Welcome to The Gauntlet. We are going to break down each and every game to find our DFS Week 3 top plays on what is considered the main slate on DraftKings and Fanduel. This consists of the games only on Sundays. If you are playing other slates, such as the primetime slates, be sure to check out our other DFS content for plays in those games. In this breakdown, we are going to dive deeply into each matchup which is why we are going to stick to just the main slate of games. The numbers in parenthesis are the Vegas implied totals for each team. All of the stats in this breakdown are from Football Outsiders, while all of the player grades are from Pro Football Focus.
We now have somewhat reliable data from weeks 1 and 2. There are defenses who have been really bad at certain aspects of the game, and we will look to exploit those here in week 3. With that being said, lets get to it…
DFS Week 3 Top Plays
Saints (20.5) at Panthers (26)
The Saints have looked absolutely terrible on both sides of the ball, while the Panthers have looked bad on offense and great on defense. The D has allowed only 3 points both weeks. While the Saints are much better than the 49ers and Bills offenses, they’re not as good on the road outside of their dome. This is actually a super sneaky GPP play for a defense here. Until the Saints look right, I don’t want them in subpar matchups.
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers are struggling on offense. Cam is playing through a throwing shoulder injury, but this Saints defense is so bad that I actually want a piece of this offense. If you need to punt TE, I guess Dickson is fine, but I’d rather find the salary for Doyle. Instead, I would rather roster Kelvin Benjamin. He is a TD machine and the Saints have been giving up TDs in bunches. There is nobody who can guard KB here. Regardless of how hurt Cam is, KB should be able to get wide open for a TD in this one. He caught 6 of 8 targets for 77 yards last week and he is relatively cheap on both sites. Also, look for McCaffrey to get into space in this one with his big play ability. He should see about 15 touches.
Top plays: Panthers D, Benjamin, McCaffrey
Bucs (19.5) at Vikings (21.5)
This Vikings defense is good enough that a full Bucs stack is out of the question here. Rhodes is a legit corner and will do his best to contain Evans. I say contain because shutting him down is extremely unlikely. Where the Vikings have been vulnerable to start the year are the WR 2s and the TE. I love Brate and Desean Jackson as tournament plays here, but not safe enough for cash.
The Vikings offense relies solely on if Bradford plays or not. If he does, upgrade everyone. Diggs, Thielen, Cook, Rudolph are all in play. If not, the Bucs D is in play here because Case Keenum is bad at football. Don’t full stack here though. This is a low Vegas total, so don’t get crazy.
Top plays: Brate, Jackson, Diggs, Thielen, Cook, Rudolph (only these 4 if Bradford plays), Bucs D (if Bradford sits)
Broncos (21.5) at Bills (18.5)
This is another ugly game for offense and I want no part of it. The Broncos D just manhandled the Cowboys and now get to face a significantly weaker offense. On the other hand, the Bills defense has actually been respectable in its own right. Be careful about chasing the Broncos big offensive game here. The Cowboys defense is average at best and was ravaged by injuries on Sunday. This Bills defense will put up a better showing in one of the lowest Vegas totals of the week.
Top plays: Broncos D
Steelers (25.5) at Bears (18.5)
Play. Leveon. Bell. He is finally getting back into game shape. We also know the narrative of Ben on the road. He’s bad. So when Ben is bad, Bell has to be great. I present you Bell’s career home/road rushing splits (which are the exact opposite of Ben’s passing splits).
Home: 461 carries, 1850 yards, 9 TDs in 24 games.
Road: 484 carries, 2314 yards, 17 TDs in 25 games.
Say what you will, but those stand out enough to take into consideration. With about the same amount of carries, he has been significantly more productive. Couple that with being a heavy favorite against a Bears team and you can lock Bell into a heavy and productive workload on Sunday.
No Bears are in play here. Not until Trubisky takes over at QB.
Top plays: Bell, Steelers D
Dolphins (24.5) at Jets (18.5)
Jay Ajayi gets a heavy workload in a slow-paced game against a bad run D and has a low price for this matchup on both sites. Ajayi is one of the top RBs this week and you can play him with confidence. Jarvis Landry is also a top WR on DK this week because of his role in this offense. He saw a whopping 15 targets on Sunday and caught 13 of them. His floor in PPR is insane because the targets he is getting are extremely high chance of completion. He is catching passes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. 10 catches again this week is not unrealistic. If he catches a TD he’s a top 5 WR this week (hot take). Well worth his price.
No Jets, please.
Top plays: Ajayi, Landry
Giants (18) at Eagles (24)
My favorite defense comes from this game. If you have eyes, you will have seen how awful the Giants O Line is. There is nowhere for the RBs to run. There is no time for Eli to throw. OBJ is not fully healthy. He is fighting through an injury. The Giants haven’t scored 20 points in 7 straight games dating back to last season. Couple that with a divisional game on the road? This Eagles D is going to show up in a big way.
On the other side, if you aren’t playing Doyle this week, you need to play Zach Ertz. He’s the top TE option of the week in both opportunity and matchup. The Giants are one of, if not the worst against TEs. Ertz is priced up, so if you have value you like elsewhere then you need to play him. Eli Apple has really struggled through two games. If Jenkins suits up, he will follow Jeffrey around, and then you can play Agholor. If not, fire up Jeffrey. You can even stack them with an underpriced Wentz.
