NFL DFS: Week 1 QB Report

Shawn Childs

Patrick Mahomes, KC (DK – $7,200/FD – $8,700)

Last yearMahomes was the greatest QB in the land thanks to his 30.15 Fantasy points per game. His floor was 25.0 Fantasy points in 13 of his 18 games played while delivering over 35.00 Fantasy points in four contests (three on the road). In his home game vs. Jacksonville, he passed for 313 yards and no passing TDs leading to 20.95 Fantasy points, which was helped by his rushing TD. The Jaguars ranked eighth in the NFL defending QBs in 2018 (18.84 Fantasy points per game) with eight QBs scoring fewer than 17.00 Fantasy points. I expect Jacksonville to regain their swag on defense while their offense keeps Mahomes on the sidelines for long periods. I hate to say it, but the Chiefs’ offense players look to be against the grain type options in Week 1 or traps for the Fantasy owners building their teams based on 2018 stats.

Jameis Winston, SF (DK – $6,600/FD – $7,500)

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Last year Tampa led the NFL in passing yards (5,338) with Winston having success in two games vs. the Falcons (395/4 and 345/4). In his other three contests with over 300 yards passing, he finished with only three combined TDs. The Bucs played better with Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center early in the year (1,230 passing yards in three games with 12 TDs). The change in coaching staff should be positive, but Tampa did lose two of their top four WRs (DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries). They still have three elite options in the passing game. The 49ers ended with the seventh-worst defense in Fantasy leagues (23.30 Fantasy points) vs. the QB position. Seven opposing QBs scored more than 25.00 Fantasy points. My preseason research suggests that San Fran will be improved after adding Nick Bosa and Dee Ford to their defensive line, but both players are on the injury report headed into the last week in August. Viable, but I don’t like his higher salary at DraftKings.

Cam Newton, CAR (DK – $6,500/FD – $7,900)

Over the previous three seasons, Newton lost his luster in the Fantasy market after setting a career-high in TDs (45) and combined yards (4,473) in 2015. Last year he did move to a higher level in his completion rate (67.9), which was helped greatly by all the tosses to Christian McCaffery. In the third preseason game, he suffered a foot injury that doesn't look bad enough to keep him out of Week 1. The Rams have one of the top offenses in the league, which helps the battle on the scoreboard. They ranked 13th vs. QBs in 2018. The Rams have the top pass rusher in the game, but they did get beat three times by QBs last year (MIN - 36.90, NOR - 35.90, and KAN - 45.70). If he’s cleared to play, Newton has four viable options in the passing game. Need more info.

Baker Mayfield, CLE (DK – $6,400/FD – $7,900)

The rise of the Browns is set to air on September 9th. Mayfield is a next-generation QB with a gunslinger mentality. He has two elite WRs (Odel Beckham and Jarvis Landry) plus an explosive RB (Nick Chubb). This combination points to plenty of points on the scoreboard. In two tough games (BAL and HOU) on the road late in the year in 2018, he passed for 397 yards and a TD and 376 yards and three TDs. Tennessee played better than expected defending QBs (6th) last year, but they did allow over 25.00 Fantasy points to the QB position in five games. Positioned to payoff while being in a tougher price range in salary. My gut says, “push all in.”

Russell Wilson, SEA (DK – $6,300/FD – $8.200)

Wilson slipped to 9th in QB scoring in 2018 after leading his position in scoring in 2017. In three of the previous four seasons, he finished with 35 TDs or more three times. His pass attempts (427) slipped to last in the NFL while also losing his value in rushing TDs (none in 2018). I expected improvement in his receiving core, but Seatle already lost D.K. Metcalf and David Moore to start the year. The Seahawks are a running team, but they will score via the air in close. The Bengals had the worst pass defense over the first 11 weeks (eight teams scored over 25.0 Fantasy points. Cinci did suffer a ton of injuries on defense last year while holding QBs to 20.0 Fantasy points or fewer in three times over the final six weeks of the year. I get the attraction, but the run game will be featured in Week 1.

Jared Goff, LAR (DK – $6,200/FD – $7,800)

Goff ended up being a winning value QB (23.41 FPPG – 6th) in 2018 even with Todd Gurley stealing plenty of rushing TDs (17) in the red zone. He finished with about the league average in passes (561), but he gained 8.4 yards per pass attempt as a result of 19.0 percent of his completions gaining 20 yards or more. Over the first 11 contests of the year, Goff had 27 TDs with about 320 yards passing per game. His value was much less over his final eight games (playoffs included), which led to only eight combined TDs and 231 passing yards per game. The Gurley injury had to be a big part of his regression. Carolina ranked 22nd in the league defending QBs (22.26 Fantasy points per game) with only two disaster games (ATL - 34.40 and GB - 39.10). The Rams’ offense has plenty of firepower on offense, which makes them an upside ride of the Panthers in force the issue on the scoreboard. 

