Each week I plan to give you what I feel are the best FanDuel plays at each position, as well as the plays that I am staying away from. My DFS methodology is a little different than the typical player. I don’t make separate cash and tournament lineups. I simply make the best possible lineup that I can, period. I feel like it distracts me too much to make different lineups for different contest types. I end up splitting up plays I really like for the sake of qualifying a guy as cash or tourney. Therefore, I put together the best lineup I can with the best plays, and that’s what you will see reflected in this article. Finally, I will mention that I am not a mass entry player. I typically enter 1 to 2 lineups per week across the board.
Week 3 NFL FanDuel Plays
I don’t think you can justify paying up for the top priced quarterbacks in Week 3. The reason? I think you’ve got a good chance to get as many points for $1,000-$2,000 less salary.
When I first started my research this week, I quickly developed the assumption that Marcus Mariota ($7,700) would be pretty chalky. That disappointed me because I want him everywhere! As the week goes on, I’m realizing more and more that Mariota isn’t going to be chalky at all. That gets me very excited.
Mariota’s upside this week is as high as anybody’s. In Week 1 he faced a very formidable Vikings defense and still finished with 17.74 points. That same defense held Aaron Rodgers to less than one point more. Then, last week against the Lions, Mariota seemed to have a rough go of it. I watched nearly every snap of that game, and when the final whistle blew he had 17.62 points. My point is, even when he has a bad game, he still finished with a respectable fantasy total.
Next up for Mariota is the Oakland Raiders. The same Raiders who have given up over 400 yards passing per game over the first two weeks and over 500 total yards in both games they have played. I know that the Raiders have talent on the defensive side of the ball and that regression is likely to bring that number down a little. I think this game finishes with a high total and Mariota finishes with 300 to 350 total yards and finds the end zone multiple times. One more thing and I’ll stop talking about Mariota – 70% of the public bets have come in on the Raiders, but the line has moved a point in favor of the Titans. What does that tell you? The sharp Vegas money is all over Tennessee in this game.
I’ve had a hard time finding a second quarterback that I love this week. I’ve kicked around Carson Palmer, Blake Bortles, and Jameis Winston. If you’re still reading now, you understand how good I feel about Mariota this week, and finding a second QB that I like anywhere near as much as him has been tough. However, after hours of digging, I’ve settled in on Ryan Tannehill ($7,400). The only reason it took me so long to come around on him was because of the spread. The Dolphins are up to over 9 point favorites. I could see them getting a lead, running the ball, controlling the clock, and doing what they need to do to win.
That doesn’t sound exciting for Tannehill. But, wait. After all of my research, I don’t believe that is how the game is going to play out. Why? Because the Browns look much improved against the run. They held Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles to just 89 yards on 27 carries in Week 1 and Justin Forsett and Terrance West to 79 yards on 25 carries in Week 2. Interestingly enough, Tannehill leads the Dolphins in rushing through two weeks with 52 yards and a touchdown. I just don’t think Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake are going to run over this Browns defense and control a grind it out game. Therefore, I fully expect Tannehill to do all the heavy lifting and have a solid game with a high ceiling. He should top 300 yards and has a realistic chance of finishing as a top 5 scorer at the position, and he’s just the 16th highest priced QB this week.
To chalk or not to chalk? That is the question with Melvin Gordon ($7,100). When you combine price, matchup, and team situation, there’s not a better play on the board at any position than Melvin Gordon. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I don’t make cash and tournament lineups. I just make the best possible lineups I can. In that case, it’s almost impossible for me not to roster Gordon. With two of San Diego’s most dynamic playmakers going down in Week 1 and 2, Gordon will have to be leaned on heavily. It’s hard to find a more enticing matchup through two weeks than the Indianapolis Colts. In Week 1 the Colts gave up 109 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries to the Lions running backs. In Week 2 they allowed the Broncos running backs 127 yards on 30 carries and tightened things up a little through the air, only allowing 5 receptions to the Broncos backfield. This is expected to be a high scoring game, and Gordon will have more opportunities in the contest than any other skill player.
If you need a cheap running back, don’t forget about the other side of the ball in this same game. Frank Gore ($5,700) has 34 touches (27 carries, 7 receptions) through two games. He has quietly had two respectable games and no one is talking about him. The Chargers gave up 13 total receptions in Week 1 to the duo of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, and followed that up allowing 8 receptions to T.J. Yeldon last week. The Colts are a 3 point favorite in the game with the highest total on Sunday. Also, don’t forget that they will be without Donte Moncrief for 4-6 weeks, which will open up a few more targets to go around.
Last week I told you to fade Deangelo Williams ($8,800). It wasn’t the worst of calls, as he barely averaged over 3 yards per carry. The part I didn’t expect is that he’d receive 32 carries. On top of that he caught 4 balls and found his way into the end zone. It’s obvious the Steelers are going to ride Williams as hard as they can with LeVeon Bell’s return looming in Week 4. Therefore, Williams could easily top 30 touches again against the Eagles. He has the highest floor and ceiling of any non-QB this week. There’s a lot to love, and nothing to dislike.
