Fri Sep 20 10:44am ET
By MIKE BARNER
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) returned to practice on Wednesday. Thomas has been out the past two weeks while nursing an ankle sprain. In Wednesday's practice, Thomas was reportedly moving well and showing good signs of progress. He's currently questionable for Week 4 against the Detroit Lions. If he's able to go, Drew Brees will see a boost in his value, while Tre'Quan Smith and Emmanuel Sanders become more risky plays. Make sure to monitor the situation closely over the next few days if you're a Thomas owner.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring) is expected to play in the team's Week 4 game on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos. Crowder missed the team's previous two games while dealing with a hamstring injury. It doesn't sound as if Crowder will be 100% for the Thursday's game, but he is still worth starting as a WR3 in all fantasy formats, especially in PPR. In his only game this year, Crowder caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. The Jets have been sorely missing him in their passing game the previous two weeks.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense has played well to start the year, and they finally have fantasy value in Week 4. The New York Giants look like one of the worst teams in football, and they're dealing with injuries to just about every offensive weapon they have. Lineman Aaron Donald remains one of the most dominant weapons in football, and he's going to have a field day against the interior of New York. This Rams' team can take advantage of the mistakes that quarterback Daniel Jones is going to make, and they could keep the points total extremely low.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Samuel Sloman is a top-10 option in Week 4 behind this offense. This Rams' group looks closer to the one we saw in 2018 when they could move the ball at will against most defenses, and that's going to continue against the New York Giants. The Giants just look brutal right now, and that's great for kickers. Additionally, this is a home game for the Rams, which means that weather will not be an issue inside SoFi Stadium. Behind this high-octane offense, you can safely put Sloman into your lineups this week.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had a rough go of things in Week 3, but Week 4 is his chance to bounce back. The Giants have done well at defending tight ends early in the season, but they haven't played a player of Higbee's caliber. Higbee scored three touchdowns in Week 2, and I think he gets into the end zone again this week. He gives quarterback Jared Goff a safe option across the middle, and the Giants are dealing with issues at the safety position with multiple injuries to start the year. Higbee is a low-end TE1 in 12-team leagues this week.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green has been targeted in the end zone six times through three games with zero touchdowns.
Fantasy Spin: Green was once one of the premier receivers in the NFL and a fantasy stud, but these days it's uncertain whether he or Tyler Boyd is the No. 1 receiver in the Queen City. He has tumbled into the WR3 or flex fantasy area heading into Week 4.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (shoulder) practiced Wednesday, Sept. 30 for the first time since injuring his shoulder in training camp. 'We'll take it day-to-day and know more by the end of the week,' head coach Zac Taylor said.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had a tough matchup in Week 3, but things get a lot easier in Week 4 against the New York Giants. The Giants don't have a cornerback that can stick with Woods with any consistency, and he's going to have a number of opportunities where he's running wide open. It's rare that Woods as the upside to be a WR1, but this is one of those chances. Woods has shown a good knack for finding the end zone this year, and it will only take some receptions and one big play to give him that WR1 week. He's a safe play again this week.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson has a great matchup in Week 4 against the New York Giants. Over the last two weeks, he's averaged over 6.0 yards per carry. His offensive line is opening wide-open lanes for him to hit, and he's blasting through them. In Week 4, he draws the New York Giants who are just getting gashed to start the year. Their strength is defending the run with their front seven, but Henderson is just getting too much work to bench him. As long as he's getting the lead-back duties, he can give you a safe amount of RB2 production every week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has started the year on a slow pace, but he finally broke through in Week 3 with a 25.7 point performance against the Buffalo Bills. In Week 4, his matchup gets even better against the New York Giants. Their biggest weakness on defense is in the secondary, and they don't have anyone that can keep with Kupp. He has a safe floor as a WR2, but he has a ceiling as a WR1 this week. He gets great volume, and he is a rock-solid option for quarterback Jared Goff. Lock him in this week.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is on a quest for a QB1-level season. He's currently QB9 as things stand, and he has a solid chance to improve that standing in Week 4 against the New York Giants. The Giants were just demolished at home by the San Francisco 49ers with backups starting all over the place. This Rams' offense just scored 28 unanswered points against the Buffalo Bills in one half, and they can do that again this week. Goff is a safe option in Week 4 for leagues with at least 12 teams, and he should give you low-end QB1 production.
Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (groin), rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks (knee), cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) and defensive end Benson Mayowa (groin) all missed practice on Wednesday. Adams is the top fantasy safety in the game in IDP leagues, but he could be in real danger of missing this Sunday's contest against Miami. The Seahawks Defense has given up a ton of yardage (439.7 passing yards per game) through the first three weeks, but they're on the streaming radar this week with the Dolphins on the docket. However, if Adams and some of their other defenders are forced to sit out, you may want to rethink using Seattle as a one-week play.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Carson is dealing with a minor knee sprain, but he certainly has a chance to face the Dolphins in Week 4 after getting in a limited practice to start the week. However, the oft-injured 26-year-old could be limited this Sunday even if he's active, which will make him a pretty risky fantasy commodity this week. Carlos Hyde is next in line to see more touches if Carson sits out or is limited, with Travis Homer behind Hyde in the pecking order. Fantasy managers should get a better read on how healthy Carson really is after a few more practices.
Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert took all of the reps in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30 with QB Tyrod Taylor (lung) not practicing. However, head coach Anthony Lynn has not yet officially named Herbert the starter for Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fantasy Spin: If Herbert is tabbed for his third consecutive start, he is only worth a look as a QB2 in fantasy leagues which require two starting signal callers.
The Atlanta Falcons Defense should be well off the starting radar for this week against Green Bay. The ATL defense has been the Achilles heel of this team as they have blown late leads in Weeks 2 and 3. They have allowed 38, 40, and 30 points thus far this season and now face a Green Bay team that has scored close to 40 points each game. There is no reason to trust this defense.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (chest, ribs) and defensive end Joey Bosa (ankle, triceps) both missed practice on Wednesday. The Chargers aren't ruling Taylor out for the Week 4 matchup against the Buccaneers, but this isn't a good start to the week for the QB. He's recovering from a punctured lung that has caused him to miss the last two games, which has led to rookie Justin Herbert getting his first two starts under center. If healthy, Taylor could reclaim the starting gig, but he's nothing more than a low-end QB2 in an offense that would prefer to run the ball. Bosa is a must-start IDP asset when he's healthy, and the Chargers Defense will surely need him if they want to slow Tom Brady down this Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage is a flex play if he is active this week against the Packers. Gage suffered a head injury in Week 3 which caused him to miss much of the game. It remains unclear whether he will play in Week 4. The 2018 pick put up an impressive first two games before going down in Week 3. He recorded over 100 yards in Week 1 and has seen 12 and nine targets in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. There is a growing rapport between Gage and Matt Ryan, so he is certainly in the flex conversation in what could be a high-scoring game at Lambeau. If Gage plays and Julio Jones doesn't, Gage's value would increase.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst is a low-end TE1 for Week 4. Hurst has been hard to figure out on this offense, as he saw eight targets and got 72 yards in Week 2, but only had one reception for one yard in Week 3 when Julio Jones was out and Russell Gage was injured for most of the game. At this point, we don't know which version of Hurst we may get this week, so he can be started as a TE1 in bigger leagues, but there is added risk considering his production could be huge or completely small.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (quadriceps) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee) were both limited in practice on Wednesday. Michel has dealt with plenty of injuries so far in his career, so this one is worth watching, but as of right now, he seems like a good bet to play in Week 4 against the Chiefs. Michel ran all over the Raiders in the victory last week, but KC's defensive front will be a much tougher matchup. Consider him as more of a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex. Edelman is frequently on the injury report with minor injuries but usually plays through them. He was quiet last week in a game in which Rex Burkhead scored three times. The Pats will have to throw the ball to keep up with the Chiefs in this contest, making Edelman a good bet to bounce back as a WR2. The Chiefs are a bit beat up in the secondary as well.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II is an RB2 for the Week 4 clash against the Packers. Though he hasn't been a factor in the receiving game, Gurley has seen no less than 14 carries and 56 rushing yards in a game this season. His role as the lead back is not in peril and as long as he stays healthy, the RB will see decent volume each week. The Packers have allowed the third-most points to fantasy RBs, meaning Gurley has great value for this week.