The Week 3 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 1 p.m. ET. In this piece, I highlight the quarterbacks who stand out in our large suite of analytical DFS Tools, most specifically the industry-leading FantasyLabs Models.
For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.
Top Quarterbacks in the FantasyLabs Models
There are six quarterbacks atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
- Tom Brady: $6,600 DraftKings; $7,800 FanDuel
- Dak Prescott: $6,500 DraftKings; $8,400 FanDuel
- Russell Wilson: $6,300 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel
- Josh Allen: $5,900 DraftKings; $7,500 FanDuel
- Carson Wentz: $5,600 DraftKings; $7,700 FanDuel
- Jameis Winston: $5,400 DraftKings; $7,300 FanDuel
Tom Brady: New England Patriots (-22.5) vs. New York Jets, 43.5 Over/Under
Brady had a decidedly mediocre 2018 campaign: He had a middling +0.31 Plus/Minus across his first 18 games, scoring just 18.1 FanDuel points — and then in the Super Bowl he passed for only 262 scoreless yards and threw an interception.
Brady is the unquestioned GOAT with his six Super Bowl rings — but even goats get gray hair.
And yet in a season that has seen a slew of storied old-timers underperform (Aaron Rodgers), suffer significant injuries (Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees) and get benched (Eli Manning), timeless Tom has turned back the clock to 2014.
- Week 1 (vs. Steelers): 25.6 FanDuel points, 24-of-36 passing for 341 yards and three touchdowns
- Week 2 (at Dolphins): 24.7 FanDuel points, 20-of-28 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown
Averaging 25.2 FanDuel points per game with a +8.87 Plus/Minus and 100% Consistency Rating, the comeback kid is currently the No. 4 fantasy quarterback.
Life is good for the Patriots.
And it’s likely to stay good in Week 3: The Pats are slate-best 22.5-point favorites, they’re at home and they have an extra day’s worth of rest compared to the Jets, who just got embarrassed on Monday Night Football.
The Jets are starting third-string second-year quarterback Luke Falk after they lost starter Sam Darnold (mononucleosis) and backup Trevor Siemian (ankle, injured reserve) last week. On the one hand, Falk was drafted with pick No. 199 — just as Brady was almost 20 years ago.
For the first time in NFL history, this Sunday two quarterbacks selected with pick No. 199 in the draft will face each other.
Tom Brady (2000, 6.199): Six Super Bowl wins
Luke Falk (2018, 6.199): Zero career starts
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 17, 2019
So maybe through some sort of weird voodoo-informed transference of godlike mojo, Falk will spiritually strip Brady of his powers, assume them for himself and enable the Jets to keep the ball away from the Patriots with multiple sustained drives.
On the other hand, that’s not going to happen. This Jets offense is an utter disaster, which means that Brady and the Pats should have extra opportunities to put up points against a defense that last week at home allowed 325 yards passing to Baker Mayfield and last year allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points to opposing quarterbacks with 20.6 per game.
Despite playing against the Jets twice in the second half of the season — when Brady has historically underperformed — he had success against them last year.
- Week 12 (at Jets): 19.2 FanDuel points, 20-of-31 passing for 283 yards and two touchdowns
- Week 17 (vs. Jets): 26.0 FanDuel points, 24-of-33 passing for 250 yards and four touchdowns
With perhaps the league’s best trio of wide receivers in Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman, there’s no reason for Brady not to have multiple touchdowns passing even if the Pats have a run-heavy game script in a blowout. All three of Brady’s receivers have winnable WR/CB matchups, and they’re collectively dynamic enough on their own to turn a handful of targets into a big passing game for Brady.
In a slate with Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott, it’s actually Brady who leads the position with his FanDuel floor projection. He’s as close as you can get to a stone-cold lock to score double-digit fantasy points.
And it’s possible that he has an underappreciated ceiling in this spot. While he could be game-scripted out of a top-tier fantasy performance, Brady is significantly advantaged with his home/road splits (sample since 2014).
- Home (43 games): 21.2 FanDuel points, +1.83 Plus/Minus, 60.5% Consistency Rating
- Away (40 games): 19.6 FanDuel points, -1.30 Plus/Minus, 40.0% Consistency Rating
And over the past half decade, Brady has been an above-average producer in blowout wins (per the RotoViz Game Splits app).
