Ben Roethlisberger‘s struggle to produce away from Heinz Field has reached a level of mythical proportions over the years. And for good reason: Out of 2017’s 32 projected starting quarterbacks, only Carson Wentz, Tom Savage, Jared Goff, and three current or former starting Browns signal-callers have averaged fewer DraftKings points per game (PPG) on the road since 2014.
Incredibly, Roethlisberger’s brutal road performances have still come with the second-highest average ownership on DraftKings since the beginning of the 2015 season. Of course, it’s not rare for a quarterback to struggle away from home: 18 of the league’s 32 starting quarterbacks have historically averaged more DraftKings PPG at home compared to on the road since 2014. Ten of those quarterbacks have made this enhanced home production a habit, averaging over two additional DraftKings PPG at home with at least 30 total starts over the past three seasons.
As a whole, it’s clear this group of 10 quarterbacks provides plenty of value at home (per our Trends tool):
Not all of those quarterbacks have turned into Goff on the road, but a group consisting of six Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks have consistently been almost comically better at home since 2014. Historically, this increased production hasn’t come with much of an ownership premium, as these quarterbacks have posted meager +1.0 and +0.9 percent ownership differentials at home on DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively, since the beginning of last season.
It’s normal for players to perform slightly better at home, but could skill position players with particularly volatile home/away-split quarterbacks suffer similar severe production dropoffs on the road? At first glance, the answer appears to be yes. Wide receivers and running backs from those 10 teams have averaged 1.29 and 0.54 fewer DraftKings PPG, respectively, on the road compared to at home since 2014.
To study this further, I broke down the home/away splits from key skill position players in offenses led by Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Tyrod Taylor, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, and Derek Carr. Let’s go over some of the biggest takeaways.
Big Ben’s Struggle Away from Heinz Field Has Rubbed off on Antonio Brown
Roethlisberger has averaged a league-high +11.19 DraftKings PPG differential at home since 2014. He’s been awful on the road, posting a -2.2 Plus/Minus with a 41 percent Consistency Rating on DraftKings. Brown hasn’t been an automatic fade on the road, but he’s become a significantly reduced version of himself away from Heinz Field:
Incredibly, Brown’s severe home/away splits didn’t seem to set in with the public until last season – and only on DraftKings! Brown’s overall production on the road hasn’t changed too much over the past three seasons, but he’s become less consistent and hasn’t offered the same upside as he does at home.
Sometimes we can gain a contrarian edge over the field by playing certain guys in perceived poor matchups. Still, expecting one of Brown’s patented breakout games on the road has become wishful thinking at this point: Eight of Brown’s top-10 highest-scoring performances over the past three seasons have come at home.
When building stacks with our Lineup Builder, always consider a skill position player’s home/away splits in addition to their quarterback.
Michael Thomas and Mark Ingram Don’t Need a Perfect Drew Brees to Dominate on the Road
Willie Snead, Marques Colston, and Brandin Cooks all posted negative road splits as featured receivers on the Saints. Thomas managed to buck this trend in his rookie season, balling out away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:
Thomas provided superior production, value, consistency, and upside without an ownership premium on the road last season. He held his own (and then some) against the likes of Patrick Peterson, Marcus Peters, and Janoris Jenkins during his seven road games. Brees’ largest and most athletically-gifted receiver, Thomas was the recipient of an extra two targets per game during road games last season.
Ingram hasn’t experienced very severe home/away PPG splits, but his ownership and salary have seemed to work under this assumption:
Ingram’s efficiency and workload numbers aren’t too different depending on where he plays, yet he’s posted a +5.0 Plus/Minus with a -2.5 percent ownership differential in 21 road games since 2014. It remains to be seen what kind of roles Adrian Peterson and Alvin Kamara will have this season, but don’t forget to monitor Ingram if he’s in a RB1 role as the Saints attempt to again average 27.6 points per game on the road – the fourth-highest mark in the league last season.
It’s Not So Shady Outside of Buffalo
TyGod has maintained a 60 percent Consistency Rating on DraftKings on the road since 2015, but his -3.34 DraftKings PPG differential away from home is the fifth-highest mark among all quarterbacks since 2014. This didn’t affect Sammy Watkins‘ road production, but the same can’t be said for LeSean McCoy:
Like AB, Shady hasn’t been bad away from New Era Field, but he certainly hasn’t been the game-breaker we’ve grown accustomed to seeing at home. One possible explanation is game flow: McCoy has averaged 15.1 carries and 4.2 targets on the road compared to 17.6 carries and 3.7 targets at home since joining the Bills in 2015. The Bills have been favored on the road during just four of McCoy’s 14 road games. Be sure to monitor the lines of each week’s slate using our Vegas dashboard.
Shady’s status as the bell-cow back in one of the league’s most-efficient rushing offenses should make him virtually matchup-proof in 2017. Still, there’s good reason to temper expectations when he’s on the road, and this could be a good opportunity to target Shady only where he is priced well using our Bargain Rating metric. Otherwise, you’ll be taking your chances with a Shady McCoy who has done a lot less end-zone dancing on the road since 2015 – without the benefit of an ownership discount.
The Pack Show
Rodgers’ average of 22.1 DraftKings PPG on the road is the second-highest mark among all starting quarterbacks; he’s fantastic wherever he plays. Still, he’s not as fantastic on a game-by-game basis away from Lambeau Field, where he’s barely managed to post a Consistency Rating above 50 percent since 2014. While Rodgers has still managed to rack up points, the same can’t be said for his top-three receivers:
Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson‘s struggles on the road are made more problematic due to their combined +3.4 percent ownership differential away from Lambeau. The Packers are far from incapable of scoring on the road – their average of 26.3 PPG on the road was the sixth-highest mark in 2016 – but their receivers haven’t been as good as they are at home, and there’s historically been an ownership premium for taking on this suboptimal situation.
- If there was ever a time to bet against Odell Beckham Jr. taking a slant 60 yards to the crib, it’s probably away from MetLife Stadium, as ODB has posted -3.27 DraftKings PPG, -20 percent Consistency Rating, +2.7 percent ownership, and -8 percent Upside Rating differentials on the road since 2014.
- When Derek Carr is at his best at home, it’s usually coincided with a solid performance from Michael Crabtree. Meanwhile, Amari Cooper has posted a +21 percent Consistency Rating differential on the road, although this has come with decreased overall production and heightened ownership.
- Tom Brady has been surprisingly average on the road, posting a 47 percent Consistency Rating away from Gillette Stadium since 2014. Julian Edelman has managed to get the most out of Brady on the road (with reduced ownership), while Rob Gronkowski‘s heightened Consistency has come with lower overall production and Upside away from home since 2014.