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Week 3 Visionary DFS Plays & Sleepers

Week 3 Visionary DFS Plays & Sleepers

NFL DFS Plays for Week 3: The Ambush

SI Fantasy insider Steve Renner goes through the NFL DFS full slate breakdown for all your contests this weekend.
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Welcome to the Week 3 NFL DFS Ambush.

It's time to jump into the NFL Week 3 slate, and I will begin each week with something that I feel is extremely important for every full breakdown NFL DFS article out there. 

I am not talking about your sneaky stacks, GPP only, value plays or just any other quick hit articles either. I am talking about a full length rundown that I work on covering each week here in The Ambush. The thing I want to do first each week is make sure we are accountable for the prior week's plays; both between the five Ambush plays I give each week as well as the core build recommendations in the QB, RB, WR, TE and DEF sections at the bottom. As I have stated numerous times, you should be starting with the positional breakdown plays and then taking your shots with the Ambush plays.

Looking back last week, we correctly jumped on the Dak Prescott and Cowboys train even though it didn't quite play out the way which we expected. The mid range running backs were good enough on the slate given that only an extremely unowned Aaron Jones went off at the position. The key to NFL DFS is avoiding mistakes and although Ronald Jones was just blah, he scored and he did not kill you the same way that Derrick Henry (a key fade last week) did to many.

The other big thing last week was all of the injuries and we shouldn't be that shocked about it considering there was limited contact in training camp and no pre-season games. But still, losing Tyrod Taylor to a Doctor puncturing his lung minutes before kick off has to be one of the worst ways to bust on a player/team I was on. Except for the fact that I personally magically cashed the 4pm late slate with Tyrod Taylor. I am not considering that a win in terms of touting because the guy didn't play! Shoot, he almost died!

Can we make it three weeks in a row with the right fades of the week? If so, I have a good feeling we'll keep this good season going.

So let's dive in!

Here's a recap of what this article covers

  • This article will cover plays that I am using on my MAIN lineup & what that is being entered into.
  • This article will cover plays that I am using on my SECOND tier lineups & what contests those are being entered into.
  • This article will cover plays that I am using on my THIRD tier lineups & what contests those are being entered into.
  • This article will cover my favorite weekly BETS for the weekend games.
  • This article will cover who I feel is chalk and how it should be addressed.
  • This article will cover all my NFL thoughts in one spot.

What are The Ambush plays? These are my plays that I feel warrant the most attention for a given week. I'll generally cover a team or correlation I really think you need in a lineup as well as players who based upon their projected match-up, game flow and salary are ideal plays for the week. Each week a key Ambush decision is whom to fade and you must be crossing some games or plays off your radar each week and not sweating those fades.

The first thing we must do each Week is understand the landscape of the slate and any injury or weather or miscellaneous information that we need to monitor from the time this article comes out (Saturday's) until lock on Sunday at 1pm EST.

SLATE INFORMATION

Injuries and Playing Time Concerns

Since my article is being posted on Saturday afternoon, I am not going to mess with guys who are ruled OUT as of Friday -- because you likely already know this by now. Here's the notable injuries and my thoughts on the players status as well as the impact of them playing or not.

  • Julio Jones (ATL) - I expect him to play and if he does not play then Hayden Hurst gets a huge boost for me.
  • Jack Doyle (IND) - Seems like he might give it a go, but if he is out then Mo Allie-Cox week is allowed this week.
  • Kenny Golladay (DET) - Looks good to go

Nothing else is of any impact to me in terms of what I know right now.

Weather Status

If it were about 10 degrees cooler it would be perfect football weather in most spots. Nothing to be concerned with.

Projected Ownership

Here's the projected ownership this weekend.

Screenshot from 2020-09-26 14-53-28

My thoughts on the ownership projections...

Logan Thomas is popular? Why? Nothing else really bad here this week if these projections hold true.

THE AMBUSH PLAYS

Unlike with baseball, hockey and college football I tend to do more than one lineup in NFL. But I do not jump into MME by any stretch of the imagination as I am still in single entry tournaments and will have a 'Main' lineup that stretches across cash, single entry, 3 entry max and multi-entry tournaments. It's the lineup where I build out what I view to be the best plays for the weekend and it has a good mix of my Ambush plays.

That said, the five Ambush plays you see weekly from me are usually spread out across three to five lineups. I prefer FanDuel because it's only half point PPR, does not have bonuses and the pricing is more balanced in my view. But the way I play multiple lineups is by rolling my second and third favorite lineups on different sites. This way I am still able to capitalize on the best tournaments (higher dollar with limited entries) with a single lineup but I get to capitalize on the aspect of spreading out my exposure to different spots. So when you see me reference something like "TJ Hockenson everywhere" that means I'm rolling him on all the different sites. But when you see "I will have a lineup with X,Y,Z" that means it's just a specific lineup that I am rolling that on. I share this to be transparent and also to hopefully help you balance how to play multiple sites for NFL.