- Patriots win by 14-plus points (37 games): 27.1 fantasy points, 294.6 yards and 2.46 touchdowns passing
- Any other outcomes (41 games): 21.9 fantasy points, 270.0 yards and 1.76 touchdowns passing
I’m doubtful that I’ll have Brady in cash games, but his upside shouldn’t be sold short in guaranteed prize pools.
Brady is the No. 1 FanDuel quarterback in the Koerner and Freedman Models.
Dak Prescott: Dallas Cowboys (-21.5) vs. Miami Dolphins, 47.5 O/U
Two weeks ago, I was cautiously skeptical of first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Now I’m unabashedly smitten with him. In Weeks 1-2, the Cowboys have been inventive and aggressive on offense. In the past, rarely has Dak had easy throws. With Moore, though, the Cowboys have schemed receivers open and relentlessly attacked defensive vulnerabilities. They’ve been totally un-Cowboy-like.
They are now the Bizarro Cowboys.
A low-end fantasy QB1 for much of his career, Dak has been a top-three producer to open the year.
- Week 1 (vs. Giants): 36.4 DraftKings points, 25-of-32 passing for 405 yards and four touchdowns, plus 12 yards rushing
- Week 2 (at Redskins): 28.7 DraftKings points, 26-of-30 passing for 269 yards and three touchdowns, plus 69 yards rushing
Dak leads the league with an 82.3% completion rate, 10.9 yards per attempt and 93.1 Total QBR (per ESPN). Last year, he took the second-most sacks in the league with 56. This year, he has just one sack, good for a league-low 1.6% sack rate.
Through two weeks, No. 4 has been transformed into über Dak.
And for Week 3, Dak might have the best spot of any quarterback on the slate. The Dolphins are in full-on tank mode, and their defense reeks worse than Sex Panther.
In Weeks 1-2, the Dolphins allowed an NFL-record 102 points. They’re not in the middle of a rebuild. Right now, they’re imploding the building. Gone from last year’s front seven are edge defenders Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn, tackle Akeem Spence and linebacker Kiko Alonso. And just this past week, they traded away 2018 first-round do-it-all defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.
But the Cowboys have a slate-high 34.5-point implied Vegas total, and the Dolphins are dead last in the league with a 109.1% pass-defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders). In Weeks 1-2, Jackson and Brady went off on them.
- Lamar Jackson (Week 1 at Dolphins): 36.6 DraftKings points, 17-of-20 passing for 324 yards and five touchdowns
- Tom Brady (Week 2 at Dolphins): 24.7 DraftKings points, 20-of-28 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown
Unsurprisingly, the Dolphins have allowed a league-high 34.2 DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks through two weeks.
It hurts that wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee) is unlikely to play, and Amari Cooper should see shadow coverage from No. 1 cornerback Xavien Howard, but the run-first Ravens put up 59 points against the Dolphins in Week 1 with just 14 snaps from No. 1 wide receiver Marquise Brown: The Cowboys should be fine.
Perhaps most importantly, Dak is a home favorite.
Dak Prescott career home/away & favorite/dog splits.
Home: 23.6 PPG ✅
Away: 20.6 PPG
Favorite: 24.4 PPG ✅
Dog: 18.4 PPG
Home Favorite: 25.8 PPG ✅✅
All Other Situations: 19.9 PPG
Dak is a massive home favorite against the league-worst Dolphins defense this week.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) September 18, 2019
Even with a run-heavy game script, Dak should still get his fantasy points.
Dak will be chalky in tournaments, but he’s a strong option for cash games if you’re looking to spend at quarterback without going all the way up to Mahomes.
Dak is the No. 1 quarterback in the Raybon and SportsGeek Models for FanDuel, where he leads all quarterbacks with his ceiling projection and +5.06 Projected Plus/Minus.
He is also the top option in the Bales, Raybon and Freedman Models for DraftKings, on account of his position-high floor projection and eight Pro Trends.
Russell Wilson: Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) vs. New Orleans Saints, 44.5 O/U
Under head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks at home are 46-30-3 against the spread (including playoffs), good for an A-graded 18.0% return on investment (per Bet Labs). They have one of the best home-field advantages in the league.
