What a start to the NFL season. TwoQBs poster child Alex Smith dropped 368 yards and 4 TDs on the defending champs, who were supposed to go 19-0 and probably have the best duo of starting corners in the game. No biggie. Tom Brady threw zero touchdowns in a game where the Patriots were favored by 9 and 69 points were scored. The random number generator of the NFL proves once again that the QB position can be a complete crap-shoot at times, and all us DFS players can do is squint really hard and guide this Titanic through the heavy fog. As for the rest of this column, ever week I will list my top GPP quarterback and top Cash Game quarterback to use in your DFS lineups on DraftKings, and I’ll also discuss a signal-caller I’m avoiding. Below are this week’s options.
Cash Games – Russell Wilson ($6,900)
Wilson is the fifth-most expensive QB on the board, but with him you are getting an extremely high floor and ceiling player in a perfect spot. Green Bay vs Seattle is Vegas’ highest total of the week at 51 and the Packers are only favored by 3, which means the oddsmakers have the Packers completely even with Seahawks in their power rankings (home field advantage is worth 3 points). What this means is that both teams will score plenty of points, and keep their proverbial foot on the gas the entire way. With home field advantage in the playoffs at stake as well, the likelihood of some crazy stats coming out of this game is high. Wilson is 100 percent healthy now after a down, injury-riddled 2016 (high ankle sprain in Week 1, which led to his worst rushing output of his career by a large margin). With fantasy points on the ground and through the air, keeping up with Aaron Rodgers, and the highest point total of the week, Wilson is as safe as you’re going to get at the QB position to record a top-five week.
GPP – Matthew Stafford ($6,100)
I laughed as hard as anyone when news broke that Stafford was the highest paid player in NFL history at slightly more than $27 million per year. While several QBs will surpass that number starting next season, it’s worth noting Stafford is 29 and really just entering his prime as an NFL signal-caller. Stafford’s transformation from mistake-prone gunslinger to efficient technician, complementing the rules of today’s NFL, should be applauded. Not many quarterbacks of Stafford’s pedigree are able to make that type of foundation-altering change to their game. That being said, this play is a mashup of public perception and an assuredly low-ownership/high-upside combo.
The Lions are getting no love from the bettors, opening at -2.5 and currently +2 (that’s crazy; take the Lions moneyline) so this it not a popular pick at all, which is obviously what you want in GPPs. The other, more obvious thing scaring people away from Stafford is the Cardinals defense. Yes, they’re stacked. Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu are obviously two of the best in the game, I get it. However, the way Stafford now plays (exploiting matchups, making high-percentage throws to the open guy a la Brady) makes this an easier pill to swallow. With Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, Theo Riddick, and Ameer Abdullah, Stafford has more weapons than he’s ever had to put up some big stats this week and is candidate to put up some of those heralded Alex Smith, elite QB1 stats.
QB to Avoid – Matt Ryan ($6,900)
Atlanta going into Chicago has trap game written all over it. Expect this to be a much closer and lower scoring game than expected. Dome team on grass and Super Bowl hangover aside, the Bears could have the most underrated defense in the league. With an extremely good preseason showing and some tough luck in 2016 with injuries and suspensions, the Bears will not be the cakewalk they have been in recent years. Offensively, it will be nearly impossible for the Falcons to replicate their success of 2016 (seventh-most points in NFL history) and a downgrade from Kyle Shanahan to Steve Sarkisian (great offensive mind for college, but will in translate to NFL?) has to hurt Matty Ice’s chances of elite production. Take the under, take the Bears +7, and don’t be surprised to see Chicago pull off a win.