FanDuel NFL Pricing Day 2015: Quarterbacks

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Editor's Note: We're hosting a one-day $50,000 fantasy baseball league on FanDuel tonight. It's only $2 to join and first place wins $5,000. Enter by 7:05pm ET (today, July 21st). Here's the link.

By ERIC MACK
FanDuel

We were handed FanDuel's initial 2015 price list before the masses and asked, quite simply, what intrigued us. Scanning over the quarterbacks like it was a smorgasbord or the vast menu of the Cheesecake Factory, we skipped over the main entrees, because those are the statistical devils we know.

The appetizers are where it is at, and where the true daily fantasy value comes.

Aaron Rodgers is No. 1, right where he left off last year, at $9,700. Check.

Andrew Luck ($9,200), Peyton Manning ($9,100) and Drew Brees ($9,200) are near the top. Like the kids say nowadays: "As uze."

Weeks of consistent production help make sense of the top of the price list, if not the top 12-15. The surf and turf always commands top dollar. Instead, our focus is on the cheaper items. It is where the most variance comes into play year-to-year and week-to-week.

Ask and you shall receive and be served: Here are the spotlight specials in the initial pricing for FanDuel's 2015 contests:

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders, $6,300

Tied for the cheapest projected starting quarterback on the board—with Cleveland Browns import Josh McCown—is the Raiders' Carr. Chalk this up to being a Raider (or NFL bust David Carr's brother), because Carr is coming off a very promising rookie season in which he threw for 21 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions.

That rookie season slotted him seventh in the NFL among lowest interception percentage, per Pro-Football-Reference.com. Since the Raiders usually trailed in games, Carr too was far closer to the top in terms of passing attempts (seventh) and attempts per game (eighth).

NFL legend Tom Brady was just 18-12 as a first-time starter...in Year 2, mind you. Peyton Manning was 26-28 as a rookie. Andrew Luck, the standard by which all NFL rookie quarterbacks forward will have to try to measure up to, was 23-18.

Yeah, Carr has some juice, even if he is a Raider.

It shouldn't be ignored the Raiders drafted the first wide receiver off the board in April's draft, Amari Cooper (fourth overall). With the instant production of rookie receivers in recent years, Cooper can help take Carr from actually serviceable as a rookie to future NFL star as a sophomore. To this writer's eye, Cooper looks like the next Roddy White. On paper, Cooper compares to Odell Beckham Jr.

So, look the heck out, one-week fantasy football players: Carr is a potentially huge bargain out of the gate.

Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams, $6,400

What a difference a year—and a new offense—makes. Week 1 last season, Foles was tied for the eighth-highest quarterback salary at $8,500. It was the cost of doing daily fantasy business with Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles.

One disappointing season and a trade later, Foles checks in at a near-basement price for a projected starting quarterback. Foles is 33rd on the initial price list—so, cheaper than some projected backups, including two New York Jets quarterbacks!—and just $100 more than McCown/Carr.

Head coach Jeff Fisher's Rams do play in the toughest defensive division in football, perhaps accounting for most of the moderate price here. Also, Fisher is a run-heavy guy and the Rams drafted rookie Todd Gurley in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, despite coming off ACL surgery.

Wow, that's putting a lot of emphasis on the running game, especially in his modern era of the NFL Draft, where healthy running backs have struggled to get drafted in Round 2, much less the Top 10.

Among the new receiving targets for Foles, former No. 1 pick Tavon Austin, a Top 10 pick in his own right, has proved to be a bust to date, while Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Damian Williams are also not statistical marvels. Regardless, for those that loved Foles as an NFL starting quarterback should like him at this FanDuel price.

Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles, $7,500

Bradford, who missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL from the preseason, only appeared once on the price list last year: Week 1. He chimes in at $7,500, No. 19 overall, at FanDuel 2015. Bradford returns (potentially) at a much higher cost as the leader of the Eagles' training camp battle with Mark Sanchez ($6,600 tied for 28th).

Kelly's system churns out plays and offensive production, even if the Eagles are going with second-year receiver Jordan Matthews as their likely No. 1 target (they allowed premium free agent Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City Chiefs) and the released DeSean Jackson (Washington Redskins) sign elsewhere in successive offseasons). Riley Cooper, rookie Nelson Agholor, second-year Josh Huff and NFL retread Austin Miles round out the top wideouts.

It should be reminded Kelly's system is a run-friendly one—as it was back in his Oregon Ducks days. The Eagles finished first (2013) and ninth (2014) in rushing offense, even if they were top 10 in passing in both Kelly's NFL season's at the helm, too.

If Bradford is healthy and the mostly young receiving corps proves worthy, the Eagles' likely starting quarterback is going to trump Foles' production at an even lower cost. Bradford is not a picture of health, but polish is one of his better characteristics in comparison to Foles.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans, $7,100

The Oregon Ducks quarterback might have been the second choice in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he is the first choice among rookies on the price list. The Heisman Trophy winner ties 2014 fantasy bust Andy Dalton ($7,100) at No. 22 overall and comes in two spots ahead of fellow rookie Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who was the first overall pick this past April.

