The start of Week 3 includes something we’ve seen a lot of to open the NFL season - a running back injury. Saquon Barkley is out for Thursday night’s game, and we saw the last of Nick Chubb in Cleveland’s Week 2 loss.
We also are waiting on the statuses of David Montgomery (doubtful), Justice Hill (out), Jamaal Williams (out), Aaron Jones (questionable), and Miles Sanders (will play) ahead of Sunday’s main slate action.
The RB position is once again in a state of flux.
Thursday Night Football DFS: Giants @ 49ers
The NFL lines I used for TNF are current as of Sept. 21, 2023, at 11 a.m. ET., courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook:
- Spread: 49ers -10.5
- Total: 44 Points
The Daniel Jones ($10,200 on DraftKings) ‘Running For His Life Tour’ heads to the Bay area as the limping New York Giants take on the San Francisco 49ers.
Injuries will play a role in how both offenses operate, especially with DFS football players looking to get unique in a game where the 49ers are heavy favorites on a short week.
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Aside from Barkley, Brandon Aiyuk ($8,600) is a true question mark to play Week 3 after suffering a shoulder injury Sunday. Oh, and the Giants are without two starting offensive linemen, including left tackle Andrew Thomas. Nothing major.
That means the 49ers enter their home contest against the Giants with fewer injury concerns on offense and defense while already being the better overall team.
Getting unique is going to be the name of the game as always, but DFS players will be looking to be different with 49ers more than Giants players.
There is a way that the Giants can try to flip the script of Thursday’s game, and that is with their running back trio. Matt Breida ($7,000), Gary Brightwell ($5,000), and Eric Gray ($1,400) could all see varying levels of work in an effort to keep the game close.
As massive underdogs, the Giants are expected to increase their pass rate, which is something they’ve had to do each week after falling behind.
Jones could (should) lean on Darren Waller ($7,400) and Parris Campbell ($4,400) as the big, medium-level target and the short-range slot option, respectively. Campbell has the shortest aDOT of New York receivers with at least three targets.
The point spread could also dictate roster builds on the 49ers side, as head coach Kyle Shanahan has had a 59% rush rate in games where the Niners are at least seven-point favorites. That means a spotlight on Christian McCaffrey ($13,200) and Elijah Mitchell ($2,400).
If Aiyuk is out/limited, Deebo Samuel ($8,800) and George Kittle ($6,600) could dominate targets; only four players who are WRs and TEs have been targeted by Brock Purdy ($9,400).
Favorite Thursday Night DraftKings Showdown Plays
Showdown fantasy football lineups can hit with stacks that may or may not make sense. A weekly reminder: we want all the first-place winnings and we don’t want to be duped.
Captain Christian McCaffrey with Elijah Mitchell
This stack plays into the 10.5-point spread and finding a way to limit CMC’s exposures to hits on a short week. If Aiyuk is out, McCaffrey could see a boost in targets; San Fran has run 52 players in 21 personnel (two RBs) on 125 offensive snaps.
Captain Deebo Samuel with Brock Purdy and Parris Campbell
Samuel could also steal touches in the backfield in an attempt to limit CMC, and has the best skills — aside from his teammate — in space. Campbell offers salary relief while playing into the Giants needing to get the ball out of Jones’ hand quickly.
Captain 49ers Defense with Matt Breida
It’s ugly, but the 49ers D/ST is going to be popular as a CPT pick. The way to get different is with New York’s likely passing target out of the backfield.
* Dart Throws/Cheap Options
TE Daniel Bellinger ($800)
Waller’s backup only has one target for one yard, but in a game that could be a blowout, a few receptions, and/or a red zone target gets you a cheap option that has connected with Jones in the past.
RB Kyle Juszczyk ($400)
The former Raven had seven total red zone attempts in 2022 (two targets), which keeps him in play as a red zone option on a short week.
WR Jauan Jennings ($4,800)
Not necessarily inexpensive, Jennings is the slot option for the 49ers. Ronnie Bell ($200) is slotted as Aiyuk’s backup, but in a condensed offense, I am OK paying more for Jennings and getting salary relief elsewhere.
