Week 3 was a puzzle, and I just couldn’t put the pieces together right. I called several plays correctly (Kamara, Fuller, Gio), but hit a few landmines as well (Murray, Cowboys D). In weeks 1 and 2 I pretty much had my lineup set by Friday and didn’t mess with it. Last week I tinkered right up until lock and just couldn’t put everything in the right order. I cashed in some lower dollar tournaments, but just missed the cut in my higher dollar entries. The good thing is we are on to the next slate. This is shaping up to be an interesting one, and I look forward to getting back on the right track.
Philip Rivers was the first QB that stood out to me on this slate with a juicy matchup against the 49ers. They have given up 905 yards through three games and eight passing touchdowns. Rivers is QB7 through three weeks and has averaged over 3.4 more DK points per game at home over the last two seasons versus on the road. The only thing that worries me about Rivers is that his price is up there, and they could realistically blow out the 49ers, meaning Rivers won’t have to keep his foot on the gas.
His opponent, CJ Beathard, is also in an interesting spot. Last season, Beathard was a guy that I recommended on a few occasions and he had a couple good games. In six starts last year he scored 9.14 Fanduel points in his worst game (Seahawks), and 26.02 in his best (Giants). Over that span, he averaged 15.8 FD points per game. There is a strong case to be made for him in this matchup, as I think he should have to throw the ball often.
Look, he wasn’t a world beater last year, but he was okay. Kyle Shanahan seems to think that he’ll be better this year, and I think the experience he gained last season will benefit him. For what it’s worth, and I know it’s literally the floor of sample sizes, Beathard threw a ball on a rope last week on his only toss of the game. That ball hit George Kittle in the only spot he could catch it and was good for a touchdown. Unfortunately there was a penalty on the play, which called back the TD and the 49ers decided to kick a field goal instead. But it was a throw I didn’t really see him make last season.
Without Joey Bosa, the Chargers have given up 30 fantasy points to two of the three QB’s they’ve faced this year, but those guys had names that ended in Mahomes and Goff. Josh Allen scored 15 FD points against them in his first career start – I honestly feel like that is somewhere near Beathard’s floor.
If you want to play the more popular cheap quarterback, Baker Mayfield is your guy. I do like him this week in the matchup against the Raiders, but I’m a bit worried about his ceiling here. This seems like a spot for a game management type performance. The Raiders aren’t good and probably won’t have a big lead at any time this game, so I think the Browns will run the ball as much as they can, limiting how much Baker needs to do. Again, I like his price and will have exposure, but I’m not sure if I’ll going here in my main lineup.
Andy Dalton has a really nice price on DraftKings and has looked pretty good (from a fantasy perspective) through three weeks. The Falcons have played two top five fantasy QB’s the last two weeks (Brees, Newton), but their defense is on its last leg. I highlighted the loss of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones after Week 1, and now they have lost Ricardo Allen. Dalton should have a solid week at a reasonable price. This might end up being my main lineup play.
SATURDAY NIGHT QUARTERBACK UPDATE
I’m still playing the quarterbacks above, but Eli Manning is making a strong case to join my main lineup. It just makes sense. The New Orleans Saints have stuffed the run, but they have given up gobs of passing yards. I’ve already told you I really like OBJ and Shepard (read on if this is your first time through), so why not like Eli? We knew Engram was going to be out, filtering more targets to the WR’s, but now Cody Lattimer is out, which means Shepard and OBJ could each see 12+ targets in this game. It does worry me that this is still Eli Manning, but this spot is just sooo good.
Melvin Gordon is my guy at running back this week. I faded him last week, paying up for Kamara. However, this week, I’m doing the opposite. This is an excellent matchup for Gordon, and I don’t mind pairing him with Rivers. Regardless of whether or not I do play Rivers, I will still have Gordon. If it’s a shootout he’ll be involved in both the rushing and passing game, and if the Chargers take a quick lead he could run the ball 25-30 times. He is a usage monster, and I think he’s worth the savings over Kamara on both sites.
