DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 3
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It's only Week 3, but injuries are already impacting the running back position and have become the theme of this slate. Picking the right values at the position will be just as vital as how you apply the savings to improve the rest of your lineup. Now, let's get after it.
Patrick Mahomes ($7,000): Even though numberFire's projections have Patrick Mahomes as the fifth overall quarterback on the slate, he'll surely be among the highest-owned players on Sunday afternoon. While he's only $100 away from Aaron Rodgers as the most expensive signal caller, the price for Mahomes is easy to justify after seeing him throw for 10 touchdowns over the first 2 weeks. Interestingly enough, Jimmy Garoppolo -- who's on the other side of this matchup -- is projected as our QB1 and will cost $500 less. As for those opposing the San Francisco 49ers, they feature a woeful pass defense that is in the bottom 10 of our power rankings. However, the Kansas City Chiefs sit at the very bottom of that list. In a contest that figures to see plenty of big plays and burnt cornerbacks, it comes as no surprise to see a massive 55.5 over/under on our Heat Map. While paying down at quarterback is typically the preferred play to make in cash games, investing in Mahomes for his home debut looks like a winning move.
Cam Newton ($6,000): After throwing for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns on the road against the Atlanta Falcons, Cam Newton's price tag actually dropped by $600. Newton returns home to face a Cincinnati Bengals pass defense that has allowed the third-most passing yards after two games. After missing an entire season, Andrew Luck threw for 319 yards and 2 touchdowns against them in Week 1. Even Joe Flacco looked elite while dropping 376 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the Bengals last week. According to Sharp Football Stats, the Bengals are 24th in passing success rate allowed but are fourth in limiting big pass plays. Additionally, Cincinnati has recorded three interceptions and six sacks. Newton is likely best played in tournaments -- perhaps stacked with the still underpriced Devin Funchess ($5,000) -- in hopes that this contest exceeds the vanilla (44.0) over/under.
Matt Ryan ($5,700): Last week, I suggested playing Matt Ryan at low ownership, and while the two unpredictable rushing touchdowns inflated his bottom line, scoring more than 30 DraftKings points is the stuff that wins tournaments. Thankfully, Ryan's price tag didn't budge and he remains an incredible value at home against the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta is a slight favorite and owns the third-highest team total on the slate. After being roasted by a resurgent Ryan Fitzpatrick in the opener, New Orleans kept Tyrod Taylor mostly in check until allowing a late deep ball to be completed for a 47-yard touchdown pass. Those that put an emphasis on point-per-dollar value will strongly consider using Ryan in all formats, the second-best quarterback value based on current projections.
Todd Gurley ($9,200): As the second-most expensive player on the slate, it might seem difficult to squeeze Gurley into a cash-game lineup, especially if you are also hoping to play Mahomes at quarterback. However, the task becomes much easier with the extensive range of value running backs that are available. Our projections give Gurley a score that's nearly three points ahead of the nearest running back and more than five full points ahead of Alvin Kamara, who's $300 more. The Los Angeles Rams are favored by a touchdown at home against the Los Angeles Chargers and own the fourth-highest team total. And while an opposing running back has yet to put up big numbers in the box score against the Chargers, Sharp Football Stats places their run defense near the bottom of the league in rushing success rate.
Kareem Hunt ($6,000): After two unimpressive performances to begin the season, Kareem Hunt's price has dropped $900 since Week 1. Even though Hunt has only seen two targets as a receiver, he's played more than 70 percent of the snaps and is 10th among all running backs in snap share, according to PlayerProfiler. Not only does Kansas City enjoy one of the best home field advantages in the league by playing at Arrowhead Stadium, but the Chiefs have an implied total of 30.75 points. Just that fact alone makes any running back priced this low a very attractive play in DFS. Our projections agree and have Hunt as the RB7 and one of the top values on the slate. Recency bias is likely to have many ignoring Hunt's lackluster box scores in favor of Tevin Coleman for $400 more or dropping into the $5K range for one of the budget backs.
Giovani Bernard ($5,900): Leading the charge among the budget backs this week is Giovani Bernard, who figures to get multiple starts after Joe Mixon underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to address a "slight tear" of his meniscus. Injuries to Mixon allowed Benard to see double-digit carries in the final five games of 2017. According to PlayerProfiler, Gio totaled more than 95 yards of offense on 3 occasions while averaging 4.4 evaded tackles per game during that span. Tra Carson won the RB3 gig in Cincinnati over the struggling rookie Mark Walton but is headed to IR after an injury suffered in practice on Monday. Unlikely to trust the inexperienced Walton, Bernard is staring down a very large opportunity share over the next several games, starting this week.
Bernard ought to be a cash-game staple and paired along with either Corey Clement ($4,300), Matt Breida ($5,400), or Latavius Murray ($5,800) -- so long as Dalvin Cook is out -- as the value running backs that will allow you to flex Todd Gurley.