RB Elijah Mitchell ($2,400)
Despite being listed as the relief for McCaffrey, it’s been Samuel with more carries (seven) than Mitchell (five). That could change Thursday on a short week as home favorites.
* TNF Captain Picks
WR Deebo Samuel ($13,200)
Samuel’s workload and discount compared to CMC will get his rostership up, but considering his usage, it’s wheels up for the wideout.
RB Christian McCaffrey ($19,800)
His salary is going to make roster construction tougher, but no player could get to the optimal CPT spot in fewer touches than McCaffrey.
TE George Kittle ($9,900)
The pricing difference between Kittle and his skill-position teammates is significant and justified. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a target for Purdy Week 3. The Giants defense allowed 16.8 DraftKings points to Cardinals tight ends in Week 2.
QB Daniel Jones ($15,300)
QBs with running upside - under pressure or schemed - always get a boost as a CPT option. We saw Jones accumulate points in last week’s comeback win, and he could rack up garbage time stats through the air after getting his on the ground.
DFS Sunday Main Slate Week 3
There are some obvious games to target on Sunday. There is also a path to some of the best DFS lineups finishing with three running backs, a departure from wide receiver-heavy builds on DraftKings. I won’t waste any more time; let’s get to the picks.
Week 3 Quarterbacks to Target
Justin Herbert (@ MIN), Kirk Cousins (vs LAC), and Tua Tagovailoa (vs DEN)
According to Brandon Thorn of Establish The Run, Herbert gets a boost because of the massive offensive line edge over Minnesota’s defensive line. Chargers-Vikings also has the largest implied point total at 54 (next closest is 48).
Tua can distribute the ball to a handful of targets, even if Jaylen Waddle (concussion) is out.
Week 3 Quarterbacks to Consider
Patrick Mahomes (vs CHI), Jared Goff (vs ATL), and Lamar Jackson (vs IND)
The Bears are a dream matchup for the pass-first Chiefs, and Mahomes can be played without a stack to get unique.
Jackson is down his top two running backs but has a strong on-field relationship with three receiving targets (more on that later). The Colts are shaping up to be a pass funnel defense (241, 384 pass yards allowed through two games).
Week 3 Running Backs to Target
Tony Pollard (@ ARI), Miles Sanders (@ SEA), and Travis Etienne Jr. (vs HOU)
I love how Sanders has been utilized through two games, even if Bryce Young has been subpar to start his career. Andy Dalton will start Week 3, hopefully opening things a little more for the veteran RB in a challenging road environment.
Etienne Jr. gets to run against a Texans defense that allowed Zach Moss to gain 107 total yards on 22 touches (4 catches).
Week 3 Running Backs to Consider
Isiah Pacheco (vs CHI), Joshua Kelley (@ MIN), and Gus Edwards (vs IND)
If not on a pitch count, Pacheco could demolish one of the worst defenses in football. The worst thing that could happen to Pacheco is a running clock is allowed in the second half.
Kelley gets the chance to make up for a bad Week 2 in a great scoring environment. The Chargers have a strong o-line that can take care of what the Vikings call a d-line, and we just saw what you can do with Minny’s run defense.
Week 3 Wide Receivers to Target
Justin Jefferson (vs LAC), Nelson Agholor (vs IND), and Nico Collins (@ JAX)
Jefferson gets a Chargers defense that is expected to be without Joey Bosa (hamstring) and LB Eric Kendricks (hamstring). A lack of pressure and a strong tackling LB out against the best WR? I’m in.
Agholor now gets the title as WR2 for Baltimore with OBJ out in Week 3 and saw six targets in a close game. I don’t think Baltimore will pull away from Indy, which keeps Agholor as a valuable, cheap WR.
Week 3 Wide Receivers to Consider
Keenan Allen (@ MIN), Jahan Dotson (vs BUF), and Josh Reynolds (vs ATL)
Allen is a pivot off Mike Williams and his expected high rostership. Reynolds is expected to have a notable amount of rostership, but his connection with Jared Goff is indisputable.
