a wild ride, but the NFL season has finally arrived and we are preparing to be entertained. My QB breakdown will kick off coverage each week and hopefully provide you with a first look on how each set of games should flow as well as lead you to the optimal matchups and sneaky tournament options for NFL DFS.
When selecting QBs for our DFS lineups, there are a few things we need to focus on: Matchups, game flow and Vegas lines.
Matchups – We’re looking for QBs playing behind strong offensive lines who provide them ample time in the pocket so they can find their targets. Ideally, they’ll also be facing teams with subpar pass rushers and/or weak secondaries.
Game Flow – Having a soft matchup is great, but not if it’s so soft it affects our QB’s game flow. We want to find games we project to be close and competitive or games in which our QB’s team will be trailing, forcing him to air it out.
Vegas Lines – For GPPs, especially, be wary of QBs who are large Vegas favorites (>14pts). If those guys get out to big leads early, it’s likely they’ll hit the brakes and resort to using the ground game to run out the clock. In general, we’re looking for QBs in games with totals >48 and spreads <5, or on teams projected to be huge underdogs (spreads of +10 or more). Quarterbacks who frequently scramble or gain yardage with their legs are certainly a priority, given the additional statistical output we can expect.
It’s important to note this article is posted mid-week, so injuries and other news can change our reads as we get closer to Sunday. This article is specifically for Sunday’s “Main” slates, so QBs from Thursday, Sunday, and Monday Night Football are not considered.
The main slate for Week 1 this Sunday is 12 games, three of them in the afternoon and all three should be exciting ones.
After the nine early games, we’ll see the Bengals and stud rookie, NCAA champ signal-caller Joe Burrow in his NFL debut as they visit the Chargers. We’ll also have the newly-loaded Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Tom Brady at the helm against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. And finally, an exciting divisional battle between the Cardinals and 49ers. Though the Niners were fantastic defensively last season, both of their games last year ended up high scoring (28-25 and 36-26) as Kyler Murray averaged 24 DK points in those two games while Jimmy Garoppolo had his 2019 ceiling games, throwing four TD passes and topping 30 DK points in each.
The first set of nine games have some more boring, lower-scoring projected matchups, some of which will have rain and overall poor weather. But DFS players will certainly dive their attention and ownership into 2019’s QB1 Lamar Jackson (v CLE) and the two QB’s in the Seahawks/Falcons game (Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan). We also have a couple of bad defenses on tap in the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers’ game, though I’d expect more popularity among the running backs and wideouts in that one than I do with Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater. Although, both may be sneaky GPP options.
Keep in mind Week 1 of NFL DFS is usually more chalky and sheep-filled than most other weeks. Also, Twitter will play its part in shaping ownership of players based on popular analysts hyping them. As it stands now before everyone’s content comes out, Russell Wilson / Lamar Jackson / Matt Ryan / Carson Wentz / Drew Brees will likely be the most popular plays because they are familiar names. They are all easily usable in cash games, but there are certainly some cheaper options we may want to consider in DK cash and in GPP’s in general.
Cash plays in gold, GPP plays in blue, MME plays in purple, Value prices in green.
Vegas lines as of Tuesday afternoon.
Cash Game Options
Russell Wilson, Seahawks & Matt Ryan, Falcons
We should see decent ownership on both Wilson and Ryan in cash games and GPP’s in Week 1 as this is one of the most anticipated matchups on the slate. The 49-point implied total is one of the highest of the day and a 1.5-point spread (in Seattle’s favor, on the road) portends to a matchup we expect to be a close one. A competitive tilt is paramount to rostering QB’s in DFS and obviously both are among the league’s most talented. Granted, the Seahawks have traditionally been more slanted towards the run game but a team like the Falcons could lead them into a shoot-out, especially in Atlanta’s fast-paced dome. The DK Metcalf-Tyler Lockett duo is a potent 1-2 punch and Metcalf’s likely matchup against subpar CB Isaiah Oliver is one that Wilson will look to take advantage of on Sunday.
The Falcons have replaced Devonta Freeman with Todd Gurley as their primary RB but essentially have a similar offense with their own 1-2 receiving punch of Julio Jones-Calvin Ridley under the leadership of returning head coach Dan Quinn and OC Dirk Koetter. Though Jones and Ridley will have tougher battles with cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar and Shaq Griffin, both of whom were solid in 2019. The Seahawks were much more susceptible to opposing runners (23rd ranked DVOA against the run) and were middle of the pack (16th) against the pass. After several years of strong splits favoring his home matchups, the 2019 version of Ryan was much more effective on the road (18:5 TD:INT on road, 8:9 at home). Though we take this with a grain of salt chalking this up to a one-year anomaly that was more matchup based than anything.