If Joe Mixon doesn’t return this week, and I don’t expect him to, then Giovani Bernard will be my lock button play this week. In my Week 2 article I highlighted Christian McCaffrey as a lock button play against the Falcons, and this is what I had to say:
“Perennially one of the most giving fantasy defenses to opposing backs, this year sets up even more enticing than others. The Falcons have already lost two valuable starters, including safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones. McCaffrey’s price is right where it needs to be for me to lock him in and have one less roster spot to worry about. “
McCaffrey proceeded to catch 14 passes for 102 yards. Then…
In Week 3, I had this to say about Kamara against these same Falcons:
“I’ll go right back to that matchup this week after hitting the lock button on CMC last week. Atlanta is a team that is historically bad against receiving backs and are missing two of their best defenders. I think Kamara catches 10+ balls in this one, and if he does, he’s likely to have an absurd line and also pay dirt. He’s my top overall play at the position.”
Kamara did in fact catch 10+ balls and posted a 16-66 rushing line and went 15-124 through the air. He had 20 targets in that game. 20 TARGETS. That’s absurd. Anyways, just lock in Gio in your lineups this week and thank me later. He’s underpriced on both sites, and after seeing nine targets last week, I see 12-15 targets coming his way this week. For what it’s worth, if Mixon is back and we know he’ll resume his normal role, he’ll be a lock for me instead.
Leonard Fournette is my sneaky play of the week. If we get word that he is healthy (I think he is), I will have a lot of exposure. Based on our limited sample size in Week 1, it looks like Fournette is going to be a usage monster! I don’t think he’ll be on many people’s radars with names like Kamara, Gordon, Barkley, and Elliott being preferred over the guy returning from injury. I’m not sure if you watched the Week 3 game between the Browns and Jets (who didn’t), but Carlos Hyde rushed for over four yards per carry on 23 carries and found the end zone twice.
Coming off of a loss, the Jaguars are very likely to ground and pound the Jets. I expect the Jags to turn over Sam Darnold and this game script is screaming Fournette. Let’s just hope the masses stay away. Don’t let the Jets rushing defense numbers (12th fewest fantasy points against) through three weeks fool you. They played against the Lions, who found themselves in a massive hole and aired it out, and Miami, who somehow thinks Frank Gore should be on the field over Kenyan Drake.
Speaking of Carlos Hyde, I think he’s a really good pivot from Mayfield. If the Browns can run the ball and control the game, they will. I just don’t see any reason to have Baker air it out 40 times if they can find success on the ground. I’m not sure yet if I will end up on Hyde in my main lineup, but I could see a situation where we’re looking back after the weekend wondering how we missed the obvious situation of this being a Hyde game rather than a Mayfield game.
Lastly, I’m not sure how healthy Matt Breida is, but he makes for an intriguing target with Beathard under center. Beathard was notorious for checking down to his running backs last season, and we’ve seen what Breida can do with the ball in his hands. His price isn’t as cheap as I’d like it, but he makes an excellent tournament option. Also, if you haven’t noticed this yet, Breida is currently tied with Ezekiel Elliott as the NFL’s rushing leader with 274 yards.
SATURDAY NIGHT RUNNING BACK UPDATE
What I wrote above still stands. However, I’m finding more and more ways to fit in Alvin Kamara. He just makes too much sense opposite of my Giants stack. Mark Ingram will be back in Week 5, so Kamara’s workload shouldn’t be a concern here. The Saints’ coaches know that he’ll be able to get plenty of breaks in the coming games.
I’m also strongly looking at Ezekiel Elliott and Tevin Coleman. Starting with Elliott, the Lions are bad against the run. I hate playing guys against my Lions, but this is a spot I may do it. As of now, if I end up on Elliott, it will probably be taking the savings from Kamara.
