Johnny's Cash Game Plays: Week 3

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Johnny's Cash Game Plays: Week 3

As I mentioned in my Week 2 DFS Lessons Learned article, Week 2 was a good week overall and a great week for TE calls, but I still made a couple noteworthy mistakes that I’ve learned from, so hopefully Week 3’s recommendations are even better.

As I’ve stated many times already, my fantasy football brain is not wired to truly master DFS and all its nuances, like using contrarian plays and avoiding great plays simply because they’re too popular, so that’s why I’m focusing entirely on simply making good recommendations, even if they are popular ones. That said, I am cognizant of the chalk every week and the dangers of eating that chalk, and I am also looking for sneaky picks that aren’t obvious, even if it means taking some risks doing things like backing some injured players.

Here are my selective choices for Week 3…

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford (Det, at Ari $6300) - He’s pricey, and there’s risk if Kenny Golladay aggravates his hamstring or is limited by the injury. So to be safe, I’m not going to stack Stafford and Golladay, but I do see an opportunity since Stafford in our ownership projections comes in low, likely due to skepticism about his slow start and Golladay’s status. Some may also be worried about CB Patrick Peterson, but I am no longer concerned about him (he was roasted last week by Terry McLaurin). Our Greg Cosell agrees that PP doesn’t look like the same player lately. The expected total has soared to 55.5 in this one, and Arizona can be weak against TEs, which is good news for TJ Hockenson. Even if Golladay is limited, there are still enough weapons for Stafford to put up healthy numbers, and he did just that in this matchup last year, putting up 385/3 with 0 INTs and a healthy 8.6 YPA.

Ryan Tannehill (Ten, at Min $5900) - I’m hesitant to use him because we know they’d love for him to throw like 20 passes every week, but how many good fantasy games in a row does Tannehill have to log before he gains our trust? He’s now been solid at worst in 11 of his 12 games leading the Titans offense. Sure, both teams want to eat clock by running the ball, but Derrick Henry hasn’t looked very good so far this year (his OL hasn’t done much to help him), and it’s the attention to Henry that ultimately gives Tannehill a chance to make plays. He will be TD-dependent, as usual, but he’s got 32 TDs in his 12 starts as a Titan and a good chance to add 2-3 to that total this week with two starting corners out (including former #1 pick and top dog Mike Hughes). The Vikings also have only 2 sacks on the season and won’t have stud DE Danielle Hunter and LB Anthony Barr, who is also very involved as a pass rusher. They also got roasted by Colts TE Mo Alie-Cox for 100+ yards last week, and Jonnu Smith (although a little banged up this week) is balling. Their run D has also been bad, so Henry could go off and bogart the production, but it’s a must-win at home for the Vikings, who are probably already dead if they go 0-3, so I do think Minnesota will play well offensively. That may explain how this game has an unusually high expected total of 49.5. Ultimately, I’m confident he can hit 3X value at his price, which is 17.7 points, but he’s here because he also has the upside to go well over 20.

Jared Goff (LAR, at Buf $5600) - I can’t call him a brilliant play based on the matchup, but then again, given the potency of the Bills offense, this could end up being a shootout, so Goff could be a brilliant play at this low price. It looks like LBs Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds will return this week, unfortunately, but they didn’t take on contact in practice, so it’s fair to assume they are not close to 100%. The Bills pass rush has been effective this year, but they don’t have anyone dominant, and the Rams were able to negate the Eagle DL’s impact last week. On film, per our Greg Cosell, the Rams are doing a wonderful job disguising things and tricking defenses into thinking they are doing one thing only to do another, so Sean McVay is feeling it right now. That’s worth noting here because the Bills are known for being very disciplined on defense, yet being disciplined doesn’t help if you’re fooled by the play design. Teams have been averaging 41 pass attempts against Buffalo, and Goff has now thrown for multiple TD passes in six of his last seven games, and he’s thrown for 265+ yards in each of those games. They are also moving the pocket more than ever, and Goff has averaged 14 yards rushing per game so far, and every little bit helps for Goff (14 rushing yards totaling 1.4 fantasy points is equal to 28 extra yards passing).

