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NFL Football Week 3 Daily Fantasy Picks & Strategy For DraftKings, FanDuel [UPDATED: Sun, 9/22] (Sunday, September 22nd)

NFL Football Week 3 Daily Fantasy Picks For DraftKings, FanDuel

After two weeks of the return to NFL action we’ve managed to already see a carousel of quarterbacks across the league, with several familiar staple faces of the league either being injured for the majority or remainder of their respective seasons (Brees, Roethlisberger), or simply being benched again (Eli Manning) and potentially for good. And it wasn’t just quarterbacks taking an outright beating.

With a bevy of injuries already piling up for a number of teams, this leaves us an interesting week of potential value plays at some very affordable prices, along with some unsuspected ceilings in several of them. The matchup looming in Kansas City featuring the visiting Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens is assumed to be a shootout between the two high-priced fantasy quarterbacks, while two assumed beatdowns are awaiting the Dolphins and Jets at the hands of Tom Brady and Dak Prescott.

In a variety of what appear to be smash spots (in regards to fantasy purposes) for some of the top-priced running backs, we’re faced with a conundrum at where we’d like to distribute our remaining funds, and particularly in where else you’ll be wanting to spend up at other positions. And I suppose this is where we should get into…

The Gameplan

At first glance per position, combined with what we’ve noticed as standout in our observations (darlings and disasters both), I’m certainly going to lean toward all of the obvious places with blowout potential. Dallas and New England are the most obvious destinations of lopsided offerings, but determining where the ball distribution between the rush and pass is headed would be the obvious gamble. I plan to team stack each of these but with no more than three players total from each, anchored by both Tom Brady and Dak Prescott of course.

When looking further into the pricing along with what we know about the injury statuses of several players, we can aim to at least piece one of the bargain running backs into the fold due to starting opportunities combined with their friendly price tags. Frank Gore and Chris Carson are both in some fantastic positions to go off, and happen to also be quite affordable. We’re also awaiting the status of James Conner, as the possibility of seeing Jaylen Samuels starting for the injury-plagued Pittsburgh Steelers.

With those clear-cut positions for fantasy points, in tandem with either one or two value running backs (more to be mentioned), you’ll be in an opportune place with your roster construction to spend up at wide receiver. This position features prime opportunity for a monster fantasy day in DeAndre Hopkins, Adam Thielen, and other pricey pass-catchers. I’ll be loading up on the above two quarterbacks (for reasons I’ll be getting into shortly), along with a couple of others priced in both directions. Ezekial Elliott would be the spend-up back I’ll likely be most focused on, but never losing sight of at least one of the value backs.

UPDATE (Saturday, 9/21):

Well, leave it to Antonio Brown to piss all over everything on his way out…including my strong take on the Patriots offense (and stacking him with Brady) in this week’s earlier release of this article. Thankfully I won’t have to talk about him ever again this season and we can proceed with our DFS and season-long fantasy lives…

However, that’s not to say I’m still not going to lock in Tom Brady along with Julian Edelman, who I feel benefits slightly from the Friday release of Antonio Brown. One guy I do think sees a major increase (at least for my exposures) is wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Another element I have enjoyed as bulletin board material for the Pats offense is seeing how certain outlets are playing up the Jets secondary against Brady on Sunday, suggesting they’re going to give him a very rough day. I find that to be a reach for content and, given the Jets track record thus far this season letting Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen perform against them, I think it’s asinine to assume any less of the G.O.A.T. against a Jets secondary that has shown me nothing to warrant such an assertion. Fire up Brady, several pieces of this offense, along with the Pats DST, because all of them will be feasting come Sunday morning.

With Damien Williams sidelined for the Kansas City Chiefs, the immediate scramble is obviously to spend-down option LeSean McCoy. But I find Darwin Thompson to be a sneaky pivot, especially on DK with full-point PPR. However, the fact remains: I still prefer Frank Gore over any back remotely in that cost vicinity (and from everywhere I’ve looked regarding ownership, he doesn’t appear to be flying on many radars).

DeSean Jackson is officially out as well, making Nelson Agholor the defacto chalk play for the Philly offense, and presumably among the chalkiest players on the entire slate for Week 3. You already know how I feel about equal opportunity with lesser ownership, meaning you already know I’ll be advocating the spend-up at the tight end position instead (unless stacking, then play both) with Zach Ertz. He’s coming in as a chalky play as well from what I’ve seen, but also not nearly dragging the same ownership as Agholor given the major cost difference. I will pay for less ownership, every time (especially when there’s a strong likelihood for the chalkier of the two to bust).

With the news of Daniel Jones taking the reins in Big Blue Nation after Coach Shurmur sent Eli packing for good, I see this boosting the stock of an already-strong candidate for this week in tight end Evan Engram. With Todd Bowles likely game-planning heavily around the shutdown of Saquon Barkley (just as he did with Christian McCaffrey just over a week ago), I believe Engram will be the go-to target on the Giants offense, especially considering their banged-up receiving corps as well.

