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RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 3

Fri Sep 20 10:44am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

McCaffrey is set to rebound


One of the more impactful themes of Week 3 in the NFL is going to be all of the changes across the quarterback landscape. Whether it be because of injuries or bad teams turning the reigns over to their younger quarterbacks, we are going to see a lot of different faces under center. That will have ramifications throughout the world of DFS, as well. Let’s dive into the matchups and discuss some players to target or avoid when crafting your entry.

QUARTERBACKS

Top-tier option: Dak Prescott, DAL vs. MIA ($6,700): This game between the Cowboys and Dolphins figures to be one of the most lopsided contests of the week. The Dolphins allowed a whopping 102 points in their first two games and have since traded away one of their best defensive players in Minkah Fitzpatrick. Prescott already has seven touchdowns across two games and should be in line for another monster stat line.

Cheap target: Josh Allen, BUF vs. CIN ($5,900): The Bills have a chance to start off their season 3-0 if they can win this game at home against the Bengals. Allen has been one of the main reasons for their success, posting at least 250 passing yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown in both of their previous games. He has better weapons around him with John Brown and Cole Beasley in the fold, which should be key to his development during his second season in the league. The 49ers just hung 41 points on the Bengals last week, leaving Allen and the Bills’ offense with significant upside.

Player to avoid: Derek Carr, OAK at MIN ($5,800): It looked like Carr and the Raiders were going to be in for a big afternoon last Sunday against the Chiefs when they scored 10 points in the first quarter. However, their offense went silent after that, in large part due to Carr’s struggles. He finished with 198 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, which was yet another poor performance by him on the road. Over 41 career home games, he has 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions while completing 64.6 percent of his passes. However, over 39 road games, he has 52 touchdowns, 26 interceptions and a 61.3 percent completion rate. Since Allen is only priced $100 more, I want no part of Carr.

RUNNING BACKS

Top-tier option: Christian McCaffrey, CAR at ARI ($7,800): McCaffrey produced a rare dud in Week 2 with only 53 total yards. Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense struggled, overall, in what looked to be a favorable matchup at home against the Buccaneers. Now with Newton unlikely to play this week, Kyle Allen is expected to take over at quarterback. That means the team will likely rely heavily on McCaffrey, so look for him to have a valuable bounce back performance against the Cardinals’ porous defense.

Cheap target: Frank Gore, BUF vs. CIN ($5,000): The key here is the status of Devin Singletary, who missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury. He left last week’s game against the Giants with that ailment, which resulted in some added opportunities for Gore. With his 19 carries, Gore was able to record 68 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals have allowed the third-most rushing yards through the first two weeks, making Gore a potential steal at this price if Singletary is ruled out.

Player to avoid: Phillip Lindsay, DEN at GB ($6,500): The running back situation in Denver is becoming one to avoid in DFS. Lindsay and Royce Freeman have almost split the offensive snaps evenly in their first two games, leaving both of them with limited upside. While Lindsay was expected to be featured more prominently in the passing game, Freeman caught five of seven targets in Week 2 against the Bears. Since Lindsay doesn’t come at much of a discount, keep him out of your entry.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Top-tier option: Chris Godwin, TB vs. NYG ($6,800): Mike Evans and Godwin might be the next version of the Antonio Brown/JuJu Smith-Schuster pairing that the Steelers had. Smith-Schuster thrived with opposing defense focusing on Brown and we’re seeing early signs of that here with Godwin. Evans has still been heavily involved the first two weeks, but Godwin has taken advantage of easier coverage by hauling in 11 of 15 targets for 174 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants secondary is a sieve outside of Janoris Jenkins, leaving Godwin with one of the highest upsides at the receiver position for this slate.

Cheap target: Randall Cobb, DAL vs. MIA ($4,100): Stacking Prescott with one or two of the Cowboys’ wide receivers could prove to be very profitable this week. Cobb recorded 69 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 1, but cooled off for just 24 yards last week. However, he received at least five targets in both games and could be even more involved against the Dolphins with Michael Gallup (knee) out. At this price, he could be well worth the risk in tournament play.

