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Welcome to Week 3 of the football season. I’ll be providing you with some DFS content, covering Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Defenses (oh my!). We’ll take a look at some potential cash-game plays as well as some pivots that could be used in tournaments. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out in the comments section below.
My colleague Ben Davidowitz covered some of his favorite Running Back plays this week, so check those out here.
Cash Game Options:
Christian McCaffrey, CAR ($16,800) at ARI
This seems like the type of week where people pay up for the expensive running backs, so I expect McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott to be pretty heavily owned. My slight lean is to McCaffrey due to being in the ultimate pace-up spot against a bad defense in Arizona. If Cam Newton is out and Kyle Allen is under center, I expect the offense to run through McCaffrey even more than usual. With the tempo that the Cardinals want to play at, McCaffrey’s targets should be similar to what they were in Week 1 against the Rams, where he hit double digits.
Marlon Mack, IND ($10,900) vs. ATL
The Colts reaffirmed their run-heavy game plan in Week 2 against the Titans, running the ball 53.2% of the time. Marlon Mack struggled with his 20 carries, picking up only 51 yards, but that type of usage is what we look for week-to-week. Mack faces the Falcons this week, who did a decent job shutting down the Eagles run-game in Week 2. However, when the Falcons faced the Vikings in Week 1, Dalvin Cook shredded them to pieces, rushing for 111 yards on 21 carries and two scores. The Colts offensive strategy mirrors the Vikings and they have a strong offensive line, so I expect a heavy dose of Marlon Mack this week.
Le’Veon Bell, NYJ ($14,500) at NEP
If the Jets have any shot at keeping this game close, Le’Veon Bell will need to literally carry this team on his shoulders. I expect Bell to be extremely low-owned but could see up to 30 touches if things break right. The Jets will need to keep this game in striking distance to keep him on the field the whole game. The Jets defense has done a decent job to start the year, holding the Bills and Browns to 17 and 23 points respectively while forcing five turnovers. This play could go very, very bad, but the combination of low-ownership with high usage is exactly what we look for in tournaments.
Rashaad Penny, SEA ($9,000) vs. NOS
We already know the Seahawks want to run the ball and Chris Carson may have fumbled his way out of being the primary back in Seattle. Carson fumbled for the second week in a row and after that fumble, he carried the ball or was targeted 13 times, Rashaad Penny was used 10 times and C.J. Prosise was used five times (all in the two-minute drill to end the first half). I expect this type of 50/50 split to continue and if Penny continues to have success (10 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown), or Carson continues to have missteps, Penny could be the lead back moving forward.
Cash Game Options:
Keenan Allen, LAC ($13,300) vs. HOU
There used to be a narrative that went something like, “Keenan Allen is a small receiver, known to run short routes and catch a lot of balls”. Not anymore. Allen leads the league in air yards with 329, is second in targets (25), and tied for fifth in receptions (16). The Texans secondary got torched by Drew Brees (R.I.P.) for 370 yards in Week 1, before recovering and keeping Gardner Minshew in check in his first career start. Allen will be popular but is as safe as they come for your cash game lineup.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI ($10,100) vs. CAR
The 36-year old Larry Fitzgerald has finally been blessed with a decent system and quarterback again. The Cardinals up-tempo system has led to 24 targets in the first two weeks and the sixth most air yards in the league. So what happens when the team that runs the most plays per game faces the team that runs the second most plays per game? Super-fast shootout in Arizona! I expect Fitzgerald to be very chalky, but he’s one of the best values on the slate, so that’s chalk I’ll eat; especially in cash games.
Nelson Agholar, PHI ($7,800) vs. DET
Nelson Agholar will compete to be the highest owned player on the slate if Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are out this week. With the Eagles short on receivers in Week 2, Agholar was targeted 11 times, making eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Everyone knows it could’ve been more too if he hadn’t had alligator arms, Agholar would’ve tallied the go-ahead touchdown for the Eagles. The Eagles face the Lions in what I feel will be a shoot-out, where Zach Ertz will get approximately 49 targets, but Agholar should come close to double-digit targets once again.
Mike Evans, TBB ($13,100) vs. NYG
Raise your hand if you’ve been burned by Mike Evans in the first two weeks. I know it’s been brutal, but only the stubborn ones will reap the rewards when Jameis Winston finally connects with Evans. Despite having two fewer targets than Chris Godwin, Evans leads the Buccaneers team in air yards and has an aDOT of 18 yards. The Giants have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year, and with how much he’s let people down, Evans should be a low-owned pivot off Keenan Allen.
Sammy Watkins, KCC ($12,700) vs. BAL
Sammy Watkins got the most disappointing 13 targets of his career in Week 2 against the Raiders, catching just six of them for 49 yards. The Ravens/Chiefs game has the highest total of the week, currently at 52, and I want to force pieces of this game into my lineup. I think recency bias from his Week 2 “disappointment” will keep Watkins’ ownership reasonable and we saw what his ultimate upside in this offense is in Week 1 (9-198-3).
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, PHI ($6,200) vs. DET
Looking for that lower-owned home run hitter? JJ Arcega-Whiteside provides that, as well as a pivot off Nelson Agholar‘s 35% ownership (estimated). Like Agholar, this is only if Jeffery and Jackson are out. I’m excited to see what Arcega-Whiteside can do with a full week of practicing with the starters and as I said with the Agholar write-up, I view this game as a potential shootout.
Cash Game Option:
Minnesota Vikings ($5,900) vs. Oakland Raiders
The Patriots ($7,100) and the Cowboys ($7,100) are as safe as they come in terms of DST matchups, so if you’re willing to spend up at DST, more power to you. The Vikings defense has managed six sacks and five turnovers in the first two weeks against the Packers and the Falcons, making the possibilities against the Raiders endless. I jest, but the Vikings run defense should have no problem shutting down Josh Jacobs, while Xavier Rhodes handles Tyrell Williams, leaving Darren Waller as the lone threat.
Los Angeles Chargers ($4,700) vs. HOU
You ever hear the “Deshaun Watson has taken the most hits in his first <insert number of games here>”? Per this article written by Sarah Barshop, “But Watson was hit 11 times and sacked a Week 1-high six times. He is coming off of a season in which he was sacked 62 times, which was the most in the NFL.” How do you think things will go when the Chargers elite pass rush, led by Joey Bosa, gets after Watson? The Chargers should be a relatively low-owned DST that accumulates sacks and pressures Watson and the Texans into some mistakes.
Los Angeles Rams ($6,400) at CLE
If you watched the Browns vs. Jets game on Monday night, you might have noticed the Jets defense getting to Baker Mayfield with relative ease. The Jets managed to hurry Mayfield seven times, sack him three times, and hit him twice. The Rams have racked up five sacks in the first two weeks and will now have Aaron Donald running through the Browns porous offensive line.
(Photo by Kevin French/Icon Sportswire)