DeMarco Murray ($7,700) – Murray seems to be enjoying his situation in Tennessee much more than he did his time in Philadelphia last year. He’s running the ball well, and more importantly for fantasy purposes, he’s been very involved in the passing game. Murray has received 7 targets in each of the first two weeks, and I think we can expect for him to continue to be involved in the passing game. While Derrick Henry has been eating into Murray’s carries a bit, the targets offset that. He’s 1st on the team in receptions and receiving touchdown, while 2nd in targets and 3rd in receiving yards. Murray is an excellent stack target with Mariota, but will probably be the third highest owned Titans stack behind Tajae Sharpe and Delanie Walker.
Antonio Brown ($9,500) – Brown made my stay away section last week, and it was one of my proudest stances of Week 2. After going 8-126-2 in Week 1, he struggled in Week 2, posting a 4-39 line. Despite the poor performance, he still saw 11 targets. As I mentioned last week, the Bengals were a divisional opponent and always play the Steelers tough. Just as the field was excited to roster Brown in Week two after his Week one performance, they won’t be rushing back this week. It’s the perfect time to jump back on the train for the highest upside fantasy player in the NFL. If you’re paying up at WR, just take Brown and move on.
If I’m playing Ryan Tannehill, I’m stacking up both Jarvis Landry ($7,000) and DeVante Parker ($6,200). The pair has accounted for 54% of the Dolphins receiving yards this year without Parker playing in week 1. Last week, they combined for over 241 of Tannehill’s 387 passing yards. I want all the upside in this offense, and I’ll get it all with these two guys and at an exceptional price on top of that.
Things continue to go right for Larry Fitzgerald ($7,600). No one expected Fitz to come out this strong to start the 2016 campaign. He has 10 targets in both games, 158 yards, and 3 touchdowns. I think the latter half of last season clouded everyone’s outlook on him. But don’t forget that he started strong last year. Very strong. Through 10 games in 2015, he only had one game with less than 87 yards or a touchdown. Over the final 6 games, he never topped 66 yards. It appears he wore down as the season went on. At this price, he’s a solid target in a high-octane offense. Until we get signs of him starting to slow down or his price gets too high, I will give him strong consideration.
We are going to wade back into chalky waters here. Stefon Diggs ($6,400) is just too cheap. Since he played on Monday night, his price didn’t go up after his 9-182-1 performance. He should be in the $7,500-$8,000 range, but he’s more than $1,000 less. The Panthers don’t have the same secondary they had last year, and Diggs is an emerging star that can produce in almost any matchup. I don’t know if I can resist, regardless of how highly owned he is. Diggs has more upside by a mile than others in this price range, which includes: Allen Hurns, Golden Tate, John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and even Anquan Boldin. Don’t overthink it here. If you’re making a lot of lineups, you can fade him in some. If you’re making one, I think you may be playing with fire.
As we go a little cheaper, don’t forget about Quincy Enunwa ($6,000). If Brandon Marshall doesn’t play, this becomes a very enticing play. But even with Marshall and Eric Decker, Enunwa has been very productive and found a role in this offense. At this price, he’s most definitely in play. Just a couple hundred dollars cheaper, we have Tajae Sharpe ($5,800). There’s a theme here, but I promise it’s total coincidence. Sharpe is the third player in my recommended plays column that was also in my “Stay Aways” in Week 2. I didn’t like his matchup last week against Darius Slay. As you have probably realized by now, I like Tennessee this week, therefore Sharpe is in play for me. The Raiders have given up heaps of fantasy points to opposing passing attacks and I think it’s worth riding until they show us their turning it around.
Jordan Reed ($7,500) – Reed is arguably the best tight end in the league not named Gronkowski. However, his fantasy outputs haven’t reflected that through two weeks. He has been heavily involved though. No one is going to want to pay this price for him in Week 3, which makes him a solid play as probably the highest upside and floor option at the position. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford him in my optimal lineup, but it may be a good way to differentiate a lineup with chalkier options (Gordon, Diggs).
Dennis Pitta ($5,000) – Pitta may be popular due to his price and solid performance in Week 2. Joe Flacco’s favorite toy seems to be fully healthy and primed to produce in 2016. If I do roster him, it will probably be because of his price compared to ceiling. His ceiling is realistically within a few points of the top guys like Reed and Olsen, but his salary is barely two-thirds of theirs.