Player to avoid: Jamison Crowder, NYJ at NE ($5,900): This game between the Jets and Patriots figures to be the other epic mismatch on the schedule. The Jets are down to Luke Falk at quarterback with Sam Darnold (mono) and Trevor Siemian (ankle) sidelined. Falk was a sixth-round pick in 2018 and was still on their practice squad before being activated for last week’s game against the Browns. It’s difficult to envision a scenario in which he is successful here on the road, making Crowder and the rest of the Jets’ receivers too risky to deploy.

TIGHT ENDS

Top-tier option: Mark Andrews, BAL at KC ($5,300): Andrews has been one of the main beneficiaries of the emergence of quarterback Lamar Jackson. He’s caught 16 of 17 targets for 220 yards and two touchdowns, although he did have two favorable matchups against the Dolphins and Cardinals. Still, the volume of targets that he has received is the most encouraging stat, making him another great option in a game that should be a shootout between the Ravens and Chiefs.

Cheap target: O.J. Howard, TB vs. NYG ($4,400): It’s a bit shocking to see a tight end with Howard’s talent priced so low, but that’s what happens when he is coming off of a game in which he didn’t receive a single target despite playing 92.3 percent of the Bucs’ offensive snaps. If there was ever a favorable spot for him to get back in track, it’s here against a Giants team that struggles mightily to defend the middle of the field.

Player to avoid: Jared Cook, NO at SEA ($4,300): The Saints will have a very different look this week with Drew Brees (thumb) sidelined. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to start, but Taysom Hill could also spend some time under center. Cook already has just four catches for 62 yards over their first two games, so this feels like a situation to avoid for at least one week while we see how the new quarterbacks play out.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

Player Notes
Geoff Swaim Oct 18 2:30pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) and tight end Geoff Swaim (ankle, concussion) have both been ruled out for Week 7 against the Bengals. Neither Lee nor Swaim have moved the fantasy needle this year for the Jaguars offense. If Dede Westbrook can't give it a go, it'll be either C.J. Board or Keelan Cole as the team's No. 3 wideout behind D.J. Chark and Chris Conley on Sunday. With James O'Shaughnessy on Injured Reserve, rookie Josh Oliver will become the team's primary tight end if he can make his season debut. Stay away from the tight end position in Jacksonville, however.

From RotoBaller

Wil Lutz Oct 18 2:30pm ET

New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz could be in for a tough game against the Chicago Bears in Week 7. Lutz has been excellent, ranking eighth in the league among kickers with 54 fantasy points this season. Unfortunately, the Bears Defense ranks third in the NFL in fantasy points against kickers. In what could end up being a low-scoring game, Lutz may not see enough red-zone chances to put up fantasy points. Given how good he's been, he's still a start in this one, albeit a risky one.

From RotoBaller

Joe Flacco Oct 18 2:30pm ET

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said he's considering major changes on offense after the blowout loss to the Chiefs on Thursday night, but moving away from quarterback Joe Flacco is not one of them. The main reason is that current backup Brandon Allen wouldn't be a realistic solution. However, rookie Drew Lock is nearing a return from his injury and will be a viable alternative later in the year if Flacco continues to look terrible under center. The 34-year-old has shown that he has basically nothing left. He's gone over 300 yards passing in a game just once this year and has six touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games. Flacco is a low-end QB2 with pretty much no upside.

From RotoBaller

Dede Westbrook Oct 18 2:20pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (shoulder) is listed as questionable for Week 7 against the Bengals. We still expect Westbrook to play, but you'll need to check the Sunday morning inactives just to be sure. Against a Cincinnati team missing their starting cornerbacks, Westbrook will be a high-end WR3 if he's active. If he's ruled out, D.J. Chark and Chris Conley will operate as quarterback Gardner Minshew's top two wideouts.

From RotoBaller

Delanie Walker Oct 18 2:10pm ET

Despite missing practice on Friday, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) is likely to play in Week 7 against the Chargers. Walker has been playing through an ankle injury and should do so again this weekend. He's been extremely unproductive lately, though, and it may be a combination of his injury and the team's inept offense under quarterback Marcus Mariota. The good news is it'll be Ryan Tannehill under center this Sunday, but that may not be much of an upgrade. Treat Walker as a TE1/2 in this run-first offense. He has more volatility as long as he continues to play injured.

