2016 NFL DFS: Week 3 DraftKings and FanDuel Breakdown
Below you’ll find discussions of the players that are “in play” at each position for the Week 3 main slate (aka Sunday only) DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel. Players are arbitrarily listed in descending order of FanDuel salary and are not ranked in order of preference given differences between the sites and the varying types of contests you might be playing.
Cam Newton — vs. MIN — DK: $7,800 — FD: $9,200
There will be plenty of cheaper options at QB that are more popular than Cam this week (we’ll get to a few of them in a minute), and Andrew Luck is likely to be the most popular expensive QB. With the Panthers being a a touchdown favorite at home with an implied total of 24.75, Cam is in a pretty good spot and won’t be one of the four most highly owned QBs. That sounds like a GPP play to me.
Aaron Rodgers — vs. DET — DK: $7,700 — FD: $8,900
Everything just said about Cam applies to Rodgers. The Pack are a touchdown favorite at home and have an even higher implied total of 27.25. And Rodgers has a much better matchup than Cam does. Green Bay will face Jacksonville who ranks 22nd in 4for4.com’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA). Rodgers also isn’t going to be highly owned, so he’s another interesting GPP option. Both guys are just a bit rich for my blood at this position where a cheaper option is preferred in cash.
Andrew Luck — vs. SD — DK: $7,600 — FD: $8,700
Luck is going to be the most popular expensive option on Sunday, and it makes some sense why that will be the case. The Colts are a slight favorite at home and have an implied total of 26. But I’m not really buying it. I have a general distrust of Luck given that he has the lowest completion percentage in the league among the 45 passers with at least 100 attempts since the start of 2015. I don’t care if he was playing hurt for some of that. Last is last. Plus, the Chargers rank 16th in aFPA and 13th in pass defense DVOA so far.
Philip Rivers — @ IND — DK: $6,700 — FD: $8,000
Rivers is also going to be popular this week, and that also makes sense given that this game is expected to be a shootout by Vegas and Indy ranks 31st in pass DVOA through two weeks. But I’m not in on either QB in this one. Rivers is going to be too popular for GPP use, and there are cheaper viable options in cash games.
Marcus Mariota — vs. OAK — DK: $5,900 — FD: $7,700
Normally I wouldn’t consider a QB from a team with an implied total under 24, but I’m going to make an exception here since Tennessee has an implied total of 23. The exception is being made because Mariota is nice and cheap on DK, plus there’s nothing not to like other than the slightly lower implied total. The matchup with Oakland is superb as the Raiders have allowed the most yards and most yards per attempt through two weeks. Mariota will be a little too popular for use in GPPs, but at that price on DK he’s a great cash option there.
Eli Manning — vs. WAS — DK: $7,000 — FD: $7,700
It would be the most Eli thing ever for him to go off this week after shitting the bed last week when everyone was on him. For that reason alone I’d consider him in GPPs. But there are more legit reasons to like Eli such as the Giants being a three-point home favorite with an implied total of 24.5. And the matchup with Washington is good as they rank 20th in pass DVOA with the seventh most yards allowed per pass attempt. Eli’s price is a bit better on FD, which is where he’s worth a look in GPPs.
Ryan Tannehill — vs. CLE — DK: $6,200 — FD: $7,400
Tannehill represents the cheapest viable option for cash games on FD. The Dolphins are a 9.5-point favorite at home with an implied total of 25.75. The Browns are, as usual, a complete mess, and Joe Haden has been exposed early this season. Tanny will be too popular for GPPs, but he’s a fantastic FD cash option.
DeAngelo Williams — @ PHI — DK: $7,500 — FD: $8,800
The only reason not to roster DeAngelo would be price. He can be counted on for a very healthy number of touches given that the Steelers don’t have much behind him and don’t have to worry about overworking him with LeVeon Bell returning soon. The matchup with Philly is a good one as they rank 20th in run DVOA and have allowed the fifth most yards per carry so far. If you have room for DeAngelo in cash, that’s great, but you don’t have to find a way to pay up for him. Going cheaper at RB is never a bad idea. As for GPPs, he’ll be very popular, but you could use him if you get contrarian in your second RB slot.
Melvin Gordon — @ IND — DK: $5,800 — FD: $7,100
Volume is most important for backs, and Gordon is getting that with 41 touches through two weeks. Efficiency is much less important and can be overcome with enough volume. But Gordon’s 3.5 yards per carry last year weren’t good enough no matter how many carries he got. Thankfully, he’s been better early this season with a respectable 4.2 yards per carry. That makes the volume he gets valuable, and he can put it to good use against Indy who ranks 31st in run DVOA. He’s a nice value in terms of dollars per touch and thus makes for a nice cash play. But avoid him in GPPs as he’s likely to be highly owned.
