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How to Pick a QB

by Derek "Notorious Farnsworth
Updated On: December 3, 2018, 6:02 pm ET

The quarterback may be the single most important position in weekly fantasy football. With only one roster spot on FanDuel, you have to hit on your quarterback selection each and every week. Not only do quarterbacks provide a higher ceiling than any other position, they also provide a consistent source of fantasy points, which is essential for success in cash games. Here are the quarterback traits that I target each week.

Favorable Matchup

The simplest way to look at a quarterback’s matchup is to look at the defense vs. position (DvP) rankings each week. The DvP rankings tell you how many fantasy points each team is giving up to quarterbacks relative to the rest of the league. The higher the DvP ranking is, the more favorable the matchup is for the quarterback. When analyzing these rankings, make sure that they are set up based on FanDuel’s NFL scoring system. 

While DvP rankings are certainly useful, they don’t tell the entire story. Two of the more underrated statistics that I like to look at each week are the opponent’s pass rush and pass coverage rankings. Teams that fail to put pressure on the quarterback are more prone to defensive lapses in the secondary. A defense with a non-existent pass rush also helps keeps your quarterback upright for the majority of the game. Pass coverage grades are also useful, as they are a good indicator of a quarterback’s potential to make plays down field. ProFootballFocus and Football Outsiders both have innovative stats that you should incorporate into your weekly research routine.

Projected Team Score

Most people that play weekly fantasy football analyze the Vegas lines each week. They are one of the better tools that we have in fantasy football, as they are free and are very telling as to how the game flow is expected to go for each contest. In addition to looking at the line and the total, doing a simple calculation will give you each team’s projected score for the week. Simply take the total for the game and divide it by two. Then take the line for the game and divide it by two. For the favorite, add it to the first number and for the underdog, subtract it from the first number. For example, if the Colts are favored by six over the Texans in a game that features a total of 48 points, here are their projected scores.

The Colts would be projected to score 27 points = (48/2) + (6/2)
The Texans would be projected to score 21 points = (48/2) – (6/2)

The higher a team’s projected total, the more fantasy points we can expect from the players on that team to score. That said, you don’t want to target quarterbacks whose production may be affected adversely by game flow. Teams that are up big obviously don’t throw the ball nearly as often as teams that get down big and are forced to air it out. The ideal situation is to find a quarterback in a matchup that is expected to be a back-and-forth shootout.

Solid Offensive Line

A team’s offensive line is one of the most overlooked aspects in fantasy football. Everyone knows who the best offensive players are in the NFL, but there is little emphasis on the offensive line that makes it all happen. Each week, I make sure that my quarterback has a healthy (and effective) offensive line in front of him.

At the end of the day, if the offensive line can’t protect the quarterback, it doesn’t matter how favorable the matchup is. A great example of this was Matt Ryan in Week 6. He had one of the best matchups of the week, as he was facing a weak Bears pass defense at home. He ended up having an awful fantasy outing thanks to the fact that he was constantly harassed by the Bears’ front seven.

Good Receiving Core

We’ve hit on the matchup and what we can exploit on the defensive side the ball, so now let’s touch on the offensive weapons that a quarterback has at his disposal. The more talent that a quarterback is surrounded by, the harder it is for opposing defenses to shut an offense down. I love targeting quarterbacks with 2-3 reliable options in the passing game, and will always avoid quarterbacks that are missing their top receivers due to injury, suspension, etc. We’ve already seen subpar outings from both Matthew Stafford and Andy Dalton this season when their top receivers have been out.

Finding A High Floor

Targeting players with a high floor is the goal at every position when you are playing cash games. As I mentioned earlier, there is only one quarterback position on FanDuel, which means you can’t afford a dud performance from your quarterback. A quarterback that has a high floor is one that can always be counted on to put up a respectable fantasy outing, even on an “off” day. To me, achieving a high floor at the quarterback position means finding someone that is in a pass-heavy offense, one that is mobile and can consistently rack up yards on the ground, and/or one that accounts for a large percentage of the team’s offense.

You Get What You Pay For

This goes back to targeting quarterbacks with a high floor, as less talented quarterbacks are typically much more inconsistent that the Peyton Mannings of the world. I will rarely, if ever, target cheap value plays at the quarterback position for cash games. There are typically more value plays at the RB, WR, and TE positions, and once again, we only have one room for one quarterback on the roster. You need a reliable source of fantasy points, and that typically comes from the cream of the crop at the quarterback position. As such, I like to target the mid-range and elite quarterbacks that have favorable matchups. 

That about wraps up everything that I look for in a quarterback each week. To nail your FanDuel quarterback selections in cash games each and every week, target top-level quarterbacks in favorable matchups. It also doesn’t hurt if they have a solid offensive line in front of them and many weapons that they can use at their disposal.

Derek "Notorious Farnsworth
Derek “Notorious” Farnsworth is ranked #7 Overall, has won a $50,000 Daily Fantasy Baseball Championship, qualified for the 2013 FanDuel Basketball Championship, and is a lead contributor on RotoGrinders.com. When he’s not winning daily fantasy contests, the Talented Mr. Noto can be found on Twitter @RG_Notorious.