NFL DFS Week 3 Picks
Holy injury week, Batman! Usually the dreaded injury week comes at around midseason or a little bit later, but the football gods decided to punish us earlier than expected. It was an unfortunate slate for many people who had rostered any Saints or Steelers, but with each new injury comes new cheap DFS options to take advantage! Having a world class optimizer also helps at figuring out just which players have the most value despite most of us still trying to figure out team tendencies and habits. Let’s get started, shall we?
NOTE – I will not be mentioning any players involved in the Dolphins match-up. We know they stink with possibly the worst roster in the last 30 years and every team they face will likely be extremely DFS relevant. We get it, you’ll stack them all and win some money. Great, good for you. As a Dolphins fan, I have decided to self-exclude myself from any and all Fins match-ups….until Ricky Williams comes back with the Wildcat. THEN IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG BABY!
Yep, I’m going to dip into the Lamar well for the third time this season. Is there any reason not to? The guy is in an offense specifically tailored to his strengths and it is basically the better version of the RG3 offense that propelled RGIII into fantasy stardom. In a match-up against the Chiefs with a literal god at QB that may force the Ravens to play catch up? Who wouldn’t want that at a still favorable price? We even saw the power of rushing QBs when Lamar tacked on 12 fantasy points through his legs. If Jon Gruden knew how to gameplan beyond the 1st quarter, the Raiders would have put up a ton of points/yardage and skewed the defensive numbers towards an even more favorable match-up for Lamar. Just lock him in!
While I have had a difficult time trying to figure out what the Pats’ offensive plan is going forward as far as personnel grouping and whether or not AB’s last performance is the norm, it seems prudent to just simply roster naked Brady in a can’t miss match-up. Seems easier than trying to figure out the headache that is the Pats offense. The Jets defense is so banged up that they may end up without stud LB Mosely and rookie Quinnen Williams once again, and they already benched their big FA addition in Trumaine Johnson. Seems not ideal against the stalwart that is the Patriots offense that can just pick and choose their best match-ups. Edelman? Gordon? AB? All of their RBs? Geez, what a plethora of weapons for Brady. An added bonus for Brady is he should get plenty of possessions since the Jets O under Falk will likely falter more often than not against an elite Pats D. 2nd highest implied team total. Easy button.
Boy, the rookie wunderkind has been pretty, pretty good for his 1st two starts. He’s looked poised under pressure and just put up 350 passing yards on a perennial tough Ravens defense. He’s now totaled 94 passing attempts (!) over those two starts. It’s clear that under the Kingsbury Air Raid offense and their personnel grouping (64% 4 WR and 23% 11 personnel aka 3 WR), the Cardinals are determined to break all the passing attempt records. That’s good news for Murray going forward. He’ll get a Panthers secondary that’s continued their bad play from 2018 season, ranking 19th DVOA against the pass. Both teams rank 1st and 2nd in offensive pace, while both defenses rank bottom ten in plays given up (10th worst for CAR and worst for ARI). It’s a game chock-full of fantasy potential on both sides, especially for a 75% pass-heavy Cardinals offensive onslaught. The price tag is just way too low for the volume he should have.
Ah, yes. Famous Jameis. We meet once again. Winston’s fooled me more than a few times, but he does have a tantalizing match-up against the lowly 31st overall DVOA Giants defense. The only team that is worse than the Giants’ D? Miami. Sob. There’s some concern that the Bucs may struggle to gain offensive snaps (19th most), but the Giants just gave up 62 snaps to a mediocre Bills offense and gave Josh Allen a great fantasy day (274 total yards and two TDs). With the new change at QB for the Giants, they should look to continue their 4th fastest pace and maybe actually have some offensive rhythm to force a potential shoot-out. Either way, Winston is in line to have a tremendous fantasy outing if the Giants continue to employ the 2nd worst graded secondary in the league.
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Okay, stay with me here. Yes, the Vikings are skewing towards a run-heavy offense (59.6%, run-heaviest). Yes, both MIN and OAK rank bottom ten in pace and offensive plays. Yes, Cousins has a game where he only threw the ball ten times. Still, he has to eventually start getting it done through the air and it just might be the right spot for the Kirk Cannon against the 27th DVOA OAK pass defense. If the Raiders can slow down the run (4th DVOA so far) and the Vikings start getting behind, then maybe Cousins will finally use his two biggest weapons in Diggs/Thielen. It’s a longshot but Cousins in a fantasy quagmire of a match-up is the perfect candidate for a volatility boost. Crank it up to a 50 and hope you get the right side of the Kirk Cannon.
