Week 3 NFL DFS Starting Points: Vegas Lines
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. All salaries listed are for FanDuel.
The high scoring games:
San Francisco at Kansas City, Total 56
How long has it been since the 49ers are playing in the highest point total game? Longer than I’ve been doing this article, which is a few years. Of course, most of the credit for this line goes to the Chiefs, who average a league-leading 40 points per game (PPG) after two weeks. They’ve been very efficient too, accomplishing that with under 300 passing yards per game and just over 100 rushing yards per game--scoring 0.734 per play (per Team Rankings)! Meanwhile, the 49ers are averaging under 200 passing yards, 140 rushing yards per game and 23 PPG. The reason the spread isn’t larger here is that the Kansas City defense hasn’t been at all effective in stopping their opponents. In fact, they’ve given up the most fantasy points to QBs, fifth-most to RBs, and third-most to WRs. Good news for SF fans and fantasy owners.
This is a fantasy fest for all. Use literally everyone you can in this game. What might be some hard choices? Patrick Mahomes’ salary has risen to second-highest on DraftKings and highest on FanDuel. It’s doable on DK, but $8900 is hard to build around on FD. On the other hand, Tyreek Hill is the seventh-most expensive WR on FD, but second-most on DK. Kareem Hunt is the bargain Chiefs play this week on both sites, although we haven’t seen RBs have a ton of success on the ground vs. the 49ers (e.g. Dalvin Cook’s 38 yards in Week 1 and Kerryon Johnson’s 43 yards last week). I think he could produce a breakout game this week.
Travis Kelce is just about the highest priced TE you’ll find on the main slate (very close to Zach Ertz on DK), but he showed why he’s usually worth it in Week 2 after a disappointing opener. I probably won’t pay up for TE, but understand the desire to trust someone like Kelce. Sammy Watkins is going to be a boom or bust player all year, so I won’t be chasing his 5/100 line in anything but GPP lineups.
The 49ers burned a lot of us that were high on George Kittle and Dante Pettis in Week 2, but we have to let that go. This is a premier spot for all the 49ers, and it’s a much more affordable stack than the Chiefs. In fact, you can easily fit Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Breida, and any of Marquise Goodwin/Pettis, Pierre Garcon, Kittle, or Alfred Morris. Morris isn’t going away and is likely to get a goal line carry or two in this shootout. If Goodwin is fully recovered from the thigh bruise, he’ll be one of my highest owned WRs this week.
New Orleans at Atlanta, Total 53
The Saints are already cruising this season, averaging over 30 PPG, and they’re doing it in typical New Orleans fashion: with Drew Brees’ arm. He’s averaging 322 passing yards per game, while the team has put up just 52 rushing yards per game. That doesn’t mean you should ignore Alvin Kamara; he’s leading all running backs with 112 receiving yards, and despite only 29 rushing yards to his name, Kamara has rushed in two touchdowns through two weeks. He’s expensive, but his floor/ceiling combination, especially in this matchup is nearly impossible to fade. Atlanta has always been a sieve, funneling fantasy points to receiving backs, and Kamara is arguably one of the best they’ll face this season. Michael Thomas tops the wide receiver salary chart this week, expected for the league-leader in catches (28). He’s also second in targets (30), yards (269) and red zone targets (7). He’s not a must-play like Kamara for me this week, but he’s GOOD. There’s simply no bargains with the Saints right now.
But there is with Atlanta, and they are actually the favorite here. The Falcons should be a popular stack this weekend, with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones being priced in a fair range, especially on DK ($5700 and $7900, respectively). New Orleans has been the most generous WR matchup for fantasy this season, and they’ve given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. You can even load up here with Calvin Ridley ($5000 FD, $3700 DK), the only Falcons receiver catch a touchdown this season. He has just one target fewer than Mohamed Sanu, but he is a player I expect to improve and become more involved in the Falcons pass game as the season goes on and he gets more and more acclimated to the NFL. Sanu, on the other hand, is a sure pair of hands for Ryan, but rarely returns a contest-winning stat line for your investment. Tevin Coleman’s salary shot up after his encouraging outing in Week 2 (125 total yards, including four receptions, on 20 opportunities). I’m not sure I can pay more for Coleman than Hunt on DK, but he’s an easy play on FD. Austin Hooper, 2017 sleeper favorite and Primacy Bias-inducer, might be starting to prove himself. There are safer TE plays, but to get a cheap piece of the action here, you could consider Hooper, as long as you understand that he’s touchdown-dependent and in a good spot to get one.
