RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 3

Fri Sep 25 9:16am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

Murray should continue hot start


Week 2 was a disappointing one across the NFL with so many big players going down with injuries. From a DFS perspective, several of the top options won’t be available, as a result, so building your entry might feel a little different than usual. Let’s discuss some players who will take the field that are appealing options at various salary points, as well as some who might be best left out of your entry.

Quarterbacks

Kyler Murray, ARI vs. DET ($6,400): If you just look at his passing numbers through two games, Murray hasn’t been anything special with two touchdowns and two interceptions. However, he’s been spectacular on the ground, rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins certainly forces teams to focus more on stopping the Cardinals’ passing attack, which could continue to open up plenty of opportunities on the ground for Murray. It doesn’t get much better than this matchup against the Lions, who have allowed 69 points across the first two weeks. That’s the third-most in the NFL.

Ryan Tannehill, TEN at MIN ($5,900): Tannehill is showing that his success with the Titans last year was no fluke. Even without A.J. Brown (knee) at his disposal in Week 2, Tannehill threw for 239 yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars. That came on the heels of two touchdown passes against a respectable Broncos defense on the road in Week 1. He’s potentially set up for another big afternoon against the Vikings, who have allowed even more points (71) than the Lions.

Player to Avoid

Jared Goff, LAR at BUF ($5,900): Goff was a major disappointment last season with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He had a quiet performance against the Cowboys in Week 1, but he rebounded with three touchdowns and no picks versus the Eagles last week. He should still have plenty of productive weeks in his future, but this matchup on the road against a Bills team that has one of the best defenses in the league means he’s someone to stay away from, especially since Tannehill can be had for the same salary.

Running Backs

Jonathan Taylor, IND vs. NYJ ($6,900): The Colts’ first game without Marlon Mack (Achilles) couldn’t have gone any better for Taylor. He received 26 carries in what was a decisive win over the Vikings, turning them into 101 yards and a touchdown. There could be weeks in which Nyheim Hines is more involved, especially in the passing game, but this matchup might not require the Colts to throw much against what has been an inept Jets team. Expect a heavy dosage of Taylor once again.

Mike Davis, CAR at LAC ($3,400): This feels like a free square. After Christian McCaffrey (ankle) went down last week against the Bucs, Davis stepped in to catch all eight of his targets for 74 yards. Even though the Panthers might struggle to score points, Davis should receive enough volume on the ground and through the air to provide value at this dirt-cheap salary.

Player to Avoid

David Johnson, HOU at PIT ($6,700): Johnson couldn’t get anything going against the Ravens last week, rushing 11 times for 34 yards. That was a tough matchup against arguably the best defense in the league, so his struggles shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The problem is that he now has to face another tough defense in the Steelers, who have only allowed an average of 66.5 rushing yards through two games. Taylor’s salary is only $200 more, so rolling with Johnson seems like an unnecessary risk.

Wide Receivers

Allen Robinson, CHI at ATL ($7,400): The Falcons are a team to attack, regardless of who they are playing. Their defense has been awful and teams often need to throw a lot to keep up with their explosive offense, setting up an excellent game script for the opposition. Enter Robinson, who has received 18 targets across the first two weeks. He could be in line for a big performance.

Russell Gage, ATL vs. CHI ($5,500): As I mentioned, the Falcons’ bad defense has forced them to throw a lot. That’s left enough work for their number three receiver Gage, who has turned 21 targets into 15 catches, 160 yards and a touchdown. Add in Julio Jones battling a hamstring injury and Gage could be a steal at this salary.

Player to Avoid

Cooper Kupp, LAR at BUF ($6,800): If I’m avoiding Goff, I’m avoiding his wide receivers, as well. Kupp is still looking for his first score of the season and hasn’t been overly productive with nine catches for 121 yards, so far. Add in his expensive salary and it might be best to allocate your funds elsewhere.

Tight Ends

Jonnu Smith, TEN at MIN ($5,200): A Tannehill/Smith stack has mouth-watering upside. Smith already has three touchdowns on 12 targets through two weeks. With teams needing to focus so much effort on slowing down Derrick Henry, they can’t commit as much attention to Smith, who should be one of Tannehill’s top red zone targets throughout the season. If Brown is out again, it only tilts the scales even more in Smith’s favor.

Noah Fant, DEN vs. TB ($4,800): It was a rough week for the Broncos, who lost Drew Lock (shoulder) and Courtland Sutton (knee) against the Steelers. On the bright side, Jeff Driskel played well in relief of Lock in what was a tough matchup. With Sutton now out for the season, Fant should be one of the Broncos’ top pass catching options moving forward. In a game in which they might need to throw a lot to keep up with the Bucs’ offense, Fant could provide value.

Player to Avoid

Austin Hooper, CLE vs. WAS ($4,700): This is a pretty easy pass for me considering neither Smith nor Fant come at a salary much higher than Hooper’s. He’s not receiving nearly the target share that he did with the Falcons last year, which has resulted in him catching four passes for 37 yards through two games. The Browns have a dynamic running back duo in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to go along with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landy at wide receiver, which could mean Hooper remains in the background of their offense moving forward.