Joshua Kelley, that's it. That's the play.

Ambush Play #1 - The Panthers will once again give up three or more rushing touchdowns on the road.

Success with a good football DFS lineup starts and ends at the running back position. You need touchdowns from your guys and through two weeks this year I've been very fortunate in that regard with the majority of my plays. This week we have another spot where a two headed RB situation is facing the worst rushing defense in those Carolina Kitty Cats.

But what we have seen from the Chargers offense so far is that Joshua Kelley definitely appears to be the RB1 while Austin Ekeler is still Austin Ekeler, that secondary RB who is used heavily in the passing game and in spots where its a back and forth game -- like with the Chiefs last week.

But in a game flow that projects to be one-sided with the Chargers, and one they should dominate up front, how does one not love Joshua Kelley who is quickly trending towards the front runner for NFL Rookie of the Year? Kelley's extremely low priced on all sites, should see 15+ touches and is getting the bulk of the red-zone and goal to go snaps/carries for the Chargers through two games. It's time for the Chargers to get this kid a multi-touchdown game. His floor is 15 carries for 70 yards, while his ceiling is around 23 carries, 140 yards and two scores. Or as Michael Jordan would say, his ceiling is the roof.

FOLLOW THE SIGNS, PLAY THE MVP

Ambush Play #2 - I'm not talking about Russell Wilson -- play Kyler Murray.

So after two weeks to start the season, everyone is hyping up the #LetRussCook narrative for Russell Wilson to be the league's MVP. This is in no way a slight to Wilson, who has been incredible through two games and will always be a solid play.

But go back and look at the recent history of league MVP's, I'll wait. 2019 was second year QB Lamar Jackson, 2018 was second year QB Patrick Mahomes and 2017 was trending to be second year QB Carson Wentz before he got injured late in the season against the Rams. Yes sir, the second year quarterback narrative seems alive and well with Kyler Murray through two games. While I'm still not convinced in him for the long-term as a big time successful QB, you gotta love the way this offense is playing with the addition of Hopkins and a relatively healthy unit around him.

Murray's rushing upside is bound to break off in a big way one of these weeks. He did it a little bit last week against Washington but only when he had too against their pass rush. When he does this near the end zone, he's almost unstoppable and his small quick movement's are a little bit similar to Mike Vick when he was a younger QB with Atlanta in that regard. Murray and the Cardinals will move the ball with no problems against the Lions - but I expect Detroit's offense to be on fire as well, so Murray will have to finish this game with 400 all-purpose yards and account for four touchdowns. He's a must-play for me.

GIDDY UP, ALL GO SPECIAL WEEKEND

Ambush Play #3 - Go four deep at Wide Receiver this week and watch all the wideouts Gallup you into the money!

The most important aspect to having success whether you are rolling with one lineup, five lineups or 500 lineups with you and a few of your closest friends is to make a determination on how your lineup(s) will be built. Many weeks that's examining which positions you want the most exposure too and which ones are thin. As much as last week was the week of tight ends, this week is the week of wide receivers. The list is long and deep from top to value plays. 

Just start with the Seahawks, Cowboys, Cardinals and Lions in the two extremely high total games this week. You have Lockett, Metcalf, Cooper, Lamb, Gallup, Hopkins, Fitzgerald, Kirk, Golladay, Jones, etc... Sheesh, that's a ton of guys and obviously not all WR from the same team are going to go off. But needless to say we haven't even touched on good plays this week like Adam Theilen in a "must play well" game for the Vikings. Or what about Calvin Ridley if Julio sits? How about the bust from last week with Allen Robinson going up against that bad Falcons defense? Or heck, we might even see a huge week from Cole Beasley of all people! 

So with all these WRs, who's the one that is the best play on the board? Well, I love lots of them which I'll outline below, but give yourself the formation that teams run when they are down late and have to play catch-up which is a 4-WR set called "All Go Special."

My top guy to lock into your lineups is going to come from those late games, and it is none other than Michael Gallup. The Cowboys trio of WR plus Zeke Elliott are all expected to be fairly well-owned but it is Gallup who has the big play ability down the sideline and should be the lowest-owned of all of them. When you have a game that looks so juicy like this, it makes sense to get a piece of both sides and for me, Michael Gallup-"ing" into the end zone will be the difference. Giddy up!

