FanDuel NFL Week 3: In-Depth Player Pool With Expert Analysis
Our FanDuel Week 2 was both crazy and profitable! Most of the lunacy was a result of injuries to several key players. My lineups got lucky on the injury front, but I did have 100% exposure to Titans RB Derrick Henry, who only returned a 1X performance and eroded the potential of many lineups. Despite that, I was already well up on the day before I twice chopped 1st place in the Sunday Night showdown with a single-entry into two tournaments. In last week’s article, I gave a shoutout to Justin Freeman and his outstanding show for showdown tournaments, The CPT Spot. Karma, baby!
Due to the injuries and plus matchups, this week’s FanDuel main slate tournament is loaded with value plays and viable high priced options. It’s going to be a tough week. With bankroll flush, I am taking more of a shotgun approach this week to get exposure to many different players. Some of them will likely be extremely low owned.
Exceptionally low owned will likely be low priced WRs in good matchups. There are many viable RB value plays this week that most will probably build around them and ignore lesser-known WRs. Henry’s performance last week will contribute to this dynamic because a lot of DFS players will have a recency bias and fade him and his high price and opt for the lower-priced options. Henry is again one of the highest, if not the highest, projected RBs on the slate so that I will have some exposure to him.
Research, The Mikes
As regular readers of my FanDuel column, you will not only see my research of stats but the analysis of some of the best experts in the industry (If you can’t beat them, join and credit them). Cited frequently is Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros and Mike Woellert of 4for4. This year, I will be adding Mike McClure of SportsLine.
Tagliere’s weekly column, The Primer, is the most compressive look at Fantasy Football. It’s typically about 20,000 words and had well thought out information on every fantasy-relevant (and not so relevant) player. Tagliere takes into account defensive injures, schemes, matchups, and historical numbers. I admire Tagliere’s work. This article is somewhat modeled after The Primer but reduced to only the players I’m using.
Woellert is an expert at WR vs. CB matchups. He continually finds low owned undervalued players that have huge weeks. When spending up at WR, it’s great to know they are in advantageous situations. As the season progresses, patterns emerge, and it becomes clear which CBs to exploit. Our goal is to use WRs covered by CBs, who average near or above 2.0 fantasy points per target.
While my articles give you free exposure to a sliver of the information, at FantasyPros and 4for4, I would recommend subscribing to any or all of them to help with your research.
Recapping the Big Win
The first place showdown win came from a combination of watching Freeman’s show a few minutes before kickoff, consulting Woellert’s WR vs. CB matchup chart, and using my logic. Freeman was high on WR Damiere Byrd as a value play and using both QBs. He said he couldn’t decide between Seattle WRs Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf. The chart showed Metcalf was cheaper and had a better matchup, so I went with him. That left precisely enough for Patriots WR Julian Edelman, who also had a good matchup.
Freeman doesn’t tend to play QBs in the top MVP spot, which scores 1.5 X. That’s because when a QB does well, a corresponding W.R. usually does better. I put Pats QB Cam Newton in the MVP spot because I figured he could rack up points with his legs, and he did.
As long as you have knowledge and logic, the approach for showdown slates is relatively simple before building your showdown lineup, first watching Freeman’s show, The CPT Spot. Between the two of us, we have three first-place chops in the first two weeks.
Week 3 FanDuel Player Pool
Russell Wilson (SEA, $8,700) has started the season of fire with two performances above 30 fantasy points. Against what we think is a good Patriots defense last week, Wilson completed 21 of 28 passes for 288 yards and five TDs with an interception and added 39 yards on five carries to score 34.42 fantasy points. Wilson leads the league with nine touchdown passes, three more than anyone else. Wilson faces a Cowboys defense that has been decent against QBs, having allowed an average of 19.51 fantasy points a game. Dallas hasn’t met Wilson yet, and he is likely going to inflate that average and has an excellent chance to score at least 25 against them this week,
Dak Prescott (DAL, $8,500) had a monster day last week. He completed 34 of 47 passes for 450 yards and one TD and added 18 yards off five carries for and three rushing TDs to score 39.8 fantasy points against the Falcons. Everything about that performance was outliers that we can’t expect again in any given week. What we can expect is a high scoring game with the highest over/under projection on the slate at 57, and the Seahawks favored by 5. That should create plenty of opportunities for Prescott to rack up the yardage and throw for a few TDs.