Matt Ryan, ATL (DK – $6,100/FD – $8,000)

The bridesmaid QB last year was Mr. Ryan who finished second in QB scoring (26.02) in four-point TDs leagues. Patrick Mahomes beat him by just over four Fantasy points per week. His success tied to a rebound in pass attempts (608) compared to 2016 (534) and 2017 (529) with the key change being the emergence of Calvin Ridley (64/821/10). Ryan had a great first half to the year (five games with over 30.00 Fantasy points) helped by five of those games coming at home. Other than one tough matchup (BAL - 131/1) on the road over the second half of the year, his overall value remained strong in November and December (2,239 passing yards and 17 TDs). The Vikings were the third-best team in the NFL defending QBs in 2018 with nine opponents scoring fewer than 15.00 Fantasy points per game. Minnesota did struggle to defend the pass in back-to-back games in Week 3 (BUF – 29.70 and LAR – 43.95). Not ideal on the road, but the Falcons will need to pass the pass to win the game.

Lamar Jackson, BAL (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,400)

Over the final eight games for the Ravens in 2018, Jackson passed for 1,308 yards and seven TDs while dominating on the ground (128/610/4). In essence, a Fantasy owner almost ended up with a RB playing the QB position. In the daily games, rushing yards count 2.5 times more than passing yards helping the value of Jackson (about 20.00 Fantasy points per game at DraftKings). This season Baltimore can't hang him out to dry in the run game while needing him to show growth as a passer. Ideally, 200 yards in the air and 50 yards on the ground would lead to a productive season if he could deliver league average TDs (24). Miami struggled to defend a running QB in both of their games vs. the Bills (9/135 and 9/95/2) in 2018. The Dolphins also struggled vs. QBs over the last six games last year (29.25, 33.05, 30.20, and 43.70 Fantasy points). Very winnable matchup as long as the RBs don’t steal his goal line thunder. 

Philip Rivers, LAC (DK – $5,900/FD – $7,500)

The Chargers enter this season with a stable of two stud WRs (Keenan Allen and Mike Williams) plus an upside TE (Hunter Henry). Rivers will throw plenty of balls to the RB position as well, but they do need their top RB (Melvin Gordon) in the fold. The passing game in LA ranked 11th in Fantasy points (21.38 per game). Rivers passed for over 300 yards in six games while finishing with three TDs in five contents. The Colts played much better than expected on defense last year, which led to a push to 11th in Fantasy points allowed to QBs. They did struggle to defend the pass in three games (35.85, 33.05, and 31.35 Fantasy points) over the first half of the year. Six of their final eight opponents scored fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points per game. A healthy Andrew Luck would make this game more attractive for me as well as Melvin Gordon in the backfield. 

Dak Prescott, DAL (DK – $5,900/FD – $7,500)

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The buzz for Prescott's value is tied to the health of Amari Cooper (foot issue), and the Cowboys ability to get a deal done with Ezekiel Elliott. Last year Prescott pushed his way to 12th in QB scoring (21.17 per game). Over the final nine games of the regular season, he completed 71.3 percent of his passes leading to 274 passing yards and two TDs per game. In his two games vs. the Giants, he passed for 587 yards with five TDs highlighted by his game in New York in Week 17 (387/4). The Giants ended up 19th defending QBs with five teams scoring over 25.00 Fantasy points. I expect New York to be better on defense as the season moves on in 2019, but Dallas may still have the short field on a couple of drives helping Prescott's scoring ability. If Cooper is good to go and Elliott signs, he’s a live play in all formats.

Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (DK – $5.800/FD – $7,200)

Garoppolo hasn't shined in the preseason, but his game should bump up a notch when the lights go on in September. He missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL. Last year the 49ers QBs passed for 4,247 yards and 26 TDs. San Fran improved their WR talent, but it will need some time to develop. Tampa allowed 24.48 Fantasy points (29th) per game to QBs in 2018 with three teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The Bucs have tons of risk on defense, but a change of coaching staff should add some spunk to their game in their home opener. Garroppolo has the talent to surprise while flying under the radar in this matchup.

Carson Wentz, PHI (DK – $5,700/FD – $7,600)

Last year I chased Wentz around in multiple weeks in the daily games with each investment ending in a donation. He has a top TE plus depth at WR, which points to explosiveness in the passing game. In his 11 games played in 2018, Wentz passed for 3,074 yards and 21 TDs while failing to deliver one game with over 300 yards and three TDs. He did have success in his one matchup vs. the Redskins (306/2). Washington was league average defending QBs (20.96 Fantasy points per game) last season with two teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The challenge for Philly will be a fight on the scoreboard by the Redskins. Wentz should be one of the top QB plays on the week.