WHAT'S IN THE BOX? T.J. HOCKENSON!

Ambush Play #4 - Tight End of the week - TJ. Hockeknson

It only took two weeks for everyone to jump off the Tight Ends versus Arizona train. There's plenty to believe that with some changes on defense, like Isaiah Simmons, that the Cardinals will improve in this area. But they also haven't faced anyone since Kittle got banged up in Week 1. Detroit WILL have success through the air on the arm of Stafford and with Golladay still being limited, the primary weapon for him to get a boost is T.J. Hockenson.

I want exposure to this game on both sides and with the TE position being so bare this week going all in with Hockenson in the second highest total and where they'll throw the ball 40 times is a no brainer this week. I have a prize for you on the late slate, open the box, it's TJ Hockenson getting in the end zone twice!

HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON THIS WEEK

Ambush Play #5 - We're fading 90% of the 1PM slate of games this weekend.

This isn't just about the two big total games out west this weekend, it's also factoring in my favorite defense (Tampa), my favorite running backs (Chris Carson and Joshua Kelley) and the majority of the wide receivers I love this week. Sometimes in DFS, people will ask if they should simply have late game exposure to avoid falling back and honestly it makes no sense to force that in as there's simply no logic to that.

But in the case of this week, uh, yes -- YOU NEED THE LATE GAMES!! In fact, if you aren't near dead last around 3:57 PM Eastern on Sunday then you probably aren't going to end up doing too much in my mind. There's a lot of trap games early and all the juice is late. Shoot, I might even get crazy enough to hype of the Colts-Jets game too. Well, maybe not.

RECAP OF AMBUSH PLAYS

  1. It's a Southern California rout behind Joshua Kelley
  2. Kyler Murray is projected to be the MVP and lights up the slate.
  3. Spread our your lineup this week with a 4th Wide Receiver in the FLEX
  4. TJ Hockenson in the BOX.
  5. DFS Week 3 Fades

WEEK 3 POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN 

QUARTERBACKS

So I plan to just write up three quarterbacks. I am not one of these touts who likes to try and cover all my bases with 10 picks each week at quarterback. The goal is to not pick mistakes while finding the guy who fits within the right value. I always believe Quarterback is overhyped in DFS and so if you want someone who isn't listed here you definitely have other options. But I'm banking on 20+ from everyone below this week.

Kyler Murray

My #1 this week at QB, which I outlined in more detail up above. He has three rushing touchdowns so far this season and is going for over 50 yards rushing in almost every game. In his second season the confidence is there for him to trust when to run and when to get it to his playmakers. I know that he is going to be up there as one of the most popular quarterbacks this week, but honestly he should be priced into that Lamar Jackson tier and he isn't quite there yet on both sites. Lock him in.

Matt Stafford

Clearly I like this game more than the Dallas-Seattle game right? Not entirely, but I love it for the QB's because I simply do not trust either team to have a consistent ground game this weekend where as in the other game we have two very reliable running backs that I expect to get the ball a good amount. The Murray and Stafford return in DFS terms is greater because guys like Drake and Swift could get involved as pass catchers this week, where as Ezekiel Elliot and Chris Carson in the other high scoring game likely do the work in rushing attempts. Matt Stafford offers a big discount over Kyler Murray but is also getting completely ignored and should get close to 300 yards passing as the Lions have no ground game to trust.

Joe "Burreaux"

Someone asked me what my best ROI sport was and I mentioned that sometimes football feels like the easiest. When you hear Carson Wentz and Miles Sanders are both popular plays on a week like this then you clearly understand why that is the case. In my opinion, there's absolutely no reason to expect both Sanders and Wentz to go off for the Eagles unless they're down 28-0 to the Bengals. And the Bengals are only going up 28-0 on the Eagles through the air. They've shown no regrets in coming out and throwing the ball all over the yard in their first games with Joe Burrow at the helm. You simply don't have a ton of running success against the Eagles. But you can get things done through the air against them and I had to find a third QB I like - Burrow is that guy.

Just missed my top 3: Kirk Cousins

Not touching: Cam Newton

RUNNING BACKS

This week sets up as one which is extremely deep at the wide receiver position with a couple back and forth shootouts on the slate. So the pool here is shallow but I absolutely LOVE the first two guys listed below in all formats this weekend.

Joshua Kelley (Chargers)

Hey is a key Ambush play this week as outlined above. The Chargers will get 200 yards rushing on Carolina.

