Week 15 Rankings & Game Flowbotics
Superflex DFS is a Game Changer.
FanDuel literally changed their game by introducing two-quarterback daily fantasy sports to their Week 15 slate. Quarterback lineup decisions just got twice as interesting. We get to start two! See also: dos, duece, duet, duo, double, dyad. Superflex DFS needs to be celebrated. But before you pick a pair of passers, dive into the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet:
Editor’s Note: If you need a primer on the Flowbotics spreadsheet, check out this previous rankings article.
Seasonal 2QB lineup-setters can find my Week 15 rankings below, but for the space between, let’s take a look at a few ways to couple quarterbacks within the context of FanDuel’s Superflex salary structure.
The Studly Stack
There are a few big over/unders this week, but none as big as the 53.5-point total for New England and Pittsburgh. Chasing those points with a stack of Tom Brady ($10,100) and Ben Roethlisberger ($8,600) could be a winning proposition. Brady faces a Pittsburgh defense that looked lost without Ryan Shazier against Baltimore, and Big Ben get’s a Patriots defense ranked 24th in pass defense DVOA.
You won’t have much salary left to spend at other positions, though. Brady in the most expensive quarterback on the slate, and Roethlisberger is the sixth-most expensive. One potential running back value to help Tom and Ben fit is Jay Ajayi ($6,100) against the Giants. New York ranks 25th in rush defense DVOA, and the Eagles should run more with Nick Foles under center. Further backfield bargain shopping yields Jonathan Stewart ($5,800), a hot hand who loses value if Aaron Rodgers plays, and Peyton Barber ($5,200), who should lead the Bucs’ RBs in snaps for the third week in a row against an Atlanta team ranked 30th in rush defense DVOA and 24th against rushers as receivers.
Rob Gronkowski is probably too expensive to include with a stack of Brady and Roethlisberger, but the price is right on Jesse James ($5,200). If you play the Outlaw, you’re hoping he can sneak into the end zone at least once while the Patriots have their hands full with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. James’ 10-catch blowup against Baltimore in Week 14 was an outlier performance. His previous high yardage mark this season was 42, and the Patriots defend tight ends well. They rank ninth in DVOA against the position, holding them to only 44 yards per game (compared to a league average of 51.8 yards per game).
You can avoid dumpster diving at tight end with this quarterback paring if you take a mid-tier value-mining approach at receiver, similar to the one described above for running back. Mohamed Sanu ($6,000) is priced favorably considering his matchup. Tampa Bay has DVOA’s second-worst pass defense. They allow above average passes per game (7.4) and yards per game (68.1) to number two wideouts, and Sanu has scored a touchdown in four of his past seven games. Another cheap option I’m intrigued by is Brandon Coleman ($4,800), who could see extra volume if Ted Ginn Jr. misses this week’s game with a rib injury. There isn’t much incentive for New Orleans to play Ginn against a Jets team lead on offense by Bryce Petty, which bodes well for a Coleman volume boost, but that sword cuts both ways. If New Orleans runs over New York, it might be the Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram show, with Coleman relegated to a bit part.
Too Many Keys on the Key Ring
If Brady and Roethlisberger aren’t your bag, you can go the other way and try to unlock expensive non-quarterbacks by scraping the bottom of the quarterback barrel. Like a movie character playing out a tired gag, searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack of keys on a ring, you have a lot of options to sift through at the low-end of quarterback this week:
- Nick Foles ($7,200) at NYG: He isn’t Carson Wentz, but the Giants rank 29th in defensive DVOA and 25th in pass defense DVOA.
- Jameis Winston ($7,100) vs. ATL: The Bucs are big underdogs, but at least their game features Sunday’s second-highest over/under at 48 points.
- Blaine Gabbert ($7,000) at WAS: Here’s one I would avoid. Washington’s defense ranks 7th in Adjusted Sack Rate and 11th in pass defense DVOA. Defenses aren’t used in FanDuel’s Superflex contests, but consider D.C.’s defenders in other formats this week.
- Andy Dalton ($7,000) at MIN: Another one to steer clear of, as Minnesota’s defense allows the fourth-fewest fantasy points to QBs.
- Joe Flacco ($6,900) at CLE: He’s coming off his two best games of the season, and the Browns’ defense just made Brett Hundley look like a fantasy superstar. Flacco could very well let us down if the Ravens play too conservatively as 7-point favorites, but that’s part of why he’s a bargain in the first place.
