Daily fantasy picks: Who should you start in Week 3 of NFL season?

Play daily fantasy? There are plenty of intriguing Week 3 matchups that can give you the most bang for your buck.
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Need some help choosing your lineup? Andrew Perloff and Michael Beller give their Week 3 daily fantasy picks.

Michael Beller

Saints’d (v.) To expect a high-scoring professional football game, and then have the rug pulled out from under you. Typically involves the New Orleans Saints.

Every so often, the Saints thumb their collective noses at the fantasy community. Thanks to Drew Brees and a substandard defense, it seems we expect them to be involved in shootouts more often than not. No matter how good an offense, and how bad a defense, we know a team can’t spend an entire season playing 35–34 games. Still, last week’s matchup with the Giants looked like a textbook back-and-forth affair. In the end, we got Saints’d.

The beauty of the DFS game is that each week gives us a chance to start anew. Time to turn the page to Week 3. Below are my picks for both DraftKings and FanDuel. Be sure to check out Andrew Perloff’s picks, as well.


Ryan Tannehill ($6,200 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel) vs. Cleveland

The words “Tannehill” and “chalk” rarely go together, unless he has some hopscotch habit that we don’t know about. Tannehill is one of the chalk plays at quarterback this week, however, alongside Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, whose teams will face off at the Superdome on Monday night. Miami’s passing game clicked against the Patriots last week when it went into the no-huddle, with Tannehill connecting on 27 of his 34 attempts for 337 yards and two touchdowns. Both Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker surpassed 100 yards. Their skill-sets complement one another perfectly, giving Tannehill an ideal set of receivers, at least on paper. Cleveland’s defense shouldn’t be any match for the Dolphins, despite Joe Haden’s strong start to the year. Tannehill is my No. 10 quarterback this week for season-long owners, but his DFS price makes him an excellent choice. If he plays on Sunday how he did in the second half against the Patriots, the return on investment will be massive.


Ezekiel Elliott ($6,900 DK, $8,100 FD) vs. Chicago

I gave strong consideration to David Johnson (DK: $7,700, FD: $8,400) with the Cardinals visiting the Bills this week, but everything sets up so well for both Elliott and Gordon. Elliott has been busy through his first two NFL games, racking up 41 carries and four targets. He hasn’t been particularly efficient, running for 134 yards and fumbling twice, but two touchdowns have saved his fantasy value. The floodgates should open against the depleted Chicago defense on Sunday night. The Bears lost two of their best defensive players, Danny Trevathan and Lamarr Houston, to injuries last week. Trevathan is out indefinitely after undergoing thumb surgery, and Houston is done for the season because of a torn ACL. Meanwhile, nose tackle Eddie Goldman is out with an ankle injury. Trevathan and Goldman are Chicago’s two key defenders against the run. Without them, the Bears are going to have a lot of trouble poking holes in the Dallas offensive line. This should be the breakout game of Elliott’s rookie season.

Melvin Gordon ($5,800 DK, $7,100 FD) vs. Indianapolis

What do you say we keep this position entirely in the Big Ten? From Ohio State’s Elliott we go to Wisconsin’s Gordon, who has already put his ugly rookie year behind him. In two games this season, Gordon has 159 rushing yards and three touchdowns. With Danny Woodhead out for the year, Gordon is going to be a true workhorse for the Chargers. We’re expecting a shootout in Indianapolis, with a game total ranging from 51–52 depending on your sportsbook of choice. Recall what the Lions did to the Colts putrid run defense in Week 1. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick combined for 108 rushing yards, 120 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. Gordon should be able to gash this defense, especially with Philip Rivers keeping the Colts honest through the air.

Fantasy football Week 3: Complete player rankings for every position


Allen Robinson ($7,500 DK, $7,900 FD) vs. Baltimore

Wide receiver was the toughest position for me to figure out this week. I had Antonio Brown in a lot of contests and, for the sake of transparency, I will be diversifying and using him in some. He’s not part of my favorite lineup, however, and that’s why he doesn’t make this column. One player I did not waver on was Robinson. You get a Jason Verrett-induced price discount on Robinson on both sites this week, but Baltimore doesn’t have anyone who can single up a receiver of Robinson’s caliber the way Verrett can. Think of what Corey Coleman did to this defense last week, and then imagine it trying to slow down Robinson. It isn’t going to happen.