Higher-end guys I’m okay with

Dak Prescott (Dal, at Sea $7200) - He’s expensive and he’ll likely be popular, yet our projected ownership for Week 3 has him at only 9% owned. That’s just a projection based on a variety of elements, but the bottom line is I don’t think you’ll regret paying up for Dak in cash games. His secondary is quite banged up and Seattle has been slain by inside and outside WRs, giving up the most fantasy points in the league to both. Dallas obviously has all the bases covered there with their outstanding trio of wideouts, so this one should work again just like it worked out last week.

Russell Wilson (Sea, vs. Dal $7300) - Dallas already has CB Anthony Brown on IR, and now top corner Chidobe Awuzie is also out, and so is DE DeMarcus Lawrence. Dallas has given up the 4th most fantasy points to slot receivers so far this year, which is good news for Tyler Lockett, and Wilson is absolutely on fire. According to SIS, a ridiculous 93.3% of Wilson’s throws have been accurate this year, the highest rate in the NFL. I think he’s going to be fine.

Josh Allen (Buf, vs. Dal $6900) - Even with his rising salary, Allen still comes in as the fifth-best DFS value at his price and considering our projections. Allen won’t have TE Dawson Knox, but it looks like he will have WR John Brown, and this game could turn into a mini shootout.

Tom Brady (TB, at Den $6100) - I may be a week or two too early on this one, but I’m seeing a big fantasy day coming from Brady in the near future. He clearly looked better on film in Week 2, per our Greg Cosell, and you have to love the matchup, as the shaky Bronco corners have given up the sixth-most FPPG to slot receivers and the fourth-most to outside WRs. Chris Godwin is back, so they are fully loaded at WR, and with Denver having a strong run defense, I could see them coming out throwing to gain an early lead. If they have success, Bruce Arians may not take his foot off the gas in order to get Brady more reps and throws in. Brady is usually better against zone, and this is a zone-based defense.

Running Backs

Chris Carson (Sea, vs. Dal - $6600) - I see him as projected for only 7% ownership, so I’ll take it as I look for any edge I can get for readers of this column. If this game turns into the shootout we all expect, that’s fine for Carson, who caught his third TD pass in just two games last week after hauling in only three in his first 33 career games. If this one goes the other way and underwhelms, then that’ll probably be good news for Carson’s carry total. Carson saw his snap share rise from 45% to 64% last week, which led to his carry total to rise from 6 to 17 last week. The Cowboys have actually faced the most RB carries per game with opponents averaging 32.5 attempts a game so far. Dallas has given up only 3.4 YPC so far to RBs, but they’ve faced Todd Gurley, which can make any defense look better than it is. The week before, a similar player in Malcolm Brown ripped them for 110/2 rushing and 3/31 receiving, good for 29 PPR points. Dallas is also still missing LBs Sean Lee and Leighton Vander Esch, which helps.

Jonathan Taylor (Ind, vs. NYJ - $7000) - He’s going to be chalk yet again, but there’s a reason he’s chalk: he’s good (and will get better and better), he owns the backfield, and also because the Colts are a whopping 11.5 home favorites against the hapless Jets. The Jet run defense was looking stout after Week 1, but they gave up 184 rushing yards to 49er RBs last week, and Taylor is better than all those guys on the Niners. He’s locked in for another 20-25 touches a game, and the Jets are also giving up 7 RB receptions per game so far this year, including 8 catches to the top Bills RBs in Week 1. This feels like a 100+ yard, 2 TD performance with 3-4 catches for Taylor.

Devin Singletary (Buf, vs. LAR - $4900) - I suppose he’ll be very popular, so he may not be a brilliant choice, but with Zack Moss ruled out on Friday, Singletary is looking at 20+ opportunities in a potent offense that has put up 27 and 31 points thus far. The matchup is also solid by the numbers, as the Rams are giving up the eight-most fantasy points per carry, 4.6 YPC, and 5.5/57.5 receiving per game to RBs so far (30.6 FPPG). Let’s call it 85 total yards and 4 catches minimum, which should get him to 15 PPR points, which is 3X his salary. If the man can actually score a TD, now he’s a weekly winner. And per SIS, the Rams are the top team in the league right now in terms of “Successful % allowed” against RBs (59%).

Higher-end guys I’m okay with

Dalvin Cook (Min, vs. Ten - $7600) - I’ve seen this film before. One week, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings lay an egg on offense, and then the next week they go back to basics, especially at home, and look to reestablish Cook and their running game. The Titans have a solid defense, but they are giving up 5.1 YPC to RBs and a promising 28 FPPG. James Robinson and Melvin Gordon have each scored 16+ FP against the Titans this season, and Dalvin is definitely due for a big rushing day and/or actual production in the passing game. I think he has a really good chance to deliver 20+ PPR points in this one.