- Mitchell Trubisky ($6,900) at DET: Volume is always a worry with Trubisky, but he posted 14.46 points on 30 attempts against the Lions in their last meeting.
- Jay Cutler ($6,800) at BUF: Cutler looked great against New England, but be wary of the warm-weather Dolphins traveling to Buffalo on a short week.
- DeShone Kizer ($6,600) at CLE: Josh Gordon is a boon to Cleveland’s passing attack, but Kizer was picking up steam even before Gordon returned to action. Take his last six games, remove the performance against Jacksonville, and Kizer is left with a mark of 17.8 points per game (that includes tilts against good Vikings and Chargers defenses). In the end, I probably won’t have the stomach to play Kizer, but what if Baltimore’s defense is truly damaged without cornerback Jimmy Smith? With a moderately good game, Kizer could be a huge value at his price.
Choose wisely, for while the true grail brings you life, the false grail will take it from you. Hopefully, though, you can steal some of your lost life back with high-priced options at running back, wide receiver, and tight end. Rob Gronkowski ($8,500) is one of my favorites this week. The tight end position is a mess, and Gronk has destroyed the Steelers in five career regular season meetings. Check out his stats against Pittsburgh per the RotoViz Game Splits App:
Other non-QB studs worth considering are Alvin Kamara ($9,100) and Mark Ingram ($8,300) in what should be a blowout against the Jets. I also like Todd Gurley ($8,400), under the assumption of locked-in volume as the Rams aim to limit Russell Wilson’s opportunities. At wide receiver, the three steepest salaries all have great matchups. Antonio Brown ($9,300) faces a Patriots team allowing 10.2 yards per pass to number one wideouts (second-most in the NFL). Keenan Allen ($8,500) has averaged 12-plus targets over his past four games and now faces a Kansas City defense allowing 91.9 yards per game to top receivers (25.5 yards per game above the NFL average). Lastly, Julio Jones ($8,400) takes on Tampa’s 31st-ranked pass defense, a unit allowing the most fantasy points per game to wide receivers.
Underperformers or Undervalued?
Marcus Mariota ($8,000) and Derek Carr ($7,500) have reverted to playing like rookies this season. I worry that injuries are to blame for their struggles, but those poor performances should drive low ownership in our two-quarterback DFS contests. I will mess around with both Mariota and Carr in my lineups, hoping to find contrarian value. Each offers interesting stacking opportunities in tournaments.
Mariota can be paired with Jimmy Garoppolo ($7,600) and various receivers from either side of the ball. I like targeting this particular game because both secondaries are bad, and both quarterbacks have underperformed fantasy expectations recently. Sure, Garoppolo has been praised for his efficiency and leading the Niners to a couple wins, but he’s not scoring many touchdowns. That could certainly change this week against a Titans’ defense allowing the ninth-most passing touchdowns this season. Meanwhile, Mariota’s lack of recent rushing production may not be a liability against a San Francisco team so soft to the pass. The Niners rank 29th in pass defense DVOA and 25th or worst in DVOA against all wide receiver types. The odds of it happening are low, but this matchup is a potential shootout. If you can craft enough correlation between the two quarterbacks and some of their receivers, you should have plenty of salary left for more obvious plays.
Carr is tougher to trust than Mariota. The Raiders 11th-ranked pass offense (are we sure that’s not a type, Football Outsiders?) has a middling matchup against Dallas’ 22nd-ranked pass defense. The loss of Amari Cooper hurts too, but one silver lining for the silver-and-black quarterback is his uptick in production while playing in the Black Hole. Here are Carr’s 2017 home-road splits, again per RotoViz:
Jared Cook ($6,100) should be the primary beneficiary of Cooper’s assumed absence. The Cowboys rank 27th in DVOA against tight ends. With that said, the safer play is probably to roll out Carr with receivers from the other team. Dez Bryant ($7,000) has scored in two straight games and now faces the worst defense in DVOA at defending lead wideouts. Jason Witten ($5,700) has also scored in two straight, and the Raiders allow the fourth-most yards per game to tight ends, as well as the fifth-most yards per pass to the position.
I’ll have more nuggets of information from the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet to share in tomorrow’s “A-to-Z” article. To hold you over until then, here are my rankings for Week 15.