It’s a very, very interesting week at the quarterback position on DraftKings. With six of the seven most expensive passers playing at home, we could see heavier-than-normal usage on some elite quarterbacks. There are some difficult matchups in that group – including games against the top two pass defenses in Miami and Detroit – but elite quarterbacks have the ability to go off against anyone.
As I mentioned last week, though, we rarely see outrageous usage on any single quarterback (like we sometimes see at other positions). That’s due to accurate pricing and an abundance of quality options on a weekly basis.
The quarterback position is again wide open in Week 12. Let’s take a look.
Top Five Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay at Minnesota, $9900 – The Vikings’ pass defense has been really good this year, but so has Rodgers. I love Rodgers in cash games because you’re so likely to get a quality performance, but I’m concerned about his upside. That might sound ridiculous when talking about a quarterback who had six touchdowns a couple weeks ago, but Rodgers hasn’t thrown the ball more than 40 times since Week 6.
It’s not like Rodgers is a poor option by any means, but what’s his advantage over Luck? Rodgers is in a more difficult matchup, might throw the ball fewer than 30 times, and costs $200 more.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis vs Jacksonville, $9700 – I’m confident Luck’s usage will be very high in Week 12, and he’s probably my early favorite to be the most popular quarterback on the site. There’s just too much to like here to pass on Luck. He’s facing the Jags at home, he’s no longer the most expensive passer, and you can pretty much guarantee a huge workload against any opponent. Throw in the Ahmad Bradshaw injury and you have the makings of another 45+ attempt game, even against Jacksonville.
Peyton Manning, Denver vs Miami, $9400 – Even though we should expect Manning to bounce back from a rare down performance in Week 11, this is a really difficult spot. Miami’s defense has been the best in the league against opposing quarterbacks this year.
The key is going to be pressure. St. Louis was able to get to Manning and really disrupt his reads in Week 11. The Dolphins already have 30 sacks in 2014, which is cause for concern when assessing Manning.
Tom Brady, New England vs Detroit, $8600 – Brady is in a similar spot to Manning as an elite quarterback in a really tough matchup. The weather in New England could alter things, but as of right now, I think you have to prefer Brady to the Broncos quarterback. As long as there isn’t excessive wind or snow in this game, you might as well save $800 if you’re going to take a chance on a top-tier passer against one of the league’s best defenses.
My main concern with Brady is that New England will come out running the ball. The fact that Jonas Gray scored four times near the goal line really scares me; if he starts stealing those Brady-to-Gronk touchdowns, that’s a huge problem for both players.
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs Baltimore, $8200 – Ah, what the hell are we supposed to make of Brees? Prior to Week 11, he had thrown for at least 292 yards in every game except one. With just 255 yards and one touchdown on 41 throws against the Bengals, though, Brees turned in his worst fantasy performance of the year.
This matchup is decent, but you have to wonder if the Ravens are going to pound the ball just to stay in the game, shortening the contest and ultimately leading to fewer plays for both teams. I still think the price is right on Brees for all league types, although I actually prefer him in cash.
Five Mid-Priced Quarterbacks
Jay Cutler, Chicago vs Tampa Bay, $7700 – Cutler has value as long as he’s throwing the ball because of his weapons on offense. Cutler didn’t even play well last week against the Vikings and still went for 330 yards and three touchdowns because Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are play-makers.
Tampa Bay’s defense shut down RGIII on Sunday, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about that as it relates to Cutler and the Bears. The value of Marshall and Jeffery alone – two of the top three receivers in Week 11 – means Cutler is always in play in tournaments.
Russell Wilson, Seattle vs Arizona, $7600 – Wilson’s value is completely tied to whether or not he runs the ball. He has 178 rushing yards and a touchdown in the past two games alone, which greatly enhances both his floor and ceiling on DraftKings.
I kind of like Wilson this week because it’s very likely that Arizona locks down the Seattle receivers. Normally that would be a negative for a quarterback, but it should lead to more Wilson runs.
Tony Romo, Dallas at NY Giants, $7500 – Romo has a higher YPA and completion rate than Peyton Manning. That’s been overlooked because the Cowboys have transformed into a run-first team this season.
If you can project when Romo will have a lot of attempts, you’re going to be in good shape. The problem is that he’s unlikely to toss 35+ attempts in this game, which limits his ceiling.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit at New England, $6900 – Stafford’s production has been very predictable all season: good performances against poor defenses and poor performances versus good defenses. Calvin Johnson or not, Stafford is overpriced here against New England. He has only 13 touchdowns all season, and I don’t see more than one against the Pats in Week 12.
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia vs Tennessee, $6800 – The bad: Sanchez is taking some unnecessary chances and throwing a lot of picks. The good: he’s throwing the ball all over the field thus far as the Eagles’ starter, so the bulk numbers are there. Sanchez’s average production puts him in the top tier of passers in 2014, albeit in a limited three-game sample. This is a situation in which, even against a stingy pass defense, I’m betting on Chip Kelly’s offense.
Five Value Quarterbacks
Joe Flacco, Baltimore at New Orleans, $6700 – Flacco has one outstanding performance all year, and it came in one half against the Bucs. He doesn’t throw the ball enough to offer a high floor or ceiling, and stacking him with any of the Ravens receivers isn’t really an upside-inducing move since they can’t score with consistency.
Josh McCown, Tampa Bay at Chicago, $6600 – McCown is a really intriguing player because, since re-entering the Bucs’ starting lineup two weeks ago, he’s averaged 294 yards and two touchdowns per game. Those contests were against poor pass defenses, but that’s exactly what he’ll face again in Week 12; the Bears have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to opposing passers. On top of that, McCown-to-Evans is a very obvious combination for tournaments.
Philip Rivers, San Diego vs St. Louis, $6600 – Rivers’ Week 11 matchup against the Raiders was supposed to be his rebound from a disastrous Week 10 outing, but instead he managed fewer than 200 yards and just one touchdown. Over the past two weeks, he has barely over 300 total yards, one touchdown, and three picks. I don’t like him against a Rams defense that is finally starting to get pressure.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco vs Washington, $6500 – Another quarterback who has struggled mightily of late, Kaepernick hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown since Week 6. Let that sink in.
You might consider Kaep for cash games as a value play, but his lack of rushing numbers really hinders his safety. With a high of just 24 rushing yards over the past month of the season, Kaepernick is a high-risk quarterback start in Week 12.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta vs Cleveland, $6300 – With Ryan, I think we’re all waiting on something that might not ever happen. It’s assumed that Ryan is a quality quarterback with the potential for great things, but he’s always been very dependent on his supporting cast for production. With Tony Gonzalez gone and Roddy White only a moderately effective player, defenses can clamp down on Julio Jones, which really limits Ryan’s effectiveness as a passer.
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