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Advanced NFL DFS: Quarterbacks

We continue our breakdown of NFL DFS. In this section, we look at quarterbacks, with definitions and some advanced strategy.

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws the ball during a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

In daily fantasy football, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. For DFS, that means learning how to pick quarterbacks.

Quarterback

Definition

You know what a quarterback is, but finding the best for your lineup each week isn’t easy. We take you through the process.

Strategy

Pass attempts vs. Production

For running backs and receivers, we look at opportunity to help guide us toward the best DFS options. For quarterbacks, it would make sense to find quarterbacks who throw the ball more than other quarterbacks, but it isn’t always the case. Last season Jared Goff led the league with 626 pass attempts and averaged 15 fantasy points per game while Jameis Winston had the same number and averaged 19 per game. Tom Brady threw the ball 613 times to Dak Prescott’s 596 and Prescott averaged 21.1 fantasy points to Brady’s 16.5. Production comes more from efficiency per pass attempt than number of pass attempts.

Efficiency statistics

Adjusted yards per attempt is one stat that is considered “sticky” because it stays somewhat consistent from year to year and often separates the best and most efficient quarterbacks from the also rans.

Touchdown percentage is another stat that gives us a good view of the best fantasy quarterbacks, but the statistic isn’t sticky like A/YA. One way to use it is to look at the extremes of touchdown percentage and look for them to move toward the player’s average TD percentage.

DraftKings points per attempt

Another efficiency stat that gets to the heart of our quest for the best lineup is DK points per pass attempt. I still want six or more games under a quarterbacks belt before I rely on efficiency statistics, but DK points per attempt is one of my go-to’s.

Garbage time

The idea that you can play a quarterback who is a heavy underdog because he will throw a lot as he tries to bring his team back is flawed. It can happen, but on average, a team is an underdog for a good reason. When you look at the point total and figure the implied total for each team, that total is more predictive than out projection for game script. Yes, a quarterback on a team that has a 12 point implied total may end up throwing a lot, but his efficiency will likely be low, along with his fantasy points.

Sportsbook point total

As I mentioned in the last section, implied points are a strong number to look at when choosing your quarterback. If a team has the highest implied total on a slate, the quarterback for that team should have plenty of opportunities to put up fantasy points. It’s a good way of taking your biases out of the equation. Yes, you may beat the sportsbook sometimes, but on average, their projections will beat yours.

Opponent yards allowed per pass attempt

There are many statistics you can look toward when choosing your quarterback, but opponent yards per pass attempt is one of my favorites. Last season the Patriots gave up just 5.4 yards per attempt while the Bengals and Raiders gave up 7.8. It doesn’t take a brilliant analytical mind to deduce that you should pick the quarterback playing the Bengals over the quarterback playing the Patriots on the majority of occasions.

DraftKings points allowed per pass attempt

When looking for quarterbacks, it’s good to look at both sides of the DK points per attempt coin. Knowing which teams are the worst at allowing DK points per pass attempt is a strong indicator for good output from the quarterback they face.