Kyler Murray (AIR, $8,400) completed 26 of 38 passes for 286 yards, one touchdown, and one interception to go along with 67 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground to score a whopping 33.14 fantasy points against Washington. That after scoring 27.3 fantasy points in Week 1 against an excellent 49ers defense. Murray has now averaged 30.2 points through the first two games, and that average could rise this week against the Lions who allowed Bears QB
Josh Allen (BUF, $8, 100) 24 of 35 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Allen finished the week as the NFL passing leader with 727 yards on the season. The matchup for Allen this week is brutal against the Rams, which have only allowed 508 total passing yards and held opponent QBs to an average of 15.01 points per game. Nevertheless, Allen is the fifth-ranked QB on 4for4 and projected to score 21.6 points. If you are playing just a couple lineups, Allen may not be your choice, but someone you want exposure to if you taking a few more dart throws at the one million top prize.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN, $7,400) is my most sneaky play and wasn’t anywhere on my radar until I looked over Woellert’s WR vs. CB matchup chard. Tannehill faces Vikings in which all three of their starting C.B.s have allowed between a very high 2.29 and a nearly unheard of 6.95 fantasy point per target. Titans WRs Adam Humphries ($5,300) and Corey Davis ($4,600) have the best matchups, and they are also dirt cheap. The trio costs a total of $17,200, which allows you to pay up everywhere else. Both Humphries and Davies will likely have minuscule ownership on a large slate, but they have averaged a collective 22.9 points a game. Tannehill had averaged 23.1. He faces the Vikings defense that has allowed 20.71 points a game to QBs, so a 3X performance from Tannehill is a fair expectation.
Justin Herbert (LAC, $7,200 ) is another low priced option that potentially could provide a 3X return. Herbert was the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft. His first career start came as a surprise last week against the Chiefs. Herbert’s number was called after team doctors punctured the lung of the Bolts, starting QB Tyrod Taylor while administering pain medication before the game. Herbert played well against the Chiefs completing 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards with one TD and an INT. He also rushed four times for 18 yards and a TD to score 23,24 fantasy points. Herbert, however, faces a Panthers defense that has held opposing QBs to just 11.12 fantasy points a game.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,300) caught 8-of-9 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown against Washington last week. Hopkins is the top projected WR on both 4for4 and FantasyPros this week. “You have to love the fact that Kyler Murray knows where the money is made, as he’s targeted Hopkins 25 times through two games,” wrote Tagliere. “When targeting Hopkins, he’s averaged 8.8 yards per attempt. When he targets anyone else, he’s averaged 5.6 yards per attempt. The Lions cornerback unit is in trouble, as they traded away top cornerback Darius Slay this offseason, then lost another starting cornerback (Justin Coleman) to injured reserve. Meanwhile, Desmond Trufant is questionable for this game with a hamstring injury. They drafted Jeff Okudah with the No. 3 overall pick, but he didn’t look ready in his first NFL game, allowing seven catches for 121 yards on 10 targets in coverage. Based on the alignment, it seems Hopkins will see the most of second-year cornerback Amani Oruwariye, who’s allowed a 79.3 percent catch-rate and a touchdown every 9.7 targets in his coverage. Start Hopkins and expect big results.”
Mike Evans (T.B., $7,700) caught seven of 10 targets for 104 yards and a TD to score 19.8 fantasy points against the Panthers last week. Evans could have another big week as he has the best CB matchup among Bucs WRs. Evans should be covered by Broncos CB Michael Ojemudia, who has allowed 56.3% catch-rate, but a very high 2.45 fantasy points per target. Evans may strut down the field for a long TD this week.
Amari Cooper (DAL, $7,000) caught six of nine targets for 100 yards against the Falcons to score 13.0 fantasy points. The week before the Rams, he scored 13.1 points when he caught 10 of 14 targets for 81 yards. Cooper’s relatively lower price is because he hasn’t found the end zone yet, but it is only a matter of time with the volume he receives. Cooper has an excellent shot at scoring this week as he has the best matchup of any Cowboys WR Cooper should be covered by Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin, who, through two games, has allowed an 85.7% catch-rate and 2.36 fantasy points per target.
