FantasyDraft: NFL DFS WEEK 3 – Finding Value off the Radar
One great thing about DFS vs. season-long leagues is in DFS you can easily move on from injuries and try again the next week or even the next slate. Injuries certainly played a factor in our lineups last week as we had Saints RB Alvin Kamara as a core play in both this article and our DFS Fantasy Foreplay podcast. With QB Drew Brees (hand) getting hurt, Kamra only scored 7.0 FantasyDraft points. It was his lowest production since Week 5 (6.90 point) of last season, and 12 of 13 games in between he scored 15 points or more. For our podcast lineup, we had PIT QB Ben Rothlisberger stacked with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. That lineup blew-up at the same time Ben’s elbow did.
Enough of the whining! It’s a new week. There was a lot to take in from last week to build DFS lineups for this week that has some marquee games on the Main Slate. We initially focused on the Cowboys as being an astronomical 22.5 points favored against the Dolphins at home. The Patriots who we built around last week are favored by 22 points against the Jets and were considered. We also looked closely as the Ravens vs Chiefs game that promises to be a duo between to high powered offenses and has a projected total of 52.5 points.
We have pieces of all three of those games but decided to build around another high flying offense with great matchups that is not at the center of the DFS buzz this week. Three key players form the Chargers are lower priced which allowed for a more complete lineup. They will also likely have lower ownership, and that is a good thing.
The lineup in this article will be played in the FantasyDraft $750 K Hooters Main Event (100K to 1st). Our team at DFS Fantasy Foreplay on IroniqRadio will build another lineup for the Hooters Main Event. The podcast of that show should appear at the top of this article by Saturday morning.
QB (Salary on FantasyDraft)
LAC QB Philip Rivers ($10,600) was not our first choice at QB in the main slate with multiple marquee games that have the potential for some real fireworks. Rivers is priced only $600 above minimum salary and the Chargers are projected to score 25.5 points against the Texans. The Chargers are missing three of there starting secondary, so the opportunity is there on the other side of the field to put up points against the Chargers and for the whole game to turn into a high scoring affair with Rivers throwing a lot. Rivers favorite target WR Keenan Allen ($13,300) has one of the best CB matchups on the slate and with Rivers lower price the stack is affordable to build around. Rivers had a 27.32 FantasyDraft performance at home in Week 1. The stage is set for a similar performance.
“With the defense starting to cave in a bit, we could see Rivers throw the ball much more than we anticipated this offseason, wrote Mike Tagliere in his weekly column The Primer which looks at every viable fantasy player. “Through two games, he’s on pace for 560 pass attempts, but he just lost another starting safety, which means the Chargers are down three of four starters in the secondary. The Texans have lost a few pieces as well, and it’s led to them allowing a rather-high 72.4 percent completion-rate, which includes a backup rookie quarterback making his first start on the road. They decided to cut their starting nickel cornerback after Week 1, which now leaves them with long-time veteran Johnathan Joseph, Broncos cast-off Bradley Roby, and second-round rookie Lonnie Johnson. at cornerback. The Chargers have the wide receivers to exploit these matchups, as Rivers’ favorite target, Keenan Allen, would be matched up with Roby, who was let go by the cornerback-needy Broncos. At home, Rivers should be considered a high-end QB2 and a solid streamer who should offer a rock-solid floor.”
DAL QB DAK Prescott ($12,300) is the third leading passer with 337 per game average and is tied with KC QB Patrick Mahomes ($13,700) and BAL QB Lamar Jackson ($13,500) for most passing TDs with seven. Prescott faces a Dolphins defense that has allowed a league-worst 8 passing TDs and fifth-worse 316.5 passing yards per game.
All three of these QBs show potential for big days and there are arguments they are worth the price. For most of the week, we were focussed on building lineups with Prescott. The pivot to Rivers was made because we have some concern that Prescott’s ceiling may be capped in a blowout. Whereas the Texans at Chargers looks to be a much more competitive game that has shootout potential. The cheaper salary with Rivers also allowed for a higher quality WR2.
