The Quarterback Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s main NFL slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit the NFL homepage.
Week 11: It’s here and about as uninspiring as Weeks 8-10 were. The Panthers, Jets, 49ers, and Colts are on bye. The Titans and Steelers (Thursday night) and Falcons and Seahawks (Monday night) are also absent from the main slate, as are the Cowboys and Eagles (Sunday night) on DraftKings. In the words of Fletcher Reede, “I’ve had better.” At least this is the last of the bye weeks, thank the fantasy gawds.
Although it has wider applicability, this breakdown is explicitly for the 11-game DraftKings and 12-game FanDuel main slates.
The Big One (or Two)
Including the Eagles-Cowboys game (available only on the FanDuel main slate), the top of the quarterback salary scale is dominated by two players.
- Tom Brady ($7,400 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel)
- Carson Wentz ($7,200 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel)
“Fear is the Path to the Dark Side: Fear Leads to Anger, Anger Leads to Hate, Hate Leads to Victories”
Playing at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, the Patriots lead the slate with an implied total of 29.5 points as -7.0 favorites. Mexico City is 7,382 feet above sea level, so there could be some concern about Brady’s ability to perform at peak capacity at high elevation — but he just shredded the Broncos defense at Mile High Stadium in Week 10 for 266 yards and three touchdowns, and the Pats stayed in Colorado this week so they could acclimate to the thin air. Given that Brady is a pocket-committed fitness freak, he should have no problem picking apart a Raiders defense that could have exhausted players in the second half and is 32nd against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). Even with Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 edge player in Khalil Mack, the Raiders are tied for last in the league with 13 sacks: Brady has a great matchup.
Even at 40 years of age, Brady is playing the best football of his career. After a disappointing Week 1 performance in which he completed just 44.4 percent of his passes, Brady has been on a tear over the last two months, throwing for 2,540 yards and 19 touchdowns with a 70.3 percent completion rate. Quarterbacking the offense at a top-three pace of 26.24 seconds per play (FO), Brady leads the league with 343 attempts, 231 completions, and 2,807 yards passing. He’s been playing at a peak level ever since returning from his Deflategate suspension. In his 21 regular season games since last year, Angry Tom has averaged 9.2 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A); in the half-decade prior, he averaged 8.0 AY/A. Wide receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder) and right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle) are questionable, and Cannon’s absence in particular would be a boon for the Raiders defense — Mack would have a more advantageous pass-rushing matchup against swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle — but even so Brady has the position’s highest median projections and is tied for first among all quarterbacks with seven Pro Trends on DraftKings, where he’s the highest-rated passer in the Levitan and SportsGeek Models.
The 2017 MVP (Because Brady Can’t Win the Award Every Year)
In the span of nine games, Wentz has gone from uncertain second-year starter to star quarterback. He has already thrown more touchdowns this year (23) than he threw last year (16), when he had a bottom-four AY/A (5.7); this year, he has a top-four mark (8.6). Although Wentz isn’t throwing nearly as often as he did last year (32.3 attempts per game; 37.9 last year), he’s throwing more where it matters, with 1.78 attempts inside the 10-yard line compared to 1.44 last year. Completing 66.7 percent of his passes inside the 20, Wentz has a league-best 15 red zone touchdowns. He’s also dramatically improved as a runner, displaying legit Konami Code capability with 23.4 rushing yards per game vs. 9.4 last year. Second in the league with 31.44 PPG, the Eagles have hit their implied Vegas total in an NFL-best eight of nine games and have scored an NFL-best 30 offensive touchdowns.
Coming off a bye, the Eagles should be prepared and rested as -3.5 road favorites against the Cowboys, who could struggle to sustain drives without left tackle Tyron Smith (groin, back) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (suspension) and stop drives without linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring). In six games with Lee, the Cowboys have held opponents to 18 PPG; in three games without him, 32.3. Wentz is without starting Pro-Bowl left tackle Jason Peters (knee), which makes him more susceptible to the Dallas pass rush, but in two games since Peters’ season-ending injury the Eagles have averaged 42 PPG. With playmaking outside wide receivers in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Wentz should have plenty of opportunities to exploit the Dallas secondary, especially cornerback Anthony Brown, who has allowed five touchdowns — one of the five worst marks in the league. For people playing on FanDuel, Wentz will be in consideration for cash games even though he’s the slate’s most expensive passer.
Drew Brees ($6,800 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel): Brees is back at the Coors Field of fantasy football — but he’s not back to being the Brees of previous seasons. Since the Saints’ Week 5 bye, he’s attempted more than 30 passes in just one of five games. Brees is still playing well — his 2017 AY/A of 8.3 is superior to his half-decade (2012-16) AY/A of 7.8 — and he always has the chance to go off for a 300-yard, three-touchdown game, especially at the Superdome, where he benefits from his legendary home/road splits, but Brees is averaging just 33.4 pass attempts per game compared to 41.5 for the previous five seasons. After ranking 28th with a 35.6 percent rushing rate last year, the Saints are fifth this year at 47.3 percent. Unless the Saints have a negative game script they don’t seem likely to lean on the pass, and their status as -7.5 home favorites doesn’t suggest that they’ll have a negative game script. Brees warrants exposure — he’s tied for first with seven pro Trends on DraftKings, where he has position-high ceiling and floor projections in our Models — but he’s yet to attempt more than 45 passes in a game. For a guy with 33.3 percent Consistency Ratings this year, Brees will have elevated ownership.
Derek Carr ($6,400 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel): Although the Patriots have done better in pass defense over the last month, their improvement has come against an overmatched Brock Osweiler, an old-and-on-the-road Philip Rivers, and a fog-impacted Matt Ryan. The Patriots are still allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks with 23.2 DraftKings and 21.2 FanDuel PPG. The Patriots struggle to generate a pass rush — they are bottom-eight with 16 sacks — and wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and tight end Jared Cook are talented enough to win some one-on-one matchups against cornerbacks Malcom Butler and Stephon Gilmore, slot corner/safety Patrick Chung, and strong safety Devin McCourty. The Patriots-Raiders game opened with an over/under of 50.0 points and has move to a slate-high 53.0. Carr could benefit from being in a shootout with Brady and is easily stackable with his pass catchers, especially Cooper, with whom he has a high 0.64 correlation coefficient.
Matthew Stafford ($6,600 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel): Stafford has passed for at least 300 yards or thrown three touchdowns in each of his last four games, and he has perhaps the best trio of wide receivers right now in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr., and Kenny Golladay, but he’s not in a good spot. There’s some sharp money on the under for the Lions-Bears game, as the total has dropped from 44.0 points to 41.0 even though 53 percent of the tickets are on the over. Stafford is on the road playing outdoors against a division opponent in what’s expected to be near-freezing weather (33 degrees Fahrenheit), and the Bears have held quarterbacks to the fourth-fewest fantasy points with 14.0 DraftKings and 13.5 FanDuel PPG.
Jared Goff ($6,500 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel): Despite lighting up the fantasy world with 666 yards and seven touchdowns on 39-of-59 passing over his last two games, Goff is likely to have reduced ownership, which makes him a potential pivot play. The Rams are +2.5 road underdogs with a tough matchup against the Vikings, who have a strong pass defense with edge rushers Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, shadow cornerback Xavier Rhodes, slot corner Terence Newman, strong safety Harrison Smith, and even linebacker Anthony Barr. Not one defensive back in the Vikings nickel package has a PFF grade lower than 75.0. There are reasons to be hesitant about Goff, but the Vikings’ best edge rusher in Griffen (foot/back) was inactive last week and is uncertain for this week, and the Rams are first with 32.89 PPG and a +9.22 Vegas Plus/Minus.
Case Keenum ($5,100 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel): He has strong pass catchers in wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and running back Jerick McKinnon. He has a respectable 7.3 AY/A this year. He has a position-high 99 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings. If I say anything else positive about Keenum my head will explode à la Scanners.
Blake Bortles ($5,200 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): The Jaguars are -7.5 road favorites against a Browns team with a quarterback-friendly funnel defense ranked second against the run and 27th against the pass in DVOA, but top cornerback Jason McCourty (PFF’s No. 2 cover corner) could shadow wide receiver Marqise Lee, which would neutralize much of the Jaguars passing attack. Bortles has failed to throw multiple touchdowns in eight of nein games. That’s right: “Nein.”
