I cooked the other day. It was the first time I made anything for myself in, oh I don’t know, like a year. Unless you count microwaving Spaghettios, which I do.
I made pizza. I even went to the grocery store to get stuff. I don’t know why I did that. So not me to ever not eat delivery food.
I got to the cheeses and I was just blown away by the selection. The classics: Mozzarella, American, Cheddar, and so on. But then some off-the-wall selections, like Brie and Gruyere.
I was feeling crazy. I wanted to mix it up a bit. I chose a cheese called Camembert.
Guys, I chose Camembert.
For a pizza.
So I won’t be making food for myself again any time soon. This pizza tasted like someone had already eaten it. I’ve never eaten a sweaty foot, but I imagine it tastes something like the pizza I made.
The first moral of this story is to use GrubHub whenever you’re hungry. The second moral is that sometimes you just don’t want to stray away from what you know will work. There’s value in knowing what you’re getting.
Quarterbacks are like cheese on a pizza; both are fundamental components of a larger pie. If you’re going to mess around with one of the ingredients, it shouldn’t be the cheese. When in doubt, take the sure thing at quarterback so you don’t have to end up eating feet.
Also, this entire story was a lie—much like most of my stories—but I thought pizza ingredient selection philosophy was a great metaphor for picking quarterbacks in daily fantasy.
To the picks!
Cream of the Crop
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs PHI) – $7500
In terms of quarterbacks for Week 1, Matt Ryan is the high-value cheese you want on your pizza. At home in a game that could very well turn into a shootout, it’s pretty clear Ryan is underpriced at $7500. I think there are some good arguments to maybe limit exposure to he and Julio in tournaments because I anticipate that pair being the most popular, by far, but for cash games, Ryan is my top dog.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo (vs IND) – $5000
Remember everything I just wrote about taking the sure thing at quarterback? That goes out the window when you have a passer who could run for 100 yards and costs only $5000. I like the idea of using Taylor in GPPs without stacking him with any Buffalo receivers; his production comes mainly via the ground.
Kirk Cousins, Washington (vs MIA) – $5000
Remember everything I just wrote about taking the sure thing at quarterback? That goes out the window when you have a passer who isn’t afraid to take chances and could easily put up a 300/3/3 sort of line…and costs only $5000. Cousins is actually someone I might consider in cash games, although I’d prefer the matchup be better for that. It might be a week to go all-in on Ryan for cash.
Drew Brees, NO (@ARI) – $8000
I don’t think others are going to have Brees this high, but I think he’s my favorite tournament play this week. He might be slightly overpriced, but I don’t mind paying a few extra bucks for an elite quarterback who will see moderate-at-best usage.
Arizona seems like a quality pass defense, but if you look at the passers they faced last year and how much they cost on DraftKings, their pass defense actually allowed 1.6 PPG more than what you’d expect based on historic scoring. That was one of the worst marks in the league.
Middle of the Pack
Tom Brady, New England (vs PIT) – $7800
Brady is obviously not eligible for the Millionaire Maker since he plays on Thursday night. Mathematically, I like some other passers better. Mariota at $6000 and Bradford at $6900 are probably superior bargains, but I just get the feeling the Pats could come out and throw all over Pittsburgh to start the season. The Steelers’ pass defense is also horrific, so Brady probably has a much higher floor (even relative to his median projection) than most players.
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia (@ATL) – $6900
I’m very much undecided on Bradford right now. His preseason was so hot that I know he’s going to be very popular in tournaments this week—perhaps second-most behind Ryan. That scares me because we’re buying in on a guy at the wrong time.
However, I’m such a big believer in Chip Kelly’s ability to put quarterbacks in +EV situations. I really like the idea of pairing Bradford with both Agholor and Matthews, which is something most won’t do and a way to differentiate your lineup a bit. There’s enough offense to go around here.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (@TB) – $6000
This is pretty much all about Mariota’s ability to run. In reality, I probably won’t have that much exposure to him, though, because I much prefer Tyrod Taylor if I’m going to go this route, especially at $1000 cheaper. I also think there’s a good chance this game has very few plays run with two rookie quarterbacks facing off against one another, which is going to hurt Mariota’s upside.
Eli Manning, NY Giants (@DAL) – $7400
The Dallas defense was actually decent last year, and they got better in the offseason. If they get to Eli, he’s going to have a poor game. If they don’t, he’s going to absolutely murder the Cowboys’ secondary, which is really poor and now down Orlando Scandrick for the season. I am going to have at least one Eli-to-Beckham pairing because I’m just not repeating last year’s December meltdown when I faded the duo. Again, and again, and again.
Rest of the Field
Ryan Tannehill, Miami (@WSH) – $7400
I really like Tannehill this year. I really like his matchup in Week 1 against a Washington defense that was horrific against the pass in 2014, allowing 3.9 PPG above expectation to quarterbacks—by far the worst mark in the league (or the best for quarterbacks). I just don’t like his price, which at only $100 cheaper than Ryan makes Tannehill a GPP-only type of play.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (@DEN) – $6700
Flacco has proven to be a super high-variance quarterback in the past, probably because his average target length is long, i.e. he throws the ball down the field a lot. That results in a lot of low-percentage passes, but also lots of upside. Last year, he doubled his salary-based expectation well over twice as often as the league-average quarterback, and the Ravens should be in a position in which they need to take some shots in Denver.
Carson Palmer, Arizona (vs NO) – $6500
Palmer might be higher on this list, but the Cards are actually 2.5-point favorites in this game and the total is just 47 points. The other issue I have here is that I’d only use Palmer in a tournament, but I don’t feel comfortable about which receiver(s) to use with him. Is it Fitz? Floyd? Brown?
Tony Romo, Dallas (vs NYG) – $7300
Last year, everything sort of went right for the Cowboys. I don’t anticipate that happening again, even though the team is probably better, which means the Cowboys are going to be playing from behind more often and Romo is going to throw the ball more. I don’t really like him all that much against the Giants given how they defend Dez Bryant (a whole lot of Cover 2), but it’s worth noting the Cowboys are just a half-point from being the top-projected team in Week 1.