The Week 3 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Sep. 27, at 1 p.m. ET.
In this piece, I highlight the quarterbacks who stand out in our large suite of analytical DFS Tools, most specifically our FantasyLabs Models, and I include plenty of actionable analysis relevant to season-long fantasy as well.
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Top Quarterbacks in the FantasyLabs Models
There are three quarterbacks atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
- Kyler Murray: $6,800 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel
- Cam Newton: $6,700 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
- Carson Wentz: $5,800 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel
Kyler Murray: Arizona Cardinals (-5.5) vs. Detroit Lions, 54.5 Over/Under
Murray has been a top-six fantasy quarterback in each of the past two weeks, opening the season with MVP-caliber performances to propel the Cardinals to a 2-0 record.
- Week 2 (vs. WAS): 33.1 DraftKings points | 286-1-1 passing | 8-67-2 rushing
- Week 1 (at SF): 27.3 DraftKings points | 230-1-1 passing | 13-91-1 rushing
He has exhibited an immediate connection with new No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. When targeting Nuk, Murray is 22-of-25 passing for 219-1-0 with a top-shelf mark of 9.6 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A, per RotoViz AY/A App).
In his second year, Murray very much has the look of a legitimate NFL quarterback.
He didn’t set the league ablaze in his rookie campaign, but last year Murray was still a top-12 fantasy quarterback with 19.6 DraftKings points per game, and he had an especially high floor thanks to his rushing workload, as he ranked No. 3 at the position with 5.8 carries and 1.2 red-zone carries per game (per Player Profiler).
Despite playing on a 5-10-1 team that was No. 16 with 22.6 points per game, Murray was a fantasy QB1 in 50% of his starts last year (per RotoViz NFL Stat Explorer).
On a slate without quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson (Monday Night Football) as well as Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees (Sunday Night Football), the dynamic Murray is far to0 cheap, especially on DraftKings, where he’s priced as the No. 4 quarterback.
As was the case last week, Murray will be an industry-wide cash-game chalk lock, especially because he has an advantageous matchup with the Lions, who allowed a league-high 503.2 air yards and yards after the catch (AirYAC) combined per game last year (per AirYards.com).
This year, they are No. 30 with a 43.0 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus).
On top of that, the Lions are dealing with injuries in their secondary: Starting cornerbacks Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and Justin Coleman (hamstring, IR) both missed Week 2. Coleman is definitely out for Week 3, and Trufant seems unlikely to play given that he didn’t practice at all last week.
A second-year fifth-rounder, Oruwariye has allowed 9.8 yards per target with a 79.3% catch rate across his career. As for Roberts, the five-year veteran is yet to have a PFF coverage grade of even 67 in any season.
Murray could get 200 yards and two touchdowns on throws just to Hopkins and Fitz.
In his NFL debut last year, Murray faced defense-focused head coach Matt Patricia’s Lions, and he went off for 25.6 DraftKings points on 308-2-1 passing and 3-13-0 rushing.
The sample is small, but Murray has massively exceeded salary-based expectations in his two games as a home favorite, averaging 26.5 DraftKings points with a +8.83 Plus/Minus (per our FantasyLabs Trends Tool).
A top-five option in season-long leagues, Murray is the No. 1 quarterback in the Bales, CSURAM88, Raybon, SportsGeek and Freedman Models for DraftKings, where he has position-high median and floor projections, six Pro Trends and a +5.57 Projected Plus/Minus.
For good measure, Murray is also the top option in the Bales, CSURAM88, Levitan, Raybon, SportsGeek and Freedman Models for FanDuel.
Cam Newton: New England Patriots (-5.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 48 O/U
Newton was my go-to late-round quarterback in 2020 fantasy drafts, and he has not disappointed.
- Week 2 (at SEA): 35.6 FanDuel points | 397-1-1 passing | 11-47-2 rushing
- Week 1 (vs. MIA): 25.7 FanDuel points | 155-0-0 passing | 15-75-2 rushing
The No. 3 fantasy quarterback, Newton has seemingly left his injury history in the past. The shoulder and foot issues that cut short his 2018-19 campaigns are forgotten trivialities.
Through two weeks, Newton has looked healthy.
And when Newton has been healthy, he has historically been elite. In each of his five seasons with 16 games played, Newton has been a top-four fantasy quarterback.
What is particularly striking about Newton in 2020 is that he has finally found a coaching staff willing to harness his rare rushing ability. For the first nine years of his career, Newton put up 7.5 carries per game with the Panthers. In his two games with the Pats, Newton has averaged 13.
With Newton’s Konami Code ground game, the Patriots have discovered yet another way to cheat.