Wilson and Ryan are priced similarly on DK (Russ $7.0, Ryan $6.7) though have a bigger price difference on FD ($8.4 to $7.8). Wilson offers a bit safer of a floor with his scrambling tendencies (91-453-3 rushing last season) and, in my opinion, is a better overall play this week. The issue though is the fact the masses will love to try to fit an expensive Christian McCaffrey in as one of their running backs and we will have to cut some costs somewhere. Both quarterbacks are solid for cash but I’d look to save some coin at the position in GPP’s where the matchups feature more porous defenses and could derive bigger points-per-dollar outputs.
Drew Brees, Saints
Here we have the highest implied total on the slate (49.5) and one that will likely climb over 50 as we move along into the week. Two absolutely loaded offenses within the same division and a potential barnburner with heavy utilization of passing game on both sides. Brees is well-known for dominating performances on his hometown turf and last season was no different despite missing five games in the middle of the season. Brees averaged nearly 10 more fantasy points at the Superdome last year (25 to 15) and posted an 18:4 TD:INT rate in seven games, averaging 315 yards per game. The 41-year-old was focusing on his arm strength over the offseason since it’s not of the ilk it once was, though it doesn’t matter much for a guy with pinpoint accuracy, a master of completions and with a bevy of stout weapons (Thomas, Kamara, Sanders, Cook) at his disposal. The Bucs are loaded themselves though haven’t had much time to gel as a unit but my expectation is they keep this one close. Both defenses are in the upper third of the league in terms of talent and efficiency, though the Bucs were the league’s #1 rush defense last year, which bodes well for a possible game plan of Brees needing to chuck in 40-45 times.
Cam Newton, Patriots
The return of Cam, Patriots edition. Personally, I never understood the negativity towards him and really do hope he stays healthy this season. First off, he’s the smash play on SuperDraft at 2x salary and it’d be difficult not to have him in your main lineup there – though many others will have the same idea. If you’ve crossed Cam off your list for DFS consideration because he might be rusty or hasn’t played in so long, that’s probably a bad idea. He’s gelling well with the offense in practices and establishing a nice rapport with young wideout N’Keal Harry. Newton is priced nicely and has a fantastic matchup against the Dolphins and their bottom-third ranked defense. Could this one get out of hand in favor of the Pats? Sure. But their defense isn’t of the caliber it was last season and the Dolphins’ offense should be much improved having a healthy and dynamic Preston Williams back as well as two solid running backs – underrated power runner Jordan Howard and the league’s fastest back, Matt Breida. Don’t forget that Cam was Lamar before Lamar and will certainly be scrambling some himself these days. Can’t promise you he’ll be the best play on the slate but I’ll bet he sneaks one in himself for six points on Sunday.
Others to Consider:
Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Rather pricey on DK ($8.1) and especially on FD ($9.4). Anyone with a pulse understands what type of fantasy damage LJax is capable of on a weekly basis. He was the highest-scoring weekly QB (by a wide margin) averaging nearly 30 DK points per game last year and finished sixth in the league in rushing, breaking Michael Vick’s record for rushing yards by a QB with 1,206. Against the Browns in Week 4 last season, he threw for 247 yards, three TD passes, and added 66 rushing yards though had two interceptions and a fumble (still, 26.5 DKP). Then in Week 16, 33.8 DKP (238 yards, 3 pass TD, 17-103 on the ground with two fumbles, one lost). He claims to be healthy after missing a couple days of practice last week with a minor groin injury and should be all systems go for this tilt. The Ravens are eight-point favorites at home with a 48.5 implied total. They certainly boast one of the league’s best defenses and could grab a big enough lead early to keep Jackson from sniffing that 30-40 point ceiling but remember how many times last season we thought Jackson was getting too expensive and he ended up breaking the slate. There are enough affordable RB’s, WR’s and TE’s this week that we can make him fit in cash if we really want.
Carson Wentz, Eagles – Wentz is missing several primary pieces of his offense, isn’t at full strength (still not practicing), and is facing an underrated Washington defense. Don’t think he breaks the slate one way or the other and I’ll likely find other weeks to play him.
