The Quarterback Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s main NFL slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL dashboard (out soon).
The wait is over. Week 1 is here, bringing us a 12-game main slate, as the Buccaneers-Dolphins game has been postponed to Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma. Monitor our NFL news feed for player and weather updates throughout the week. For analysis of the Thursday and Monday night games, see Joe Holka’s Thursday Night NFL Breakdown and Kelly McCann’s Prime Time NFL Breakdown (out later this week). For more information on the players highlighted in this article, see our Fantasy Football Preview Dashboard.
The Big Four
While the five highest-salaried quarterbacks at DraftKings aren’t the same as the five at FanDuel, there’s significant overlap:
- Ben Roethlisberger ($7,300 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel)
- Aaron Rodgers ($7,000 DraftKings, $8,300 FanDuel)
- Matt Ryan ($6,900 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel)
- Russell Wilson ($6,900 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel)
“You, Who Are on the Road . . .”
The most expensive DraftKings quarterback, Roethlisberger has the highest projected positional ownership in our Models. His expected popularity makes sense. He’s facing the Browns, who last year were 32nd with 21.06 DraftKings and 20.06 FanDuel points per game (PPG) allowed to opposing passers. No team allowed more than their 36 touchdowns passing. The Steelers are also second in the slate with an implied total of 27.5 points and a favorable 8.0-point spread (per our Vegas Dashboard). With the return of wide receiver Martavis Bryant and an offensive line that in 2016 was fourth with a 4.1 percent adjusted sack rate (Football Outsiders), Roethlisberger has significant factors in his favor. His home/road splits have been negative for his entire career, and they’ve been especially brutal on a per-game basis over the last three years (per our Trends tool) . . .
- DraftKings PPG: 27.40 vs. 18.45
- Plus/Minus: +9.68 vs. -2.72
- Consistency Rating (percent): 85.0 vs. 40.9
- Yards per game (YPG), passing: 339.9 vs. 269.9
- Completion percentage: 68.1 vs. 65.0
- Touchdowns per game, passing: 2.90 vs. 1.05
- Interceptions per game: 0.8 vs. 1.0
. . . but Roethlisberger will probably be fine in Cleveland. In his 11 road games with Martavis, he’s averaged 347.1 yards and 2.82 touchdowns per contest.
We talk about Roethlisberger on the Week 1 Daily Fantasy Flex.
As I mention in this week’s Rotoworld pivot piece, Rodgers is a top-tier alternative to the other high-priced studs. Projected for a single-digit ownership rate, Rodgers is a perennial top-two fantasy quarterback who has a top-two ceiling projection. Although he’s playing a tough Seahawks defense that in 2016 held opposing passers to the fourth-fewest fantasy PPG (15.7 DraftKings, 15.0 FanDuel), Rodgers is at home and the Packers are currently third in the slate with an implied total of 27.0 points as 3.0-point favorites. Since 2014, Rodgers has averaged 25.26 DraftKings and 23.76 FanDuel PPG with +5.06 and +3.29 Plus/Minus values as a home favorite.
This year FantasyLabs users can review ownership trends across guaranteed prize pools of various buy-in levels with our DFS Ownership Dashboard, which is reason enough to subscribe to FantasyLabs. It’s possible that Rodgers will be more popular with high-stakes than low-stakes players. After lineups lock, visit our DFS Contests Dashboard to see how contrarian Rodgers was as a play. Our Correlations Matrix suggests that Rodgers can be stacked with teammates in a diversifying manner. Use our Lineup Builder to construct Pack stacks.
After losing a Super Bowl they led 28-3, the Falcons enter 2017 with a quarterback fueled by Gatorade and vanquishment. Last season’s Most Valuable Player, Ryan played over his head, leading the league with 10.1 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A). With a new offensive coordinator in Steve Sarkisian (who has no NFL play-calling experience) Ryan is a prime regression candidate — after Week 1. The Falcons lead the slate with an implied total of 27.75 points and are favored by 7.0 on the road over the Bears, whose reorganized secondary could struggle as a unit in its first game. Of all quarterbacks in the slate, no one attempted more than Ryan’s 1.88 passes inside the five-yard line last year. The most expensive FanDuel passer, Ryan has just the fourth-highest positional salary on DraftKings, where he has an 84 percent Bargain Rating.
Last year, bettors were 16-2-1 when picking the over in games with the Falcons — in case you’re interested.
