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Quarterbacks

Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

“Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”

-Harry Dunne, Dumb & Dumber

You will feel this way about your picks plenty of times throughout the season.

Quarterbacks touch the ball more than any other position on the field. They have the most number of opportunities to succeed, which is why they are consistent fantasy options. A talented quarterback is typically the foundation of a good fantasy team. In season long leagues, streaming quarterbacks is becoming a popular strategy, but in weekly fantasy football, we need consistent production out of our field general.

Game Script

Game script is a subject that you are going to hear me harp on over and over again throughout this course. The game script affects all fantasy positions because a coach’s game plan is going to change based on the circumstances of the game. Game script will typically go one of three ways. A team can either be up, be down, or the game can be a back and forth battle.

On average, quarterbacks on teams that are losing perform better fantasy-wise than quarterbacks that are winning. This makes sense because teams that are losing are going to employ a more pass-heavy game plan in an effort to score as quickly as possible. On the other hand, teams that are up big are going to try to control the clock with their running game.

While something can be said for targeting underdog quarterbacks, I don’t factor in game script for quarterbacks as much as I do for running backs. If a team gets up big, their passing offense was likely efficient in doing so, meaning that quarterback likely had a productive day. If a team gets down big, their passing game couldn’t have had too much success early in the game, so there is certainly a trade-off when it comes to quarterbacks and game script.

Anticipated Workload

As mentioned above, quarterbacks are less volatile than other positions because they have more opportunity to succeed each week. That doesn’t mean that all quarterbacks are consistent by any means, though, so we shouldn’t blindly pick our quarterbacks. As with any other position, the key is to be able to predict workload.

In terms of opportunity, we are looking at three things when it comes to a quarterback: passing yards, rushing yards, and touchdowns. Being able to accurately predict these will lead to a better quarterback selection on a weekly basis.

To predict a quarterback’s passing yards and attempts, there are a few things that we can look at. The first is the team’s run/pass balance. Are they a team that is going to air it out often, or do they rely on the running game? We also need to consider the game script. Is the quarterback going to be involved for all four quarters? And finally, we need to look at the defense. How well does their opponent defend the run and the pass, and have previous opponents employed more of a running or passing attack against them?

Mobile quarterbacks are inherently better suited for daily fantasy because they rack up fantasy production in multiple ways. Rushing yards are worth 2.5 times more than passing yards and rushing touchdowns are more valuable than passing touchdowns as well. Targeting mobile quarterbacks can add an element of consistency that isn’t there with pocket packers.

As I’ve mentioned time and time again, touchdowns can be tough to predict on a weekly basis. One missed tackle can lead to an 80-yard touchdown, which can drastically change the landscape of fantasy football that week. While we shouldn’t put too much effort into predicting touchdowns, there are certain things that we can look at each week.

The first is the team’s scoring rates. What percentage of a team’s touchdowns come through the passing game? What percentage of a team’s redzone touchdowns are scored by the quarterback? Looking at historical scoring rates of both the offense of the quarterback and the defense of his opponent can give you a general idea of where the scoring will come from in a given week.

Matchup

The easiest and most popular way to breakdown a matchup is to look at Defense vs. Position rankings. This is a simple calculation of how many fantasy points a team has allowed to the quarterback position each week. While this is certainly a good start, it doesn’t always tell the whole story. Once again, 17 games is an extremely small sample size and few big plays can drastically impact a team’s DvP ranking.

While I certainly use Defense vs. Position rankings in my weekly analysis, I also like to look at passing yards allowed, defensive redzone statistics against the pass, defensive pass rush ability, and defensive secondary rankings. While all of these can help predict fantasy production, the best and easiest tool to use is the Vegas team totals. If we can target a quarterback who is on a team that is projected to score a lot of points and the matchup checks out as well, we have ourselves a strong play.

Cash Games

Pricing dictates everything in daily fantasy sports, but in general, I like to pay up at the quarterback position in cash games. We’ve already mentioned that quarterbacks are a consistent source of fantasy production, especially the elite ones. It’s easier to predict a big game from a quarterback than it is from a wide receiver. Even though high-priced quarterbacks may not show up as the top plays in a $/point projections system, I don’t mind paying up for that extra peace of mind at quarterback.

I generally don’t like to pair a WR1 with my quarterback in cash games because their success is so highly correlated that it increases the risk of that lineup as a whole. If the quarterback has a bad day, it’s almost certain that his WR1 will also struggle. Since their success is so highly correlated, I usually stay away from these combinations in cash games.

Tournaments

One of my favorite tournament strategies is to pick the players who are ranked right below the top plays for the week. Let’s say that I have Cam Newton ranked as my fifth-highest quarterback for the week, behind the obvious and expected to be highly-owned plays of Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. If I expect each of those players to be 20-plus percent owned, I may fade all four in tournaments. The difference between taking a player who is 5 percent owned and a player who is 30 percent owned can be huge. Football is an extremely volatile sport, and when we correctly hit on the players that are low owned, it gives us a huge advantage in tournaments.

While the general rule of thought is that you need to be contrarian to win tournaments, you shouldn’t be contrarian just for the sake of it. The best tournament players in the industry don’t just randomly select players and hope for the best. The key to being successful in tournaments is to identify the teams and players that have the potential to play well, but that are getting overlooked that week for one reason or another.

“Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”

-Harry Dunne, Dumb & Dumber

You will feel this way about your picks plenty of times throughout the season.

Quarterbacks touch the ball more than any other position on the field. They have the most number of opportunities to succeed, which is why they are consistent fantasy options. A talented quarterback is typically the foundation of a good fantasy team. In season long leagues, streaming quarterbacks is becoming a popular strategy, but in weekly fantasy football, we need consistent production out of our field general.

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About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

Instructor

Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

RotoGrinders.com is the home of the daily fantasy sports community. Our content, rankings, member blogs, promotions and forum discussion all cater to the players that like to create a new fantasy team every day of the week.

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