Only two quarterbacks ranked in the top 30 in overall usage in Week 9. That isn’t a new trend. Whether it’s due to sharp quarterback pricing or simply more viable options on a weekly basis, we haven’t seen exorbitant quarterback usage on DraftKings this year. Whereas there are inevitably a handful of running backs and wide receivers over 20 and 30 percent usage on a weekly basis, that isn’t happening at quarterback.
To me, this is a strong sign that we should generally be searching for value at quarterback, even in huge tournaments like the Millionaire Maker. I think sometimes people try to get cute with contrarian selections, filling their lineups with against-the-grain plays that don’t have a high probability of working out. Sometimes that makes sense, but sometimes you just need good players.
I’m a big proponent of balancing value with usage such that you create a high-upside lineup that is also unique, but the numbers suggest you might want to look at positions other than quarterback for your contrarian picks. In most cases, quarterbacks aren’t seeing high enough usage to justify fading high-value/high-upside guys due solely to ownership.
Identify the best quarterback values, build around those guys, and find your under-the-radar plays elsewhere.
Top Five Quarterbacks
Peyton Manning, Denver at Oakland, $9700 – The Raiders’ pass defense has quietly been stout for much of the year, and they’re coming off of a beatdown of Russell Wilson in Seattle. But now they get arguably the most consistent player of all-time in Peyton Manning-a quarterback who has thrown for either 300 yards or three touchdowns in every game this year. Wow.
You could make an argument that Manning will be underutilized because Aaron Rodgers, who is $300 cheaper, has a very favorable matchup against the Bears and many users will slide down to him.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs Chicago, $9400 – The Bears might have the worst pass defense in the NFL. It seems very unlikely that Rodgers won’t have a huge game. I absolutely love him as both a cash game and GPP play, even though I’d anticipate him being the most utilized quarterback in Week 10.
The only thing to monitor is the weather in Green Bay. It shouldn’t get you off of Rodgers, but if there are heavy winds, you might want to limit your exposure just a tad. Either way, you can expect to run into a lot of Rodgers/Nelson stacks in the Millionaire Maker.
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs San Francisco, $8200 – Brees is really intriguing to me because I think many users are going to fail to account for the fact that he’s a full $1200 cheaper than Rodgers since he’s just one spot behind the Packers quarterback.
Brees also has a pretty difficult matchup against the Niners-a team allowing the fifth-fewest points to quarterback this year-but he has huge upside in any game in New Orleans. I have a feeling I’ll have more Brees than most this week.
Jay Cutler, Chicago at Green Bay, $7800 – Since Week 2, Cutler has thrown between 30 and 38 passes in every game. The Bears have a specific plan of attack that typically revolves around Matt Forte, and even though Cutler gets a high percentage of his points by throwing to his running back, I believe his upside is a little capped. He doesn’t have a single performance this season with 250 yards and three touchdowns.
Carson Palmer, Arizona vs St. Louis, $7700 – Palmer has very steadily been moving the Cardinals’ offense this year, posting a passer rating of at least 90.3 in every single one of his starts. He also hasn’t thrown fewer than 249 yards and two touchdowns in any game.
Even though I like Palmer, the fact that Brees is just $500 more (albeit versus a more difficult opponent) might get me off of Palmer more than I’d be otherwise. This is a situation I’m going to examine more throughout the week.
Five Mid-Priced Quarterbacks
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh at NY Jets, $7500 – Whether or not you believe in “streaky” play, the fact that Roethlisberger has thrown six touchdowns in two straight games is very intriguing. Just the fact that he’s played so well could result in a more pass-oriented game plan for Pittsburgh, especially against a Jets defense that is stingy against the run. I think Big Ben is very much in play in all formats.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco at New Orleans, $7300 – Kaepernick ran for over 50 yards in three of the Niners’ first four games in 2014, but he hasn’t topped 37 yards since that time. So much of his upside (and safety) comes via his legs, so projecting those rushing yards is crucial.
On Sunday, I think Kaepernick has a chance to get back on track. New Orleans could get pressure on Kaep, which might actually be beneficial in terms of his fantasy value if he takes off as a runner, and you have to like his prospects playing indoors in New Orleans.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit vs Miami, $7100 – Miami’s pass defense has been ridiculously good all year. They haven’t allowed more than 264 passing yards and they’ve held opposing offenses to 202 yards or fewer on five occasions. The Dolphins have also yileded the second-fewest points to opposing passers.
This is a situation where I think it seems like you’re getting a discount on Stafford, but because of the matchup, you really aren’t.
Russell Wilson, Seattle vs NY Giants, $7000 – Wilson is in a very similar position to Kaepernick as a running quarterback coming off of a poor performance. The difference is that Wilson’s ceiling is arguably lower (or at least he has less access to it) because the Seahawks simply don’t throw the ball very often, so Wilson absolutely needs to crush defenses on the ground to give you an elite performance; Wilson hasn’t thrown the ball more than 36 times all year and he has only three combined touchdown passes in the past four games.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore vs Tennessee, $6900 – Flacco isn’t a good cash game option, but I suppose he’s in play for the Millionaire Maker simply because he’s proven to be a high-variance quarterback in the past. You never really know what you’re going to get; Flacco has four games with a sub-80 passer rating and three games with a 109-plus rating.
Five Value Quarterbacks
Cam Newton, Carolina at Philadelphia, $6600 – I think there are two or three quarterbacks who we know are going to be very popular in Week 10, and Newton is one of them. He’s underpriced at $6600 facing a very weak Eagles pass defense.
The thing I like about Newton is that he’s running the ball again. After averaging fewer than four rushing attempts per game over the first month of the season, Newton has nearly 11 carries per game in the last four games, including at least seven in each.
I like Newton in cash and Newton/Benjamin in GPPs.
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay vs Atlanta, $6500 – At just $100 cheaper than Newton, I don’t think very many people are going to be on Glennon this week. He has two touchdowns in four of the past five games, though, and two dominant red zone players in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. His price is up because the matchup with Atlanta is just about ideal, although I still prefer Newton.
UPDATE: Mike Glennon won’t start this week as Lovie Smith has reportedly decided to go back to Josh McCown. McCown has similar upside in this matchup.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta at Tampa Bay, $6300 – With all of the offensive line struggles the Falcons have had this year, you have to be tempted by Ryan’s price this week given his weapons, the matchup in Tampa Bay, and the fact that Atlanta is coming off of a bye.
Is this the week that Ryan gets back on track? I have don’t know, but the idea is that when you’re unsure about something in daily fantasy sports, you pay as little money as possible. At this price tag, I’m willing to take a chance.
Derek Carr, Oakland vs Denver, $5500 – Carr has thrown an incredible 95 passes over the past two weeks against run-heavy teams in the Browns and Seahawks. If he’s going to have that kind of workload, you absolutely need to have him on your radar for the simple fact that even average efficiency will result in a big game. He probably has a very wide range of outcomes against the Broncos this week, but you’d expect another game with 40-plus attempts.
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia vs Carolina, $5400 – Of the total punt plays at quarterback, Sanchez might be my favorite. For me, it’s all about Chip Kelly. He turned Nick Foles into one of the most efficient players in the history of the NFL last year (that’s not an exaggeration), and as poorly as Foles played at times this year, he was an underrated fantasy asset.
In limited work last week, Sanchez threw for 202 yards and two scores. The fact that he’s likely to toss a couple picks doesn’t really bother me as long as Philly airs it out. The only scare? Carolina’s run defense is so bad that Sanchez is a risk to not rack up enough passing attempts to have a ton of upside.