ATL Matt Ryan ($11,200) is priced between Rivers and Prescott and has an excellent chance at providing a QB 1 day against the Colts. A stack with Ryan and WR Julio Jones ($14,000) could provide a fantastic return as Jones has a favorable CB matchup. The cost of Ryan/Jones ($25,200) vs. Rivers/Allen ($23,900) meant paying down at WR2 to a tier that we are not as confident in.
AIR QB Kyler Murray ($10,500) has thrown for 657 yards in two games. He has QB 1 upside potential and offers a pivot from Rivers.
“The area Murray can succeed, however, is over the middle of the field, wrote Tagliere. “Murray’s targeted his slot-heavy receivers 44 times while targeting the remaining receivers just 29 times. The play volume combined with the strength/weakness over the middle of the field, Murray should be able to stay in the low-end QB1 conversation this week.”
Special Note for Murray: If IND RB Marlon Mack ($10,900, calf) does not play, we will slot IND RB Jordan Wilkins ($6,200) in for KC RB Darwin Thompson ($6,000). This will especially be the case if KC RB LeSean McCoy ($9,100, ankle) plays leaving Thompson with a limited role. This is further explained below. If this switch occurs, we will need to pivot to Murray from Rivers to get the extra $100. We will not make any additional changes to the lineup and Murray will not be stacked with any other player from his team.
WRs (Salary on FantasyDraft)
LAC WR Keenan Allen ($13,300) has started the season by already racking up 25 targets (10,15) and has receptions in both of the first two games for a total of 221 yards and a TD. Allen is averaging 18 FD points per game.
“I love Allen’s matchup on Roby, who’s moved to the slot after Houston released Aaron Colvin after Week 1,” wrote Mike Woellert in his weekly WR vs CB matchup at 4for4. “Through two weeks, Allen is dominating the target share at nearly 61% and has a 22% target per snap rate. This volume puts him in play in all formats this week. Roby struggled in coverage last season, allowing six touchdowns and 2.1 fantasy points per target. He’s going to struggle to keep up with Allen this week.”
DEN ($9,500) Emanuel Sanders ($9,500) at 0% ownership went off for 11 receptions for 98 yards a TD and a 2 pt conversion for 28.80 against a very good Bears defense. Sanders is now the 13th leader WR with 16 receptions for 184 yards and two TDs.
“Through two weeks, he is the No. 3 receiver in fantasy football with Joe Flacco as his quarterback,” wrote Tagliere. “His 20 targets rank top-10 at the position, so it’s not due to some fluke plays, either. His touchdown in the corner of the end zone last week was a thing of beauty. He’s only running 26 percent of his routes from the slot, so he’s winning on the perimeter, against the opponent’s top cornerbacks. When he does move into the slot, he’s targeted heavily, though. On 22 slot routes, he’s been targeted nine times, which has led to eight receptions for 77 yards. That’s significant because the Packers are likely to stick Jaire Alexander on him, and he doesn’t travel into the slot. That’s where he’d see Tramon Williams, who can be beat at his advanced age.”
CIN WR Tyler Boyd ($11,900) followed an eight reception game in Week 1 with 10 receptions in game 2. He is the second leading WR for receptions (18), two being Michael Thomas (20). Boyd has not reached the end zone but had one called back. He is a PPR monster. Boyd faces a tough defense in Buffalo this week.
BAL WR Marquise Brown (11,000) saw a huge increase in his snap count from 14 to 50. He was targeted 13 times and caught eight for 86 yards.
AIR WR Larry Fitzgerald ($10,100) has started the season with two consecutive games over 100 yards. He is now the eighth leading WR 13 receptions for 217 yards and a TD.