Miles Sanders (Phi, vs. Cin - $6400) - He was more popular than I thought he would be when I featured him last week, and he’ll be way more popular this week, if not the most popular RB on the board. That may be cause for you to pass on him, which is fine, but the bottom line is he was a little rusty last week and left some plays on the field, so a blowup game with 150+ total yards and 2 TDs is in play. The Bengals have allowed 385 scrimmage yards and 5 TDs to RBs through two games.

Wide Receivers

JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pit, vs Hou - $6600) - I don’t think many people are on him, as he sits very low in our ownership percentage projections, and that’s part of the appeal. That may be a function of him missing practice Wednesday and Thursday, but he not only practiced fully Friday, he was removed from the injury report. JuJu has played second fiddle to Diontae Johnson, but he does still have 2 TDs and 13 catches through two weeks. As much as I love Johnson, I can’t ignore the fact that the Texans have held both Tyreek Hill and Marquise Brown to under 50 receiving yards the last two weeks. Most of that is CB Bradley Roby, who also did a great job against Tyreek in the playoff game last year. The Texans do have some good safeties who can cover, but Eric Murray is the least of them, and he plays slot receivers at times, and so does Lonnie Johnson, and neither are earning top grades this year.

Corey Davis (Ten, at Min - $5200) - I think you start Davis and sleep like a baby because it’s simply the right call to make. The Titans are spreading the ball around a little, but Davis is sitting at a solid 20.4% target share, and the Vikings are giving up the second-most FPG to WRs through two weeks with 53.0. The Vikings are also down their two starting CBs from Week 1, including former #1 pick and top corner Mike Hughes, plus they have only 2 sacks on the season and won’t have stud DE Danielle Hunter and LB Anthony Barr, which helps. The Vikings in Week 1 surprisingly played a lot of man coverage, which is not their staple, but they were trending back to playing more zone last week and now, per SIS, they are up over 50% playing zone. Our Greg Cosell wonders if they’ll go back to their overall comfort level and play even more zone this week. That would be great for Davis, who tends to struggle against man. In fact, that factor alone is probably why he’s a bust. Even if they simplify things and play a lot of man, we’re talking about two backup corners starting this week, and through two games they are giving up the eight-most fantasy points to outside receivers. I’m feeling a little bit of a shootout here, and I’m feeling a big game from Davis.

Darius Slayton (NYG, at Min - $4900) - I learned my lesson with Slayton last week, but now he’s not coming off a 2-TD performance, and he’s even cheaper on DK, now under 5k. San Francisco’s defense is decimated, and they won’t have Richard Sherman, Soloman Thomas, Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford. They’re still 4.5-point home underdogs, and without Saquon Barkley, the time is now for Daniel Jones to step up and help them win some games. As he looks to do that, he will look for his guy Slayton, who might work some on CB Ahkello Witherspoon, who allowed 5/81/1 receiving to the Jets’ scrub receivers last week. I don’t have the balls to list Daniel Jones here after last week, but he is a sneaky cheap play. But I will go with Slayton. He will be popular for sure, but he’s a great WR3 this week at his price.

Allen Robinson (Chi, at Atl - $6300) - A-Rob will be very popular this week because we’re all sharing a brain with his lack of production + his great matchup. But if I think a guy’s going to go for 100+ with a TD, I’m going to list him here, and I think he will go for 100+ yards and a TD. Obviously, going up against the potent Falcon offense on the road helps, and Atlanta is actually solid against the run so far, so the Bears may come out throwing. Atlanta has a solid slot corner in Darqueze Dennard, so I don’t love Anthony Miller, who dropped a TD last week, and they are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to outside receivers. Robinson last week really struggled with CB James Bradberry, but the Falcons don’t have a grizzled veteran like Bradberry who can travel, which is good news. Robinson ranks in the top-five in air yards (382) and he has a 27% target share right now, but he’s caught only 48% of his targets because they have been off-target. He’s actually caught all nine of his catchable passes. To that point, I do believe that if Mitchell Trubisky stinks in this game, they could pull him. D.K. Metcalf posted 4/95/1 receiving and Amari Cooper had 6/100 receiving in the first two weeks against the Falcons, and I’m feeling a similar line for A-Rob.