Week 3 Tight Ends to Target
Travis Kelce (vs CHI), Sam LaPorta (vs ATL), and Durham Smythe (vs DEN)
I have zero issues paying up for Kelce against the Bears, especially with plenty of cheap WRs worth rostering.
Smythe has a chance to be the cheap TE chalk, which is terrifying. I am hoping Zach Ertz takes that title so I can fade him.
Week 3 Tight Ends to Consider
Mark Andrews (vs IND), Zach Ertz (vs DAL), and Kylen Granson (@ BAL)
Ertz’s volume is what it is, but his rostership could be upwards of 20% in larger GPPs.
Granson has two red zone targets in two games, converting one for a score so far this season.
Week 3 D/ST to Target
Commanders (vs BUF), Patriots (@ NYJ), and Chiefs (vs CHI)
The Commanders continue to have a disruptive front four, and a few hits on Josh Allen before accumulating sacks will have him rattled (see Week 1).
Chris Jones is back for Kansas City, which is bad news for what the Bears call an offensive line. Also, the Bears have had an emBEARrassing week on and off the field.
Week 3 D/ST to Consider
Seahawks (vs CAR), Jets (vs NE), Cowboys (@ ARI), and Packers (vs NO)
Rostership concerns are why the Cowboys and Seahawks aren’t higher for me. Injuries have also done a number on both defensive back rooms.
Favorite Dart Throws
QB: C.J. Stroud (@ JAX)
RB: Kendre Miller (@ GB)
WR: Brandon Johnson (@ MIA)
TE: Adam Trautman (@ MIA)
D/ST: Colts (@ BAL)
Week 3 Main Slate DFS Showdown
There is no featured game this week due to the two-barrel action on Monday night.
Week 3 Sunday Night Football DFS Showdown: Steelers @ Raiders
- Spread: Raiders -2.5
- Total: 43 Points
A close, low-scoring game would not be the greatest way to end Sunday’s action, but the line and total make sense.
It has been the Davante Adams ($11,600 on DraftKings) show in Vegas once again. He enters Week 3 with a 35% target share (17 targets) and will continue to lead the team as long as he is on the field.
The return of Jakobi Meyers ($8,600) gives Jimmy Garoppolo ($10,200) another dependable target against a Steelers defense ($5,600) that has been more susceptible to slot/in-line receiving options.
If I am the Steelers, I want to limit Josh Jacobs ($10,800) and force Jimmy G to throw, even if he has been smart and safe with the ball. Las Vegas has gotten very little out of the tight end position, as the group as a whole has four targets.
In neutral and trailing game scripts, the RB position has had its way with the Raiders defense ($4,000). Four backs have at least 33 rushing yards, and eight (!) had a reception in two contests.
If the Steelers continue to pass first (they shouldn’t), Kenny Pickett ($9,800) has made it clear George Pickens ($9,200) is THE guy with Diontae Johnson (hamstring) on Injured Reserve. Pittsburgh could run a balanced offense to get Najee Harris ($8,800) on track (if he isn’t permanently derailed) while targeting a secondary that has allowed 9, 7, and 4 receptions to expected targets (Gabe Davis, Stefon Diggs, and Courtland Sutton, respectively).
Pickett also needs to get the ball to Pat Freiermuth ($6,200). Five targets are not great overall, but the single target in Week 2 without Johnson is egregious.
Favorite Sunday Night DraftKings Showdown Plays
Captain Najee Harris with Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs
Harris as a CPT is leverage off of a poor start and spending up for Adams and Jacobs at the same spot. If the former Clemson Tiger can stave off Jaylen Warren ($6,400) for a few more targets, this could be the Harris week no one expected.
Captain Davante Adams with Jimmy Garoppolo and Pat Freiermuth
Freiermuth as the bring back instead of Pickens could pay off if the Raiders continue to allow anywhere near 15.95 DraftKings fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
* Dart Throws/Cheap Options
A lower game total plus defenses that can create pressure could lead to a kicker-needy game. Both kickers are $3,600 or fewer.
Connor Heyward ($600)
Heyward has the same amount of receptions and one fewer target than Freiermuth, and could be on the field more in situations where either TE could stay in to block or go out on a route.
