The Quarterback Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s main NFL slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL Content Dashboard.
Week 1 witnessed a smorgasbord of suckiness: 18 teams failed to surpass the 21-point threshold, and only 36.7 percent of the 30 starting quarterbacks managed to hit their salary-based expectations, averaging 15.49 DraftKings and 14.62 FanDuel points per game (PPG) with -1.67 and -1.88 Plus/Minus values (per our Trends tool). Maybe the best that can be said for Week 1 is that Jay Cutler didn’t play. For analysis of the Thursday and Monday night games, see Joe Holka’s Thursday Night NFL Breakdown and Prime Time NFL Breakdown (out later this week).
The Big Four
Week 2 features two marquee matchups between last season’s four highest-scoring fantasy quarterbacks:
- Tom Brady ($7,900 DraftKings, $9,200 FanDuel)
- Drew Brees ($7,700 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel)
- Aaron Rodgers ($7,400 DraftKings, $9,100 FanDuel)
- Matt Ryan ($7,500 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel)
“Fear is the Path to the Dark Side: Fear Leads to Anger, Anger Leads to Hate, Hate Leads to Victories”
So much for 19-0. Although the Patriots lost in Week 1 by 15 points and Brady completed only 44.4 percent of his 36 pass attempts for just 267 yards, the Week 2 outlook for Angry Tom and the Pats is as good as it gets. They’re on the road, but they’re implied for a slate-high 30.75 points against the Saints (per our Vegas Dashboard), who have been a bottom-five team in PPG allowed to opponents in four of the last five years. In Week 1, the Saints allowed the ‘incomparable’ Sam Bradford to throw for 346 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-32 passing.
A top-two fantasy passer over the last two seasons, Brady should find success in the Superdome (the Coors Field of fantasy football), where the indoor environment and speed turf combine with the Saints’ fast-paced high-scoring offense and nonexistent defense to allow opposing quarterbacks to thrive. No venue since 2014 has been friendlier to visiting quarterbacks than the Superdome. In fact, while quarterbacks tend to do better at home than on the road, opposing quarterbacks have done better against the Saints in New Orleans:
- DraftKings PPG: 20.66 vs. 19.04
- Plus/Minus: +4.19 vs. +2.66
- Consistency Rating (percent): 66.7 vs. 63.0
The Pats scored 27 points last week against a Chiefs team that last year allowed the seventh-fewest (19.4) PPG in the league. The Pats-Saints game has a slate-high 54.5-point over/under. And Brady gets perhaps softest pass defense in the league (per our Matchups page): All four starting defensive backs and two outside linebackers have poor Pro Football Focus grades of less than 60.0. Use our Lineup Builder to stack Brady with any eligible receiver in a Patriots jersey. The worst that can be said for Brady this week is that he has the highest floor projections in our Models.
When the Saints Go Marching Into the End Zone
The Saints are seven-point underdogs at home. Only once in the Brees era have the Saints been home dogs to this degree — and never by more than seven points. In that game, Brees passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns. For his entire career, Brees has balled out at home on a per-game basis, especially since 2014:
- DraftKings PPG: 25.43 vs. 20.08
- Plus/Minus: +5.90 vs. +0.31
- Consistency Rating (percent): 70.8 vs. 50.0
- Yards per game (YPG), passing: 338.2 vs. 300.4
- Completion percentage: 70.1 vs. 68.8
- Touchdowns per game, passing: 2.46 vs. 1.83
- Interceptions per game: 0.83 vs. 0.92
The Patriots gave up 42 points to the Chiefs last week, Brees has a position-high ceiling projection on DraftKings, and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael (the play caller) has worked with Brees in some capacity ever since 2002, helping him to league-leading campaigns of 5,476, 5,177, and 5,208 yards passing in his three play-calling seasons (2011-12, 2016). No quarterback over the last year has played more average snaps per game than Brees at 72. He generally has lots of opportunities to score points.
The Packers-Falcons game is second in the slate with a 53.5-point over/under, Rodgers is the top fantasy quarterback since 2014 with 23.53 DraftKings and 22.18 FanDuel PPG, and the Falcons last year were top-three in PPG (20.8 DraftKings, 19.9 FanDuel) allowed to quarterbacks. The season is young, but the Falcons are already off to poor start: Not one of their four starting defensive backs in Week 1 had a PFF grade of even 50. Over the last decade, general manager Ted Thompson — whom I once referred to as “Football Sex Personified” — has drafted four wide receivers for Rodgers with top-100 NFL picks:
- 2008 (2.36): Jordy Nelson
- 2011 (2.64): Randall Cobb
- 2014 (2.53): Davante Adams
- 2015 (3.94): Ty Montgomery
With the league’s best collection of pass-catching talent, Rodgers always has week-winning upside. Last week Rodgers had a position-high ownership rate of 11.67 in guaranteed prize pools (per our DFS Ownership Dashboard), and the high-stakes players rostered him at an even higher rate (15.6 percent in the $1,500-entry Luxury Box). Last year at Atlanta he completed 73.7 percent of his 38 attempts for 246 yards and four touchdowns, adding 60 yards rushing and finishing with 33.8 fantasy points. He could once again be the highest-owned quarterback. In just 0.25 percent of DraftKings lineups last week with Nelson and Montgomery (per our DFS Contests Dashboard), Rodgers is still rosterable even with position-high ownership.
Last week, I was on the right side of Ryan in my player props piece: Under 24.5 pass completions (21), over 275.5 passing yards (321), and under 2.5 passing touchdowns (1). This week, Ryan should outproduce his Week 1 totals against a Packers defense that last year allowed the most touchdowns (26) and second-most yards (3,017) to wide receivers and last week featured three starting cornerbacks who all earned poor PFF grades lower than 52. Although Ryan’s league-high 7.1 percent touchdown rate in 2016 is bound to regress, his yardage totals will likely remain healthy: Since the beginning of the Julio Jones era (2011), only Drew Brees has more than Ryan’s 27,961 yards passing. With a correlation coefficient of 0.66, Ryan’s production has been highly tied to Julio’s since 2014 (per our Correlations Matrix). Priced outside of the top two, Ryan is easy to like. He leads the slate on DraftKings with seven Pro Trends and on FanDuel with a 72 percent Bargain Rating.
The ball’s coming your way.
Derek Carr ($7,200 DraftKings, $8,300 FanDuel): The Raiders are slate-high 14.0-point home favorites implied for 28.75 points against a Jets team whose funnel defense last year was first in run DVOA but 31st in pass DVOA.
Russell Wilson ($6,800 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel): Wilson’s another version of Carr. The Seahawks are 14.0-point home favorites implied for 28.0 points against a 49ers team that last year was 32nd in scoring with 30.0 PPG allowed.
Ben Roethlisberger ($6,700 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel): As mentioned in this week’s Rotoworld pivot piece, Roethlisberger is the league’s best home quarterback with 26.80 DraftKings and 24.39 FanDuel PPG since 2014. This week he will likely be available at an ownership discount because of the advantageous spots for other quarterbacks and his matchup against a Vikings defense that held Brees to 291 yards and one touchdown last week.
Carson Palmer ($6,000 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel): Palmer looked horrible in Week 1 with his three interceptions, but in Week 2 the Cardinals could throw more without running back David Johnson. They’re implied for a solid 25.75 points against a Colts team that just allowed the heretofore horrid Jared Goff to pass for 306 yards.
Cam Newton ($6,500 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel): The 2015 MVP is projected for less than five percent ownership as a 7.5-point home favorite implied for 25.25 points against a Bills team that looks to be rebuilding.
Tyrod Taylor ($5,300 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel): Of all quarterbacks to start regularly since 2015, Taylor leads the position with a 73 percent Consistency Rating on DraftKings, where he has a position-high 98 percent Bargain Rating and is a perpetual option in cash games. Since he became a starter he leads all quarterbacks with 1,186 yards rushing.
Philip Rivers ($5,800 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel): Ever the gunslinger, Rivers leads the league with 53 interceptions since 2014. That said, he just completed 66.7 percent of his attempts against the Broncos defense, throwing for three touchdowns. Outside of Rodgers, he has perhaps the league’s deepest assortment of pass-catching talent.
Alex Smith ($5,700 DraftKings, $7,200 FanDuel): With 34.02 DraftKings and 31.02 FanDuel points in Week 1, Smith is currently the No. 1 fantasy quarterback. The apocalypse is nigh.
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): Brady, Ryan, and Joe Flacco ($5,200 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel).
Returning from a preseason back injury, Flacco got the Blake Bortles treatment in Week 1, attempting a league-low 17 passes as the Ravens relied on the running game in their defense-led 20-0 win over the Bengals, rushing the ball 42 times. In Week 2, the Ravens are 8.0-point home favorites against the Browns. It’s likely they could run the ball a lot yet again. Still, Flacco warrants some speculative exposure. The Ravens led the league with 679 pass attempts last year, when the Browns defense was 30th with 28.3 PPG allowed and 30th in pass DVOA. Flacco’s the highest-rated DraftKings quarterback in the CSURAM88 and Levitan Models.
Positional Breakdowns & Tools
Be sure to read the other Week 2 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 NFL news feed: