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.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
It’s obviously a very popular strategy for daily fantasy players to look at the Vegas lines to project fantasy performances. I do think there’s a lot of merit to that at times, especially with running backs, but it’s important to note that quarterback play is perhaps not as correlated to the lines as you think.
One reason is that quality passing efficiency often leads to fewer attempts; when a quarterback is super-efficient early, his team is usually leading and he doesn’t rack up attempts late in the game. We see this often with Aaron Rodgers, who is extremely consistent but hasn’t demonstrated the same sort of upside as someone like Andrew Luck, primarily because Rodgers is so good it actually hurts him.
The opposite is true, too; poor efficiency early in the game often results in more attempts later. Thus, there’s sort of a “cancelling out” effect when it comes to quarterback play, which makes it more challenging to use the lines to predict production.
Still, there are certain indicators I like to look for, such as underdogs who are still projected to score a lot of points. Drew Brees is an example of that this week; the Saints are projected well, but still expected to lose against the Colts. That sort of line favors a positive game script for Brees that could include both quality efficiency and lots of attempts.
Cream of the Crop
Carson Palmer, Arizona (vs BAL) – $6700
In my opinion, Palmer is the clear top quarterback value in Week 7. How about this for a stat: over the past year, the Ravens have allowed 7.0 points per game above salary-based expectations to opposing quarterbacks. That’s absurd and helps explain why the Cardinals have the third-highest projected total in the league this week.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (vs NO) – $7600
Less than one point above the Cards in projected points sit the Colts, who are currently in the No. 1 spot at 28.5 implied points. Given how much of Indy’s offense runs through Luck and the fact that his price didn’t rise since last week—one in which we saw some signs he’s getting healthy—Luck is very much in play in Week 7.
Drew Brees, New Orleans (at IND) – $7000
Brees is the fourth-most-expensive quarterback, but still a full $1500 behind Tom Brady. The thing to like about him is that he’s a dog against the Colts—but still projected fairly well—and thus likely to rack up a whole lot of attempts and probably decent efficiency. This could easily be a 50-attempt sort of game for Brees.
Cam Newton, Carolina (vs PHI) – $6600
It’s going to be tough to get me off of Palmer at just $100 more than Newton, but the Panthers’ quarterback is intriguing in tournaments. He’s exceeded his salary-based expected points in three straight games, yet his price is still down $1000 since the beginning of the season. It even dropped $100 from last week—a game in which he put up over 21 DraftKings points in Seattle.
Middle of the Pack
Philip Rivers, San Diego (vs OAK) – $6500
The Chargers are projected at 25.5 implied points right now and Rivers accounts for such a high market share of their fantasy production. There is a bit of risk that San Diego gets up in this game and then sits on a lead, but Rivers-to-Allen is one of the top GPP stacking options available right now.
Alex Smith, Kansas City (vs PIT) – $5100
Alex Smith ahead of Brady? Not in terms of tournament upside, of course, but probably in terms of pure value. The Steelers have been horrible against opposing quarterbacks over the past year, and the Chiefs are now forced to throw the ball more with Jamaal Charles out. If Ben Roethlisberger is able to play, I will like Smith even more, since that will likely just mean more attempts for the Chiefs’ passer.
Tom Brady, New England (vs NYJ) – $8500
Given the matchup and the price, I much prefer Luck and Brees over Brady in the top tier of quarterbacks. Still, you could make an argument that Brady has as much upside as anyone, regardless of his matchup. Also, how the Pats move the ball downfield—particularly over the middle—does set up nicely with where the Jets are weak.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs MIN) – $5700
Stafford might indeed be a poor real-life quarterback, but he showed last week why it wasn’t smart to overlook him as a fantasy option. I do think he’s underpriced here, but it’s worth noting the Vikings have a stout pass defense and the Lions are projected at a modest 21 points.
Rest of the Field
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at TEN) – $7200
The Falcons are mashing this year, but I feel like Ryan’s fantasy upside has been overrated because of that. He doesn’t have a game over 23.1 points all season, probably because nearly all of his production comes through Julio Jones. If the Falcons are able to run the ball effectively on Tennessee, Ryan’s ceiling is pretty low, especially for a quarterback who costs more than Brees and just $400 less than Luck.
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia (at CAR) – $6100
I’m a sucker for this offense.
Eli Manning, NY Giants (vs DAL) – $6800
Manning isn’t in a particularly bad spot against Dallas, but his upside is capped given how much time the Cowboys run off the clock. He’s also overpriced at $6800, in my opinion, especially given the fact that we can’t even guarantee a large workload for him in this contest.
Kirk Cousins, Washington (vs TB) – $5000
Cousins has been awful of late with just over 20 combined points over the past two games. Now he’s min-priced, though, facing a defense that has allowed 2.3 points per game above expectation to opposing passers. The Skins are projected at a decent 23.3 implied points right now.