DFS: FanDuel Week 3, A Lineup that Dares Not Play Mahomes

Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes ($8,900 on FanDuel) is off to a smoking start with a league-high 10 TDs and no INTs in his first two games. Mahomes faces the 49ers who are dead last against defending QBs and WRs. It’s a dream matchup, and Mahomes is expected to be highly owned. We are not against playing Mahomes in tournaments, but with Mahomes being the most expensive QB on the Sunday slate and plenty of value found in other players, we decided to build a DFS lineup without him.

Update: The RBs and Defense sections of this article have been updated due to Eagles RB Corey Clement (quadricep) being listed as questionable and Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring) listed as out leaving RB Latavius Murray with a heavy workload against the Buffalo Bills.

QB Matt Ryan (ATL, $7,700, 4.5% projected ownership on FantasyPros) is a relatively cheap top-tier QB option. He faces a New Orleans Saints defense that gave up 42.3. FanDuel points to Buccaneers’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in week 1. Ryan was coming off his own 31.7 point performance against the Panthers last week. The game has the second highest over/under prediction on the slate of 53 points, and the Falcons are expected to score 28.

Alternative QB

QB Andy Dalton (CIN, $7,200, 0.5%) has the potential to be a sneaky play as he faces the same Panthers defense Ryan lit-up last week. Dalton is coming off a 26.6 FanDuel score against a good Ravens defense.


RB Alvin Kamara (NO, $8,700, 37.9%) had a bit of down game last Sunday only scoring 14.9 FanDuel points against a good Browns defense. Kamara still has a 26.8 average on the season and has shown he has the potential to score 30 plus FanDuel points every time he steps on the field.

RB Giovani Bernard (CIN, $6,400, 23.6%) is in line for the vast majority of the workload against the Carolina Panthers. Bengals RB Joe Mixon (knee) will not play, and teammates Mark Walton and Thomas Rawls are not a threat to touch the ball much. Panthers have given up an eighth worst 132.0 yards per game to RBs and fourth worst three rushing TDs.

RB Latavius Murray (MIN, $5,200, 45.3%) moves into the flex spot with RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring) listed as out. Murray’s low price with a projected heavy workload against the Bills poor run defense is too good not to pass up. The Bills have allowed a league-high six TDs to RBs (four rushing, two receiving), with three TDs allowed in both of their games. 

Alternative RBs/Flex

RB Corey Clement (PHI, $5,800, 8.5%) is extremely cheap considering the workload he will likely have in a high powered offense. Eagles RBs Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) have not practiced this week and look unlikely to play. Clement may share carries with RB Wendell Smallwood ($4,500, no projection) against the Colts. Clement, however, could rack up the fantasy points as a pass catcher. The Colts allowed 16 RB catches for 122 yards against the Redskins last week, according to the 4 for 4 Most Accurate Podcast.

Clement showed his pass catching ability when came in for an injured Ajayi last week and rushed six times for 30 yards and a TD and caught five passes for 55 yards. The Colts have given up an 11th worst 18.10 fantasy points a game to RBs, according to fantasy.nfl.com. Note: Clement (quadricep) was originally listed as our Flex, but moved to an alternative when was listed on the injury report late Friday.

RB Tevin Coleman (ATL, $7,300, 8.8%) has emerged as the lead back for Falcons with Devonta Freeman (knee) sidelined. Coleman had 16 carries for 107 yards and caught all four of his targets for 18 yards against the Panthers last week. The New Orleans Saints a middle of the road in defending the run.

RB Jordan Howard (CHI, $7,400, 10.2%) is in a great matchup against the Cardinals defense that has allowed 256 rushing yards and four TDs plus 14 receptions for 164 yards and a TD to RBs. The Cardinals have allowed a league-high of 38.0 fantasy points to RBs this season, according to fantasy.nfl.com.


