This is it – the final weekend of NFL on DraftKings and your last chance to take home a six-figure prize. You can do that on just a $20 entry in the $700K Championship Game, with first place winning a cool $100,000.
As far as quarterback selection goes, this ain’t exactly brain surgery. There’s only four passers from which to choose, meaning the usage for every quarterback is going to be high. As I’ve explained in the past, winning tournaments in short slates is just as much (or more) about fading the right high-usage players (or jumping on the correct low-usage players) than it is about finding value.
That’s especially true at quarterback this week, as all four players are priced within $700 of one another. That means you should basically be asking yourself two questions:
1) Which quarterbacks are going to perform the best overall?
2) Which quarterbacks will provide the biggest benefit to me if they produce at a high level?
The latter question has everything to do about usage; hitting on a player who is in 1-in-10 lineups will be much more valuable to you than one who is in 1-in-2. If you can predict player popularity and get exposure to the right guys, that’s going to go a long way in helping you differentiate your lineup.
One of the overlooked keys in predicting quarterback usage, I think, is looking at their receiving options. For example, Rob Gronkowski is the clear-cut top tight end facing a defense that has struggled against the position this season. The fact that he’s probably going to be very popular could 1) increase Tom Brady’s usage and 2) diminish the usable value of a Brady/Gronk stack.
If you play Brady, you’re just about 100% going to play Gronkowski with him, right? Now compare that to Russell Wilson, for example; you can stack Wilson with Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Luke Willson, or no one at all. In terms of his “uniqueness,” Wilson will probably lead to a wider range of lineup combinations than Brady, which could have a lot of value this weekend.
With that said, let’s take a deeper look at the four championship quarterbacks.
Tom Brady, New England vs Indianapolis, $8500 – I think one of the keys to projecting Brady is figuring out exactly how the Patriots will attack the opposition. They’re somewhat binary in how they do that, often implementing an extreme game plan (as we saw last week with the throw-on-every-play-against-Baltimore attack).
This week, I think we could actually see the opposite. The Colts have been the eighth-best defense against quarterbacks this season, but they’ve struggled versus the run. While I think they’re susceptible to big plays over the middle (which doesn’t bode well for their chances of stopping Gronkowski), I could see New England coming out with heavy personnel and running the ball early, mixing in some looks to Gronk and Julian Edelman.
If you’re going to be on New England receivers to stack with Brady, I think Gronk and Edelman are the guys to target, while Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell are the ones to fade. The Colts are better on the outside than over the middle of the field. I also think that New England won’t throw enough for Amendola to have the same sort of impact he did in the Divisional Round.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis at New England, $8200 – As poorly as Peyton Manning played last week, Luck wasn’t much better. He tossed two picks and averaged only 6.12 YPA. Like Indy, New England is much better on the outside than over the middle. T.Y. Hilton is the obvious choice to stack with Luck, though I think you could make a case for rolling the dice on a player like Coby Fleener. The main issue with Fleener is that he has to compete with Dwayne Allen for targets, especially in the red zone, but he still has a lot of upside in a game in which the Colts should be throwing often.
For Luck, I think this is the sort of contest in which he’ll struggle in terms of efficiency, but make up for it with bulk attempts. I could see a 50-attempt game out of him, which would make a 300-yard outing very likely. Of the four quarterbacks, I think he’s the clear favorite to obtain the three-point bonus on DraftKings for 300 passing yards.
Russell Wilson, Seattle vs Green Bay, $8000 – Vegas has Seattle projected at 27 points, which is second behind New England (31 points). Like I said, I like using Wilson because he gives you a lot of options. You can play Wilson by himself, if you like, because such a high percentage of his fantasy upside comes via his legs.
We’ve see Wilson/Lynch combinations win some big tournaments this year, but I still think using that tandem will cut into your ceiling a bit. It’s not like you can’t win with it, especially in a two-game slate, but if you want ultimate upside out of Wilson, you’re going to be counting on the same numbers – rushing yards and touchdowns – that you will from Lynch. There might be enough meat on the bone for everyone, sure, but I’d still prefer to keep the two separate if possible.
Overall, the fact that Seattle is projected so well is a big boost for Wilson. You’re always sort of flipping a coin as to how much of an impact he’ll have as a runner, but the opportunity to run one or two into the end zone is there.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay at Seattle, $7800 – I never thought I’d see a week in which Rodgers is the cheapest starting quarterback on DraftKings, even if it’s in a two-game slate. It’s not surprising, though, considering he’s facing a defense that hasn’t allowed more than 230 passing yards since Week 10, including six games during that period with fewer than 200 yards allowed.
Further, I think the Seahawks match up really nicely with what Green Bay does well. The Packers had some trouble getting the ball to their top two receivers against Dallas – a defense that defended the outside well this year – and Seattle is approximately one billion times better than the Cowboys.
We saw rookie Davante Adams break out last week with 7/117/1 against Dallas, and I think he’s a good bet to keep up that sort of level of play this week. The Packers rarely use their tight ends, so Adams could be the primary beneficiary of where Seattle might funnel Rodgers’ options.
Finally, there’s the added benefit of Rodgers possibly being the lowest-owned quarterback this week. I’m fairly confident that will be the case, so you might be in a really nice spot if he somehow exploits the top defense in the NFL. Even so, I still prefer Wilson and Luck over Rodgers just because there’s a very low probability of a quarterback – even on as talented as Rodgers – tearing apart the Seattle defense.