“Nine-Meal, 4,800-Calorie Diet”
Wilson played all 16 games last year, but he was hampered by ankle and knee injuries and had the worst fantasy finish of his career as he rushed for only 259 yards and a touchdown. With his inability to practice fully because of the lower-body injuries, Wilson gained weight as the campaign progressed and by the end of the season he was playing heavy. This offseason he dedicated himself to getting in shape with a new health regime, and this preseason he looked like himself again, playing with good mobility and accumulating 447 yards and three touchdowns on 29-of-41 passing. The Seahawks-Packers game leads the slate with a 51.0-point over/under, and the Packers cornerbacks are exploitable (per our NFL Matchups Dashboard). Last year the Packers allowed the seventh-most fantasy PPG (20.1 DraftKings, 18.8 FanDuel) to opposing quarterbacks. Wilson’s tied for the slate lead with six DraftKings Pro Trends. He’ll eat.
The ball’s coming your way.
Cam Newton ($7,100 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel): The 2015 MVP has a position-high 71 percent FanDuel Bargain Rating and faces a 49ers defense that in 2016 was dead last in points and yards allowed.
Dak Prescott ($6,300 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel): The greatest rookie passer of all time with his 8.60 AY/A, Dak faces a Giants defense that last year held opposing quarterbacks to the second-fewest fantasy PPG (14.2 DraftKings, 13.5 FanDuel).
Derek Carr ($6,700 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel): The Raiders-Titans game has the slate’s second-highest total (50.5 points), and Carr faces a defense that in 2016 was 27th against the pass in FO’s Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA).
Carson Palmer ($6,000 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel): The Cardinals are implied for a respectable 25.0 points as 2.0-point road favorites against the Lions, who last year were top-four in fantasy PPG (20.9 DraftKings, 19.6 FanDuel) allowed to quarterbacks.
Kirk Cousins ($6,400 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel): The fourth-most expensive FanDuel quarterback, Cousins is fourth in the NFL with 9,083 yards passing since 2015. That said, OC Sean McVay and last year’s two 1,000-yard receivers are gone, and Cousins has to face an Eagles defense that last year was second in pass DVOA.
Jared Goff ($4,800 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel): An abomination last year with his 4.3 AY/A, Goff was tolerable this preseason in a new offense, totaling 250 yards and a touchdown (and interception) on 24-of-32 passing. A 4.0-point home favorite, Goff faces a Colts defense that was 26th in pass DVOA last year and is without top cornerback Vontae Davis.
Josh McCown ($4,600 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel): The cheapest non-Scott Tolzien passer on DraftKings, McCown has a 97 percent Bargain Rating. He’s averaged 16.45 DraftKings PPG in his 22 starts since 2014, and he’ll throw a lot as a 10.0-point road underdog against the Bills, who have five new starters in the secondary. Sometimes Black Swans look like humans.
DeShone Kizer ($4,800 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): A second-round rookie with a long leash, Kizer opens his career as an 8.0-point home dog against the Steelers. He should benefit from positive game script for much of the contest. Even with his bottom-five salary, Kizer has a top-five floor projection because of his rushing ability.
Blake Bortles ($4,800 DraftKings, $7,200 FanDuel): On the one hand, he has a slate-high 99 percent DraftKings Bargain Rating. On the other hand, Bortles is the worstles.
The Model Quarterbacks
There are currently three quarterbacks atop the Pro Models built by Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, and Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek):
- Marcus Mariota ($6,800 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel)
- Carson Wentz ($5,300 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel)
- Matthew Stafford ($6,100 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel)
Mariota started last season slowly, but after the first month he averaged 23.11 DraftKings and 22.56 FanDuel PPG before suffering a season-ending fractured fibula in Week 16. The Titans are fifth in the slate with an implied total of 26.25 points as home favorites against the Raiders, who last year were 25th in pass DVOA. He’s the consensus top FanDuel quarterback.
Wentz has a 93 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings, where he’s the top quarterback in the Bales, CSURAM88, and Levitan Models. Last year Wentz had 3,782 yards passing (the fourth-highest rookie total in league history), and this year he has better wide receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. He’s playing a Washington defense that in 2016 allowed a league-worst 368 first downs.
Stafford has a tough matchup against a Cardinals defense that last year was third in pass DVOA, but he’s tied for the slate lead with six Pro Trends on DraftKings, where he’s the top quarterback in the SportsGeek Model. Plagued by inaccuracy early in his career, he has completed 66.6 percent of his attempts in 25 games under OC Jim Bob Cooter.
Positional Breakdowns & Tools
Be sure to read the other Week 1 positional breakdowns:
Also, visit our suite of Tools to research all of the slate’s quarterbacks for yourself.
Good luck this week!
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs: