A Eulogy for Eli Manning (Week 2)

On the Week 2 NFL Daily Fantasy Flex podcast, Evan Silva, Adam Levitan, and I engaged in a ‘skill game proposition.’ I put forth the proposition that Giants quarterback Eli Manning — despite playing at home against the horrible Saints pass defense — would not be a top-five daily fantasy sports quarterback. Silva and Levitan scoffed gently and took the other side of that proposition. At stake were two crisp, delicious six-packs of God-watered Coors Lite — or, as I like to call it, “The Elixir of Oracles.”

Why did I go against Eli last week?

There were a few reasons, a primary one of which was this: He was playing at home.

He wasn’t playing at the Coors Field of NFL DFS.

Is the Superdome the Coors Field of NFL DFS?

I don’t know. Let’s use our Trends tool to find out.

This will be a preliminary and basic consideration, but I plan to do a fuller study on this topic later.

For now, let’s see how DraftKings QBs do (on a relative basis) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Answer is Blowing in the Brees

In terms of raw (fantasy) production, Brees is better at home than on the road. Per the RotoViz Game Splits App:

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Even Mama Lynn knows that Brees is better at home.

Is he better at home in NFL DFS?

Step 1: Player Filters > Player Name > Drew Brees

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Unsurprisingly, Brees is good.

Step 2: Team Filters > Home / Visitor > Visitor

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Wow. Brees is much better at home. As we’ll see shortly, Brees isn’t even a league-average DFS starter when he’s on the road: #NotGood

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To Brees, the Superdome might as well be Coors. Of course, this trend raises two groups of questions:

  1. Shouldn’t we expect QBs in general to be better at home? What does the baseline QB tend to do at home and on the road?
  2. How do all the non-Brees QBs do in New Orleans? And if the Superdome is Coors-esque, shouldn’t we see them get some unrivaled juice from playing there?

Let’s address these questions.

The Home/Visitor Split

How do starting DFS QBs tend to do in general and on the road?

Step 1: Projections > Proj Pts > 5 to 27.5

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This screen essentially eliminates backups from the cohort. This +2.09 Plus/Minus is our DraftKings baseline. As you can see, when Brees is away from the Superdome he doesn’t even meet the baseline. That information on its own is really actionable — not this week, but it sure was last week.

Step 2: Team Filters > Home / Visitor > Visitor

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As you see, DFS QBs tend to do significantly worse on the road.

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Starting DFS QBs score fewer points, have a worse Plus/Minus, and exhibit lower Consistency on the road.

Visiting QBs in the Superdome

At this point, we can explore the question of how visiting QBs perform at the Superdome.

Step 1: Projections > Proj Pts > 5 to 27.5
Step 2: Team Filters > Opposing Team > New Orleans Saints

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First of all, note that the Saints allow the NFL’s highest Opponent Plus/Minus to QBs. They also allow the most fantasy points, have the highest opponent ownership at 11 percent, and afford the highest opponent Consistency at 79.4 percent.

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All the way around, it’s been profitable to play quarterbacks against the Saints, especially in cash games, since ownership isn’t nearly as important in that contest format.

And now the moment of truth . . .

Step 3: Team Filters > Home / Visitor > Visitor

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To quote Ace Ventura in the act of practicing his mantra: “Oooohhh, mama.” QBs against the Saints do substantially better on the road than at home. They score more points, have a higher Plus/Minus, are lower owned, and exhibit higher Consistency.

They also have much higher Upside. How much higher? I’ll let you found out for yourself . . . via the Trends tool.

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If you were to look in the “Past Results” tab, you’d see that not since 2014 has a visiting QB failed to meet his salary-based expectation when playing the Saints.

In other words, every visiting QB last year provided value: Yes, even f*cking Brandon Weeden — and that might be the greatest evidence yet supporting the Superdome-Coors theory.

The Superdome is the Coors Field of NFL DFS

To be the Coors Field of NFL DFS, a stadium must give a boost to visiting players that no other stadium gives.

Let’s make sure that’s the case with the Superdome.

Step 1: Projections > Proj Pts > 5 to 27.5
Step 2: Team Filters > Home / Visitor > Visitor
Step 3: Team Filters > Stadium > Mercedes-Benz Superdome

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Circle gets the square.

Why Is the Superdome the NFL’s Coors Field?

Maybe it has something to do with the turf — although I kind of doubt it, since turf is also found in other stadiums — or ‘stadia,’ if you want to be a pompous douche. Or maybe it has to do with the ol’-fashion Cajun cookin’ — even though it 100 percent doesn’t.

Here’s my working theory.

  1. Like most QBs, Brees is better at home. And he’s one of the best QBs in the NFL already. And he has an extreme home/road split that makes the Saints essentially a different team on the road.
  2. The Saints D/ST is bad, and it’s especially vulnerable to the pass.
  3. The combination of Brees’ home awesomeness and his team’s defensive atrociousness encourages opposing offenses and QBs to play quickly and aggressively and enables them to do so successfully.

I can’t entirely prove that my working theory is correct, but . . .

One More Trend

If Brees were one of the best home DFS QBs in the NFL, that would lend support to my theory. Let’s see if he is.

Step 1: Projections > Proj Pts > 5 to 27.5
Step 2: Team Filters > Home / Visitor > Home

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As for Brees vis-à-vis other QBs:

Step 3: Player Filters > Player Name > Drew Brees

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Out of guys who are actual starting QBs, Brees has been a top-three quarterback at home in Plus/Minus since (at least) 2014.

Again, I can’t say this definitively, but it looks like the Superdome is the Coors Field of NLF DFS because 1) Brees plays his home games there and 2) the Saints defense is turrrrrible.

For Week 3 and Beyond

The Saints are currently three-point home favorites with an implied Vegas total of 28.25 points. They are hosting the Falcons in a Monday night game that has a slate-high 53.5-point total.

That ‘Monday night’ element really makes this game fascinating. If you want exposure to the DFS goodness that Brees and Matt Ryan are likely to provide, you will need to play in either the 16-game Thursday slate or the two-game prime time slate.

As Levitan mentioned on this week’s NFL Flex pod, because the Saints and Falcons aren’t available in the main slate their ownership might be even higher in the Thursday slate than we’d normally expect. And of course their ownership in the prime time slate is going to be roughly between gargantuan and elephantine.

So this week a key to the slate will be figuring out how you want to handle Brees and Ryan, not to mention Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, and Julio Jones.

And for the rest of the season a key will be figuring out how to benefit from and leverage your knowledge that the Superdome is the NFL’s Coors Field.