I have to say that I’m pretty pumped about Week 16 on DraftKings. I’ve been targeting the $3.1 Million Main Event for a few weeks now, so I’m hoping to take a few shots at the $1 million prize. There’s also the $1 Million Chop Block Championship ($50 entry) and $400K Flea Flicker Championship ($5 entry), so there are huge prize pools at all buy-in levels for Championship Weekend.
There are all sorts of favorable matchups for quarterbacks this week, particularly in the elite tier. Your ability to roster a top-priced quarterback (and probably one of his expensive receivers, too) will depend on how well you can spot cheap talent at other positions.
And if you want that top-tier talent elsewhere, you’re going to need to do some digging at quarterback. I typically prefer an “all-or-nothing” approach at the position, paying top dollar for the reliable studs or going much cheaper to fit other studs into my lineup. When you roster a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, you don’t save all that much money, but you also don’t get the safety/upside of the elite pack of passers.
This week, though, things are pretty rough in terms of value quarterbacks. I’m going to do a lot more digging because we’re getting to the point that you could be at a huge advantage with two elite running backs on your roster, but as it stands right now, I think this is a week to pay up for the top quarterback talent.
Top Five Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay at Tampa Bay, $9000 – Rodgers is coming off his worst performance of the season, but that was against a highly underrated Bills defense. Rodgers will set out to rebound this week in Tampa Bay, which should be a much less arduous task. However, note that the Bucs have been a much-improved defense over the past six or so weeks, so I think there are probably even better situations (at a cheaper cost) than Rodgers in Tampa Bay. My initial hunch is that the general public will value Rodgers just slightly more than me.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis at Dallas, $8900 – We’re going to need to monitor T.Y. Hilton’s status as the week progresses to know Luck’s true value. Hilton suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday, and my current guess is that he’s going to miss this game. That could get people off of Luck, but I think you can make a very strong argument that Luck helps Hilton a whole lot more than the other way around. This game has a projected total of 56 points, and as three-point dogs, the Colts could be throwing the ball often.
Peyton Manning, Denver at Cincinnati, $8400 – I was all over Manning in Week 15 and it backfired. The Broncos appear truly committed to the run – at least until the playoffs, anyway – and now Manning has a thigh injury. This is the most difficult matchup of the five elite quarterback options and not one on which I’m willing to go against the grain. I think usage will be low enough elsewhere that you can just take the quarterbacks in the best situations, and Rodgers, Luck, Brees, and Brady all qualify.
Drew Brees, New Orleans vs Atlanta, $8300 – Is Brees the early favorite for highest-owned quarterback in Week 16? He’d be my choice as what I believe is an obvious value at home against one of the league’s worst pass defenses. Had DraftKings’ pricing taken Brees’ Monday-night performance into account (albeit against the Bears), my hunch is that he would cost closer to Luck’s price. It’s not like any of these elite quarterbacks are dramatically superior values to the others, but because of the matchup alone, I like Brees (just slightly over Rodgers) to be the most popular Week 16 quarterback.
Tom Brady, New England at NY Jets, $8000 – The Jets have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and they’re coming off of a pair of games in which they’ve yielded at least 253 passing yards…to the Vikings and Titans. My only qualm is that this game could potentially have unfavorable weather, whereas other elite passers should be playing in ideal conditions.
Five Mid-Priced Quarterbacks
Jay Cutler, Chicago vs Detroit, $7500 – Cutler is coming off of a short week to face one of the top pass defenses in the NFL. With the way Detroit can pressure the quarterback, I don’t really like how Cutler matches up in this contest. He beat Detroit for 280/2 a couple weeks ago, but he also threw two picks and it took Cutler 48 attempts. This would be a contrarian pick, to be sure.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta at New Orleans, $7400 – Ryan and Brees were the only quarterbacks in the league to throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns in Week 15, and for Ryan, it came without his top offensive player. As long as Julio Jones is back, you have to like Ryan’s upside in New Orleans. Ryan threw for 448 yards and three touchdowns in the teams’ Week 1 meeting.
Tony Romo, Dallas vs Indianapolis, $7300 – Vegas is all over Dallas this week, projecting around 28 points for both Indy and the Cowboys. I love targeting quarterbacks in this sort of game because the contest can very quickly turn into a shootout. Note that there’s some downside with Romo if the Cowboys get out to an early lead because they could then rely on DeMarco Murray (if he plays) for much of the game, especially versus a bottom-third run defense.
Russell Wilson, Seattle at Arizona, $7100 – I’ve looked at a lot of different stats to try to predict Wilson’s rushing output, which is the key to projecting his fantasy value. I got nothing. If you think Wilson will take off as a runner in this game, then there’s value. If he doesn’t run the ball a lot, then he’s a low-upside quarterback who is probably overpriced.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit at Chicago, $7000 – I thought the Stafford-to-Megatron connection was back in Week 15, and then Stafford proceeded to tally only 153 yards and one touchdown against Minnesota. Both Stafford and Johnson have attractive price tags and they always pair together nicely, so it’s certainly not a situation to immediately avoid in tournaments, but there’s just no way I’d roster either player in cash games.
Five Value Quarterbacks
Joe Flacco, Baltimore at Houston, $6600 – In any contest, there’s about a 90 percent chance that Flacco gives you a line like 180/1/1, and then a 10 percent chance of him throwing for five touchdowns in the first half. I’m not someone who is going to buy in on him for any league type because I can find cheaper options who are just as consistent with greater access to their ceiling. Plus he doesn’t have any legitimate red zone weapons.
Eli Manning, NY Giants at St. Louis, $6400 – Odell Beckham is the most expensive receiver on DraftKings this week, and I still think he’s going to see semi-high usage. I think there’s a decent chance that he burns Janoris Jenkins on a double-move (or eight), but I don’t like Manning’s ability to consistently move the football. The Rams arguably have the best defense in the league over the past month, sans Seattle.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati vs Denver, $5900 – The Bengals are surprisingly just 3.5-point underdogs on Monday night, although this game has a projected total of just 48.5 points, meaning Cincy is projected at around 22-23 points. When you consider that Jeremy Hill is likely to account for a high percentage of the Bengals’ scores, there’s probably not too much meat left on the bone for Dalton.
Alex Smith, Kansas City at Pittsburgh, $5600 – Smith has thrown more than 35 passes one time all year. He’s consistent, but only relative to his own crappy level of play. I can’t really come up with a strong reason to roster Smith in any game – I’d much prefer even Dalton for $300 more – but I guess Pittsburgh’s fifth-worst pass defense is a positive.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland at Carolina, $5500 – I actually don’t think that Manziel is unplayable in tournaments because he’ll probably be encouraged to run a lot more than he did in Week 15 (and he’s now going to have low usage, in all likelihood, after his ridiculous 80-yard performance last week). I’m probably not going to be on him, which has been a trend for every quarterback I’ve analyzed here after the first half-dozen or so.