NFL DFS Week 3 Picks
While I wish I was sipping McCaffee with Mahomes, I ended up being slowly roasted in Dante’s Inferno right in the middle of Where’s Antonio Island. If you did not get those puns then may God have mercy on your FitzMagic. Ok, I forced that last one in just like how I forced in a billion shares of Dante Pettis, only to watch helplessly as Pettis got ravaged by the Lions’ man coverage. The end is nigh. I am ready to fall into the bottomless void that is life, full of despair and unforgiving to those who dare to dream and hope for happiness. Eat Arby’s.
Wait, it’s only been two weeks of NFL DFS? Ahem. Forget about that whole despair nonsense I was babbling about. I just needed a Snickers. Never try to build lineups while hungry or you’ll turn into me! It’s a week full of obscure plays and a potential lack of reliable chalk outside of a few players. That screams gigantic edge for correct roster construction, picking the best players that aren’t being heavily touted or falling for teeny, tiny sample sizes. To put it bluntly, pick the guys who will score the most and you win! It’s that easy!
As always, I will be utilizing the ol’ trusty DailyRoto Optimizer to streamline my picks and see where we differ the most. Thus far through two weeks, the optimizer unsurprisingly has had the upper hand. Except for AGHOLOR!!!!! YOU WERE WRONG MR. MACHINE! I will do my very best to stump the machine on a weekly basis, even if it means burning thousands upon thousands of money in the process. It’s a pride thing. You wouldn’t understand. No one does. God, I need a Snickers. Onto my NFL DFS Week 3 picks.
Air Mahomes continues to shine under Andy Reid’s system as not only a good RPO conductor, but as an overall QB since his throws have not been forced or simply slinging it deep to TyFreak. In fact, he ranks second in forced passes into tight windows at 9.1% of his throws, with only Drew Brees (8.8%) ranking higher. Very impressive for a second year QB who had some questions coming out of college at being able to orchestrate an NFL offense. Thus far, Air Mahomes has proven he is a true general for the Chiefs. He’ll get a 49ers defense that’s piling up injuries in the secondary and giving up the third most offensive snaps in the league. Despite the low play volume (third-fewest snaps), the Chiefs are making up for it with a ridiculous point per snap average (most in NFL). The Chiefs’ defense is also giving up the second most offensive snaps, keeping all the Chiefs’ offensive players at a relatively high floor since they gotta get right back out after a few snaps on the bench. FIREPOWER!
The other obvious top play would be Kirk Cousins. That is if you’re willing to bank on a first-half workload paying off his price tag if the Vikings happen to dominate the Bills. As 17 point favorites, Vegas seems to think it’s a laughter so temper your expectations with Captain Kirk. Still, it’s worth noting the Bills defense has been so abysmal that they’ve given up QB1 numbers to opposing QBs on basically less than three quarters’ worth of play. The duo of Diggs and Thielen has kept Kirk afloat among the top performers, and a Kirk stack seems feasible enough to be worth the elevated prices against the 32nd ranked DVOA pass defense. Simply put, continue stacking against the Bills’ pass secondary until further notice before their opposing offensive players’ prices start to balloon beyond 8k. IT COULD HAPPEN!
Last week’s QB value plays were a smash hit, with Matt Ryan annihilating even the optimizer’s projections. This week looks like more of the same, with Matt Ryan once again popping as a massive value. It may very well be a trap since his price didn’t change at all, but it is a solid match-up at a discount price. There are however some injury concerns regarding Julio Jones’ availability, but that’s just normal if you’ve ever been a fantasy owner of Jones. The Saints have massive holes in their secondary, namely that Ken Crowley guy giving up oodles upon oodles of yards his way. He’s now given up 10/208/3 on 11 targets in his coverage over two weeks. That has contributed to a 31st worst DVOA Saints pass coverage unit. Add in the number 1 ranked DVOA run defense/third highest PFF graded run defense while still giving up the third most points per snap, and you have a recipe for a big Ryan workload. Trust the projections.
