In this piece, I highlight quarterbacks who stand out in our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models. While the models are built for DFS contests, this is an all-purpose fantasy article with actionable information for all formats.
As news breaks throughout the week and we adjust our projections, player ratings in our Player Models will change. For updates, visit the models directly.
Top Quarterbacks in the FantasyLabs Models
There are six quarterbacks atop the individual Pro Models that Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, and Ryan Hodge have constructed, as well as our proprietary Cash Game and Tournament Models
Here’s where they place within our Week 16 Fantasy Rankings (as of Wednesday):
- Josh Allen
- Patrick Mahomes
- Justin Herbert
- Matthew Stafford
- Jalen Hurts
- Justin Fields
We’ll discuss why these four are popping in our models, as well as take a look at some other backs who could help you take down a tournament.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
- Wide Receivers on Thursday
- Tight Ends on Friday
- Running Backs on Friday/Saturday
For more in-depth NFL analysis, check out The Action Network.
Top Model Quarterbacks
Josh Allen ($7,500 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel): Buffalo Bills (+2.5) at New England Patriots (43.5 total)
Allen is the top quarterback in our FanDuel cash game model this week as he rematches the Patriots in New England. The last time these two teams met, Allen had his second-worst game of the season, scoring just 11.7 FanDuel points. While part of the credit belongs to the Patriots defense, that game was an anomaly. It featured extremely high winds, and the Patriots only attempted three passes in that game. Allen attempted 30, but mostly short-area throws.
The weather shouldn’t be much of an issue for Allen this time, but the matchup leaves something to be desired. Buffalo is implied for only 20.5 points, their lowest mark this season. The Patriots have held eight straight quarterbacks under 16 DraftKings points as well. That list includes Allen in their last contest and Justin Herbert, among others. (Their quarterback schedule has been admittedly friendly over the past two months, with other matchups against Zach Wilson, PJ Walker, and other lower-tier quarterbacks.)
Allen can still get it done, though, particularly if the Bills continue to throw the ball at a high rate. Allen averages almost 43 pass attempts in Bills losses (not including the wind game against the Patriots.) The Bills are underdogs in this one, so the volume should be high. Allen has been incredible as an underdog over the past two seasons:
Our projections expect this Trend to continue, with Allen as a top-five option on both sites despite the tough matchup and low total. Given those latter factors (and his price), we could also get Allen at a significant discount in ownership this week. That would make him an ideal tournament play, given his upside as an underdog. He’s gone over 30 FanDuel points in half of his games as an underdog since 2020.
Patrick Mahomes ($7,700 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel): Kansas City Chiefs (-8) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (44 total)
Mahomes is our highest projected quarterback option on both sites this week. He’s also the most expensive. However, he’s still enough of a bargain on FanDuel to rate as the top Pts/Sal play. He’s (relatively speaking) more expensive on DraftKings. That’s how he ended up atop one of our models on FanDuel for Week 16.
Mahomes and the Chiefs are expected to make short work of the Steelers this week. That is a bit of a concern for Mahomes, who’s averaged under 17 FanDuel points when favored by at least a touchdown this year (per our Trends tool). Pittsburgh is also a major run funnel, ranking top 10 in pass defense by DVOA but 30th against the run. Kansas City is obviously a more effective team throwing the ball, but if they get out to a quick lead, they’re apt to take the path of least resistance while they run out the clock.
Of course, Mahomes can post a slate-breaking score in any game environment or matchup. His best game on FanDuel this year – a 36 point effort against the Raiders – came in a 27-point blowout victory. (Though the Raiders funnel their opponents to the air.) Like Allen, Mahomes will probably come in lower ownership than normal, making him another option for leverage this week.
Despite his high projections, I’d avoid Mahomes in cash games on both sites. He’s simply too expensive given the risk of a blowout win for the Chiefs. His likeliest outcome is a decent but not great game in a blowout. We can do better than “decent” at his salary. Of course, he’s a very intriguing tournament option, especially if the field overlooks him this week.
Also be sure to pay attention to the status of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce since they’re on the COVID list.
Justin Herbert ($7,200 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel): Los Angeles Chargers (-9) at Houston Texans (45.5 total)
Like Mahomes, Herbert is a quarterback in a likely blowout that’s popping up in one of our FanDuel models this week. The Chargers are one of the week’s biggest favorites and also have the second-highest team total on the slate. Also, like Mahomes, Herbert’s opponent (Houston) is far better at stopping the pass than the run.
There is a difference, though. Austin Ekeler is banged up (and potentially on the COVID list. Beat writers have reported he will be added, though he hasn’t been officially added as of Wednesday morning). Even if Ekeler plays, Los Angeles will likely keep up a moderately high passing volume even if the game gets out of hand. Herbert has at least 30 attempts in every game this year. (Mahomes had 24 and 29 attempts in recent blowout wins, for comparison.)
The matchup isn’t as great as we might initially assume, though. Unlike other bottom-feeder teams, the Texans actually have a solid pass defense (The Lions, Jets, and Jaguars all rank 26th or worse, Houston ranks 10th in DVOA.) They’ve allowed only one of the last six quarterbacks they’ve faced to go over 16.22 FanDuel points, and that was a 21.2 Russell Wilson performance. Houston is much easier to pick on with running backs than quarterbacks.