Ceedee Lamb (Dal, at Min - $6300) - I seriously considered Michael Gallup in this one to be contrarian, but it looks like everyone is looking to be contrarian, which makes Gallup not contrarian. I know, I know, it’s annoying. Lamb so far has 15 targets to Gallup’s 10, and the Seahawks have allowed 13/151/1 receiving out of the slot through two games, by far the most in the NFL. Lamb has been getting wide open as the Cowboys primary slot wideout, and 14 of Lamb’s 15 targets have come out of the slot.

Tyler Boyd (Cin, at Phi - $5900) - While AJ Green is rolling with a horrible 36% catch rate on the season, Boys is at 85%, and Burrow to Boyd should’ve been perfect against the Browns if not for a dropped TD pass from Boyd. That drop may keep people off Boyd this week, and he should benefit from Darius Slay liking lining up on Green. I don’t see the Bengals running the ball against the Eagles, and I could absolutely see Cincy playing from way behind again, so Boyd’s likely looking at 10+ targets. Boyd in the slot will see a lot of Nickell Robey-Coleman, and he has been a good matchup for WRs, allowing 100% of his targets to be completed.

Cooper Kupp (LAR, at Buf - $6300) - He’s a little risky, since he has seen only 11 targets to start the year and has now seen six or fewer targets in eight of his last 10 games. It’s not a lock that he’s shielded from stud corner Tre’Davious White in the slot, but he’s definitely a better bet to avoid White than Robert Woods, who is also playing in the slot but only 46% of the time compared to 59% for Kupp. I loved Jamison Crowder Week 1 in the matchup, and one of the reasons I was feeling a big game from Mike Gesicki last week was the fact that he was running most of his routes from the slot. The Bills may get their two injured LBs this week, but the fact is the Bills are giving up the seventh-most fantasy points per game covering the slot. Heck, even slot receiver Isaiah Ford for Miami had 9 targets and 7/76 in the slot last week against the Bills.

DeSean Jackson (Phi, vs Cin - $5200) - Ok, this is it. With Jalen Reagor out, Desean is the only vertical game in town, and this offense desperately needs to get vertical in their passing game. Jackson owns a healthy 19.5% target share through two weeks, and even though he was a possession guy last week, he still has a very strong a DOT of 17.6 yards. Especially with Miles Sanders back and already rolling, they are going to have a better chance for shot plays, and they will definitely take shots against a secondary that gave up a longer TD to Odell Beckham last week. With DeSean, it might take only one play for him to come through at this discounted price. And by the way, volume should be improved as well with Reagor out. People will be out on Jackson this week, and that’s exactly when he tends to produce. Said another way, he comes up small when we expect fireworks, as we did Week 1.

Michael Pittman (Ind, vs NUJ - $4000) - Price is certainly a huge part of his appeal, so I’m not expecting a major breakout game from Pittman. But T.Y. Hilton is off to a poor start this year and he dropped a 44-yard touchdown last week. Pittman last week saw the highest snap share (92%) and he ran the most routes (26) of any Colts WR, so I could see a solid 5-6 catches for 55-65 yards, and if he scores then he’ll be a serious winner at $4000.

Higher-end guys I’m okay with

DeAndre Hopkins (Ari, vs. Det - $7900) - Hopkins is expensive, but there’s no reason to worry about how he’s been going off early this year because the matchup is too good, especially since this one could turn into a shootout. Hopkins ranks 2nd in target share (30%), plays on the team averaging the 2nd-most plays per game (75.5), and he should see a lot of Amani Oruwariye (2 of their top 3 corners are out), who is mostly known for struggling. This is a man-to-man defense as well, and Hopkins usually crushes that.

Tyler Lockett (Sea, vs. Dal - $6400) - We all expect a shootout, and we’ll likely get it. The Cowboys give up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers, and Lockett so far has an absurd 94% catch rate, catching 15 of his 16 targets.

Tight Ends

Hayden Hurst (Atl, at Dal, - $4600) - What’s up with that price? That’s really cheap, and Julio Jones may not play. I liked Evan Engram last week, in part because he was not on the radar, but also because of the matchup. I was on the right track, since he led them in targets, catches, and receiving yards. He underwhelmed, but Hurst and his downfield looks can come through on one play, as he did last week. The Bears have allowed 11+ FP to both T.J. Hockenson and Evan Engram to start the season and the fifth-worst catch-rate allowed to TEs. They’re also allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to outside receivers, so especially if Julio can’t go or is limited, they may actually need to focus on getting Hurst the ball.