*SNF Captain Picks
Davante Adams ($17,400)
The best player on the slate is the most expensive for a reason. Adams will be heavily rostered at CPT, so your lineup will have to be more unique than normal to realistically win a GPP outright.
Josh Jacobs ($16,200)
The Steelers are allowing 166.5 rushing yards per game against Christian McCaffrey and Nick Chubb/Jerome Ford. CMC and Ford went over the century mark, and Jacobs should be the third with Cam Heyward and potentially Larry Ogunjobi on the Pittsburgh defensive line.
Najee Harris ($13,200)
I want this for two reasons. 1) Steelers offensive coordinator doesn’t impress me from a passing game perspective, and 2) Harris should be the lowest rostered CPT of all the QB1s, WR1s, and RB1s from either team. Zig where others zag.
Week 3 Monday Night Football DFS Slate
The injuries to pay attention to are Joe Burrow (calf) and Puka Nacua (oblique). Nacua is expected to play, while Burrow is an unknown with a nagging injury that has limited him in two games to start 2023.
A Burrow-less Bengals offense would shift player rostership nearly completely off the passing game weapons. Joe Mixon ($6,300) is already going to come with high rostership with the Bucs and Eagles presenting problems for running backs; neither defense has allowed 70 rushing yards in a game early on.
Let’s take a look at players to target for Monday night’s games.
Favorite Week 3 Monday Night Plays
Jalen Hurts ($8,000) and Matthew Stafford ($5,600)
Hurts is the IKB (I Know Ball) play, even at an elevated price tag on a small slate. He has the best protection and receiving options on the slate, and you can get unique by not playing an Eagles WR/TE with him.
Stafford has 38 and 55 attempts in a positive and negative game script through two games. If Burrow is firing against a beatable Rams secondary, Stafford is going to unload.
Joe Mixon ($6,300), Kyren Williams ($5,700), and Kenneth Gainwell ($4,900)
Mixon and Williams are volume plays, with each pushing for 20-plus total touches Week 2.
Gainwell is a pivot off D’Andre Swift ($5,800). Gainwell should be the receiving back, and again is in a game against a strong Buc run defense. Hurts-Gainwell is a different stack than your typical QB-WR/TE option.
A.J. Brown ($7,400), Puka Nacua ($6,400), Mike Evans ($6,300), Tutu Atwell ($5,000), and Tyler Boyd ($3,500)
Brown has the squeaky wheel narrative after being shown visibly frustrated with his lack of targets against Minnesota. He is the only WR I am considering over $7,000.
Nacua and Atwell are volume kings for a fraction of the cost of a Ja’Marr Chase ($7,800) or similar WR1/2.
The Rams secondary is probably closer to what we saw in Week 2 than Week 1, which is a group that allowed at least two receptions and 43 receiving yards to three options. That’s why Tyler Boyd is in play, especially with a limited Burrows (or worse, Jake Browning).
Boyd could operate as the main slot/in-line target with Irv Smith Jr. (hamstring) doubtful, and with the lowest aDOT among the Cincy WR trio.
Dallas Goedert ($4,800) and Cade Otton ($3,000)
I want to play Tyler Higbee ($4,400), but his rostership is going to be higher to avoid paying for the underperforming Goedert, and avoiding Otton against the Eagles defense.
Otton could be in a negative game script against Philly, which allowed 9/79/2 and 8/92/1 to tight ends to open 2023. The second-year TE has a 97% snap play rate and the third-most targets for the Buccaneers.
Eagles ($3,300) and Rams ($2,800)
Baker Mayfield ($5,500) is a QB I want to have under pressure as often as possible. The Eagles D has had issues slowing beatable offenses, but Tampa’s offensive line is an issue, and the Bucs running games has been underwhelming.
If Burrow plays, I would be firing up blitz after blitz to force him to move, which has been a problem. The Rams have allowed 318 passing yards through two games. Limiting an offense to 159 yards through the air is unsustainable, but if Burrow is throwing with 1.5 legs, interceptions and fumbles under pressure are on the table.