Christine Michael — vs. SF — DK: $5,000 — FD: $6,900
With Thomas Rawls doubtful to play, Michael should see a healthy amount of volume. The problem is that Seattle’s offensive line is horrendous and ranks 28th in adjusted line yards, FO’s run blocking stat. There are other viable cheap RB options, so you don’t have to roster Michael. But some of those other cheaper backs are going to be more popular plays, so Michael could work as an RB2 in GPPs.
Charles Sims — vs. LA — DK: $4,900 — FD: $6,300
Sims is going to be one of those more popular cheaper backs. He should see upwards of 20 touches this week with Doug Martin out, and game flow could work in his favor as the Bucs are a 4.5-point favorite at home. The Rams are a tough-ish matchup, but no so tough to negate the value Sims will provide given his price tags and expected workload. He’s a good cash play and will work in GPPs if you’re contrarian enough elsewhere.
Frank Gore — vs. SD — DK: $5,000 — FD: $5,700
Gore is averaging 17 touches per game so far but could get up near 20 in this one with Indy being a home favorite. The matchup with San Diego is excellent as they have allowed the most yards per carry through two weeks and rank 32nd in run DVOA. Gore gives you good bang for your buck and is probably the cheapest guy I would consider on FD.
Isaiah Crowell — @ MIA — DK: $4,700 — FD: $6,900
Crowell ranks 14th in carries through two weeks and should see as much volume as game flow allows, though admittedly it may not allow too much with Cleveland being a big road dog. But he’s one of the better values of the week on DK when you consider cost relative to number of touches. Cheaper options who could also see a healthy amount of work are Matt Jones and Cameron Artis-Payne, but Crowell is about as cheap as I’d go on DK.
Antonio Brown — @ PHI — DK: $9,600 — FD: $9,500
Pay up for receivers whenever possible, and Brown is the most obvious stud option this week. He ranks fifth in targets through two weeks, averaging 11 per game, which makes him extremely bankable. Don’t worry for one second about Philly’s strong start against the pass as they’ve face RGIII and a mix of Cutler/Hoyer. They don’t have the corners to handle Brown. Brown will be very popular, but he could be used in GPPs if your lineup is contrarian elsewhere.
Mike Evans — vs. LA — DK: $7,000 — FD: $8,000
Were I to make a case against the aforementioned Sims, I’d start with the fact that I like Evans so much this week. Evans leads the league in targets through two weeks with 25. He also ranks ninth in average depth of target (aDOT), so he gets tons of looks and most of them are well down the field. LA may be strong up front on defense, but they do not have any corners that present an intimidating matchup for Evans.
Jarvis Landry — vs. CLE — DK: $6,600 — FD: $7,000
Landry is tied with a few other guys for the most targets after Evans. Landry rarely sees tough matchups working primarily out of the slot, and he’ll avoid a tough matchup this weekend. With Tannehill likely to be highly owned, Landry should be as well. If you go Tanny in cash, Landry is an obvious stack candidate, and Landry is a great cash option no matter who your QB is. As always, any one or two chalk play(s) won’t kill you, so Landry is an option in GPPs if you’re not too chalky elsewhere.
Travis Benjamin — @ IND — DK: $5,200 — FD: $6,900
Unless you’re looking for two receivers in this price range on FD, there’s no reason to roster Benjamin there with Landry being only $100 more. Both guys are going to be heavily owned, so Landry >>> Benjamin there. But on DK Benjamin is way, way too cheap. He’s going to be very heavily owned on DK, so heavily that he’s a cash only option.
Jordan Matthews — vs. PIT — DK: $7,100 — FD: $6,900
Matthews has been heavily targeted through two weeks as he’s one of the guys tied with Landry for the second most targets. Game flow could set up well for JMatt this week. Of the teams that are more than a one-point underdog, Philly at +3.5 has the highest implied total of those underdogs. So they should have to throw some, but they’re expected to do at least some scoring. JMatt isn’t priced well on DK, but he’s a viable option in that $7K range on FD. He shouldn’t be heavily owned, so he’d make for a nice GPP play.
Marvin Jones — @ GB — DK: $6,200 — FD: $6,900
Jones is tied for seventh in targets through two weeks, and he should have a nice individual matchup this weekend. This is another situation where game flow could work in a receiver’s favor, and Jones is the most heavily targeted receiver on the team, easily.
Michael Crabtree — @ TEN — DK: 6,000 — FD: $6,400
Crabtree should draw Perrish Cox in coverage who ranks dead last in PFF’s coverage grades so far this season. I like Amari Cooper a bit as well, especially for big play ability, but I like the prices on Crabtree better, especially his price on FD. He won’t be highly owned and makes plenty of sense for GPPs.