Chris Carson (Seahawks)

If you remember Aaron Jones from one week ago then you don't need me to go in depth on why this should be the trendy leverage play of the week. However, it sounds like that trendy leverage pivot is going to be Kenyan Drake and honestly that's silly because Drake will do it through the arm of Kyler. I'm not 100% sold on Seattle just blindly having Wilson air it out every game and with Dallas beat up everywhere the Seahawks should be able to establish a good ground game with Carson who appears to be 5-10% owned at most in the biggest DFS game of the season so far.

Derrick Henry (Titans)

Many call this a bounce back spot for Henry, but then I remind you that it's not December yet and so we're not getting that 175 yard rushing, 3 TD game this week. Minnesota had to sell out on the run last week to try and stop the Colts ground game and eventually Henry is going to wear on them and break one to the end zone. With A.J. Brown out he jumped up my list because this is an optimal spot for the Titans to hit a play action bomb, but without Brown I don't trust anyone else to do that. So give it to Henry over 20 times for a 100 yard game.

Fourth option

Miles Sanders (Eagles)

We've nailed this Eagles backfield so far the first two weeks of the season and Sanders price is still where he's an easy 3x target on DraftKings again this week. This is likely the theme most of the year with Sanders where we love him on DK under $7,000 but we don't bother with it on FanDuel because he's entirely touchdown dependent there. Don't be shocked if Boston Scott gets equal touches this week and for that reason, I don't feel Sanders is a must own.

Just missed my cut: Ezekiel Elliott, Tarik Cohen

Not touching: Jonathan Taylor

WIDE RECEIVERS

No position is more different week to week between DraftKings and FanDuel than wide receiver. This extends onto the other sites like FantasyDraft and Yahoo! as well but when you look at evaluations on wide receivers you gotta understand the difference in site scoring, pricing and sometimes ownership.

Slight change to the breakdown at wide receiver. I am going back to listing my top three all together but they are in order of the primary two WR I like and then my third (aka the Slot play) of the week. Don't confuse the slot play with someone who is actually always lining up in the slot. It's just my way of being cute with the plays.

DeAndre Hopkins (Cardinals)

I rarely will spend a premium price at Wide Receiver on a 1/2 point PPR site like FanDuel, but this is a spot where I don't want to mess around and over think it too much. The Lions don't cover anything and if not for Adams getting hurt and Aaron Jones doing his thing last week you would see EVERYONE on the Arizona passing game only this week. But there's a feeling that Drake could do work and while I do expect him to get a touchdown, it's the 100-yard, 10 catch game from Hopkins which I'll just take to start things off. Love him on DraftKings this week, and yeah, I'll pay up for him on FanDuel too.

Adam Theilen (Vikings)

The phrase "get right" spot has become so trendy that I feel dirty every time I use it. But this is a get right spot for the Vikings passing game. The Titans through two weeks have allowed over 260 yards to the Broncos and Jaguars. Yes, I know the Vikings pass D has actually been worse in the same game - but the Vikes back at home in a must win spot in my mind will take this one and I actually *gulp* like Kirk Cousins to play well here! Feelin' me some Theilen.

Michael Gallup (Cowboys)

The Cowboys/Seahawks game could under-perform and still provide must own players in it. Those players in this game are Gallup and Tyler Lockett (Seattle) when it comes to the passing game. Because I am going with Carson in many spots I won't over invest on the Seattle side but Gallup to me is a fantastic play instead of Cooper or Lamb. I would rank the Cowboys guys as Gallup-Lamb-Cooper and for Seattle is Carson and Lockett.

JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP CORE

Tyler Lockett (Seahawks)

It pays to watch the games and ignore the "metrics" that get posted Monday-Friday each week. Lots of love out there for D.K. Metcalf but when you watch who Dallas can't cover, it's guys like Tyler Lockett. He should smash with a ton of catches and either him or Carson are going to score twice.

Allen Robinson II

The Bears have three guys who look really good on paper against Atlanta. Jimmy Graham at TE is one, but he stinks now, so no. Tarik Cohen is another as a great pass catching back to exploit the Falcons, but he's a DK play only as a third RB and I want as many WR as I can this week. And then A-Rob. The guy who we all thought was getting his free TD after a mess with the team the week before, and then nada against the Giants. Go right back here as the bigger WR are the guys to get against the Falcons and usually has to play bigger than his 6'3 frame when dealing with those errant passes from Trubisky.

VALUE SLEEPERS

  1. Tee Higgins (Bengals) - Higgins has seen equal the time on the field as A.J. Green but everyone who is looking at Burrow/Bengals stacks is automatically going with Boyd and Green. Darius Slay is a good cover option for the Eagles and is either going to lock down Boyd or Green (likely Boyd IMO) and so you'll see the rookie WR get some target boost this week in a game Burrow should throw the ball a ton. This is a sleeper breakout play of the week.
  2. Andy Isabella (Cardinals) - Kyler will have time to air it out and he'll see the field with Kirk out.

