Daily Fantasy Football 101: Quarterbacks
The most important player on the field in a real-time football game is often one of the least important positions in Daily Fantasy Sports. Yes, I know that sounds counter-intuitive but it’s the truth. On any given slate of games, there are normally a half dozen or more fantastic options with plenty of upside due to the price that the Daily Fantasy Football (DFS) sites have given them. While big-name quarterbacks are often the highest owned players at the position, we often can find a similar scoring floor and ceiling (more on this later) with a less popular name.
In this article, we will take a 10,000 ft view of the QB position and how to attack it in DFS.
While the field (the term we use to describe the rest of the entrants in your contest) often will pay for a big name, we should first and foremost focus on the price tag. In tournaments, we generally are hoping our quarterback will multiply his salary by 3.0 times in relation to his points scored. For instance, if our quarterback is priced at $8,000 on FanDuel, we’d hope that he scores a minimum of 24 FanDuel points. While 3.0 is a nice barometer to use, we often are looking at this as his scoring floor and hoping he blows that score out of the water by scoring 4.0, 4.5, or even 5.0 times what his salary is priced at.
In cash games (see Contest Selection 101 article for a full breakdown), we are aiming to use a quarterback that we think will score at least 2.0 times his salary indicator. This means if a quarterback is priced at $8,000 on FanDuel, we are wanting to get at least 16.0 points out of him for our lineup. We don’t care as much about the scoring ceiling as we do for tournaments. In cash games, the floor is king and everything else takes a back seat on our checklist.
Often when trying to project the safety or ceiling of a quarterback, there are a few indicators we can look at to identify someone as either a cash game option or a tournament option. While Patrick Mahomes is an elite option almost every single week, if the Kansas City Chiefs have an implied team total of just 24.00 points (set by the Vegas consensus betting line) and are on the road against a tough defense, then he might not be ideal for a tournament if he’s the highest priced quarterback on the entire main slate. This is the term used to identify which group of contests you are entering. Generally, the main slate is the 1:00 PM EST kick off with the most games.
If another quarterback, let’s say, Aaron Rodgers, is several thousand dollars cheaper but has a Vegas team total of 31.00, then the potential for that quarterback to exceed expectations might make him a better point per point option over Patrick Mahomes. Even if Mahomes ends up with the highest score at the position, Rodgers might exceed his salary multiplier by 4.0 while Mahomes only multiplied his salary by 3.5 in relation to his score. This makes Rodgers the better value.
Often, team total is a nice indicator of who the best options are on the slate in regards to their scoring ceiling. In this scenario, Mahomes probably would have been the tournament option due to the insecurity of him significantly multiplying his salary on a point per point basis, while Rodgers would have been an excellent cash game option due to his strong team total and cheaper price point, even though he likely would not outscore Mahomes.
One underused strategy in DFS is targeting quarterbacks who have strong statistical splits based on the environment they are playing in. Teams generally score more points at home than when they are on the road. This is even more evident when looking at quarterbacks that play in a dome or on a turf field (Drew Brees and Matt Ryan both have drastic home and road splits). When we start to identify trends, whether long term or short term, of quarterbacks that play better on turf or grass, or home or away, indoor or outdoors, we can begin to identify value and opportunity.
While Matt Ryan might be priced at $8,000 and has a bad game on the road in Week 4, his price tag might drop significantly for Week 5 due to the bad performance. If we see that in Week 5 he is at home and is now just $7,600, we have an elite value option at a very affordable price tag because we know he scores a significantly more amount of points at home over the course of his career (even more so when playing in a dome).
How to Use the Quarterback in Lineups
Stacking is a very important piece of using your quarterback in tournaments. While we don’t really want to stack players in cash games due to the added correlation which subsequently raises the scoring ceiling but lowers the scoring floor, we do want to stack them in tournaments for the same reason. Remember, tournaments are all about scoring as many points as you can while cash games are all about creating the safest quality lineup that you can afford.
