Week 1 Advanced Quarterback Matchups
TwoQBers every week are stuck with very tough start/sit decisions at the quarterback position. This article intends to help you make those weekly decisions. … We want to take the guesswork out of the equation when you’re staring at two, or three, or four different quarterbacks, wondering who to start in that QB2 slot. Each week, quarterbacks will be examined using various statistics and metrics to pinpoint plus matchups that should give them a boost over their normal weekly output. Below are a few such options for Week 1.
The 2015 Saints ended the season ranked 32nd against the pass, according to Football Outsiders DVOA. To make matters worse, they gave up 48.1% more production than the average, according to DVOA, which was 11% higher than the 31st ranked passing defense. The Saints’ passing defense was atrocious.
We also need to consider Vegas lines every week. Though they aren’t perfect, they can be indicators of high scoring games. Currently, the over/under for this game is sitting at 51.5 points , which is the highest of the week. While it is a negative that the Raiders are on the road, Vegas also projects this game as a pick’em – which means they don’t see the Saints having a particularly big home field advantage. And to top it off, the Raiders were the 8th pass heaviest team in 2015, according to SportingCharts.com.
When we add all of this up, Derek Carr makes for a top quarterback option this weekend.
Mathew Stafford was a tale of two players in 2015. According to his Rotoviz Game Splits, he averaged five points per game more in the second half of the season, with Jim Bob Cooter, than he did in the first half without him at offensive coordinator. Luckily for us, JBC is back for 2016.
Stafford is a polarizing player and someone many people struggle to use – but this week there is no reason to shy away from him. The Indianapolis Colts will be without their top shutdown cornerback in Vontae Davis and have replaced him with almost-retired Antonio Cromartie. And to add insult to injury, both Patrick Robinson and Darius Butler, their other two starting corners, have been banged up and were in jeopardy of missing the game at one point. This game should be an absolute shootout and we can expect Stafford to put up some solid numbers.
This offseason, I did a study on “funnel defenses,” which is a team that has a much better rushing defense than they do a passing offense. In theory, this forces the opponent to throw on their weak secondary. In the end, there was only one team that truly forced this to happen: the Pittsburgh Steelers. As seen below, Pittsburgh allowed quarterbacks to score 54.593 points more than their season long DraftKings averages or 3.41 points over their average DK points per week. This was the highest funnel defense in the league last year.
We must also remember that Cousins has both of his top-two weapons healthy to start this season. His passing splits with and without Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson are very important. He is an absolute stud when they are both on the field and it is super important to take advantage of these Rotoviz GameSplits while DJax and Reed are both healthy.
While the Steelers were the true funnel defense of 2015, the Ravens also provided a solid boost to the quarterbacks they played against. Baltimore allowed opposing quarterbacks to score 34.665 points more than their season long DraftKings averages, or an additional 2.166 points per game.
Baltimore attempted to upgrade their secondary by adding Eric Weddle, but their biggest concern was their pass rush. Unfortunately, it’s not going to get much better this week for the Ravens, as Elvis Dumervil is unlikely to play and Terrell Suggs is returning from an Achilles injury.
The main concern for Tyrod is that they get an early lead and take the foot off the gas. However, Vegas projects Baltimore as a 3-point favorite and the Bills defense is more average than they are elite. We should expect this game to stay close enough for Tyrod to put up a decent fantasy line.
Brock looked phenomenal this preseason while throwing to a full arsenal of weapons. The starting trio of DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller looks to be much more potent than anyone ever expected. Fuller was getting open at will this preseason, Braxton was making highlight reel catches in the middle of the field, and Nuk is… well Nuk.
I highlighted both of his starting receivers in my weekly FantasyLabs WR/CB article, mainly because the Bears may be missing multiple cornerbacks this weekend. Kyle Fuller recently had knee surgery and even if he plays, he is unlikely to be 100%. The other starting cornerbacks, Tracy Porter and Bryce Callahan, have both been on the injury report all of this week.
This defense finished as the 32nd ranked rushing defense according to DVOA in 2015. Chicago spent all offseason upgrading their front seven, but neglected to improve the secondary, which ranked 23rd overall. As long as the Texans don’t manage to score a defensive touchdown, Osweiler should be able to do some work against this defense.
Each week I plan to make a reach at quarterback, and this week that reach is going to be Carson Wentz. The rookie secon-overall pick of the Philadelphia Eagles can’t possibly ask for a better matchup to start the season (other than maybe the Saints). The Browns just promoted one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL, Jamar Taylor, to start on the outside and released their best pass rusher, Paul Kruger. With a defense that looked better on paper in 2015, the Browns finished as DVOA’s 27th ranked passing defense.
Using Wentz is not for the faint of heart, as we literally know nothing about Carson Wentz as an NFL player, other than a short stint in the preseason. Ultimately, even if Wentz is unable to produce great numbers through the air, he has a backup plan. Wentz was a solid running quarterback in college, and put up some decent rushing totals in his final two years, as shown from Sports Reference below. Rookie quarterbacks tend to rely on their legs when they get in trouble and that is a huge added benefit to using him this week against a terrible Browns defense.