WR Michael Thomas (NO, $9.000, 41.1%) has been targeted as second most 30 times in two games and leads the league with 28 receptions. He is also second in yards (269) and receiving TDs (3). This week Thomas will face the Falcons who have been above average at defending the pass, but Thomas looks to be in a position to exploit favorable matchups.

“He’s going to see a mix of Robert Alford, Desmond Trufant, and Brian Poole in coverage this week, though none more than the others, as he’s running 32 percent of his snaps out of the slot,” according to Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros. “This is great because Thomas dominates that work and Poole is their least-talented cornerback. He’s allowed 11-of-12 targets completed for 82 yards and a touchdown, which is good for a 122.9 QB Rating.”

WR Nelson Agholor (PHI, $6,600 38.1%) is currently the number one receiver for the Eagles with WRS Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Mike Wallace (fibula) out. Agholor has been targeted a 10th most 22 times and has an eighth most 16 receptions for 122 yards and a TD. The Colts have had the sixth best defense for receiving yards having allowed just 229 yards in two games. Agholor, however, appears to have a good matchup.


“The Colts have Kenny Moore cover the slot for them, an undrafted free agent from last year,” according to Tagliere. “He doesn’t have much experience in the NFL, as he’s seen just 42 targets in coverage, though he’s yet to allow a touchdown on those targets. He’s just 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds, and we know that Wentz is willing to give his receivers a chance in tight coverage.”

WR Calvin Ridley (ATL, $5,000, 1.4%) has emerged as the Falcons number two receiver behind Julio Jones ($8,700, 20.3%, ). Ridley caught four of five targets for 64 yards and a TD against the Panthers last week. Ridley is a cheap stack with QB Ryan at low ownership. He faces the Saints who have surrendered the most yards (558) and TDs (5) to WRs this season.

Ridley should see CB Ken Crowley in coverage. “The cornerback who has allowed a league-high three touchdowns in his coverage this year, which also includes plenty of yardage (208 yards on 14 targets),” according to Tagliere. “He was the one getting burned by rookie Antonio Callaway on the touchdown catch last week.

Alternative WRs

WRs Kamar Aiken (PHI, $4,500, no projection) and Tyler Boyd (CIN, $4,700, 2.8%) both look to be in for a significant workload at a bargain price. These are great plays to afford Mahomes. Consider Boyd with a sneaky cheap Andy Dalton stack.


TE Zach Ertz (PHI, $7,000, 31%) is an elite TE who gets targeted like an elite WR. Ertz has 23 targets. That good enough for ninth most among all players and makes him the most frequently targeted TE. Ertz caught 11 of 13 passes for 94 yards against the Buccaneers last week. Now he will have QB Carson Wentz ($7,400, 2.9%) throwing him the ball. In the first 13 games that Wentz played last season, Ertz had 57 receptions for 663 yards and seven TDs. Look for that connection to continue as Wentz is limited in quality WR options, leaving more targets for Agholor, Clement, and Ertz.

Alternative TE

TE George Kittle (SF, $5,800, 12.1%) has a great matchup against the Chiefs who have allowed the second most receptions (24) and third highest receiving yards (210) to TEs. Kittle is another value play to afford Mahomes.


With the $600 extra cash freed up from moving from RBs Clement to Murray in the Flex, we moved up from the Miami Dolphins to the Chicago Bears Defense ($4,300, 13.8%) against the Cardinals. The Bears lead the league in sacks (10) and return TDs (2). They have averaged 15.5 FanDuel points per game.

Alternative Defense   

The Miami Dolphins Defense ($3,700, 3.9%) against the Raiders looks to be a decent value against the Raiders. The Dolphins have scored 13 FanDuel points in each of their first two games in large part because they lead the league with five INTs. QB Derek Carr (OAK, $6,800, 5.9%) has thrown three INTs, tied for fourth worst.

Dan McLellan’s Best Lineup: Feel free to use many of the same players, but please apply your own research, logic, and strategy and alter this in some way.


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