**Please note that all quarterbacks playing on Thanksgiving are marked with an asterisk.
Because of the three-game Thanksgiving slate, there are fewer viable quarterbacks available for use in Week 13 on DraftKings. That’s particularly true for the mid-tier passers because guys like Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, and Russell Wilson are playing on Thursday.
If there was ever a week to pay up for an elite quarterback, this might be it. The only problem is that the matchups ain’t so hot. Of the top five quarterbacks, only Andrew Luck – the most expensive – has what can be considered an obviously easy matchup.
With that said, let’s dive into Week 13 quarterback analysis.
Top Five Quarterbacks
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis vs Washington, $9700 – I think that Luck is going to be the most popular quarterback on DraftKings this weekend. In addition to the reduced number of quarterback options, he’s facing a clearly weak defense at home. I could see something like 15 percent usage for Luck, but even that isn’t prohibitive in tournaments. Even though he’s going to be popular, I’ll be on one of the safest quarterback options in fantasy football.
Peyton Manning, Denver at Kansas City, $9500 – As we saw in Week 12, Manning can give you elite production against any opponent. Facing the Dolphins, Manning was in fewer than seven percent of DraftKings lineups. We might see a similar usage rate in Week 13 given that the Chiefs have the league’s third-best defense versus quarterbacks. The only downside is that this game is in Kansas City, but it’s still a situation to consider since Manning has so much upside against any opponent.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs New England, $9400 – Even though Rodgers is playing out of his mind, I still think Tom Brady is the quarterback to own in this game. I think you can make a legitimate case for the two being a coin flip in terms of projected points, which means that Brady is the clear better value at $8400. The nice thing about playing Rodgers is that there’s a very clear high-upside double-handcuff with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Drew Brees, New Orleans at Pittsburgh, $8500 – Brees impressed on Monday night with 420 yards and three scores, but his price didn’t have the opportunity to “catch up.” Facing a mediocre Steelers pass defense, I think that I might have more exposure to Brees than any other passer. He’s been putting up huge yardage totals all year, so we knew the touchdowns would come. I think Brees will continue to roll against Pittsburgh.
Tom Brady, New England at Green Bay, $8400 – I don’t like Brady as much as Brees, but this is clearly the type of game you want to target as a daily fantasy player. Vegas currently has the projected total at 57, which is by far the highest of the week. The Pats are four-point underdogs in Green Bay, but they’re still projected to score a ton of points and Brady could have more upside than usual if New England is trailing late. The only thing I don’t like here is that pesky LeGarrette Blount stealing goal-line touchdowns.
Five Mid-Priced Quarterbacks
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh vs New Orleans, $7600 – Roethlisberger has 24 touchdowns this season, but 12 of them came in two games. That means that Big Ben has averaged only 1.3 touchdowns in the Steelers’ other nine contests. For that reason, I see him only as a tournament option – one you can pair nicely with Antonio Brown – but not a consideration for cash games.
*Tony Romo, Dallas vs Philadelphia, $7600* – Romo is tied with Russell Wilson as the most expensive Thanksgiving quarterback. Your strategy on Thanksgiving should be wildly different from what you’ll do on Sunday because, with only three games, you need to be extremely concerned about player usage. Romo is going to be popular, but I still think you should go against-the-grain elsewhere; in my view, he’s the top quarterback play on Thursday.
*Russell Wilson, Seattle at San Francisco, $7600* – Wilson is really interesting because, with the same price tag as Romo, I suspect that he’s going to be under-owned as most users will probably prefer Romo. With Wilson’s rushing ability and willingness to take off on the ground of late, I’m on board with using him to help you increase upside and also separate from the pack with a unique lineup.
*Matthew Stafford, Detroit vs Chicago, $7200* – Yet another Thanksgiving quarterback in this general price range, Stafford has a juicy matchup against the Bears. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown in two straight games, although those contests were against the Cardinals and Patriots. There might be a surprising lack of upside here from a quarterback who has thrown only 13 touchdowns all season, so I much prefer Romo for $400 more.
Cam Newton, Carolina at Minnesota, $7100 – I used to like Newton as a cash game play because his mobility made him really safe from week to week. He could give you 50 rushing yards and a high likelihood of a rushing touchdown that acted as a safety net if he wasn’t throwing the ball accurately in a given game. With his lack of rushing attempts, though, I think Newton’s risk is too great for the potential reward. If you think he’ll run against the Vikings, then he’s certainly in play.
Five Value Quarterbacks
Eli Manning, NY Giants at Jacksonville, $7000 – Coming off of a three-touchdown performance against the Cowboys, Manning is certainly in play against the Jags, particularly in tournaments. Jacksonville is ranked 20th in the league in points allowed to quarterbacks, although they’ve been playing a lot better lately. Odell Beckham’s health is obviously key, but it looks like the receiver should be ready to roll on Sunday.
*Jay Cutler, Chicago at Detroit, $6900* – Call me a fish, but I kind of like Cutler on Thursday. With Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte catching passes, I still think the overrated Cutler has four-touchdown upside. The Lions’ pass defense has been really good for most of the year, but Cutler could make up for reduced efficiency with bulk attempts on the turf in Detroit. A Cutler/Jeffery/Marshall stack could very easily win the $600K Wishbone Classic.
*Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia at Dallas, $6800* – Despite a one-touchdown effort in Week 12, Sanchez still has 300 yards in all three games he has started in Philly. Considering the potential for a blowup from the Cowboys’ secondary, Sanchez definitely has elite upside on Thanksgiving. I don’t like his “stackability” as much as someone like Cutler, so it might be an underrated strategy to actually not pair Sanchez with any other Eagles because it shouldn’t hinder your ceiling too much and it will give you a unique lineup, which is necessary in such a short slate.
*Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco vs Seattle, $6500* – If I’m going to roster a mobile quarterback who isn’t throwing the ball often, it’s going to be Wilson. Kaepernick hasn’t run for more than 24 yards in six weeks. He doesn’t offer much safety, and the upside is limited considering he’s unlikely to throw more than 35 times and certainly unlikely to tear apart the now top-ranked Seattle pass defense.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati at Tampa Bay, $6100 – Dalton has averaged 194 passing yards and one touchdown since Week 6. Let those numbers sink in. I suppose you can consider Dalton in GPPs solely because he plays the Bucs, but it’s hard to value him over Philip Rivers, who is $100 cheaper and at least has realistic potential for a top-five fantasy performance.
A Few Others to Consider
Philip Rivers, San Diego at Baltimore, $6000
Matt Ryan, Atlanta vs Arizona, $5900
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland at Buffalo, $5500
Robert Griffin III, Washington at Indianapolis, $5500