Right when we start to get adjusted to the Pickem format, Draftkings goes and changes everything. The one change that is really disappointing is getting rid of 2 QB tiers. I really liked double stacking on my teams, but Draftkings has adjusted to just 1 QB tier with 3 players, SAD! Instead of 8 tiers of 8, it is now 8 tiers of 3-3-5-5-5-5-10-10. I will get into some slightly different strategy points than the first 2 weeks throughout this breakdown.
In review of my Week 2 article, my week was significantly worse than Week 1. My cover boy Larry Fitzgerald fell flat on his face, Ezekiel Elliott was irrelevant, Le’Veon Bell didn’t do much, and Dalvin Cook was the worst of the bunch. Cook is the one play that I look back and realize that it was a really bad call once Bradford was ruled out. I sometimes find it difficult to balance overreacting and under-reacting to Sunday news after I’ve made lineups. Leaving Cook in most of my pickem lineups, including cash, was not smart on my part. On a side note, assessing and reviewing your week on Mondays is one of the most important parts of getting better, especially when you have a losing week; see what you did right and wrong, then make adjustments to your process.
Now lets dive into the tiers for Week 3…
Aaron Rodgers; Derek Carr; Matt Ryan
The QB options this week have 3 of the 4 highest team totals of the week (Tom Brady is the other). In cash, Aaron Rodgers is easily the best raw fantasy points play. He will probably also be 60+% owned in GPPs, so there’s merit to playing either Derek Carr or Matt Ryan at probably sub-20% ownership each. Personally, I think I like playing Matt Ryan without any pass-catchers in GPPs. I don’t think Julio Jones is going to have a ceiling game, and there’s no other options in the Falcons pass game (Devonta Freeman doesn’t count). If you are playing Derek Carr, you should have Michael Crabtree or Amari Cooper in the lineup. All 3 QBs are in play, and I might have exposure to all of them depending on how many lineups I make.
Antonio Brown; Julio Jones; Le’Veon Bell
I think in cash you just lock in Le’Veon Bell for the guaranteed volume. For GPPs, Antonio Brown is a great pivot off Bell. Julio Jones could obviously go off in any matchup, but I don’t love him in this tier facing Darius Slay and the Lions. I will probably split my exposure to this tier 50/50 between Bell and Brown, as at least one of them should have a ceiling week on the road against the Bears. It will be interesting to see how ownership plays out in a 3-man tier, but I am not considering it with this tier in Week 3.
Kareem Hunt; Ty Montgomery; Melvin Gordon; Jay Ajayi; LeSean McCoy
This tier is loaded with volume backs in good matchups. The offensive line concerns take me off Ty Montgomery in this format. If you read my Week 3 Stacks Report, you would see that I called Ty Montgomery a lock-and-load play until he’s at Kareem Hunt‘s price. In tier 3, they are the same price, so it’s time to weigh matchup. I think the Packers will have a difficult time establishing the run; enough trouble that I would rather play Kareem Hunt in cash games from this tier. I believe Hunt is in for 20+ touches in a good matchup as a “road” favorite in the Chargers stadium that will be 75% Chiefs fans. I think Jay Ajayi will be very popular, but he’s been held out of practice this week and is listed as questionable for the game. I do not think the Dolphins will run him out there for 20+ touches if he’s already banged up after 1 game. The Jets got torched by Cordarrelle Patterson playing running back last week, I think the Dolphins can get by with Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams cutting into Ajayi’s workload. LeSean McCoy has the matchup I expected Ezekiel Elliott to crush in last week. I don’t see the same outcome for McCoy at home, but I don’t think he’ll hit value. The Broncos will be able to stack the box against the run without any wide receivers that are threats against their secondary. Melvin Gordon is always in play with the volume he sees in that offense, especially in a matchup with the Chiefs who finished 25th in run defense DVOA last season (Football Outsiders) and are 25th through 2 weeks this season. In the 2o max GPP, I will probably have split exposure 50/50 between Hunt and Gordon, with maybe a lineup or 2 with Montgomery out of FOMO.
Mike Evans; Keenan Allen; A.J. Green; Michael Thomas; Brandin Cooks
A.J. Green is my favorite overall play of the week. If he was in tier 2, I probably would still be playing all the A.J. Green. In all formats I will be jamming in Green. Read my Stacks Report to see my A.J. Green breakdown, but if Marvin Lewis wants to be employed in a month, he’ll start having the offense run through Green. Since Green will be the chalk, I like Michael Thomas the best as a GPP pivot. Thomas has had some bad matchups (Vikings and Patriots) to start the year for #1 receivers, but he finally gets a matchup he should be able to beat in the Panthers secondary. Thomas has 18 targets and 22% of the team’s targets. If the Saints are put in negative gamescript again as a 6 point road underdog, Thomas could benefit from double digit targets. The picture on the left is A.J. Green mad at me for bringing up another player in his tier. I will be playing most, if not all, of the A.J. Green in dfs, don’t worry.
Michael Crabtree; Jarvis Landry; Golden Tate; Amari Cooper; Kelvin Benjamin
With both Ajayi and Parker banged up this week, Jarvis Landry becomes very interesting against the Jets after seeing 15 targets in their first game (44% of team targets) after we all expected DeVante Parker (9 targets) to take over for this team. Landry let us know he hasn’t gone anywhere, even if Jay Cutler likes to push the ball downfield. I do not think he has the upside to be the highest score of this tier, though. It might come back to bite me, but I am not as high as most on the Panthers offense this week. I am still concerned about Cam Newton‘s shoulder, so I’ll keep taking a wait-and-see approach with him and his weapons, like Kelvin Benjamin, even though he should see a slight boost in his targets without Greg Olsen. I love the Lions offense this week, and my favorite player other than Stafford is his favorite weapon, Golden Tate. If we still had the 2 QB tiers, I would probably be recommending a stack of Stafford and Tate, but unfortunately we can’t anymore. I will play Tate in GPPs on teams that the decision between Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper becomes so difficult I play neither. One of these Raiders receivers could be in line for a huge game on Sunday night, but beats me who it is. In salary formats, I prefer Cooper because he’s cheaper and expected to be lower owned. Ownership should still skew in favor of Crabtree after 3 touchdowns last week, so there’s more merit to Cooper in GPPs. I will probably have Crabtree in cash games because I think he has a slightly higher floor, and more Cooper in GPPs for ownership.
Tyreek Hill; Devonta Freeman; Devante Parker; Christian McCaffrey; Doug Baldwin
This tier is another difficult one. I think for cash games you lock up the running back who should see a positive gamescript and 20 touch upside in Devonta Freeman. I am not interested in Tyreek Hill in a tough matchup with Casey Hayward. I think Devante Parker, Christian McCaffrey, and Doug Baldwin are all good GPP plays. My favorite of the bunch is Baldwin. Look for the Seahawks to get the ball in their best skill position player’s hands early and often in a matchup with the Titans slot corner, Logan Ryan. The other player I’ll have on some teams is Christian McCaffrey. If he is getting 10+ carry and 5+ target upside against the Saints defense, he could explode for 20+ fantasy points. He is a low floor but incredibly high ceiling play.
C.J. Anderson; Travis Kelce; DeAndre Hopkins; Davante Adams; Emmanuel Sanders; Dalvin Cook; Demaryius Thomas; Martavis Bryant;Marshawn Lynch; Terrelle Pryor
I will always lean running back in these tiers for cash if there is one with 20+ upside. C.J. Anderson is the only guy in this tier that matches my criteria, so he’s my cash game play. He has a pretty good matchup against the Bills, where he could crush. My favorite GPP plays in this tier are Terrelle Pryor and Demaryius Thomas. It makes life easier that Thomas, Anderson, and Emmanuel Sanders are all in the same tier. I think Sanders will draw ownership after the two touchdown game last week, so I like Thomas as a pivot. Thomas has seen an aDOT (average depth of target) of 10.6 yards on 16 targets, compared to Sanders’ 7 yard aDOT on 14 targets. The Bills secondary is bad, so both Thomas and Sanders have good matchups; it’s like choosing between Crabtree and Cooper. Pryor is the #1 receiver on the home underdog in the Sunday night hammer game with the highest total of the week…yes, please. The Raiders, like most teams, don’t have a corner that can cover Terrelle Pryor. A Carr – Cooper – Crabtree stack could very well be the GPP winning team.
Tarik Cohen; Adam Thielen; Mike Gillislee; Zach Ertz; Alshon Jeffery; James White; Theo Riddick; Chris Carson; T.Y. Hilton; Isaiah Crowell
Like with tier 7, I think Isaiah Crowell is the safest option on the board for volume in a good matchup as road favorites against the Colts. Crowell probably doesn’t have 20+ touch upside with Duke Johnson there, but he has the goal line work. There has been some sharp line movement on the over in this Browns/Colts game, as the total has moved from 40.5 to 42 with 57% of the bets coming on the under (reverse line movement alert). If points are coming, give me the lead back on the favorite against the Colts run defense, 32nd by DVOA in 2016. For GPPs, I think we have to wait for some injury news in Philadelphia. If Janoris Jenkins is out, Alshon Jeffery becomes my favorite play in tournaments in tier 8. If Jenkins plays, give me all the Zach Ertz there is available. The Giants were 26th defending tight ends in DVOA in 2016, and have already been hit by Jason Witten and Eric Ebron for 7-59-1 and 5-42-1 stat lines, respectively. Give me Ertz or give me death (I think that’s a saying or something). The last player I am considering in this tier is Theo Riddick, who gets a great matchup for pass catching rbs against the Falcons. Tarik Cohen and Ty Montgomery combined for 14-122-2 receiving the first two weeks against the Falcons. Riddick could be in line for a similar day to these pass catching backs, as this is the most exploitable part of the Falcons defense (per James White in the Super Bowl).
Good luck this week, and feel free to reach out with questions/feedback on twitter @EvanRosenberg0. I would love to hear more thoughts on this new Pickem format.