Josh Allen, BUF (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,900)

Allen may not be ready to be an impactful passer in the NFL, but he has the talent to be one of the better rushing QBs. In his 12 games game played, he rushed for 631 yards and eight TDs on 89 carries, which works out to an impressive 7.1 yards per carry. He gained only 6.5 yards per pass attempt with a weak completion rate (52.8). Allen has never passed for over 250 yards in any game. In his one start vs. the Jets, he threw for 206 yards with no TDs and two Ints at home, but Allen did beat New York with his legs (9/101/1). New York struggled vs. QBs last year (23.53 Fantasy points per game – 27th) with one disaster game (GB – 47.30 Fantasy points per game). Six other teams scored between 25.00 and 30.00 Fantasy points against the Jets. New York is in the process of rebuilding the first level of their defense while expecting improvement defending the run, which should slow down Allen on the ground. The Bills added WR depth in the offseason, which helps both their deep passing game and their ability to extend drives with some short completions. I’d instead wait for a home game before betting on growth in the passing game. The Jets will have a full to summer to plan for Allen’s running ability.

Kyle Murray, ARI (DK – $5,600/FD – $7,300)

Murray will be the most intriguing quarterback to follow in Week 1 of the season. He looked sharp in his first preseason appearance (6-for-7 for 44 yards) while getting the ball out quickly and on time. Arizona kept in the pocket to minimize his risk of injury. The following week the Cardinals' offensive line struggled in pass protection leading to a disappointing showing (3-for-8 for 12 yards). On opening day, he’ll have access to the full playbook along with his legs to create big plays in both the run and pass game. His movements and arm have a Patrick Mahomes feel. I expect him to hit the ground running, which will lead to a buzz moment in his NFL debut. The Lions were average defending QBs in 2018 while showing a higher ranking than expected vs. the run and pass. Possible 300 combined yards with three TDs should make him a solid play in the daily games.

Kirk Cousins, MIN (DK – $5,500/FD – $7,400)

Watching fantasy owners consistenly overlook Cousins in drafts in the season-long drafts in July and August has been a huge surprise. He has two top WRs (Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs) that get drafted in the third round on most PPR formats plus pass-catching talent at RB and TE. His offensive line does have some risk, but Cousins has been a top ten QB in 2016 (5th), 2017 (5th) and 2018 (10th) while expecting growth in his second season with the Vikings. His completion rate (70.1) is top shelf with sneaky value in rushing TDs (14 over the previous four years). In 2018, he passed for 300-plus yards in five games plus four contests with three TDs or more. Fantasy owners would like to see a floor of two TDs per game this year (he had six games with only one TDs in 2018). Last year the Falcons were the worst team in the NFL vs. the QB position leading to four disaster games (31.95, 48.40, 36.65, and 34.55 Fantasy points). Injuries in 2018 did hurt the success of Atlanta’s defense. Cousins should have a high floor for his lower salary plus the talent to post a big game helped by Atlanta pushing them on the scoreboard. 

Matthew Stafford, DET (DK – $5,400/FD – $6,600)

Last year Stafford fell to 20th in the QB rankings in four-point TDs leagues. He averaged only 16.58 Fantasy points per game. Over the last nine games of the season, he threw only seven TDs with no games with over 275 yards passing. In his defense, the Lions traded Golden Tate plus Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson went down with injuries. Detriot drafted a pass-catching TE (T.J. Hockenson) in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft to help the depth of the receiving options in the passing game. Arizona will be without the top CB (Patrick Peterson) for multiple games in 2019 due to a suspension, which should be a win for Kenny Golladay. The Cardinals have risk in pass coverage while needing their top two linebackers to rush the QB. Stafford will be underrated at all sites early in 2019. I’ll wait for him to play at home, but his offensive talent is improved in 2019. 

Nick Foles, JAC (DK – $5,300/FD – $6,500)

Last year the Chiefs allowed over 26 points per game with the QB position averaging 24.25 Fantasy points per game. Kansas City's defense produced five impact Fantasy games for opposing QBs (34.20, 43.50, 29.90, 41.25, and 31.25 Fantasy points). Nick Foles should give the Jaguars stability at QB while adding a dimension to the deep passing game. His Super Bowl win for Philly along with his relief success again last year created his new starting opportunity. The Jaguars are built to play top defense while looking to run the ball with success. Foles should be a game manager with the ability to move the chains and take some shots over the long field. His matchup gives him a chance in the daily space, but game flow points to more success rushing the ball. If the Chiefs game plan to stop the run, Foles should have the green light to air the ball out. Gamblers swing.

