When creating DFS teams during NFL season, a lot of us consider the quarterback position to be the most consistent. This makes sense because QBs have the football in their hands more than any other position, increasing their opportunity to score points. Because of that, starting with a QB and picking an elite play at this position is a smart practice, especially in cash games.
Specifically for tournaments, though, what if we want to go cheap at QB and load up on the skill positions? The cheaper QBs are generally considered to be the least talented, or if that’s too strong, the ones least likely to succeed in their matchup that week, in the opinion of the sites’ pricing algorithms. So how can we find value here without simply throwing darts or “being stupid”? Let’s take a look at which scenarios QBs priced $6000 and below on DraftKings were most successful in 2014.
It seems like 2014 NFL DFS ended ages ago, so as a refresher, these are the types of players we’re looking at:
With a low salary comes a low point expectation, so it’s not a huge surprise that overall, these quarterbacks outperformed their projections to the tune of a +1.26 Plus/Minus score. There were a lot of landmines in there, though. Having a complete dud from a running back or receiver is not ideal, but can potentially be made up for. Having a dud at QB while most of your competition will be getting 15-18 points at the position puts you in a huge hole.
Unsurprisingly, Vegas was a solid indicator of success, with cheap QBs adding 2.95 points to Plus/Minus when their team was projected to score 22+ points. A more interesting subset of the results is shown below. Sometimes people like to target QBs who are underdogs because they are anticipating a favorable game script – that the QB will be throwing more frequently to catch up to the other team.
For cheap QBs, it is crucial that they are the favorite. As you can see from the “Count” section, QBs in this price range are not favored very often, but when they are, they perform well.
For comparison, here is the same breakdown when I expand the result set to include ALL QBs. Volume may be more important for QBs overall, but efficiency seems to be more important for cheaper QBs.
Additionally, Pro Trends are excellent predictors of success for cheap QBs. Here’s what I saw when I searched only for cheap QBs who qualified for five or more Pro Trends in their matchup. For those new to Fantasy Labs for NFL season, this basically means five or more components of the QB’s matchup rated as favorable.
Comparing again to “the field,” cheap QBs were much more successful in this category:
Note the “Average Actual Pts” were higher for “the field” even though Plus/Minus was lower. This means that while you are still being outscored at the position, you have gained more value. That only really matters if you hit on the guys you paid up for at the skill positions, but it gives you a shot. Very few DFS games are won based on selecting a cheap QB alone***.
(*** unless Ryan Fitzpatrick throws six TDs for you)
Matchups matter for all QBs, but they REALLY matter for cheaper QBs, as the above examples show. These scenarios are actually pretty rare. For example, looking ahead to Week 1, there are:
- Zero cheap QBs who qualify for five or more Pro Trends
- One cheap QB whose team is projected to score 22+, and that’s Jameis Winston. And Winston qualifies by the skin of his teeth – his $6000 price tag is the max I included in the results and the 22.5 projected points for the Bucs is just above the minimum threshold.