It’s a really interesting week for quarterbacks, with a number of high-profile guys in some really good spots. Because of that, I don’t think we’re going to see just one guy soar above the others in terms of ownership. Thus, I’m mostly taking a value-based approach to the position this week, even in GPPs.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
Cream of the Crop
Carson Palmer, Arizona (at PHI) – $7000
Palmer hasn’t scored fewer than 17 points all season. I think he’s underpriced in a game that could turn into a shootout—and one in which Arizona is projected at 27 points. The Eagles have a quality run defense, but struggle on the outside where the Cards excel. I like Palmer in cash games, and I especially like him in GPPs with most probably leaning toward Russell Wilson at the same price. Also note that Palmer and the Cards have run 68 plays per game over the past year, which is already very high, and they’ll likely surpass that against Philly.
Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs CLE) – $7000
Even though I prefer Palmer to Wilson by a hair, Wilson is still a pretty clear value against a defense allowing 4.7 points per game above salary-based expectations to opposing quarterbacks. The Seahawks are projected at 28.8 points—the highest implied total of the week—and we know Wilson accounts for a huge percentage of their offense. It will be very risky to fade Wilson-to-Baldwin this week.
Cam Newton, Carolina (at NYG) – $7800
Newton and Wilson are playing out of their minds right now, so the only reason I prefer Wilson is the price. Still, Newton’s matchup is probably just as good and his rushing ability—particularly in short-yardage situations—makes him one of the safest fantasy options in the league. What both of these quarterbacks are doing without much receiver help is amazing.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs NO) – $6100
I’m not on Stafford in cash games—ever—but this play could make some sense in tournaments if you think the field’s hatred of the Lions’ offense will override the fact that they’re playing the Saints. This is an all-time poor pass defense facing a very volatile quarterback.
Middle of the Pack
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville (vs ATL) – $6100
It took me a little while to come around on Bortles, but I think he’s shown he has some serious fantasy upside. This matchup with Atlanta is tough to read; the game could have a back-and-forth shootout quality to it, but Atlanta’s defense has been pretty good against opposing quarterbacks over the past year. Bortles has had some big games against better defenses, though, including the Jets and Texans.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo (at WSH) – $5600
Taylor has six touchdowns in his past two games and will face a Redskins defense that I think he can exploit with his legs. The Bills have a modest 22-point implied total, but keep in mind Taylor’s fantasy production isn’t as tied to his team’s scoring as some other quarterbacks since so much of his fantasy upside comes as a runner.
Tom Brady, New England (at TEN) – $7800
I prefer Newton at this price, and certainly Palmer/Wilson for $800 cheaper, but Brady is always in play when he has Rob Gronkowski in the lineup. This might be a pay-to-be-contrarian situation in which you’re getting a stud at low ownership due to the popularity of the other passers around him in price.
Philip Rivers, San Diego (vs MIA) – $5500
Rivers is probably underpriced against a poor pass defense, but the reason I might not have that much exposure to him this week is a lack of upside. His receivers are so awful that he just doesn’t have much opportunity to significantly outperform his price tag.
Rest of the Field
Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs DET) – $6600
Brees has been a high-variance selection this year, and I think he has a very wide range of outcomes again on Monday night. He’s facing a middle-of-the-pack Lions defense, but the Saints are projected very well at 27 points. Without a running game, Brees is going to have to carry the load.
Brian Hoyer, Houston (vs IND) – $5200
Colts cornerback Vontae Davis went down on Sunday. If he doesn’t play, I like Hoyer (and Hopkins) a whole lot more. That seems like the type of situation Hoyer could exploit—and one in which Hopkins would see a massive number of targets. I think the impact of a player like Davis on a defense can be incredible; he can shut down one receiver and let his defense double the other. Without him, Hoyer gets a big bump.
Note: Hoyer left Week 14 with concussion symptoms. Be sure to monitor his status throughout the week
Derek Carr, Oakland (vs GB) – $5600
The Packers have a below-average defense against quarterbacks and the Raiders might need to throw to keep up in this game. Their poor pass defense entices opponents to throw the ball, which extends the game. There’s also an obvious stacking situation with either, or both, outside receivers.
Eli Manning, NY Giants (vs CAR) – $5600
Bad matchup, but this price is pretty low. Quarterbacks who have recently seen a price reduction tend to offer value, and Manning’s price is down $500 from last week and $1300 from its peak.
Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, and most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Follow him @BalesFootball.