As I sit here and rage the fuck out to The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited“, I can tell you one thing else that excites me: low ownership on a high ceiling being overlooked. And this happens to be the case with Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers offense in Lambeau Field come Sunday against the visiting [unidentifiable] Denver Broncos. I will be stacking this crew of A-Rod with one of his receiving corps members in a variety of rosters outside of my priorities in Dak/Brady lineups. Hard to assume anything shy of a field-day being had here, and Denver does not impress me on defense after merely shutting down a lackluster Mitch Trubisky and Bears “offense” last weekend in Mile High.


Tom Brady, NE ($6,600 DK/$7,800 FD)

Consideration: Cash Games, GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

While the insinuation of a college blowout in the betting line of this game opening with Patriots as 23-point favorites, some would advise to stay away from Tom Brady and the passing game in lieu of one of several members of the Patriots backfield. Not I. Call me a homer, but that aspect would never supersede my love for a high ceiling at an affordable price in the DFS world, and that’s exactly what Brady has to offer in this matchup against a Jets team who’s widely considered doomed before the fourth week of September.

And so long as there’s no suspension dished out this week, Brady’s got a shiny new toy with Antonio Brown who he has yet to even hardly take for a test drive on the field, let alone throttle for an entire game. While only in for a total of 24 snaps the entire game (compared to Julian Edelman’s 66 snaps, which led the offense in snaps outside of Brady), Brown was targeted a team-high eight times and this is clearly just getting started. Imagine the possibilities of a favorable matchup with Brown in at, say, 50+ snaps.

I plan to get to plenty of both Brady and Brown as a pairing, but ultimately will be top-heavy with TB12 ownership here considering the massive ceiling he has here. I understand the potential of early blowout, but Brady rarely sits one early and I know he wants to show-off his crazy-ass wide receiver. Remember, the defense scored back-to-back touchdowns last week against the lowly Dolphins, which in turn kept the offense off the field, and the scoreboard that much further from a need to throw. (Plus, there is never a relenting moment when it comes to a Patriots opportunity to blowout a division rival)

NOTE: Dak Prescott ($6,500 DK/$8,400 FD) is an easy pivot on both sites in an extremely similar position to deliver the goods, and I will be getting to an equal share of him as I do with Brady.

Deshaun Watson, HOU ($6,400 DK/$8,200 FD)

Consideration: GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

With a backfield consisting of Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde, in contrast to a wide receiver known as DeAndre Hopkins, I think we know where this Texans offense is leaning the rest of this season. Visiting a Chargers defense that’s missing a key member of the secondary, Deshaun Watson should be throwing early and often (and a bit of rushing as well).

While this Texans offense has rushed the ball more so far this season (53 rushing attempts to 36 passing attempts), Watson offers the red zone option of being one of those potential ball-carriers and should have no problem throwing on this Chargers secondary missing Derwin James as well. Per Football Outsiders, the Chargers’ weighted Pass DVOA ranks 25th overall, along with an average of 8.1 pass attempts per game and 102.0 yards per game to the WR1 position. I also feel like part of the reason that passing attempt number is slightly lower is based on the type of grind-it-out game the Texans played against Jacksonville last weekend, particularly with Jalen Ramsey blanketing Watson’s top go-getter in Hopkins.

I find the Watson/Hopkins connection to be an intriguing one with regards to GPP entries, especially considering the field’s ownership of either player may fly a bit under the radar. I’ll gladly get to Deshaun Watson in pairing with Hopkins in a handful of my lineups come Sunday.

Other Cash QB Considerations

Josh Allen, BUF ($5,900 DK/$7,500 FD)
Jameis Winston, TB ($5,400 DK/$7,300 FD)
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF ($6,200 DK/$7,200 FD)

Other GPP QB Considerations

Patrick Mahomes, KC ($7,600 DK/$9,200 FD)
Lamar Jackson, BAL ($7,000 DK/$8,500 FD)
Russell Wilson, SEA ($6,300 DK/$7,600 FD)
Jacoby Brissett, IND ($5,200 DK/$6,800 FD)


Daniel Jones, NYG ($5,000 DK/$6,000 FD)

Running Back

Frank Gore, BUF ($4,400 DK/$5,700 FD)

Consideration: Cash Games, GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

Father Time just keeps on truckin’. And with a DFS price tag straight out of Dollar General, combined with a matchup in a Bengals defense struggling to stop the run, Frank Gore stands as an excellent staple to any Cash Game or GPP lineup come Sunday. While it stands that Devin Singletary’s status for this game remains in question due to an ankle injury abstained last weekend against the Giants, Frank Gore should have little to be concerned with when it comes to favor of shares in the Bills backfield.

Gore has led the Bills in rushing attempts (30 of Buffalo’s 59 total season attempts) and only is threatened in the passing game by T.J. Yeldon, who’s vulturing in a new location outside of Jacksonville this season. Singletary even being worked in sparingly, despite his own set of talent he brings when healthy, should make little problem for Gore to pay off his extremely affordable DFS salary on both sites.

I will be making Frank Gore a staple of my roster construction in a majority of my lineups (by comparison at the position), as he provides stable upside at a major value price tag; an essential of Cash Game entries and GPP’s alike.

Chris Carson, SEA ($5,900 DK/$7,000 FD)

Consideration: GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

Although he saw his workload threatened last Sunday in Pittsburgh following some shaky ball-handling and a fumble lost, I’m going back to the well with Chris Carson this week against the reeling New Orleans Saints. While Coach Pete Carroll went with the hot hand as the game progressed last Sunday, it’s not suspected that Carson will be losing any long-term work (as of now) stemming from the fumble against the Steelers. And even given the circumstances, he still led the team in rushing attempts with 15 carries (to Rashaad Penny’s 10).

The season is quite young, but the evidence thus far is that the Saints can’t stop teams pounding the rock. They’ve allowed 147.5 yards per game via the rush (27th overall), 5.6 yards per carry (28th overall), along with three touchdowns (tied 25th). In front of a raucous home crowd 12th Man at CenturyLink Field, this 2-0 Seahawks team will have their foot on the gas from the get-go, starting with the ground game. With no Drew Brees and the given surroundings in Seattle’s gnarly home environment, the Saints should be playing from behind while the Seahawks should be grinding down the clock with the run.

The lingering [dis]likes of Rashaad Penny stealing snaps is certainly a concern here, and hence why I’ve deemed this play more worthy of strictly a GPP contemplation. But overall I believe the Seahawks blow the doors off here and think the first opportunity will be Carson’s for the taking. Chris Carson will be my pivot to Frank Gore, a second option only given the additional cost and potential for Penny’s thievery.

Other Cash RB Considerations

Ezekial Elliott, DAL ($8,900 DK/$8,800 FD)
Marlon Mack, IND ($5,800 DK/$7,000 FD)
Sony Michel, NE ($6,000 DK/$6,800 FD)
Christian McCaffrey, CAR ($8,900 DK/$8,900 FD)
Matt Breida, SF ($5,400 DK/$5,900 FD)

Other GPP RB Considerations

Saquon Barkley, NYG ($9,100 DK/$9,200 FD)
Raheem Mostert, SF ($4,700 DK/$6,000 FD)
James White, NE ($5,100 DK/$6,200 FD)

Rex Burkhead, NE ($3,900 DK/$4,600 FD)

Joe Mixon, CIN ($5,500 DK/$6,500 FD)


Carlos Hyde, HOU ($4,500 DK/$6,000 FD)

Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper, DAL ($7,500 DK/$7,700 FD)

Consideration: Cash Games, GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

A corollary to the obvious blowout plays suggested earlier, Amari Cooper stands in a textbook smash spot against a Dolphins team who could possibly go 0-16 this season (in a race with the Jets). I know it’s early, but they’re that bad. And the Cowboys look that good.

Facing a Miami secondary who’s surrendered 321.5 yards per game through the air, along with 15 yards per reception, the duo of Prescott and Cooper are in a fantastic ceiling spot to thrash at home in AT&T Stadium. Despite the re-emergence of old familiar faces such as Jason Witten and Randall Cobb, along with the forgotten ones like Devin Smith, Cooper has the highest ceiling by default and should be treated as such.

Where the talent among the receivers in New England is debatable for where you could argue targets could go, the case behind Cooper in Dallas is much easier to seek roster construction comfort in being that his surrounding competition isn’t in his vicinity of talent, making him a clear-cut WR1 for the Cowboys each week. Thus, my pairing with Prescott will be much heavier distributed to the shares of Cooper in comparison to other Dallas receivers, whereas Edelman and Antonio Brown will likely be split in my player pool ownership when paired with Brady.

Stefon Diggs, MIN ($6,000 DK/$6,700 FD)

Consideration: GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

Simply stated: this price point is a far too cheap. And in a matchup against the Oakland Raiders at home in Minnesota’s own U.S. Bank Stadium, Stefon Diggs could be poised to have a monster day given his freakish athletic skill set in combination with Oakland’s suspect secondary. Although they did play against Pat Mahomes & Co, the Raiders have surrendered 355.5 yards per game and giving up the deep ball especially (which is where Diggs thrives).

Despite his meager three targets in Week 1, those doubled against the Packers in Week 2 with seven targets, although only hauling in one reception (which went for a 45-yard touchdown). It’s Kirk Cousins who worries me about this play whatsoever, and is the sole reason why I can’t trust Diggs as a Cash Game option. But given the staggering upside coinciding with the opportunistic matchup with the Raiders, I have a hard time straying from him in any GPP lineup, especially at this price point.

While it’s still too early in the week to determine what my exact player pool ownership will look like, I can tell you that I will be getting to Stefon Diggs with ease and will assume little pairing with Kirk Cousins, given the extreme volatility which that decision entails.

Other Cash WR Considerations

Keenan Allen, LAC ($7,000 DK/$7,800 FD)
Chris Godwin, TB ($6,900 DK/$7,600 FD)
Sammy Watkins, KC ($6,800 DK/$7,100 FD)
Julian Edelman, NE ($6,300 DK/$6,900 FD)

Other GPP WR Considerations

Phillip Dorsett, NE ($3,400 DK/$5,000 FD)
T.Y. Hilton, IND ($6,400 DK/$7,400 FD)
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU ($7,800 DK/$8,900 FD)
Demarcus Robinson, KC ($5,200 DK/$6,700 FD)


Nelson Agholor, PHI ($3,600 DK/$4,800 FD)

Tight End

Greg Olsen, CAR ($3,700 DK/$6,100 FD)

Consideration: GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

Although Cam Newton’s apparent foot injury may be worse than we had thought from the Week 3 Preseason injury against New England, Greg Olsen is clearly still a primary safety net on the Panthers offense. His consistent targets are evident of this, as he’s gotten nine of them in each game this season. While this has yet to materialize in the end zone through two weeks, Olsen finds himself in a tight end friendly matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on the road in a game where the Panthers may have to rely on second-year quarterback Kyle Allen to manage the Carolina offense.

This injury replacement at quarterback may bode well for Olsen, being a proven reliable dump-off and short-range option throughout his career with a number of quarterbacks throwing to him in relief. The Cardinals defense, per Football Outsiders Defense Vs Position weighted rankings, are 29th against tight ends and allowing 136.5 yards per game to the position. Both T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews have shredded the Cardinals defense, and I don’t see why Greg Olsen can’t…besides the quarterback throwing to him (also why I deemed him GPP-only).

I will get some shares of Greg Olsen in my GPP entries as a low-budget change-of-pace to my roster construction, which will be predominantly much heavier on the top-tier options such as our next candidate.

Zach Ertz, PHI ($5,700 DK/$6,900 FD)

Consideration: Cash Games, GPP (All Entry Field Sizes)

In an Eagles receiving corps decimated with injuries leaving the status of Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson up in the air, Zach Ertz is the default stud option for Carson Wentz to fly with until further notice. And given his track record under Wentz, the injuries to Jeffrey and Jackson only add further in his reason to be rostered.

In a hard-fought 24-20 loss on the road in Atlanta, Ertz was the lead target for the offense after Jackson and Jeffrey made their early exits, getting 16 targets and hauling in a tie for team high in receptions with eight (tied with Nelson Agholor). While the visiting Detroit Lions have been stingy against tight ends in the first two weeks of the season, neither the Cardinals nor the Chargers (without Hunter Henry) have a player at the position remotely close in talent in comparison to Ertz.

He’s going to be the obvious force-fed option with an Eagles offensive line that’s shown struggles in holding up so far, so Wentz will have to dish the ball off quickly and may be under duress throughout this game against a Detroit pass rush who has six sacks through two weeks of action. I figure to have an even distribution of wealth between Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle across a majority of my lineups on Sunday’s main slate (with the Greg Olsens sprinkled throughout)

Other Cash TE Considerations

George Kittle, SF ($5,600 DK/$6,600 FD)
Mark Andrews, BAL ($4,600 DK/$6,800 FD)
Vance McDonald, PIT ($4,300 DK/$5,900 FD)

Other GPP TE Considerations

Travis Kelce, KC ($7,100 DK/$8,000 FD)
Evan Engram, NYG ($5,200 DK/$6,400 FD)
Jason Witten, DAL ($3,700 DK/$5,000 FD)


Will Dissly, SEA ($3,400 DK/$5,400 FD)

Defense/Special Teams

Cash DST Considerations

Patriots ($3,800 DK/$5,000 FD)
Cowboys ($4,300 DK/$5,000 FD)
Vikings ($3,300 DK/$4,200 FD)

GPP DST Considerations

Seahawks ($3,200 DK/$3,400 FD)
Buccaneers ($2,900 DK/$4,300 FD)
Packers ($3,400 DK/$4,500 FD)


49ers ($3,200 DK/$3,700 FD)

Chris "Topher" Giordani is a sports gambling nerd who derives his passion for such from a number of avenues, particularly the ilk of fantasy sports. Currently working and residing in Orange County, California, daily fantasy sports consume a vast majority of his attention span on any given day. Reviving his sports rant podcast in 2019. #FadeTheChalk