Week 3 DFS Breakdown
By: Nick Zylak
I really like this slate. Ownership projections still aren’t super accurate, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as chalky as weeks 1 and 2. Plus with 13 games on the main slate, there are plenty of games to spread out ownership. There are a few clear games to be targeting in your builds, and with a handful of extremely miss priced players, you should be able to target any game you choose. I won’t be playing cash this week, as I think there are a number of different ways you could build rosters, but if you are playing cash, or you’re a one lineup person, there are definitely players and games you should be focusing on. The highest priced RB’s are in great spots, and there aren’t many great spots at the lower end. This makes the obvious cash construction your favorite two stud RB’s, mid to low end WR’s, a TE you like, and one of Mahomes, Jackson, Dak, Murray or either Allen at QB (with my lean being Dak with Zeke, for reasons I’ll go over). The decision points seem to be what TE you play, and what you do with your final WR spot. Because I don’t have a solid take on what the optimal decision is…I’ll be rotating through different options in GPP’s.
Ezekiel Elliott vs Dolphins ($8,900)
Zeke is the top RB play this week…and boy is he priced like it. At nearly 9K he’s the second highest priced player on the slate, and it’s not like he doesn’t come with concerns. Zeke has just 4 targets on the season, as the Cowboys seem to be focusing their target share on WR’s more heavily this season. It’s only been two games, so that could absolutely change, but it’s worth noting that he was routinely getting 6+ targets per game last season, yet never reached 9K until week 15. So why should you play him this week? Well, the Cowboys are a jaw dropping 22.5 point home favorites, projected to score 35 points on average. The Dolphins are currently allowing 51 points per game…and both of those games were at home. They also just traded away Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’s not a stretch to PROJECT Zeke for over 100 yards and multiple TD’s. And there are almost no paths to him failing. I’ve yet to build a cash game lineup (doesn’t look like I’ll be playing cash this week), but one way to guarantee yourself TD’s is to play Dak and Zeke together. Sure Pollard might score a TD. But they’re going to approach 5-6 TD’s….so playing the QB and RB allows you to lock up all of them…thus raising your floor in cash. He’ll also be extremely popular, and that would be a scary fade in cash and small field GPP’s.
Everyone in the Panthers @ Cardinals game
I have a full breakdown of this game below, so I don’t feel the need to write it twice. In short, everyone getting snaps is in play. From CMC at the top, all the way down to Damiere Byrd at the minimum. Every single player is under priced, and there is a case for all of them in any format. Who you play is going to come down to roster construction. I’d love to play Zeke and CMC in cash, but they cost so much that it might not be possible. As for everyone else, I’d make them a priority. When building for GPP’s, make sure the lineups make sense. Don’t play Kyle Allen, then full stack the Cardinals still players. I use fantasycruncher to develop lineups, and I typically make a rule that it can’t use two WR/TE’s from the same team, unless paired with their QB. There are cases where that doesn’t work, but more often than not, it’s a good rule to go by.
Nelson Agholor vs Lions ($3,600)
The matchup isn’t perfect for Agholor, but everyone one else is hurt, so he’s about 2K too cheap. Goedert/Alshon/Jackson are all expected to miss this week, leaving the Eagles with Ertz/Agholor as the top options in the passing game. Ertz ($5,700) is also under priced, so you can include him in this section as well, but Agholor was playing a lot of snaps even before the injury, so he’ll be an every down player, with Wentz at QB, for nearly the minimum. You’ll be forced to make this play in cash games, given his likely 60% percent ownership in cash. In GPP’s, you could make the case for fading him at likely 30%-40% ownership, but I’d rather just bite the chalk and differentiate elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you need to lock him in, since there are paths to him failing. But I’d try and just match the field, even if you don’t like him. He should see somewhere between 6 and 10 targets, and he has the route running skills to really line anywhere. His stat line also would have been even bigger had he not dropped a wide open deep TD last week (although he did still catch a deep ball later on that drive…just not for a TD).
Julio Jones @ Colts ($7,300)
This is not a cash play, and it’s actually a pretty bad matchup for Jones. But he hasn’t been this cheap on a main slate since November of 2014…and he’s not currently projected to be chalk (about 15% right now). The Colts are an extremely well coached team, and they’re not going to let Julio beat them deep. Because of that, the most likely outcome is that he gets around 7-8 receptions on 11-12 targets…has at least one chance at a TD…and finishes around 90-110 yards. His day is going to depend on if he converts the TD…and if he goes over 100. 7/88/0 will be disappointing…but 8/110/1 will make him a great start. So this will likely come down to one end zone shot. At 8K…I’d fade that. But at $7,300…even the 7/88 stat line wouldn’t be the end of the world. My current crunches have him showing up in as many lineups as I allow (meaning he’s fitting into most optimal builds), so if ownership stays around 15%…then I’ll be over the field. Again, in cash I probably wouldn’t go here. There are some stud high priced RB’s, and some under priced WR’s that can be used to fit them in. Adding Julio just makes you sacrifice the top end RB’s…which isn’t something I’d do in cash. If you can find a build that uses Zeke/CMC/Julio…and you didn’t dumpster dive…then you can use him in cash.
