FanDuel Week 3 Slate Breakdown with Cash and GPP Picks
Every DFS slate requires a unique approach. With every player at the disposal of both you and your opponents, you have to account for the upside and downside of not just the players you choose to play, but also those you don't. Whereas our positional strategy articles are primarily focused on providing objective analysis on that upside and downside, this column is focused on the resulting strategy that emerges from that information. I will highlight what causes me to lean toward particular players and away from others in both cash games and tournaments. Whether you agree with every take or not, this column will help you clarify your position on key players and situations in Week 3.
When a game goes over its Vegas total, it does so by an average of 10.6 points, and when a team goes over its implied total, it does so by an average of 7.7 points per game, which makes it obvious that we should be targeting games and teams we think will go over the Vegas total—especially given FanDuel’s TD-driven scoring system. By the same token, we should largely avoid games and teams we think will go under the Vegas total, because when a game goes under, it does so by an average of 10.6 points, and when a team goes under, it does so by an average of 7.0 points. Remember, over/unders are essentially a 50/50 proposition, so even a low-totaled game/team that goes over can provide DFS value because the players involved will naturally have lower salaries.
With that said, I’m changing up the format of the article slightly. First, I’ll break down all of the games and teams I think should be targeted because they are likely to go over the total, highlighting any players I deem viable in cash games, as well as players who I want more exposure than the field to in tournaments. Especially in tournaments, most of your exposure should come from games/teams you think will go over the Vegas total, as that gives you the best chance at getting TDs into your lineup. For example, last week the winning Sunday Million lineup contained a combined five players and 10 TDs from the three teams with the highest implied totals (Patriots, Falcons, Raiders)—all in games that went over their respective total. After breaking down the games and teams I think will go over their respective Vegas totals, I’ll highlight other matchups and salaries to exploit at each position.1 As usual, I’ll sum up cash-viable and plus-exposure tournament plays at the end.
All Vegas lines as of Thursday, Sep. 21.
Games to Target
Redskins (25.5) at Raiders (28.5): O/U 54
After seeing his price depressed by tough matchups with the Eagles and Rams, Kirk Cousins ($7,600) leads all QBs in cash odds; Matthew Stafford is the only QB I’d consider a better cash game play. As far as tournaments, Terrelle Pryor ($6,900) will match up with David Amerson, who has allowed 16.0 yards per catch and 2 TDs. Jordan Reed ($6,700) is tied for fourth among tight ends in receptions (11), despite always being seemingly gimpy and will face a Raiders defense that has allowed 5 catches or a TD in 5-of-6 games dating back to last season, with the lone exception being the Jets. If Reed (chest contusion) doesn’t play, Vernon Davis’ $4,700 salary makes him an even better play. Though he isn’t a favorite, Dustin Hopkins ($4,600) has a 25.5-point implied team total and is in a good spot against a Raiders defense that has allowed 6 field goal attempts, tied for fourth-most in the league.
While Redskins cornerbacks Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland have allowed 16-of-29 passing for 6.0 yards per target and no TDs on 29 targets, their linebackers and safeties have been lit up for 26-of-31 passing, 12.4 yards per target, and 3 TDs, which on FanDuel sets up best for Jared Cook ($5,200), as Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are tough sells without full PPR scoring, though using Cook on the road is unnecessary in cash games with similarly priced TEs in good spots at home. If Amari Cooper and/or Michael Crabtree gets shut down by Norman or otherwise, Derek Carr is unlikely to be a box score difference maker; he’s averaged just 228 yards and 1.8 TDs in 24 career games when Cooper has posted under 100 yards receiving, and 236 yards and 1.7 TDs when Crabtree posts under 100 yards receiving. Marshawn Lynch is a double-digit TD threat in a game with a high total, but the road game, the likely increased roles of Richard and Washington, and Lynch’s 44% snap rate through two games put a damper on his ceiling to some extent.
Falcons (26.75) at Lions (23.75): O/U 50.5
Devonta Freeman’s weekly muti-TD upside is less often realized on the road, where he averages 0.65 TDs per game since the start of 2015, compared to 1.24 at home. Julio Jones is always worth having exposure to, but using him in cash or going overweight in tournaments is increasingly harder to justify given the TD-driven FanDuel scoring system, as Jones has scored a TD in just 39% of career games. Matt Ryan averages 58 fewer passing yards (266 vs. 324) and 0.28 fewer TDs (1.69 vs. 1.97) per game when Jones doesn’t top 100 yards and 35 fewer passing yards (276 vs. 311) and 1.0 fewer passing TDs (1.4 vs. 2.4) in games where Jones doesn’t score a TD; I wouldn’t play him unless stacked with Julio. The best tournament play here is Taylor Gabriel ($5,100), who has scored a TD once every 6.5 touches indoors compared to once every 28.5 touches outdoors.
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