Putting together a well-balanced daily fantasy lineup is all about mining for playable bargains - and while the majority of those cheap plays are found at running back, wide receiver and tight end, it's often a good idea to consider rolling out a low-salary quarterback to allow for larger expenditures elsewhere.
But not all cheap QBs are equal - and when it comes to identifying the best plays, you need to consider a number of factors that can make or break your cash-game or tournament lineups. Here are the most important things to weigh:
This is the easiest variable to measure - the more formidable the defense a quarterback is facing, the less valuable he is in daily fantasy. Conversely, a matchup with a soft defense can propel a low-salary signal caller into the upper echelon of options, which makes that quarterback a sensational value play with a high floor and ceiling.
Weigh as many factors as you can when looking at opposing defenses. Who have they faced? Are they dealing with injuries that might limit their effectiveness? How potent is their pass rush? Are their defensive backs stronger over the middle or down the sidelines? The more you know about a defense, the better able you'll be to handicap which cheap QBs are good plays.
Quarterbacks need every part of the offense to click in order to be truly successful. That means an offensive line that provides a clean pocket and time to make a crisp throw, running backs and tight ends that can pass block effectively and a receiving corps that runs strong routes and can catch a variety of pass types.
Where possible, seek out lower-tier quarterbacks surrounded by strong personnel. The majority of quarterbacks in elite offenses carry high price tags, but in certain circumstances you can find value. Rookie quarterbacks like Trevor Siemian or Carson Wentz are perfect examples of this; they're in strong offenses but don't have enough of a track record to warrant a high salary.
Location, Location, Location
It's not just a real estate mantra. Game location plays a significant role in how valuable a quarterback is in daily fantasy, and it's one of the first things DFS players should consider when building their lineups.
First and foremost, the majority of quarterbacks at any price level perform better at home than on the road. This tends to be particularly true of QBs who play their home games in a domed stadium. Be sure to elevate any mid- or low-tier quarterback in an indoor home game, regardless of the opponent.
You don't necessarily need to avoid all low-salary quarterbacks playing on the road, but there are degrees of risk to consider. For example, QBs who play their home games indoors are hazardous plays in cold-weather road games. East Coast QBs playing road games on the West Coast are also less valuable.
Bet on a Backup
Few quarterbacks present better daily fantasy value than backups who are elevated to the starting role during the week before a game, after FanDuel has already released its salaries. These QBs are always priced near the bottom of the position, making them a potential treasure trove of value.
Avoid backups who don't fit into the criteria listed above; it doesn't make sense to go cheap on a quarterback who has a bad offensive line, or who is facing a defense with an elite pass rush. Look for high-powered offenses, matchups with bad defenses and/or advantageous playing conditions, and you could end up with a steal at the most important daily fantasy position.