FAVORITE CASH PLAYS (in order): Wilson, Newton, Brees
Mitch Trubisky, Bears
Cutler’s heir apparent. Second overall draft pick. A failure: benched, injured, demoted, a disappointment. Mitch Trubisky. Well, the 26-year-old’s trials and tribulations continue in the fall of 2020 with Bears’ coach Matt Nagy tabbing him as their Week 1 starter against the Lions in Detroit over Nick Foles. Trubisky has apparently made positive strides this offseason in terms of his footwork and accuracy and hopes to show it off this Sunday. The most intriguing part of this setup is Trubisky might be one of the last quarterbacks you’d consider clicking into your Week 1 DFS lineups, yet the amount of success he’s had specifically against his division rival Lions is astounding. Over the last two seasons (three games), Trubisky has a 9:1 TD:INT ratio, averaging a whopping 29 DK points in those three outings and leading his team to wins twice. The Lions ranked 28th in pass DVOA defense last season, though they did shore up their secondary by drafting stud cornerback Jeff Okudah third overall in May’s draft. They also added an over-the-hill Desmond Trufant and still employ a very burnable slot defender in Justin Coleman. Maybe. Just maybe there’s something to this. At the very least, a Week 1 GPP flier in a game that could fly under the radar this opening weekend. He’s dirt cheap on DK ($5,400) and has a multitude of weapons with Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen. It may be much to ask of us to insert him in our primary lineups, but there’s certainly a path to a 5-6x performance on his salary and him being the best points-per-dollar play at under five percent owned.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Niners
The biggest mistake one could make here is look back at the two ARI-SF games from last season and just assume because Jimmy G threw four touchdowns in each of those games, he should ball out again today. Just a reminder that those were his ceiling games since the Cardinals played them well and Kyler Murray really rose to the occasion in those matchups. The Niners are seven-point home favorites, are loaded absolutely everywhere from offense to defense, and will likely have both Deebo Samuel and newly-drafted Brandon Aiyuk active. If this game gets out of hand early, Garoppolo is a bust of a play, even at his low cost, as they’ll simply just grind it out with the running backs in the second half. If the Cardinals battle and keep this one close, Jimmy G could yet again be the top points-per-dollar QB on the slate.
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers
Everyone seems to love Teddy B. I mean, dude shares his name with our childhood bear friend and Bridgewater seems to have an awesome, easy-going personality. He’s never truly been ‘the guy’ in any organization and he’s never truly commanded an offense nor has mastered the art of connecting on long passes. Plus, this is CMC’s offense as mostly everything will flow through him, right? Well, we can save the discussion about our thoughts on Bridgewater long-term and just concentrate on the game at hand. It’s a game we should all love very much due to the horrific defenses in play. After all, the Panthers’ run defense was a league-wide joke as they ranked dead last in the NFL, allowing 31 rushing touchdowns – nine more than the next worst team. For the benefit of Bridgewater and their pass offense, the Raiders ranked second-to-last in pass defense DVOA and allowed over two passing scores per game against them. The Raiders did draft CB Damon Arnette in the first round and he’s a studly kid, but he hasn’t really had all that much time to gel with the team – and no preseason games certainly didn’t help matters. Their other two corners (Trayvon Mullen and Lamarcus Joyner) were consistently shredded by opposing wideouts as Joyner ranked fourth-worst among all CB’s per ProFootballFocus. Sure, CMC can slice and dice anyone, rendering his QB useless in DFS. But the whole world will attempt to mash a $10k McCaffrey into their lineups and you just know that #2020 will find a way to piss off the masses yet again. Perhaps CMC still gets his usual work and even gets in the end zone a couple times. We still have a game with a low spread, high total and two sloppy defenses. Add in star-in-the-making D.J. Moore who is a coach’s dream with his route-running and pass-catching abilities as well as deep man Robby Anderson and some trick plays for Curtis Samuel to perhaps break free and we might have the makings of a big Carolina debut for one Mr. Teddy Bridgewater.
FADE: Joe Burrow, Bengals – Many of us can agree Burrow is a once in a half-decade talent at the position and clearly has that ‘it’ factor in addition to some extreme talent. His low prices on all sites and potential intrigue will certainly earn him some ownership in cash games even though he’s a rookie in his debut. The Chargers were a tire fire all-around last season but particularly shocking was the fact their typically stout defense underperformed tremendously. At least stud all-pro cornerback Casey Hayward struggled early on before righting his own ship and improving his play in the second half. Between Hayward, Desmond King II and slot corner Chris Harris, it’s an intimidating trio that could cause problems for the Bengals wideouts. Big fan of Burrow and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’ll end up as the highest-scoring QB on a DFS slate a couple times this season, I just don’t think it’ll be in Week 1.
Favorite GPP Plays: Brees, Trubisky, Bridgewater, Rodgers
Mass Multi-Entry (MME) Plays
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers
- Matthew Stafford, Lions
- Dwayne Haskins Jr., Redskins
Some interesting low-percentage plays here starting off with Rodgers, who is sure to be sub-5 percent owned because who in their right minds would want to start him in Minnesota, a team he stunk badly against last season (9.2 and 15.3 DK points). Well, I do believe Rodgers has a massive chip on his shoulder with the media talking about how ‘washed’ he is, the first-round pick of Jordan Love and all the drama with management. Something tells me Rodgers goes out there on Sunday and shows the world that he’s just fine. At the very least, he has arguably the league’s best wideout (Davante Adams) and one beast of a pass-catching RB in Aaron Jones. Stafford and Haskins Jr. are two more Milly Maker type plays who could potentially pay off in decent matchups. The pass-heavy Lions can be engaged if Trubisky and squad put up a good fight and Haskins Jr. will likely be in catch-up mode with talented pass-catchers (McLaurin, Sims, RB Gibson) in the mix.
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