DFS Early Look: Week 3

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DFS Early Look: Week 3

Another week of NFL football is in the books, which means that more NFL football is right around the corner. With both Fanduel and DraftKings having released their Week 3 DFS pricing, it’s time to look ahead to next Sunday’s DFS slate.

Here are the most glaring values I’ve found after analyzing pricing.

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals (AT JAX)

DraftKings: $8,300 (QB1) | Fanduel: $9,000 (QB1)

Before injuring his shoulder in Week 10 last season, Kyler Murray averaged 30.1 FPG. So far this year, a presumably healthy Murray is averaging 33.3 FPG. Over his last 11 healthy games, Murray is posting 30.6 FPG. Given that the all-time record for QB FPG is 27.7 (2019 Lamar Jackson) it should go without saying that Murray has the potential to completely break fantasy football this year. He could be the overall QB1 by a wide margin and easily set the all-time QB FPG record.

Despite being the highest-priced QB on both sites, Murray’s going to be about $1,000 more expensive across the industry in 6 weeks if he can keep this insane production up, and there’s no reason to think he can’t against a Jaguars defense that’s given up more than 20.0 fantasy points in their first two games to the likes of Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor. Murray’s easily the top QB play of Week 3, as there’s no other QB with a comparable fantasy floor/ceiling in the league. Expect him to be mega-chalk.

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (AT KC)

DraftKings: $6,500 (QB7) | Fanduel: $7,500 (QB9)

Herbert hasn’t had a strong fantasy outing yet this year, averaging just 14.0 fantasy points through two weeks. That’s likely to change in Week 3, with the Chargers as 7-point underdogs to Kansas City in the week’s highest total game (56.0). Since 2014, there have been 71 instances of QBs playing in games with a total of 55.5 or greater, and those QBs averaged 24.4 DK FPG and 22.9 FD FPG. These high total games are simply a dream fantasy environment for QBs, and it doesn’t hurt that Herbert’s facing the Chiefs, who gave up the 8th-most FPG to opposing QBs last year (20.5).

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (VS. ATL)

Fanduel: $6,000 (RB20)

This is the spot to play Saquon Barkley. Last week didn’t bring much fantasy production for the former No. 2 overall pick, but it did usher in an impressive 84% snap share for Barkley — the 2nd-best mark of any Week 2 RB. That 84% snap share is critical to note, as Barkley eclipsed that mark in 7 of his 13 games in 2019, signifying that the NYG coaching staff is likely ready to unleash the talented 4th-year RB in the bell cow capacity we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. With additional rest from playing their Week 2 game on Thursday night, Barkley’s Week 3 workload could easily be similar to the 16.7 carries and 5.6 targets per game he saw in 2019. Not to mention this is by far the cheapest Barkley has ever been on Fanduel — by $1200 in salary. It’s hard to see Barkley as anything other than a lock-button play in all formats as RB20 on Fanduel this week.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (AT PIT)

DraftKings: $6,300 (RB10) | Fanduel: $6,700 (RB12)

Through two weeks, Mixon ranks 2nd among RBs in carries (49), 3rd in snap rate (80.6%), and 2nd in rushing yards (196). He’s also seen an uptick in his pass game role despite just 6 targets, as he’s run a route on 61% of Joe Burrow’s dropbacks this season, an improvement on his 45% route share last year. Mixon’s workload is clearly undervalued relative to his price on both sites, but he does face a challenging matchup in this game — as the Steelers’ defense gave up just 18.8 FPG to opposing RBs last year. Regardless, I’ll likely find myself rostering Mixon at low ownership in tournaments to capitalize on his top-5 workload at a discounted price tag. At cost, he shapes up as one of the top contrarian RB plays of Week 3.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (VS. CIN)

DraftKings: $6,400 (WR14) | Fanduel: $7,000 (WR13)

Johnson spent time in the injury tent in Week 1 and ended Week 2 writhing in pain on the last play of the game and yet he’s still the 2nd-most targeted player in the NFL (22 targets). The targets shouldn’t come as a surprise given that I predicted Johnson would be the NFL’s most-targeted player this offseason. And I’m not sure the injuries should come as a surprise either, as Scott Barrett noted in Underrated Upside:

“Due entirely to injury, Johnson fell under 50% of the team's snaps in Weeks 3, 5, and 14. He played on 76% of the team's snaps in Week 8 but clearly wasn't quite right after spending some time in the medical tent with an injury suffered in the first quarter. Including the postseason, but excluding those four games, Johnson saw double-digit targets in 11 of 12 games, with the lone exception being Week 17, the one game QB Ben Roethlisberger didn't play. Over this span, Johnson averaged 12.3 targets, 83.0 yards, 19.6 XFP, and 19.4 FPG. If extrapolated over the full season, those numbers would have ranked best (1.7 more than next-closest), 8th-, 2nd-, and 4th-best among wide receivers.”

This might just be who Diontae Johnson is: an oft-injured player who will see massive volume and be a top-8 fantasy WR when healthy (though he’s not at all priced like it). He just needs to stay healthy.

Reports thus far suggest that Johnson’s Week 2 injuries were minor and that he’ll have a solid chance to play in Week 3. That presents the third opportunity this year where we’ve been able to roster Johnson at the price of a WR2, when he’s really a quality WR1 — with an obvious stipulation of health. If Week 3 ends up as Johnson’s first full, healthy game, it should absolutely be his best from both a volume and fantasy perspective (and he’s already averaging 17.0 FPG).