Tyler Lockett (SEA, $6,800) has the best matchup of the Seahawks W.R.s in Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis. Through the first two games, Lewis has allowed an 83.3% catch rate and 2.38 fantasy points per target. “Dating back to last season, Lewis has been targeted 62 times while allowing a 71% catch rate,” wrote Woellert. “He was back in the lineup in Week 2 and proceeded to allow four of five targets to be caught, one for a score. Over the last 62 times, he’s been thrown at, he’s allowing 2.01 fantasy points per target.”
Robert Woods (LAR, $6,600) is only being included in this week’s pool because he has the matchup of the Rams W.R.s against Bills. When playing Bills QB Josh Allen, Woods is the best option for an opposing WR Bills CB Tre’ Davious White will likely cover Woods. The matchup is decent, but not fantastic. White has allowed a very respectable 44.4% catch-rate while his fantasy points per target are on the higher side at 1.63. That means when he does get beat, it’s usually for a big play. The Rams will likely be playing from behind, QB Jared Goff ($7,200) will probably give Woods a few opportunities to make that big play.
Tyler Boyd (CIN $5,800) caught seven of eight targets for 72 yards and a TD against the Browns last week to score 17.7 fantasy points. That’s a lot of targets and production for the price. Boyd should be able to keep it going again the week against Eagles CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (NRC). “Over the first few weeks of the season, NRC has been thrown at six times, however, I see that number increasing significantly this week,” wrote Woellert. “A.J. Green has commanded most of Joe Burrow‘s attention, Green will draw Darius Slay‘s shadow, and as a result, Boyd’s matchup will allow him to have a better week. It’s a small sample in two games. However, NRC has allowed a 100% catch rate, yielding 3.3 fantasy points per target.”
Mike Williams (LAC, $5,700) is a hit and miss type of player. A 6-4, 220 LB, he is the body red zone target. Through two games, Williams has six receptions for 83 yards, but no T.D.s. That could change this week as he has a plus matchup against Panthers CB Donte Jackson. “Donte Jackson is not a good cover corner and won’t match up well with Williams this week,” wrote Woellert/”Thankfully, Justin Herbert is starting once again. Jackson had some troubles with Mike Evans last week, and Williams is similar in stature. Williams can get the jump balls and is a red zone threat. Williams is the second-most targeted receiver; however, he did see a decrease in targets from Week 1 to Week 2, something to keep in the back of your mind. I’m hoping Herbert takes advantage of the matchup here. Williams has an aDOT (average depth of target) of 16.2, while Jackson allows 14.0 yards per target. Over Jackson’s last 63 times he’s been thrown at, he’s has allowed a 65% completion rate and 2.4 fantasy points per target.”
Cole Beasley (BUF, $5,400) Caught five of six targets for 70 yards last week against the Dolphins. Through two weeks, he has caught nine of 13 targets for 128 yards with no scores. Beasley indeed continues to see more than enough targets to make him appealing at his price. He has the best CB matchup among the Bills W.R.s. Beasley will likely be covered by Rams CB Troy Hill, who this season has allowed a 100% catch-rate and 2.22 points per target. Beasley can virtually be penciled in for 2x performance and has the potential for 4X.
Corey Davis (TEN, $5,300) has been remarkably constant through the first two games, having caught seven of eight passes in Week 1 for 101 yards against the Broncos, and then he caught three of five passes for 36 yards and a TD to average 12.4 fantasy points. The point is Davis is cheap but is more likely to provide you a greater than 2X return than a goose egg. Here is where it gets exciting, Davis has the best possible C.B. matchup of any WR on the slate. Davis should be covered by Vikings CB Cameron Dantzler, who, through two games, has allowed a 100% catch rate and an astronomical 6.85 fantasy point per target.
Darnell Mooney (CHI, $4,800) is the type of GPP play that may take down a tournament. If you play him, his ownership maybe a total of three: you, me, and his mother. Early on, this rookie showed the potential for a big day with three catches in both games, including a TD last week. Week 3 could be week as Mooney has one of the best C.B. matchups on the slate. He will likely be covered by fellow rookie CB A.J. Terrell who has allowed an 83.3% catch rate and very high 3.23 fantasy points per target. The stack of Trubisky/Mooney only costs $12,300, allowing the rest of your lineup to be stacked. If Trubisky/Mooney connect for a couple of scores, you could win a GPP.