Note: SNF and MNF games also have point totals over 50; these are fun single game contests to target this week, or consider the full Thursday-Monday slate this week, as long as you fade TNF’s Jets at Browns game.
The low scoring games:
Chicago at Arizona, Total 40
The Bears defense is on the road this week, but I’m inclined to say they have the most talented unit this year. They are the eighth highest priced on FD, third on DK, but that is a distant third, $800 cheaper than the Minnesota Vikings. I’ll be using Chicago’s D/ST liberally this weekend against the Cardinals, who have scored six points this year. It’s bad when you have to spell out a team’s total points. That’s worst in the league, and if you’ve watched the Buffalo Bills at all, you see how impressively bad it is. I see this as a great time to take advantage of the RB + D/ST correlation, and roll with Jordan Howard here too. The Cardinals have allowed more fantasy points to running backs so far this season than any other team, and some of that is due to game script. That’s why I’m not high on Mitch Trubisky or Allen Robinson, though he is averaging over 10 targets per game now.
None of the Cardinals are usable until further notice, because even though they’ve had a tough schedule so far, it only gets worse this weekend.
Tennessee at Jacksonville, Total 39.5
The Titans looked only slightly better than the Cardinals last week, making the Jaguars another appealing defense to use in Week 3, albeit an expensive one. Depending on what happens with Marcus Mariota’s numbness, I’m likely 100 percent out on any Titans this weekend, and that includes Dion Lewis who is still about equal or less than Derrick Henry.
Blake Bortles is surprisingly not terrible to start 2018, ranking eighth in fantasy points among QBs, with a 60.3 completion percentage, 5:2 TD:INT ratio and 77 yards on the ground. He’s coming off one of his best games ever, and still priced like a scrub. Stacking Bortles with Keelan Cole and/or Donte Moncrief could be an interesting tournament play, but some of this strategy will depend on Leonard Fournette. If healthy, he’ll be busy, and if not, T.J. Yeldon deserves cash game consideration. While Tennessee has held Lamar Miller and Kenyon Drake in check this season, they actually grade out as average in terms of rushing yards allowed.
High team totals you might miss:
Buffalo at Minnesota, Total 41
A Vikings stack of Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen took down the Sunday Million on FanDuel, and generally made those who rostered any of the trio good money in Week 2. These three are seemingly every week plays, and their salaries are on the high end of affordable across the board. Dalvin Cook is the wild card this week. He gets the lowly Bills, a matchup made in RB heaven. The Bills have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing teams overall, and running backs in particular. He’s likely to be the lowest owned Vikings skill player but should easily return great value after a couple of somewhat disappointing weeks. The Vikings D/ST is going to be hugely popular and hugely successful.
The Bills were better in Week 2 with Josh Allen under center but that is the slightest form of a compliment given what happened in Week 1. This is a team to avoid with as much fervor as the Cardinals, maybe more.
LA Chargers at LA Rams, Total 48
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this were the highest game of the week, despite the quality defenses both teams have shown. Philip Rivers is a top 6 QB through two weeks, doubling up Jared Goff in TDs and holding substantial advantages in attempts, completions, and yards too. Yet thanks to Todd Gurley, the Rams have outscored the Chargers this year, averaging 33.5 PPG. The combination of Gurley and Melvin Gordon in Week 2 was another winner, with both backs scoring 3 TDs. I see this game as much more of a passing effort, and with the usage Gordon has been seeing in the pass game—20 targets, 140 yards and 2 TDs, he’s my pick if you’re rostering a back from this game. The salary savings over Gurley are notable as well.
The Rams have shut down opponents’ passing games, which could reduce the Rivers with Keenan Allen usage in DFS for Week 3. However, the quality of opponent pass game they’ve faced is nothing like the Chargers offensive powerhouse trio. I think Rivers and Allen, with Gordon, make excellent, if somewhat contrarian, plays this weekend. Austin Ekeler isn’t really in play for me this week, given that I think the game stays close, EXCEPT if Gordon’s injury is more serious than I think as of Tuesday.
So, Jared Goff and his receivers haven’t had to do much to beat Oakland and Arizona, which has kept their salaries relatively low. One of my favorite tournament stacks will be Goff, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks. I just hope that Robert Woods sees reduced target volume in favor of the other two this week. As good as they are, avoid the Rams D/ST if you can this week.