Clearly, daily fantasy favors the potential rushing production here. Mariota rushed for over 700 yards in each of his three years in Oregon's attacking spread offense, punching it into the end zone on the ground 15 times in 2014 and 29 for his career. That is his statistical edge over Winston.

The Titans have a deep set of receivers, led by Kendall Wright, but they don't have a real go-to threat. Offseason signees Hakeem Nicks and Harry Douglas have had their daily fantasy moments, but they are complementary pieces. Dorial Green-Beckham is rangy at 6-foot-5 and fast (4.9 in the 40), but he is a project that will take time in the areas of polish, route-running and hands. Justin Hunter, the 34th overall pick in 2013, has size (6-foot-4), but he is entering Year 3 still lacking the same things DGB is.

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $6,900

At No. 25 overall, we have the first overall pick, Winston. He is $200 cheaper than Mariota and just $100 more than some Week 1 backup quarterbacks.

You have to love the big targets Winston gets to work with right away, something that might set him apart from Mariota. Mike Evans (6-foot-5) is coming off a huge rookie season (68 catches for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns) that had him working with the mediocre likes of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. Evans should be good for more than a handful of jump balls into the end zone.

On the other side, Vincent Jackson is also 6-foot-5 and a perennial 1,000-yard receiver. At tight end and down the middle, second-year man Austin Seferian-Jenkins is 6-foot-5, too. The wingspans of Winston's top three targets should help make him a lot more accurate than Mariota. Further, if you add the Bucs defensive struggles of a year ago, Winston should be chucking in a lot of garbage time.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, $8,400

Because these prices are for Week 1 FanDuel contests, we have to make a special note of Newton among the Top 10. Newton is actually tied for ninth with a quarterback, Brady, who is not even eligible to play (pending review of his four-game DeflateGate suspension appeal).

Newton might be the most-played quarterback out of the gate.

In addition to our projected 2015 daily fantasy love for the running quarterback—see our QB Retrospectacle here: Running QBs are high-reward GPP (guaranteed prize-pool plays)—Newton draws a dream first matchup in the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Panthers should have their way with them in that game and the ball should be in Newton's hands to do the bulk of the damage.

Even if Newton doesn't run for 100 yards and a touchdown, the numbers that truly excite us with the now-healthy star, he can feature super sophomore wideout Kelvin Benjamin and break in another big-bodied receiver, rookie Devin Funchess. Newton didn't need a great cast of targets to enjoy moments at the top of the quarterback scoring at FanDuel, but his targets are now developing before our eyes.

This could be a career year for Newton, as we chronicled in our Panthers capsule preview. It promises to be a great start to it, too.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, $8,800

As much as we might hate the defensive-oriented games new head coach Dan Quinn (formerly the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator) might play this season (see our Falcons capsule preview), you have to love Ryan with both Julio Jones, in a contract year, and Roddy White healthy. Also, Ryan and Co. face a wide-open Week 1 game with the Philadelphia Eagles, who were third-worst against fantasy quarterbacks and dead-last against fantasy wide receivers last year, per FFToday.com.

It should be reminded the huge Week 1 performance Ryan posted a year ago in another shootout matchup against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Ryan went off for a season-high 448 yards and three TDs with both Jones and White healthy, something that doesn't happen often but will be in Week 1, if any. You might want to play Ryan here because the elder White and the oft-injured Jones get their usual midseason maladies.

Other noteworthy quarterback prices:

– No. 11 Eli Manning, New York Giants, $8,300—Beckham is clearly otherworldly and Victor Cruz (knee) is expected to be ready for a Week 1 showdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Manning has more yards (5,467) and TDs (44) against the Cowboys than any other team, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.

– No. 14 Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins, $8,000—Tannehill still has a lot to prove, but he draws the Washington Redskins, who gave up the most points to fantasy quarterbacks and second-most to receivers last year, per FFToday.com.

– No. 40 (tie) Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns, $5,900—Who cares, right? Well, Manziel is just a great training camp or a McCown injury from being a starting—and running—quarterback for Week 1. We agree, the Browns stink, as we wrote in their capsule preview. Manziel has too, but fantasy scoring favors the mobile passers. Manziel could...maybe, just maybe...start Week 1 against the Jets and post a 20-point performance (as the cheapest QB on the board) on the strength of his legs.

Editor's Note: We're hosting a one-day $50,000 fantasy baseball league on FanDuel tonight. It's only $2 to join and first place wins $5,000. Enter by 7:05pm ET (today, July 21st). Here's the link.

*All current prices are subject to change between now and the official launch of FanDuel NFL contests.

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