RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 3

Fri Sep 20 10:44am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

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.

QUARTERBACKS

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.

RUNNING BACKS

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.

WIDE RECEIVERS

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.

TIGHT ENDS

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.

Player Notes
C.J. Mosley Oct 17 2:40pm ET

New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin) said that he will play on Monday night against the Patriots. Mosley has been out since the season opener with a severe groin injury, but it looks like he's targeting this Monday as his return to action. The Jets Defense/special teams just hasn't been the same without their prized offseason acquisition. He will certainly boost the interior of their defense if he returns, but it won't be enough to make Gang Green a streamable defense in fantasy against the undefeated Patriots on Monday night.

From RotoBaller

Dawson Knox Oct 17 2:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has had a solid rookie year so far and has 137 receiving yards on 12 targets over his past three games. This week, the Bills have a favorable matchup against the Dolphins. Knox should be involved in the offense, but his degree of involvement is a big question. Tyler Kroft (ankle), who was signed to be the team's starting tight end in the offseason, has returned to practice without limitations and appears slated to make his debut for the team this week. It's unclear how much Kroft will play but he'll certainly take some snaps away from Knox. If you're starting Knox, you're essentially hoping for a touchdown, which is a tough thing to gamble on. Avoid him if you can.

From RotoBaller

Buffalo Bills Oct 17 2:40pm ET

The Bills Defense has been fantastic so far this year and this week they'll have their easiest task to date. The Bills host the lowly Dolphins in Week 7. The Dolphins have scored a total of just 42 points over five games this year. Even the Redskins held them to just 16 points. The Bills should wreak havoc on Josh Rosen and company, forcing a few turnovers and tallying multiple sacks on the day. They should be one of the top-producing defenses on the week. Start them with confidence.

From RotoBaller

Duke Williams Oct 17 2:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Duke Williams had a fantastic debut for the team in Week 5, catching all four of his targets, including the game-winning touchdown. He figures to be the team's second outside wide receiver for now, behind No. 1 receiver John Brown. However, slot receiver Cole Beasley still receives a heavy dose of targets and tight end Dawson Knox is also in the mix. Williams could be a sneaky start this week against the Dolphins if Brown (ankle) misses the game. Brown was a limited practice participant in Wednesday's practice. However, if Brown is active, just keep an eye on Williams.

From RotoBaller

Zac Taylor Oct 17 2:30pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Cordy Glenn (concussion) was cleared to return from his concussion on Wednesday, but he and the team have been at odds regarding his head injury, its symptoms, whether he's able to return and the need for second opinions, according to multiple sources. Cincinnati fined Glenn $200,000 for conduct detrimental to the team and Glenn at one point told head coach Zac Taylor to cut him. The second-round pick back in 2012 has yet to play this season and feels the team was trying to rush him back. He would be a huge upgrade to the team's atrocious offensive line, but it doesn't look like he'll be back in Week 7 against the Jaguars.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Oct 17 2:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. It's particularly concerning since the team's top three receivers -- Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison -- have also yet to practice and are all in danger of sitting out in Week 7 against the Raiders. The veteran Graham could be available if he gets in some practice on Friday, so we'll have to keep an eye on his status. Although he hasn't done much for fantasy owners this year, he'll be as close to a must-start as ever this Sunday if the Packers are missing some of their receiving threats.

From RotoBaller

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Oct 17 2:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receivers Davante Adams (toe), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) and Geronimo Allison (concussion) remain sidelined at practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday. Adams has missed the last two games with turf toe and seems doubtful to play in Week 7 against the Raiders. MVS and Allison are also on the wrong side of questionable right now, so they must practice on Friday to have a chance to play. Green Bay would be down to Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and rookie Darrius Shepherd if all three of Adams, MVS and Allison are inactive. That'd obviously be terrible news for quarterback Aaron Rodgers this weekend. No matter what, expect Green Bay to lean on both running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams in this one.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Brown Oct 17 2:20pm ET

Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) remains sidelined at practice for the second straight day Thursday. Brown missed practice all of last week and the Week 6 game, and he's looking unlikely to play again this weekend against the Seahawks. None of Willie Snead, rookie Miles Boykin or Seth Roberts stepped up in the passing game with Brown sidelined last week, so all three of them are desperation dart throws, at best, for a flex spot if Brown misses his second straight contest. Tight end Mark Andrews remains quarterback Lamar Jackson's favorite target outside of Brown.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Oct 17 2:20pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) said he still has "a little ways to go." He hasn't practiced this week and isn't expected to make his season debut in Week 7 against the Jaguars. With Green out at least another week, Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate will remain the team's top two receivers. Against a Jaguars team now without cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Boyd has WR1 upside in a great bounce-back spot this Sunday. Tate will have flex appeal for those hurting at the position or in need of a body because of bye weeks. Continue to stash Green everywhere. He'll be Cincy's top wideout whenever he returns.