Coleman has a great matchup. He’s been mediocre the past couple weeks as the lead back, but this matchup is too much to ignore. Christian McCaffrey is known as a pass catching back and has struggled running between the tackles so far early in his career. Last week, he gashed the Bengals and showed us a side of him we haven’t seen since he donned a Stanford uniform. A lot of people are going to be on the passing pieces of the Falcons offense, but this could be a spot where we look up after the game and see Coleman with 100+ yards rushing and multiple touchdowns. Just as I’m considering Kamara or Elliott for one RB spot in my lineup, I’m also considering Fournette or Coleman as another.
I mentioned it last week, but Odell Beckham Jr. is going to have a blow up game any time now. I say blowup game, meaning something like 10-160-2. He’s been solid, topping nine catches AND 100 yards in two of the first three weeks. The Giants are going to have to score points to keep up here. If we throw out Week 2 against the Tyrod Taylor led Browns, the Saints have given up 646 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns combined to wide receivers in Weeks 1 and 3. That is insane.
The target tree for the Giants is NARROW. OBJ has 34 targets. To put that in perspective, all of the Giants receivers have 60 total targets. OBJ is second in the league behind Julio Jones in percentage of team’s air yards at 49.71%. 56% of the per game production mentioned above would be massive and it would fall in line with that blow up game I think it is coming.
His counterpart, Sterling Shepard, is also squarely in play. Did you see what Calvin Ridley did to this team last week opposite of Julio Jones. It’s no secret that the Saints have a solid CB1 in Marshon Lattimore. After that, they’re really hurting to find someone who can cover anyone. Shepard had 19 of those targets, leaving only 7 targets going to the rest of the WR group. That’s a very narrow target grouping. Throw in the injury to Evan Engram and that skews the numbers even more. Eli Manning targeted wide receivers on 50% of his throws in Week’s 1 and 2 and that jumped up to 65% in Week 3 without Engram. You will probably find me having a tournament lineup with a full Giants stack.
Speaking of air yards and Julio Jones, I have have a gut feeling he’s going to have a big week.
I’m not sure if I’ll go there this week, but Davante Adams is a solid play every single week. He’s a touchdown scoring machine which makes him very intriguing on FanDuel. The Buffalo Bills defense shocked the world last week, but I don’t expect to see that every week. With Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball he’ll get plenty of looks, especially in the red zone.
Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway make for interesting plays regardless of whether or not you’re playing Mayfield. Landry will likely see his fantasy production increase with the QB change, but I’m not in love with his price. He’s not overpriced, but he is fairly priced. With that said, he could see 12-15 targets, and if he finds the end zone you’re probably looking at 8-12 catches with 100+ yards and a TD. That’s a solid score, in spite of his price.
Callaway is also interesting. He does have HUGE play-making ability with a minimal price on FanDuel while only $4,300 on DraftKings. I’m hearing talk around the industry that he’ll be better with Baker, and that is very likely. I’m just not sure what the target share will be like. Last week the Browns were playing from behind, so Baker was slinging it, throwing 23 passes in just over a half. As mentioned above, I see the Browns trying to run the ball here so the opportunities will be limited. With that said, at his cheap price, 5-7 targets might be all he needs. He is currently third in the league in average air yards per target, which is a great sign of how he’s being used. One 60 yard touchdown puts you in a great spot.
Tyler Boyd blew up last year and I think he is for real. He’s getting comps to Tyreek Hill and it’s looking like this is his coming out party. Another great matchup against the decimated Falcons defense.
Taylor Gabriel is getting some love this week as a cheap under the radar play. The more I dig in, I do really like the play. He’s quietly second no the team in targets with 22. That’s only six fewer than Allen Robinson’s 28, and enough to double Anthony Miller. The good thing for Gabriel is that Miller is facing a injury absence, which should guarantee Gabriel’s work load and increase his ceiling a bit. He’s a good pivot from Callaway at what will likely be less ownership.
And last but most definitely not least, Michael Thomas is out of this world. The Saints are going to get him the ball. It’s no secret that the Saints want to put the ball in hands of Thomas and Kamara’s as much as possible. He’s the highest priced WR on both sites, which may keep his ownership down. If I can fit him in I most definitely will. Janoris Jenkins, although struggling this season, is traditionally a solid corner, but Thomas is matchup proof this year. He is being moved all over the field, giving him opportunity to see different defenders, and exploit bad matchups.
