Welcome to the NFL DFS QB Coach, where we identify optimal point-per-dollar quarterbacks for our lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel!
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.
Don’t miss my QB Coach chat session, tonight (Tuesday) at 9pm EST, in our NFL Chat Room!
Quarterbacks listed below are for Sunday’s main slate, which means we’re excluding the stand-alone games (TNF, SNF, MNF).
The biggest factors of consideration when selecting QBs for our DFS lineups are matchup, projected game flow, and Vegas totals & spreads. In respect to matchups, we’re looking for QBs behind strong offensive lines (protection) who provide them with ample time in the pocket to find their targets. Ideally, facing weak defenses with subpar secondaries (cornerbacks/safeties). But that in and of itself is not enough. For QBs to be viable DFS plays we must drill down to matchups where we believe the games will stay close and competitive or a team will need to spend the second half of games trying to catch up by airing the ball out and abandoning the run altogether.
For GPPs/tournaments, be wary of targeting QBs who are large Vegas favorites (14+ points), knowing that if these favorites to get out to a big lead early, they will very likely take their foot off the gas pedal and focus on running the ball.
Ideally, we are looking for quarterbacks on pass-heavy offenses in competitive games or catch-up scenarios with implied totals greater than 48 and a spread of five points or fewer. Quarterbacks who frequently scramble and gain yardage with their legs (rushing stats) are certainly a priority, given the additional statistical output we might expect.
Week 1 Matchups
A quick salary analysis: In GPPs we’re typically always on the search for the cheapest point-per-dollar quarterback we can muster, but this season, the insanely-productive performances of the Big Three (Mahomes, LJax, Dak) have thrown that strategy for a loop, and paying up for a guaranteed floor with major rushing upside has been lucrative. This week, we have tougher decisions to make with the recent QB injuries (and a demotion) that bring Daniel Jones, Mason Rudolph, and Teddy Bridgewater to the table (Luke Falk isn’t available on three of four sites and wouldn’t be rostered much this week, anyway). Jones being named the starter in Week 3, and having a pretty-on-paper matchup with the Bucs, will certainly eat into the perceived chalk we may have seen on Rudolph at San Francisco. Meanwhile, Josh Allen has entered cash game territory with his recent production and rushing upside.
On Yahoo!, it’s easy to just ‘pay down and build around’ quarterbacks as there are monster price discrepancies between the big guys (Dak – $39, Mahomes – $38) and some affordable plays (Allen – $30, Kyler Murray – $25, Jameis Winston – $23, Jones – $20).
Don’t love the way the pricing is set up on FantasyDraft since a min-salaried QB is just 10k with the majority of options just 1k to 2.5k more while position players have a range between 6k and 18k. This type of setup makes the higher-floor studs more desirable to roster.
On DK, roster construction comes into play more than anywhere else. We’re not seeing those monster 10k RB prices like we did the last couple years to soak up cap space (Gurley, Bell, Barkley, Kamara) and there are always mid-range ‘value’ WRs who make paying down at QB and risking it appear to be not as worth it (we’ve been seeing winning GPP lineups these last couple weeks littered with the likes of Mahomes and Jackson).
On FanDuel, QBs may seem like they’re priciest on the site, but it’s all relative, as you have to keep in mind the salary cap is less than on DK, and you roster a cheap DST.
QB ownership is almost always spread out, and Week 2’s Milly Maker winner stacked a 14% Mahomes with his expensive TE Travis Kelce. Make sure you’re not blindly playing a QB across all sites if playing on all four, but rather actually assessing values at other positions and taking pricing (projected points-per-dollar) into account.
Preferred plays highlighted.
Vegas lines as of Tuesday.
Chalky “ish” (For Cash Games)
Patrick Mahomes v. Jackson is a matchup for the ages. Well, okay, some hyperbole there but for this day and time, coming off two monster weeks for both guys, it’s the ultimate fantasy (and real-life) matchup. I’d be less inclined to love Mahomes for his price if this game was in Baltimore, but it’s at home so it would be unwise to discount him entirely. Not a big fan at looking at rate/average team defense stats at this point because it’s such a small sample, but the Ravens defense is middle-of-the-pack in pass yards allowed (254) and yards-per-pass-attempt (7.5). You’d have to drill down into both of their matchups to see that both opposing offenses (MIA, ARI) were in catch-up mode most of the game, yet the Ravens’ defense still did a fantastic job holding them down. They’ve allowed just one touchdown pass and many of their individual defenders (Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Tony Jefferson) have high PFF grades and are all excellent defenders. All of this to say that though Mahomes has defied all odds to date and continues to prove the regression truthers wrong, this particular matchup will be his toughest test yet.
On the flip side, Lamar Jackson is a bit more desirable because he’s a) cheaper, b) faces a less-stout defense, c) offers more rushing upside and d) has a possibly-negative game script, which would favor him. Again, it’s just two games, but no team is allowing more yards-per-carry to opposing teams than the Chiefs (6.0). Jackson is my preferred cash game play in Week 3.