Adam Humphries (TEN, $4,600) is another dirt cheap option that has received targets and produced in the early going and has a great CB matchup. Humphries has averaged 10.5 fantasy points through the first two games. This week he will likely be covered by Vikings CB Mike Hughes who has allowed an 83.3% catch-rate and 3.02 points per target.
Take a Side and Join the Debate
Zach Ertz (PHI, $6,200) has been overshadowed this season by teammate TE Dallas Goedert ($5,200), who continues to be a target hog. We will have exposure to both. Perhaps the best way to look at it as Ertz has effectively morphed into a slot receiver while Goedert is the Eagles TE From that perspective, Ertz has a great matchup against Bengals CB Mackensie Alexander, who allowed a 75% catch-rate and 2.33 points per target.
Tyler Higbee (LAR, $6, 100) caught five of five targets for 54 yards and 3 T.D.s against the Eagles. It was a magnificent performance as we were on him last week. While we can’t expect a repeat to that level, it’s clear that Higbee continues to emerge as one of the league’s few elite TEs and will is a red-zone favorite of Goff.
Dallas Goedert ($5,200) caught four of eight targets for 30 yards against the Rams. He only scored five fantasy points after scoring 20.1 the week prior against Washington. Nevertheless, he has been targeted 17 times in the first two games and has caught 12 passes for 131 yards and a TD. That’s a heck of a lot of opportunity and production for the price. Goedert would be a viable Flex candidate if you were to choose to play two TEs in FanDuel this week.
Hunter Henry (LAC, $6,000) had six receptions for 83 yards on eight targets last week against the Chiefs. Henry has caught 11 of 16 targets for 156 yards in the first two games. That consistency provides a floor near 2X with a much higher ceiling if he were to score.
Dan Arnold (AIR, 4,300) is a good option if you want to punt the TE position and pay up elsewhere. Arnold was promoted to TE 1 for the Cardinals this week after Maxx Williams (ankle) was placed on the IR list. Williams sat out last week, and Arnold logged 73 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, and he finished tied for third in targets with four. Arnold recorded two catches for 26 yards. With Arnold, you get a near minimum priced player who will see a ton of offensive snaps on a high scoring offense against an indigent defense against the pass.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, $8,600) has had 22 carries in both of his first two games. That’s consistency! Elliott ran for 89 yards and a T.D. on 22 while catching six of seven targets for 33 to score 19.2 fantasy points against the Falcons. Eliott is the top-ranked RB on the main slate, but the matchup against the Seahawks is a difficult one as they have allowed a third-best 10.7 fantasy points a game to RBs in this young season. Elliott will likely inflate that average this week, but it appears there is better value in the mid-six to seven thousand range with a few pass-catching RBs in better matchups.
Derrick Henry (TEN, $8,200) 25 times for 84 yards with no receptions on two targets. At $8,300 last week, he returned what amounts to a 1X return with 8.4 points. The low score was due to no receptions or TDs, which were disappointing because he was in a smash spot against the Jaguars. That was last week. The thing about Henry’s fantasy score against the Jags is it creates an extreme recency bias for those playing DFS this week. In real-life football, Henry still touched the ball 25 times for 84 yards. In DFS, you want to use players who touch the ball 25 times because that’s 25 opportunities for a big play. Henry is among the top-five ranked R.B.s this week despite a relatively tough matchup against the Vikings. If you are playing multiple lineups, you may want exposure to Henry and his workload because he is very capable of delivering a monster day at relatively low ownership compared to what it was a week ago.
Austin Ekeler (LAC, $7,500) rushed 16 times for 93 yards and brought in all four of his targets for 55 yards in the Bolts overtime loss to the Chiefs. HC Anthony Lynn kept his word and got the ball to Ekeler more for a total of 20 touches. The Chargers play the Panthers this week who were destroyed by Raiders RB Josh Jacobs (not on the main slate) who scored 35.9 fantasy points in Week 1 and then held RB Derrick Henry to just 8.4 fantasy points last week. Ekeler will continue to have rookie QB Justin Herbert (LAC, $7,200) getting him the ball this. That may bode well for Ekeler, who seemed to return to form after Week 1 when he saw just one pass from QB Tyrod Taylor (LAC, $6,700). A team doctor accidentally punctured Taylor’s lung in pre-game while administering pain medication, which led to the surprise start for Herbert, and he played well against the Chiefs.
