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.
Five Sleepers: Week 3
Although the Baltimore Ravens have been one of the best defenses through two weeks, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce remains a strong option in Week 3. The Ravens Defense is only allowing 305 yards per game and 11.5 points per game, but they have allowed 15 receptions, 148 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends this season. With Patrick Mahomes likely to be pressured, look for him to look Kelces way early and often. Kelce is coming off of a strong week and is the number one player at his position. He makes for a good DFS option and should be started every week by managers.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will face his toughest task of the season on Monday versus a tough Baltimore Ravens Defense. The Ravens have allowed just 305 yards per game and thats good for second in the league. The Ravens have also only allowed 22 points on the season. Mahomes has passed for 513 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions through two weeks and also has rushed six times for 54 yards. Despite the tough matchup, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense remains explosive and Mahomes should be considered a QB1 and should be started every week.
Jacksonville Jaguars LB Myles Jack recorded 11 tackles (seven solo) against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, Sept. 24.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Keelan Cole caught four of five targeted passes for 43 yards on Thursday, Sept. 24, against the Miami Dolphins.
Fantasy Spin: Cole actually led the team's receiving corps in yards, though he finished a distant second to RB James Robinson. Miami forced everything to happen in front of them and then rallied up to make the tackle, making Jacksonville have to put drives together a few yards at a time. The team could've used more from Cole with D.J. Chark out of action, but nobody other than Robinson seemed capable of making plays on Thursday. With two TDs in three weeks you can't simply dismiss Cole, but he's no better than roster depth right now.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Chris Conley had three receptions (on eight targets) for 34 yards in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins.
Fantasy Spin: Conley looked lost Thursday night, dropping two passes that killed drives and drawing an offensive pass interference penalty that effectively ended another. On a night when the Jags needed someone to step up and fill the void left by D.J. Chark, Conley couldn't have played much worse.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker caught five passes for 69 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, Sept. 23.
Fantasy Spin: While modest, Parker's 69 yards more than doubled the next-highest receiver for Miami in a game where they simply maximized their opportunities and let Jacksonville make mistakes. A lingering hamstring injury appears to be limiting his effectiveness, particularly downfield, but he was sure handed and still found ways to get enough separation to make the catch. There are definitely weeks where Parker will perform in the WR2 bracket, though it's best to consider him more of a WR3 when setting your lineup.
Miami Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki caught one pass for 15 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fantasy Spin: On a night where Ryan Fitzpatrick only threw two incompletions, both of them were intended for Gesicki, who followed up a eight-catch, 130-yard outing in Week 2 with a disappointing performance that was somewhat salvaged by getting into the end zone. He's still the most dangerous weapon the Dolphins have outside of DeVante Parker, though, and remains a viable choice at TE1.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) was limited in practice for the second straight day on Thursday but is in line to make his season debut in Week 3 against the Cardinals. Golladay suffered a strained hamstring in practice on Sept. 9 and has missed the first two games of the season. Normally a pretty solid WR1 option for fantasy lineups, the Lions No. 1 wideout will carry a bit more risk with him if he makes his 2020 debut this weekend. Plus, Golladay will likely be covered by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, which won't be an easy task by any means. You're probably starting Golladay if he's active, but it might be wise to temper expectations a bit. If he's back, it'll be bad news for Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola.
Miami Dolphins RB Jordan Howard ran three times for one yard and a touchdown in Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fantasy Spin: Ladies and gentlemen, we officially have ourselves a touchdown vulture. The former 1,000-yard back got three carries Thursday night, all of which came inside the 5-yard line, and had a good chance at two TDs (he was stuffed twice before Ryan Fitzpatrick ran it in himself on third and goal). It's a tough spot for fantasy players as Howard pretty much needs multiple scores to offer appreciable value while at the same time hurting Myles Gaskin's appeal. At best Howard looks like a weekly lottery-ticket play with a modest ceiling.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) missed his second straight practice on Thursday. It's not a good sign for the 23-year-old after he missed the Week 2 game. Brown will need to get in at least a limited practice on Friday to have a shot at suiting up this Sunday against the Vikings. Have a backup plan in place if you own him. Corey Davis will be worth flex consideration if Brown misses another game, Adam Humphries would have some sleeper potential in DFS and deeper leagues, and tight end Jonnu Smith would have real TE1 appeal after going for four catches, 84 yards and two touchdowns without Brown in the lineup last weekend.
