Wild Card Weekend Quarterback Matchups
We only have eight quarterbacks to choose from on this Wild Card Weekend DFS slate and I will be the first one to tell you it’s… ugly. Big Ben and Aaron Rodgers project to be the highest owned quarterbacks on the slate, while the rest of the QBs all have serious flaws to consider. We will see the exciting matchup of Connor Cook (in his first NFL start) against Brock Osweiler (who was previously benched). Then we will see Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson, who are both battling various injuries. Eli Manning is another option to consider, but we have to be perfectly honest in the fact that he has flat out stunk this season. And finally, we have Matt Moore, who is projected as a 10-point dog against the Steelers. Below are a few of these options and the relevant matchup information.
Ben Roethlisberger – The Chalk
By now, everyone and their grandmother has heard about Big Ben and his Home/Road splits. The guy has thrown multiple touchdown passes in every home game this season. On top of that, he only has one game at home with less than three touchdown passes. This came against Football Outsiders’ fourth-ranked passing defense, the New York Giants. Ben has a similar ceiling to Aaron Rodgers this weekend, as he showed us in Week 4 that he is capable of a 300-yard/five-touchdown game. However, Ben has the far and away better matchup this weekend.
The Dolphins have been atrocious over the last two weeks without Byron Maxwell in the lineup. Maxwell has graded out as the 10th-best cornerback in coverage this season, per Pro Football Focus. With him in the lineup, the Dolphins had gone 10 straight weeks without a 100-yard receiver. Then he missed Weeks 16 and 17, and the Dolphins gave up back-to-back 150-yard receiving games. They also gave up 605 yards passing and six touchdowns on only 72 attempts in those games. Tyrod Taylor can also thank the Dolphins for his first career 300-yard passing game. Byron Maxwell has not practiced this week and is expected to miss this game.
Rodgers, on the other hand, will face off against the New York Giants, who picked him off twice in Week 5 and have not given up more than two touchdown passes in a game this season. Roethlisberger should be the highest owned quarterback on this slate and for very good reason.
Russell Wilson – The Mid Tier
Russell Wilson has struggled. Yes, he tanked against the San Francisco 49ers. But, he has been much stronger at home in the second half of this season. In his last two home games, Russ has thrown at least three touchdown passes and has thrown a touchdown in each of his last four home games. He has also averaged almost seven rushing attempts over his last four home games. Those three atrocious games recently? Against Tampa Bay, Green Bay and San Francisco? All on the road. He is at home this weekend.
This week Russ will face off against a Detroit Lions defense that has surrendered nine touchdown passes over their last three games. The worst part is that those nine touchdowns came on only 87 attempts. That’s a touchdown pass once every 10 attempts. That’s very bad. Needless to say, they lost all three of those games. To start the season, the Lions allowed multiple touchdown passes over their first six games, as they looked to be one of the league’s worst passing defenses. From Week 7 to Week 14, the Lions began to play ball control offense and allowed only six touchdown passes over that span.
The Lions are also giving up rushing production over the last two weeks, as Rodgers and Prescott combined for 77 yards on 14 carries. This is meaningful, as Russell Wilson has averaged nearly six carries per game over the last seven weeks. He has also hinted he may remove the knee brace that he’s been wearing since his injury. At the very least, Wilson has said he will be wearing something less inhibiting. Wilson is in a great spot to save some salary from the expensive options.
Matthew Stafford – The Contrarian Play
Stafford will not be a popular play this weekend. He will probably be less than 10 percent owned across the industry. However, Stafford has shown the ability to produce big games this season and is at a reduced price. He is fresh off a big game in which he threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns against a struggling Packers secondary. This game is important because he seemed to be less limited by the finger than he had been in prior weeks. Obviously this could be a fluke and the injury could affect him this weekend, but I’m willing to role the dice on his lack of ownership.
The Seahawks defense is scaring people away, but in reality they have struggled since losing Earl Thomas. They have allowed a passer rating over 100 in back-to-back weeks to Carson Palmer and Colin Kaepernick. Not exactly murderer’s row. And the week before Jared Goff’s expected flop, the Seahawks gave up three touchdown passes to Aaron Rodgers. This is not the same Seahawks defense that it was with Thomas in the lineup. Stafford makes for an interesting pivot from not only the high owned quarterbacks, but from Zach Zenner, who is likely to be the second or third highest owned running back on this slate. I will have some shares of Stafford this weekend.
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