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
Kai Forbath Oct 20 2:10pm ET

The Los Angeles Rams signed kicker Kai Forbath on Tuesday. Forbath was cut by the Cowboys earlier this year and hasn't kicked at all in 2020. The 33-year-old kicked in just four games in 2019 with the Cowboys and Patriots and made all 11 of his field-goal tries. He's bounced around the NFL in his nine-year career, playing for Washington, New Orleans, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Dallas and New England. Forbath was signed to compete with Samuel Sloman, who has missed either a field goal or extra point in five of the team's six games this year. Sloman currently ranks 24th in the league at the kicking position in terms of fantasy points. Against the Bears on Monday night in Week 7, you can find better streaming options.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Oct 20 1:50pm ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially acquired defensive tackle Steve McLendon and a 2023 seventh-round pick from the New York Jets on Tuesday in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round pick. In six games for the Jets this year, McLendon has 14 combined tackles (eight solo). The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder signed with Gang Green as a free agent in 2016 and recorded 154 tackles (28 for loss), 7.5 sacks and 17 QB hits in 64 games (58 starts) in his time with the Jets. He previously played six seasons for the Steelers and has 244 career tackles (41 for loss), 12.5 sacks and 28 QB hits. McLendon will join a sturdy Bucs defensive line that just shut down Packers running back Aaron Jones and limited quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's offense to just 10 points in Week 6.

From RotoBaller

Sterling Shepard Oct 20 1:40pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) returned to practice on Tuesday. If all goes well, the hope is that he will return from Injured Reserve to play Thursday night against the Eagles. Shepard led the team in receiving last year and has caught eight of his 10 targets for 76 yards in his two games in 2020, including a team-high six receptions in the season-opener. The fifth-year wideout has been out since suffering a turf toe injury in Week 2. It remains to be seen if the G-Men will ease Shepard back into the fold if he plays in Week 7, but you should check your waiver wire to see if he was dropped by his previous owner. When healthy, Shepard should be quarterback Daniel Jones' top receiving target. The matchup is a good one for New York's pass-catchers, too, as Philly's D has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to receivers through six weeks.

From RotoBaller

Derrick Henry Oct 20 1:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that linebacker Devin Bush (knee) will undergo surgery to fix his torn ACL on Wednesday. Bush will miss the remainder of the 2020 season. It's a big blow to the Steelers Defense, as the No. 10 overall pick from 2019 had been a big contributor in the middle of the field. The 22-year-old had 26 tackles (16 solo), two QB hits, three passes defensed and one sack in five games this season after recording 109 combined tackles, two interceptions, four passes defensed and four fumble recoveries in a very productive rookie season in 2019. The loss of Bush will be something to watch moving forward, as Pittsburgh's defense has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. It's good news for Titans running back Derrick Henry in the Week 7 showdown of two unbeaten teams.

From RotoBaller

John Ross Oct 20 11:40am ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III has asked the team for a trade. The speedy former ninth overall pick had been inactive for three straight weeks before returning to action in Week 6, but he played just one snap against the Colts. Ross' agent said that his client is frustrated with his lack of playing time and they've had talks with the team about a trade, but those talks didn't go very far. The 25-year-old had a couple 100-yard games early last season, but then he got hurt and never quite established a firm role in the offense. Now he's behind Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green and rookie Tee Higgins on the receiver depth chart and has just two catches for 17 yards in three games this year. A change of scenery would be for the best, but it wouldn't guarantee that he resurfaces to fantasy relevance.

From RotoBaller

Tua Tagovailoa Oct 20 11:40am ET

The Miami Dolphins are naming rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa their starting quarterback heading into their Week 7 bye week, according to a source. Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will now serve as the backup after Tagovailoa made his NFL debut in the blowout win over the Jets in Week 6. The rookie from Alabama completed both of his pass attempts for nine yards against New York. The biggest takeaway on Sunday was that he looked fully healthy, and the Dolphins are obviously confident that he's ready for the NFL stage as their starter. That'll come in Week 8 against a tough Rams Defense looking to bounce back after a loss to the division-rival 49ers. Tagovailoa has plenty of upside as a poised and accurate QB that can also use his legs, but he'll be a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues for his first career NFL start in two weeks.

From RotoBaller

Andy Isabella Oct 20 10:40am ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andy Isabella has dropped off significantly after his two-touchdown performance in Week 3. This week, in the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys, he was held without a catch and received just two targets. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray struggled in the game, completing just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards. Christian Kirk, meanwhile, reeled in the team's only two receiving touchdowns in the game and has continued to be Murray's preferred target over Isabella. There's no need to hold on to Isabella in any fantasy leagues as long as the Cardinals are fully healthy at receiver.