Top Game Stacks
Panthers @ Cardinals
This is going to be the game of the week to stack…and that’s taking into account the Ravens @ Chiefs game. All summer we preached this new “Air Raid” offense of the Cardinals…not becasue they were going to win a ton of games…but becasue of how fantasy friendly their matchups would be. In week 1 they faced the slow paced Lions team…then had to travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in week 2. Despite both of these difficult matchups, they currently rank 5th in plays per game, second in pace of play, first in pass attempts per game, and first in opponent plays per game. Any opposing team should be expected to run a lot of plays…especially the Panthers…who currently rank 4th in plays per game. In fact the Panthers are averaging the quickest seconds per snap pace in the league, and (when factoring out overtime) their games have resulted in the most total plays in the league (Pat Thorman). There are going to be a million plays run in this game, and we know exactly where the targets are going for both of these teams. The Panthers have one of the most consolidated target shares in the league, with only 6 total players receiving targets, and with 4 of them combining for 89.5% of the targets. Olsen ($3,700), Moore ($5,900), Samuel($4,800) and CMC($8,700) are all in smash spots, and should be staples of both cash game and GPP builds. On the other side, it’s more of the same, play everyone. Kyler Murray ($5,800) is under priced for a player averaging 47 pass attempts per game…and while he hasn’t shown his rushing upside yet…it’s coming. Christian Kirk’s ($5,000) price tag is also a joke. He’s averaged 10 targets per game in two tough matchups, giving him 12-13 target upside in this one. The disrespect on Damiere Byrd ($3,000) is also hilarious. It’s not like he’s an every down WR averaging 7 targets per game or anything. We might as well round things out with the forever young Larry Fitzgerald ($5,100). He now has back to back 100 yard games, is averaging 12 targets per game, and ranks 6th in the NFL in air yards. If you fade this game, then you need to quit fantasy football.
Ravens @ Chiefs
Although I prefer the above game for fantasy, this is clearly the game of the week. Both teams have looked dominant this season…and we get a matchup of what should be two of the better QB’s of the next decade. Mahomes and the Chiefs are currently 5.5 point home favorites, with a current over under of 52 points. The line has moved anywhere from 5 points in favor or KC…all the way up to 7 points. I side with KC winning this game, as they’ve been dominant at home in recent years, although it’s worth noting that my model thinks the spread should only be 2 points in favor of KC…and predicts the Ravens win this game more often than not. Regardless of who comes out on top, the Chiefs are going to put up points. Since the start of last season, they have scored as follows in their home games: 38 | 30 | 45 | 30 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 35. They’ve also scored 40 and 28 points in their two road games this season. Even against an elite Ravens defense, they’re very likely to score at least 28 points. That makes Patrick Mahomes ($7,600) one of the safest QB plays this week, especially with the question marks surrounding their running backs.
How I play their backfield depends on who’s active. If both McCoy and Williams suit up, I’ll likely avoid it completely. However, if both end up missing, then Darwin Thompson ($3,000) will be firmly in play. The latest reports seem to point to Williams missing the game, and Shady playing. That would take some of the shine off Darwin, but he’d still be viable in GPP’s. I’ll likely be avoiding McCoy, even if he plays.
The receivers is where I want to attack this game. Marquise Brown ($5,900) played 50 snaps (and drawing 13 targets!) last week, after playing just 14 snaps (5 targets) in week 1. He also ran the most pass routes of any Baltimore player, and is clearly their top option in the passing game. He has the talent to score on any play, and is a great option to either pair with Jackson, or to use with a KC stack. I’ll be overweight (currently projected to be 7%-10% owned). I also love Mark Andrews ($4,600) (shocker). He continues to be under priced, so I’ll continue to play him. That’s likely where the public is going to stop…so it’s not the worst idea in the world to take a shot on Miles Boykin ($3,000). He’s an athletic freak, and dominated the Ravens training camp. He only has 4 targets, and 14 receiving yards through 2 weeks. He did run the third most routes on the team last week, so you could do worse with a minimum priced receiver in the highest total game (by a lot), at less than 2% ownership.
As for the Chiefs receivers, take shots at Watkins/Hardman/Robinson/Kelce. Sammy Watkins ($6,800) and Travis Kelce ($7,100) are the top two options. Watkins had 13 targets last week, but the Raiders predictably tried to scheme him out of the game. There’s no indication that the Ravens are going to attempt that…so if he’s getting around 12-13 targets a week, then 6.8K is too cheap. Kelce has been appropriately priced all year. I prefer the price points on Ertz/Kittle/Engram/Andrews/Olsen…but if you’re building a game stack…then he’s a fairly obvious piece to add.