From RotoBaller

Travis Benjamin Oct 17 2:10pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers placed wide receiver Travis Benjamin (quadriceps) on Injured Reserve on Thursday and signed defensive tackle T.Y. McGill in a corresponding move. Benjamin can return later this year, but he should be dropped from all fantasy rosters in deeper leagues. The 29-year-old had just six catches on 16 targets for 30 scoreless yards in five games this year. With Dontrelle Inman also on IR, Geremy Davis figures to be the team's No. 3 wideout behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. He won't be fantasy relevant unless there's an injury ahead of him.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Oct 17 2:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' (ankle) injury is a legitimate injury. Sources are saying that the injury is worse than most people think it is, and head coach Andy Reid said it's something that has bothered the quarterback since Week 1. Mahomes aggravated the ankle each of the last two weeks. He has been very reluctant to flee the pocket and has seen his completion percentage drop as a result. Opposing defenses have switched to play man coverage recently with Mahomes ailing. Denver's defense doesn't often play man coverage, but it remains to be seen how they defend the start quarterback Thursday night. The Broncos D has been playing much better in recent weeks and this is no easy matchup, but Mahomes remains a must-start in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

DeSean Jackson Oct 17 2:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) missed another practice on Thursday. The Eagles were optimistic about Jackson playing this weekend for the first time since Week 2, but that's looking like more of a long shot if he can't get on the practice field. A notoriously slow healer, D-Jax might be more likely to come back in Week 8 against the Bills on the road. The Eagles desperately need Jackson's deep-threat abilities to open up their offense. If he sits out again, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins will continue to operate in three-wide sets on Sunday night against the Cowboys.

From RotoBaller

Wayne Gallman Oct 17 1:40pm ET

New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) practiced in full on Thursday. After missing last Thursday's contest, Gallman looks to be on track to return in Week 7 against the Cardinals. However, Saquon Barkley (ankle) is also practicing in full and should be able to return after a two-game absence. Gallman will be a little-used backup for the Giants if Barkley is starting and playing his normal allotment of snaps. Gallman would only be on the RB2/3 borderline if the Giants play it cautious and hold Barkley out for another week. With Barkley healthy, Gallman is strictly a handcuff for Barkley owners.

From RotoBaller

Chris Thompson Oct 17 1:40pm ET

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (toe) remained sidelined at practice for the second straight day Thursday. It's looking unlikely that Thompson plays in Week 7 against the 49ers while dealing with a minor case of turf toe. Adrian Peterson should see another heavy workload this Sunday, but it might not matter against San Fran's strong defensive front. If Thompson is inactive this weekend, expect Wendell Smallwood to handle most of the pass-catching duties out of the backfield. He'd strictly be a desperation RB3/flex in deep PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Dorsett Oct 17 1:30pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (hamstring), who missed last Thursday's game, was moving around well at practice on Thursday. Dorsett is on track to play on Monday night against the Jets. It's welcomed news, too, as Josh Gordon (knee) is questionable to play after getting injured last Thursday. It's looking like Julian Edelman and Dorsett will be New England's top two receivers for this week. Dorsett will have sneaky flex appeal for fantasy owners in a good matchup if Gordon doesn't play.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Oct 17 1:20pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) will not practice again on Thursday. The Bengals aren't rushing their No. 1 receiver back, and he's highly unlikely to play in Week 7 against the Jaguars. With Cincy's bye coming in Week 9, it's possible that Green doesn't make his season debut until Week 10 against the Ravens. The Bengals (0-6) have no reason to rush the veteran at this point in a lost season. With Green still sidelined, Tyler Boyd will have WR1 upside this weekend against a Jaguars Defense that just traded their top cornerback in Jalen Ramsey. It's a great week for Boyd to bounce back from his clunker in Week 6. Auden Tate also has flex appeal at home in this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Mitch Trubisky Oct 17 1:20pm ET

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy said that quarterback Mitch Trubisky (shoulder), who practiced in full on Wednesday, is "feeling good." All signs point to Trubisky returning in Week 7 to face the Saints after missing the London game in Week 5. If that happens, backup Chase Daniel will go back to holding the clipboard. The Saints allow the 11th most fantasy points per game (24.1) to signal-callers, but Trubisky and Chicago's passing game has been wildly mediocre through five games in 2019. It's best to treat Trubisky as a low-upside, midrange QB2 if he returns to action in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Amari Cooper Oct 17 1:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receivers Amari Cooper (ankle, quadriceps) and Randall Cobb (back) both missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Both players are on the wrong side of questionable right now for Sunday night against the Eagles. Until further notice, plan on being without both of them. That would put Michael Gallup as the No. 1 receiver with Tavon Austin in the slot and Cedrick Wilson out wide in three-receiver sets. Gallup is the only viable option for starting lineups outside of much deeper leagues. The good news is that offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La'el Collins (knee) both returned to practice, so Dallas' offensive line might be near full strength to face Philly's strong defensive front. Tight end Jason Witten should see more targets as well if Cooper and Cobb sit out.

From RotoBaller

Matt LaCosse Oct 17 1:10pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon (knee) and tight end Matt LaCosse (knee) were not at practice on Thursday. Gordon was injured last Thursday night and didn't return to the game. He's in serious danger of sitting out on Monday night against the Jets, and he's even more difficult to trust with the game being on Monday. With Phillip Dorsett also banged up, it could be Julian Edelman, rookie Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski in three-receiver sets for the Pats. Edelman would obviously be a must-start, while Meyers would simply be a dart throw as a flex in deeper formats. LaCosse will miss at least a few weeks. Ryan Izzo should perform as the team's primary tight end, but he should be faded in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Yeldon Oct 17 1:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon has served as the Bills' No. 2 running back behind Frank Gore since Week 3, after the team lost Devin Singletary (hamstring) to an injury. Singletary is looking likely to make his return in Week 7, which is bad news for Yeldon. Yeldon had a season-high 10 touches in Week 3, then had a total of 10 touches the next two games. If Singletary is active, Yeldon may not see the field more than a few times this week. Even if Singletary is inactive, Yeldon still won't get enough opportunities to warrant starting him. He should be on waivers in all leagues.

From RotoBaller