The one issue with playing Ekeler is rookie teammate RB Joshua Kelley (LAC, $5,900) touched the ball more than Ekeler with 23 carries for 64 yards and two receptions for 49 yards on three targets. This amount of touches for Kelley means that Ekeler isn’t the workhorse you get with some other RB. in the range. However, it also means Kelley is viable in the flex. One option is to play them both in a lineup. A few years back, many GPP plays did well playing the duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram when they were both on the Saints. Carolina has allowed an average of 45.5 points a game to RBs. The total cost of Ekeler and Kelley is $13,400. There is an excellent chance that they can combine for greater than a 2X return against the Panthers.
Miles Sanders (PHI, $7,400) is healthy after missing Week 1 to allow for some additional time for a hamstring to heal. He retook his throne as the leader of the Eagles backfield last week against the Rams and rushed 20 times for 95 yards and a touchdown. Sanders also added three receptions on seven targets for 36 yards. The week Sanders faces a Bengals defense that, through two games, has allowed the second most amount of rushing yards (210) and have allowed more TDs. to the position that any other defense at four (three rushing, one receiving). Sanders will likely again touch the ball between 20-25 times and with his matchup should be on par with his previous week’s production.
James Conner (PIT, $7,100) suffered a minor ankle sprain Week 1. Connor put any concerns to rest that the injury was severe with his performance against the Broncos last week when he carried the ball 16 times for 106 yards and a TD He also caught both of his targets for 15 yards to score a total of 19,1 fantasy points. Connor faces a Texans defense that has allowed a fourth-most 176 rushing yards this season two TDs (1 rushing, 1 receiving) to RBs. Connor could have a very similar game to last week and be in the range of a 3X return.
Jonathan Taylor (IND, $6,700) 26 times for 101 yards and a touchdown and added two receptions for nine yards against the Vikings last week for 18 fantasy points. That’s the workhorse role I predicted last week. His price as gone up to $1,300, but he still a great value that is well-positioned for 3x return or better. Taylor is third-ranked R.B. this week on both 4for4 and the FantasyPros consensus rank. Taylor faces a Jets defense that had allowed a sixth-worst 41.30 fantasy points a game to RBs.
Kenyan Drake (Air, $6,500) carried the ball 20 times for 86 yards and caught both his targets for nine yards against Washington. Drake’s fantasy score of 10.5 wasn’t all that exciting, but you have to love the 22 total touches. This week he faces the Lions who early on have been the pours against the run, having already surrendered 248 yards on the ground. Drake makes for a potential stack with Murray, but if the duo hookup for a passing TD It would be a first. Drake has yet to score a receiving TD with the Cardinals.
Jerick McKinnon (S.F., 5,700) appears to be set for a large role in the 49ers offense this week against the Giants, with teammates Raheem Mostert ($6,800, knee MCL) and Tevin Coleman ($5,700, knee) both expected to miss this week. McKinnon has averaged a respectable 12.8 fantasy points a game this year despite limited touches because he has a touchdown (one rushing, one receiving) in both games. McKinnon may now see in the neighborhood of 20 touches in an above-average matchup against the Giants McKinnon is projected to be the 14th highest scoring RB at 14.0 points on 4for4 (say that three times fast). That’s not bad considering he is more than 3K cheaper than the top projected RBs who projected to score only about four more points.
Dan McLellan’s Rankings
FanDuel Lineup Build
There isn’t an exact science in what a FanDuel winning lineup looks likes. However, they should tell a logical story, and certain elements are frequent.
When building a FanDuel lineup, I’ll try to check off most of the criteria:
1) QB stacked with a WR: This allows for a double score when the two connect.
2) Opposing WRs: A recent analysis of big tournaments winners found a high percentage were constructed with two WRs in the same game from both teams. The combination of opposing WRs makes sense because high scoring shootouts allow for opportunity on both sides of the ball. Based on matchups, some of our lineups builds incorporate this.
3) RB stacked with Defense: There is a strong correlation between an RB performing well with their team’s defense. That’s something to factor in when choosing a defense, but in reality, it’s often the perceived best available defense with money left from the build that gets plugged in.
Seven Builds: Mix It Up: Don’t wholly copy these lineups as I will be using them. Instead, use this article as research and use the players to build your unique winning lineup.
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