A couple more value plays that pop out to me are Cam Newton at a shockingly low DK price of 6000 and Deshaun Watson in an underrated shootout potential match-up. Both are ideal opto values at QB, but I prefer Watson over Newton simply based on the current match-up. Watson gets a struggling Giants defense that continues to nurse their wounds, with several key pass rushers still injured and a starting cornerback on the brink of missing the game. Watson may hold the ball forever (second longest) and sits behind an OL giving up the highest percentage of pressures, but he’s still producing fantasy points for as long as Houston is willing to engage the no-huddle offense. Once the Texans went back to no-huddle after a dismal start against the Patriots, they’ve been number 1 in the NFL at no-huddle percentage (38%) and climbing. Watson has generally preferred the no-huddle from an offensive standpoint, producing elite numbers like a 9/14 for 118 yards and a touchdown stat-line against the Titans. A Giants defense missing pass rushers, a starting cornerback, and boasting an inept offense are just ingredients for a Watson smash spot. Don’t get left behind!
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am seriously considering rostering a substantial amount of Wacco Joe Flacco. You read that right. We know the story of the mighty Joe, formerly of the ELITE QB group from a hundred years ago. He shows up every now and then to remind us peasants that he is still in fact ELITE! Then on other weeks, Flacco looks more like a flaccid….well, you know. He’s facing a Broncos defense that just saw Derek Carr complete 29 of his 32 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown. The very same Carr that fat fingered the X on his controller for a laughable interception the week before. Russell Wilson also threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns on the same Broncos defense. The very same Seattle offense that had more incompletions than completions on MNF. The Ravens won’t be getting 81 plays every week like Week 2, but they’ve continued to stockpile offensive snaps for a few seasons now. Flacco should have a large workload against a malleable Denver secondary that’s so reliant on Von Miller getting to the QB before the QB gets to their wet tissue secondary. 24th DVOA pass defense. Joe ELITE Flacco. Most offensive snaps. Cheap. Elite. Has a Super Bowl. Easy button.
I would say this is a week to pay down at RB as there are only two legitimate top plays in my opinions, injuries non-withstanding of course. Alvin Kamara looks to bounce back from a disappointing Week 2 performance with a great smash spot after Christian McCaffrey dominated the Falcons’ linebackers with a ridiculous 14/102 on 15 targets receiving line. That absolutely can be Kamara’s stat-line with a few more touchdowns. Add in Atlanta’s run defense giving up the third highest yards per carry. Then, on the other hand, you have Todd Gurley with a massive TD equity on his team and garnering true RB1 volume against an average run defense still missing its top D-Lineman. The Chargers have continued to be a middling run defense dating back to last season, giving up nearly four yards a carry thus far. To be honest, we don’t really need to focus on those two plays as they have very good match-ups with favorable game-scripts. The real key to the RB position this week is deciding how to divvy up the salary elsewhere if you decide to go chalk value RBs. Who are the chalk value RBs, you screamed? Scroll down!
Ah, Joe Mixon. Definitely not a minx. With Mixon’s knee injuries continuing to plague him, Gio Bernard now steps in as the incumbent RB1 with all the volume in the world at his disposal. The splits of Bernard as a starter versus bench warmer are quite stark, When Mixon was concussed last season and forced the Bengals to thrust Bernard in a bigger role, Bernard answered with an average of 17.34 fantasy points with an impressive 4.8 catches on 6.4 targets per game! With a sprinkle of 14.2 rush attempts per game, you have a wonderful chalk RB1 to build your lineups around! He even gets a favorable match-up against the Panthers’ 18th ranked run defense that’s giving up 4.9 yards per carry! Mmmmm. Chalk. Sure tastes dusty and gritty.
The other chalk RB play is Corey Clement of the Eagles, just in case you weren’t sure what team he was on. Jay Ajayi continues to not practice at the time of this writing, putting himself and Darren Sproles in danger of missing the game. Were that to happen, Clement suddenly props himself as the de-facto salary reliever of the slate with a tremendous workload behind the return of Carson Wentz. Clement played on 33 of the Eagles’ 75 offensive snaps last week, and that number should rise into the high 40s as a starter. Even if Ajayi were to miraculously stay alive for the Sunday game, chances are Clement will continue to see 30+ snaps and the majority of the pass down work. That’s still plenty of work at a low price tag, and that’s not even including the QB change favoring Clement heavily as Foles was quite ineffective as a passer. All signs point to a Clement easy button for the week. I prefer the blue chalk pieces, how about you?
