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NFL DFS Week 3: Perfect Million-Dollar Lineup Guide

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
 29 days ago

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Shoot for the moon with your daily fantasy lineups

Last week, I left the NFL DFS field with my head down, questioning how much I wanted to donate to this roller coaster ride. I posted a measly 119.52 in my dream to win a million dollars. My lineup had a sheepish feel full of underachieving results and too many higher-owned players.

It took me all of five minutes and four seconds to get a sense of my direction on Sunday. So when the Browns awarded their fullback a one-yard touchdown early in the game, I knew my top play at running back (Nick Chubb) wasn’t going to finish with a difference-maker score.

The winning team scored fewer than 235.00 fantasy points (my baseline target number to win a big overall prize) in the million-dollar dance for the second straight week. The final cash spot needed just over 139.00 fantasy points. Here’s a look at the winning roster in Week 2:

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A daily game theory I have been thinking about for fantasy football is two-game winning streaks. Based on this, Tom Brady, Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, Rob Gronkowski, and Marvin Jones all played well in Week 1 (136.45 combined fantasy points) while improving their success last week (154.54 fantasy points).

Rondale Moore ($4,000) proved to be a great value (7/114/1) while catching a piece of the top-scoring quarterback in the land. However, Rostering Derrick Henry (237 combined yards with three touchdowns and six catches) was a must, based on his difference-maker score (50.70 fantasy points).

Even with an excellent team, the winning play came with no time left on the clock in the Vikings/Cardinals game. Greg Joseph lined up with four seconds left with a game-winning 37-yard field goal. If he makes the kick, Arizona’s fantasy defense loses four points and costs Topher1072 $921,000. The euphoria that ensued is one only a winner can imagine. The top owner comes away with life-changing money and a great storyline.

For bookkeeping purposes, I faced Nolan Ryan on the mound, and he sent me home with empty pockets. On Monday, I had that "done" feeling. Three days later, I climbed off the mat, but I may have to ask my Mom for an allowance to get my hands dirty on Sunday. Most of my investments last week came in three-team max or single entry events.

Quarterback Stacks

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Murray made a couple of bad throws last week, but the depth of his receiving corps shined. He gained 11.1 yards per pass attempt while making his top tight end (Maxx Williams – 7/94) fantasy relevant. In addition, A.J. Green flashed some life (3/44/1). His edge in size adds value in scoring, and he will be a mismatch problem for some defenses when trying to slow down DeAndre Hopkins and developing Rondale Moore.

The Jaguars’ defense looked lost in Week 1 vs. the Texans (451 combined yards with four touchdowns), and Denver piled up 424 yards in Week 2. Jacksonville held runners to 3.6 yards per rush out of the game, with both opponents combining for 71 carries. Game score and a high number of runs led to the Jaguars’ defense being on the field for over 35 minutes in the first two games. Quarterbacks gained 9.2 yards per pass attempt, with wide receivers (27/416/2) catching 73 percent of their targets.

The downside against playing an Arizona stack is that his secondary receivers are no longer bargains. I could see singling Murray or just riding DeAndre Hopkins. The number one wideout for Houston (Brandin Cooks – 5/132) and Denver (9/159) had no problem getting open vs. Jacksonville.

When looking at the Texans and Jaguars' secondary wide receivers (Danny Amendola, Chris Conley, Nico Collins, Tim Patrick, Kendall Hinton, and K.J. Hamer), it’s easy to see that Murray should move the ball at will in this matchup.

Opposing Options : James Robinson, DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Over the first two games, the Ravens scored 63 points while dominating on the ground (75/440/5). Their ball carriers are gaining 5.9 yards per rush while averaging 37.5 rushes per contest. Jackson has been electric in the run game (28/193/2) while showing more explosiveness as a passer (8.5 yards per attempt – eight completions over 20 yards with two plays gaining over 40 yards).

Detroit played two excellent offenses (San Fran and Green Bay) while allowing 10 touchdowns on 22 possessions. The 49ers ran the ball well (28/131/2), but their defense didn’t need to account for a running quarterback in either matchup. The Lions showed risk defending the pass (574/6), with quarterbacks gaining 10.8 yards per pass attempt.

Baltimore should play much better defensively in this matchup, setting the stage for the Ravens to control the clock on the ground.

Jackson only has two viable hookups in the passing game (Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews). Both players have fair salaries. I may fade Brown as his ticket has come in back-to-back games. My sense is to single Jackson or hook him up with Mark Andrews.