DAL WR Randall Cobb ($9,900) has caught nine of 11 targets on the season for 93 yards and TD in the slot. That will not put him on many DFS player’s radars. Cobb’s target this week should see a significant increase with WR Michael Gallup (knee) out. If Cobb’s targets increase from 5.5 average per game to closer to 10 this week, he could have a huge day. Miami has allowed 100% catch rate, 4 TDs and for full PPR 5.0 points per target against slot WRs. You read that right. Every time a slot receiver has been targeted against Miami the WR has caught the ball and has averaged 5.0 FD points per play. It’s highly likely those numbers will decrease and average out throughout the season, but right now that is a stat that has to be attacked until it doesn’t.
“The Dolphins traded away Minkah Fitzpatrick and it appears that Jomal Wiltz is in line for slot corner duties against the red hot Cowboys and Dak Prescott, wrote Woellert. “Prescott has taken a liking to Cobb, targeting him at least five or more times in the first two weeks. Now that Michael Gallup is out, Cobb could see an increase in target volume, just at the right time. If there’s a way to beat the Dolphins, which isn’t difficult, it’s in the slot. Through the first two weeks, the Dolphins have allowed four scores and 21.9 yards per reception, resulting in 4.5 points per target. Wiltz has struggled over 54 snaps, allowing touchdowns in consecutive games and 3.7 points per target.
DAL WR Devin Smith ($6,400) is certainly worth the play at his price in a GPP. Smith came on to replace WR Michael Gallup (knee). He played just 18 of 70 snaps in the game but caught three balls for 74 yards and a TD. The Cowboys are projected to score 35 points against the Dolphins, so Smith could find the endzone again. He was in many of the lineups we built to start the week. However, we do have some concern that Smith may not see that many targets in this game because he is a deep threat, and Dallas will likely not need to throw deep to win.
TE (Salary on FantasyDraft)
CAR TE Greg Olsen ($7,000) caught six of nine targets for 110 yards against the Buccaneers last Thursday. Olsen was also targeted nine times in Week 1 for a total of 18 targets on the season. He faces a Cardinals defense that has been absolutely atrocious against TEs. Arizona has allowed 17 receptions on 23 targets (73.9% catch rate) for 273 yards and three TDs. That equates to 62.3 FantasyDraft points in only two games.
ATL TE Austin Hooper ($7,100) has been targeted a sixth-most for TEs at 15 times and faces Colts defense that has allowed a league-worst 79.8% catch rate to the position. Hooper makes a great alternative to Olsen and makes for a nice stack with QB Matt Ryan.
RBs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft)
DAL RB Ezekiel Elliott ($17,100) appears to back to full go. Elliott had 23 carries for 111 yards and a TD and caught two passes for nine yards last Sunday. Now he faces a Dolphins defense that through two games has allowed a staggering 395 rushing yards and four TDs, both a league-worst.
MIN RB Dalvin Cook ($14,600) leads the league in rushing yards (265) and rushing TDs (3). He also has five receptions for 46 yards. There is no one player in the NFL whose team offense is being run more through him than Cook which evidenced by the constancy of his high fantasy scoring. Cook scored 29 FD points In Week 1. That was followed by a 31.10 performance for an average of 30.05.
LAC RB Austin Eckler ($14,700) is the No. 1 running back in fantasy football with an average of 31.85 FantasyDuel points. A big part of his production has come through the air. Eckler has caught 12 (6,6) passes for 163 yards and two TDs. The receptions alone equate to two TDs in FantasyDraft’s PPR format. Eckler has also carried the ball 29 times for 124 yards and two more TDs, He would be tied with Cook for three rushing TDs if he didn’t have a goalline fumble last week. Eckler faces the Texans who are tied with the Chiefs for the league-worst 6.0 yards per carry allowed.
When playing on FantasyDraft it is important to remember they reward a full point per reception. We are using three of the top four RBs as projected at 4for4 for full PPR.
KC RB Darwin Thompson ($6,000) is priced at minimum salary and poised to play a significant role in the Chiefs high flying offense with RB Damien Williams (knee, out) and RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) suffering injuries last week. What excites us about Thompson is his potential role as a pass-catcher. Thompson only had 15 total touches in the preseason. He averaged 5.0 yards per run on his 12 carries. He also had three catches for 28 yards and a TD. Darwin has touched the ball just twice in the first two games, but one of those times was a catch.