Herbert is still a good play given the high team total and his expected volume. It just might be a bit harder for him to have a true blowup game, as he’s likely relying on his skill players to take a few short throws to the house instead of hammering the Texans with deep passing. That’s certainly not a terrible bet to make when he’s throwing to the likes of Ekeler and Keenan Allen.
Matthew Stafford ($6,700 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel): Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings (49 total)
Stafford has none of the concerns of the aforementioned quarterbacks this week. This game isn’t expected to be a blowout – the Rams are favored by less than a field goal. It’s also not an especially difficult matchup. The Vikings rank 18th against the pass by DVOA. They also have the most favorable Opponent Plus/Minus allied on both sites this week.
Even with all of that working for him, Stafford is the cheapest of the players we’ve discussed thus far. Which makes him a very intriguing option this week. The Rams should have their full complement of weaponry available, and this game has major shootout potential (and the week’s highest total). Stafford is the only quarterback to lead one of our models on both sites this week. He’s on top of the DraftKings and FanDuel Tournament Models. (Though that will likely change once ownership projections come out.)
Now for the downside. Stafford’s volume has been very hit or miss this season, leaning towards the miss. The Rams are more than happy to play slow and control games once they get out to a lead, even if it’s not a particularly big one. While they play at the fastest situation-neutral pace in the league, that’s misleading. Their pace, when leading by at least a touchdown, ranks 27th.
While Vegas isn’t expecting a Rams blowout, it does create a bit of a catch-22. If Stafford has early success, the Rams likely have a lead – which leads to them playing slower. On the other hand, if Stafford is playing fast, it’s likely that his fantasy production has been poor up to that point.
The one exception, of course, is if the Vikings are able to respond to the Rams scoring. That means it’s very unlikely Stafford has a big day without bringing one of the Viking’s players along with him. Generally, we stack quarterbacks with opposing pass catchers, but Dalvin Cook could also be the beneficiary this week. Cook and Stafford stacks are also likely to be more contrarian than their individual ownership levels would suggest, making it a solid leverage play for tournaments.
Jalen Hurts ($6,400 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel): Philadelphia Eagles (-10) vs. New York Giants (40.5 total)
Hurts is the leader in our DraftKings Cash Game Model this week. It makes perfect sense since he has a rock-solid floor. That floor is always bolstered by his ability to run the football. He averages over 10 fantasy points produced with his legs on the ground.
Normally we’d worry about the blowout potential with a quarterback favored by double digits, but that’s where Hurts’ rushing ability comes into play. He’s used on enough designed runs (and carries the ball in the red zone) that a big Eagles lead doesn’t really detract from his production as much as it would for less mobile passers.
If anything, the risk with Hurts is the opposite. The last time these two teams met, Philadelphia was upset 13-7 by the Giants in a game where the offense failed to get anything started. That’s obviously somewhat of a fluke – everyone has off days, and the Giants aren’t an especially intimidating defense. Still, offenses tend to perform worse the second time around against divisional opponents, and the Eagles offense was pretty bad last time.
Of course, I’m trusting the larger sample size of Hurts this season rather than a single game against the Giants. He’s topped 20 DraftKings points in nine of 13 games, and 20 points is a solid score (for cash games) at his price. He’s arguably – and it’s an argument I’d make – the safest pick amongst the highly projected quarterbacks this week, as well as the cheapest option with a Medina Projection on DraftKings over 20 points.
Justin Fields ($5,200 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel): Chicago Bears (+6.5) at Seattle Seahawks (43 total)
Fields is our model’s favorite quarterback this week, leading three of our DraftKings models. After an awful start to the season, he’s been very solid as of late. Fields has at least 17.9 DraftKings points in four of his last five contests.
In a lot of ways, Fields is a poor man’s Jalen Hurts this week (every week?). He doesn’t get the same volume of designed runs (or red zone work) as Hurts but has similar abilities in the rushing game. (Imagine if he had someone calling plays who dialed up runs for him?) Like Hurts, he’s also limited but improving as a passer.
That passing ability will be important this week, with the Bears likely chasing points at Seattle. Additionally, Seattle is pretty tough to run on, ranking 8th in DVOA. They rank 29th against the pass, though, so Fields will need to do some damage there to have a decent fantasy performance.
Of course, it’s scary to rely on Fields’ passing ability for points. He’s thrown multiple passing touchdowns only once in a game this season. He’s also yet to reach the 300 passing yards bonus, though he threw for 285 yards last week. All of which explains why Hurts is the better cash game option – Fields is a bit more fragile this week.
He might just have more upside, though. He has looked better as a passer as of late, and this is the best matchup he’s had all season. He’s also expected to have both Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson available, a duo that could shred Seattle’s poor secondary. Nobody feels great playing Fields, but he’s a sneaky tournament pick this week on DraftKings.
Also, be sure to monitor his ankle injury throughout the week.
Other Quarterbacks With Week-Winning Upside
Tom Brady ($7,400 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11) at Carolina Panthers (44 total)
Brady is the only quarterback with a 20+ point DraftKings projection to not lead one of our models. Despite being without Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Leonard Fournette, his Bucs still have the highest implied team total on the slate. Given the loss of Fournette in particular, most of those points will probably come from Brady’s arm. He still has Rob Gronkowski and is getting Antonio Brown back from suspension as well. You probably aren’t sneaking Brady/Brown/Gronk stacks by anyone this week, but it won’t matter if they have a huge game.