From RotoBaller

Arizona Cardinals Oct 20 10:40am ET

The Cardinals Defense had their best outing of the year so far in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. They held the Cowboys to just 10 points in the game and came up with two Andy Dalton interceptions as well as two fumble recoveries, both as a result of Ezekiel Elliott fumbles. The Cardinals also sacked Dalton three times in the game. While it was certainly an encouraging outing from the Cardinals Defense, don't expect a similar result in Week 7 when they face the Seattle Seahawks, who have topped 30 points in four of their five games this year.

From RotoBaller

Larry Fitzgerald Oct 20 10:30am ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wasn't heavily utilized in the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. Fitzgerald was targeted four times in the game and came down with three catches for 22 yards. It's been an extremely slow start to the year for Fitzgerald, who is yet to top 50 receiving yards in a game and also yet to score a touchdown this year. Kyler Murray had a rough day throwing the ball in this game, completing just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards. Fitzgerald shouldn't be trusted as a starting option for now and can be left on waivers in most leagues at this point.

From RotoBaller

Christian Kirk Oct 20 10:20am ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk had only two catches in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys, but luckily they were both big ones. Kirk had a six-yard touchdown reception and an 80-yard touchdown reception, leading to his final stat line of two catches for 86 yards on three targets. The Cardinals dominated the Cowboys, winning 38-10, but their passing game struggled a bit, regardless. Kyler Murray only completed nine passes all game and totaled just 188 yards. That's three-straight solid fantasy outings now for Kirk, who should be considered a decent WR3 or flex option in most formats going forward.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins Oct 20 10:20am ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a 60-yard reception in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. It was his longest gain of the season. However, he wasn't able to do much else in the game. He was targeted eight times on Monday night and came down with just two catches for 73 yards. It was a rough game from a passing standpoint for the Cardinals as quarterback Kyler Murray completed just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards. Christian Kirk had the team's only two touchdown receptions in the game. It was the first game this year in which Hopkins was held under six receptions. Look for him to bounce back strong when the team faces the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Kenyan Drake Oct 20 10:10am ET

Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake had a much-needed breakout game in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. Drake rushed the ball 20 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns. It was his first game with over 100 yards from scrimmage this year as well as his first time averaging over five yards per carry in a game. Drake had his stat line bolstered significantly by a 69-yard touchdown run with under two minutes left when the game was already decided, but it was a true breakout game for Drake regardless. He's been a frustrating slow-starter for fantasy owners this year, but hopefully his Week 6 breakout will be a sign of things to come.

From RotoBaller

Chase Edmonds Oct 20 10:10am ET

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds wasn't able to contribute much to the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. Edmonds had five carries for 23 yards in the game and caught one of his two targets for six yards. The Cardinals dominated the last three quarters of the game and leaned heavily on No. 1 running back Kenyan Drake to seal the victory, giving him a total of 20 carries in the game. Even though Drake has struggled out of the gate this year, the team is still sticking with him as their primary ball-carrier with Edmonds as a pass-catching option and change-of-pace rusher. Edmonds is still worth owning in most leagues and could see an uptick in usage when the Cardinals attempt to keep pace with the high-scoring Seattle Seahawks in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Kyler Murray Oct 20 10:00am ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had a rough overall game despite the team's 38-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6. Luckily, it still turned out to be a decent fantasy day. Murray completed just nine of his 24 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 74 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. It was his first game of the year without a turnover, which is certainly encouraging, but he's now been held under 200 passing yards in two of his past three games. With 370 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on the year, he's definitely doing enough to remain a no doubt QB1 in all formats, but it's been a shakier start to the season than fantasy owners were hoping to see from the second-year pro.

From RotoBaller

John Ross Oct 20 9:53am ET

Cincinnati Bengals WR John Ross approached the team about a trade. Ross is in the last year of his rookie deal and seeking a fresh start.

From TheHuddle

Le'Veon Bell Oct 20 9:13am ET

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Le'Veon Bell will receive $500,000 for 25 percent playing time in an AFC title win and $500,000 for 25 percent playing time in a Super Bowl win.

From TheHuddle

Larry Fitzgerald Oct 20 1:43am ET

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald extended his streak with at least one reception to 249 games in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. His streak is the longest of any player with a single team, and the second-longest overall streak in NFL history (Jerry Rice, 274). Fitzgerald's streak started Nov. 7, 2004.

From TheHuddle

Patrick Mahomes Oct 20 1:33am ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes tossed two touchdowns in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, and he set a franchise record with at least one scoring strike in 16 straight outings.

From TheHuddle

Malik Jackson Oct 20 1:23am ET

Philadelphia Eagles DL Malik Jackson (quadriceps) might miss two weeks due to the a quadriceps injury he suffered in the Week 6 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

From TheHuddle

Michael Gallup Oct 20 1:03am ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup posted two catches for 15 yards on six targets in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Fantasy Spin: Gallup definitely wasn't on the same page as new starter Andy Dalton, and he was very far behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb for the eye of the quarterback among the wide receivers. He is only worth a look as a WR5 in fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams heading into Week 7 on the road against the Washington Football Team.

From TheHuddle