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Starting Points: NFL Week 3

by Renee Miller
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We’ll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. The focus is on Sunday games, since both main DFS sites have eliminated Monday and Thursday games from their big tournaments.


The high scoring games:


San Diego at Indianapolis

Total 52, Colts -3


Last week’s highest scoring game (New Orleans at Giants) was a letdown for a number of fantasy owners, prompting a reminder that even when everything looks perfect on paper, it doesn’t always play out as planned. Or, as they say, that’s why they play the games. We have another premier fantasy matchup on tap for Week 3 in Indy. The Colts and Chargers are both top 10 in points scored and bottom 10 in points allowed. With San Diego crushed by injuries again this season (Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead both done for the year), I think Vegas rightly has the Colts favored here at home.


Andrew Luck struggled a bit in Denver but was outstanding in Week 1. He’s the fifth-most expensive QB on FanDuel, but should be worth it this week. T.Y. Hilton has seen double-digit targets (23 total) in each game so far, but he’s been wildly inefficient, catching only 10 of them, none for TDs. That should change this week as he appears to be healthy, and has limited competition with Donte Moncrief questionable at best. Dwayne Allen is also an interesting play; we saw his end zone appeal in Week 1 and Luck is likely to rely on the big tight end against a beatable Chargers secondary. A three man Colts stack is a great way to start Week 3.


On the other side of the ball, things get easier for fantasy. Melvin Gordon will be super popular with Woodhead out and the Colts have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing rushers so far this year, including three rushing TDs. Rivers’ price is nice on FanDuel, and with last week’s Bargain Bin heroes Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams stepping up at their reasonable salaries (both remain under $7K), a four-man Chargers stack is possible for tournaments. If you’re looking for the safe play, I think it’s either Gordon or Antonio Gates, who caught his first TD of the season last week. I remain convinced that Gates is the top end zone target for Rivers going forward as long as he’s healthy.


Detroit at Green Bay

Total 48, Packers -7.5


Green Bay finally opens the home season for Week 3 with the visiting Lions. Detroit, like the Packers, is 1-1 and has played two totally different games thus far. I’m going to be heavily in on Green Bay’s pass game this weekend based not only on the attractive line and implied team total here, but also the intangible of that home field advantage and Aaron Rodgers’ anger at his own performance down the stretch in Week 2. The Vikings defense is no joke, so I expect a big bounce back from the talented QB. Detroit has been a sieve to its opponents this season so far, allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Jordy Nelson is the only receiver I’m taking with him. Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are seeing about the same amount of targets, with Cobb catching most of his and Adams attracting a lot of pass interference calls. Advantage Cobb for DFS. Like last year, Detroit is stout against the run. Off-season Eddie Lacy hype aside, this rushing situation, which featured James Starks on Sunday night too, is worth monitoring before investing for DFS.


Matthew Stafford is currently the sixth-best fantasy QB, passing for 600 yards and four touchdowns with one interception through two weeks. The Packers just made Sam Bradford look like Tom Brady, so there is some upside with Stafford for Week 3. With the run game hurting owing to Ameer Abdullah’s foot injury, the Lions’ pass game gets an additional boost. Taking the underdog in a high scoring game is a strategy that Chris Raybon has shown can pay off. Marvin Jones Jr. quickly overtook Golden Tate as the number one guy in Detroit, yet remains under $7K on FanDuel. Take advantage of Jones with or without Stafford in DFS this weekend. Theo Riddick will continue to be a popular play, and should be solid despite the price hike for Week 3.


The low-scoring games:


 San Francisco at Seattle

Total 40, Seahawks -9.5


This game could have found itself in the section below, since Vegas likes Seattle to win big here, with a team total of about 25 points. However, I’m taking a more cautious approach here for a couple reasons. First, Seattle has averaged 7.5 points per game through two weeks. The run game is hurting with Thomas Rawls questionable for Week 3 and Christine Michael, rushing 15 and 10 times in the first two games, has failed to make the most of his opportunities. Michael has also seen four targets in each game, but they haven’t amounted to much in terms of yardage, and Russell Wilson’s ankle sprain may be more of a hindrance than we’d like to believe. The team has scored one touchdown so far. One. I’m avoiding the Seattle offense in DFS cash games until I see some reason to believe they’ll turn it around. That said, the SF defense isn’t as good as it looked in Week 1 against the Rams, and this could be the time to test out a cheap Seattle mini-stack in tournaments (Wilson with Jimmy Graham and maybe Michael is my choice).


The Seahawks’ defense is solid, allowing the fewest points to opponents thus far (9.5) but San Francisco has produced against both the Rams and the Panthers, averaging 27.5 points per game thus far. I fear a trap here and if I were a bettor, I’d be taking the 49ers to cover with confidence. That said, the Seattle run defense has been stifling, so if I’m going anywhere with SF in DFS, it’s with Blaine Gabbert, who’s averaging 35 pass attempts per game and over 26 rushing yards per game. That’s obviously in tournaments only, where you’re looking to spend up elsewhere. 



Denver at Cincinnati

Total 41, Bengals -3


Even as a small home favorite, no one is expecting a big breakout game for A.J. Green or Andy Dalton against the Broncos. Both defenses are very much in play in this one as Denver reminded us why they were the best in the league last year with a very nice Week 2 performance for fantasy. Denver has been executing a very conservative game plan so far, which I expect to continue on the road. While Trevor Siemian might not be an interception-prone gunslinger sort of QB, a mistake or two on the road against the Bengals wouldn’t shock me. At any rate, I expect the scoring to be minimal on both sides.


The one player I don’t want to overlook is running back C.J. Anderson. The Bengals have been beaten on the ground (and through the air) by Matt Forte and DeAngelo Williams already. Anderson projects as a very safe play this week. While others chase value in questionable back-up RB time shares, I’m probably paying up for Anderson in a majority of lineups.


High team totals you might miss:


 Cleveland at Miami

Total 41.5, Dolphins -10


The Miami defense should be at least 50% owned in DFS this weekend. I’m not even exaggerating. Facing Cody Kessler in Florida at mid-range salary, they’re almost a must play. Through two weeks, they have five sacks, two interceptions, and four forced fumbles. This is a unit that can be misery for opposing quarterbacks. On the other hand, they’ve allowed the second-most rushing yards, so bump up Isaiah Crowell a ton if you’re looking elsewhere for a defense. Crowell is the only Brown you can use with confidence this week.


On the offensive side of the ball, Miami’s running woes with Jay Ajayi now at the front lines should pave the way for a major upswing in the production of Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. The Vegas line supports using the Miami pass game with an implied team total of nearly 26 points. Jordan Cameron is coming off a nice Week 2 performance, but there are safer tight end plays unless you’re stacking four Miami players in a tournament.