Not only has Ekeler been getting steady snaps (74% and 73% to start the season), he’s also been contributing everywhere in Melvin Gordon’s stead. He’s been an incredible receiver with the highest YPR/R among all eligible RBs, ran the 9th most routes among RBs, and has seen the majority of LAC’s RB touches. He gets a PFF 2nd worst graded HOU run defense that’s been shockingly middle of the road since they traded away Clowney (who happened to be their best run defender). Ekeler should be a problem everywhere as he has a positive match-up on both the ground and through the air. Roster him with confidence.
Remember the blurb in the Murray section? Somebody’s gotta reap the benefits of a fantasy gold mine match-up, right? McCaffrey leads all RBs in routes ran, has the 3rd most targets, and with Newton likely out, should likely receive a Bell-esque workload as the Panthers try to run the O through him. The Cardinals’ starting LBs have been largely bad to moderately pathetic, allowing 254 yards and two TDs in their coverage. Their run defensive unit ranks 8th worst graded according to PFF. Seems like even with a corpse at QB, McCaffrey should still feast with all the offensive snaps being handed out in the match-up.
The second part of the Cardinals offensive onslaught, Johnson has essentially been operating as the team’s 3rd WR with the 14th most RB routes run. Now that number actually should be closer to the top five (ran 2nd most Week 1) but a wrist injury knocked out DJ for half of the game in Week 2. DJ has also seen much more favorable looks on his running plays, facing less loaded boxes and more nickel/dime personnel. That bodes well for DJ’s fantasy ceiling as he’ll get the same looks Todd Gurley got under the 11 personnel-heavy Rams last season. The Panthers are middle of the road in their run defense and do boast a stud LB in Kuechly, but the offensive nature of the Cardinals and the potential of massive offensive snaps should give DJ plenty of opportunities to cash in his 50% red zone market share. Skewed number I know, but still!
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Man, it’s unbelievable that Gore continues to churn out yards for his now 4th NFL team at the tender age of 36. Now he just might have a career day against a Bengals defense that just gave up 259 total rushing yards to the 49ers. Yikes! Devin Singletary is trending towards missing the game, which may open up more passing work for Gore if the Bills choose not to involve Yeldon much. Wishful thinking but when opportunity knocks, you should answer the door! Gore logged 21 total touches last week and I expect a similar workload against the Bengals’ soft run defense. The issue here is can Gore actually turn those touches into fantasy points? He’s been a plodder (2.9 YPC average), doesn’t seem to have a great receiving floor, and can always lose red zone touches to the Bills’ best RB in Josh Allen. Still, he leads the team in RZ opportunities and is in a prime position to hit a few short TDs. If the 31st DVOA Bungles run defense shows up again, Gore could make it on a few GPP winning lineups if he has a big day at a low price tag. I’m gonna give him a 15 boost to get him closer to the mid-range RBs and throw down a 30 volatility. Go Frank the Tank!
While there are valid concerns on a slow-paced Chargers offense that can barely get any offensive snaps (8th fewest), it hasn’t directly affected Keenan Allen’s stock. He’s now seen the 2nd most targets despite a tough match-up against Darius Slay, runs the 6th highest YPR/R (higher than Odell and MT!), and gets a decent match-up against HOU’s slot CB Bradley Roby and Lonnie Johnson on the boundary. Allen saw shadow coverage from stud CB Darius Slay and still put up 8/98 on 15 targets. It’s safe to say Keenan is as safe as they get. Ding!
While I know some people may pivot to Mike Evans over Godwin due to either price or more TD equity, I lean towards Godwin due to both his versatility (has ran 20%+ at every WR position, including 34% in the slot) and the good chance that Evans will get shadowed by Janoris Jenkins. That would likely pit DeAndre Baker against Godwin for most of the game. Quick summary on Baker’s season thus far – 11 catches (7th most) for 272 yards (most) and two TDs (tied with a bunch for most) in his coverage. Drool. Even more reason to play Godwin? He’s averaging a hefty 2.56 YPR/R (11th best) while Evans’ 2.38 YPR/R last season (7th best) has now plummeted to a measly 1.35 this season. Basically, Godwin gets all the deep looks while Evans just runs drags into hit sticks. Unfortunate but true. Lock in Godwin if you want to WIN!