Jesse James ($4,500) – Last week, I went 100% James across all sites as he was cheap everywhere. He didn’t go off, but got me double-digit points, so I’ll take it. I don’t like the matchup as much this week, but he’s a big target and he has been on the field for every snap so far this season. That’s pretty impressive. I’ve seen some experts recommend against James this week because the Eagles have been good against tight ends in Week 1 and 2. But I’m willing to take that with a grain of salt. Week 1 was against the lowly Cleveland Browns and Week 2 was against the maybe equally as bad Chicago Bears. Do the Bears even have a tight end? Seriously, do they? Anyways, I’m not going to let that be the reason I don’t play James. If I roster James, I’ll hope to get something like 5-60-1 out of him (14.5 FD points). Crunching the numbers, I’d need 25+ out of Reed or Olsen to get the same return on price. Looking at those numbers, I may be talking myself into James again. He’s a minimum priced tight end who is going to be on the field every single snap and be involved in the passing game. That’s hard to pass up.
I wrote the above blurb about James on Wednesday night, but now, as of Thursday night, it looks like Zach Ertz will be out this week. If that is the case, I think I would put Trey Burton ($4,500) above James. Coaches have been singing his praises and he filled in nicely on Monday night 5-49-1. He should be involved in the offense. You could also look at Hunter Henry if Gates sits at this same price. Feel free to tweet me @mrclutchdfs on Sunday morning if you want to know which route I went.
The Seattle Seahawks ($5,400) have the most upside this week, but they will cost you $800 more than the Miami Dolphins ($4,600) who appears to be the top option for points per dollar play in Week 3. After Josh McCown was ruled out and now Corey Coleman broke his hand, this offense is in big trouble. It appears they will be the team to stream defenses against every week.
I like home favorites that are cheap. Adam Vinatieri ($4,700) is probably the best play. Andrew Franks ($4,500), Mason Crosby ($4,700), and Ryan Succop ($4,500) are three others that fit that mold, with Franks being the one I’m most interested in of the three.
Week 2 Stay Aways
Aaron Rodgers ($8,900) – Rodgers is too expensive and it seems he’s going to be a popular pick this week. He threw for 213 and 199 yards in Week 1 and Week 2, respectively, with 3 total passing touchdowns. If it weren’t for 45 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground, his fantasy output would be abysmal. While his ability to move the ball with his feet is underrated, I’m not ready to bank on him continuing to score in this manner. He only had one rushing touchdown all of last year. Rodgers has thrown for over 218 yards just twice in his last 10 games and hasn’t topped 300 once in that span. He also hasn’t thrown for more than two touchdowns in any of those 10 games. I don’t know what’s going on, but he’s not a $9,000 QB right now. The price tag is based on his name alone. Sure, he has the upside, but to pay off this price, he’s going to need to show that upside and I’m not willing to bet my money that he will.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have outgained both opponents they’ve faced (Packers and Chargers), but lost both games. They held Rodgers to 199 yards in Week 1 and Philip Rivers to 207 yards last week. How odd is it that they lost to the Chargers 38-14 but still gained more yards. The Jags Week 3 opposing QB is another popular mention this week that I’m staying away from: Joe Flacco ($7,600). Everyone seems to think that Flacco is going to get into a shootout with Bortles and end up with 300 yards and 2-3 touchdowns. As a Flacco owner in my dynasty league I know all too well that just when you think he’s going to have a great game, based on the past week and matchup, he will let you down. They’ve held two good quarterbacks down the past two weeks and I think Flacco is going to Flacco.
Todd Gurley ($8,300) has 12.2 fantasy points… through two weeks. I feel so bad for this guy. His offense hasn’t scored a touchdown and has only been in the redzone once. He has tons of talent, but in this offense, I’m not sure I’d pay $6,500 for him. Don’t get cute trying to be contrarian here.
Terrell Pryor Sr. ($5,800) – The way things are going in Cleveland, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pryor under center before too long. I’ve seen others rank Pryor as their number one DFS receiver this week based on price/value. Cody Kessler is making his first career start for the Browns and people close to the team seem to think he’s not ready to be an NFL quarterback. Apparently Kessler worked out with Pryor all offseason, but this isn’t playing catch in the back yard, this is the big leagues. Corey Coleman broke his hand this week in practice, propelling Pryor to the number one receiver role, but that means nothing to me on a team this bad. I just don’t see a path that leads to fantasy goodness for him.
Throughout this entire article, I’ve been on the Titans hype train. Now I’m going to recommend you stay away from Delanie Walker ($6,900). You probably think I’m going crazy. Maybe I am, I’ve been writing this thing for two days and am closing in on 3000 words. But I have to draw the line somewhere in this offense. I think Murray and Sharpe will be busy. I do expect Walker to get 6-8 targets, but I think he may end up with something along the lines of 5-65 and not find the end zone. I’m confident I can get that kind of performance for $5,000 or less.
Let’s continue the theme of me offering a stay away recommendation from the team that I’m stacking. As I mentioned above, I don’t expect Jay Ajayi ($5,700) and Kenyan Drake ($5,900) to have very much success against the Browns. The Dolphins run game has been non-existent and the Browns have only allowed 3.6 yards per carry, good for 9th best. There’s also just too much unknown on where the time share will lead in terms of snaps. Sure they’re cheap, but I don’t think the upside is there.
Good luck this week, and let me know if you have any questions by contacting me on twitter @mrclutchdfs
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