Tajae Sharpe — @ OAK — DK: $4,700 — FD: $5,800
Sharpe is ranked 16th in targets so far, averaging nine per game. He’s by far the most targeted receiver for the Titans early in the season. As mentioned when discussing Mariota, Oakland’s pass defense has been horrendous, and Sharpe is the best bet to exploit them this week. Sharpe is an auto-stack partner if you roster Mariota, and he makes for an excellent cash game play as he provides good salary relief.
I’m going to keep this section short. There aren’t a ton of TE options to like this week, and Dennis Pitta stands out as a clear option on both sites. His 16 targets so far rank fourth among tight ends, but he’s not among the 10 most expensive tight ends on either site. That kind of volume for a significantly lower cost is difficult to pass up. Unless you’re trying to be contrarian in a GPP, just plug Pitta in. And I’m even fine with him in a GPP as TE isn’t a position where I worry too much about being contrarian.
If you’re looking for a different option, consider Jordan Reed and Jason Witten who are tied for the most targets among tight ends so far. Reed is priced fairly well on FD, so he may be a bit heavily owned there, but he shouldn’t be overly popular on DK, while Witten should be lightly owned on both sites.
The only other guy I’d consider would be Jesse James for the minimum price on FD.
All you’re looking for in a kicker is a kicker that plays for a favorite who has an implied total of 24 or more. Preferably the team would be a home favorite, but road favorites are acceptable as well. The cheapest kicker who meets this criteria this week is Miami’s Andrew Franks, though rain could make that game tricky for kickers. If weather hurts Franks as a play, look to Tennessee’s Ryan Succop as a minimum price play. If you have $200 extra to spend, Indy’s Adam Vinatieri and Dallas’ Dan Bailey are good options on teams that are home favorites with a covered home stadium.
The key with defenses is finding defenses that will face a lot of passing plays. Interceptions and sacks occur exclusively on passing plays, and fumbles actually occur more on passing plays than rushing plays. Defensive touchdowns are difficult to predict, but they’re also more likely to occur on passing plays with 53 pick sixes last year compared to only 33 scoop ‘n scores. One of the best ways to identify defenses that will face a lot of passing plays is identifying Vegas favorites, preferably home favorites. And obviously the lower the opponent’s implied point total, the better the matchup for the defense.
Let’s start off with a couple of the usual suspects, Seattle and Carolina. Both teams are a touchdown favorite or more at home, and both are facing teams with an implied team total in Vegas of 18 or less. Both teams have obviously been elite defensive units going back at least a couple of seasons, and they currently rank first and sixth in Football Outsiders’ DAVE rankings, which are a mix of performance in the first two games and preseason projections. Because there is a very chalky defensive play outside of those two units (which we’ll get to in just a moment), Seattle and Carolina shouldn’t be super-heavily owned this week. That yet-to-be-discussed chalky play is priced superbly on FD, so the Seahawks and Panthers defenses should be low owned enough to use even in GPPs there.
The chalk this week is Miami. The Dolphins are a 9.5-point favorite at home, and the Browns have the second lowest implied total at 16. Defenses facing the Browns this season have scored 12 and 10 fantasy points through two weeks, and those defenses didn’t have the pleasure of facing a rookie quarterback making his first career start on the road like the Dolphins will against Cody Kessler. Miami only ranks 23rd in the FO DAVE rankings, so they’re not an elite unit. But then again, they don’t need to be in this matchup. As mentioned, they’re priced very well on FD, but they’re priced more than reasonably on DK as well. They’re a good cash game option on either site, but they’ll be heavily owned, so look elsewhere in GPPs.
Next we have Tampa Bay who is a 4.5-point favorites at home against the Rams whose 18.75 implied total is the fourth lowest of the weekend. The Bucs got torched in Arizona last week and were only average in Week 1, but both of those games were on the road. Perhaps more importantly, those games were against Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer, not Case Keenum. The Bucs rank 16th in Football Outsiders’ DAVE rankings which still heavily factor in preseason projections at this point, so this defense is probably better than they’ve shown through two weeks. A return home to face Keenum should provide better results.
If you want to go as cheap as you can on DK, consider Dallas at $2,500. The Cowboys are a seven-point favorite at home against the Bears who have an implied total of 19. Dallas was projected to be a middle-of-the-road defense, and that’s exactly what they’ve been through two weeks according to the DAVE rankings. Chicago is also banged up in important spots with Brian Hoyer starting for Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery questionable with a knee injury.
If you want to go as cheap as possible on FD, look at Cincinnati at $4,500. They’re a three-point favorite home to Denver who also has an implied total of 19. Cincy ranks 11th in the DAVE rankings, so this is an above average unit that can be had for a reasonable cost in a favorable Vegas situation.