And in the post-Marshawn Lynch era, that home dominance has translated into extra fantasy production for Wilson.
- Home (27 games): 21.0 FanDuel points, +3.31 Plus/Minus, 59.3% Consistency Rating
- Away (28 games): 17.6 FanDuel points, +0.97 Plus/Minus, 57.1% Consistency Rating
Note that Wilson has hit his salary-adjusted expectations at a similar rate regardless of whether he’s at home or on the road. The difference, though, is in his peak performances: When he’s gone off, he’s done it at CenturyLink Field.
Since 2016, seven of his 10 highest-scoring fantasy performances have been at home. Only once in that time has Wilson had at least 28 FanDuel points on the road. In Seattle, he’s hit that threshold six times.
In addition to the home/road splits, the matchup is in Wilson’s favor. The Saints have faced two good passing offenses in the Texans and Rams, so maybe their numbers from Weeks 1-2 are skewed, but they have opened the season with a grisly 49.9 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus).
Rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf is likely to draw shadow coverage from No. 1 corner Marshon Lattimore, whose play has recently slipped. This year, Lattimore has allowed a 10-189-2 receiving line on 14 targets in his coverage. Even though it’s theoretically not ideal for Metcalf if Lattimore tails him, in reality it could be very good: Metcalf has the ability to beat Lattimore in one-on-one matchups.
- D.K. Metcalf: 6-foot-three, 228 pounds, 4.33-second 40-yard dash
- Marshon Lattimore: 6-foot, 193 pounds, 4.36-second 40-yard dash
Metcalf is faster than Lattimore and can easily out-muscle him when fighting for position on contested catches. It’s true that Metcalf is raw, but the Seahawks are using him in a limited number of ways that suit his skill set — he’s the team’s primary downfield threat with a 0.48 market share of air yards — and he’s already flashed with a 7-150-1 receiving line on 13 targets.
If Metcalf is able to beat Lattimore for a couple of deep touchdowns, Wilson could have a massive day.
And there’s almost no need to talk about wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who should dominate slot corner P.J. Williams: In not one of his four NFL seasons has Williams had a PFF coverage grade of even 70.0.
Without quarterback Drew Brees (thumb), the Saints could struggle to sustain drives in Seattle, in which case Wilson and the Seahawks would have extra opportunities to put up points. Last year, the Saints allowed opposing quarterbacks to score the second-most DraftKings points in the league with 23.1 per game.
Entering the season, the primary concerns with Wilson were that the Seahawks would continue to utilize a run-heavy offense and that his career-high 2018 touchdown rate of 8.2% would regress. Through two weeks, the team’s pass-play rate has jumped up from 47.6% to 52.1%, and Wilson’s touchdown rate has climbed to 9.1%.
The Seahawks are still a run-focused team, but they’re passing more frequently than they did last year, and we might just have to come to terms with Wilson’s passing efficiency: He doesn’t throw a lot, but when he does, he makes his attempts count. He’s simply a good quarterback.
Since 2018, Wilson has been a Mahomes doppelgänger in passing fantasy points over expectation per attempt (per the RotoViz Screener).
- Mahomes: 2018 – 0.22 (t-1st), 2019 – 0.40 (t-3rd)
- Wilson: 2018 – 0.22 (t-1st), 2019 – 0.40 (t-3rd)
If Mahomes can stave off regression, why can’t Wilson? On a per-attempt basis, Wilson is basically Mahomes at a steep ownership discount in tournaments.
Wilson is the No. 1 quarterback in the CSURAM88 and Levitan Models for FanDuel.
Josh Allen: Buffalo Bills (-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 44 O/U
I’m a long-time Allen cynic: I compared him to Jake Locker before the 2018 draft, primarily because of his playing style and subpar completion rates.
- 2014 (Reedley CC): 49.0%
- 2015 (Wyoming): Injured
- 2016 (Wyoming): 56.0%
- 2014 (Wyoming): 56.3%
The guy couldn’t complete even half of his passes at junior college.