From RotoBaller

Parris Campbell Oct 18 2:10pm ET

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich has ruled out rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (abdomen) for Week 7 against the Texans. It'll be Campbell's second straight missed game. The rookie is strictly a stash in dynasty/keeper leagues at this point. In his absence, it'll be Zach Pascal, Deon Cain and Chester Rogers fighting for more playing time behind T.Y. Hilton. All three are merely dart throws in DFS in deeper leagues in this run-first offense, although Houston's secondary is known to give up big plays through the air.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Oct 18 2:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (ankle) is currently questionable to suit up for Week 7 against the Chicago Bears after missing two consecutive days of practice. If he does play, Cook gets a stingy Chicago Bears Defense that is surprisingly susceptible to opposing tight ends, ranking 23rd in the league in points allowed to the position. Cook has yet to go over 50 receiving yards in a game but has found the end zone in back-to-back games. He's a risky TE1/2 because of the injury tag and the fact that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater may struggle with accuracy against the Bears defense.

From RotoBaller

Chad Henne Oct 18 2:00pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chad Henne (ankle), who broke his ankle in training camp, is "getting close," according to head coach Andy Reid. "Hes getting there. Hes been working his tail off. I havent taken him out there and thrown with him and done all that so I cant tell you how all that is gone," Reid said. Patrick Mahomes (knee) is expected to miss at least three weeks with a dislocated kneecap, so Henne could become an option to start games in the near future if Matt Moore isn't getting the job done. Even with options around them in the offense, neither Moore nor Henne would be much more than desperation options in two-QB leagues.

From RotoBaller

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Oct 18 2:00pm ET

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) and Geronimo Allison (chest, concussion) have 48 hours to "see if they come around" for Week 7 against the Raiders. The Packers are holding out hope, but MVS and Allison are extremely risky flex options in deeper leagues. MVS hasn't really taken advantage of Davante Adams (toe) being out the last couple weeks. If MVS and Allison are out on top of Adams, it'll be Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard as quarterback Aaron Rodgers' top two receiving options. Kumerow and Lazard will be DFS sleepers and flex plays in deeper leagues, but the Packers will likely continue to lean heavily on the run.

From RotoBaller

Cincinnati Bengals Oct 18 2:00pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson (shoulder), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and defensive end Carl Lawson (hamstring) have all been ruled out for Week 7 against the Jaguars. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap (knee) is also doubtful. The bad news continues for the 0-6 Bengals. Cincy actually hasn't been that bad against opposing wideouts this year, but not having their top corners for this one will make Jaguars receivers D.J. Chark and Dede Westbrook pretty appealing for fantasy purposes. Stay far away from Cincinnati's defense/special teams.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Oct 18 1:50pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Russell Okung (heart) said that he could return as early as Week 7 against the Titans. Currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Okung has yet to play this year. It's great news for a Chargers offensive line that hasn't been giving quarterback Philip Rivers much time to stay in the pocket and deliver accurate passes. It still seems unlikely that Okung returns this quickly, but it's certainly something for Rivers and the Chargers offense to look forward to.

From RotoBaller

Davante Adams Oct 18 1:50pm ET

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has ruled out wide receiver Davante Adams (toe) for Week 7 against the Raiders. It'll be Adams' third straight missed game while dealing with turf toe, and he'll be questionable for Week 8, at best. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers' fantasy luster hasn't been as strong without Adams in the lineup, and he could also be missing Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison this Sunday as well. Consider Rodgers more of a high-end QB2 this weekend with all the injuries to his receiving corps.