Opposing Options : De’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Quintez Cephus, T.J. Hockenson

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Despite averaging only 27 passes over his first two starts, Wilson has made plenty of big plays (eight completions over 20 yards with four plays surpassing the 40-yard mark) while also delivering an exceptional completion rate (74.1). The SI Sportsbook posted an over/under of 55 in this matchup, pointing to a high-scoring affair.

The Vikings’ defense struggled in back-to-back games (61 points allowed) while being on the field for almost 67 minutes. The wide receiver position beat them for 30 catches for 473 yards and five scores. Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray gained a combined 10.5 yards per pass attempt.

The key for Wilson in this contest is the Vikings getting out quickly on the scoreboard. If they don’t, Seattle will try to slow down the game and project their porous defense.

Two wide receivers (Ja’Marr Chase – 5/101/1 and Rondale Moore – 7/114/1) have already beaten Minnesota’s defense for long scores.

The tide should shift to DK Metcalf in this matchup, giving Wilson one elite hookup.

Opposing Options : Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen

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Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

After two games, Mahomes ranks third in quarterback scoring in four-point passing touchdown leagues. He has a combined 701 yards with seven scores despite averaging only 33.5 passes. In his only matchup vs. the Chargers in 2020, he gained 356 yards with two touchdowns.

Over five career starts vs. Los Angeles, he passed for fewer than 260 yards four times with 10 scores. The Chargers held Washington and Dallas to 36 combined points and three touchdowns on 17 possessions. Even with success on the defensive scoreboard in Week 2, the Cowboys drilled them on the ground (31/198/2) while gaining 8.8 yards per pass attempt. Los Angeles managed only three sacks over the first two weeks.

Kansas City has been dismal running the ball (41/135/2 – 3.3 yards per carry). They’ve faced back-to-back running offenses (Cleveland and Baltimore), so this game's tempo should pick up with Justin Herbert wanting to shine as well vs. Mahomes.

As usual, rostering a Chiefs’ stack comes with a price.

Opposing Options : Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Cousins played well in two road starts (351/2 and 279/3), ranking 11th in quarterback scoring. He has two elite wideouts and an electric playmaker out of the backfield. K.J. Osborn caught defenses off guard over the first two weeks (7/76 and 5/91/1), giving the Vikings added depth at wide receiver.

Seattle broke out to an early lead in their first two contests. Their pass defense held Carson Wentz to 251 passing yards with two scores. Unfortunately, the Titans’ offense dominated in the run (40/212/3) and pass (347/0) games in Week 2. The Seahawks’ defense has been on the field for over 78 minutes over the first two weeks.

The Vikings want to have a balanced attack, but Seattle will fight on the scoreboard. Cousins has the tools to shine in the passing game, especially if chasing early in the matchup.

Opposing Options : Chris Carson, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have thrown the ball 44 times a game over the first two weeks, but they’ve managed only two passing touchdowns. Herbert has 686 combined yards with success in his completion rate (70.5). However, his mistakes (three interceptions and a fumble) have short-circuited multiple drives. In his rookie season, he played well in both matchups vs. the Chiefs (319/2 and 311/4) while gaining over 20 yards on 10 completions.

Kansas City’s defense played poorly against Cleveland (29 points with 474 combined yards) and Baltimore (36 points and 490 combined yards). They’ve allowed 6.0 yards per rush and 10.4 yards per pass attempt. Offenses have nine touchdowns on 20 possessions.

This matchup sets up well for Herbert and the Chargers’ offensive players if Los Angeles can improve on their scoring in the red zone.

Opposing Options : Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce

Foundation Core Players

Fresh off a massive outing against the Seahawks (237 combined yards with three scores and six catches), Derrick Henry looks poised to build off his momentum this week at home. In 2020, he gained 185 combined yards with three touchdowns and two catches on the road vs. the Colts. Henry never had more than 19 catches in any season in the NFL. With nine catches after two matchups, his fantasy value looks much higher than expected over the summer. Running backs have 291 combined yards with a score and seven catches vs. Indianapolis. Henry has a double-down feel, but he needs to score over 35.00 fantasy points to be worth the investment.

Dalvin Cook landed on the injury report this week with an ankle issue, but the problem looks to be minor. The Vikings gave him 50 touches over the first two games, leading to 251 combined yards with a score and eight catches. The collapse of Seattle’s running back defense vs. the Titans (266 combined yards with three scores and nine catches) points to Cook behind a high floor foundation player in Week 3. Backs already have 21 catches for 189 yards on 24 targets against the Seahawks.