But after returning from a mid-season elbow injury last year, he was the No. 1 quarterback over the final six weeks of the season, averaging 25.4 FanDuel points per game with a +9.70 Plus/Minus and 83.3% Consistency Rating.
Over that time, he had a subpar 51.9% completion rate and 6.0 AY/A, but he compensated for his aerial inefficiency with a Tim Tebow-like willingness (or instinct) to pull the ball down and run whenever a passing play failed to develop quickly. From Week 12 on, he averaged 79.3 yards and 0.83 touchdowns on nine carries per game.
And Allen seems to be improving as a passer. Through two weeks, he’s completed 64.2% of his passes and bumped his AY/A up to a palatable 6.8. He’s had four turnovers, but all of them came in Week 1, and they were all relatively random.
- An interception that bounced off his receiver’s hands
- An interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage
- A fumble on a strip sack
- A fumble on the center-quarterback exchange
None of his turnovers have been “problem plays” that speak to his inability to read a defense or find open receivers. He’s avoiding the egregious mistakes that plague the quarterbacks who fail to develop.
And it helps that in the offseason the Bills made it a priority to increase the play-making and pass-catching talent around him via free agency and the draft.
- Running backs: Frank Gore (free agency), Devin Singletary (draft), T.J. Yeldon (free agency)
- Wide receivers: John Brown (free agency), Cole Beasley (free agency)
- Tight ends: Tyler Kroft (free agency), Dawson Knox (draft), Tommy Sweeney (draft)
Basically, Allen has seen upgrades at every skill position, and all of the roster moves have paid off so far with solid performances.
- Week 1 (at Jets): 18.0 FanDuel points, 24-of-37 passing for 254 yards and one touchdown, plus 38 yards and a touchdown rushing
- Week 2 (at Giants): 22.2 FanDuel points, 19-of-30 passing for 253 yards and one touchdown, plus 21 yards and a touchdown rushing
He’s had easy matchups to date, so maybe his numbers aren’t representative — but he’s got another good matchup this week.
In Week 2, the Bengals suffered a horrendous 41-17 loss at home as they allowed Jimmy Garoppolo to pass for 297 yards and three touchdowns, and for the season they have a disgraceful 33.2 PFF coverage grade.
On top of that, Allen is a home favorite, and although the sample is a small three games, Allen has devastated opponents when favored at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
- Fantasy: 27.2 FanDuel points, +10.88 Plus/Minus, 100% Consistency Rating
- Passing: 211.3 yards, 1.33 touchdowns, one interception
- Rushing: 70.7 yards, 1.33 touchdowns
As was the case last week, Allen is viable in both cash games and guaranteed prize pools if you’re looking for a quarterback in the middle of the salary scale.
Allen is the No. 1 quarterback in the Bales Model for FanDuel, where he leads the position with his ceiling projection.
Carson Wentz: Philadelphia Eagles (-7) vs. Detroit Lions, 46.5 O/U
Wentz is in an intriguing spot. He might have reduced ownership in tournaments because he’s expected to be without top wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin). Without them, Wentz probably has a lower floor.
But he still has a high ceiling. Since his 2017 breakout campaign, Wentz has been strong in his 13 games as a home favorite, averaging 22.7 DraftKings points with a +4.87 Plus/Minus and 69.2% Consistency Rating.
He still has good pass-catching options. Tight end Zach Ertz is one of the top players at his position, and Wentz has a tight connection with him. Running back Darren Sproles is a talented receiving back with the returner-adjacent talent to turn short receptions into long gains. Slot man Nelson Agholor had an 8-107-1 receiving line on 11 targets last week as the team’s de facto No. 1 wide receiver. And upside backups Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside both have good size, athleticism and downfield ability.
And Wentz on his own is a talented player: Since 2017, he’s had a 64.7% completion rate with an 8.0 AY/A. In Week 1, he threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns and put up 28.0 DraftKings points — as a home favorite. In the right circumstances, he can pile on the points.
There’s nothing special about his matchup with the Lions, and I wouldn’t use Wentz in cash games, but as Sunday approaches, if it seems that the Jeffery and Jackson injuries are going to suppress his tournament ownership, I’ll consider using Wentz strategically in GPPs.
Wentz is the No. 1 quarterback in the Koerner Model for DraftKings.