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. was a popular pick to have a breakout game against the Dolphins in Week 3, but it didn't happen, as he finished with just 33 receiving yards. Shenault did record five receptions, but with his usage mainly coming in the short-yardage passing, Shenault didn't have the chance to do much with the opportunities he received. Moving forward, Shenault is a low-ceiling fantasy option until we actually see him used in a way that offers a chance for him to produce more than just a handful of yards.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 18 of 20 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns during the team's Week 3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fitzpatrick also ran seven times for 38 yards and a score.
Fantasy Spin: Jacksonville's defense had no answers for Fitzpatrick, whose only two incompletions came on the team's two-minute drive before halftime. If the Jags had been able to keep pace, who knows what kind of numbers Fitzpatrick would've put up. Instead, Miami was in firm control throughout the second half with Fitzpatrick only attempting a handful of passes. He'll enjoy a weekend off before hosting the Seahawks in Week 4.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Thompson continued to see his role expand on Thursday night, catching five passes for 35 yards and adding three rushing yards on two carries. Thompson isn't the same receiving threat that he was in Washington, but he's becoming a larger part of things for the Jaguars. That doesn't mean you need to rush out and put him in your fantasy lineups moving forward, but it's worth keeping an eye on what Thompson does in Week 4 against the Bengals.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole caught four passes for 43 yards in Thursday's loss to the Miami Dolphins. It was Cole's first game this year without a touchdown. Thursday showed us what Cole's floor this year likely looks like: a handful of catches with an average of around 10 yards per reception. You'll take that in deeper leagues, but he's likely just a tad too inconsistent to be a weekly start in 12-team leagues, especially when you consider this was a matchup that felt ripe for the taking for the Jaguars passing game and they responded with their worst offensive output of the season.
With D.J. Chark Jr. (chest/back) out, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley was a popular pick to see an expanded role on Thursday night. And he did, as he led the team in targets with eight. The problem? Drops and some poor positioning led to Conley catching just three of those passes for 34 yards. This was his chance to impress and show he deserved a larger role, and it just didn't happen. Conley's on the fringes of rosterability in season-long leagues at this point, with his value fully dependent on Chark missing more time.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson was the only consistent source of production in Thursday's loss to the Miami Dolphins. The undrafted rookie ran the ball 11 times, finishing with 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also led the team in receptions, catching six of them for 83 yards. Robinson might be the only player who can be a weekly starter on this offense right now and should be considered a fantasy RB2 going forward. Even when the Jaguars offense looks like a train wreck, Robinson manages to get his numbers.
The Jacksonville Jaguars weren't supposed to be blown out by the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, but they were, as the Dolphins took the 31-13 victory. Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II struggled all night, going 30-for-42 for 275 yards with no touchdowns while throwing an interception and narrowly avoiding throwing a second. He also added 22 yards on the ground. Minshew was a huge disappointment to fantasy managers, and now we have reason to doubt the mustached passer, who we thought was on his way to being a consistent fantasy QB2.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has his most formidable challenge of the 2020 season thus far against the Chiefs on Monday night. The third-year signal-caller has played relatively well against Kansas City throughout his career (two games), throwing for 414 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 22 carries for 113 yards and an additional score. While his previous performances against the squad doesn't guarantee a similar output, it is reasonable to assume that fantasy managers may see the same type of production once again. In case there was any doubt, keep him starting in all formats.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample caught seven of his nine targets for 45 yards against the Browns in Week 2. Although it's unlikely that rookie quarterback Joe Burrow will throw 61 passes against the Eagles as he did against Cleveland, the sophomore will likely be in line for an uptick in production after Cincy lost C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) for the remainder of the 2020 campaign. While Sample probably can't be depended on for consistent production moving ahead, he is a suitable dart throw for those in need of a tight end in Week 3 and the remainder of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has racked up 11 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown throughout his first two games of the year. With A.J. Green back in the mix after missing some time due to injury, concerns emerged as to whether or not Boyd would be able to produce a third-straight 1,000-yard season. Nonetheless, as the 25-year-old builds a familiar rapport with rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow, the door could open for an uptick in fantasy production moving head. While Green, John Ross III, and Tee Higgins will also be looking for Burrow's attention, Boyd may emerge as the undisputed No. 1 wideout for the team from a production standpoint. As far as his Week 3 outlook against the Eagles, fantasy managers should keep him starting, regardless of format.