From RotoBaller

Arizona Cardinals Oct 18 1:40pm ET

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said that the team won't trade cornerback Patrick Peterson. "Why trade a player in his prime at one of the hardest positions to find for a maybe or a couple maybes? Love what Pat brings to the locker room, love what he brings to the field," Keim said. Peterson is returning from a six-game suspension to face the Giants in Week 7. The Cardinals have been one of the worst at defending opposing wideouts so far this year, so his return should help them in that department. However, the Cardinals Defense/special teams still can't be trusted in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Oct 18 1:40pm ET

The Cincinnati Bengals suspended left tackle Cordy Glenn for one game on Friday for internal disciplinary reasons. Glenn and the Bengals are at odds over the handling of his concussion, and he got into a heated argument with team officials on Wednesday. Glenn has yet to play this year and won't return until at least Week 8. It's more bad news for an offensive line that's been one of the worst in the NFL through the first six weeks. It's part of the reason they're 0-6. Quarterback Andy Dalton will face a Jaguars Defense without cornerback Jalen Ramsey this Sunday, but he's still a mostly unappealing QB2 for however long A.J. Green (ankle) is out.

From RotoBaller

DeSean Jackson Oct 18 1:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) isn't expected to play on Sunday night against the Cowboys. Jackson is improving, but it looks like the Eagles aren't ready to throw him out there just yet despite the important divisional battle against Dallas. D-Jax hasn't played since Week 2, and his absence as the team's deep threat has affected the offense. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins will continue to work in three-wide sets, with Jeffery being the only real fantasy asset for starting lineups. There's a better chance that Jackson will return in Week 8, but it's not a guarantee.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Oct 18 1:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that rookie running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) is trending in the right direction to play in Week 7 against the Dolphins. Miami's defense is as good of a matchup you'll find in the NFL, but Singletary will likely play second fiddle to veteran Frank Gore if he returns to action this Sunday. Still, with a matchup this nice, Singletary will have RB3/flex appeal in deeper leagues if he's active. Running back T.J. Yeldon will move back to the bench if Singletary returns.

From RotoBaller

Sterling Shepard Oct 18 1:20pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) will not be cleared to play in Week 7 against the Cardinals, according to sources. Week 8 is also an uncertainty for Shepard as the Giants take caution with his head injury, the second concussion he's suffered in a four-week span. You can remove Shepard from your fantasy lineups now, and he'll be questionable, at best, for next weekend. With Shepard out another game, it's good news for Golden Tate as a high-end WR3 out of the slot. The Cardinals will be getting cornerback Patrick Peterson back, but he's unlikely to work the slot. Tate's upside won't be as high with tight end Evan Engram and running back Saquon Barkley returning, but he should still be able to put up decent fantasy numbers in a great matchup.

From RotoBaller

Saquon Barkley Oct 18 1:10pm ET

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram have been cleared for Sunday's contest against the Cardinals and appear to be set to return to their full workloads. Both should immediately be inserted back into lineups with elite matchups against an over-matched Cardinals Defense. Engram's return does knock Golden Tate's value a bit for this week, and Barkley's return means Daniel Jones will be asked to throw the ball much less; however, this is great news overall for the Giants offense and perhaps the defense as well since the Giants will be able to sustain drives and give their defense a rest.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Oct 18 1:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (knee) suffered a right patellar dislocation in the second quarter during a QB sneak on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos, according to a source. He is undergoing an MRI exam on Friday to determine if there is any ligament damage, but the best-case timeline for Mahomes "would be around three weeks." Mahomes has been in good spirits about the injury, but he's definitely expected to miss some time. He had also been playing through an ankle injury he suffered in Week 1. Backup Matt Moore took over and went 10-for-19 for 117 yards and a touchdown. He has weapons around him but will be a low-end QB2 for however long Mahomes is out. You'll obviously need to stash last year's MVP on your bench and hope for a quick return.

From RotoBaller

Amari Cooper Oct 18 1:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Amari Cooper (ankle, quadriceps) and Randall Cobb (back) are both expected to return to practice on Friday and play against the Eagles in Week 7 on Sunday night, according to sources. The same can be said for offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee). Cooper and Cobb were trending towards not playing, but it looks like both receivers will give it a go. With that said, both could be extremely limited, making them both risky fantasy plays this weekend despite the excellent matchup. Expect them both to be listed as questionable for this divisional tilt. Either way, Michael Gallup has an opportunity for a big game this Sunday.

From RotoBaller