Breaking down the quarterback position for Week 16 on DraftKings.
Cream of the Crop
Derek Carr, Oakland (vs SD) – $5600
Even with a projected total of 47 points, this is the sort of game I could see turning into a shootout, with both teams airing it out and feeding off one another offensively. I think most will have Rivers ahead of Carr, and it’s close, but I prefer the Oakland quarterback; the Raiders have a higher implied total and the Chargers have been worse than the Raiders against quarterbacks over the past year, after adjusting for cost.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville (at NO) – $6500
I think you could make an argument for Bortles as high as the top quarterback this week in a dream matchup against the Saints—and this game, too, has a ton of upside—but the cost is just a tad high to have him ranked against the quarterbacks in the SD-OAK game.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at BAL) – $6800
I love Roethlisberger against a defense that has allowed 8.7 points per game above expected to opposing quarterbacks. The only problem here is the lack of a potential shootout with Pittsburgh currently 10-point favorites. There’s still upside and value, but perhaps not as much as the implied total of 28.8 suggests.
Philip Rivers, San Diego (at OAK) – $5700
Rivers’ price dropped $1400 at one point. After a four-touchdown game, it’s up just $300 in a quality matchup. It is interesting that the Chargers are projected at only 21 implied points, which is why Rivers isn’t higher on this list.
Middle of the Pack
Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs JAX) – $6800
Brees appears to be day-to-day, so he should be good to go against the Jags. His health will be key, obviously, but this is probably the top potential game for upside this week. The only reason Brees isn’t higher is cost.
Carson Palmer, Arizona (vs GB) – $7000
Last week was the first time all year that Palmer didn’t exceed his salary-based implied point total. That was due more to getting up on the Eagles with David Johnson, as Palmer was still pretty efficient. He’s so safe in this offense that I wouldn’t be against using him in cash games, even though I prefer some other passers.
Cam Newton, Carolina (at ATL) – $7500
How do you fade Cam right now? I might have some GPP exposure just so he doesn’t burn me. I think there are much better options in terms of pure value—specifically Bortles, Carr, and Rivers—but this is still a quarterback who accounts for a massive share of his offense’s fantasy production, projected at 27 points.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs SF) – $6100
Stafford is always a tournament-only option. He’s been a bit more reliable of late with at least two touchdowns in four straight games, including contests with three and five, but you’re just hoping the Lions get up through the air and San Fran can stay in it long enough for Detroit to keep throwing. The potential game flow here doesn’t work in Stafford’s favor.
Rest of the Field
Tom Brady, New England (at NYJ) – $7500
This is just a contrarian tournament option against a defense that’s not close to as good against the pass as what most people think. I love the idea of a Brady/Gronk pairing here, especially given that the Jets’ defensive strengths lie on the outside.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota (vs NYG) – $5200
Bridgewater is very interesting to me this week. The Vikes are projected at 26 points, and they could run more plays than normal since 1) the Giants will pass and 2) New York is good against the run. There’s probably still not a ton of upside given that Minnesota will always choose AP when possible, but I don’t mind using Bridgewater naked (without a receiver) in a GPP lineup.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (vs CHI) – $5500
We know Winston has some upside, and rookie quarterbacks tend to evolve nicely over the second half of the season. He’s also facing a Bears defense that has allowed 4.2 points per game above expected to opposing passers over the past 12 months.
Alex Smith, Kansas City (vs CLE) – $5100
The thing that is going to hurt Smith here is game flow. On the surface, a $5100 quarterback on a team projected very well facing a poor pass defense looks great, but this is the sort of game in which we will probably see efficiency > workload for Smith.
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.