“Thompson showed some ability as a pass catcher and route runner, wrote Kent Swanson and Pete Sweeney for ArrowHeadPride after Thompson in evaluating Thompson as a sith round pick this offseason. “His change of direction should come in handy as he develops his route-running abilities. He has natural hands and is dangerous on swings as he’s hard to bring down. Averaged over 15 yards per catch in his only season at Utah State.”
Thompson only needs about 10 total touches with three of them catches to return value. If he finds his way to the endzone in a game the Chiefs are predicted to score 30.5 points, then it will be a huge day for Thompson.
IND Marlon Mack ($10,900) or Jordan Wilkins ($6,200) both provide an alternative. Who you use is determined by Mack’s health. Mack leads the league in carries with 45 and is the third-highest rusher with 225 yards. Mack also caught two passes last week and has run 37 pass routes (18th most) this season, so there are signs he is emerging as a pass-catcher. If the Colts were to commit to Mack as a pass-catcher this week, he could put up huge numbers. The Falcons allowed a league-worst 243.6 PPR through the air last year, according to Tagliere. The problem is Mack (calf) missed practice on Wednesday. If Mack were to not play this week, then Wilkins would get the start at the minimum salary. Wilkins has a better matchup than Thompson. The choice to use Thompson or Wilkins would then likely be determined on what Thompson’s perceived workload is. If it is clear that Thompson is the starter because McCoy is out in addition to Williams, then play Thompson. If, however, McCoy plays and Thompson looks to be limited as a change of pace option, then play Wilkins who would be in store for a heavy workload.
Team Defense (Salary on FantasyDraft)
The New England Patriots ($7,100) have allowed just three points and racked five INTs, plus eight sacks through two games. After scoring a solid 10 FD points against the Steelers in Week 1, they followed that up with a massive 37 point score against the lowly Dolphins. Last week may seem like an anomaly and that we should not expect an exact repeat this week, however, it’s within the realm of possibilities. The Jets will be without starting QB Sam Darnold (illness) and backup QB Trevor Siemian (IR, ankle), this means Luke Falk (not available on FantasyDraft) will be the starting QB. Falk is a 2018 sixth-round pick who was signed off the practice squad prior to Monday’s game against the Browns. When Sieman got hurt. Falk played reasonably well in his NFL debut as he completed 20 of 25 attempts for 198 yards. The Patriots have had a full week to prepare for Falk and the Jets offense. When the Pats played the Jets in Week 17 of last season with Darnold as QB, the defense scored 23 FD points. The Patriots defensive score average this season is 23.5 and may actually go up.
Alternative Team Defense (Salary on FantasyDraft)
The Dallas Cowboys ($7,100) play the Dolphins. In addition to the Patriot debacle of last week, Miami allowed the Ravens to score 13 FD points in Week 1.
A cheaper approach to defense is to pick on some of the other back-up QBs who are more likely to make mistakes. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($5,200) defense as played better than expected this season with a 10.50 FD average and they face rookie Jones who will be making his NFL debut. We don’t trust the Arizona Cardinals ($5,500) against Panthers backup QB Kyle Allen because the Cardinals defense should be avoided at all cost in virtually any circumstance.
The San Francisco 49ers ($6,600) and the Seattle Seahawks ($7,000) also face backups, but they do not come at a discount because that was known before prices were set. Of the two, we prefer the 49ers against Steelers QB Mason Rudolf ($10,400). The 49ers defense have already played well this season averaging 17 points per game.
Put It All Together
If you are playing the FantasyDraft $750 K Hooters Main Event (100K to 1st) contest, please make at least one change from this lineup.
Dan McLellan Rankings
Last week was a tough week, I fell from 54th to 104th overall. However, I am ranked 5th for TEs. Hopefully, this week I can rise in the rankings.
Industry Accuracy Rankings: https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/accuracy/
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