I’m not gonna say this is a homer pick, but it’s a homer pick. Kenyan Drake has been very respectable as Miami’s starting RB, piling up 166 offensive yards and a touchdown over the past two games. He’s now averaging 16 touches and faces an unremarkable Raiders defense that continues to look lackadaisical against the run, ranking dead last DVOA and giving up the most yards per carry. It’s a quiet smash spot for Drake at a reasonable price across all sites. The only worry is Miami’s low offensive output (4th fewest plays) and slow pace (7th slowest) combined with Frank Gore stealing some snaps/touches from Drake. Outside of those two minor (OK, major) factors? Drake could secretly hit the 20 point ceiling at basically no ownership since everyone hates the Dolphins. Still, it’s worth noting that Miami is averaging a hefty 130 rushing yards per game at a 4.7 YPC clip. The Dolphins know what breads their butter – a balanced attack that leverages their run game with calculated play-actions and forcing defenses to respect their multiple WR formations. Worth a shot, I say!
The optimizer has two WRs far and away ahead of the crop, as Michael Thomas and Julio Jones stand alone on top of the WR pack. The latter has some injury concerns as referenced earlier, so let’s just go ahead and plant MT as the top WR play of the week. He’s now gobbled up 30 targets (2nd most in the league) for a 28/269/2 stat-line, owning 37% market share of the Saints’ targets! And Ted Ginn may not play! He’ll get the Atlanta Falcons and uh, well. Do I have to keep talking? The guy is getting force-fed the ball and producing! He’s not facing an elite defense or even an elite shadow cover cornerback! PLAY THE MAN! STOP THINKING ALREADY!
Now, let’s actually put our thinking caps on and dig through some of these WR plays. We know Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will be popular plays against the Bills’ woeful secondary, but do we simply stack both? Flip a coin to pick one and pray the other stinks? Stick with Thielen’s 30% market share of targets? Toughie. Let’s try to pivot off those two and find some tasty match-ups at lower ownership. But first, let’s eat some more chalk!
Tyreek Hill definitely will be one of my higher owned WRs as his match-up is just delicious from a fantasy standpoint. He gets a 49er secondary that benched one of their starters against the Lions, lost a starting safety, and now has a hampered Richard Sherman on the other side. Not even the return of Reuben Foster can stop TyFreak’s streaky season. I’m not even sure the 49ers roster anyone who can stay within five yards of Hill’s routes, and that’s being extremely generous. Kenny Golladay should have had an absolute monster day had Stafford learned what an accurate deep pass looked like. Mahomes does know what a deep pass looks like and certainly has had his share of TyStreak touchdowns. Easy button.
This is where I think the winning lineups will have to nail for the week. There are tons of value to be had at WR, with many guys I absolutely love in the 5k DraftKings Tier. Will Fuller, Allen Robinson, and Marquise Goodwin just to name a few. They all have great match-ups with high ceilings but can be boom or bust. Allen Robinson is the safest of the three, owning 30% of his team’s targets and clearly has the eye of Mitch Tebowisky. Playing against a hopeless Cardinals defense that’s struggling in their new defensive scheme, Robinson should be schemed away from Patrick Peterson‘s elite coverage for the majority of the game. That’s good news for his fantasy production, with the Cardinals defense giving up the fourth most offensive snaps per game. Jamar Taylor may end up being the primary defender lined up against Allen Robinson, and to put it lightly, that’s a beautiful spot to be in. Taylor has been responsible for 9 catches for 181 yards on 10 targets in his coverage. Like I said, a beautiful spot to be in! Go sip on some Mai Tais and watch as Robinson eviscerates Taylor en route to a 25/81/2 day! Sluuuuuuurp.