Giants @ Bucs
This game has the second highest total on the week, and this is the last chance for Winston. Not in the offense…they have no one behind him. But it’s his last chance with me. He’s been pathetic this season, and his future in the NFL is going to come down to how he plays out the rest of this season. If he continues to look as bad as he has, then he’ll get a new contract, but it’s only going to be as a backup. His future starts this week, at home, against the leagues worst defense in terms of pass rush and coverage. You read that correctly. The Giants have the worst pass rush in the league, and they also can’t cover anyone. That’s the worst pairing you can have as a defense, especially on the road, against a team that wants to throw the football. If Jamies fails in this spot, then I’m done. Chris Godwin ($6,900) is now more expensive than Mike Evans ($6,600), which is awsome, but leads to be liking both of them this week. The easiest game stack is just to pair Winston with Godwin and Evans…then to run it back with one (or two) of Shepard/Engram/Barkley.
Shepard ($4,900) and Engram ($5,200) are the top guys to look at on the Giants. The Bucs have been solid on the ground, and with Zeke and CMC in great spots, I’d rather use one (or both) of them, and target Shepard and Engram. I’m also not against using Daniel Jones ($5,000) against this Bucs pass defense. If you want to stack this game, but hate Winston, then pairing Jones/Shepard/Engram…with one (again, or two) or the Bucs pass catchers isn’t a bad strategy. My last point is on O.J. Howard ($3800). He’s been buns this year, but he’s still been in on way more snaps than Brate, he has incredible raw talent, and no one is going to play him (less than 5% projected ownership). I know it’s tough to click his name, but he’s only $100 more than Jared Cook and Jason Witten…he can’t be that bad…can he?
Lions @ Eagles
There’s really only one way I can see stacking this one, but it has a lot of upside, so I wanted to include it. On the Lions side, all I want is Kenny Golladay ($6,600). He’s not cheap, but this Eagles secondary is really bad, and he’s clearly the alpha this season. The Eagles are the side I really want to talk about though. Carson Wentz ($5,600) is always in play. He had a bad showing on Sunday night, and this isn’t a great matchup…but all of that should keep his ownership low…and he’s too cheap. The scary part of this stack, is how cheap the entire eagles are. Pricing came out before the Sunday night game, so these prices assume that Alshon/Jackson/Goedert are all playing. All three look likely to miss though, meaning there are at least 15 extra targets up for grabs. I mentioned Agholor ($3,600) above, but he’s the top play on the Eagles. Ertz ($5,700) is the next best play. The Lions haven’t faced a real TE yet, so we don’t know how they stack up against the position. But Wentz loves Ertz, so he should see at least 10 targets in this one (he had 16 last week!). After that, most people will gravitate for Mack Hollins ($3,200)…and while he’s viable, the one I’m targeting is JJ Arcega-Whiteside ($3,500). He was dominant in camp, showed his upside this preseason, and played every snap when Alshon and Jackson went down. He’s someone the Eagles hope will replace Agholor in the future, and he should be a big part of the game plan this week. If you stack Wentz/Ertz/Agholor/JJ/Golladay…then you’re going to get a boat load of fantasy points if this one turns into a high scoring affair…and you’ll also have an average of $6,250 for the remaining RB/RB/FLEX/DST spots. Put another way, you can full stack the team with the 5th highest implied total, run it back with a WR in a great spot on the other side…and still afford to play BOTH Zeke and CMC. Just something to think about.
Just one more point on this stack, since I’m sure some of you are still feeling hesitant. What’s the worst case scenario here? That the Eagles run game finally gets it going and just dominates the Lions front? Because how likely is that really to happen? The Eagles are going to throw the ball around 40 times, and we know exactly where those targets are going…Ertz/Agholor/JJ/Hollins. A bad day from Agholor and JJ would be something like 6 targets. A bad day. Also by playing them as part of a block (Playing all of them together), you’re virtually guaranteed to pair Wentz with the majority of his passing yards and TD’s. This raises the floor considerable, while maintaining the ceiling. All you need for this stack to work out, is for Wentz to throw for 300 yards, or three TD’s…something he’s done in 9 of his last 12 games.
Top Low Owned Plays
A quick note, I’ve hit on slightly more than 50% of these over the last two weeks…wouldn’t expect that sort of hit rate over a full season
Daniel Jones ($5,000) - 2% Owned
Deshaun Watson ($6,400) - 3% Owned
Tony Pollard ($3,800) - 2% Owned
James White ($5,100) - 3% Owned
O.J. Howard ($3,800) - 3% Owned
Robert Tonyan ($2,500) - 1% Owned (assuming Jimmy Graham is OUT
Will Fuller ($4,900) - 5% Owned
Diontae Johnson ($3,000) - 3% Owned
Juju Smith-Schuster ($6,900) - 2% Owned