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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
Patrick Mahomes Oct 17 9:40pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes(knee) was ruled out of Thursday night's game after suffering a dislocated knee cap on a fourth-and-one sneak attempt. Everybody is still waiting for more information, but being ruled out so quickly is not encouraging for his availability going forward. If you have Mahomes, you may want to plan ahead at quarterback for the foreseeable future. Matt Moore is Kansas City's backup. All of the Chiefs skill players will take a hit with Mahomes likely to miss some time with this injury.

From RotoBaller

Eric Tomlinson Oct 17 9:23pm ET

New England Patriots TE Eric Tomlinson's role within the offense is still being determined, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

From TheHuddle

Adam Thielen Oct 17 9:20pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has caught 13-of-16 targets for 187 yards and three touchdowns over the last two games (Giants and Eagles). Week 7's matchup is a bit less favorable, however, as the Lions have been stingy against outside wide receivers with top cornerbacks Darius Slay and Rashaan Melvin. However, Thielen runs about one-third of his routes from the slot this season - an area that the Lions Defense has really struggled to contain. There remains a possibility that Slay shadows Thielen all over the field, which would clearly be a downgrade for Thielen's expected production. The Vikings also still lean on the run and will be featuring Dalvin Cook heavily against the Lions' weak rush defense. Start Thielen as a WR2 in Week 7 but keep in mind that his volume (and ceiling) could take a hit.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Rudolph Oct 17 9:20pm ET

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is not a player you need to force into lineups in Week 7. Rudolph caught 3-of-3 targets for 36 yards in his best game of 2019 in Week 6. He has just nine catches this year and his average target distance is 2.2 yards. He's still playing at least 90% of offensive snaps every game, but he doesn't get enough targets or red-zone work to be in consideration for fantasy lineups. Rudolph is an unexciting TE3 with limited upside in a run-heavy offense and he should not be started in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Oct 17 9:14pm ET

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes left the Thursday night game with what looked to be some sort of knee injury. He walked to the locker room after suffering the injury.

Jalen Ramsey Oct 17 9:03pm ET

Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey (back) was listed as a full participant in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

From TheHuddle

Kirk Cousins Oct 17 8:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has provided an uptick in production the last two weeks, compiling 639 passing yards and a 6/1 TD/INT ratio in wins against the Giants and the Eagles. Cousins will look to keep it going against the Detroit Lions in Week 7 on the road in what should be a close contest (Vikings are currently favored by one point). The Lions Defense has not performed up to their reputation so far in 2019 as they're allowing 280 passing yards per game (fifth highest) and have surrendered multiple passing touchdowns in 3-of-5 weeks. Their pass rush hasn't been there either as they have just 10 total sacks on the season. The Lions are also getting destroyed on the ground at 133.8 rushing yards per game (sixth highest), so it does seem likely that the Vikings revert to featuring Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack as the focal point of their offense. Start Cousins as a high-end QB2 in Week 7 as he should be afforded enough opportunities to take advantage of a struggling secondary - though the likelihood of scaled-back volume limits his ceiling.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Oct 17 8:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is in line for a monster game in Week 7 against the Detroit Lions. The Lions Defense has already given up seven rushing touchdowns and are allowing 5.1 yards per carry and 133.8 rushing yards per game. They've also allowed a running back to score at least 20 PPR points in 4-of-5 weeks. Cook only received 18 touches in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles and still had a useful fantasy day (54 yards and a touchdown) despite the brutal matchup. Expect his touches to return to the 20-25 range as the Vikings will again look to feature him in their run-heavy attack. Start Cook as a top-tier RB1 option with tremendous upside and consider using him in all daily formats as well.

From RotoBaller

Parry Nickerson Oct 17 8:23pm ET

Free-agent CB Parry Nickerson (Seahawks) signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, Oct. 17. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Will Fuller Oct 17 8:03pm ET

Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (calf, oblique) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Fuller has been targeted at least seven times in four of the last five games but has posted at least 60 yards in only two games this season. He can still be considered at least a flex option in some leagues because of his big play ability.

From TheHuddle

DeAndre Hopkins Oct 17 8:03pm ET

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ribs) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Hopkins has caught at least five passes in every game this season but has not found the end zone in the last five games. He is still a must-start option in all leagues because of the targets he receives each game.

From TheHuddle

Kenny Stills Oct 17 8:03pm ET

Houston Texans WR Kenny Stills (hamstring) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Stills appears to be on track to play this week after missing the last two weeks because of his injury. He has posted 188 yards in four games this season and could be a flex option in some deeper leagues.

From TheHuddle

Vernon Davis Oct 17 7:53pm ET

Washington Redskins TE Vernon Davis (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Davis needs to be cleared by doctors before he will be allowed to play, so he only has a few more days before the Week 7 game. Fantasy players in all leagues should avoid Davis this week even if he is cleared to play.

From TheHuddle

Chris Carson Oct 17 7:53pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Chris Carson (non-injury) was upgraded to a full participant in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Carson has continued to hold off Rashaad Penny as the workhorse out of the Seahawks' backfield. He has seen 20-plus carries in three straight games and topped 100 yards each time. There's no need to worry about Penny unless Carson were to miss time.

From TheHuddle

K.J. Wright Oct 17 7:53pm ET

Seattle Seahawks TE Will Dissly (Achilles), OT Duane Brown (biceps), S Lano Hill (elbow), S Bradley McDougald (back) and DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 17. G D.J. Fluker (hamstring) and DE Quinton Jefferson (oblique) were limited. LB K.J. Wright (knee) was a full participant.

From TheHuddle

Carlos Hyde Oct 17 7:53pm ET

Houston Texans RB Carlos Hyde (calf) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Hyde is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season and has recorded a touchdown in three of the last four games. He will continue to be the main option in the running game and can be a No. 2 running back in most leagues.

From TheHuddle

Adrian Peterson Oct 17 7:43pm ET

Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson (quadriceps) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Peterson is coming off his best game of the season with 118 yards but has been held to under 40 yards in the other four games. He will be facing a good San Francisco 49ers defense this week and may only be a flex option in standard leagues.

From TheHuddle

Jimmy Smith Oct 17 7:43pm ET

Baltimore Ravens CB Maurice Canady (hamstring), CB Anthony Averett (ankle), LB Patrick Onwuasor (ankle) and DT Brandon Williams (non-injury) didn't practice Thursday, Oct. 17. CB Jimmy Smith (knee) and OT Ronnie Stanley (knee) were limited.

From TheHuddle

Tyler Lockett Oct 17 7:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (non-injury) got in a full practice session Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: All clear for the Seahawks' No. 1 receiver. Lockett has scored a touchdown every-other week through his team's first six games of 2019, and he didn't find the end zone in Week 6. Coincidence aside, he remains a steady WR2 as QB Russell Wilson's top option.

From TheHuddle

Case Keenum Oct 17 7:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins QB Case Keenum (foot, shoulder) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 17.

Fantasy Spin: Keenum threw for two touchdowns last week but finished with only 166 yards. He will be facing a tougher defense in Week 7 and should be avoided in all leagues.

From TheHuddle