T.Y. Hilton ($6,700): Even though T.Y. Hilton sat out both the Wednesday and Thursday practice sessions, his quad injury is not expected to put him in jeopardy of missing this road matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. And for opportunistic tournament players, Hilton's questionable tag will likely reduce his ownership in an otherwise strong matchup. After giving up nearly 170 receiving yards to Julio Jones in the season opener, the Eagles gave up touchdowns to all top three Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receivers. Long perceived as a field stretcher, Hilton's average depth of target (aDOT) of 8.2 is the 7th-lowest among the 19 wide receivers that have been targeted 20 or more times. However, those 4.3-40 wheels have aided Hilton in recording the 13th-most yards after catch, per PlayerProfiler. Assuming Hilton is good to go, he's a very cheap tournament play with massive upside.
Nelson Agholor ($6,100): One of the easier cash-game plays to make this week at receiver is Nelson Agholor, who's at home with Carson Wentz making his season debut. The Philadelphia Eagles have re-united with Jordan Matthews after Mike Wallace was placed on injured reserve. Matthews was with the Eagles back in 2016 -- Doug Pederson's first season as a head coach -- but it remains to be seen just how much he'll be able to play. Cue up another busy day for Agholor. He's caught eight passes on double-digit targets in each game thus far while also seeing a rushing attempt. Additionally, Agholor famously completed a "Philly Special" pass in the opener. Last week, the opposing Indianapolis Colts' pass defense kept Washington's receivers from scoring. However, Andy Dalton completed 75 percent of his total passes while also connecting with his wide receivers for a pair of touchdowns against the Colts in Week 1.
Sammy Watkins ($5,100): According to airyards.com, Sammy Watkins is third on the Kansas City Chiefs in both targets and air yards. A 9.5 average depth of target (aDOT) suggests that Watkins is seeing some of those higher-percentage opportunities in the short and intermediate areas of the field while Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are getting deep on aDOT's of 16.5 and 13.2, respectively. Last week on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Watkins caught six of his seven targets for 100 yards, highlighted by a 40-yard gainer. Watkins also took a jet sweep for an additional 31 yards. Easier targets, a designed rush attempt, and a splash play? Yeah, that works. And given how thirsty DFS players are to get anyone from this game into their lineups, Watkins makes for a strong play that's extremely affordable for all formats.
Jared Cook ($4,000): Last year, the Miami Dolphins allowed the most DraftKings points to tight ends. But facing the New York Jets -- who don't have a tight end of consequence to target -- last week it's understandable there's very little to go on right now. However, Delanie Walker was targeted seven times in Week 1 prior to suffering a season-ending injury. Cook went off for 180 yards during the opener and followed it up by catching all 4 of his targets for 49 yards against the Denver Broncos, another defense that has been vulnerable to tight ends. A quick glance at the Oakland Raiders' team level stats on quickly reveals that Cook is leading the team in quite literally everything. Sure, he had a nice head start but Cook also has a very slight lead in aDOT and has been the most efficient receiver in converting his air yard opportunities into actual yardage.
Benjamin Watson ($3,100): One of the top salary savers this week looks like Watson. if not for Drew Brees overthrowing a wide open Watson in the end zone, this play might be far more popular. Through two games, though, Watson only has nine targets, so this could prove to be a touchdown-or-bust proposition. Atlanta was solid against tight ends last year but were targeted by the position 11 times in Week 1. Thankfully, Watson frees up so much cap that a single-digit performance won't sink an otherwise well-built cash game lineup.
Houston Texans ($2,800): With the Minnesota Vikings hosting the Buffalo Bills, many will be tempted to pay all the up to $4,300 to play the purple Josh Allen eaters. But for $1,500 less, you can get the Houston Texans hosting Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Two games into the season, Manning has just one touchdown to his credit. He's only been intercepted once but has been sacked a total of eight times with one lost fumble. Houston only managed 2.0 DraftKings points last week in what looked like a layup against the Tennessee Titans, who started Blaine Gabbert behind a patchwork offensive line. Thankfully, pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney is expected back, boosting their chances of racking up a few sacks.
Dallas Cowboys ($2,200): Among the teams that have played two games, Dallas is second in the league with nine sacks. They also get defensive end Randy Gregory back from a concussion. That's not good news for Russell Wilson, who's been sacked six times in each contest and is dealing with a hamstring issue. Furthermore, Wilson has also been intercepted three times already and has committed four fumbles, although he's only lost one of them. While we would prefer to get them at home, this Dallas team is simply in an ideal spot to return ridiculous value given the massive mismatch between their pass rush and the Seattle Seahawks' line.
Eric McClung is not a FanDuel employee. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.