Should Johnson miss Week 3, which is absolutely possible, the obvious pivot is to Chase Claypool. Since Week 4 of last season, Claypool has averaged 19.9 FPG in games Johnson failed to see double-digit targets (5). 19.9 FPG would’ve ranked 4th-best among WRs last season, yet Claypool is WR23 in salary on DraftKings and WR33 on Fanduel.

Marvin Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (VS. ARI)

DraftKings: $4,900 (WR41)

Jones appears to be Jacksonville’s WR1 through two weeks, seeing a team-leading 19 targets and running a team-leading 81 routes. And Jones has been one of the league’s most utilized players in the end zone so far, as his 4 end zone targets ties Mike Williams for the league lead. That’s all translated to a great fantasy start for the season for Jones, who’s scored 18.7 points and 17.5 points in his two games (and is currently WR16 this season).

Yet, Jones is priced as just the WR41 on DraftKings. He’s $400 cheaper than D.J. Chark, who’s likely the WR2 on this team. The value here is so glaring that it’s hard to see Jones as anything other than one of Week 3’s most chalky WR options. And how could he not be? The Jaguars are 7.5-point underdogs and will surely have to throw as much as any team in Week 3. That means plenty of volume for this passing attack, and Jones has proven through two weeks that he’s the main beneficiary.

Dyami Brown, WR, Washington Football Team (AT BUF)

DraftKings: $3,600 (WR73) | Fanduel: $4,800 (WR87)

Brown ranks just behind Logan Thomas and Terry McLaurin with a 91% route share, and appears to have the inside track to Washington’s #2 WR spot. With Taylor Heinicke under center, it’s difficult to argue this is an offense we want exposure to, but Brown saw a respectable 6 targets on Thursday Night Football from Heinicke, good enough for a 13% target share. Brown’s obviously only viable as a tournament play, but he may offer a tournament-winning ceiling given he’s the only player on the team with multiple targets of 20+ yards and was an outstanding deep threat during his days at North Carolina. It’s certainly not the sexiest play, but Brown’s in line to play nearly every passing snap, has tremendous upside thanks to his role as the team’s deep threat, and is a 9.5-point underdog against Buffalo this week — meaning Washington will likely be forced to throw as much as any team in Week 3. Brown represents one of the best possible large-field tournament leverage spots this week.

K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings (VS. SEA)

DraftKings: $3,500 (WR75) | Fanduel: $5,100 (WR70)

Through two weeks, K.J. Osborn has run a route on 82% of Kirk Cousins’ dropbacks. And he’s been targeted on 15% of Cousins passing attempts, catching all 12 of his targets for 167 yards and a score. Unbelievably, on a per-game basis, Osborn is currently the WR19 in PPR. Minnesota, thin at TE, has clearly moved away from their usual 2TE usage in favor of more 3WR sets. And Osborn is the big winner.

Week 3 brings the ideal game environment for Vikings’ pass catchers, as Minnesota faces Seattle in the game with the 2nd-highest total (55.0) of the week. And Osborn has played 70% of his snaps from the slot; great news considering Seattle gave up the most FPG (16.5) to opposing slot WRs last year. Osborn is realistically mispriced by $500-1,000 on both sites, and given that I wouldn’t expect massive ownership here, he’s likely to be one of my favorite overall plays in Week 3.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (VS. LAC)

DraftKings: $8,200 (TE1) | Fanduel: $8,500 (TE1)

Kelce is indisputably the No. 1 fantasy asset at the TE position, but what makes this week special is his matchup with the Chargers in a game with a 56.0 total. Since 2017, Kelce has averaged a completely absurd 22.3 DK FPG and 17.6 FD FPG in games with a total higher than 50.0. If extrapolated over last year’s full season, those numbers would’ve ranked 3rd-best and 2nd-best among WRs, respectively, and far and away the best by a TE. Kelce’s price reflects this dominance, but the security he provides at fantasy’s thinnest position (just two games under 10.0 points in the last two seasons) is completely unmatched. With virtually no TEs providing value in Week 2, I expect the field to drift towards the sure thing at TE in Week 3, and that should mean massive ownership for Travis Kelce across the board.

Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams (VS. TB)

DraftKings: $4,000 (TE10) | Fanduel: $5,500 (TE10)

From a usage perspective, Higbee’s 2021 season has started off about as well as imaginable, as the 6th-year TE has run a route on 85% of Matthew Stafford’s dropbacks — a massive 32% increase from last season. And Higbee has lined up in the slot or out wide on 52% of his snaps, marking a drastic 36% increase from his 16% slot/wide alignment rate in 2020.

So why is that so important?

As Scott Barrett pointed out in Underrated Upside:

“Over the past four seasons, TE Gerald Everett — now in Seattle — dealt with only one serious injury which caused him to miss time. This occurred at the tail-end of the 2019 season, when Everett played a total of four snaps across five games (Weeks 13-17). Over this span, Higbee led the league in receiving yards (522), exceeding 100 yards in four of five games. His 11.2 targets per game and 21.4 FPG weren’t just the most by any tight end over this stretch, but they were the most by any tight end over any five-game stretch that season.”

Weeks 1 and 2 mark the first time, since that incredible 2019 stretch, that Higbee’s seen legitimate TE1 usage. Coming off an awful 1.8-point game should lower Higbee’s tournament ownership in Week 3, but his usage is expected to remain unchanged, setting up one of the best possible buy-low opportunities of the season at the TE position. And Higbee’s playing in one of the best offensive environments of the slate (54.0 total), so his opportunity to see serious volume should be as strong as any TE. Higbee’s a mid-range TE1 priced as a low-end TE1, and I’m not missing the buy-low opportunity in Week 3.

Jake Tribbey is a recent college graduate and lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from NFL DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.

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