Jordy Nelson ($7,400 DK, $8,300 FD) vs. Detroit

Green Bay’s top connection isn’t all the way back, but there were encouraging signs last week. Most notably, Nelson beat the Minnesota secondary deep for a 39-yard play in the second half. Nelson has also scored in both games and has a pair of targets inside the 5-yard line. Rodgers is leaning on him when the Packers are in scoring range, and they’re starting to find that deep ball again. This could be the last week that you get low ownership on Nelson, as well, and that’s a great time to strike. Nelson will draw Darius Slay for part of the afternoon, but, overall, Detroit’s secondary is a plus matchup.

Jarvis Landry ($6,600 DK, $7,000 FD) vs. Cleveland 

My pal Rich Hribar over at Rotoworld pulled out a great stat for the Landry and DeVante Parker pairing in Miami. In seven games when both of have played dating back to the start of Parker’s 2015 rookie year, Landry has averaged 8.1 catches for 98 yards. In the 11 that Parker sat, Landry averaged 6.5 catches for 64.7 yards. Landry is a better play on DraftKings because of its full PPR scoring, but he’s a fine play on FanDuel, as well. Parker deserves a look, too, but I prefer him on FanDuel. Landry’s catch and yardage averages with Parker in the lineup translate to 17.9 DraftKings points. That’s an attractive floor for any receiver.

Jeremy Maclin ($6,000 DK, $7,000 FD) vs. New York Jets

Maclin has been quietly consistent in the Chiefs first two games, catching at least five passes for at least 63 yards in both contests, while finding the end zone once. Just as importantly, he has 22 targets in the two games, all but guaranteeing the sort of volume that makes a mid-tier receiver a bargain in full PPR scoring. The Jets run defense is fearsome, but they’ve been burned through the air this year, with Darrelle Revis seemingly falling off a cliff. A.J. Green torched them for a 12-180-1 line in Week 1. Last week, Tyrod Taylor connected on two touchdown passes of at least 71 yards, and finished the game with 297 yards and three scores. Maclin should be able to find his way against this defense.

Phillip Dorsett ($4,400 DK, $6,000 FD) vs. San Diego

Dorsett steps into the starting lineup for the Colts with Donte Moncrief out 4–6 weeks because of a shoulder injury. Dorsett, a second-year player out of Miami, has all the talent in the world. Now he has the opportunity to go with it. Jason Verrett mostly traveled with Allen Robinson last week, and that treatment will almost certainly fall to T.Y. Hilton on Sunday. That will grant Dorsett a matchup with Casey Hayward, who’s a solid corner in his own right, but can’t hold a candle to Verrett. Dorsett is a nice value option, though the ownership numbers could be high.


Dennis Pitta ($3,400 DK, $5,000 FD) @ Jacksonville

Pitta broke through in a big way in just his second game since the end of September 2014, catching nine passes for 102 yards in Baltimore’s win over Cleveland last week. Just like DeVante Parker stretching the field helps Jarvis Landry underneath, so, too, does Mike Wallace have a positive effect on Pitta. This game features a total of 47, and both secondaries have looked vulnerable this year. There’s sneaky shootout potential here, making Pitta all the more attractive.


Sebastian Janikowski ($4,600) @ Tennessee

Janikowski is nearly the minimum price on FanDuel, and the Raiders offense has been red hot to start the season. That’s not going to change in Nashville on Sunday.


Miami Dolphins ($3,000 DK, $4,600 FD) vs. Cleveland

When I first started typing the Dolphins Week 3 opponent above, I got a few letters into Cody Kessler’s name before I realized my mistake. That Freudian slip makes clear why the Dolphins are such a strong play this week. What is this Browns team going to be able to do offensively? Kessler is a completely unknown commodity at the NFL level, and while the same could be said of Jacoby Brissett, there’s only one Bill Belichick. The Dolphins have five sacks, three takeaways and a blocked kick this year. They’re going to be able to get in Kessler’s head.

DraftKings lineup:
QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB1: Ezekiel Elliot
RB2: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Allen Robinson
WR2: Jarvis Landry
WR3: Phillip Dorsett
TE: Dennis Pitta
FLEX: Jeremy Maclin​
DST: Miami Dolphins

FanDuel lineup:
QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB1: Ezekiel Elliot
RB2: Melvin Gordon
WR1: Jordy Nelson
WR2: Allen Robinson
WR3: Jarvis Landry
TE: Dennis Pitta
K: Sebastian Janikowski 
DST: Miami Dolphins

Andrew Perloff

FanDuel and Draftkings were basically handing out money last week with their prices on Chargers WR Travis Benjamin ($6,100 FanDuel, $4,400 DraftKings). I wrote both organizations and asked them not to credit my account because I didn’t feel challenged (this never happened). It’s not so much me as Benjamin … he’s good (when did quoting Swingers start making me feel old?).