SUNDAY MORNING WIDE RECEIVER UPDATE
Allen Robinson is a guy who I didn’t want to play at first, because his quarterback is bad. However, the more I dive into this matchup, the more I really like it. He’s in that price range I like on FanDuel. He’s a reasonable bet for 10+ targets at an exceptional price.
The sneaky play that I want to pull the trigger on is Mike Williams. Williams has been heavily involved the past two weeks and has a well above average matchup here. The 49ers are dead last in coverage on the left side of the field, and that’s where Williams lines up most often.
If you can afford him, I think Zach Ertz is a solid option. He saw 10 targets in Carson Wentz’s first game back, only catching 5, but for 73 yards. He likely sees the similar targets this week, and there’s a good chance he turns in more than 5 catches while finding the end zone. The Titans have only allowed 69 yards and 0 touchdowns to tight ends through three weeks, but they’ve played the Jaguars, Texans, and Dolphins – those aren’t teams that you associate with having good tight ends. In fact, the Dolphins are second to last in the league with just under three tight end target per game. The Jags and Texans are 13th and 14th in TE targets at 7 per game. To put that in perspective, the Eagles lead the NFL in TE targets with almost 18 per game. That’s more than the other three teams combined. And I shouldn’t have to lecture you on the TE skill discrepancy among those teams.
A lot of people are jumping off the George Kittle ship now that Jimmy Garappolo is done for the year, but I still have some interest. You may remember me (or any fantasy tout for that matter) mentioning that Beathard and Kittle were college roommates at Iowa. They have chemistry, and as I mentioned earlier on his only pass attempt of the game (which didn’t end up in the stat sheet because of the penalty), he hit Kittle in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The 49ers are going to have to throw the ball to keep up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kittle end up with 10 targets. With that said, his production wasn’t really there last year with Kittle, so I’ll want to keep an eye on this moving forward.
I don’t hate Ben Watson at his cheap price on both sites. He’s been used in the red zone for the Saints, and the Giants have been notoriously bad against tight ends over the years. Not my favorite option, but if he’s the last guy in, I’m okay with it.
Eric Ebron was chalk last week without Jack Doyle, and I expect to lock him in again if Doyle is out. His performance was below average with only five catches and 33 yards, but he saw 11 targets and some of those in the red zone. He’s still really cheap on DraftKings.
ERIC EBRON UPDATE – Doyle has officially been ruled out, and I’m all over Ebron. Eifert on Fanduel is hard to pass up, but Ebron is in too good of a spot. Listing to Evan Silva (@evansilva) talk about a conversation between he and Warren Sharp (@sharpfootball), has me even more excited. Without going into too many details, the Texans are VERY bad against tight ends.
I really like Tyler Eifert on FanDuel. His stock is heading in the right direction and in the past he’s been a touchdown scoring machine. Teams historically could focus on stopping Green and Eifert and the Bengals didn’t have any other weapons. But with Boyd making his mark as a viable weapon, teams will have to adjust their game plan a bit and I think that benefits Eifert. If he could duplicate his performance from last week (6-74) and throw in a score, we’d be very happy!
Jacksonville Jaguars are the obvious play, but you’re going to pay for them. If at all possible, I want to pay up and pair them with Fournette.
The Cleveland Browns have been a turnover machine through three weeks, and I don’t hate them at their price against the Raiders. They have a ton of talent across the board and might be the next best overall play after the Jags.
Lastly, the Seattle Seahawks are interesting as well. The Arizona Cardinals offense has been bad, and they’ll face off against Josh Rosen in his first start. With Earl Thomas back and making plays, they are at least competent. They have seven interceptions through three games, and Rosen is likely to throw it to them once or twice.
That’s it for this week. As I mentioned before, I will be adjusting the format as we go, so if you have any input about what you like or don’t like, feel free to let me know on twitter @mrclutchdfs. Best of luck this weekend!
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