Andy Dalton ($4,800 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel): The NFL equivalent of Ginger Spice — you have no idea how he’s made as much money as he has, and sometimes he almost looks good — Dalton has passed for more than 300 yards in just one game. The Bengals are +2.5 road dogs at Mile High, and the Broncos are still 12th in defensive DVOA. What I really, really want is not to write about Dalton anymore.
Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,300 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel) and Jay Cutler ($5,400 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel): The Buccaneers-Dolphins game has a lowly 40.5-point total, but the Bucs and Dolphins are 28th and 31st in pass DVOA. Going overweight on either of these quarterbacks might be an instance of DFS fancy play syndrome — but they do have good matchups and are easily stacked with high-upside wide receivers.
Eli Manning ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): Manning leads the position with a 71 percent Bargain Rating on FanDuel and will likely benefit from a pass-heavy game script as a +10.5 home dog against the Chiefs, who have allowed top-six fantasy marks to quarterbacks with 20.6 DraftKings and 20.0 FanDuel PPG.
Blaine Gabbert ($4,900 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): With Drew Stanton (knee) out, the Cardinals will start their third-string quarterback against the Texans this week. While Gabbert was horrible early in his career with the Jaguars (4.8 AY/A), he displayed some serious Konami Code ability over the last two years with the 49ers, rushing for 25.6 yards per game. Gabbert was competent in the preseason, throwing 547 yards and one touchdown (with one interception) on 41-of-67 passing while adding 22 yards and a touchdown on seven rushes. The Texans have allowed top-three marks of 23.0 DraftKings and 21.0 FanDuel PPG to quarterbacks. Gabbert is in play as a cheap option in cash games.
Dak Prescott ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel): To borrow from Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow, “How can you read the field, when you are blindsided six times in a game?”
Nathan Peterman ($4,700 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel): The Bills have benched Konami Code king Tyrod Taylor and replaced him with a fifth-round rookie. Peterman looked competent against disinterested defenders at the end of last week’s 10-47 loss to the Saints, going 7-of-10 for 79 yards and a touchdown, and he was a good college quarterback at Pittsburgh, putting up an elite 10.1 AY/A and rushing for 4.0 yards per carry in his final season, but this isn’t a great spot for him. The Bills have been awful in consecutive weeks with 15.5 PPG, and this week they’re +4.0 road dogs against the Chargers, whose defense is sixth in pass DVOA thanks to exceptional edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and five starting defensive backs who all have PFF grades above 80.0. Peterman is an intriguing prospect, but he’s a low-upside risky investment this week.
The Model Quarterback
Other than Brady, there is one quarterback atop the Pro Models built by Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, and Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek): Alex Smith ($6,700 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel).
One of the first players discussed on the Week 11 Daily Fantasy Flex, Smith is a potential chalk lock. The Chiefs are implied for 27.25 points as -10.5 road favorites against the Giants, who have allowed top-three fantasy marks to quarterbacks with 22.7 DraftKings and 21.2 FanDuel PPG. Some sharp money has driven the spread down from -13.5, but professional bettors often like big home dogs, especially those who were preseason division favorites. Even if the Giants cover, Smith could still have a big game. The Giants have allowed opponents to hit their implied totals in a league-high seven of nine games, and the Chiefs have the slate’s highest passing points expectation. Smith leads the league with a 9.4 AY/A and makes for a high-upside foundational piece in Chiefs stacks. Tight end Travis Kelce is a market share monster, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill has the ability to burn a defense ranked 29th in pass DVOA. Use our Lineup Builder to construct Chiefs stacks around Smith, who is the highest-rated DraftKings quarterback in the Bales and CSURAM88 Models and the consensus No. 1 FanDuel passer in all our Pro Models. Welcome to the final days. The Utah Messiah cometh.
Positional Breakdowns & Tools
Be sure to research the quarterbacks for yourself with our tools and read the other Week 11 positional breakdowns:
• Running Backs
• Wide Receivers
• Tight Ends
Good luck this week!
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