Carson Palmer ($7,200 DK, $8,300 FD) vs. Broncos

The Bills’ defense was lost last week against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets. The Cardinals are a similar team with multiple receiving threats and a bona fide run game, so they should put up a lot of points. In a week where most of the top QBs don’t have ideal matchups, Palmer stands out. Don’t worry about Palmer on the road—two of his three four-TD games last season and they were outdoors (Chicago and Cleveland).

Alternate: Buying into the Saints-Falcons matchup with either Drew Brees or Matt Ryan makes sense. And even though he’s inconsistent, this might be a good week to invest in Marcus Mariota at home against the Raiders. Then there’s Aaron Rodgers … is he going to come out angry after all those negative columns this week?


Cameron Artis-Payne ($3,000 DK, $4,800 FD) vs.Vikings

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Artis-Payne will be the lead back. The Vikings’ defense is tough, but the Panthers should have a lead at home and stay on the ground. If you’re only playing one lineup this week, Artis-Payne may not be your guy, because this is a boom-or-bust option. I’ve been excited about him before and he’s done nothing. If you’re going safer but inexpensive, try the Eagle’s Darren Sproles. But if you do go cheap with Artis-Payne, it opens up all kinds of options, including …

David Johnson ($7,700 DK, $8,400 FD) @ Bills

Johnson didn’t run much last week in the Cardinals’ 40–7 win in Tampa Bay, but he did catch three passes for 98 yards. There really aren’t many home run options at running back these days, but Johnson’s receiving skills set him apart.

Alternate: If you don’t want Artis-Payne, try Fozzy Whitaker in the Panthers’ backfield, or go on the other side of the field with cheap options Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata for Minnesota. The Colts’ Frank Gore showed signs of life against a brutal Denver D last week and has a good matchup against San Diego. DeAngelo Williams possibly faces a tougher front-seven against Philly, but he’s hard to ignore in his last week as a starter.

Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: How to set your lineups for Week 3


Travis Benjamin ($5,200 DK, $6,900 FD) @ Colts

The Chargers receiver caught six passes for 115 yards and two TDs last week and this is his price? He faces a 26th ranked Colts defense in what could be a high-scoring game. Grab him while he’s still reasonable.

Antonio Brown ($9,600 DK, $9,500 FD) @ Eagles

I’ll be honest, I have extra cash and the best WR in the NFL seems like the best place to burn some funds. He looks to bounce back from a very un-Brown-like week against Cincinnati. The Eagles, like most teams, have no one who can cover the Steelers star.

Jarvis Landry ($6,600 DK, $7,000 FD) vs. Browns

The Dolphins receiver caught 10 of 13 targets for 137 yards last week against the Pats. New coach Adam Gase obviously plans on leaning on Landry. If he didn’t run that slow 40 and fall to the second round, everyone would view Landry as a star. But since they don’t, he’s usually a good value.

Alternate: Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans was targeted 17 times last week and should have a productive week at home. Jordan Matthews is juicy if the Eagles fall behind and start chucking. And the Jags’ Allen Robinson has to show up some time this season.


Dennis Pitta ($3,400 DK, $5,000 FD) @ Jaguars

This will be a popular option after Pitta had nine catches on 12 targets for 102 yards against the Browns last week. But he looks healthy and you can’t argue with that value. Plus, the more expensive options aren’t ideal this week. Tennessee’s Delanie Walker would be juicy, but he’s questionable with hamstring issues.

Alternate: Aaron Rodgers has to start throwing to Jared Cook more. If you want to buy into Jacksonville’s offense in a potential bounce-back week, Julius Thomas won’t kill your cap.


Steven Hauschka ($5,100 FD) vs. 49ers

With Artis-Payne and Pitta in my lineup, I had to burn money. I never spend like this on a kicker, but often dream about having Hauschka in my lineup. The Seahawks kicker better step up.

Alternate: The Redskins’ Dustin Hopkins showed up for me last week and could have a nice day against the Giants in good weather.


Carolina Panthers ($3,800 DK, $4,800 FD) vs. Vikings

The Vikings lost RB Adrian Peterson and LT Matt Kalil and quarterback Sam Bradford is still learning the offense. They looked good at home, but going to Carolina shorthanded is a tougher assignment.

Alternate: I’m putting in Miami against Cleveland and rookie Cody Kessler in alternate lineups. And the Cowboys will be a deservedly popular pick against the Bears.