Thanks to his elite usage near the goal line — Newton is No. 1 in the league with nine carries inside the 10-yard line — he has a rushing workload rivaling that of the NFL’s most high-volume running backs. Only four players this year have more than Newton’s 31.5 expected rushing fantasy points (ruEP, per RotoViz Screener).
- Ezekiel Elliott: 37.8 ruEP | 44-185-2 rushing
- Derrick Henry: 33.5 ruEP | 56-200-0 rushing
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 37.8 ruEP | 35-176-1 rushing
- Josh Jacobs: 37.8 ruEP | 52-181-3 rushing
- Cam Newton: 37.8 ruEP | 26-122-4 rushing
With a league-high four rushing touchdowns, Newton has retaken the Iron Throne.
For a quarterback like Newton, matchup almost doesn’t matter, but he has a good one all the same. Last year, the Raiders were No. 31 with a 33.2% pass-defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders). In Week 2, the Raiders allowed an armless Drew Brees to pass for 312 yards without No. 1 wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Newton should be able to throw as needed, and he pairs especially well with wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is No. 1 in the league with his 52% market share of targets (per RotoViz Player Statistical Summary). Edelman has maybe the slate’s best overall WR/CB matchup against slot man Lamarcus Joyner.
In 2017-18, Joyner was one of the best coverage safeties in football for the Rams, racking up four interceptions for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and holding receivers to a parsimonious 53.9% catch rate
But after signing with the Raiders last offseason, he was moved to slot corner, where he struggled the first few years of his career under then-Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Predictably, Joyner has been a disaster in the slot. In 2019, he had a career-worst 44.4 PFF coverage grade and allowed a gaping 73.9% catch rate.
Coming off a career-best 179-yard performance in Week 2, Edelman is set to smash. For guaranteed prize pools, use our Lineup Builder to stack Newton with his No. 1 receiver.
For betting, I’m invested in the Patriots.
Since 2004 (as far back as our Bet Labs database goes), Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is 114-59-6 against the spread (ATS) when facing teams that failed to make the playoffs in the previous year, good for a 28.6% return on investment (ROI) and an A grade within Bet Labs.
Under the Belichick regime, the Pats have been a “no mercy” franchise against overmatched opponents.
They have also been hard on teams relatively unfamiliar with them; teams that don’t play them every year. Against non-divisional opponents, Belichick is 104-63-4 ATS (22.5% ROI).
And against non-divisional opponents that didn’t play in the postseason, Belichick is an imposing 64-25-1 ATS (41.1% ROI).
He no longer has quarterback Tom Brady, but Belichick still has something even more valuable: Himself.
In his 21 games without Brady (15 in 2018, four in 2016 and two this year), Belichick is 13-8 ATS (22.3% ROI). I’m not worried about Belichick’s ability to cover without Brady.
Coming off their Sunday Night Football loss, the Pats should be focused, motivated and extremely desirous to put Week 2 behind them by dominating in Week 3. After a loss, Belichick’s Pats are 40-15 ATS (44.2% ROI).
Bellicose Belichick should have his team ready to throw down.
Are you ready for it? Newton is my No. 1 quarterback in our Week 3 fantasy rankings. Sure, Koerner and Raybon have him ranked more moderately, but sometimes you gotta look yourself in the mirror and say, “When in Rome.”
A locked-in season-long QB1 as long as he’s healthy, Newton is the top option in the Koerner Model for FanDuel, where Newton has a position-high ceiling projection.
Carson Wentz: Philadelphia Eagles (-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 46.5 O/U
Wentz has underwhelmed to start the year, ranking No. 27 among all quarterbacks with 15.2 DraftKings points per game.
- Week 2 (vs. LAR): 14.4 DraftKings points | 240-0-2 passing | 2-7-1 rushing
- Week 1 (at WAS): 16.0 DraftKings points | 270-2-2 passing | 1-2-0 rushing
To these paltry stat lines, Wentz has added eight sacks allowed for 62 yards and one fumble lost for the 0-2 Eagles.
His performance was so poor in last week’s 37-19 loss that he was booed at home by nonexistent fans.
He has doled out a league-high four interceptions like a substitute teacher giving out candy.
But the fault is not entirely his: Wentz’s offensive line has been decimated by injuries. Left tackle Andre Dillard (biceps, IR) and right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles, PUP) were lost before the season even started. Left guard Isaac Seumalo (knee, IR) exited Week 2 early, and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) missed Week 1.
Given that the Football Team and Rams both have top-eight PFF defensive lines, it’s remarkable that Wentz wasn’t worse.