Top plays: Eagles D, Wentz, Jeffrey (if Jenkins sits), Agholor (if Jenkins plays), Ertz (stackable)
Falcons (26.75) at Lions (23.75)
This will likeliest be the chalkiest game of the week due to the two teams involved and they’re playing in a dome. People love to roster teams in domes as well as the Falcons in general. Julio Jones will probably be highly owned and for good reason. This has the second highest total of the week and you can attack all sides of this game. The Falcons offense uses the “death by 1000 cuts” motto. They have so many ways that they can attack your defense which is why they are arguably the best offense in the NFL. They are in play every single week.
The Lions secretly have an efficient offense this year as well. This game will not be a blowout. Look for the Lions O to keep the pressure on the Falcons. A game stack here is viable, with the focus being on both passing attacks.
Top plays: Ryan, Julio, Sanu, Hooper (stackable) Stafford, Tate, Jones, Golladay, Riddick (stackable, but not all of them in one lineup obviously. I usually like to max out at 3 pass catchers)
Texans (15) at Patriots (29)
There are two clear plays here. 1) Patriots D. They might not be chalky either because they are the highest priced defense and game log hunters won’t like what they see. Bill Belichick, at home, against a rookie QB making his second start. Need I say more?
2) Mike Gillislee. The Pats are 14 point home favorites. Game flow screams run the ball. I know people say it isn’t easy to predict the Pats RB situation, but hear me out. The Pats are riddled by injuries currently. Once they get that solid 2 TD lead, which Gillislee might contribute to, they are going to want to run the ball and work the clock. They want to get out of this game with 0 injuries, especially to their receivers because they can’t afford that if they want to keep winning games after this week. Belichick plays chess while everyone plays checkers, so while he is game planning for this game, he is also game planning for his season. He trusts Gillislee, and he will see a heavy workload, most notably at the goal line.
Top plays: Pats D, Gillislee
Seahawks (19.75) at Titans (22.75)
Another GPP defense. The Titans (say what?!), not the Seahawks. The Seahawks O line has been almost as bad as the Giants O Line. That in and of itself should be an award. Russ typically waits until the second half of the season to turn his game on, for whatever reason. Until then, we can actually use defenses against the Seahawks. Even though we like the Titans D this week, you don’t want to go heavy on them. On non-Titans teams, you can feel great about rostering Doug Baldwin on DK. He has scored 10 DK points each week despite how bad their offense has been. If they find any rhythm at all, Baldwin is going to eat.
The Seahawks have actually been a tad vulnerable on the ground through 2 weeks. However, until Murray is fully healthy, or fully ruled out, I want 0 part of this Titan run game.
Top plays: Titans D, Baldwin
Chiefs (25.25) at Chargers (22.25)
This Vegas Line is very interesting. The Chargers have lost two heartbreakers in a row. They are actually a good team and this is a home game for them. Yet, Vegas has the Chiefs favored by 3 in a high scoring game. That speaks to what Vegas thinks of the Chiefs offense. You can feel great about rostering Hill, Hunt, and Kelce here as they have proven to be explosive and matchup proof so far, and can even get a small game stack going on the other side with Gordon, Allen or Tyrell Williams (a TD threat). This game, for the most part, should go overlooked, but don’t let that happen to you.
Top Plays: Hunt, Hill, Kelce (stackable) Rivers, Gordon, Allen, Williams (Pass attack stackable)
Bengals (18.5) at Packers (27.5)
Sometimes we have to believe in our process, regardless of if we have a good feeling about it or not. If you watched the Packers-Falcons game last week, you saw how much trouble they had wrapping up Devonta Freeman. Joe Mixon is a similar style runner. He runs with power and explosiveness. He can make you miss in space. He can catch passes. The only thing missing is the opportunity. With Bill Lazor being promoted to OC, I think this is the first week we see Mixon start to separate himself from Jeremy Hill on the early down work. Lazor stated he wants to get his QB in a rhythm and he can do that by not using 3 RBs. Bernard will still be involved in the passing game but that doesn’t mean Mixon can’t be. He’s known for his pass-catching abilities, and if the Bengals gameplan to get Mixon in space, we know the Packers struggle with open field tackles. Oh, and play AJ Green. Lazor is going to feed him also. Eifert is looking doubtful for Sunday, and it should be the Green and Mixon show this week in a game they will be playing from behind.
On the Packers side just play Ty Montgomery again. He is way too valuable in PPR and is a home favorite by 9 points.
Top plays: Mixon, Green, TyMo
Raiders (28.75) at Redskins (25.75)
This is the game of the week for fantasy purposes, in my eyes, and I will be loading up on the late night hammer here. While everyone plays Derek Carr (who is a great play here, but will be chalk), we are going to play Kirk Cousins. The Skins showed signs of life last week against a Rams team on the road. Cousins will continue to throw the ball a ton, especially if there is any limitation of Rob Kelley this week. Chris Thompson is becoming one of the most used passes catching backs and has been Cousins safety blanket. Thompson is extremely cheap on both sites, but I prefer him in PPR as he shouldn’t score many TDs, but he has had 12 targets in the first two games. I love the idea of pairing Pryor with Cousins here. I think both of them breakout in this home game which will be high scoring. Feel free to still load up on the Raiders pass attack for a game stack even without using Carr. I love a Cousins, Pryor, Thompson (if Kelley sits), Cooper/Crabtree game stack here. Crowder is even usable as well.
Top plays: Carr, Crabtree, Cooper (stackable) Cousins, Pryor, Crowder, Thompson (if Kelley sits; stackable)