OTHER MID RANGE / VALUE PLAYS

  1. Marvin Jones Jr (Lions)
  2. Cole Beasley (Bills)
  3. Corey Davis (Titans)

Not touching: Calvin Ridley, Amari Cooper, D.K. Metcalf

TIGHT ENDS

This is an absolute dumpster fire position this week, so let's not mess around too much and just take a safe floor.

T.J. Hockenson (Lions)

Broke him down in the Ambush above, he's my #1 TE on all sites.

Jack Doyle (Colts)

He is questionable but likely will suit up. The Jets defense no doubt will be on the field a ton and Doyle's going to be a favorite for Rivers assuming he stays healthy.

That's it, that's the list.

Not touching: Every other tight end in the world

TEAM DEFENSES

I don't think there's an automatic lock it in defense this week and the pricing seems to be fairly good on both sites as well. I would not punt here but definitely not overpay.

Indianapolis Colts

Same analysis as last week folks. Like you, I too have no idea how the Jets score.

Buffalo Bills

Dating back to last season the Bills only have two games where they weren't racking up multiple sacks and this week they're hosting the Rams who traveled across the country in back to back weeks. Good spot for an elite defense at low ownership.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Watson takes a TON of sacks and Pittsburgh generates top 5 pressure/sack rate consistently.

Sleepers: Tampa Bay Bucs

Questions and Answers

It's back! The analysis you never knew you needed. The Questions and Answers that I anticipate you asking even though you haven't actually asked it yet...

QUESTION: How do you handle the 1PM or 4PM only slates?

Last week the 4PM only went great somehow even with Tyrod Taylor getting a 0. I say this because there's a different strategy to me over the years in the short 4PM slate where you can be sneaky in a spot versus the 1PM only slates. I find myself messing up a TON on the 1PM only because I no doubt have a player or two that I fit in because they are a "big name". So on the 1PM only slates that's where I'll roll a stack of the week type play and then trust my fades with that build. For example, this week I will be going Burrow-Green-Higgins-Sanders stack of the Bengals/Eagles game on the 1PM only and I won't play 4PM only because that's where my main lineup guys are.

QUESTION: You said at the beginning of the week you write down your thoughts & compare them to what you see & hear from "the field", but what are your other study habits through out the week that people can look to to fine tune their process?

My advice would be to go back and research a blind spot, which is usually a team or for me sometimes an entire division. Study the snap counts over multiple weeks and align them with what you know about those opponents to understand their tendencies and also try to be more predictive about what adjustments they will make. A team who has lost two in a row but is good is going to make adjustments ever so slightly and you can predict them based upon their past results rather than just blindly assuming that what happened last week will repeat again.

QUESTION: Who is getting overlooked this week and why is it Josh Allen vs (L.A. Rams)?

If Allen does it again then we gotta ask ourselves what are we doing here and not auto playing him.

QUESTION: When deciding between two players, a 1v1 or a 2v2, what are some of your deciding factors that should go into making the right decision?

You have to factor in the value of the player and the way they will get points on the site you are on, that is number one. Otherwise I try to rely upon my initial thoughts and notes as to which guy was a strong play in my mind and then from there it comes down to ownership/contest type to make the most informed decision. For example - if you are looking at a lineup that is already pretty contrarian and debating between a chalky and contrarian play and it's all equal then no issues going w/ the chalk player.

QUESTION: Random off the wall prediction?

The Lions will score to tie the game at 17 and then run a surprise onside kick in an attempt to steal a possession. Some form of trickery is coming from the Lions to steal a possession this week.

QUESTION: What's the game you do not have players in which scares you to go off?

Falcons vs Bears ... A game I like the Falcons to win but considered Robinson, Cohen and even for a hot minute I considered Jimmy Graham from the Bears. But outside of Cohen as a DK punt or Robinson for good volume I am not really going all in here.

QUESTION: Favorite Bets of the week?

Bills -2.5

Falcons -3.5

Chargers -6.5

Our SI Gambling Team's Best Bets are all available HERE.

QUESTION: Best lineup construction thoughts of the week?

Here's a difference between 1/2 PPR and full PPR DFS sites this week

FanDuel: Chris Carson and Michael Gallup

DraftKings: Miles Sanders and Tyler Lockett

Play 4 WR for sure on DraftKings, no brainer.

Good luck!

Welcome to the Week 3 NFL DFS Ambush.

It's time to jump into the NFL Week 3 slate, and I will begin each week with something that I feel is extremely important for every full breakdown NFL DFS article out there. 

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