His matchup this week is much better. The Bengals have just one quarterback knockdown and two sacks this year, and they were No. 29 with a 30.5% pass-defense DVOA last season. His offensive line should be able to keep him upright, and his receivers should be able to get open.
In Week 2, the Bengals helped Baker Mayfield look like a pseudo-competent passer with a 69.6% completion rate and 9.5 AY/A.
This defense is exploitable, and Wentz is not without talent.
Last year, Wentz’s most-targeted wide receivers were the ghost of Alshon Jeffery, the corpse of Nelson Agholor, the figment of Greg Ward Jr. and the abomination of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside — and yet he still passed for over 4,000 yards.
With one of the league’s worst wide receiver units, Wentz was still a fantasy QB1 in over half of his 2019 games, and he was never worse than a QB2.
Wentz underwhelmed in 2016 as a rookie: He was lucky not to be dead last in the league with his 5.7 AY/A. But in the three-plus years since then, he has averaged 20.5 DraftKings points and been a QB1 in 62% of his 42 games (excluding his injury-shortened playoff appearance last season).
Plus, Wentz is on the positive side of his career splits.
- Favorite (38 games): 19.9 DraftKings points | +1.84 Plus/Minus | 60.5% Consistency Rating
- Underdog (21 games): 16.5 DraftKings points | -0.07 Plus/Minus | 52.4% Consistency Rating
Given the spot, talent and matchup that Wentz has, he’s priced far too cheaply as the No. 14 quarterback on DraftKings, where he has a nice position-high 69% Bargain Rating.
A streamable high-end QB2 with upside in season-long leagues, Wentz is the No. 1 quarterback in the Levitan and Koerner Models for DraftKings.
Upside Quarterbacks for Guaranteed Prize Pools
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks ($7,300 DK, $8,700 FD): No. 1 in the league with an 82.5% completion rate and 11.8 AY/A, Wilson has cooked through two weeks.
The Seahawks have a slate-high 30.25-point implied Vegas total, and Mr. Unlimited could benefit from a pass-heavy game script in a back-and-forth shootout with the Cowboys.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys ($7,200 DK, $8,500 FD): With a dominant 450-1-0 passing and 5-18-3 rushing performance, Prescott finished last week as the top overall fantasy quarterback. The sample is small, but this year opposing passers are No. 2 in the league with 33.3 DraftKings and 30.3 FanDuel points per game against the Seahawks.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills ($6,900 DK, $8,100 FD): With new No. 1 wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Allen in Weeks 1-2 produced the two most prolific passing performances of his career (312-2-0, 417-4-0). Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey will likely shadow Diggs, but Allen’s Konami Code credentials (18-75-1 rushing) keep his high-floor/high-ceiling intact.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons ($6,600 DK, $7,800 FD): The Falcons led the league last season with a 67.0% pass-play rate, and the throw-first Ryan has an NFL-high 61 completions and 846 air yards this year.
Blessed with a top-three wide receiver unit, Ryan is eminently stackable with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage and could go off as a home favorite.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,400 DK, $7,500 FD): After missing almost all of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, Roethlisberger has returned to form in 2020 with 229-3-0 and 311-2-1 passing performances. He has two potentially difference-making wide receivers in Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster and is at home, where he has averaged 24.8 DraftKings points per game since 2014.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($6,300 DK, $7,300 FD): In his eight games last year with No. 1 wide receiver Kenny Golladay, Stafford was No. 1 with 10.7 intended air yards per attempt and a 23.4% aggressiveness rate with tight-window throws (per Next Gen Stats). Golladay (hamstring) is expected to make his 2020 debut in Week 3. Last year the Cardinals allowed a league-high 25.2 DraftKings and 23.2 FanDuel points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts ($6,000 DK, $7,000 FD): Reunited with HC Frank Reich, Rivers has a respectable 77.5% completion rate in two games under his former coordinator. The veteran has a position-high 75% Bargain Rating on FanDuel and a juicy matchup against the Jets, who have PFF’s No. 32 secondary.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans ($5,900 DK, $7,400 FD): In his 15 starts with the Titans, Tannehill has averaged 21.8 DraftKings and 21.0 FanDuel points on 3,455-33-6 passing and 60-242-5 rushing. The Vikings are in defensive disarray with three new starters at cornerback.
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears ($5,700 DK, $7,500 FD): The Falcons have allowed a league-high 39.3 DraftKings and 35.8 FanDuel points per game to opposing quarterbacks this year. Technically, at least for now, Trubisky is an NFL starter.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
Pictured above: Kyler Murray
Photo credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images