Marcus Mariota, TEN (DK – $5,200/FD – $6.500)

Over the last two seasons covering 29 games, Mariota only has 24 passing TDs with plenty of failure in passes landing in the other team's arms (23 Ints). He came into the NFL as dual-threat QB (over 700 yards rushing in each year in college plus 29 rushing TDs in 41 games). Mariota has 11 career rushing TDs in his 56 games in the pros. Last year he set a career-high in his completion rate (68.9), but Mariota only averaged 180 yards passing per game. The Titans would love to pound the ball in the run game. They do have improvement and upside in the wide receiver with Corey Davis and A.J. Brown offering the talent to be future top 24 WRs. The Browns enter 2019 with high hopes with a developing offense, which may lead to a shootout type game if Tennessee's passing game makes a step forward. Cleveland ranked 21st in defending QBs (21.70 Fantasy points per game) in 2018 with only one team scoring more than 30.0 Fantasy points. The Titans will be without their starting left tackle (Taylor Lewan), which is a strike for their offense.

Sam Darnold, NYJ (DK – $5,100/FD – $6,700)

The Jets should be a much-improved on offense in 2019 with Le'Veon Bell added to the run game and Sam Darnold gaining a year of experience in the NFL. New York also brought in Jamison Crowder to help improve the short passing game. In 13 starts in his rookie season, Darnold could only muster 17 TDs while passing for over 300 yards in two contents (334/1 and 341/3). His completion rate was brutal from Week 3 to Week 9 (52.0 percent) when he tossed eight TDs and 11 Ints in seven games. After his injury, his accuracy improved (64.0 percent) leading to six TDs and one Int in his final four games. In his only start vs. the Bills on the road, he passed for 170 yards and one TD. Buffalo finished with the top defense vs. QBs (15.10 Fantasy points). Both teams will want to run the ball leading to a fast-moving clock and weakness in the Jets' passing output. Easy fade in the daily games.

Andy Dalton, CIN (DK – $5,000/FD – $6,500)

Dalton enters Week 1 without his top WR plus he plays a team that wants to run the ball as much as possible. In 2018, Dalton looked to be playing himself out of a starting career in the NFL after finishing with 2,566 yards passing in 11 games with 21 TDs. His best success came over a three-game stretch from Week 2 to Week 4 (954 passing yards and nine TDs). Over his final seven games, he averaged only 196 passing yards with ten TDs. Seattle ranked 12th in 2018 defending QBs (20.10 Fantasy points per game) with one team scoring over 30.00 Fantasy points. It’s tough to get excited about the Bengals’ passing game in Week 1. 

Eli Manning, NYG (DK – $5,000/FD – $6,400)

The 2019 season for Manning could turn in the wrong direction quickly if he struggles out of the gate. The New York fans will be pining for their new young QB (Daniel Jones). The Giants no longer have a special impact WR with Odell Beckham now banished to Cleveland. New York has an elite RB, which sets the stage for a change in the offensive flow. Last year Manning set a career-high in his completion rate (66.0) thanks to many passes going to Saquon Barkley (91 catches for 721 yards and four TDs on 121 targets). New York finished with 21 passing TDs while averaging 269 passing yards per game. Manning had 580 passing yards and three TDs in his two games vs. the Cowboys. Dallas had a top ten defense against QBs (19.39) in 2018 with no QB scoring over 26.00 Fantasy points. Let’s just say we have trust issues plus New York has questionable talent at WR behind Sterling Shepard. 

Case Keenum, WAS (DK – $4,900/FD – $6,200)

Keenum should start in Week 1 for the Redskins even with Dwayne Haskins being a much better option over the long haul. The Redskins don't have a WR of value in their starting lineup plus Jordan Reed is already battling a concussion issue. The Eagles finished 23rd against the QB position in 2018 with four teams deliver impact games from their QBs (35.10, 35.05, 31.95, and 40.85). My research points to risk in Philly's secondary, but Washington probably doesn't have the talent at QB or WR to make them pay in this matchup.

Josh Rosen, MIA (DK – $4,700/FD – $6,200)

The starting QB for the Dolphins in Week 1 remains a coin flip between Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Rosen is their future QB, which makes him my choice to start the year for Miami. Over 14 games in his rookie season, Rosen threw for 2,278 yards and 11 TDs. He tossed 14 Ints while failing to pass for over 255 yards in any game. The Ravens had the fourth-best defense against QBs last year. Too many question marks with no excitement at WR to draw me toward the Dolphins' starter in this matchup.