Remember when I stacked my sleeper picks from last week? I’m gonna do it again! It’s not because I’m being lazy or anything. Absolutely not! DO. NOT. BE. RUDE. We have two candidates to stack with ELITE Joe, and they are as follows – Michael “Push Off” Crabtree and “Smokey but I don’t actually smoke” John Brown. One guy runs a 4.9 forty and has elite offensive pass interference skills, while the other runs a 4.3 and can actually run routes. I wonder which guy I’m gonna choose. YES! It is John Brown as my sleeper WR pick of the week! Brown has been Flacco’s go-to bomb targets as of late, and it’s paid off dividends for ol’ Brownie boy as he’s hauled in two touchdowns on 14 targets. Those target numbers figure to get better as evidenced by his 10 target game last week. He’ll be seeing plenty of Bradley Roby on most of his routes. The same Roby who had graded poorly in ’16 but bounced back in ’17, giving up 10 catches for 101 yards and a TD on 11 targets with a 135.2 passer rating on passes headed his way. Looks like the 2016 version of Roby has shown up to play instead of the ’17 84.0 grade Roby. I’m banking on the Flacco/Brown connection hitting at least once against the Broncos, as Brown embodies the type of WR Flacco loves – someone he can blindly throw to 50+ yards down the field, or spam the quick in/out and get his WRs concussed. Hopefully the former happens and not the latter.
While many will likely tout Travis Kelce as the top TE play of the week – and he certainly deserves recognition for that, I’m going to pivot away from him and go to the other team’s TE. It’s Kibbles and Bits week! George Kittle may have disappointed many people last *okay every* week but he continues to be peppered with targets (22% of the team’s targets) and was basically the target for that random trolly Celek TD. Kittle gets a Chiefs defense that’s just simply awful everywhere, but their LB coverage is by far and away the worst coverage unit among all units. Heh, unit. 31st worst among TE coverage to be exact. Case in point – Jesse James, infamous for his explosive 4.83 forty yard dash and incredible shiftiness, dunked on the KC LBs en route to a 5/138/1 day. Yes, he gained 138 yards. Yes, it was not a mirage. Kittle has the potential to outscore Kelce based on the match-up alone, but the difference in price and ownership is the key here. If Kittle doesn’t get trolled by Celek and actually gets Jimmy G’s attention on a wide open touchdown, Kittle could have very well been priced as an high end TE. Instead, here we are. More stats! The three starting KC linebackers have combined to give up a whopping 328 yards and a touchdown on 28 catches! They are soooooo bad against opposing TEs/RBs that even Matt Breida is in play against them! But start Kittle though.
More injuries! Love ’em! Jack Doyle would have been one of the top values at TE this week, and then he had to hurt his hip. If Doyle were to miss Sunday’s game because he suddenly turned 70 years old, that would make Eric Ebron a nauseating value option to behold. Yes, we’ve been down the Ebron narrative street before and it was not pretty. However, he does seem to have Luck’s eye in the red zone and has already grabbed two touchdowns on the season. This is purely only if Doyle doesn’t play, as Ebron was in for only 16 offensive snaps in Week 2 compared to 37 in Week 1. Hedge your bets accordingly.
If you don’t feel like following the Colts’ TE situation, you could instead pivot to Kyle Rudolph or Jared Cook at a modest price. They’ve got good match-ups against defenses that have allowed opposing TEs to gain a good amount of yards. Rudolph can be a nice little pivot off the two Vikings WRs with his penchant at grabbing short touchdowns to ruin everyone’s day. He does get Tremaine Edmunds, one of the worst coverage LBs the NFL has ever seen and currently sits second among all LBs in targets/yards given up. Your choice though.
Ian Thomas is at the bottom of the basement, but he did play on 63 offensive snaps last week and dropped a would-be touchdown. He’s still firmly in the Olsen-replacement role, but with McCaffrey dominating targets and Thomas acting more like the sixth OL, there just wasn’t much volume to go around among Carolina’s weapons. However, I have a feeling Thomas gets a little giddy-up this week against a vulnerable Bengals LB corps that’s been struggling in coverage overall. The Bengals’ two main LBs that have played on most coverage snaps have combined to allow 27 catches on 31 targets for 278 yards. But hey, no touchdowns given up! Bend but don’t break! That could very well mean McCaffe simply repeats his 14 catch day, but chances are Thomas will get loose against those pathetic linebackers for an easy dunk. At no ownership and a bargain basement price, Ian Thomas is a worthy sleeper pick in my opinion. Well, of course, it’s my opinion! Why do you think I’m writing this?