Hunter Henry (LAC, vs. - $4800) - I liked him last week here, and he was solid, despite the QB change. While Henry and Mike Williams were the guys for Tyrod Taylor in Week 1, Henry remained productive with Justin Herbert in Week 2. He’s now seen 8 targets and he’s scored 12+ FP in each game so far.

Logan Thomas (Was, at Cle - $3600) - I tried this last week, and Thomas saw another nine targets, but he finished with a disappointing 4/26 receiving. He’s still leading them with a 27% target share, at least, and he’s still sitting third at the position with his 27% target share. The matchup is great by the numbers, as the Browns are giving up 9/74/1.5 to opposing TEs, good for 25.4 FPPG.

Drew Sample (Cin, at Phi - $3400) - Obviously, the Eagles got destroyed by Tyler Higbee last week, and I mentioned here the Eagle LBs and their inability to cover in my Higbee writeup. Joe Burrow tossed it over 60 times last week, and I’m fully expecting 40+ attempts this week, which bodes well for Sample. He has very little upside, but he could always score. And Burrow in two games has thrown 21 passes to his TEs, so 7-8 are likely heading Sample’s way this week. Even a line of 5/55 would be decent at this price.

Jimmy Graham (Chi, at Atl - $3400) - OK, this one here is my longshot, and I’m leaning on Greg Cosell again on this one. Cosell could see a big play against this Falcons defense, one that plays a lot of Cover-2, leaving the middle of the field open. It does make sense, since Allen Robinson will command a lot of attention, and completing some balls to the massive Graham in the middle of the field may help Mitchell Trubisky’s confidence. The Falcons did just get crushed by Dalton Schultz of all people, and they have given up the 10th-most fantasy points per target to TEs. They’re also giving up 9/81/1 per game to the position through two games. Graham already has 1 TD, and he should actually have 2 TDs, so at the very least, he’s probably a better bet to score than usual in a great overall matchup that should feature a lot of points, especially with the guy in Atlanta.

Higher-end guys I’m okay with

Jared Cook (NO, vs. GB - $5500) - I’m betting that Brees is fired up this week with all the talk of his decline. Michael Thomas won’t play, and Tre'Quan Smith broke out last week, so he might command a little more attention. Somebody has to step up, and it sure as hell doesn’t look like Emmanuel Sanders can, especially against a deep group of corners. Green Bay has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points and the most yards per target to tight ends in Week 1-2, so he’s got a lot of upside this week.

Week 3 Sample Lineups

Last week’s three teams averaged a solid 148.6. Thing is, I messed up and used the wrong 1pm lineup. I tinker with a few of them and I picked the wrong one for the 1pm games. I wanted to use the lineup I used on TV on the Directv Fantasy Zone channel. That lineup scored 153 points despite only 6.6 points from Davante Adams. So should have averaged a strong 161 points. I will have to eat that mistake, though.

The real problem with last week’s lineups were injuries and bad luck. I used Adams and got only 6.6 points, Julio Jones I used twice and he screwed me with 4.4 points. I also got hosed by Breshad Perriman, Mike Williams (didn’t know Herbert was starting, wouldn’t have used him), and Parris Campbell.

On a positive note, one of last week’s three lineups scored 200.6 points with: Kyler, Kamara, Taylor, Evans, Diontae, JULIO, Gesicki, M. Sanders, and Mia.

Here’s this week’s lineups:

Team 1 - Early onlyTeam 2 - Sunday OnlyTeam 3 - Sun-Mon
Josh AllenKyler MurrayKyler Murray
Dalvin CookMiles SandersDalvin Cook
Miles SandersKenyan DrakeMiles Sanders
Corey DavisTyler BoydTerry McClaurin
Tyler BoydDarius SlaytonMarquise Brown
Darius SlaytonCeeDee LambDarius Slayton
Hayden HurstHayden HurstHayden Hurst
Devin SingletaryAllen RobinsonDevin Singletary
49ersBuccaneersEagles

Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer John Hansen has been an industry leader and pioneer since 1995, when he launched Fantasy Guru. His content has been found over the years on ESPN.com, NFL.com, SiriusXM, DirecTV, Yahoo!, among others outlets. In 2015 he sold Fantasy Guru and in 2020 founded FantasyPoints.com.

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