Hitting on your quarterback is so important, but it isn’t like there’s only one right way to do it. We saw those who paid up for the elite signal-callers in Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers rewarded in Week 10, but we’ve also seen multiple big-time performances out of cheaper quarterbacks like Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger this season.
In cash games, it usually makes sense to pay up for an elite quarterback. There’s value in knowing what you’re going to get, so even if someone like Rodgers doesn’t offer value in the strict dollar-per-point sense, he has extra worth in providing your lineup with a steady stream of points. In GPPs, you have a little more freedom.
Of course, everything always comes down to pricing, so let’s take a look at the Week 11 quarterback salaries and some potentially valuable plays.
Top Five Quarterbacks
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis vs New England, $10000 – Things are going to get crazy on DraftKings this Sunday night with the Colts-Patriots matchup. With Luck and Brady playing indoors, we’re going to see some high quarterback usage in this contest.
But this is not a situation to fade. Actually, when you start to analyze these top quarterbacks and their matchups, you could make an argument for having exposure to no passers except the elite options. The line on this game is already up to 58 points in some places with a spread of less than three points.
Peyton Manning, Denver at St. Louis, $9900 – When I first saw Manning’s price and matchup, I figured he’d be the most popular quarterback play in Week 11. But when you look at the other options and the scores that could be posted, you see that there are so many potentially valuable high-priced passers.
In any event, Vegas has the total of this one at 50.5 with the Broncos as 9.5-point favorites, meaning they’re projected to score 30 points. We know who accounts for the touchdowns in Denver.
Tom Brady, New England at Indianapolis, $9800 – Brady has averaged four touchdowns per game over the past month. Let that sink in. Even with a price tag that’s right up there with the big boys, Brady could be in contention as the most popular quarterback against a defense that has been 11th-worst against opposing passers, despite facing some pretty awful quarterbacks in the AFC South.
Brady. So hot right now. Brady.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs Philadelphia, $9400 – This game opened at 54 points and his already slid up to 57 points. Even on a bad foot, Cam Newton posted over 300 yards against Philly on Monday night. This Eagles defense has the potential to make big plays, but they’re highly unlikely to consistently contain Rodgers. Despite forcing three picks of Newton in Week 10, the Eagles are still the second-worst defense in the league against opposing quarterbacks.
Only two quarterbacks – Luck and Manning – have averaged more points than Rodgers on DraftKings this season.
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs Cincinnati, $8300 – Brees hasn’t been his normal dominant self this season, but he still hasn’t thrown for fewer than 292 yards since Week 2. I’m a believer that the touchdowns will come, especially as Jimmy Graham gets healthier. This game has a high projected total over 50 points, and we all know Brees excels in the Superdome.
The best part? The price tag. The $1100 drop from Rodgers to Brees is a significant one – more than the difference between Andre Ellington and Alfred Morris.
Five Mid-Priced Quarterbacks
Russell Wilson, Seattle at Kansas City, $7800 – Wilson is such a difficult quarterback to analyze because his production comes much more independently of the matchup than for most other passers. Since the majority of Wilson’s value comes via his legs, it’s critical to understand when he’s going to take off on the ground, as he did for 107 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, but that’s a really difficult thing to predict.
This matchup against the Chiefs – the league’s fourth-best against quarterbacks – isn’t ideal on paper, but again, you never really know when Wilson will get going on the ground. Still, I’m probably likely to just pay up $500 more for Brees in most situations.
Jay Cutler, Chicago vs Minnesota, $7700 – Cutler was a mess on Sunday night against the Packers, which is basically how things have been for awhile for the Bears quarterback; he has thrown more than one touchdown just once in the past four games.
In Week 11, Cutler will face a Vikings defense that has surprisingly been very stingy against the pass. I think Cutler’s receivers always give him a chance at returning value, but he’s overpriced here.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit at Arizona, $7400 – Arizona’s pass defense has been all over the map in 2014. They’ve allowed 335 or more yards three times (including 400-plus yards twice), but they also have a bunch of elite performances. Over the past two weeks, the Cards have allowed 174 passing yards per game, one of which was against Dallas.
The Stafford-to-Megatron connection can get going in any game, but I think there are better situations to target than a wide receiver who will be matched up against Patrick Peterson.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh at Tennessee, $7200 – Will the real Ben Shady please stand up? After totaling 862 yards and 12 touchdowns in Weeks 8 and 9, Big Ben tossed just one touchdown against the Jets in Week 10. He still managed 343 yards, but 80 of them came on one play and Roethlisberger also threw the ball 43 times. Unless you’re projecting 40-plus attempts again for Big Ben, I think he’s probably overpriced at $7200.
Philip Rivers, San Diego vs Oakland, $6800 – Coming off of a bye, Rivers gets a Raiders defense that was just torn apart by Manning. Rivers’ Week 9 performance against the Dolphins was perhaps the worst of his career, though, as he put up a line of 138/0/3.
One of my problems with Rivers is that I don’t think you can necessarily count on him in cash games – you might as well just pay up for a stud – but there’s also not anyone obvious to stack with him in tournaments since Keenan Allen hasn’t been the same player he was as a rookie.
Five Value Quarterbacks
Cam Newton, Carolina vs Atlanta, $6700 – Even after his Monday night meltdown, Newton initially seems underpriced here in a good matchup. He’s a consideration in tournaments, but the fact that there are reports that Newton isn’t at all healthy are very concerning. He wasn’t moving around well on Monday night and, if Newton doesn’t offer you rushing upside, he’s an overrated fantasy quarterback.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta at Carolina, $6400 – Week 10 was supposed to be Ryan’s big breakout. Playing in Tampa Bay, Ryan “erupted” for 219 yards and one touchdown.
Ryan has the potential to be an elite fantasy quarterback, but the offensive line problems are so bad that it might be time to give up on him. Even at $6400, it’s difficult to justify Ryan over the three quarterbacks listed below.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco at NY Giants, $6400 – After rushing for at least 58 yards in three of the Niners’ first four games, Kaepernick hasn’t done it since. Because of his light passing workload – he doesn’t have a single 40-attempt game all season – there isn’t much upside or safety with the quarterback if he isn’t running the ball. This matchup is a good one, but Kaepernick still scares me.
Robert Griffin III, Washington vs Tampa Bay, $6300 – RGIII is a really interesting option this week against the Bucs. Since his usage probably won’t be very high, even with the matchup, I kind of like him as a contrarian play. There’s obvious risk, but it’s worth noting that Griffin was efficient in his first game back a couple weeks ago against the Vikings. More important, he ran the ball seven times.
I won’t have a ton of exposure to Griffin, but a well-placed RGIII/DeSean Jackson stack could be an under-the-radar one in big tourneys.
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia at Green Bay, $5800 – This is the perfect example of taking advantage of DraftKings’ pricing timing. Since the site sets salaries before the Monday night game, they didn’t have a chance to adjust Sanchez after his breakout performance against the Panthers (the same goes for Jordan Matthews, too).
Of all the cheap quarterback options, this is my favorite, and it isn’t close. When you decide to get away from the big dogs at quarterback, Sanchez should be on your radar in a game in which Vegas projects Philly to score just under four touchdowns.