The 3rd and final piece of the Cardinals offensive onslaught, Fitzgerald offers screaming value as the de-facto #1 WR on the 2nd pass heaviest team in the NFL. He’s averaging a robust 2.21 YPR/R, up from 1.38 last season, and has now run the most routes among all WRs with the 5th most targets. Not bad for the old guy. He’ll see coverage from primarily the Panthers’ main slot CB in Javien Elliott. He’s been okay with no gaudy stats given up, but he’s also a nobody who played a decent amount of snaps for the Bucs last season and posted an 84.7 QB rating in his coverage. Not awful, but just average. I expect Fitzgerald to continue his high YPR/R pace and lead the Cardinals in routes/targets.
Another screaming value that rates as the 4th best WR value on the main slate, Brown is 8th in YPR/R and T16th in total targets. He’s the clear cut number one option for Josh Allen and gets a fantastic match-up against a Bengals secondary that just hasn’t gelled together. Both boundary CBs have combined to give up 12/236/3 on 18 targets. My goodness. Talk about a prime explosion spot for ol’ Smokey Brown. My only concern is the Bills may opt for a run-heavy attack and let Allen run circles around the Bengals’ atrocious run defense. Still, to have 18 targets on what seemed like a shoddy offense on paper and still perform in every important WR metric? I’ll take my chances on Allen uncorking a deep one for a touchdown instead of a narrow miss like the one last week.
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The Eagles have been getting roasted by #1 WRs for the majority of the past two seasons, ranking dead last DVOA against the #1 WR in 2018 and 2019. Philly’s trio of starting CBs have combined to give up 29/388/5 on 32 targets. That’s basically a Mahomes stat-line! Guess who the #1 WR is for the Lions? That’s right, it’s Kenny Golladay and his 26% MS/T! Chances are great for Golladay to have a massive breakout game despite the optimizer not being too high on him. Pish posh! I love Golladay in a smash spot despite the Lions’ run-heavy approach and potential for a slow, plodding game pace against a very banged up Eagles offense. I’m boosting his numbers to better reflect my personal bias and adding a 20 boost to push him among the top ten WRs in points. Will you join me on the boost train?
Both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson out for Week 3 and Dallas Goedert on the wrong side of questionable, Ertz is likely going to be the only reliable pass catcher for Wentz. Yes, I’m ignoring Agholor. Ertz gobbled up 16 targets last week while the aforementioned receivers suffered injuries throughout the game. If Goedert can’t suit up, that likely puts Ertz on a 100% snap count or close to it and probably getting more slot work as well. Volume alone makes Ertz the top TE play on the slate regardless of the match-up as he should operate as the #1 WR/option for Wentz. He’s also run the most routes among all TEs. There’s not much to add here as the Lions have yet to play a team that even cared about their TEs. Volume is king, baby!
Yes, even with a price increase and more eyes on him, Andrews still serves as a top value on the slate as long as he can continue his stellar play. He’s crushing it everywhere as Jackson’s 2nd favorite option behind Marquise Brown, but he’s doing it at an elite level with an astounding 4.68 YPR/R (2nmost, and would rank 2nd best among eligible WRs). That’s unheard of from a tight end, and remember George Kittle broke the YPR/R record last season for TEs at 2.82! Obviously his numbers will come down a little bit, but early returns have been quite favorable for Andrews as he’s 3rd in targets among TEs. The Chiefs have struggled to cover opposing TEs (5th most yards) and got shredded by the uber-athletic Darren Waller (6/63) despite the anemic nature of the Raiders’ offense, and I expect Andrews to give similar issues. He’s just positioned rather nicely at his price tag where it’s right under the elite TEs but still low enough to fit in all of your goodies elsewhere. Lock button.
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He’s got the 2nd most routes ran among TEs while tied with Ertz for most targets. Corey Latimer is not expected to play but slot man Sterling Shepard should be back, leaving Engram as the clear #1 option once more. Daniel Jones is also his new QB which could mean better quality targets. Yet, the optimizer is a little bullish on him on his projection. Maybe it’s due to the improved Bucs defense (4th overall DVOA), their improved LB play with rookie Devin White, and a revamped DL (1st DVOA against the run). A closer look into the numbers reveals that maybe those stats are all a lie and the Panthers are just that bad. Tampa Bay has given up the 4th most yards to opposing TEs while seeing the 4th most targets thrown to the TEs. Seems like a good shot for a big day for Engram and his massive target share. A stout front that limits Barkley generally means a bigger fantasy day for Engram, and that’s the prediction I’m going with. Boost him up to 10 so he jumps over Andrews and stays in line with the elite TEs’ projections.