It’s going to be difficult for the Week 14 passing numbers to match what we witnessed in Week 13, as eight quarterbacks threw for at least 358 yards. There were the usual suspects, like Andrew Luck and Drew Brees, as well as some unfamiliar faces, including Colt McCoy (who was second in passing with 392 yards) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (whose 358 yards ranked him eighth, although he managed a meager six touchdowns as well).
There’s no Millionaire Maker this week, although there is a special Sunday Million, with $200,000 to first place on just a $20 entry. Your quarterback strategy should be the same – pick the best combination of bulk points and value without worrying too much about usage. We rarely see more than one or two quarterbacks check in above 10 percent usage, which means there’s no reason to fade the best options simply to be contrarian. You can go against the grain at other positions, but quarterback is a spot to take the points and upside.
With that said, let’s look at 15 quarterback options for the Sunday Million in Week 14.
Top Five Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay vs Atlanta, $9800 – Holy crap. Remember what I just said about low quarterback usage a few seconds ago? Yeah, nevermind.
I have no idea what Rodgers’ usage will be in Week 14, but I’m confident he will be the most popular quarterback on DraftKings. Facing one of the league’s worst pass defenses and still priced below $10,000, I’d estimate we will see > 20% usage.
Here’s all you need to know about Rodgers this week: this game has a projected total of 56 points and the Packers are 11.5-point favorites. That’s…a lot of scoring.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis at Cleveland, $9700 – So the question this week is going to be whether or not any of the other elite quarterbacks are even close to Rodgers in terms of value. If they are legitimately close, they’re certainly in play because there’s going to be lower usage (I think) on all of these passers.
Vegas currently has the Colts projected at 27 points, compared to just under 34 points for Green Bay. That’s a significant difference, but it’s worth noting that Luck is arguably the most consistent player in football. He’s going to give you lots of points pretty much every time out, whereas I could see a scenario in which the Packers get up big early on some Eddie Lacy touchdowns and then Rodgers doesn’t surpass 30 attempts.
The best thing about Luck is that he accounts for such a high percentage of Indy’s workload, especially in the red zone. I don’t think Rodgers > Luck is all that automatic, especially (believe it or not) in cash games.
Peyton Manning, Denver vs Buffalo, $9300 – Manning hasn’t topped 300 yards in two straight games. He also has six touchdowns in those contests, so I won’t be sending any sympathy cards any time soon, but Manning does have another semi-difficult matchup this week against the Bills.
Buffalo has allowed the eighth-fewest points to quarterbacks this season, although I think they’re a bit weaker than that numbers suggests. The truth is that pretty much all of these elite quarterback are in play every week – I’d mix and match all of them in GPPs – although I think I’d personally prefer Rodgers, Luck, or even Drew Brees in cash games.
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs Carolina, $9100 – I stacked Brees and Kenny Stills in cash games in Week 13, and I think that strategy is in play again this week. Stacking is normally reserved for tournaments because it can be high-variance, but I think it has its place in 50/50s and heads-up leagues in certain situations. Brees’ production isn’t overly correlated with any of his pass-catchers, so I don’t think there’s as much risk in stacking him as there is with, say, Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson.
Tom Brady, New England at San Diego, $8500 – Of the top-priced quarterbacks, Brady is the one on whom you’re getting a bit of a discount. He’s priced $1300 below Rodgers, which is significant, especially when you’re talking about searching for peak value in cash games. I still think Rodgers and Luck are safer options.
Vegas has the Pats projected basically the same as the Colts, but Brady has a much greater chance of his touchdowns getting vultured (via Blount or Gray) than Luck.
Five Mid-Priced Quarterbacks
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, $8200 – If you look at Big Ben’s history, you see that he’s very much capable of taking advantage of weak pass defenses, but maybe not the greatest bet to exploit a strong defense. Whereas someone like Peyton Manning is a threat for 400 yards and/or four touchdowns against anyone, I think Roethlisberger is a bit more opponent-dependent. Given that the Bengals are the sixth-best defense against the pass this year and Roethlisberger is just $300 cheaper than Brady, I’m not a huge fan this week.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit vs Tampa Bay, $7900 – Stafford tore apart the Bears for 390 yards and two touchdowns on Thanksgiving…but everyone has torn apart Chicago this year. There are things to like here, such as Stafford coming off of 10 days rest and facing the always-appealing Bucs pass defense. The obvious play here is stacking Stafford with Megatron in GPPs, but I don’t think Stafford alone is worth consideration in cash games at this price. He hasn’t tossed three touchdowns in a single game all year.
Russell Wilson, Seattle at Philadelphia, $7700 – This looks like a juicy matchup for Wilson against the league’s third-worst defense versus quarterbacks, but I don’t think it actually aids Wilson as much as it would some other passers. Wilson’s upside comes on the ground and he’s not a good bet for 300 passing yards in any game because he doesn’t throw the ball enough. I don’t think that the matchup is a negative in any way, but I also don’t think Wilson should be priced much higher than normal just because he’s facing the Eagles.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta at Green Bay, $7000 – The Falcons’ offensive line has come around a bit over the last couple games, but I still have a lot of reservations about Ryan against the Packers. Although Green Bay ranks in the middle of the pack against passers, they’re pretty good on a per-attempt basis.
For me, the quarterback position is one that I’ll probably take an extreme approach to in Week 14, either paying up for the studs or going cheaper than Ryan on a few high-upside “punt” plays.
Philip Rivers, San Diego vs New England, $6800 – Coming off of three weeks of horrendous play, Rivers turned it around in Week 13 against the Ravens. Against quality pass defenses, though, he has been much like Roethlisberger as a quarterback who can’t really overcome a poor matchup. I think the Patriots will get to the stationary Rivers early and often in Week 14, and he probably won’t be on my radar.
Five Value Quarterbacks
Cam Newton, Carolina at New Orleans, $6700 – There was a time when Newton was one of my favorite cash-game plays because his rushing ability gave him a high floor. Though he ran for 49 yards last week, the consistent rushing upside isn’t there. Newton also has only 13 passing touchdowns all season and has topped 300 yards just once, so I’m not confident in his ability to take advantage of this plus matchup in New Orleans.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston at Jacksonville, $6400 – Our job with Fitzpatrick is to figure out if his six-touchdown outbreak was a total fluke or something he can build upon in Jacksonville. My natural inclination is to say “I have no idea,” in which case I like to look at what Vegas thinks. The Texans are projected to score only 23 points and we know Arian Foster accounts for a high percentage of their scores; if Vegas is out, so am I.
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia vs Seattle, $6300 – We’re getting a nice discount on Sanchez here, but his upside is probably very limited by the matcchup. Quarterbacks are more affected by matchup strength than any other position.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland vs Indianapolis, $6200 – I’m a big JFF fan. The Browns are, too, but that doesn’t mean he is going to start this week against Indy. If he gives it a go, I’ll be on it because of the rushing upside. The Colts have also been gashed through the air lately.
Colt McCoy, Washington vs St. Louis, $6000 – On the surface, this might look like a favorable situation; McCoy went for 384/3 last week against the Colts and the Rams are ranked just 17th against the pass. St. Louis has been a totally difference defense over the past month or so, however, and Vegas projects Washington at just 21 points.