5 NFL FanDuel Value Plays to Target in Week 3
Studs with sizable salaries are frequently an integral part of winning money in daily fantasy football at FanDuel. However, to fit them under the salary cap, it's imperative to locate underpriced players who over-deliver.
A good place to start when attempting to unearth undervalued players is our projections tool. The tool offers a value option for sorting, showcasing who offers the most bang for your buck. In addition to matchups impacting projections, injuries do as well. On that note, players replacing injured starters are often among the top values. So, staying abreast of injury news and inactives until the start of games is a must with that in mind.
With the tone set for this piece, let's move on. The following quintet of players is among my favorite cap-friendly options in Week 1.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions ($6,300)
Am I taking some liberties by including a tight end with a top-five salary in this piece? Sure. However, T.J. Hockenson's salary should be much closer to Travis Kelce's and Darren Waller's. Hockenson boasts the dream profile essentially.
Among tight ends targeted at least five times, he ranks tied for 10th with a 0.88 Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per Target. According to Pro Football Focus, using the same five-target threshold, he ranks 11th in yards per route run (1.83 Y/RR). And, don't worry, the traditional measures are even more glowing, ranking second at the position in targets (20), third in receiving yards (163), and first in receptions (16), hauling in a pair of touchdowns for good measure.
Moving beyond the statistics, his usage in the Detroit Lions' offense is exactly what gamers want. His 100 passing snaps and 89 routes are both second only to Waller's marks at tight end, and he leads the way with 66 slot snaps. Hockenson's the total package, with a perfect blend of a high floor and ceiling.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,300)
The Urban Meyer experience isn't going well for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Still, that hasn't prevented Marvin Jones from ascending to the top dog in the passing attack of an up-tempo offense. He's tied for 10th in the league in targets (20), parlaying them into 11 receptions for 132 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Further, according to Sports Info Solutions, he ranks third in intended air yards (281). Unfortunately, as good as he's been, there's meat left on the bone in the form of unrealized air yards.
Circling back to the pace, according to Football Outsiders, the Jags are playing at the fourth-fastest situation neutral pace. Surprisingly, the Arizona Cardinals rank 14th. However, in 2020, they ranked first in situation-neutral pace, so there's potential for this to turn into a fast-paced contest with tons of plays run by both offenses. Nevertheless, even if the Cards continue to play at a mid-pack pace, Jacksonville's likely to play fast in catch-up mode as 7.5-point underdogs, resulting in a hefty volume of targets for Jones.
Also, the matchup might be a plus for Jacksonville's receivers. Last week, the Minnesota Vikings' trio of K.J. Osborn, Adam Thielen, and Justin Jefferson combined for 17 receptions, 195 receiving yards, and three touchdowns on 23 targets. So finally, our Week 3 daily football projections are bullish on Jones, awarding him a value score of 1.95 that's tied for the ninth-best mark among receivers.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants ($6,000)
Sticking to the theme of our value projections, Saquon Barkley's value score of 2.81 is nearly a half-point clear of the second-highest mark among running backs and receivers. It's easy to understand why the projection model loves him. There aren't many every-down backs, but Barkley fits the profile.
According to Pro Football Reference, he played only 48 percent of the New York Giants' offensive snaps in Week 1. Despite a quick turnaround because of the Thursday Night Football game in Week 2, his playing time surged to 84 percent of the offensive snaps. Barkley's playing time increase coincided with handling the bulk of the backfield load, accounting for 13 of 17 carries and three of four targets for the fullbacks and running backs.
Unfortunately, Barkley's 96 scoreless yards from scrimmage and three receptions through two games aren't lighting the world on fire. Nonetheless, he's an explosive play waiting to happen, shouldering an increasing workload and coming off a few extra days of rest due to playing last week's Thursday Night Football game. In addition, facing the Atlanta Falcons enhances Barkley's big-play potential. According to Sharp Football Stats, Atlanta's tied for the sixth-highest average explosive run rate allowed (13 percent) this season. Barkley is a cash-game staple for me this week, with a ceiling befitting GPP usage as well.
D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars ($5,800)
The same positive factors I laid out for Jones apply for D.J. Chark, sans the production through two weeks, making him an attractive pivot off Jones in GPPs. The speedy wideout ranks third on the team in targets (16). However, he's hauled in only four of those targets for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Chark is only a few spots behind Jones in air yards, ranking eighth with 256 intended air yards. He's also being targeted deep. Among receivers targeted at least six times, his average depth of target of 16.0 yards downfield is 14th-deepest. The deep-ball usage enhances his volatility, but it also provides him the opportunity to generate value on just one play or two. As a result, Chark's a nifty boom-or-bust option that I expect to fly under the radar.
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos ($5,800)
Javonte Williams is strictly a GPP play. He's sharing the backfield duties with Melvin Gordon for the Denver Broncos, keeping his production in check. In fact, Gordon's 187 yards from scrimmage are significantly more than Williams' 115 yards from scrimmage. However, I'm viewing this as a recipe for him being undervalued for a potential coming-out party.
The Broncos are the biggest favorites this week, laying 10.5 points to the visiting New York Jets. The game script will be optimal for Denver's running attack if this game goes according to plan. As for Williams, while his box-score numbers don't jump off the page, his underlying stats tease a player poised to break out.
I'm encouraged specifically by his elite tackle-breaking ability translating from college to the pros. According to Pro Football Focus's lead draft analyst Mike Renner, Williams led the nation last year in broken tackles, setting a new Pro Football Focus record for broken tackles per attempt. The rookie's 11 missed tackles are the fourth-most this year, made more impressive by coming on only 27 rushes.
Additionally, he's churning out hard yardage. Out of 29 backs with at least 20 carries, his 3.04 yards after contact per attempt is the ninth-highest mark. Finally, he brings an explosive element to the table, breaking off three carries of 10-plus yards on only 27 attempts. His explosiveness plays well in this matchup, as the Jets rank 20th in average explosive run rate allowed (12 percent). Sometimes it pays off to speculate and get ahead of a blowup game in GPPs, so I'm willing to roll the dice on Williams this week.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.