The Saints’ offense gained only 481 combined yards over the first two games. As a result, Alvin Kamara started the year with below-par success (121 combined yards with one touchdown and seven catches). Carolina held him to eight rushes for five yards in Week 2. New England gave up 282 combined yards to running backs with one touchdown and nine catches. Kamara has a long resume of success, and I expect him to be a lower percentage own this week.

Even with the Browns rushing the ball 34 times against Houston, Nick Chubb finished with only 11 carries. Nevertheless, he made the most of his opportunity (98 yards with a touchdown and a catch). His split role lowers his ceiling despite having the ability to make some home-run plays. The Bears sit fourth in the league in running back defense (3.3 yards per rush and only three catches for 33 yards). With this game at home, Chubb can’t be dismissed to shine.

Game flow should bode well for Austin Ekeler against the Chiefs. He had a progression game in Week 2 (115 combined yards with nine catches), and Kansas City struggled vs. backs over the first two weeks (352 combined yards with five touchdowns and seven catches).

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My top three foundation wide receivers this week are Stefon Diggs, DK Metcalf, and Justin Jefferson.

Diggs draws Washington at home after two steady showings (9/69 and 4/60/1) while receiving 21 targets. Josh Allen struggled to make plays against the Steelers and Dolphins (56 percent completion rate and 5.3 yards per pass attempt). Wide receivers have 39 catches for 464 yards and two scores on 58 targets vs. Washington. This matchup looks better than expected coming into 2021.

The Russell Wilson/DK Metcalf connection has been off over the first two weeks. He has 10 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown on 16 targets, which is well below the stats of Tyler Lockett (12/278/3) with the same opportunity. The Vikings have been drilled by wideouts (30/473/5 on 41 targets) out of the gate.

In the Week 3 projections at Sports Illustrated, Justin Jefferson draws the top ranking at wide receiver. My DFS Week 3 report highlighted his opportunity, along with some other players of interest.

Mark Andrews scored 17 times over 29 games in 2019 and 2020, but he has yet to find paydirt this season. He sits 18th in tight end scoring (eight catches for 77 yards) while receiving five targets in each start. Tight ends (4/78 and 3/52/1) barely tested the Lions’ defense over the first two games (eight targets). They have an 87.5 percent catch rate while gaining 18.5 yards per catch, which screams an excellent matchup for Andrews.

Value Options

RB Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos ($4,900/$5,800)

In his second game with Denver, Williams gained 74 yards with a catch on 14 touches. The Broncos had him on the field for 41 percent of their plays, a drop from 50 percent on opening day. The Jets allowed 353 combined yards with three touchdowns and 18 catches. Williams faces off with his college teammate (Michael Carter) in this game. I expect Denver to play from the lead, giving Williams a chance to shine while scoring his first NFL touchdowns and a winnable game based on his salary in the daily space.

RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants ($6,500/$6,000)

In his third game of action, the Giants should give Barkley a much higher workload. They had him on the field for 84 percent of their snaps in Week 2, but Barkley made only one big play (41 yards) on his 16 touches. Running backs have 284 combined yards with one touchdown and 13 catches over the first two games vs. the Falcons. A home game and improved play by Daniel Jones should create a better window of success for Barkley.

WR Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs ($3,900/$5,400)

The Chiefs looked Hardman’s way eight times in Week 2, the third-highest target game of his career over 34 games. He’s gaining only 9.3 yards per catch with no chances over 20 yards. Over his first 32 contests, he scored 10 touchdowns, with 16 of his 67 catches gaining over 20 yards. A piece of Patrick Mahomes at a low price seems more than viable when adding in that he was on the field for 78 percent of the wide receiver snaps vs. the Ravens.

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With a stud wide receiver focus in Week 3, I needed to punt the quarterback position. It seems strange to play Burrow in a tough matchup on the road while not having any hookups at wideout, but the quarterback was the final player added to this roster. My other choice that fit my available salary was Trevor Lawrence in what looks like a chaser game at home. I ended up Burrow based on his receiving talent, but a second ticket may be needed to give me another out at quarterback.

I like the structure of my lead running back (Austin Ekeler), followed by three star receivers and a talented tight end. Both Javonte Williams and Mecole Hardman offer upside at a fair price.

More Fantasy & Betting Coverage:

NFL DFS Week 3: Picks, Plays and Values
College Football Week 4 Best Bets: Composite Ratings Pick the Winners
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Fantasy Football Week 3: Wide Receivers


Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical break downs for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. An inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!

Follow @Shawn__Childs on Twitter

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