Standard Stack With a Quarterback
There are many ways to stack your quarterback in a tournament so I will highlight a few of the most popular and most used strategies. The first one is to use a quarterback and his favorite pass catcher in the same DFS lineup. For instance, if we selected Deshaun Watson as our quarterback we likely would stack him with DeAndre Hopkins (the Ballers have him ranked as their top wide receiver in 2019).
The idea is that anytime that Watson throws a pass to Hopkins you get the correlation points for both positions. If he hits him on a 15-yard out pattern, you get the points for the 15 yards passing for Watson and the 15 yards receiving and reception for Hopkins. If Watson connects for a touchdown with Hopkins then you get the correlating passing yards, receiving yards, reception, passing touchdown, and receiving touchdown as well as any bonus points that a DFS site might have in their scoring.
While the potential for a massive game is obvious if the two connect multiple times, the chance of a really poor score for your lineup is possible if Watson and/or Hopkins have a bad game. This is why you often don’t want two skilled players from the same offense to be in your cash game lineup.
Game Theory Stacking With a Quarterback
Another option that you can use in large-field tournaments (Contest Selection 101) is to use your quarterback with one of their top receiving options and running it back with one of the top pass-catchers from the opposing team. If we roll out Aaron Rodgers with Davante Adams, we would also use the top receiving option from their opponent. For instance, if the Green Bay Packers were playing against the New Orleans Saints, we would use Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Michael Thomas from the Saints.
While this has immense potential if the game turns into a track meet and the quarterbacks are just reigning bombs are all over the field, there will be a possibility that your lineup ends up near the bottom of the standings if Alvin Kamara steals a few touchdowns on the ground and Rodgers has a down game. However, you put yourself in a great position in a large tournament to make some serious money if the positive scenario comes to fruition.
If we want to take it one step further and create a very unique stack that likely will be very low-owned in tournaments with those massive prize pools, we can begin to game theorize potential outcomes for the actual NFL contest. For instance, if we want to trot out Rodgers with Adams as our stack, we can theorize that the two of them have a massive game and take a big lead right out of the gate. If this were to happen, game theory suggests the Saints would have to play from behind and likely would throw the ball and be in hurry-up mode for most of the game. We can then take it one step further and theorize that the Packers are going to take away Michael Thomas from the passing game with bracket coverage, leading to more dump-off passes and plenty of open space for the open field wizard, Alvin Kamara.
While this is often a very high upside stack with a very low-ownership rate in tournaments, it’s quite possibly the riskiest way to invest your money. However, as Michael Scott once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take“.
Team Stacking With a Quarterback
If we see that the Saints have a Vegas projected team total of 31.00 points and they are by far the highest projected team for the week, we can team stack the Saints in a tournament. In this scenario, we would use Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara all in the same lineup in the hopes that the Saints score way more than their team total suggests.
A team that often was stacked in tournaments in 2018 was the Kansas City Chiefs. The public would use Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and either Travis Kelce or whatever running back was healthy and going to be the lead back for that week. If the Chiefs scored 45 points against their opponent, the likelihood of every player exceeding value was great. When this happens, it was hard to win a tournament without having the trio of Chiefs selected.
This seems like a foolproof strategy each and every week. However, keep in mind that the best players and teams are often the most expensive. Circling all the way back to the beginning of the article, price-point should always be considered when identifying who you want to use in your lineup. If you pay a fortune for your team stack and don’t have enough money leftover to get quality players that have solid potential, then even if the trio of Chiefs go haywire you might not make up the difference of points per dollar at the rest of your positions.
If you made it this far into the article then you are already ahead of the competition. Your desire to learn and compete in the Daily Fantasy Football arena has put you in the right place. Have no fear, the Ballers have you covered each and every week of the NFL season right through the Conference Championship rounds. There are so many DFS slates for every single week of the NFL season and the amount of content we have planned for the #FootClan is enormous. If you’re looking to elevate your game in 2019, look no further. Check out the Ultimate DFS Pass!