Building a Week 1 Lineup Around the Top-Two Quarterbacks
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For those who have never played in a fantasy contest or league that allows two quarterbacks in the same starting lineup, one of the first observations to make is how aggressive people are with actually using two quarterbacks. There is an assumption that, because they carry such a high floor, they should be automatic “adds” to a lineup.
Usually, this is true. But the high floor also comes with a high price. Quarterback salaries are elevated because they carry a premium. Sometimes, we can stomach it. Other times, we have to get creative in looking for ways to fill out the roster.
So let’s see how creative we can get. Below is a “mock build” of a roster that intentionally starts with Patrick Mahomes — KC $8,100 vs. CLE — and Kyler Murray — ARI $7,800 at TEN — seeing as they are the two most expensive quarterbacks on the slate. That leaves us with $34,100 in total salary to be distributed over seven roster spots.
TE Logan Thomas – WSH $4,200 vs. LAC – The first position that suffered from paying a premium for two quarterbacks was tight end. Like most, I am entering Week 1 with the mindset that there are the clear top-three tight ends and then a major drop-off. Unfortunately, with the amount of money dedicated to Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray, I am forced over said cliff and into the lower-than-average range. Logan Thomas is not likely to replicate his incredible 110 targets from last year, but he should certainly see enough action to warrant his reasonable price tag.
WR Marquez Callaway – NO $4,500 vs. GB – I hate eating chalk — and Marquez Callaway is absolutely going to be one of the chalkiest plays in Week 1 — but we’re forced into a corner with the salary restrictions we already have, and Callaway becomes a must-own target. Without Michael Thomas, Callaway is technically listed as the New Orleans Saints’ number one wide receiver. He also has Jameis Winston under center, and Winston has never met a deep pass he didn’t like. The Saints’ passing attack gets an additional boost against the Packers, where New Orleans will likely need to throw to keep pace in the game.
RB Trey Sermon – SF $4,300 at DET – I’ve written about him in multiple articles already, but Trey Sermon remains my favorite play for the money. He’s priced as a backup running back because he is one, but that shouldn’t matter on Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers have cycled through running backs under head coach Kyle Shanahan, and it’s hard to imagine that Raheem Mostert gets every opportunity in Week 1 — especially with his injury history. If the 49ers jump out to a lead and pull away from the Lions, there will be plenty of late-game carries to go around.
WR Mecole Hardman – KC $4,200 vs. CLE- Using quarterback Patrick Mahomes in our lineup doesn’t necessarily force us into also adding one of his pass-catchers, but the price tag for Mecole Hardman does. With Hardman, we are not only get exposure to one of the elite passing games in the league, but we get it at a price that will allow us to finally start spending some money elsewhere. It also closes out our wide receiver requirements where, if we want to add more, we can, but by choice as the situation dictates. Hardman is nursing an oblique injury, so we will have to monitor his status before Sunday’s game.
RB Mike Davis – ATL $5,400 vs. PHI – While my season-long outlook on him is quite bleak, Mike Davis should make an immediate impact on his new team. The Atlanta Falcons signed Davis to a two-year deal and he enters Sunday as the starting running back. His salary may not be as desirable as some of the other people I have already listed — so far, he’s the most expensive by a wide margin — but he’s also one of the few starters in this price range. Like the Hardman pick, we need to fill our running back slots before we can fairly open the pool to everyone else, and Davis helps do just that without breaking the bank.
RB Saquon Barkley – NYG $7,000 vs. DEN- Like the aforementioned Trey Sermon, I have also written about running back Saquon Barkley in nearly all of my Week 1 articles. Barkley is an obvious risk as he tries to return from a season-ending knee injury last year, but he’s also an elite talent that is in line to play on Sunday. I spent so much of my roster space trying to make up for the money allocated toward the two quarterbacks that I can only now start to flex my financial muscles. I have extreme conviction in Barkley, and I’m willing to pay for it. I doubt I’ll be popular with that stance — and I like that — as the matchup appears to be terrible against the Denver Broncos’ defense. I’m not concerned in a point-per-reception format — such as OwnersBox — because so much of Barkley’s value comes from his receiving skills.
WR A.J Green – ARI $4,100 at TEN / WR Christian Kirk ARI $4,100 at TEN / WR Michael Pittman, Jr. – IND $4,300 vs. SEA – I listed multiple players for the last spot in my lineup because we need to decide if we are going with correlation as a form of game theory or simply targeting the player we expect to have the best outcome. A.J. Green and Christian Kirk would obviously be paired with Kyler Murray the same way we did with Hardman and Mahomes, but I wouldn’t force it. Michael Pittman, Jr. would be someone to strongly consider to close out a lineup as he sits atop the Indianapolis Colts’ depth chart — for a game against Seattle in which the Colts will eventually need to throw — and had quite an impressive second-half of last season. This trio also helps in case Hardman is out, where we can afford two from here, including one of the Cardinals’ wide receivers.