Josh Allen is still relatively affordable on all sites since he hasn’t had that true “ceiling” game yet. He’s averaging around 20 FPG through his first two, throwing just one pass TD in each game, but running one in himself in each, as well. The Bengals’ secondary was utterly thwarted by Niners’ Jimmy G in Week 2 (297 yards, 3 TD, 11.9 YPA) as only the Dolphins have allowed a higher yards-per-attempt to opposing QBs (11.9 to the Bengals’ 11.0). The Bengals also happened to serve up 259 rushing yards on 42 attempts (6.2 YPC) which bodes well for the young, running QB. The game should be a competitive one, to boot, so Allen makes for a very strong play in Week 3.
Of the next three (Jones, Wilson, Prescott, Brady), I’m of the mindset that all four are playable in cash as well as tourneys – for those not using Allen, or fading the chalk of the BAL-KC game. Prescott and Brady present a game flow issue, though, with each of their respective teams projected to win their games by at or around three full touchdowns. These are the type of scenarios where QB ceilings may be limited unless you believe there’s some chance MIA or NYJ hangs around (which I sincerely do not). It’s a much better spot for running backs instead (Ezekiel Elliott, Sony Michel).
Wilson is on my radar, too, but I’m wondering how competitive the Saints may be on the road without Drew Brees. Either way, the Seahawks are just 4.5-point favorites at home, and the line has actually moved in favor of the Saints, as it originally opened at 5.5. If this is a competitive game, Wilson is a great play.
There are obviously no guarantees with Jones, but there is very little doubt his presence is a true upgrade over Eli Manning and for the price, it’s certainly worth considering a Jones-Barkley-Engram mini stack for tourneys. A 250 yard, 2-TD performance from Jones seems very reasonable and that would net you a solid 3.5x on DK, which will work in cash if your position players hit.
Recommendations (in order): Jackson, Allen, Jones, Wilson
Also Consider: Prescott, Brady, Mahomes
Call me crazy, but my success in fantasy over the last decade and a half stems from adequately assessing scenarios and not overreacting to small samples. That’s why I truly believe the decries of Winston’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Winston has always been a true boom-or-boost guy but one with an incredibly high ceiling. There’s a new coach in town, a new OC and new DC – and there’s still plenty of time for this offense to settle in to its potential. There’s no overstating the bevy of weapons Winston has at his disposal, and the matchup against this sad-sack Giants’ D is a good one. The Bucs are projected for 27.5 points, which is the fourth-highest implied total on the slate, and I’d certainly expect a nice bounce back performance for him.
I’m less bullish on Teddy Bridgewater in his official first start this season in an incredibly tough environment in Seattle, but he and Rudolph could be in consideration as pivots off Jones. Rudolph does have a handful of amazing weapons at his disposal, and has that college #showernarrative with talented wideout James Washington going for him.
Murray hasn’t done as much as we’d expect with his legs (six attempts for 17 rushing yards) but has thrown for over 300 in each of his first two games, both of them in ‘comeback’ mode. Kyler has some incredibly talented weapons, and they’re at home, but that massive mismatch between his team’s offensive line and the defensive line of the Panthers (-31% per PFF) is the third-worst this week behind NYJ and DEN, making Kyler a true dart-throw GPP option only.
Garoppolo is in play because this offense has looked electric and they’re facing a defense that has allowed at least 300 yards and three touchdown passes in each of their first two games. Keep in mind these were incredibly tough matchups (Brady – NE, Wilson – SEA) but Jimmy G looked fantastic against the Bengals last week, exposing a defense that looked good in Week 1 against the Seahawks.
Newton is dealing with a foot injury, and as of Tuesday we have no idea whether he’ll play. Either way, he’s an easy avoid if he does play, since he’s clearly not himself nor is he at full strength. He would be a true wait-and-see if he suits up. Backup Allen did look sharp in his Week 17 start last year, but that was against some backups on a team who was already locked into the playoffs. He is another potential cheap punt alternative off Jones with a matchup against the inexperienced Cardinals’ secondary.
Last, but not least, there are a few others to mention who could be viable GPP plays, including Carson Wentz and Matthew Stafford (squaring off in Philly). The Eagles have allowed the second-most completions (57) and yards (680) through two games, while only the Dolphins have allowed more pass TDs thus far (eight to six). Kirk Cousins (MIN 25.5 IPT) doesn’t do it for me in this matchup against a weak Raiders’ defense at home, as they’re likely to establish the run with Dalvin Cook. If you want to get sneaky, DeShaun Watson and Philip Rivers are options to consider in a game with just a three-point spread, as Watson will be overlooked on this slate given his latest poor performance and the fact his offensive line continues to allow him to get sacked at will.
FAVORITE GPP PLAYS (in order): Winston, Jimmy G, K.Allen (sneaky: Watson, Stafford)
Recommendations (in order): Winston, Garoppolo, K. Allen
Sneaky Recommendations: Watson, Stafford