Jameis Winston: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5) vs. New York Giants, 47.5 O/U
There’s no point in pretending as if Winston hasn’t been a disaster this year. He’s underwhelmed in HC Bruce Arians’ offense, completing just 59.0% of his passes and averaging only 201 yards and a touchdown passing per game. He’s added relatively little on the ground with just 22 yards rushing in total.
But Winston has a few factors in his favor this week.
To start with, the Bucs played on Thursday Night Football in Week 2. Compared to the Giants, they’ve had three extra days to rest and prepare for the game.
On top of that, he still has one of the league’s best WR-WR-TE trios in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard — even if Howard was invisible last week. Evans is one of just three players in NFL history with 1,000-plus yards receiving in each of his first five seasons. Godwin opened the year with an 11-174-2 receiving line on 15 targets. And Howard averaged 16.6 yards per reception in each of his two NFL campaigns.
Collectively, they are difficult for any secondary to contain — and the Giants have an NFL-worst 29.4 PFF coverage grade through two weeks. Evans seems likely to be shadowed by No. 1 cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and he can win that matchup: When they faced each other in Week 11 last year, Evans had a 6-120-1 receiving performance on seven targets. And in Week 4 of 2017, Evans had a 5-67-1 game. This could be a get-right spot for the No. 1 receiver, and if Evans goes off, Winston could have a big performance.
For the season, the Giants have allowed the third-most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks with 29.3 per game.
Finally, the Bucs are at home, where Winston has exhibited significant splits since 2017 (the first year of the Evans/D-Jax and now Evans/Godwin era).
- Home (13 games): 21.7 DraftKings points, +4.21 Plus/Minus, 76.9% Consistency Rating
- Away (11 games): 16.5 DraftKings points, -0.33 Plus/Minus, 54.5% Consistency Rating
At home against a defense that allowed Dak (36.4 DraftKings points) and Allen (22.2) to go off over the past two weeks, Winston is worth some tournament exposure.
Winston is the No. 1 quarterback in the CSURAM88, Levitan and SportsGeek Models for DraftKings, where he is tied for the position lead with eight Pro Trends.
Upside Quarterbacks for Guaranteed Prize Pools
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs ($7,600 DK, $9,200 FD): The human laser show will be chalky and has a tough matchup against a defense that has held opposing quarterbacks to 14.9 DraftKings points per game, but the Chiefs-Ravens game has a slate-high 55-point over/under, and Mahomes leads the league with 821 yards and seven touchdowns passing.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens ($7,000 DK, $8,500 FD): L-Jax has an NFL-best 12.9 AY/A, a position-high 126 yards rushing and a relatively soft matchup against a defense that last year allowed the fifth-most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks with 22.4 per game.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans ($6,400 DK, $8,200 FD): Watson could have reduced ownership as an underdog after his 159-yard passing performance last week, and over his 10 games as a dog, Watson has averaged 26.8 DraftKings points with a +9.88 Plus/Minus and 80% Consistency Rating.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers ($6,100 DK, $7,900 FD): Rodgers has a below-average matchup against the Broncos, and he has just 206 yards passing per game in HC Matt LaFleur’s offense, but Rodgers is on the positive side of his splits, averaging 23.5 DraftKings points over the past half decade in his 35 games as a home favorite.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers ($6,000 DK, $7,900 FD): Newton has an uncertain injury and practice status, and he’s been atrocious to start the year, but he last played on Thursday Night Football so he should be rested and prepared, and the Cardinals are without top cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (suspension) and Robert Alford (leg, injured reserve).
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals ($5,800 DK, $7,200 FD): Murray is one of just two quarterbacks in NFL history with 300 yards passing in each of his first two games, and once he starts running the ball more, he will have slate-winning potential.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants ($5,000 DK, $6,000 FD): The rookie completed 85.3% of his 34 preseason attempts for 416 yards and two touchdowns to no interceptions, he has Konami Code ability (1,323 yards rushing in three college seasons, including sacks), and he’s the stone minimum at FanDuel, where he has a nice position-high 69% Bargain Rating.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
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Pictured above: Dak Prescott
Photo credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports