In Week 3, forecasting fantasy football outcomes starts to get more straightforward. Less crawling in the dark. More 2015 game data. Less speculation. More match-up conviction. Less uncertainty.
We now know New Orleans stinks on both sides of the ball. We now know that San Francisco will finish near the bottom in offensive plays run in 2015. We now know that Pittsburgh’s defense is utterly helpless when facing a competent quarterback.
With this additional certainty in-hand, the best DFS players will become more aggressive in week 3. Larger percentages of larger bankrolls will be put at risk. Current season games does wonders for a sharp’s confidence. Throughout the season, PlayerProfiler and XN Sports will be providing the top plays on DraftKings for each position each week of the NFL season.
The following players are noteworthy value plays who could serve as the cornerstones of an optimal cash lineup and/or should show up on GPP/tournament rosters.
The Match Maker
Nick Foles, $5,200
Projected PPR Points: 16.08
Nick Foles was one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the NFL in week 1. Foles posted a highly efficient 297-yards and 1 touchdown against one of the NFL’s elite pass defenses. After averaging 11.0 yards per attempt a week earlier, Foles face-planted in week 2 at Washington. While Nick Foles again avoided turning the ball over, he only mustered 4.7 yards per attempt. He game-managed the Rams straight to an 1-1 record and reminded fantasy owners why Derek Carr was a better option headed into the 2015.
Watching Foles struggle against Washington’s defense, you were also reminded of Ryan Tannehill’s inability to sustain drives against Washington in week 1. Perhaps Nick Foles faced the most difficult initial schedule for a quarterback? Perhaps Chip Kelly was wrong about him? Perhaps Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, and Tavon Austin are not actually holding him back? Perhaps Nick Foles is poised to post an epic, tournament-winning performance against Pittsburgh’s abysmal pass defense. Pittsburgh has allowed an astounding 30.2 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks through two weeks.
The Athletic Fill-in
Damien Williams, $3,000.00
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 12.07
Lamar Miller sprained his ankle in week 2. The Dolphins recently called up Jonas Gray, a foreboding sign for Miller’s week 3 availability. Damien Williams will serve as Miami’s primary ball carrier if Miller does not suit up on Sunday.
Fortunately for Dolphins fans and us daily fantasy degenerates, Damien Williams is good. Signed by the Dolphins as a priority free agent last spring after being dismissed from Oklahoma during the 2013 college football season, Williams quickly ascended a thin RB depth chart in Miami to become Lamar Miller’s primary back-up. While Williams lacks a full season as a college workhorse on his resume, he possesses three key ingredients for NFL running back success:
1. Size: 5-foot-11, 222 pounds
2. Speed: 4.45-40 yard dash with a 113.2 (93rd-percentile) Speed Score on PlayerProfiler.com
3. Receiving skills: 78.6-percent (No. 19) Catch Rate on 28 targets in 2014.
There are only a handful of opportunities through an NFL season to start a newly anointed bell cow back at DraftKings’ minimum salary. Damien Williams embodies this rare opportunity. Yet, a perceived “bad match-up” against the Bills defense will likely coax many DFS grinders into looking elsewhere for RB value. Ryan Mathews may have a more widely recognized name, but Philadelphia’s offensive line grades out last in most run blocking efficiency metrics. Better to deploy the less expensive primary back with the lower ownership percentage than to let match-ups solely dictate the play.
The Upside Kid
Donte Moncrief $4,800.00
Projected PPR Points: 11.12
Through two weeks Donte Moncrief’s 41 PPR fantasy points is No. 8 among NFL wide receivers, and Moncrief’s 19 targets are only 2 behind T.Y. Hilton’s 21. In week 2, the Colts deployed the second-year receiver on over 75-percent of the team’s offensive snaps, including some single receiver set personnel packages. Andre Johnson is not the same player he was five years ago, and Moncrief’s size and speed has allowed the Colts to throttle Johnson’s usage in 2015. The early-season targets and production indicate Donte Moncrief will hasten Johnson’s marginalization as the season progresses.
Who is this Donte Moncrief character? Moncrief was a precocious prospect who inexplicably slipped to Indianapolis in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. After ascending to a starting role as a true freshman at the University of Mississippi, he achieved a 10-touchdown season as a sophomore in 2012. Moncrief decided to come out early and flashed an Andre Johnson-like size-speed-burst combination posting a 4.40-40 yard dash and a 133.2 Burst Score at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
Donte Moncrief’s resume of productivity and playmaker profile is exciting in a vacuum. Now give him 10-targets a game from Andrew Luck. Now make his price $4,800 on DraftKings. Donte Moncrief is what an auto-play looks like in week 3.
The Post-Hype Feel Good Story
Eric Ebron, $3,300.00
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 9.69
I was one of Eric Ebron’s biggest detractors this offseason. So far in 2015, I’m trending very wrong about Eric Ebron. He has secured 9-of-15 targets for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ebron has been an every-week fantasy TE1 and his first round pedigree suggests the production will continue.
The Lions utter lack of WR depth behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate has buoyed Eric Ebron’s target share. Ebron is averaging 7.5 targets per game, which is sustainable as Matthew Stafford’s clearcut No. 3 option. In week 3, Detroit faces a Denver Broncos’ secondary that has suffocated opposing wide receivers. Tight ends, on the other hand, have experienced marginal success against Denver linebackers. With Aqib Talib and Chris Harris squeezing down on outside routes, particularly as the Lions approach the goal line, expect Eric Ebron to be a featured weapon and red zone threat this Sunday.
May the game flow be ever in your favor.