Daily Fantasy Football Bargains, Best Buys and Busts: Week 3
For Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, and for many year-long fantasy football owners, the season already feels over after only two weeks and one game. Sitting at 0-3, or looking over a roster littered with injuries and busts, can leave a football fan feeling like the 2015 NFL Draft can't get here soon enough.
But daily fantasy football offers the chance to draft a new team every week, and possibly get some joy out of a season that's quickly slipping out of the grasp of fans in Tampa, and for fantasy owners around the world.
Let's take a look at some of the best and worst picks in daily fantasy football this week by offering you 9 players to either target or avoid when building your teams for this Sunday and Monday.
These players will be broken up into three categories. The first - Great Values - are pretty obvious. They're undervalued players who will allow you to spend more elsewhere. The next is Worth the Cost, which includes players who are more than worth a large chunk of your budget. The final category is Not Worth It, which includes high-cost players who aren't worth their price tag, and shouldn't be in most of your lineups this week.
Keep in mind that these players may or may not be used in our weekly optimal lineups. To see who the algorithms are selecting on the week, check out our optimal lineup section, and don't forget to use our custom optimal lineup tool.
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers - With Ryan Mathews out, Danny Woodhead's role in the San Diego offense increases, while his price in daily fantasy football does not. Assuming what I have referred to as the "Fred Jackson on steroids" role, Woodhead will see third-down work, red zone touches, and likely a majority of the high-scoring opportunities for the Charger offense.
All of this will come against the Buffalo Bills, who allowed eight catches for 87 yards to Matt Forte in Week 1, and will likely keep the game close (at best) and give the Chargers plenty of opportunities to feed Woodhead and give the back solid volume for such a low price on both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints - Like Woodhead, Khiry Robinson is the beneficiary of an injury to one of his fellow running backs, as Mark Ingram's absence allows the young Saints back to step into the complementary role to Pierre Thomas, and see his fair share of red zone work.
Robinson was already trusted with goal line looks this year, but Ingram's play kept him on the field ahead of Robinson for most of the first two weeks. Robinson's chance to assume a bigger role in the offense couldn't be timed any better, as well, as a date with the Vikings is on deck. Minnesota was our 11th worst run defense last year according to Adjusted (for strength of schedule) Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP).
The Saints will be at home, where they're a better team all around, and that will lead to plenty of scoring opportunities for Robinson, along with a good bit of volume as they run out the clock against the overmatched Vikings. And for pennies more than the minimum salary on both FanDuel and DraftKings, he's one of the "safest" punt plays this week.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions - Calvin Johnson currently sits atop our Reception NEP rankings, but Golden Tate is in the top 30, posting solid numbers so far this season as he transitions from the run-heavy Seattle offense into the pass-happy Detroit offense.
Tate will play in what should be the highest scoring game of his young Detroit career this weekend as the Lions take on the Packers. Vegas thinks this game will feature more than 50 points, and I'm inclined to take the over. Green Bay finished last year with the sixth-worst passing defense according to our data, and Matthew Stafford throws the ball around enough to justify more players than just Megatron.
And for $5,000 on both FanDuel and DraftKings, he's a very cheap way to fill out a lineup and still get scoring upside and some safe volume. He is second on the team in targets with 14, while no other receiver has more than 3.
Worth the Cost
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees' price is still a bit low after a relatively slow start to the season, but with the Saints heading home to face the Vikings this week, there is no better time to roster Brees when his price is at its lowest and his upside is at its highest.
For his career, Brees has 56 more touchdowns and 9 fewer interceptions at home than on the road, and he'll get to put that home-field advantage to the test this weekend against the defense that finished 31st in the NFL against the pass last year, according to our data.
Brees is expensive, but his price will only go up from here. If you play one or two of the value plays above, you can afford Brees, and you'll be rewarded for your efforts.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys - The St. Louis Rams allowed "fumbling" Bobby Rainey to run for 144 yards in Week 2, and now must try to figure out a way to stop the red-hot DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys' back has run for over 100 yards and a score in each of his first two games, and with Tony Romo still limping around with a bad back, expect to see more of the same this Sunday.
Among backs with 30 carries so far this year, Murray has the best Success Rate, which refers to how often his runs result in positive Net Expected Points for his team. In other words, he's been insanely consistent for a featured back, and will continue to pick up chunks of yards against the Rams in Week 3.
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos - It may seem crazy to pay up for Julius Thomas, who is $8,000 on FanDuel this weekend, considering the Broncos' matchup with Seattle. But after watching how the San Diego Chargers used Antonio Gates to destroy the Seattle Seahawks in the red zone, and knowing how brilliant of a football mind Peyton Manning is, I wouldn't be shocked to see more of the same in Week 3.
Thomas has four red zone targets this season, which is second-most among Broncos pass-catchers, and has quickly become one of Peyton Manning's go-to guys in goal-to-go situations. If the Broncos learned anything from Seattle's tape against San Diego, expect to see Manning throw to Thomas in the end zone this weekend.
Not Worth It
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers - Le'Veon Bell has been a surprise so far this season, putting offseason drama behind him to produce for Pittsburgh after a seemingly promising first year in the league. But as a result, his price on FanDuel is up to $8,800, and that's too much to pay against the Carolina Panthers.
Apart from a 54-yard run from Bucs' fullback Jorvorskie Lane, the Panthers have allowed 83 yards on 30 carries to opposing tailbacks so far this season. Their front seven is loaded with talent, and Pittsburgh simply doesn't have what it takes to get a running game going against that kind of opposition. Bell will still be involved in the passing game, but considering FanDuel's .5 PPR scoring, you can do better with your high-end running back dollars. Paying up for LeSean McCoy or down for Matt Forte would be better choices.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots - Priced at $7,700 on FanDuel for a game against the Oakland Raiders, Rob Gronkowski seems like an obvious play this weekend in an excellent matchup. But after playing fewer than half of his team's snaps so far this season as he eases his way back from offseason knee surgery, it's a risky move to rely on a player who may be sitting on the bench more often than he's standing in the end zone.
The Patriots are expected to blow out the Raiders, and just as they did against the Vikings a week ago, that likely means running the ball quite a bit (Tom Brady threw only 21 passes last Sunday) and resting Gronkowski for more competitive games down the road. Pay up for Jimmy Graham at home if you're going to pay top dollar for a tight end this week, or go with the aforementioned Thomas.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos - While it may be smart to go against the grain and roster Julius Thomas this week, it's not a good investment to roll with Peyton Manning as the Broncos face the Seahawks in a Super Bowl rematch. Manning is still priced at the top of the quarterback position, and is unlikely to offer any amount of upside against the solid Seattle defense.
Yes, the Chargers found ways to beat Seattle through the air, but apart from their possible vulnerability to tight ends, they're still a formidable foe that will test Manning's pocket presence and accuracy on every drop back. And with Drew Brees in a comfortable matchup at home, and Aaron Rodgers in what should be a shootout against a weak secondary, Manning is a risky contrarian play at best, but more likely a waste of precious cap space.